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Natalie Portman’s criticism of ‘atrocities’ leaves Israel’s advocates silent

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Israeli-American actress Natalie Portman’s refusal to accept an award at a ceremony in Israel because of “extremely distressing” recent events is causing a huge headache for Israel advocates.

Yesterday Portman issued a statement elaborating on her earlier statement. She cited “atrocities” and her discomfort at attending a ceremony alongside Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Although she also said she does not support BDS, boycott, divestment and sanctions.

I chose not to attend because I did not want to appear as endorsing Benjamin Netanyahu, who was to be giving a speech at the ceremony. . .  I treasure my Israeli friends and family, Israeli food, books, art, cinema, and dance. Israel was created exactly 70 years ago as a haven for refugees from the Holocaust. But the mistreatment of those suffering from today’s atrocities is simply not in line with my Jewish values. Because I care about Israel, I must stand up against violence, corruption, inequality, and abuse of power.

The chief response of Israel’s defenders has been silence.

Even as Netanyahu’s minister for strategic affairs issued a “Dear Natalie” letter, chiding her, “Sadly, it seems you have been influenced by the campaign of media misinformation and lies concerning Gaza orchestrated by the Hamas terrorist group,” Prime Minister Netanyahu himself studiously avoided the Portman topic in his comments to his cabinet yesterday morning, focusing on the 70th anniversary of Israel’s establishment. Though perhaps Netanyahu’s jabs at Jews in the west were aimed at Portman. “[T]he Jewish People would have shriveled away in exile,” Netanyahu said. And Israel’s establishment “created a national center for our people in which there is no assimilation.” The actress, by the way, is married to a non-Jew who is converting to Judaism.

In today’s New York Times, Bret Stephens echoes Netanyahu’s avoidance with a column about how Jews are now afraid to live in Europe. So in a column about Israel, Stephens does not mention Portman once.

Portman’s defection hurts because she has been an outspoken advocate for Israel over the years. In her early 20s, she was a research assistant on Alan Dershowitz’s 2003 tract, The Case for Israel.  DJ Rothkopf (also a former Israel defender) sees her choice as symptomatic:

Natalie Portman makes the right decision. . .  and sends yet another message that profound changes are afoot among communities Israel could once count upon for support.

No wonder Jennifer Rubin is ignoring the story, as she has ignored Israel’s killings of more than 30 unarmed protesters. Jeffrey Goldberg is ignoring the story.

Bari Weiss of the New York Times only stuck her head up above the ground to ask a pro-Israel tweeter who was drumming her to battle for a link on the story. “is there a link? this is all i’m seeing of it.” Yakov Hirsch’s brilliant comment on Weiss’s flustering:

One must have a heart of stone not to have sympathy for hasbara culture ideological Rottweilers over today’s Natalie Portman news.

Aware of the damage, Avi Mayer, the spokesman for the Jewish Agency, also wants to suspend judgment:

Like many, I was disappointed to hear that the Genesis Prize ceremony has been canceled – it’s always a good time! Like few, I will be reserving both judgment and comment until we hear from Natalie Portman why she pulled out. I would recommend that others do the same.

Not all the guard dogs are choking. Caroline Glick writes:

Natalie Portman is vile. Shame on her.

Such commentary will only create more support for Natalie Portman.

Thanks to Allison Deger.

 

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48 Responses

  1. Sibiriak
    Sibiriak
    April 21, 2018, 11:27 am

    Natalie Portman: Israel was created exactly 70 years ago as a haven for refugees from the Holocaust. But the mistreatment of those suffering from today’s atrocities is simply not in line with my Jewish values.
    ———————————–

    American liberal Zionism is alive and kickin’!

    • Keith
      Keith
      April 21, 2018, 4:33 pm

      SIBIRIAK- “American liberal Zionism is alive and kickin’!”

      Indeed, taking her at her word, what is she protesting other than Netanyahu? Does this mean that operations Cast Lead and Protective Edge were consistent with her “Jewish values?” The entire history of the Jewish state consistent with her “Jewish values?” Jewish Blood and Soil nationalism consistent with her “Jewish values?” 70 years of occupation consistent with her “Jewish values?” Apparently so.

      • Misterioso
        Misterioso
        April 23, 2018, 11:27 am

        Despite Zionist attempts to suppress the ugly truth of Israel’s oppression, dispossession, expulsion and murder of Palestinians, along with the rest of the world, mainstream America is becoming increasingly aware of it, especially youth, including Jews. I’m sure Natalie must be feeling its effects. After 70 years of trying to “pound a square peg into a round hole,” Israel and Zionism’s image has never been deeper in the toilet and its only going to get worse, much worse.

    • JWalters
      JWalters
      April 21, 2018, 11:48 pm

      It seems to me natural that Natalie would feel love for her family and friends in Israel, and for the country in which she was born. And it’s natural that she would be appalled by the atrocities committed by Israel.

      Now Natalie is beginning the process of discovering her beloved Israel is not what she thought. She could listen to another Jewish woman, also born and raised in Israel, who became a psychotherapist. Avigail Abarbanel has delved deeply into her personal connections with Israel and written with compassion and understanding that
      “It’s time for American Jews to recognize they have been duped”
      http://mondoweiss.net/2015/07/american-recognize-duped

      It’s like discovering a favorite uncle is a serial abuser. She can learn SOME of the evidence, excerpted from a book by Tom Suarez, about
      “Terrorism: How the Israeli state was won”
      http://mondoweiss.net/2017/01/terrorism-israeli-state

      Alison Weir is a courageous woman who discovered that Americans (including Jewish Americans) were being given a false picture rather than the facts about Israel. And the more she researched the more astounded she became, and finally created a website to inform Americans. Natalie could learn more in depth from
      “If Americans Knew”
      http://ifamericansknew.org

      I hope Natalie will continue researching this issue, and maintain her courage to face the facts as she learns them. The truth is healthier and nobler than fiction. And the pain of facing the facts will pass. Escaping from endlessly contorted falsehoods into the simplicity of the truth will bring a deep emotional release and freedom.

      • Juergen
        Juergen
        April 22, 2018, 1:48 pm

        Thanks for a reasoned and compassionate response. The references are useful too, for others seeking to look through the smoke of propaganda.

      • Cazador
        Cazador
        May 26, 2018, 2:05 pm

        JWalters,

        Thank you very much for your informative links!

        Great data!

  2. John O
    John O
    April 21, 2018, 11:34 am

    I followed readers’ comments on this story on the Daily Mail website yesterday. The Wail is normally politically somewhere to the right of Genghis Khan, but the comments were heavily in favour of Portman’s action.

  3. US Citizen
    US Citizen
    April 21, 2018, 11:55 am

    Caroline Glick, et.al. is vile and just the tip of the iceburg. Make no mistake, no one hates like a rabid, messianic, racist jew.

  4. Steve Grover
    Steve Grover
    April 21, 2018, 1:33 pm

    Caroline Glick is wrong about Natalie Portman. I strongly disagree with Natalie Portman’s decision but I even more strongly disagree with Caroline Glick’s characterization of her. Having said this Caroline Glick is exactamundo about JVP…
    http://m.jpost.com/Opinion/Column-One-Time-to-cut-JVP-down-to-size-551291

  5. eljay
    eljay
    April 21, 2018, 1:54 pm

    I chose not to attend because I did not want to appear as endorsing Benjamin Netanyahu, who was to be giving a speech at the ceremony. . . I treasure my Israeli friends and family, Israeli food, books, art, cinema, and dance. Israel was created exactly 70 years ago as a haven for refugees from the Holocaust. …

    More specifically: Israel was created exactly 70 years ago as a haven for Jewish refugees from the Holocaust. Non-Jewish refugees from the Holocaust need not apply.

    Of course, the other story is that Israel wasn’t created as a haven for Jewish refugees from the Holocaust. It came in to existence because Zionist citizens of homelands all over the world claimed geographic Palestine as the “ancient / eternal / one true homeland” of Jewish citizens of actual homelands all over the world.

    … But the mistreatment of those suffering from today’s atrocities is simply not in line with my Jewish values. Because I care about Israel, I must stand up against violence, corruption, inequality, and abuse of power.

    What lovely Zionist sentiment:
    – mistreatment of non-Jews suffering from “today’s atrocities” is not in line with her Jewish values; but,
    – militarily-occupying, ethnically cleansing and colonizing geographic Palestine and establishing in as much as possible of it a religion-supremacist “Jewish State” at the expense of Palestine’s indigenous population is in line with her Jewish values.

    Short-term suffering of non-Jews: Not in line with Jewish values.
    Long-term suffering of non-Jews: Okee-dokee.

  6. Ossinev
    Ossinev
    April 21, 2018, 2:23 pm

    “created a national center for our people in which there is no assimilation”

    Straight out of the Yahoo`s mouth and echoes of a previous ugly genocidal ideology which espoused non -assimilation ?

    https://www.ushmm.org/wlc/en/article.php?ModuleId=10007457

    • oldgeezer
      oldgeezer
      April 21, 2018, 4:05 pm

      Gosh Hitler refers to a collective instinct for survival.

      Now who is it that makes similar statements and worries so much about assimilation.

      The shared roots of certain political movements are so apparent.

      • Citizen
        Citizen
        April 22, 2018, 8:47 am

        Which is exactly why many states have passed anti-BDS laws specifically penalizing usage of Nazi analogy in criticizing the foreign state of Israel.

  7. JLewisDickerson
    JLewisDickerson
    April 21, 2018, 2:57 pm

    RE: “Not all the guard dogs are choking. Caroline Glick writes: Natalie Portman is vile. Shame on her.”

    MY COMMENT: One can always count on Caroline Glick to be thoroughly obnoxious.
    She never, ever disappoints!

    • JLewisDickerson
      JLewisDickerson
      April 21, 2018, 11:17 pm

      RE: “One can always count on Caroline Glick to be thoroughly obnoxious.” ~ me above

      ELABORATION: Of course, Glick “grew up” (i.e., she supposedly ‘grew up’, but never quite learned to act like an adult) in Chicago, so that might be a big part of the “problem”. In addition, it is quite possible that she is extremely jealous of Natalie Portman’s success/popularity in the Americas, Europe and Asia. Who can blame Glick for that?!?!

      • JLewisDickerson
        JLewisDickerson
        April 21, 2018, 11:35 pm

        RE: “she is extremely jealous ” ~ me, above

        ELUCIDATION: This use of “jealousy” is an old hasbara trick, in case you didn’t recognize it. Another hasbara trick is to smear the person being critical of Israel by saying “she/he’s cashing in” [i.e., making a fortune (or advancing their career) by criticizing Israel]. Watch for this and many other hasbara tricks to be used in smearing Portman in the coming weeks/months/years!

      • JLewisDickerson
        JLewisDickerson
        April 24, 2018, 11:01 am

        RE: “One can always count on Caroline Glick to be thoroughly obnoxious.” ~ me, above

        QUALIFICATION: Which is not to say she is quite as reliably obnoxious as “Manhattan socialite” Pamela Geller!

  8. Keith
    Keith
    April 21, 2018, 4:08 pm

    NATALIE PORTMAN- “Israel was created exactly 70 years ago as a haven for refugees from the Holocaust.”

    No it wasn’t. Zionism represented the attempt to counteract the consequences of the enlightenment which caused a splintering of Jews between the Orthodox, Conservative, Reform and secular Jews. It was about re-establishing Jewish tribalism/kinship. The early Zionists absolutely rejected what they called refugeeism. They were more concerned with the consequences of assimilation. Some quotes.

    “When they come to us with two plans–the rescue of the masses of Jews in Europe or the redemption of the land–I vote, without a second thought, for the redemption of the land. The more said about the slaughter of our people, the greater the minimization of our efforts to strengthen and promote the Hebraisation of the land.” (quoting Zionist official Yitzhak Gruenbaum, p51, “The Hidden History of Zionism,” Ralph Schoenman)

    Plus the Zionists “…had a selection process that put greater weight on whether a particular Jew was a Zionist, in good health and capable of materially aiding the Zionist cause and economy over the need or vulnerability of that particular Jew. Thus, sometimes a Jew from the US or the Americas were given preference over a German or Eastern European Jew, and young adults were given preference over the elderly or young children.” (Tree) http://mondoweiss.net/2013/09/latest-generous-offer-leaked-israel-wants-to-control-jordan-river-and-40-of-west-bank-while-palestinians-get-temporary-borders/#comment-591577

    • Maghlawatan
      Maghlawatan
      April 21, 2018, 4:48 pm

      The majority of Israeli Jews are Arab Jews who were never part of the Holocaust.
      Zionism didn’t care about the extinction of Jewish life in eastern Europe and some helped it out.

      • Rob Roy
        Rob Roy
        April 22, 2018, 2:14 am

        Maghlawatan. I believe you are in error. There’s probably less than 5% Arab Jews left in Israel. The population of Jews there are Ashkanazi…from the US or Europe or Russia and are not Arab. If they are Arabs (Semites) they won’t admit it as, “Arabs are not even human.” Thus it’s always a surprise that Israelis accuse a person of being anti=Semite (meaning anti-Jewish) when, in fact, Arabs are Semites.
        There is an interesting group who live outside of Tel Aviv…I believe about 30,000…who hate the idea of Israel, won’t recognize Israel as the state, and won’t cooperate with the government, nor call themselves Israelis, nor join the IDF. They fly Palestinian flags on their homes and call themselves Palestinians. Why? Because they are the real descendants of Palestine. The other Jews are interlopers who have stolen Palestine.
        P.S. Let’s not be too hard on Natalie Portman. She has a long way to go, but she’s put one toe in the water, and that’s a start.

      • Maghlawatan
        Maghlawatan
        April 22, 2018, 3:59 pm

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mizrahi_Jews

        Mizrahi Jews; Total population; 3.5 million: Regions with significant populations; Middle East [citation needed] Israel: 3,200,000

    • JLewisDickerson
      JLewisDickerson
      April 26, 2018, 8:08 am

      RE: NATALIE PORTMAN- “Israel was created exactly 70 years ago as a haven for refugees from the Holocaust.”

      MY REPLY: Obama was skewered by the right-wing Zionists for saying (approximately) in his Cairo speech that Israel was created as a haven for refugees from the Holocaust. They were truly enraged because it does not necessarily justify Israel’s colonization of “Judea and Samaria” (i.e., the occupied West Bank).
      Rather, according to them (including Netanyahu, and possibly Schumer), Israel was created thousands of years ago by God’s Exclusive Land Grant to the Jews. Just ask John Hagee!

  9. Kathleen
    Kathleen
    April 21, 2018, 7:42 pm

    So glad someone is asking why Portman has shifted now?

    Portman’s support for Israel has been steadfast through so many of the atrocities Israel has committed against the Palestinians.

    “Portman’s announcement has shocked the Jewish world and all those invested in the future of Israel and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Portman is, without competition (even from upstart “Wonder Woman” actress Gal Gadot) the most famous Israeli celebrity in the world, possibly the most famous Israeli in the world. The thing that makes Portman’s refusal to appear at an event in Israel so curious is that the actress, who was born in Jerusalem in 1981, has never wavered in her public support of Israel before. Portman, though frequently critical of Israel’s government, regularly speaks warmly of the country and of her Israeli identity. In fact, since Portman became a bona fide star at 18 in “Star Wars Episode I,” in 1999, she has stood by Israel through the Second Intifada, the building of the security wall around the West Bank, the 2006 Lebanon War, the first Gaza War, the 2010 Gaza Flotilla raid, Operation Pillar of Defense in Gaza, the 2014 invasion of Gaza, and the most recent ‘stabbing intifada’.

    Read more: https://forward.com/schmooze/399303/natalie-portmans-complete-history-with-israel-annotated/

    • JLewisDickerson
      JLewisDickerson
      April 21, 2018, 11:25 pm

      RE: “The thing that makes Portman’s refusal to appear at an event in Israel so curious is that the actress, who was born in Jerusalem in 1981, has never wavered in her public support of Israel before.”

      MY COMMENT: That’s the way it works when you have such aggressive enforcement of the ‘party line’ (e.g., Goldstone), and people are not free to voice their reservations (i.e., “waver”).

      • Maghlawatan
        Maghlawatan
        April 22, 2018, 4:17 am

        Zionism is a paranoid cult. All dissent is crushed. There is no room for logic.
        Portman said “enough”.
        Zionism is a failing groupthink.
        It all comes back to “Jews wouldn’t do that” vs reality.

      • JLewisDickerson
        JLewisDickerson
        April 26, 2018, 7:21 am

        P.S. Under such circumstances [where people have not felt free in the past to voice their reservations (i.e., “waver”)], when the dominoes really start falling, they will most likely fall very quickly, and quite hard (i.e., decisively, with a resounding ‘thud’). And, there’s probably nothing the Adelsons and their ilk can do about it.

      • JLewisDickerson
        JLewisDickerson
        April 26, 2018, 10:28 am

        ■ One of Us (2017)
        1h 35min | Documentary | 20 October 2017 (USA)
        Penetrating the insular world of New York’s Hasidic community, focusing on three individuals driven to break away despite threats of retaliation.
        ▪ IMDb – https://www.imdb.com/title/tt7214842/
        ▪ Netflix Streaming – https://www.netflix.com/title/80118101

        “Nobody leaves the Hasidic community, unless they’re willing to pay the price.”

    • Citizen
      Citizen
      April 22, 2018, 8:54 am

      Yes, she did research for Dershie’s book defending Israel, and has held salons in her home to discuss the I-P conflict, for example in 2014. That’s been a pattern generally in Hollywood.

      • JLewisDickerson
        JLewisDickerson
        April 26, 2018, 7:47 am

        Don’t assume that she didn’t discover some disconcerting aspects (or aspects that have since that time become disconcerting to her in the context of ongoing events) of Israel’s history whilst doing research for Dershowitz’s book defending Israel!
        Not to say that you should necessarily assume that she did.

    • Maghlawatan
      Maghlawatan
      April 22, 2018, 4:36 pm

      Kathleen, maybe it is momentum. We have been sickened by Israel for years but a lot of young people have joined the bandwagon recently. They know that Israel is not going to change.
      Israel is a very toxic brand now in a way that was not the case in 2014.

      • Kathleen
        Kathleen
        April 24, 2018, 7:33 pm

        “Israel is a toxic brand now” However the violent brutal behavior has been around 7 decades. Yes more and more are stepping up to the plate including Portman. Again better late than never.

  10. RoHa
    RoHa
    April 22, 2018, 6:45 am

    ““[T]he Jewish People would have shriveled away in exile,” … “a national center for our people in which there is no assimilation.”

    So by “shrivel away”, N means “stop being Jews, and just be part of local community”, and he seems to think it would be a bad thing
    Suppose all Jews did that. Why would it be bad?

    • eljay
      eljay
      April 22, 2018, 8:36 am

      … “[T]he Jewish People would have shriveled away in exile,” Netanyahu said. …

      Jewish is fundamentally a religion-based identity. The only thing required to keep the Jewish identity alive is Judaism.

      King Bibi clearly has no faith in the faith upon which his Jewish identity is based if he thinks that the only way to keep it alive is through the existence of a deliberately and unapologetically oppressive, colonialist, (war) criminal and religion-supremacist “Jewish State”.

  11. Stephen Shenfield
    Stephen Shenfield
    April 22, 2018, 7:52 am

    The important point is that she has taken a big step in the right direction. Further steps are likely to follow.

    • Maximus Decimus Meridius
      Maximus Decimus Meridius
      April 22, 2018, 8:37 am

      I would say the opposite, unfortunately.

      Her statement never even mentioned the word ‘Palestinian’. It was very very vague and she made a point of emphasising her ‘love for Israel’. She will soon come under a huge amount of pressure from the ‘Jewish community’, perhaps even a backlash from Hollywood. Much more likely that she will soon start to backtrack and go out of her way to show the world just how much she really really loves Israel and Zionism.

      I expect this rather mild gesture – important though it is given Portman’s background – represents the high watermark of her ‘awakening’.

    • Citizen
      Citizen
      April 22, 2018, 8:56 am

      Will Sarah Silverman stick her toe back in this water? How about Scarlett Johanansson?

  12. Ossinev
    Ossinev
    April 22, 2018, 2:44 pm

    This appears to be causing a rare form of Hasbara diarrhoea in Zioland.They don`t know which way to turn and surprise surprise have resorted to the predictable threadbare accusation of “anti – Semitism”. In her case it is “bordering on anti – Semitism”. LOL

    http://www.jpost.com/Israel-News/Yuval-Steinitz-Natalie-Portmans-decision-borders-on-antisemitism-552443

    In her case they are up a certain kind of creek without a paddle.

    http://www.virtualjerusalem.com/culture.php?Itemid=12414

    Love to watch these mad dog Zios chasing their own tails !

    • just
      just
      April 22, 2018, 3:22 pm

      LOL, Ossinev!

      Not every one of Captain Israel’s “advocates” are remaining “silent”:

      “… Jeremy Ben Ami, the president of J Street, expressed support for Portman, stating that “Natalie Portman has every right to listen to her conscience and express her concerns when it comes to the current policies and direction of Israel and its government — concerns that are shared by so many American Jews and supporters of Israel around the world.”

      Ben Ami added that “Instead of responding to her decision with indignation, Israeli officials and supporters of Israel should respect this right and encourage Portman to speak out openly and honestly.” A similar message was conveyed by Rabbi Jill Jacobs of the left-wing organization Trua’h, who thanked Portman “for this strong statement that support for Israel can and should include opposing the current government and its attacks on democracy and entrenchment of occupation.” …”

      https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/israeli-minister-portman-s-netanyahu-boycott-borders-on-anti-semitism-1.6014423

      • echinococcus
        echinococcus
        April 22, 2018, 3:49 pm

        Just,

        Not every one of Captain Israel’s “advocates” are remaining “silent”

        The quotemarks are quite misleading in both cases. Also, Captain Zio’s advocates are not remaining silent because they are approving, of course, the censure of the NaZionist of a different hue. Because they want to replace the Yahoo by their own brand of genocidal invaders.

  13. irwinpenny18
    irwinpenny18
    April 23, 2018, 2:59 pm

    Natalie Portman is a total fool for telling Jews not to be obsessed any longer with The Holocaust. You know Natalie, the Jews have a remembrance, very sad holiday during the summer called Tisha B’av, where they cry and commemorate the destruction of the Holy Temple over 2000 years ago.

    And you have the nerve to tell Jews after 73 years to forget about the gassing, torture, shooting and murder of 6 million of our men, women, children and babies. Are you kidding me Portman?

    So why don’t you call me in about 2000 years, and we can discuss the possibility of not being obsessed with The Holocaust. You are sick and evil!!! What kind of parents raised you?

    • eljay
      eljay
      April 23, 2018, 3:28 pm

      || irwinpenny18: Natalie Portman is a total fool for telling Jews not to be obsessed any longer with The Holocaust. … ||

      Could you provide a link to her quote in which she tells Jews “not to be obsessed any longer with the Holocaust”? Thanks.

      || … Jews have a remembrance, very sad holiday during the summer called Tisha B’av, where they cry and commemorate the destruction of the Holy Temple over 2000 years ago. … ||

      Crying about a building that was destroyed over 2,000 years ago – that’s a lot more totally foolish than Ms. Portman.

      || … And you have the nerve to tell Jews after 73 years to forget about the gassing, torture, shooting and murder of 6 million of our men, women, children and babies. … ||

      Could you provide a link to her quote in which she has the nerve to tell Jews to “forget about the gassing, torture, shooting and murder of 6 million of our men, women, children and babies”? Thanks.

    • Jethro
      Jethro
      April 23, 2018, 3:29 pm

      I hope this is sarcasm.

    • Mooser
      Mooser
      April 23, 2018, 3:34 pm

      I’m sorry “irwinpenny18”, I don’t quite follow. Can you explain how or why Israel shooting unarmed Palestinian demonstrators on the other side of a barrier in some way lessens or cures the obsession with the Holocaust?

    • echinococcus
      echinococcus
      April 23, 2018, 5:19 pm

      the Jews have a remembrance, very sad holiday during the summer called Tisha B’av, where they cry and commemorate the destruction of the Holy Temple over 2000 years ago

      Is that why you are telling Palestinians to get over their being invaded and massacred today? With people like you, it’s so tempting to want to give you a very real reason to cry.

      • Mooser
        Mooser
        April 23, 2018, 7:06 pm

        Fer God’s sakes “echin” don’t you see the tragedy? Due to a papyrus-work mix-up, the building was uninsured at the time!

      • echinococcus
        echinococcus
        April 23, 2018, 10:33 pm

        That’s a good one, Mooser.
        It also shows how high your prestige is with the “Mods”, as you seem to be the only anti-Zionist allowed to make money jokes about you-know-who.

      • Mooser
        Mooser
        April 24, 2018, 12:16 pm

        The imaginary imposition, to an absurd degree, of modern business conventions and regulatory bureaucracy on the enterprises, commercial or religious, of antiquity is a common comic conceit.

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