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Jews are safe ‘walking around the West Village’ only because Israel exists — Bari Weiss of ‘NYT’

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New York Times opinion editor Bari Weiss has become a star advocate for Israel, and at a recent appearance she made three important points.

1, The way to fight anti-Zionism on college campuses is for older Jews to stop giving money to prestige institutions like Harvard and Columbia and George Washington University because they employ “antisemitic” professors. 2,  The young Jewishly-educated Jews of IfNotNow are worrisome because they are “being used” by anti-Zionists. 3, Jews are only safe walking around the West Village because Israel exists, and they’re “insane” if they don’t recognize this.

Speaking on December 5 at the Jewish Community Center in Manhattan, Weiss deplored the anti-Israel political culture on college campuses and recommended a “really radical” way of changing it, getting wealthy Jews to reassess how much “prestige” they get from giving money to those schools:

Look, Jewish organizations that have poured immense amount of money into fighting BDS [boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign aimed at Israel] love to pat themselves on the back and say “We have been so successful because no universities have adopted BDS.” Well that may be true– or maybe a few [universities have]– but they have failed so unbelievably in the cultural game. Meaning if you go to a university campus, most university campuses where I imagine a lot of people in this room have kids, and you go to the activities fair in the first week or two, you sign up for all these things. You sign up for, Raise the minimum wage to $15, and legalize marijuana, and better rights for cafeteria workers. Oh, and by the way, BDS. Like, it’s become a plank of political progressivism among young people. It just has. That’s the reality.

Do I think that most people that are signing up or going along with that are antisemites? Obviously not. They imagine because… maybe they’re lied to, or maybe they are not doing their homework. They believe that BDS or adjacent things [causes] are just about ending the occupation of the West Bank. When in fact.. BDS is about the elimination of any state between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea.

I don’t know what the solution is to the campus problem. But the idea that it’s overwrought– I don’t think it’s wrought enough! Meaning, really open your eyes to what is happening. Look at– York University just banned a Zionist group on campus. Period. McGill wants one of its student senators, Jordyn Wright, to resign because she’s going on a Hillel trip to Israel…[that] by the way includes visits to the Palestinian territories with Palestinians… GW– you could read the amazing op-ed that we published in the Times by Blake Flayton.

I could go on and on and on. I talk to these students every single day and they are showing more clarity frankly and wisdom than a lot of people I would say in my parents’ generation and older who have put so much stock in the prestige of these places that I think it’s too painful for them to see where it actually is. I think we need a really, really radical rethink of our attitude toward these universities. And the idea that there are very wealthy Jews giving their money to places that actively employ antisemitic professors is astonishing to me. I say that as a graduate of Columbia. At the time I did not have the cojones to call it antisemitsm, by the way. I did not. Now that I look back at what those professors said, it’s astonishing to me actually. So I think we need to think about– What is more important? Is what is more important a Harvard degree, or what is more important, fighting back against this? I think we really need a reassessment.

Bari Weiss could begin this project by publishing her list of antisemitic professors.

Point 2. Weiss said that while in general, young Jews who have a “rich or deep Jewish identity” are sticking by Israel, some are not.

“The thing that gives me pause… is the phenomenon of IfNotNow and the groups that are increasingly cropping up of, I don’t know if they would call themselves anti-Zionist or post-Zionist Jews, who have Schechter and Ramah [Jewish school] backgrounds. They are a small group, but Jewishly educated and they’re very, very, very ourspoken and I fear are being used in ways– well, I’ll just leave it at that.”

IfNotNow calls itself non-Zionist and it demonstrates against the occupation, a cause that Weiss herself endorsed in this discussion. Weiss’s issue would seem to be that they are taking on Israel lobby organizations like AIPAC (where her father is a regular) and fracturing U.S. Jewish support for Israel.

Point 3. Jews are only safe in the United States because of the existence of Israel. And that anti-Zionist Jews who think they’re doing fine here are “insane” not to recognize this.

She began by describing Jews’ discomfort with the word Zionism.

I was at dinner a few nights ago with a lot of Jews. Some of whom were professional Jews, some of whom were not. And there were a few people, I was really surprised who were like, I wouldn’t call myself a Zionist, it’s too loaded a word. Do you hear that? My younger sister was there. She’s 24… She was like Yeah I hear that all the time among my friends. “It separates the boys from the men, I’m a Zionist.”

Atlantic editor Jeffrey Golderg injected, “That’s Diasporism actually… We’re going to fulfill ourselves here.”

Weiss explained that these Jews are only safe walking through Greenwich Village because the state of Israel exists.

The thing that is killing me about this whole Diasporism thing that I’m seeing on the far left is it relies on a vision of history that’s just completely revisionist. It imagines that there was a time where Jews were both powerless and protected… and happy. This is insane. The only reason they’re able to have the luxury of walking around the West Village and calling themselves post-Zionist is because of the state of Israel.

Goldberg injected, “In, to be fair, a unique Diaspora country.”

“Yes. For sure, yes,” Bari Weiss said.

Moderator Zachary Schaffer, head of the Council of Young Jewish Presidents, and a Zionist himself, asked, What about young Jews who say, this is our home, this is where we feel safe? And who say the idea that there could be a holocaust, and we’d have to flee to Israel “is laughable.”

“They literally have no idea what’s going on in the world,” Weiss responded.

How could they look at what’s going on in France and say that the state of Israel is not necessary? That’s it! How could they look at what’s going on in England. 47 percent of British Jews say that if Jeremy Corbyn is elected they will consider emigrating to Israel. I’m sorry, not just Israel, they will consider leaving the country and moving other places. How could people possibly say that? I just find that to be astonishingly parochial.

My main takeaway from the discussion between Weiss and Goldberg is that What liberal Zionists have always feared, that the conflict would become a religious conflict, has come to pass.

Here are two very mainstream American Zionists, stalwarts of Zionism truly, and Goldberg tells us he is on “the left;” and they discuss Israel in religious terms. Goldberg invokes biblical ideas about the “ancestral” home of the Jewish people and Jewish “spiritual” yearning for Jerusalem and the importance of long study of Hebrew; and Weiss seconds him, saying that “the Jewish yearning to return… to their indigenous place is an ancient thing… something that’s deep.”

Using religious justifications for social rights is anathema in American liberal political discussions; and yet liberal Jews have now been painted into that religious corner by Zionism itself. In large part because in Israel itself the secular liberal/left is shattered and marginalized, and mainstream political culture is deeply infused with religious ideas that it promotes here. You can say that the fault goes back to Ben-Gurion’s decisions and Herzl’s ideas — that they purposely mixed religion and politics. But in our generation this religiosity has become acceptable rhetoric among liberal Zionists, and– they should stop. Because such talk really precludes an understanding with people from other religions who live in that country and themselves now invoke religious bases for their rights.


Philip Weiss

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

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20 Responses

  1. Misterioso on December 26, 2019, 12:30 pm

    To be brief:

    Once again, Bari Weiss, the privileged Zionist “princess” spews forth. In essence, she argues that the way to stop the growth of BDS and anti-Zionism in general on university campuses is to cut off university funding provided by rich older Jews. It seems she is unfamiliar with the history of liberation movements. Such a tactic would only increase the numbers, strength and dedication of the BDS movement and other pro-Palestinian organizations on and off campuses.

    The sure fire way to end the BDS movement is for “Israel” (created by Zionist Jews of foreign origin by means of force of arms, several massacres, mass rape and intimidation) to cease its illegal, brutal accelerating occupation, oppression, dispossession and expulsion of the indigenous Palestinians that has been going on for over 71 years.

    BTW, I recommend that for her edification, Ms. Weiss read the following recently published article by Miko Peled, a truly righteous Jew with the courage and integrity to stand shoulder to shoulder with the long suffering Palestinians.

    “From the Old City to Tel Rumeida Hill: Israel’s take over of Hebron forges ahead.” MPM News, Dec. 19/19, by Miko Peled.

    “A short recounting of events from 1967 until today reveals a slow ethnic cleansing of Hebron’s Old City by Israeli authorities and its repopulation by Jewish settlers. This take over was carried out by allowing violent gangs of extremist Jewish settlers to invade the city and terrorize its native Palestinian population, all under the protection of the Israeli army. This is a tactic used by Israel throughout Palestine. Send in fanatic, armed settlers to terrorize Palestinians in a particular town or village, allow them to settle, call in the army to protect them and before you know it, you have another Israeli town or city in its place.

    “In 1968, during the Jewish holiday of Passover, a group of Israeli settlers led by a fanatic Rabbi called Moshe Levinger rented a hotel room in Hebron claiming they wanted to celebrate the holiday there. When the festivities concluded, they refused to leave and declared that they were taking over the place. While the Israeli government initially showed some objection to the hostile takeover, Israeli cabinet ministers gave the settlers their full support, and of course, the settlers enjoyed the protection of the Israeli army. After a few months, the group agreed to leave the hotel in exchange for the establishment of a settlement on land confiscated by Israeli authorities on the outskirts of Hebron. Today, that settlement is the city of Kiryat Arba where close to 7,500 Israeli settlers reside. It is known as a hotbed of racist, violent gangs of settlers that regularly and freely terrorize neighboring Palestinians.

    “The Tel Rumeida takeover”
    “For decades, violent settlers protected by the Israeli army have been invading the old city of Hebron in an attempt to force out Palestinians. The Beit Hadassah settlement, Beit Romano, Avraham Avinu, Ramat Yishai, and others, were all established by radical Israeli settlers with the full support of multiple Israeli governments. Ramat Yishai is the name given by settlers to Tel Rumeida, where approximately ten housing units were built under the pretense of fulfilling ‘security needs.’

    “Standing at Tel Rumeida, a hill covered in ancient olive trees some distance away from the old city, the view is breathtaking at all hours of the day and night. Choice real estate as it is, this hill is constantly invaded by violent Israeli settlers under the protection of the Israeli military who harass local residents. The most notorious settler, Baruch Marzel, lives in a house on the hill guarded by a full-time army post manned by IDF soldiers.

    “Marzel resides just behind a house used by Youth Against Settlements (YAS), a local, extremely effective, and well-organized grassroots organization. The house in which YAS operates was nearly taken over by settler gangs when, in an unprecedented move, Issa Amro, a local leader and the head of YAS, was able to stop them by renting the home from its Palestinian owner. It was on a Tel Rumeida street that Israeli soldier Elor Azaria shot and fatally wounded a Palestinian in the head as he lay on the ground. Azaria was celebrated as a hero in Israel.

    “A by product of the Oslo Accords”
    “The 1997 Hebron protocol, a by product of the Oslo Accords, divides Hebron into two parts, H1 and H2. H1 is the largest portion of the city and comprises the new city officially under the control of the Palestinian Authority. H2 includes the Old City, which has its own commercial center. Of the 220,000 Palestinians in Hebron, 35,000 live in H2 under full-time Israeli military control and under near-constant harassment and attack from H2’s 600-800 Jewish settlers. Palestinians residents of Hebron have to be registered and will not be let into the city without their registration number.

    “In 1994, in what became known as the Ibrahimi Mosque massacre, an Israeli-American army doctor living in Kiryat Arba shot and killed 29 Palestinians, wounding more than 100 others. The massacre, and the protests which followed, led the Israeli army to shutter 1,800 Palestinian shops and more than 1,000 housing units. All the main markets were closed and Hebron’s Old City main street, Shuhada Street, which has connected the northern and southern parts of the city for generations, was closed to Palestinians. In other words, the very heart of Hebron’s Old City was now inaccessible to its own Palestinian residents.

    “The Jewish-only settlements that dot Hebron’s rolling hills do not rely on local commerce for their resources, instead, they are all connected to the settlement of Kiryat Arba by a network of Jewish-only roads and infructure. Kiryat Arba serves as a sort of hub connecting Hebron’s various colonies. The plan is to connect the settlements in a line running through Shuhada Street, past the Ibrahimi Mosque, and up to Kiryat Arba. That settlement will then be connected to the settlement in Tel Rumeida, closing off the area to Palestinians and taking over all Hebron’s Old City, effectively expelling Palestinian residents.

    “Hebron is a microcosm of the rest of Palestine and unless people of conscience around the world act and adopt the call for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) against the Israeli government, the story of Hebron will soon be the story of all of Jerusalem and the rest of historic Palestine.”

    Miko Peled is an author and human rights activist born in Jerusalem. He is the author of “The General’s Son. Journey of an Israeli in Palestine,” and “Injustice, the Story of the Holy Land Foundation Five.”

    • JWalters on December 30, 2019, 3:30 am

      The difference between Miko Peled and Bari Weiss is that Miko Peled is a courageous mind looking at facts, while Bari Weiss is a second-rate intellect obsessed by a fantasy.

  2. bcg on December 26, 2019, 1:35 pm

    Yuval Harari is a popular Israeli author right now ( “Sapiens”, “21 Lessons for the 21st Century”, “Homo Deus”) – he’s made some comments on Zionism I think are worth contrasting with Bari Weiss’ view on the topic:

    We should stop talking about Zionism as a vision. It is a reality. If you define Zionism as the idea of establishing a country for the Jewish people, then instead of believing in Zionism I actually live in it. You could of course define Zionism more abstractly as a set of values, and indeed some of the founders of Zionism saw it in such a way. But I am afraid that, in building and defending the State of Israel, the lofty values of the visionaries were left somewhere by the wayside. I see no evidence that Israel embodies loftier values than Uruguay, Canada, India or any number of other countries. It’s certainly a better country than Syria, North Korea or the Democratic Republic of Congo, but that’s hardly something to be proud of. I wouldn’t like other countries to follow the Israeli example when it comes to treatment of minorities, refugees or the ecosystem. I would be curious to hear about one ethical field in which Israel excels above all other countries…I fear that it [Israel] will become the first total surveillance state. That is what you might get when you marry the start-up nation with the villa in the jungle. Israel is the one country in the world that is likely to have both the motivation and the technology to establish a total surveillance regime, beginning in the occupied territories, and spreading from there to the entire country…. The Judaism of today is already a completely different religion from the Judaism of biblical times. Biblical Judaism was a typical Iron Age cult, similar to many of its Middle Eastern neighbors. It had no synagogues, yeshivas, rabbis—or even a Bible. Instead, it had elaborate temple rituals, most of which involved sacrificing animals to a jealous sky god so that he would bless his people with seasonal rains and military victories. Its religious elite consisted of priestly families, who owed everything to birth and nothing to intellectual prowess.

  3. Keith on December 26, 2019, 8:17 pm

    PHIL- “Bari Weiss could begin this project by publishing her list of antisemitic professors.”

    Careful what you ask for, Phil. With the US State Department definition of anti-Semitism including criticism of Israel as anti-Semitic, along with the passage of all of these anti-Zionism equals anti-Semitism laws, Weiss could publish her list and taint folks without fear of legal problems. That, of course, is the purpose of these laws and definitions, to permit legal, defensible defamation. Honest discussion will be shut down by name calling. It already is. And Corbyn’s capitulation didn’t help.

    BARI WEISS- “They are a small group, but Jewishly educated….”

    Jewishly educated? Pure Jewish intellects, untainted by Gentiles? The ideological essence of Zionism is a return to medieval Jewish sectarianism.

    PHIL- “Bari Weiss says Jews should stop giving money to Harvard and Columbia because of antisemitic professors”

    Bari Weiss wants fat-cat Jews to use the power of the purse to bludgeon the Ivy Leagues into even greater ideological conformity consistent with the perceived needs of Jewish Zionists. All of her arguments are basically pretexts for ongoing Jewish Zionist power-seeking.

    • Keith on January 1, 2020, 4:39 pm

      Folks, below is a Bari Weiss quote which is pure myth-history. Does she really believe this crap? Yet who can deny that she knows her audience?

      “We are a people descended from slaves who brought the world ideas that changed the course of history. One God. Human dignity. The sanctity of life. Freedom itself. That is our inheritance. That is our legacy. We are the people commanded to bring light into this world.” (Bari Weiss)

      • eljay on January 1, 2020, 5:51 pm

        || Keith: Folks, below is a Bari Weiss quote which is pure myth-history. Does she really believe this crap? Yet who can deny that she knows her audience?

        “We are a people descended from slaves who brought the world ideas that changed the course of history. One God. Human dignity. The sanctity of life. Freedom itself. That is our inheritance. That is our legacy. We are the people commanded to bring light into this world.” (Bari Weiss) ||

        Zionists like Bari Weiss (and even our very own Nathan) exhibit a disturbing fanaticism that seems increasingly tinged with insanity.

  4. RoHa on December 27, 2019, 4:08 am

    “Some of whom were professional Jews, …”

    By “professional Jew” does she mean the Jewish equivalent of “professional Scotsman”?

    • echinococcus on December 27, 2019, 12:25 pm

      She doesn’t mean it that way because she wouldn’t even know what it is if it jumped up to bite her tail.

      The dictionary meaning, according to English syntax, of “professional Jew”, is used with caution lest it be met by immediate hue and cry by professional Jews: person who makes a living or otherwise improves his condition by using an identity of “Jewish”.

    • Mooser on December 27, 2019, 3:02 pm

      “By “professional Jew” does she mean the Jewish equivalent of “professional Scotsman”?

      It’s more like being a true Scotsman.

  5. Ossinev on December 27, 2019, 9:58 am

    For a succinct resume of this non – event creature see:

    She has either by guile (which I doubt ) or accident ( with the support of Zio manipulators within the NYT ) discovered some sort of niche purporting to represent the younger (sic)”Liberal Jewish Zionist” who is taking the battle to the young lefties on American campuses etc who are supporting BDS and openly condemning Israel`s barbarities. She herself at 35 is of course no longer “young” by comparison with the genuinely young college age anti – Zionist students but it would appear that she views herself as being of the same generation and therefore entitled to lead the Pro – Zionist view (what remains of it)among American Jewish youth.

    As for her views words and actions quite simply a pile of ordure. And as with a lot of the Pro – Zionist mouthpieces she would be quickly and surgically torn to shreds in any debate with the likes of NF.

    • Lillian Rosengarten on December 27, 2019, 11:49 am

      Dear Bari Weiss, The question comes up “what is anti-Semitism? There are very legitimate criticisms of the injustices of Zionist Israel. Can’t you see that? One is not an anti-Semite when one criticizes an apartheid state where there is horrific destruction of what was Palestinian life? The Jewish tradition is absolutely contrary to everything that is the basis of Zionism, colonialism, racism and super nationalism. Zionism has also carefully manipulated the mythology that calls all Jews Zionists. And yes, there is increased anti-Semitism but it relates to the ugly and perverse apartheid of Zionism where Jews are seen as special and entitled.

  6. Ismail on December 27, 2019, 11:42 am

    Bright Jewish kids are endorsing the movement for Palestinian rights? They’re going past the anodyne “I am happy to criticize Israel when it deserves it, but not too much” and articulating deep, informed analyses of its endless infamies?

    Why, the kids are being tricked or fooled or otherwise hypnotized…anything but coming to conclusions that follow ineluctably from even a basic acquaintance with history and the possession of a functioning moral sensibility.

    Just like they talked back to the parents because of Elvis. Just like southern blacks chose to endanger themselves to acquire basic human rights because northern agitators gulled them into doing so.

    Does this harpy not hear how dismissive and disrespectful this stuff sounds?

    Weiss first gained fame at Columbia, when she was instrumental in the vicious witch hunt against professors whose ideas she disfavored, all of whom were, after a lengthy and pointless investigation by the university, acquitted of all the phony charges made against them, with one minor exception. No rampant antisemitism, no punishing students for being Jewish. But she found her calling anyway, finding antisemitism everywhere a voice favorable to Palestinians might be heard.

    And so she persists, like an oldies band trotted out to robotically to go through its greatest hits.

  7. eljay on December 27, 2019, 3:31 pm

    My main takeaway from the discussion between Weiss and Goldberg – two born-and-bred Americans – is that they, like all Jewish Zionists, suffer severely from the mentally-debilitating delusions that:
    – they are Ancient Israelites Exiled From Their Historic, Eternal and One True Homeland; and
    – the religion-based identity of Jewish grants to them and to all who choose to embrace it the “right” to be supremacists, to have as large as possible a religion-supremacist state and to do unto others acts of injustice and immorality (a.k.a. “necessary evil”) they would not have others do unto them.

    It seems increasingly that Zionism should be classified a mental illness.

  8. Citizen on December 27, 2019, 3:51 pm

    So, didn’t Trump recently issue an executive order directing that no federal funds be given to any college or university allowing anti-semitism on campus, including anti-semitism broadened by incorporated examples to include criticism of Israel?

  9. Talkback on December 27, 2019, 5:06 pm

    Bari Weiss: “Because… maybe they’re lied to, or maybe they are not doing their homework. They believe that BDS or adjacent things [causes] are just about ending the occupation of the West Bank. When in fact.. BDS is about the elimination of any state between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea.”

    She wants us to believe that this BDS’ goal is racist (antisemitic) when in fact the self declared Jewish state can only exist as a racist state by keeping Nonjews expelled. The result is that a existence of a “Jewish state” according to Weiss and her likes outweighs the human rights of Nonjews which is blatant Jewish racist exclusivism and supremacism. She argues like an Afrikanner who claims that it is racist to end Apartheid. What a racist perversion and distortion of truth.

  10. Vera Gottlieb on December 28, 2019, 12:00 pm

    Enough of covering up Zionists’ misdeeds. Enough! We should have the right to disagree with israel’s policies towards Palestinians without being smeared and labelled anything. I am of Jewish background and yes…I’ll continue to boycott any product coming from israel.

  11. Boomer on December 29, 2019, 9:32 am

    Thanks for reporting this. As an American, I perceive the comment cited in the headline as offensive, twisted, and pernicious. So twisted that it would be tedious to attempt to explicate. And pointless to make the effort. For non-Zionists, the problem is self-evident. For the Zionist true believer, any such attempt would be dismissed as proof of Jew-hatred or insanity, as Ms. Weiss put it.

    But I will observe that the pernicious effect of this doctrine adversely affects all American socieity, both Jewish and non-Jewish.

  12. G. Seauton on January 3, 2020, 2:15 am

    “Jews are only safe walking around the West Village because Israel exists….”

    Ideas such as that are properly termed magical thinking — something well beyond a garden variety non sequitur.

  13. Hemlockroid on January 5, 2020, 11:12 am

    Most Zionists on campus are Protestant not Jewish 30 to 1. Protestantism is an aggressor faith.

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