Trending Topics:

My Judaism is anti-Zionism

on 97 Comments

On Christmas Eve I went with my sister-in-law and her two children to midnight mass at a church in Richmond. The processional and singing of “O Come All Ye Faithful” is one of the most stirring performances I could ever hope to see. The choir, the candlelight, the swelling voices in the gothic church bring tears to my eyes.

Tramping to my in-laws across the golf course of the Country Club of Virginia the next morning, I reflected, What a WASPy Jew I’ve become– to use the term of abuse of my childhood. So: How assimilationist am I? Have I left the Jewish community entirely? I’ve come to admit lately that it angered me deeply that my original community so condemned the best thing I did in life, meeting my wife many years ago. And on that basis—clannish attitudes—the late Joel Kovel left Judaism and became a Christian.

I would never do that. “Don’t switch sides!” my wife said when we dropped her off at the Airbnb before midnight mass. You’re so Jewish, she always says. She means that’s the tribe that stamped me, forever. Early on when I told her I didn’t go in for therapy, she said, But your DNA is Freudian. A few months back I did the spit-test in order to find out if I have unknown step-siblings; and learned that I am 99.7 percent Ashkenazi Jew, by their lights. Which is to say, my ancestors took precautions that I have not.

No one seems to care anymore. I’m not the only Jew who has landed in my wife’s family, and Christians welcome Jews. I am eccentric in a lot of ways, but in this one I am highly conventional: 70 percent of American Jews are marrying outside the tribe. So I am more characteristic of my group than all those articles about Jews eating Chinese food on Christmas, or about, do you have a Christmas tree, or when are we going to get secular prayer at the western wall? Yossi Gurvitz says Jews will marry out in droves if there are not prohibitions– the “pursuit of happiness is a goyish concept.”

Back when my community rejected my wife, in 1991, out-marriage had reached 50 percent, and the Jewish community was in crisis about “continuity” and decided to build the walls up to keep the young Jews in. The Jewish day school movement was part of the strategy. So was Birthright, the program to bring young Jews to Israel for free so they will marry other Jews and support Israel.

That was perfectly consistent with the definition of Judaism in the 1990s: Israelism was Judaism, as Michelle Goldberg lately explained to readers of the New York Times. That conversion had taken place in the 1970s. My brother and I both got Zionist propaganda at our bar mitzvahs.

Now all that is under siege. The morning I left for Virginia, I put up a post about another revolutionary event, the three young Jews who were thrown off their Birthright trip for questioning the separation wall. Birthright must have wanted to throw them off before they walked off, as many other Jews have done.

If you watch the video that the Birthright rejects posted, you see why Ben Doernberg said he was traumatized. The Birthright official who tells them they are going home is a stupid thug who insists that Birthright is all about diverse viewpoints and intellectual challenge. The young people refuse to buy her line and demand to know why they are being tossed, refuse to take the free plane trip home if they can’t be informed of the reason. Then the three promptly went to Palestine, to observe the hateful conditions there.

Watching the young Jews experience the rejection and trauma and handle themselves resourcefully and calmly—they are the Jews I love, to whom I feel kindred.

When I was younger, I would say they are doing what Jews do, questioning authority. Now I say, They are doing what smart young people do. It’s not their “Jewish values” that are impelling their choices. You could just as well say it’s AIPAC and Israel’s “Jewish values” that impel them to build a wall so as to have a Jewish majority state, and to characterize the other race with whom they are living in the country as terrorists and enemies, and to punish American politicians who dissent.

Over the years, some Christians have said to me, Stop thinking that you’re Jewish, it’s neurotic. But I’ve not been able to do that, or anyway I never tried. I don’t like the entitlement and the Israel lobby, but I believe in tribe, and at some level I clearly love my group and thank it for cultivating traits I cherish, reading and intellectual detachment. A good number of my closest friends are Jewish, and I am taking Hebrew for the first time in 50 years, so as to study what the supremacists say in Israel.

My Judaism is anti-Zionism. That’s the spiritual challenge that has propelled me and this site. My social/political identity is Jewish; and my Jewish chore is clear. Being Jewish means helping to free my group and the world of the historic trauma that generated religious nationalism and all its evils. This seems to me the famous definition of Torah that Rabbi Hillel gave to us. What is hateful to you, don’t do to another. That directs Jewish faces to Palestine. All the rest is commentary.

Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net.

Other posts by .


Posted In:

97 Responses

  1. Jackdaw on December 28, 2018, 2:43 pm

    ““Out, out, brief candle! Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage and is heard no more. It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”

    Phil. Once you’ve left the stage, you will forgotten soon enough.

    • eljay on December 28, 2018, 3:15 pm

      || Jackdaw: … Phil. Once you’ve left the stage, you will forgotten soon enough. ||

      Yeah, but at least he made it to the stage. Your envy of Phil is duly noted.

      • Mooser on December 28, 2018, 3:42 pm

        “Yeah, but at least he made it to the stage.”

        Unless somebody takes the keyboard away from “Jackdaw” before the car keys, we are going to see all the stages.

    • annie on December 29, 2018, 12:17 am

      history will not be forgetting phil. this is an important era and his footprints and signatures are all over it, there’s no going back now.

      • Jackdaw on December 29, 2018, 8:45 am

        Quoth the Raven, “Nevermore”.

      • JimMichie on December 29, 2018, 3:42 pm

        HEAR! HEAR!

      • Eva Smagacz on December 31, 2018, 10:27 am

        Trust me. Phil Weiss will not be forgotten.

        There will be Uni courses about political movement of Anti-Zionism that he is one of the founders of, and the Uni courses about development of pioneers of citizen journalism in the era of Internet. 188/203

        Even if he ultimately fails, during his lifetime, to witness restoration of justice to Palestinian People, Clotho, Lachesis and Atropos will continue their work.

        History, ultimately, is not just the past, it is also a time that has not yet happened.

        Hitler was wrong. Armenians have not been forgotten. Their plight did not stay contained in musty archives of College Libraries.

        Virtue is not about winning or loosing. It is about doing a right thing – and this is the ultimate contribution that any man should enact to the best of their ability.

        And the ark of moral universe, even if it is a long one, it bends towards justice (to paraphrase Theodore Parker).

      • Mooser on December 31, 2018, 7:16 pm

        “Clotho, Lachesis and Atropos will continue their work”

        Fates, do your stuff!

    • Citizen on December 29, 2018, 3:11 am

      @Jackdaw: Not so, consider:
      You cannot have humane Zionism, it is a contradiction in terms.
      “An Interview with Israel Shahak” in Journal of Palestine Studies Vol. IV, No. 3 (1975), p. 3.

      It is my considered opinion that the State of Israel is a racist state in the full meaning of this term: In this state people are discriminated against, in the most permanent and legal way and in the most important areas of life, only because of their origin. This racist discrimination began in Zionism and is carried out today mainly in co-operation with the institutions of the Zionist movement.

      “The Racist Nature of Zionism and of the Zionist State of Israel” in the student newspaper of Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Pi-Ha’aton (5 November 1975).
      That is a Nazi expression. The Nazis called Germans who defended Jewish rights self-hating Germans.
      On the accusation of being a self-hating Jew, in “Personality: Dr. Israel Shahak” by Richard H. Curtiss” in the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs (June 1989).
      The Nazis made me afraid to be a Jew, and the Israelis make me ashamed to be a Jew.

      • Jackdaw on December 29, 2018, 9:53 am

        Zionism gave Shahak and his mother refuge from Bergen-Belsen, and a career in academia.

        The two last people to seek advise from, are Holocaust survivors and university professors.

      • Mooser on December 29, 2018, 1:08 pm

        “The two last people to seek advise from, are Holocaust survivors and university professors.”

        So we are at the point now where you are rapidly losing your filters. We can mark the descent from here.

      • Citizen on December 29, 2018, 3:35 pm

        @ Jackdaw
        So we shouldn’t listen to Holocaust survivors about their current POV on the state of Israel, its policies, conduct; nor would we listen to university professors with credentials in the subject area. OK, so who should we listen to for the accurate factual situation on this subject? Give us some names, Jack, and give us some evidence of their expertise in this matter. We await your response.

    • Misterioso on December 29, 2018, 9:37 am

      @Jackdaw

      In fact it’s Israel that will leave “the stage.” Indeed, the pit band is tuning up to play its swan song.

      Fascist/racist entities always wind up in history’s dumpster. “Israel,” utterly dependent on the U.S., will not be an exception.

    • [email protected] on December 29, 2018, 11:05 am

      Et tu, Jackdaw. Et us all. So that’s why we live our lives to their highest level while we are still alive. And for many of us, Jews and everyone else, that means fighting for justice for all.

    • JimMichie on December 29, 2018, 1:08 pm

      Your desperate cries of indignation, Jackdaw: a loud obnoxious sounding brass! Your cries of indignation stem from abject denial and cognitive dissonance. Let’s hope that your mindset and that of all brutal, racist, genocidal, ethnic cleansing, land stealing, fascist and terrorist Zionists will somehow be vanquished–sooner than later. Be well!

  2. Jackdaw on December 28, 2018, 2:58 pm

    ” Watching the young Jews experience the rejection and trauma and handle themselves resourcefully and calmly ”

    Shira Leah, Emily Bloch and Benjamin Dornberg, are all 29 years old. They are adults, not young Jews, and they are all members of IfNotNow, and they came to Israel as agents provacatuer.

    Good riddance.

    • Mooser on December 28, 2018, 3:37 pm

      “Good riddance.”

      “Jackdaw” is convinced there are too many Jews, and many need to be removed from Judaism.

      We need the percentages more than we need the people.

    • Misterioso on December 29, 2018, 9:44 am

      @Jackdaw

      “Good riddance.” Spoken like a true frustrated fascist. You’re on board a sinking ship. The world (including the U.S., where a new and enlightened generation is taking power) has had enough of “Israel,” and judging by the mass exodus of Jews from “Israel” and plummeting immigration, so have ever increasing numbers of Jews.

      BTW, Jackdaw. If you live in “Israel,” and are reasonably young, I suggest you learn Arabic. You’re gonna’ need it.

      • Jackdaw on December 29, 2018, 11:11 am

        The Jewish birthrate in Israel is skyrocketing.

        The next generation is not moving to your neighborhood, nor are they jumping into the sea like lemmings.

        Sorry.

      • Citizen on December 29, 2018, 3:41 pm

        Israeli demographer: Arabs nearly equal Jews in Holy Land & the Gentile population is younger, not dying as fast: https://apnews.com/0bb2a5e1db634bc3b3ec961f2c70db34

  3. Citizen on December 28, 2018, 3:29 pm

    I married my Jewish wife in December of 1969. Her parents were not happy and made it grossly known to me. My parents? They had their preferences, but I was raised to be an independent individual. Ultimately, one either prioritizes the individual human or a selected tribe. The Enlightenment frowned on identity politics. This only happened in the West. The two sides form our present cultural battle in the USA’s political arena. It’s afire, but you wouldn’t know it in any depth by viewing mainstream media–you need to go to the long interviews on the intellectual dark web via Youtube podcasts.
    Nothing is more American than meeting anyone, and withholding judgement, looking for who they are as an individual person, a character alive on this earth.
    My humanity, in part, is anti-Zionism.

    • Mooser on December 29, 2018, 7:17 pm

      My Mom explained to my bride-elect that the fact that I was Jewish and she wasn’t made absolutely no difference, she was still making a huge mistake and should flee immediately. “I’m surprised at you” she told my intended, “You could do so much better!”

  4. JWalters on December 28, 2018, 4:41 pm

    I once met a woman who belonged to a fundamentalist Christian sect who was in love with a man in a different fundamentalist Christian sect. She was highly distraught because the members of her church were pressuring her hard to end her relationship. They considered members of that other Christian sect to be spiritually inferior. (I don’t remember which sects these were.) The Mormons are also famous for shunning friends and and even family who detach from the Mormon belief system.

    Such forced self-segregation probably reflects more than mere ignorance on the part of the leaders. It also has the obvious benefit of preserving their market share in the business side of worship. Human nature being what it is, this is probably the biggest part of the motive by far. For instance, the top leaders of the Catholic church, which preaches poverty, live in Roman palaces.

    The human race is entering a time in which all these scams will be seen clearly. Spiritual beings do not care about material rituals and trinkets, no matter how gold and shiny. The golden rule in a person’s heart is all that actually matters.

  5. John O on December 28, 2018, 6:20 pm

    During WW2, before they met each other, my Irish Catholic parents each had a Jewish boyfriend/girlfriend. In my mother’s case, he was a GI; in my father’s case, I know less about her, other than that, having gone home to Ireland for a break, he, in his innocence, brought back a present he thought her family would appreciate in severely rationed England – a very fine Irish joint of ham. Happy days!

  6. annie on December 29, 2018, 12:27 am

    in the facebook video w/the birthright guide, wow, talk about word smithing. she wanted them to sign something saying leaving the trip was their free will and choice, and they said they didn’t choose to leave the trip birthright kicked them off for asking questions. and the guide said no, that’s not what i said. so they asked if, for them to sign the form, if they would write down why they were getting kicked off the trip. but she wouldn’t do that. they wanted to know what rules and regulations they had broken, but the birthright guide couldn’t tell them. later, one of the women said that in private she was told she couldn’t ask questions that would make anyone feel uncomfortable. but the birthright guide wouldn’t put that in writing. birthright obviously doesn’t want to get sued.

    • Citizen on December 29, 2018, 1:48 am

      Just ask the Birthright sponsor, Sheldon Adelson–you know, the biggest single donor to the GOP, the guy who urged America to toss a nuke into Iran, you know, only in a desert area, where only a few scorpions would die? Just so Iran would get the proper picture?

    • annie on December 29, 2018, 5:20 pm

      citizen, the implication of the reasoning, to not ask questions that would make anyone uncomfortable, from what i know that seems very un-jewish. because aren’t they supposed to ask questions? isn’t that part of the religion? so out of curiosity i just googled it “judaism and asking questions” and the top article is “‘To be Jewish is to ask questions’ – The Washington Post” i didn’t open it because of the firewall. the next one says “The Necessity of Asking Questions – OU Torah – Orthodox Union” https://www.ou.org/torah/parsha/rabbi-sacks-on-parsha/the_necessity_of_asking_questions/

      Judaism is the rarest of phenomena: a faith based on asking questions, sometimes deep and difficult ones that seem to shake the very foundations of faith itself. “Shall the Judge of all the earth not do justice?” asked Abraham. “Why, Lord, why have you brought trouble on this people?” asked Moses. “Why does the way of the wicked prosper? Why do all the faithless live at ease?” asked Jeremiah. The book of Job is largely constructed out of questions, and God’s answer consists of four chapters of yet deeper questions: “Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? … Can you catch Leviathan with a hook? … Will it make an agreement with you and let you take it as your slave for life?”

      In yeshiva the highest accolade is to ask a good question

      so that’s likely why birthright would not amend the document to explain why they were being kicked off. because it’s sort of scandalous when you think about it, maybe even heretical.

      visit the jewish state! but leave your questions at home!

      and if it’s true that “To be Jewish is to ask questions”, then leave your jewish-ness at home too.

      • Mooser on December 29, 2018, 6:39 pm

        “Annie”, if organized Judaism makes it clear that no questioning of Zionism will be tolerated, why, the Jews remaining in organized Judaism would be almost 100% Zionist!

        And who could refuse to help a rapidly-dwindling people, moreover, a people so united on the question?

      • Stephen Shenfield on December 29, 2018, 6:56 pm

        Annie — is it true that to be Jewish is to ask questions?

        Complicated.

        Which ‘Jewish’ are we talking about? The Orthodox Judaism of Talmudic disputation that ruled the ghettoes for so many centuries? They certainly asked lots of questions, but never about anything fundamental. To do that was heresy and heretics (Karaites, for instance) were heartily cursed. Or perhaps blasphemy, which the Torah says must be punished by stoning before the whole congregation.

        Or are we talking about the ‘secular’ Jewishness of Jews who had left the ghetto intellectually and usually geographically but remained alienated from Gentile society? They did ask fundamental questions, but not due to their Jewish origin as such — rather as a result of their social marginality, being more or less equidistant from two or more cultural worlds, which made ‘truth’ non-evident to them and encouraged open thinking. But that was a transitional situation. It is now in the past.

        Even if there is something quintessentially Jewish about asking questions, is it a trait shared only by Jews? Ever heard of a man named Socrates?

        Finally, some questions of my own. Why do people care what it ‘means’ to be Jewish? Why does it matter? Why do people feel the need for an ‘identity’? Is it not better for themselves and for the world for such a felt need to remain unsatisfied?

      • annie on December 29, 2018, 10:35 pm

        thanks for responding Stephen, the questions i asked were

        aren’t they supposed to ask questions? isn’t that part of the religion?

        so to answer your question Which ‘Jewish’ are we talking about?

        i don’t know how to answer that!

        is it a trait shared only by Jews?

        asking questions? of course not, everyone asks questions, but i’m not sure if it’s part of, or a requirement of, or integrated into other people’s religions. this is not a topic i know much about, it was more like something i’d heard about and found interesting — wrt judaism.

        Why do people care what it ‘means’ to be Jewish? Why does it matter?

        i can only speak for myself. generally i stay out of the conversations about jewish identity because i’m not jewish and don’t feel part of a grouping in this sense, and frankly it doesn’t really interest me that much and unless something seems strange or curious to me then i don’t give it much thought.

        so yesterday, watching that video (i would recommend) i found the discourse of the counselor very odd indeed. the exchange is rather long and it just seemed, in parts of it, so convoluted. and this idea of not asking questions so as not to offend anyone seemed like such an odd idea in a large group. (although it doesn’t seem strange in the context of not asking someone why their breath smells bad or more ordinary embarrassing type questions) but about larger issues it’s not a rationale i’ve heard very often (or ever, pertaining to adults) with one exception. that exception would be the arguments in the campus debates about bds. which were organized responses if you recall, along the lines of (paraphrasing) “it hurts me when i have to hear those things about israel” which also strikes me as a very immature stance for a college student to take. the ‘be emotional in your response and make an appeal to your hurt feelings’ which is not generally a stance in a debate, the personal plea to emotion.

        now both of these circumstance, the birthright and the hillel instructions, came from higher ups. not for a minute do i think the counselor was speaking her mind as a free agent. this was her task to carry out and this was the reasoning used by birthright. and they both have to do with the kind of instruction a parent might make to a child or a lesson one might learn in kindergarten about being nice or kind to other kids. but in both circumstances they are made to young adults. to protect other young adults. it seems phenomenal to me, so that’s why i questioned it. and then as i looked at it further i recalled hearing this before about questions being part of judaism. so i put it out there.

        Why do people feel the need for an ‘identity’? Is it not better for themselves and for the world for such a felt need to remain unsatisfied?

        i don’t know. at the moment i can’t even relate to “remain unsatisfied” because it implies finding or having an identity is something that requires or demands satisfaction. nothing i can relate to at the moment — maybe this is more a reflection of the mood i am in — i might feel differently tomorrow. i don’t know.

        but back to this birthright, i think they are acting like a cult. this behavior seem like an extension of camp or something. why don’t they just state upfront they are a zionist organization and young adults who have problems or questions regarding the occupation are unwelcome and should not come. it’s the same with hillel, they should be upfront and honest and identify as a zionist organization. that seems like more of an issue of denying identification. or not admitting to or revealing identification. but they are large groups. as individuals people struggle with what they want to be identified with or as, or how they want to be identified and with whom, or not. that’s a life long journey for many people.

      • RoHa on December 29, 2018, 8:43 pm

        “Ever heard of a man named Socrates? ”

        And look what happened to him!

      • RoHa on December 29, 2018, 8:53 pm

        “Why do people feel the need for an ‘identity’?”

        I keep asking what the point of this “identity” thingy is.

        Does it make you irresistibly attractive to women or get you a discount at the liquor store?

        Does it stop your hairline from receding?

        Does it make your cat obedient?

        What good has it ever done for anyone?

      • annie on December 30, 2018, 9:48 pm

        RoHa, we could strike “who are you?” from our vocabulary. I’m reminded of the first time i ever went back east as a teen (i’ve told this story before so bear with me if you recall). I traveled to NY to meet a friend and stayed at her parents house. when i was introduced to her parents they asked me my last name. then it happened again with almost everyone i met there. this doesn’t happen in california. aside from the neighbors to my right (whose mail frequently lands in my mailbox) i don’t know the last names of any of my neighbors. i learned when i was 18 that on the east coast your last name really makes a difference.

        of course in a small town where i grew up we knew all the families and they knew us so it was different. but my parents didn’t ask me the last names of new friends i brought home. it just wasn’t done.

      • RoHa on December 31, 2018, 12:59 am

        When I taught in the US, I was astonished to discover (a) a lot of my students didn’t know the word “surname”*, and (b) many people did not understand the convention of surname first when giving one’s name in a formal context. (“Bond, James Bond.”)

        And that was in the East of the country.

        (*Though quite a few of them didn’t seem to know anything else, either.)

      • Mooser on December 31, 2018, 3:11 pm

        “I keep asking what the point of this “identity” thingy is.”

        Gee, do you think whether an identity is imposed on you by powerful forces outside yourself (and usually to dehumanizing effect), as opposed to being a lifestyle which one is free to adopt or not(as one finds benefit in the identity), makes any fundamental difference?

        Maybe we should differentiate between those two things.

      • annie on December 31, 2018, 5:36 pm

        oh this reminds me, i was listening to a video of AOC this morning and she said

        “Our identity is a lens and you can’t ever take it off”

        context: https://twitter.com/TheLoveBel0w/status/1072832702754246661

      • RoHa on December 31, 2018, 8:19 pm

        Go ahead and differentiate, Mooser. Let me know what you come up with.

      • Mooser on January 1, 2019, 11:58 am

        “Go ahead and differentiate”

        Sorry, “RoHa”, it’s New Year’s Eve, and all differentiating is postponed til next year. A Happy New Year to you and your’s and them and their’s.

  7. wondering jew on December 29, 2018, 2:47 am

    We get to read about Phil and religion twice a year: Christmas and Passover. Christmas time Phil just loves participating in the Christian rituals. Passover time Phil gives a grudging respect to the seder, but his passion against Zionism is far stronger than any positive feelings he attributes to the holiday.

    I happen to agree that Zionism is the primary Jewish question of 2018 and Amira Hass’s attitude towards the Palestinians is superior to Naftali Bennett’s.

    Phil is learning Hebrew, so he can read the words of the supremacists. You slay me! The only virtue in learning Hebrew is as a language of hate. Wow. You slay me.

    I read Peter Beinart a couple days ago on the topic of what he would say to a young antizionist: His line of thought is similar to my line of thought.

    Phil enjoying church services and learning Hebrew as a language of hate, to me this is foreign.

    • Citizen on December 29, 2018, 3:04 am

      Is this foreign to you too?
      History is real and scary.

      “On the other hand, the Zionists, if they continue to ignore the Mediterranean peoples and watch out only for the big faraway powers, will appear only as their tools, the agents of foreign and hostile interests. Jews who know their own history should be aware that such a state of affairs will inevitably lead to a new wave of Jew-hatred; the antisemitism of tomorrow will assert that Jews not only profiteered from the presence of the foreign big powers in that region but had actually plotted it and hence are guilty of the consequences.”

      Hannah Arendt, The Jewish Papers (355)

      To such an independence, it was believed, the Jewish nation could arrive under the protecting wings of any great power strong enough to shelter its growth. Paradoxical as it may sound, it was precisely because of this nation- alist misconception of the inherent independence of a nation that the Zion- ists ended by making the Jewish national emancipation entirely dependent upon the material interests of another nation.
      The actual result was a return of the new movement to the traditional methods of shtadlonus, which the Zionists once had so bitterly despised and violently denounced. Now Zionists too knew no better place politically than the lobbies of the powerful, and no sounder basis for agreements than their good services as agents of foreign interests.

      Hannah Arendt, The Jewish Papers (367)

      “…the poorest Jewish craftsman, pedlar, landlord’s steward or petty cleric was immeasurably better off than a serf. This was particularly true in those European countries where serfdom persisted into the 19th century, whether in a partial or extreme form: Prussia, Austria (including Hungary), Poland and the Polish lands taken by Russia. And it is not without significance that, prior to the beginning of the great Jewish migration of modern times (around 1880), a large majority of all Jews were living in those areas and that their most important social function there was to mediate the oppression of the peasants on behalf of the nobility and the Crown. Everywhere, classical Judaism developed hatred and contempt for agriculture as an occupation and for peasants as a class, even more than for other Gentiles –a hatred of which I know no parallel in other societies. This is immediately apparent to anyone who is familiar with the Yiddish or Hebrew literature of the 19th and 20th centuries. Most east-European Jewish socialists (that is, members of exclusively or predominantly Jewish parties and factions) are guilty of never pointing out this fact; indeed, many were themselves tainted with a ferocious anti-peasant attitude inherited from classical Judaism.”

      Israel Shahak, Jewish History Jewish Religion, the weight of 3000 years.

    • LeaNder on December 29, 2018, 8:49 am

      We get to read about Phil and religion twice a year: Christmas and Passover.

      Well there sure is something about midnight mass. Even theoretically. Sticks out considering normal routines. The seventh Sunday vs Shabbat mainly? None at midnight.

      Phil is learning Hebrew

      Interesting. Or good to hear, if you like. Never moved beyond the basics. And considering my old childhood dreams, knowing as much as possible languages before I die, recently I wondered if I shouldn’t give Russian a second chance just for the hell of it. Ages ago, decades?, I left the class since I simply couldn’t bear the arrogance of the teacher.

      Otherwise pleased you are still around and maybe slightly more that Yossi Gurvitz is still there at +972.

    • eljay on December 29, 2018, 9:10 am

      || wondering jew: … Phil enjoying church services and learning Hebrew as a language of hate, to me this is foreign. ||

      To anti-/non-Zionist Jews, supremacists like you and your supremacist ideology must seem foreign.

    • Mooser on December 29, 2018, 1:13 pm

      “Phil enjoying church services and learning Hebrew as a language of hate, to me this is foreign.” “WJ”

      “Foreign”? You mean Phil isn’t assimilated?

      • Citizen on December 29, 2018, 3:49 pm

        LOL. WASPS long ago gave up their claims and any evidence of being a superior crowd. Phil does the same with JEWS. That does not mean either his wife or he can’t quite easily find much to love about their respective tribal history. It does mean they have both found evidence of things about their respective tribes they find do not meet the highest standards of morality and ethics. So why is this not a good thing?

    • Marnie on December 30, 2018, 2:23 am

      You are such a Philfreak yonah. He’s spoken for FFS, have you no pride at all?

    • wondering jew on December 30, 2018, 4:27 am

      Elliot Gould on Saturday night live, the only Jew at the Knights of Columbus Christmas celebration and he, Gould, the yid, is the only one who knows the words to the songs.

      All the christmas songs written by yidden.

      The joke I heard from my Talmud teacher in 9th grade. The old yid lives with his modern son, who throws a Christmas party. As midnight approaches the party decides to attend midnight mass as a group, and kind of like a baby sitter, the son takes his father along. Inevitably the old man dozes off and starts snoring in church. His son gives him an elbow. The father wakes up from his sleep with a start, sees/thinks that he is in shul late at night and assumes that they are saying selichot and he jumps up and chants the appropriate hebrew chant.

      Is the monotheism of Judaism superior to the syncretic polytheism of Christianity. If monotheism’s benefit over paganism is that it is getting closer to the true number of gods (as in one is closer to zero, than three is close to zero), I suppose the benefit is minimal. Probably because it is most recent Islam is purest in its monotheism, but also because it is most recent, Islam is a bit too wedded to Mohammed, like Elvis fans are wedded to Elvis. But seriously this is not about, my religion is better than your religion, just that two years ago you were telling us that a Christmas tree is just a Christmas tree and now you’re telling us midnight mass is just a midnight mass and next it will be a baptism is just a little dunk in water and then that the only way to god is through the son, and if you don’t believe in jesus you are going to hell and we ain’t buying what you’re selling, so stay away from the christmas tree and from the midnight mass and from the dunk in the water and then you’ll stay away from the bigoted, “the only way to heaven is through jesus” blindness. and judaism’s resistance against the prevailing worship was principled yesterday and is principled today and i cannot comment on tomorrow, because i hope to think some more before tomorrow and i have the tiniest bit of hope that i might have some better conclusions by tomorrow, but as of this minute: yesterday and today’s resistance were tres tres valid.

      • Mooser on December 30, 2018, 1:27 pm

        “Yonah” why are you so intent on making a complete fool of yourself?

        Isn’t there anyone, a trusted friend, possibly a religious adviser, you can show your archive to, and ask “Is this good for the…”.

    • wondering jew on December 30, 2018, 4:48 am
  8. John Douglas on December 29, 2018, 11:12 am

    Wonderfully written, Phil. I wonder about your, “When I was younger, I would say they are doing what Jews do, questioning authority. Now I say, They are doing what smart young people do.”

    True yes, but I’ve wondered for a time about whether the prophetic tradition in Jewish texts, which in this context includes Jesus,” was the spark that later became free political speech, the First Amendment, Mill’s ‘On Liberty’, Marx, Emma Goldman, Saul Alinsky, and what nowadays is the injunction to, “speak truth to power.” Perhaps there’s a sense in which those “smart young people” are “… doing what Jews do.”

  9. [email protected] on December 29, 2018, 11:15 am

    To me it feels so Jewish to go to Yiddish class in the morning and pick up flyers for a Sabeel (Christian Palestinian) conference on my way home. And then spend the month of December singing Khanukeh songs and Christmas carols. I love my parents for teaching me that everyone deserves equal rights and equal justice, accepting my brother’s Presbyterian wife. (They died before I married my wife, who was a bissel Jewish). And that America turned out to be a good place for Jews. Countries based on a single religion are kind of mishugeh., they would agree. Happy return of the light to you all.

  10. hammersmith on December 29, 2018, 11:26 am

    I am not a believer but I enjoy the rituals, Christian and Jewish

    • Mooser on December 30, 2018, 2:27 pm

      “I am not a believer but I enjoy the rituals, Christian and Jewish”

      I believe that Christmas lighting is one of the last true folk arts in America.

  11. Ossinev on December 29, 2018, 1:59 pm

    @Jackdaw
    “The Jewish birthrate in Israel is skyrocketing”

    Ah but is it the right sort of Jew being born. You know the ones who can be persuaded /induced (given the pandering to the loony religious right wing parties they can never be forced) to take their faces out of the Talmud and become truly moral by killing multiple Palestinians.

    For information:
    https://www.jpost.com/Israel-News/Haredi-population-tops-one-million-521515
    And in terms of the need for an expanded Greater Reich – ooops sorry meant Greater Zioland:
    https://www.jpost.com/Israel-News/Current-Israeli-birth-rates-unsustainable-says-expert-543209

  12. John Salisbury on December 29, 2018, 3:32 pm

    Nice piece.
    Slightly shaded by a similar posting “ Against Self Determination “ of a couple of years back.

  13. Ottawa observer on December 29, 2018, 4:40 pm

    Thanks for this thoughtful article. I think the “comments” section could be very interesting and more useful if it were moderated.
    Many of the comments appear to be of the “oneupmanship” variety without really contributing in any helpful way.

  14. dimadok on December 30, 2018, 9:25 am

    I’d expect from an intellectual person, like Mr. Weiss is presenting himself, to start learning Hebrew in order to understand the diversity of views in Israel, maybe to read Hebrew literature and books, but to justify it by a need to know what Zionists are saying in their “closed” meetings and publications- that’s some perverted reasoning.
    Also, I agree that his musing of a tormented Jewish soul is nothing of a new around. It comes and goes around holidays, maybe spending a year in Israel will help to ease it?

    • Talkback on December 31, 2018, 5:37 am

      dimadok: “Also, I agree that his musing of a tormented Jewish soul is nothing of a new around. It comes and goes around holidays, maybe spending a year in Israel will help to ease it?”

      It will. After loosing his soul it won’t be longer tormented. It’s a very common Zionist experience.

  15. Vera Gottlieb on December 30, 2018, 11:14 am

    Although of Jewish background, I want NO part of ANY religion. As regards anti Zionism…yes, I am anti Zionist and will continue to be until Palestinians are treated like humans.

  16. Keith on December 30, 2018, 12:25 pm

    PHIL- “…and learned that I am 99.7 percent Ashkenazi Jew….”

    Mr. 99.7 percent. You have come a long way, Phil. So has Mondoweiss.

    • Mooser on December 30, 2018, 1:44 pm

      “…and learned that I am 99.7 Askenazi Jew”

      But how is that possible? Why, that’s the same percentage that “catalan” and “Boris” got!

      • catalan on December 30, 2018, 2:10 pm

        “Why, that’s the same percentage that “catalan” and “Boris” got!”
        Mooser
        Actually I got only 42 percent European Jewish (they don’t do Ashkenazi/Sephardic) and then 27 Italian and 23 Middle eastern (Arab/Persian). The rest is little Turkish and Spanish/Portuguese. It always makes me laugh that you have been insulting a quarter Arab all this time. So I am a lot more Arab then you or Phil.

      • Mooser on December 30, 2018, 3:50 pm

        “It always makes me laugh that you have been insulting a quarter Arab all this time”

        What on earth are you talking about “catalan”?
        Who has been “insulting” you?
        Frankly, I don’t see how anybody could insult you.

      • Talkback on December 31, 2018, 5:14 am

        Mooser: “But how is that possible? Why, that’s the same percentage that “catalan” and “Boris” got!”

        It’s a magic number. The same percentage of allocations of state land in Israeli-controlled parts of the West Bank have been granted to Jewish settlers.
        https://www.nytimes.com/2018/07/17/world/middleeast/west-bank-public-land-israel-palestinians.html

      • Mooser on December 31, 2018, 3:17 pm

        “It’s a magic number.”

        It certainly is. Ivory Soap, you may remember, could only claim to be 99.44% pure.

        42% would get Ivory Soap banned by the FDA.

      • Boris on January 2, 2019, 1:26 pm

        Mine is 98.5%.

        Well, Phil got an extra percent for the Judaism in his saliva.

      • Mooser on January 2, 2019, 4:07 pm

        “Mine is 98.5%.” “Boris”

        Oh, sorry “Boris” I had you down by a percent or so. Have you been ‘carrier tested’ too?

      • Talkback on January 3, 2019, 3:57 am

        Mooser, that’s just another magic number.

        The same percentage (98.5%) is the number of Palestinian requests for building permits in the Area C that are rejected. Thousands of residents have subsequently been made homeless by Israeli bulldozers tearing down properties they deem to be illegal.
        http://palestinemonitor.org/details.php?id=d9nm6xa13761ymnn09t1w9

  17. James Canning on December 30, 2018, 12:33 pm

    I think even higher rates of intermarriage between Christians and Jews is a good thing for the US, and for Israel for that matter.

    • Mooser on December 30, 2018, 1:33 pm

      “I think even higher rates of intermarriage between Christians and Jews”

      If I raised my rate of intermarriage, would you think it was big of me?

      • RoHa on December 30, 2018, 7:36 pm

        Polygamy, or divorcing the current Mrs. Mooser and marrying another?

        Whichever way you choose, it will be a noble sacrifice. Grit your teeth and remember that you are doing it for your country.

      • Mooser on December 31, 2018, 5:34 pm

        “Polygamy, or divorcing the current Mrs. Mooser and marrying another?”

        Heaven forfend! Not if it involves anything like that. The out-marriage rate will have to fend for itself.

  18. pabelmont on December 30, 2018, 1:11 pm

    Somewhere above, a quote: “The Nazis made me afraid to be a Jew, and the Israelis make me ashamed to be a Jew.”

    Sums it up except for one thing — that it makes the false equivalence between being a Jew and being a friend if Israel (or a quiet by-stander).

    Anyhow, Phil, great year-end article. And raises the hard-to-answer question: how can one leave the tribe and still retain (good) qualities that may fairly be attributed to that tribe? Maybe, at long last, all that remains to a decent (former) Jew is the desire to maintain the good name of the Jewish tribe. Zionists say they want to maintain safety for the Jewish tribe (or that part of it which agrees with the horrible settler-colonial, terroristic methods of Zionism), and are evidently willing to sacrifice that good name.

  19. Nathan on December 30, 2018, 2:09 pm

    Once upon a time (and not too long ago), a central argument of anti-Israel Jews was that “Israel has become one’s Judaism”. You run across many articles throughout the years in which the authors complain that they can’t stand the fact that the flag of Israel (a nation) is in their synagogue (a place of worship). The classical anti-Israel position is surely presented on the website of the American Council for Judaism, and there you can read that “Judaism is a religion, not a nationality”.

    Anyway, I found it very interesting to read that Phil Weiss defines his Judaism as anti-Zionism. Obviously, both sides of this mirror are absolutely nonsensical: For those Jews who support Israel, it’s not an expression of Judaism; and likewise, Phil’s anti-Zionism is not the definition of his Judaism either. However, both the pro-Zionists and the anti-Zionists are agreeing on one very important historical development of modern Jewish existence: The relationship to Israel (be it pro or con) is the very center of their sense of identity as Jews. In short, Israel is the “only show in town” in the Jewish world. No other topic keeps the interest of so many Jews. Even the most dedicated assimilationist Jew – one who would never ordinarily identify himself as a Jew – finds himself having to confront his Jewish identity because of the rise of Israel. How nice. This, then, is surely the biggest success of Zionism.

    • Mooser on December 31, 2018, 3:24 pm

      “Even the most dedicated assimilationist Jew – one who would never ordinarily identify himself as a Jew – finds himself having to confront his Jewish identity because of the rise of Israel. How nice. This, then, is surely the biggest success of Zionism.”

      You bet “Nathan”. The great mission of chasing non-Zionist Jews away from Judaism will make Judaism 100% Zionist.
      Who needs a lot of different Jewish people when the percentage is all your after.

    • eljay on December 31, 2018, 4:08 pm

      Nathan: … In short, Israel is the “only show in town” in the Jewish world. No other topic keeps the interest of so many Jews. Even the most dedicated assimilationist Jew – one who would never ordinarily identify himself as a Jew – finds himself having to confront his Jewish identity because of the rise of Israel. How nice. This, then, is surely the biggest success of Zionism. ||

      So…the “biggest success” of Jewish supremacism (Zionism) is making:
      – most Jews choose to be supremacists and do or support evil; and
      – remaining Jews question they can continue to be Jewish without also being supremacist and doing or supporting evil.

      What a strange thing to say.

  20. milx on January 1, 2019, 12:40 pm

    Phil will always be a Jew (once a Jew always a Jew, at least according to the Jews) but his kids will only be of Jewish heritage and his grandkids and their kids (and so on) might know that they had a Jewish ancestor and if they don’t they might find out when they take whatever is available instead of 23 and Me in 2100. But the future of Judaism will be charted by Jews, not by the descendants of long since forgotten Jews. He’s not wrong to worry that his assimilation will undermine his ability to impact the Jewish community. You need skin in the game for people to take you seriously and while Phil has a tad of skin left in the game still everyone can see how this particular story ends.

    Vis-a-vis Israel being the most important issue of contemporary Judaism – this is somewhat true. Much like Ashkenazi vs. Sephardic customs and culture defined the primary Jewish split for centuries and centuries, that dialectic is being redefined to be more along the lines of America/Anglosphere/Diaspora (the one you choose depending on how optimistic one is about continued Jewish growth in idk France or Russia or whatever) vs. Israel. Ashkenazi + Sephardi is becoming deemphasized in favor of this more pivotal dichotomy. But Ashkenazi and Sephardi Jews despite conflicts of interpretation (sometimes very serious ones) were not the primary meanings of Judaism – more important than the competing existence of a Talmud Bavil + Yerushalmi is the existence of the Talmud period. Which is to say that one can mistake a pivotal fault line in world Jewry with the essence of Judaism itself. But that’s silly. Jews will “survive” Israel (however it ultimately resolves) because history is long and Judaism is more resilient than whatever model one is working with when they’re explaining how Israel is destroying Judaism etc. From a basic psychological perspective when Weiss projects the end of Judaism what he is projecting is the end of his Judaism.

    (Posters like Mooser need not chime in; Weiss may be halfway out the door but at least he has something intelligible to say. Mooser is like a thousand Jewish men I’ve met in my life who think they’re hilarious and everyone else wishes they’d just stop talking. Peppering one-liners with Yiddish words isn’t funny – everyone can read it as the desperate attempt to demonstrate authenticity that it is.)

    • Mooser on January 1, 2019, 1:44 pm

      “Peppering one-liners with Yiddish words isn’t funny – everyone can read it as the desperate attempt to demonstrate authenticity that it is.”

      Yeah, I shoulda quoted Shakespeare.

      When my “Ancestry.com” swab comes back analyzed, you’ll be sorry you said this about my authenticity.

      • milx on January 1, 2019, 2:04 pm

        On the Internet, nobody knows you’re a dog.

      • Talkback on January 1, 2019, 2:35 pm

        What a shame. Once a power that resides in all of us it all came down to counting Midi-Chlorians.

    • Mooser on January 1, 2019, 2:00 pm

      “Peppering one-liners with Yiddish words isn’t funny”

      Words like “mashgiach? Not even sure I can pronounce it right.

      “Mooser is like a thousand Jewish men I’ve met in my life…”

      Hurray! My authenticity is established!

    • eljay on January 1, 2019, 3:51 pm

      || milx: Phil will always be a Jew (once a Jew always a Jew, at least according to the Jews) … ||

      It’s not only “the Jews” who would force a person to be Jewish against his will. Not a terribly moral thing to do, regardless of who does it.

      || … the future of Judaism will be charted by Jews, not by the descendants of long since forgotten Jews. … ||

      At this point in time, it seems that the future of Judaism will be charted by Jewish supremacists (Zionists) who need the religion (because Jewish is a religion-based identity) to validate their religion-supremacist ideology, the resulting “Jewish State” construct and all the evil they deliberately and unapologetically have done and continue to do.

      • milx on January 1, 2019, 4:28 pm

        Someone who would reduce Judaism to violent conduct and/or bad behavior in the Levant is unfamiliar with Tanach or even Channukah. Judaism survived the Maccabees it’ll survive Zionism too.

      • Mooser on January 1, 2019, 5:49 pm

        “Someone who would reduce Judaism to violent conduct and/or bad behavior in the Levant”

        ROTFLMSJAO! Of course! The respect and tolerance which should be given to the Jewish religion should be extended to the Jewish colonial enterprise.
        Pimping Judaism for Zionism.

        ” Judaism survived the Maccabees it’ll survive Zionism too.”

        And what odds will you give me on the Palestinians surviving Zionism?

      • eljay on January 1, 2019, 6:58 pm

        || milx: Someone who would reduce Judaism to violent conduct and/or bad behavior in the Levant is unfamiliar with Tanach or even Channukah. … ||

        Zionists don’t need to “reduce Judaism to violent conduct and/or bad behavior in the Levant” in order to use Judaism to validate what they do.

        || … Judaism survived the Maccabees it’ll survive Zionism too. ||

        You may be right, but according to Zionists the majority of people in the world who identify as Jewish also believe in Jewish supremacism in/and a religion-supremacist “Jewish State” in as much as possible of Palestine. This would seem to indicate that – at this time at least – the future of Judaism is being charted by Zionists.

  21. hophmi on January 2, 2019, 8:15 am

    “The Birthright official who tells them they are going home is a stupid thug”

    Lol. The opposite is true. The person on the video could not have been nicer to a group of entitled hardcore activists who were twisting her words and holding a camera in her face for hours.

    I’m sorry you feel that your community “rejected” you in 1991. Try and appreciate that an oft-persecuted small group of a few million people have slightly different views about in-marriage than a community of a billion and a half who colonized the entire world and today dominate a rich continent. If you really “believe in tribe” you can understand why that is.

    In any event, what was true in 1991 is surely not true now; intermarriage is accepted in most of the secular Jewish world.

    Also, maybe if you learn Hebrew, you’ll learn that there’s more to Israel than “supremacists.”

    Also, don’t be the kind of narrow-minded fool who defines religion exclusively through politics. I know of not a single Zionist who would say Judaism is Zionism. Judaism isn’t anti-Zionism either. If that is what you really believe, then your religion may be anti-Zionism, but it’s not Judaism.

    • echinococcus on January 2, 2019, 8:49 am

      /quote/Also, maybe if you learn Hebrew, you’ll learn that there’s more to Israel than “supremacists.”/end quote/
      Even if we learned Martian that is highly unlikely. “Israel” is a name for a racial supremacist genocidal state, deliberately chosen by a genocidal racial supremacist political movement to fill Palestine with invaders selected on a racial supremacist basis.

    • Talkback on January 2, 2019, 9:51 am

      hophmi: “Try and appreciate that an oft-persecuted small group of a few million people have slightly different views about in-marriage than a community of a billion and a half who colonized the entire world and today dominate a rich continent.”

      If it was so attractive being a part of this group, intermarriage (or leaving it) wouldn’t be a problem at all.

      hophmi: “… intermarriage is accepted in most of the secular Jewish world.”

      Maybe accepted, but not even possible in the Apartheid Junta.

    • Mooser on January 2, 2019, 12:04 pm

      “Also, don’t be the kind of narrow-minded fool who defines religion exclusively through politics.” “Hophmi”

      Yeah”, he managed to gasp between paroxysms of laughter, “by all means, don’t do that!”

      But “Hophmi”, if the politics of Zionism determine whether or not the Jewish people survive, how else can we define our religion (or at least our peoplehood) except by adherence to Zionism? Seems very sensible.

    • Mooser on January 2, 2019, 12:07 pm

      “Try and appreciate that an oft-persecuted small group of a few million people have slightly different views about in-marriage” “Hophmi”

      You said it, “Hophmi”, we sure do! Out-marriage is running about 70% overall, and 50% in the Orthodox.
      And in-marriage brings it’s own risks.

      • Bumblebye on January 2, 2019, 8:23 pm

        How the ffffffflip did that from Boris get through moderation?

      • Mooser on January 3, 2019, 4:13 pm

        “How the ffffffflip did that from Boris get through moderation?”

        I must have, by coincidence, replied to “Boris’s” comment in the short time before it was deleted, as it was addressed to me. Sorry.

      • Boris on January 4, 2019, 4:51 pm

        Hey, Mu-mu

        It does not work like that.

        You have just admitted to manipulate the content of this dump.

      • Mooser on January 4, 2019, 5:21 pm

        “You have just admitted to manipulate the content of this dump.” “Boris”

        Exactly so, “Boris”. There is nothing wrong with your computer. Do not attempt to adjust the monitor. We are controlling transmission. If we wish to make it louder, we will bring up the volume. If we wish to make it softer, we will tune it to a whisper. We will control the horizontal. We will control the vertical. We can roll the image, make it flutter. We can change the focus to a soft blur, or sharpen it to crystal clarity.

      • Talkback on January 4, 2019, 6:37 pm

        Boris, this is Mondo, not the IDF.

    • Talkback on January 3, 2019, 3:33 am

      Hophmi: “Also, maybe if you learn Hebrew, you’ll learn that there’s more to Israel than “supremacists.”

      Indeed. Start with these thee examples:
      טרור מדינת
      אפרטהייד
      פשע נגד האנושות

  22. Mooser on January 2, 2019, 4:26 pm

    “You keep bringing Jewish genetic deceases into any conversation related to genetics.”

    So you think a discussion on Jewish in- and out-marriage should ignore the fact that endogamy in a small group encourages genetic defects? Or is the JGDC playing a cruel trick on us?

    “Sounds like you are suffering from one (or maybe more) of those.”

    Exactly! And considering how I turned out, doesn’t that make the discussion that much more urgent?

    “You probably would have been better off aborted…”

    Why? Do you think there are too many Jews?

Leave a Reply