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Avigail Abarbanel

Avigail Abarbanel was born and raised in Israel. She moved to Australia in 1991 and now lives in the north of Scotland. She works as a psychotherapist and clinical supervisor in private practice and is an activist for Palestinian rights. She is the editor of Beyond Tribal Loyalties: Personal Stories of Jewish Peace Activists (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2012).

Website: http://www.avigailabarbanel.me.uk

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  • Jewish allies must understand that solidarity entails a loss of privilege
    • @Yonah Fredman — Just thought I’d mention that you’ve got it wrong. I can’t speak for Jonathan Ofir, but I didn’t disown anyone in Israel. Everyone disowned me. Questioning the cult is not allowed and everyone I used to know except my brother and his small family (even that is tenuous) has nothing to do with me. It was not my choice. It was theirs. I can understand them and I don’t care anymore, but please get the facts right. It’s Israeli Jews that cut off those of us who speak against Israeli settler-colonialism, not the other way around. Read Beyond Tribal Loyalties if you don’t believe me… Take care.

  • Liberal Zionists say that Israel and the U.S. are in the same struggle against rightwing forces
    • Liberal settler-colonisers (aka Zionists) should be an oxymoron methinks…

      1) If you are a Zionist or support Zionism you support settler colonialism.
      2) Settler-colonialism is a crime against humanity.
      Therefore: those so-called ‘Liberals' support the removal of indigenous people from their home in order to settler their own people there…

      And this mob are worried about illiberal developments… Give me a break...

      If you want an example of mind [email protected]£ing, this is a spectacular one. Give me a non-liberal/total fascist Zionist and at least I would think the title is consistent with itself and I know what to expect.

      These so-called ‘Liberal Zionists’ worry me more than the nutters. They are the ones that take us further away from any kind of ending to Israeli settler-colonialism because they — quite possibly deliberately — mislead everyone about what’s going on in Palestine. They would like to appear Western and enlightened and in their own mind they think they are. So I want them to explain how they can be so ‘enlightened’ and humanistic and at the same time support a settler-colonial project… As far as i am concerned they have no leg to stand on and should hang their head in shame for being intellectually dishonest and fraudulent.

      A brief guide to the confused:
      Zionism = settler-colonialism in Palestine —> in this particular case of settler-colonialism, Zionism is a programme of creating an exclusively Jewish state at the expense of the indigenous people and *replacing* the indigenous people with Jews from all over the world on all of the land of historic Palestine.

  • I'm blacklisted and banned from Israel, but for many others this is nothing new
  • What's wrong with colonialism?
    • Mooser —Yeah it looks like the duplicate has been removed along with another comment I wrote… oh well. It’s all good.

    • Thanks Mooser. It’s my pleasure and it’s actually an honour to have an interest in stuff I write! BTW, why did you place my name between quotation marks? Just curious… It is my real name. :)

    • Sometimes I really like sarcasm. I like your comment @Talkback...

    • Thank you @gamal and also for putting a smile on my face :)

    • Does anyone know how I can delete a comment? I was writing on my phone and everything temporary went a bit crazy so one of my comments is duplicated… :o

    • (Read the comment below first) One more thing Jon s— I have acquired the name Abarbanel through my first husband. I kept it for no particular reason, so I’m not a ‘genuine’ Abarbanel. Names mean very little. What matters is who people are, their values, what they do with their life. I have always disliked modern Abarbanels basking in the reflected glory of the original Abarbanel. People can’t take credit for what their ancestors did. They also don’t have to be tainted with their crimes if they make the right choices when it is their time.

      I realise you don’t understand me. But maybe one day you’ll be able to see things more clearly and in particular the impossible contradictions you are living with. I’m fine where I am.

    • @Jon s — My family would have nothing to do with me because of my views. My mother cut off all ties with me when she heard that I renounced my Israeli citizenship. I have been blacklisted and am unable to visit Israel. I don’t celebrate religious festivals because I’m not religious but in any case most Jewish festivals are offensive to my values. (You can read my article on Hanukkah from a few years ago here on Mondoweiss.) I don’t miss anything and have not felt any sense of nostalgia for anything Jewish it Israeli for many years.

      You say you do your bit for democracy. I have no doubt that you mean well. But you’re an intelligent man. Democracy? How can a country call itself a democracy when it only exist for one group? Israel is just as much a democracy as apartheid South Africa was a democracy— for whites only. Israel is a democracy for Jews only, which means that, well... what do you think it means? Ancient Athens hailed as the cradle of democracy was a democracy only for citizens and only for men. I can’t be a member of a society like that.

      I think you need to learn more about Jewish religion and Jewish identity if you don’t understand why I call it xenophobic, chauvinistic, racist. Jewishness is exclusivist and preoccupied with itself. I guess you have to journey out of the group to see it more clearly. And of course there’s the huge issue of ethnic cleansing and ongoing settler colonialism. I can’t live on stolen land and support the exclusively Jewish power structure. You seem to live comfortably with yourself, so be it. We’re different people.

    • @Tuyzentfloot — Fair comment, thank you.

      Here is my take on tribal loyalties: Tribal loyalties is what we developed as self-aware mammals in a very hostile, frightening and dangerous world. Until not that long ago in our history we were a main food source for large predators.

      We are carrying this very same mentality into the modern world, and it's killing us not just physically but in spirit too. It’s causing all of us to commit crimes against members of our own species, and inflict so much unnecessary suffering not to mention waste so much human potential. (Don’t get me started on what we are doing to other species on this planet…).

      Every human being has basic needs that include the need for safety and belonging, love, physical sustenance, opportunity to develop our potential, etc (not necessarily in this order). There is absolutely no reason for us not making this freely available to everyone, regardless of where they are born.

      We continue completely unnecessarily to recreate a hostile world, and then feel justified in using our primitive tendency to huddle in groups for protection. It did work for our ancestors for the purpose of physical survival but not much else. Our mammal brain doesn’t care if we are happy or fulfilled, or if we behave justly towards others. It also cannot plan ahead or think rationally and compassionately. It is busy keeping us alive for one purpose only: the survival of the species.

      Groups that have cults psychology are poorly developed in a sense that what motivates them underneath all the rhetoric, philosophy or whatever else they dress it up as, is the survival of the species. That’s all. There is nothing sophisticated about this. But we are not just mammals. We have executive functions in the brain that include natural compassion to others, a conscience, an understanding of how we impact on others and a concern about it, universal ethics that doesn’t depend on law, the ability to plan ahead, make rational decisions, and see the bigger picture beyond just our own narrow survival.

      Groups that are not cults do not require conformity as the price of belonging, and do not feel threatened by diversity of views. They see diversity as making them stronger in the same way that genetic diversity leads to better resistance to illness and better health in general. They are also cooperative, and have a positive view of the world around them.

      Israel is the exact opposite of that. I am just so tired of these so-called left-minded people in Israel dressing things up to be what they are not. At least the right-wing fanatics say what they think and do not try to hide. You know what to expect from them… It’s the Left-wing ones that worry me more because of their lack of self-awareness and their ability to glue together two things that don’t work. I want them to be honest with themselves, and the rest of us. It’s impossible for them to say they care about humanity, and at the same time support something like the *exclusively Jewish*, settler-colonialist state of Israel. If they admit the cognitive dissonance, and do the right thing instead of trying to live with an impossible mind bend, they would have to question the entire basis on which (Israeli/Zionist-style) Jewishness, and therefore Israel, exist. This requires immense courage and I do not see much courage coming out of Israel or devout Zionist circles around the world. All I see is fear.

    • @Jon s — You say:

      "Yes, we are all members of the human species, but people –most people- identify as members of groups:nations, ethnic groups, religions , etc. and tend to take pride in their group’s heritage and achievements and culture. People tend to feel more comfortable with other people with whom they share a common language and traditions and values than with strangers. It’s quite natural, though we should be careful not to descend into chauvinism and xenophobia.”

      Jewish culture and by extension, the *exclusively Jewish* state of Israel, are by definition chauvinistic and xenophobic.

      I shouldn’t need to present to you my ‘credentials’ Jon s, but will do it anyway just for the record: I was born, raised, and educated in Israel (born in Tel Aviv and grew up in Bat-Yam, attended Yitzhak Sade primary in Bat-Yam, and Ort Yad Singalovsky high school in Yad Elilyahu). I served my two years in the Israeli army. I was trained as a מ״כית and later worked as a draftswoman in מה״ד in the army’s central HQ in Tel-Aviv. I was very close to the machinations of Israel’s first invasion of Lebanon in 1982 under Ariel Sharon. My maternal grandparents were holocaust survivors. I am a native Hebrew speaker, and my entire family is in Israel. I am not speaking from reading a book, or from being ‘brainwashed’ by evil antisemites. I am from there, it appears a little more than you are, if as Mooser says you were indeed born in the US and immigrated to Israel later.

      I thank you for the definition of ‘cult', but the dictionary definition you provide is far from complete. Cult psychology isn’t always about religion or in a religious context. The psychology of cult is where individuals are required to submit their individual sense of identity and their belief system to that of the group. In fact individual identity and belief system, if they are even there, are replaced by those of the group, and this is a requirement for belonging in the group. In other words, conformity and loyalty to the group are the price of belonging. Cults vary in their tolerance of dissent, but to some degree or another cult psychology involves a strong requirement for conformity to the cult’s most essential and central tenets. By contrast groups that do not have cult psychology, do not need group members to think, believe, do, eat, say, dress, or behave the same.

      Cult members are required to offer and use their lives, talents, and energy for the purpose of group survival. In fact group survival is at the heart of every cult, and it is the most important and cherished value a cult member is required to uphold, alongside a belief system that rejects the outside world and sees it as hostile to the cult. Cults do not mix with the ‘world’ outside, which tends to be seen as misguided, evil, wrong, or just hostile to the cult. Cult psychology contains a belief in ’specialness’, that is that the group is special in some way and that it is destined for something special that isn’t shared by others outside the cult. It also includes a belief that the cults knows something that the world outside the cult doesn’t know.

      All documented cults have this in common. They also have in common both language (terminology) and procedures for punishing those who have gone too far in questioning the cult’s belief system, who expose the cult’s belief system to the outside world, or who decide to leave the cult. Punishment can take the form of being ‘labeled’, and if that doesn’t work exclusion. Jewish religion has the exact identity of a cult, Zionsim by extension also has the same psychology albeit without the religious elements, and the state of Israel certainly has all the elements of a cult. It is very difficult for people inside a cult to see where they are because cults do tend to insulate their people and filter if not the information they receive from the ‘world’, then how they interpret it.

      Just because it’s ‘human’ for people to put their own group first, doesn’t mean that it is right. Doing this in the case of Zionism and the state of Israel has led to ethnic cleansing, and the creation of a state that segregates and discriminates between ‘Jews’ and non Jews on the basis of some fictitious idea of ‘ethnicity’, or worse, ‘race'. Now, Mooser here raised the really good and unanswered question of what makes a Jew a Jew, and since we both know Israel considers it de-facto a blood thing, we can also see how nonsensical it is. There is no such thing as a Jewish ‘race’. I haven’t noticed in any blood tests ever that my blood was different from that of any human. Yet that is exactly why the state of Israel considers me Jewish (as per my birth certificate which I mentioned in a comment to Mooser above).

      As for pride in one’s heritage or culture? I don’t have a problem with this at all. In fact I enjoy living in a world that is filled with a variety of ways of expressing the experience of life. But does this have to involve taking someone else’s home? I don’t think so, yet this is what we did. We did this for one reason only, because we were brought up to believe that the Jewish people are entitled, that we have more of a right to survive than anyone else, that no one else’s suffering was or is ever greater than our own, and that anything and everything is secondary to the survival of the Jewish people, including the suffering of others. I can’t see how you could possibly tell me that this isn’t true or that this isn’t a cult...

      I looked again through my comment to you and I really do not think I psychoanalysed you, although I am sorry if you felt offended by me. I am a psychotherapist but am not a psychoanalyst, so do not analyse people. I did ask you what you were afraid of, because to put your group survival ahead of universal values has to be driven by fear. What else is there?

      I don’t have to know you personally to know this. It’s enough to have come from there myself. Who are you as an individual, and what do you really believe? Do you really believe that your group has more right to survive than anyone else's? What kind of intellectual contortions do you, and other so-called left leaning people in Israel, have to make to reconcile liberal views that you believe you hold, with ethnic cleaning and settler-colonialism? (Zionism isn’t merely colonialism. It is *settler-colonialism* namely, replacing the indigenous people with your own group.)

      I have lost my tribal loyalty by choice, and to do that had to deal with the fear that was given to me through my upbringing. I was brought up in the Israeli education system to believe that Jews are never safe with anyone other than their own people, and that Israel is the only barrier all Jews have between annihilation and survival. I was therefore taught that for each of us our purpose was to protect the state at all cost, and use everything about ourselves and our very lives to make sure it continues to exist and survive. I have found this too oppressive while I lived there. But when I also learned the nature of the group I belonged to, and the lies I was brought up on, I couldn’t possibly continue to be a member of the group. I went to study in Bar-Ilan University (בחוג המשולב למדעי החברה) because religious studies were part of the curriculum. Having grown up secular I wanted to understand what Jewish religion was. They taught us well and honestly and it made me question so much. I also got to an age where I felt I wanted to choose my own purpose, rather than have the purpose of my existence as a protector of Israel and the Jewish people, dictated to me by the group.

      Since the state of Israel labeled me ‘Jewish’ on my birth certificate, I will use ‘our’ and ‘we’ here: I do not believe that our group has more of a right to survive than anyone else’s. When I learned about the crime against our fellow humans (a crime against humanity) that we began to commit in the late 19th Century in the name of our group survival, I couldn’t continue to collaborate.

      When I renounced my Israeli citizenship in 2001, this was the statement I was trying to make: I no longer want to be a member of a group that does that, or collaborate with the crime, especially not in the name of or as an expression of my very identity as a person.

      At the end of the day this is about each one of us looking at our own belief system with complete honesty, and either sticking by it, or changing it. If you Jon s choose to stick to your belief system, you also have to accept that your your left-wing values, and your support for the crime of ongoing settler-colonialism are You have to accept that you are aiding and abetting it simply by living in Israel and not fighting to change the belief system the drives this chauvinistic, xenophobic and ultimately racist project. If you are OK with that, then that’s fine with me. But you need to be honest about it and not pretend that you have these lovely left-wing values while living and supporting a fundamentally racist cult state.

    • @Mooser — if you are still around I have to respond to a comment of yours from five days ago. You ask how Jews can know they are Jews?… this made me laugh. I don’t see myself as a Jew in any way. I am not religious, do not follow any Jewish customs or traditions and really have no label for myself except human.

      BUT, the state of Israel tells me I am ‘Jewish’ because it says so on my birth certificate. The state of Israel had the audacity to state on my Israeli birth certificate that my ‘Religion’ is ‘Jewish’ and that my ‘Nationality’ is also ‘Jewish’. Can you imagine telling a newborn what their religion is? I am told from birth that I belong to a fictitious Jewish nation. All the while in Israel the definition of Jewishness is de facto ‘racial’, because in order to be a citizen of Israel you just have to prove that your mother and possibly maternal grandmother are Jewish… How that is proven is by birth certificates and other documents. And it’s all just crap anyway, that un-decostructed, racist, imperialistically-minded bureaucrats once upon a time put on paper when they were still labelling people by religion or ‘ethnicity’ on official documents. And of course if it is printed on paper, then it must be true… (rolling eyes emoji here). I am not Jewish, but I am told that I am because I have ‘Jewish blood’.

      People like the ones we are responding to in this thread have no leg to stand on. Anyone can call themselves Jewish if they wish, but it’s the state of Israel that has taken upon itself now to decide who is and who isn’t a Jew. Except for a few ‘legit’ converts that the Israeli Rabbinate actually approves of, it’s a matter of blood only. And that is of course complete fiction…

    • OK, for flat Earth society member @Jon s — Here is an (imperfect) analogy that might encourage you to think beyond cult survival. Imagine a house invader. That is a homeless man (can also be a woman) who has a family with innocent children. They’ve all been homeless for a long time for no fault of their own. This man decides that the way to help his family survive and stop their suffering is to enter and take an occupied home where a family already lives. The plan is to take it bit by bit in small chunks, in the hope that no one would really notice much. They also planned to gain some sympathy for themselves while this is going on. That home was not chosen randomly. Some ancestors of the homeless family used to live in the area, and some even in previous incarnations of this same house.

      First the homeless family comes in and takes a small space in the house. They start to redecorate and put some of their stuff there. Then they begin to take a bit more space. By that stage the existing family notices and starts to protest. So the homeless family starts to fight back, and spreads rumours around the neighbourhood that the people living in that house are bad and that they want to kick them out. They say that they were homeless for a long time and abused by a lot of people and that all they wanted is a place where they would be safe and to be left alone to live their lives.

      People in the neighbourhood now feel a bit confused, especially because they like the members of the homeless family better, because they are white, and the owners of the house are black. The neighbours also want to appear to be kind and understanding to the homeless white family, and are taking on their cause, helping them buy furniture and supplying means to fight the owners of the house.

      The owners of the house protest and present documents that prove that they are the owners, but everyone feels sorry for the long-suffering white homeless family and just ignores what the owners say. The invading family print new documents that say they are now the owners of the house, and show them to the people of the neighbourhood. They say, ‘Oh that’s OK then, there are papers. They sign those papers making them ‘legal’.

      While this is happening, the white family begins to take more and more of the house, and brings in more relatives from elsewhere. They are not homeless but they tell them they are not safe where they are and should really be living with their family and help out, instead of mixing with potentially dangerous outsiders.

      The invading white family continues to confine the original owners to ever smaller spaces in the house, and limits their access to facilities like toilets, showers and the kitchen. They are also not allowed to use certain hallways, while the white family use them, and there are areas of their own house they cannot enter into at all. Some of their possessions were taken by the white family and never given back. Some were destroyed and replaced by new things brought in by the white family and their supporters.

      If the black family resists or tries to get some support from outside, the white family uses violence against them, and punishes members of he family regardless of age by sticking them in the basement of the house for indefinite periods of time. They also kill a few at a time to make sure that the black family is demoralised and also that there are less of them. They haven’t killed them all yet, which would be the logical thing to do, because they are still worried about what the neighbours might think about them. But they would if they knew that there would be no reaction. The white family succeeded in talking about what they did as a ‘conflict’ and say they want ‘peace’. But really what they want is for all the original owners to leave so that their family can take ownership of the whole house once and for all, and live happily ever after with their own people.

      In the West, a house invasion would be considered a crime. The perpetrators will be prosecuted and the legal owners of the house whoever they are, would be on the right side of the law. This does not work in international law. Israel is getting away with an act that in our own societies would be seen as a serious crime.

      Having been homeless or having had historical ties to a place makes no difference to the nature of the crime. Jon s you are justifying the unjustifiable and are completely oblivious to the hypocrisy and lack of compassion to the victims that underpins everything you say. You are driven by irrational tribal loyalty (fuelled by traditional Jewish fear of non Jews) that blinds you so much, that you cannot see the obvious.

      I was there and I know what it’s like inside the cult. I also what it looks like on the other side. I know the psychological mechanisms that enable people with your belief system to continue to live and look at yourselves in the mirror every day. But even as a psychotherapist I really cannot grasp how genuinely honest and good people can live like this, except if deep down they are driven by a fear they might not even be conscious is there. We have all been raised on the horrors of the ghost of antisemitism… We were groomed to be frighted of it as if it was a living monster that will get us and devour us. The only protection is huddling together in one place. Can you even see how primitive all of this is? There is nothing sophisticated about Jewish identity and Zionism. They are based on ancient human fear of a dangerous world, and on the experience that there is nowhere safe except in the little ghetto, Sheitel, group.

      I know I won’t convince you. I have already cited Festinger and it’s clear that people don’t leave cults or change their belief systems that easily, especially if that belief system presses some survival buttons. I also know how psychologically difficult the journey out of the cult is as I have made it myself. At the end of the day you have to live with yourself. I couldn’t live with myself while I placed the alleged survival of my own little tribe above everything else. We are members of the human species and need to care about everyone not just ourselves and those close to us. If we don’t it means we let down our own potential and what we are capable of being just because of fear for our own survival. Why are you so afraid Jon s?

    • Festinger reached that conclusion from observing a few examples of cults in history where there was good documentation for research. It turns out that eventually, if the disconfirmation of the belief system persists, eventually people do walk away from the belief system. I am not holding my breath about Zionism though and although I think we should continue to do our work, I also think the Palestinians don’t have time to wait until Israel gets a clue…

      There are too many people in power, in Israel’s own military-industrial, money elite who profiteer from the situation as it is now. Even if a large number of people in society woke up to the truth, I believe there will be powerful resistance to change there.

    • "Suppose an individual believes something with his whole heart; suppose further that he has a commitment to this belief, that he has taken irrevocable actions because of it; finally, suppose that he is presented with evidence, unequivocal and undeniable evidence, that his belief is wrong: what will happen? The individual will frequently emerge, not only unshaken, but even more convinced of the truth of his beliefs than ever before. Indeed, he may even show a new fervor about convincing and converting other people to his view.”

      — Leon Festinger et al. When Prophecy Fails. (P.4)

      But there is hope and a reason why we should persist in exposing Israel and educating others:

      "when people are committed to a belief and a course of action, clear disconfirming evidence may simply result in deepened conviction and increased proselyting. But there does seem to be a point at which the disconfirming evidence has mounted sufficiently to cause the belief to be rejected.” — Leon Festinger et al. When Prophecy Fails. (P.13)

    • Do I need to say anything to the Zionists on this threat? Don’t think so. The tactic as usual is to go into personal attacks on the messenger and the messenger’s character.

      If you can discredit the messenger’s very character, you don’t have to listen to anything they say. An effective and familiar cult tactic to avoid any possible challenge to a cultish group’s belief system.

      My thanks to the Zionist commentators for giving me more material for my project on the Zionist Cult. Very helpful!

    • @Mooser — Zionist Israel does not really trust anyone. In the end they believe they would be abandoned and be alone ‘as Jews always have been’. But they will take whatever is offered for as long as it’s offered. They aim is to complete the settler-colonial project so any help is welcome along the way no matter who it comes from, even far-right Nazi types and Christian fanatics who are waiting for the rupture...

    • Great and lively discussion here. Thank you everyone for taking an interest! Some people’s comments make me smile. People have a great sense of humour.

      The one thing I notice about Zionists in this discussion is that none of them, not for a second, expresses any kind of empathy for the Palestinians. They express extraordinary (and oh so familiar) self-centerdness. They have no leg to stand on but they will continue to protest even when they stand trial in the Hague as most willing agents of psychopathic systems tend to do. I think the lack of empathy is very telling.

      I have mentioned it before but will mention it again here. In family therapy there is a term: ‘destructive entitlement’ (coined by Ivan Boszormenyi-Nagy). It is the belief that it is OK to inflict suffering on others if you yourself suffered. This belief is involved, in the context of families, (surprise, surprise) in the mechanisms behind multigenerational transmission of trauma. That’s how trauma is transmitted from one generation in a family to the next. Jewish perception of eternal victimhood and suffering makes it OK to inflict suffering on the Palestinians and never feel any kind of empathy or remorse for it.

      And for Mr Jerry Hirsch somewhere up there, who is talking about the 7th Century —
      Well, how about Joshua’s story in the Bible? That’s before the 7th Century… That was a genocide in the land of Ca’naan, very openly and unapologetically decreed and described by supposedly God, for the sole purpose of giving a fully populated land to the Hebrews. The Hebrews were commanded to kill everyone, and take everything. Hmmm… I often wonder why this is never critiqued or questioned for its morality. It doesn’t really matter if it’s history or not, but as Jewish identity myths go, this is taught un-deconstructed, and unchallenged morally or on any ground. The fact is that Jewish identity myths always contain the principle that anything and everything is permissible for the survival of the Jewish people. All those Zionists in this thread keep proving me right. Anyhow, I’d say that if we want to go back in time, then even then we started it…

      I think maybe, let’s just focus on the present day progressive settler-colonialist crime in Palestine, which is advancing for one purpose only: to take all the land and resources for the exclusively Jewish state and somehow, one or way or another get rid of the indigenous people.

      It is a crime, and this is how it should be looked at. Jews or green Martians, it matters not who is doing it. A crime is a crime and perpetrators don’t have any excuse on any ground. Victims of crime need to be protected and saved from perpetrators. This is what my article is about.

    • @Annie Robbins, just wanted to send a ☺️ and 👍🏼 for your comment to this Hasbara agent. Well done!

    • Oh the spin, the spin... it’s hopeless, which is why I don’t bother. I don’t like having words put in my mouth, or for my words to be transformed into what they’re not. Like I said, and like anyone whose head is clear can see, I am very clear in my writing. I say what I mean, and I mean what I say. No hidden undercurrents, or meanings or hints. I have no capacity for flare or artistic spin. I am pretty simple.

      I’m Amazed (but not surprised) by how I’m told that I am saying the colonists should leave, when I’m clearly not saying that. I’m amazed yet again how the ‘end of the exclusively Jewish settler-colonial power structure’, morphs into ‘demise of Israel’... Zionists cannot see beyond the deeply ingrained paradigm of ‘everyone hates the Jews, and wants to kill them all’. Everything has to be twisted to mean that...

      The truth is that mainstream Jewish identity, and certainly Jewish Israeli identity depends on this paradigm. Lose that belief, and Jewish identity collapses... Everything depends on it. If Jewish people did not believe that their demise is imminent, that the ‘end is nigh’, then there would not be any need for an exclusively Jewish state. It is such a doomsday cult belief system and Israel is the product of it. Once again for anyone with any doubts about me, I am from there and grew up in it. I know how hard it is to find an individual identity and shed that toxic group identity that depends so much on a belief in the end of the people. It is because I know this that I call for action and pressure from outside and support the BDS. I do not believe the the Palestinians can wait until Israel has done its soul searching and woke up out of its stupor into reality. Right here right now, through someone like this Nathan, you are getting an authentic taste of what mainstream Jewish identity is.

    • I have nothing to debate with you @Nathan. See above. There is no debate here. I do not debate with anyone who is an apologist for a crime. When you are able to be honest and say exactly what you think; when you are capable of *unconditional* compassion and empathy for victims of settler-colonialism, including the Palestinians people who are victims of the Jewish state of Israel, you can find me and we can maybe have a real conversation.

    • Thanks for that. I should get on the discussion a lot more often. It sounds interesting and quite eventful a lot of the time.

      Zionist tactics are well known to me. I come from there. They really end up quite vague and unclear because they really don’t have anything to say. If you support Israel you support a crime against humanity. There is no way around the sickening logic — that I too grew up with — that everything and anything is permissible for the sake of the survival of the Jewish people, because we are special and have some kind of a special mission for which we have to survive no matter what. It doesn’t matter who suffers, and who is sacrificed in the process. It’s all just collateral damage for a cause that is supposedly ‘greater’.

      Growing up on the un-decosntrcuted and un-examined immoral Biblical myth of Joshua committing genocide in Canaan; growing up without asking any questions about who died and how many, and what was done, so that the Jewish people can survive, doesn’t lend itself to the development of universal values. It took me a long long time to wake up to the meaning of it all.

      When it comes to people like Nathan and others like him, I think it’s important to confront them with one question only, blunt and clear: “Do you believe that it’s OK to hurt other people for the Jewish people to survive?” I am sure the answer would be yes. Hell, Benny Morris said so as clear as day a decade ago or more. This is the end of the discussion for me. You cannot debate with people who believe that the world is only a nasty place, that Jews are always at risk of annihilation, and that therefore universal morals and values do not apply. I left this cult a long time ago and have nothing to say to these people.

      One of the most common bits of feedback I receive about my writing in any context is that it is extremely clear. I believe I say exactly what I feel and think. I don’t think anything I say is veiled or obscure in any way. I just don’t do that. So there is nothing more for Zionists to say to me. What can they say? I just want them to be as straight as I am, and tell the truth. But the truth doesn't look good and they will hold on to their deceit all the way to the end, although it screams clearly from all of Israel’s actions. They just won’t name it and engage in pseudo intellectual debates about something that is not up for debate. A crime is not something you debate. I don’t see Jewish people or Israel giving Nazi war criminals an opportunity to argue their case for why ‘race science’ is reasonable and genocide is a perfectly OK thing to commit. I don’t see us debating with pedophiles the merits of abusing children. We should not debate with Zionists the merits of settler-colonialism. there is nothing to debate. There are no two sides to a story of abuse and a crime committed in the context of a gross imbalance of power.

      These people live with a morbid fear of the bogie man of antisemitism, and this is what drives their individual and group psychology. I can’t deal with people like that. They don’t stop for a second to feel any kind of compassion towards the Palestinian people. They are self-absorbed. No matter what the conversation is, they try to steer it to themselves and to their victimhood complex. Like DT they have to be the centre of attention. I unfortunately know this stuff intimately as I was indoctrinated right in the heart of it. This isn’t about analysis of my text or my reasoning. It’s about the crime committed and the suffering it causes. Only a person with no heart, who is self-absorbed and has no capacity for real empathy, doesn’t see that in my article.

      Like I said below, I want to change the conversation. Not interested in talking about Israel or Jewish people or Zionists. I want to talk about the unacceptable crime that is being committed, why it is being supported by everyone who has power, and what we need/must/can do to stop it. I don’t care who the victims are, Palestinians or Martians. I don’t care that the perpetrators are Israeli Jews and their American, British, French, German, Australian and other supporters. All perpetrators are very much alike, and a crime is a crime!

    • Exactly Abuadam. See my comment below to @Nathan…

    • @Nathan — The purpose of the article is to change the conversation. In public discourse, even among well-meaning activists, people still hold back on using the term *settler-colonialism*.

      Israel isn’t special. It is as bad as all colonialists, and settler-colonialists, past and present who are struggling to deal with resistance, gain legitimacy, and whitewash a crime, while continuing to commit unspeakable crimes and perpetuate injustice.

      Zionism is a settler-colonial project and a *crime against humanity* that isn’t in the distant past, but is ongoing. I want everyone to start talking about it, instead of getting caught up with whose who. A crime is a crime. There are no worthy or unworthy victims. There are no perpetrators who deserve special treatment. It’s the crime we need to focus on, which is what the article is about.

      The solution is clear, and it doesn’t require me to spell it out. End the settler-colonial structure aimed at creating and maintaining an exclusively Jewish state, and replace the Jewish state with one state, secular, and democratic in Palestine for all its people.

      I have a strong suspicion that you are an apologist for Israel and are trying to deflect the topic. I have a good detector for deflection. It’s part of being a psychotherapist and also of being a seasoned activist in this area. You know perfectly well what my point was in this article, you probably just don’t like it...

    • Very useful Keith, thank you! Colonisers cannot maintain their power if they allow indigenous people to continue their culture and belief system. So as per the examples you offer, colonialism and imperialism are always also cultural, not just military or economic.

    • Thanks ritzl! This sounds positively awful. Justifying the unjustifiable. Like I said above, people still do it until we decide collectively that something is unacceptable and act accordingly. Israeli settler colonialism is still largely acceptable so there is a platform for its apologists to speak its ‘merits’ or ‘benign nature’... When all kinds of abominable practices are still acceptable their defenders have no fear, shame or reservation in defending them. What these all have in common though is that they completely ignore the suffering the practice is causing. It is quite psychopathic actually.

    • Thanks Amigo! Yes, it is like giving pedophiles, rapists or any perpetrator of crimes against humanity the platform to argue the merits of what they do. Yet this is exactly what was happening in a lot of areas were we have already changed our minds. I’m sure that some readers will be familiar with arguments such as: women have smaller brains than men and they are too childlike and emotional to vote to go to university or hold public office, slavery is absolutely essential to the economy and in any case these black people are not really human, or it is OK for poor people’s children to work in mines. They do not need education anyway and someone has to do it... etc. It is just a matter of what we collectively decide is unacceptable. Israel’s settler colonialism in Palestine needs to be named for what it is, recognised and treated like the crime it is. There is no other side to this story. There never is when there is an imbalance of power and the power is abused.

    • On the part of the Zionists and other supporters of Israel there are two optional arguments: One, it wasn’t settler colonialism. Two, it *was* settler-colonialism, and it is harmful, but it’s justified/OK because the survival of the Jewish people depends on it. The first argument can be easily refuted with historical facts. The second is a moral one.

      Can settler-colonialism be justified under any circumstances? (that is assuming that I accept the argument about the survival of the Jewish people, which I do not, and I did grow up on the rationale that the exclusively Jewish state of Israel is absolutely vital for Jewish survival).

      Settler-colonialism (or colonialism in general) can no more be justified than a child abuser, a rapist, or a home invader excused for having had a tough childhood. I don’t see that working in the criminal justice system. My mind is simple enough to ask why we do not apply in the international arena the same laws we apply in the criminal justice system, and I am not saying it’s perfect. Obviously not. But thanks to how things are working now at least here in Scotland, I am able to leave my house in the morning, go where I need to go, do what I need to do, drive back and expect to be alive and unharmed as a female who is a migrant to this country, looks a wee bit darker than the average person here and speaks with a different accent. The same is not true for a Palestinian in Palestine, or for a Syrian, or for a lot of people caught up in a colonialist system, or its aftermath or in any supremacist system anywhere.

    • @Rob Roy — Thank you for a very kind comment.

    • Jeez… Mooser. Horrible…

    • Page: 3
    • That’s a very good point. One standard for white people and another for the rest… This has always been the colonial mindset. I remember seeing books published in the UK at the time when Australia was being colonised. The Australian Aborigines were described as basically non-human and were seen as either a scientific ‘curiosity’ or an ‘object’ of loathing and ridicule. Indigenous people were always seen this way. It helps to dehumanise if you are going to destroy someone or take something from them. Then it’s easy to overcome any guilt, if there is any there at all…

      I think you are spot on that psychologically many people who do wrong tend to fear the same being done to them. Your explanation seems right to me. There are other possible explanations for this in my profession. One of them is that once you know something can be done (because you maybe did it), then you know it *can* be done and if it can be done, it can be done to you too… We don’t tend to fear anything we haven’t already experienced or otherwise witnessed. Being a perpetrator falls into the category of knowing it is possible… I think your explanation is better though…

    • Absolutely and I am sorry you were criticised for it. As far as I am concerned it is a given and the facts and the impact speak for themselves. It’s a no brainer. Re Palestine, it is time to start to have this conversation and start getting away from focusing on the identity of the victim or the perpetrator (coloniser). It’s not important. Everyone’s focus should be the crime. If we don’t do that we imply that there are worthier victims than others and that somehow perpetrators committing the same crime should also be treated differently. Surely we don’t want to say this, do we?...

    • I know. I researched it. Same was the case in Australia in the 30s...

    • I should have also pointed out how American leaders past and present have been expressing fear that ‘Muslims’ or others would ‘destroy’ their way of life. If colonialism is so benign, then why would the US, UK or other (ex colonial and present colonial Western states) worry so much about *their way of life* changing…? Just a thought.

  • Hundreds of US rabbis blast 'betrayal' by Israel over western wall, but not a word about West Bank wall
  • Challenging an ideology means rupturing with community and family
    • @Maghlawatan,

      When I edited the book, I knew that I would not agree with all the contributors. Many of them are not yet where ‘I would like them to be’.

      But my point in the book was to highlight one, the insidious and all-pervasive cult-like nature of Zionism, and two, the complex journey of opposing it. It shouldn’t be a big deal to follow universal human values, and oppose settler colonialism. It should be a given that everyone should be against it and no one deserves a medal for it. It shouldn’t need to take courage to stand up against something that is fundamentally a crime against humanity. However, due to the cult-like nature of Zionism it’s not that simple.

      In my introduction I mention the PEPs — Progressives Except on Palestine. These are Zionist Jews who are blind to the selective way in which they choose to apply their humanistic values. They essentially place their loyalty to the ‘tribe’ ahead of their own values and ahead of intellectual honesty. They would do anything for anyone, but when it comes to the Palestinians, the shutters come down. I personally think that if the person’s values are real, it should be a given that they wouldn’t discriminate between ‘causes’ or ‘victim groups’. If you are against oppression, then you should be against oppression, however and wherever it manifests itself. But that isn’t the case with Zionism. So the books is about that and about those who are choosing to engage in a journey out of the cult and the obstacles, psychological and external, that they encounter along the way.

      But no, I don’t agree with everyone in the book. I didn’t just want to include people who were identical to me, as it would have made for a very boring book. I wanted to show different expressions of different stages of the journey. For instance, I think that Jewish values are in fact responsible for Israel and not the opposite. I don’t think Judaism is a nice religion or a religion that fundamentally critiques or opposes settler-colonialism. One of the foundational myths in the Torah is about the conquest of Canaan under Joshua, a brutal settler-colonialism story from beginning to end. It’s never been questioned or critiqued as such to the best of my knowledge.

      The book wants to show how insidious it all is and I think it might help people understand the violent reaction that so many Jews have to criticism of Israel.

  • I hereby chuck my right to Jewish national self-determination
  • Saving the daughters of Israel from the annihilation of intermarriage
  • Trump may kill Netanyahu with kindness
    • I couldn't agree more with Jonathan Cook. To understand Trump and try to make sense of his decisions and actions it Is necessary to consider the most important factor about him, and that is that he has a Narcissisitic Personality Disorder (NPD).

      If you know any thing about this you would know that the single most important principle that guides a narcissist is their insatiable need for admiration. They are notorious for saying to people what they want to hear just so that they can get the short term perk of approval and admiration from the person they happen to be speaking to. They make outlandish promises and would appear to be giving the person everything they ever wanted. The fickleness that Cook is talking about will come from Trump's NPD. He might promise the world to one person but then would act in a way which will completely undermine it. Children of parents with NPD will recognise what I am talking about...

      To try to predict what Trump might do, you need to understand that an NPD has a pecking order inside their head. They rank everyone they meet by the degree of 'narcissistic supply' they can get from them, by how imporatnt they are and what they can get out of associating with them. It goes together with an assessment of who is more important a than whom. NPDs always compare people and anyone around them would always feel that sense of competition for their attention and 'favours'.

      The NPD would always want to be associated with the person they perceive as more important (or more 'famous', or influential, more beautiful, whatever it is they happen to covet. The thing they covet -- beauty, success, status, money, power, academic recognition etc. -- is only a context for getting their admiration which is the real narcissistic supply. It is not important in itself so much but only as a means to an end.)

      I believe that Trump considers Putin to be far more important and influential than Netanyahu so he will go with Putin. He admires Putin. So like Cook predicts, Trump will probably be uninterested in the ME (no narcissistic supply there for him), and will leave it to Putin to police. Given what we know about Russia's sentiments in the ME, it might well usher the one-state in Israel-Palestine. I think Netanyahu should be nervous. No matter what Trump's advisers might tell him about Israel or Netanyahu or how many Jewish-Zionist advisers he has, he will go where his narcissistic supply will be. The only organising principle in the US from now on in every possible area will be Trump's personality disorder and what goes with that. Not good at all for Americans but can have potentially unexpected positive outcomes for the rest of the world.

  • Why I left the cult
    • On the off chance anyone is still reading this… I thought I’d share this directly from my Facebook page. It’s another somewhat poetic 'gem' (see below) I received just now in response to my 'open letter' article. It came by PM and it's from a woman (not a FB friend) with an Israeli-sounding name. I won't share her name. But haven't blocked her yet so if she looks, she'll be able to see this post here because it's public.

      The reason I am engaging with this here is mainly for the benefit of those who might still be feeling a bit confused about Israel and believe that Israeli Jews can be reasoned with about Palestine. I know this is just one example but it is typical of mainstream Jewish Israel.
      This woman's protective psychological mechanism is powerful. She clearly wrestled with what I said, but couldn't cope with the uncomfortable feelings it must have triggered in her. So she had to conclude that I'm either insane or desperately unhappy. After all, to be outside the cult you couldn't possibly be happy or ok... Many other cults believe exactly that. This way she and other cult members can dismiss my words (and any challenge to the cult) as the mindless, pathetic ramblings of a sad, insane creature, and not take any notice of them. Because I'm from there, I'm seen as insane and pathetic. Non Jews who challenge Israel, are of course dismissed as antisemites, which in Israel is also seen as a form of profound insanity.

      Note how there is no engagement whatsoever with any of the substance of my article, only with my 'character' and possible motivation for writing it. Note also how her notions of compassion and sensitivity are limited only to her own group.

      The (my) leaving of the cult is really the big issue for her. One that according to her I should keep secret and not talk about so openly and without any show of shame or guilt! I recognise this way of thinking so well. In Judaism there is a law that if a Jew converts, the entire community has to pretend they're dead, perform the Shiv'ah mourning ritual and never speak to them again (there's an example of this in Fiddler On the Roof). It's so clear how the Zionist cult continues the exact same tradition. But then again it's standard cult practice and by no means unique to Jews.
      What can I say in response? 'No, I'm actually a happy person and am doing quite well really'?... It's not only pointless, it's also shaking this woman's defences, which for now, she obviously needs. But can you see how cults operate, how well they colonise their members' minds? There is no individuality or individual identity. Only the group matters. This is a perfect example.

      ------------
      FB PM text:

      "I can't be your friend or your enemy. I only pity you. To drop to this level of insensitivity toward other human beings means insanity. Well the entire world as it seems suffers from a stronghold of insanity. Muslims are killing each other; some Jews grew up to become their own enemies. Compassion has deserted the earth…but you personally if you really mean what you said in your post, are frolicking with insanity, since a normal person who is so happy to leave her country and fellowmen and dwell in Scotland… what kind of satisfaction do you get when you scream it to the heavens? A happy person is the one who is so afraid to jeopardize it and keeps it jealously secret… You are howling like hungry wolves in the wilderness… You couldn’t convince me… Thus I conclude that you are indeed a very poor and miserable person, very much unhappy, and the only resource left to you is to target your own roots. Are you happy? No, absolutely not… You very badly sick to the point of losing all common sense."

    • @genesto

      Thank you -- that's very kind of you. The truth is that I am paying a relatively small price compared with what the Palestinians are going through. Yes, it's unpleasant sometimes and it's not nice to be completely cut off from anyone with whom I have something of a shared history. I have been inundated with abusive PMs on Facebook in the past few days and it's not great.

      But I have to say it doesn't affect me much at all. I remember when I first started, I used to get death threats back in Australia for saying a lot less than what I say in this article. When I first started I was pro-Palestinian but I wasn't yet the anti-Zionist that I am now. Back then I was a novice and had no idea that this would be the reaction. It shocked me. But it validates what I say, that Jewishness and Zionism are a cult.

      I am so pleased to hear about your wife, and well done to her. I am sorry about the price she is paying for insisting on living according to her values. Because Jewishness is a cult, after all, there is a cost to attempting to leave it or to openly criticising it to the rest of the world. Just watch what any cult out there does to those who question or try to leave... It's all there for everyone to see. Groups that don't have a cult mentality, don't behave this way.

      Your wife might find some comfort in my 2012 edited book (sorry for plugging it here) Beyond Tribal Loyalties - Personal Stories of Jewish Peace Activists. There are 25 stories there including my own, by Jews from five countries. We are all reflecting on our journey out of Zionism, or at least out of automatic support for Israel 'no matter what'. They are not all 'there' yet, but it's interesting to trace the emotional and psychological journey, and I do believe the book validates and supports others who have been or are on the same journey.

    • @RoHa -- You are absolutely right and people keep telling me this. However, it is possible to pass on trauma without abusing the person. It's enough to grow up with parents who have it for a child to develop it too, even if they have never had anything done to them directly.

      Our limbic (mammalian) brain works, is primed for fear. Nothing gets wired more effectively and more quickly into our limbic brain than an experience that involves fear. Humans have survived not only because we have been able to generalise and make predictions from our own experience, but also because we have learned from the stories of others. We learn the most from those we are attached to the most and whom we perceive as vital to our own survival.

      If you know Jewish religion and also Israeli culture, you'd see that they are both designed to create trauma in subsequent generations, albeit unconsciously. Trauma is the core of Jewish and (by extension) Jewish-Israeli identity. It's actually human, rather than particularly Jewish. But Jewishness as a perfect example of how this works. When I broke away I didn't just break away from a political ideology, I broke away from a psychology that taught me that I am supposed to live in fear because I am Jewish. I decided that even if the world was indeed hostile to Jews (which I do not believe and which was not what I found when I left Israel), I still wanted to live a full life that was not defined by fear and suspicion of anyone who wasn't Jewish.

      In family therapy we talk about 'multigenerational transmission' of trauma and also in neuroscience. Like I said above, it is not necessary to have experienced abuse directly to fear it.

    • Thank you. That’s really lovely of you to say!

  • Amos Oz would never stand in the street in Tel Aviv shouting 'Kill all the Arabs'
    • Thanks you @oldgeezer! I'm not sure about expertise. But simply by virtue of having been born and raised in Israel I grew up with antisemitism as an absolutely central concept in my education and identity. Having also had the privilege and freedom to reflect on everything, I feel I can speak about it now more clearly. Interestingly enough, I have never in my entire 52 years enountered any antimsemitism. I have lived in three countries so far. Thanks again!

    • @ritzl -- Quite right! We need to help Israel see that it is no different from anyone else. See my comment above to Dan Walsh about the 'specialness complex'.

    • @Dan Walsh -- I don't know what Steve Grover's definition of antisemitism is (I'm still not sure whether he was literal or sarcastic). But I can tell you the definition that I was taught growing up in Israel and that most Israeli Jews believe. Antisemitism according to what Israelis are taught is a deep seated mental illness that all non-Jews potentially suffer from. If it's not out it's latent but it's always there and is passed on with the 'mother's milk' among non-Jews. It's incurable and it can flare up without warning.

      Antisemitism has a special word and isn't just 'racism' because hatred of Jews is perceived as a special thing and not the same as hatred of other groups. There is a dreadful specialness complex that goes with Jewishness (religious or not). It means that everything that concerns Jews is not the same as any other group. So hatred of Jews is special, Jewish suffering is special, and also of course Israel is special and Jewish supporters of Israel and Jewish Israelis believe that Israel should have special treatment. Together with the specialness goes also the concept of better or greater. So for example, antisemitism is supposedly far worse than any other form of racism and the same applies to Jewish suffering. It's not just a special breed of suffering it's also greater, etc. As a psychotherapist it is hard for me not to see the similarities between these kind of characteristics and what we call Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Social psychologists, sociologists or anthropologists would easily identify the characteristics of a cult here.

      Having said all of that the word 'antisemitism' or 'antisemite' is casually flung by many Jews at anyone who isn't completely in love with Jewishness, or anyone who is critical about anything that Israel does.

      The principle is that internal criticism is tolerated up to a point, but no one is allowed to criticise from outside. What I, (and many people with my background), have been doing in my case for the past 15 years or so, is 'air the dirty laundry'. This is the worst crime you can commit in a cult because from the cult's point of view you expose it to the world and make it vulnerable. Hence the accusation of antisemitism towards people like me. It's nothing to do with my particular ethnicity. I'm just not good for the Jewish people from their perspective, I 'give ammunition' to the antisemites and therefore I join the ranks of Jewishness greatest enemy, antisemitism...

      Does this make sense at all??

    • @bintbiba -- Good morning! Thank you for such a lovely comment and the sentiment. I am glad that we are allies and working together for the same goal. xx

    • @Stephen Shenfield -- It is a moral duty to oppose whoever or whatever is harming others. We don't need to justify to anyone standing against what is evidently a crime against humanity. The West already recognises settler colonialism and colonialism to be crimes. The problem is that the world is not yet ready to see that Israel is a settler-colonial regime and therefore illegitimate and criminal. This is Israel's last bastion of defence, to continue to mislead the world (and many of its own people) about its true nature, or when that occasionally fails, say that they have the right to be settler-colonialists and hurt others because of Jewish historical persecution. In family therapy we call the latter, 'destructive entitlement'. It's when someone thinks they have a right to inflict suffering on others because they themselves had suffered...

    • @Rusty Pipes -- do you have a link to this story? I would appreciate it if you do. These are such worrying trends but they also show things up for what they are. Sometimes things have to get ridiculously bad until people wake up and do something. It's common in my profession...

  • The Palestine-Israel language trap
    • @silmacuz
      Thanks for the apology, if that's what it is. But you really need to consider how you are wording things. I read your original comment again and your response now is not consistent... I don't think there was any hint of complimenting me in what you said. So not buying it. Please refrain from talking to women like this even in jest.

    • I have a big day with clients ahead and starting very shortly, but just quickly dipped in to see what's new on the forum here. Before I get on with my day I just wanted to say thank-you for engaging with the article and the discussion. Thank you in particular to those who have my back and who so warmly invite me to contribute more and engage. It feels so nice to be welcome and to be in such warm, intelligent and supportive company. Have a great day everyone. :)

    • @silamcuz
      Wow, I hope you were joking. But even if you weren't I find your comment offensive. Burn at the stake?... No wonder we women had such a hard time.

      No, I haven't figured out *everything* my friend. I am sharing my thoughts with others. That is all. I find it interesting that you aren't engaging with anything I say, but rather attack me personally. I am very familiar with this tactic from somewhere... Hmmm...

    • @Jiusito

      Thank you for your comment! I think we must not read the Bible literally. The written biblical narrative we have now from what I studied at university (in Israel btw) was put together from Jewish oral traditions fairly late in the story. It's obviously self-serving and cannot be seen as accurate history.

      Canaan was fully populated, and if we go with the biblical narrative, god supposedly told Joshua to go in there and kill everyone and everything and take the land for the Hebrews because 'god said so'. To me that is a genocidal god that makes no sense. If there was a real god he/she/it would be universal and would not prefer one group to another. If a so-called god does prefer my group to someone else's, it is my suspicion that my group conveniently created that god and used his 'authority' to justify the unjustifiable. It's not unlike the paranoid schizophrenic who murders someone and says that god (or the devil) told him to do it... No need to take responsibility for a vile and immoral act if you can say that a divine authority instructed you to do it...

      Given that none of it probably ever happened, and given that the biblical narrative we have now is also based on much more ancient stories from much older cultures than the Hebrew, then I tend to look at the bible as an interesting psychological narrative that might reveal something about the psychology of the people who wrote it, but not so much a record of any real history.

      We don't even know if the 12 tribes were a real thing. The number 12 as is the number 40 are symbolic numbers that appear in the bible a great deal. No one knows if they represent anything real at all. The whole creation myth of the Jewish/Hebrew people is probably just it, a myth, and nothing more. To build a real genocide on the basis of probably a fictitious one is a terrible thing. The ancient one that probably wasn't is bad enough. So to justify a new and very real one on that kind of flimsy foundation is beyond me. BTW, no archaeological evidence has ever been found for the story of the slavery of the Hebrews in Egypt, in fact scholars say that those who built the pyramids were no slaves at all. There is no evidence for the story of the Exodus or for that matter most of the history of the Hebrew people as told in the bible. I think I was born into a cult with a very questionable morality and psychology, that created a state in its own image...

    • @CigarGod

      Apartheid is a right and proper word and it accurately describes the reality on the ground. Apartheid, like occupation are elements or rather two of the means to the ultimate end of the goal of settler-colonialism, which is the annihilation/removal of the indigenous population for the benefit of the dominant invader group.

      Apartheid is a useful tool for settler-colonisers to identify, separate and segregate the members of group that is ultimately destined for removal by whatever means. Apartheid also allows for control, dehumanisation and breaking any spirit of resistance. I hope that just like it failed in SA, it will also fail in Palestine.

    • Thank you RoHa. That's really lovely and I enjoyed reading it.

    • @YoniFalic

      Thank you for your comment!! That's exactly right. I cannot see Israel or Zionism separately from its Jewish roots and I have written about this a great deal over the past few years. It's not very popular but I still hope that people will overcome their fear of being labelled antisemitic and have the courage to look honestly at these issues. Thanks again.

    • @inbound39
      I agree. Israel's own behaviour is its own indictment and its own delegitimisation...

      But one of the problems is that people do not look at the evidence. I think a lot of people follow the principle of 'I’ve Already Decided What I Believe, Don’t Confuse Me With The Facts'... It doesn't help also when it's so hard to come across proper evidence or that the evidence is spun to mean something else. E.g. Israel's attack on Gaza is only Israel defending itself against 'thousands' of rockets, surely Israel has the 'right to defend itself'... and so on and so forth...

      The mainstream education systems almost everywhere and the media everywhere also lie about facts and misrepresents them by underreporting what's happening to the Palestinians and over reporting what's happening in Israel especially when people get hurt, or by helping Israel dehumanise and demonise the Palestinians by presenting them negatively in world media, etc.

      Most people don't stand a chance. It's a fact that we all have to go outside the mainstream to be educated about what Israel is and does...

    • @Froggy
      Hi Froggy, well, I guess there will always be people who won't bother digging too deep. Maybe they believe authority, maybe they were not taught or encouraged to ask questions or maybe they even see asking questions, particularly when views are offered by someone they receive as authority, as a wrong thing to do.

      But I also blame the narrative as offered by countries like Israel. I think Israel has done an amazing job conning people. Its narrative is very attractive and it's like a good Western movie. There is a clear good guy and bad guy in the story and the world is black and white and uncomplicated. I think this is very attractive to a lot of people. It helps that the good guys happen to be white-ish as well...

    • @Hazel
      Hi Hazel, My thoughts about those concepts is that they are part of a 'specialness complex' typical of cults. All sects or cults traditionally think of themselves as special and different to the 'world out there'. It's a particular type of trauma-based or narcissism based (or both) social psychology.

      Whether they are/were created as a result of persecution and trauma, or whether because some narcissist managed to gather a group around themselves that develops into a cult (Moses is a big suspect if you read the Torah with modern eyes), cults are all narcissistic in that they think they are special, separate from the world, have a special 'mission' of some kind, usually to enlighten the rest of us about something, or to correct our ways ('our' being the rest f the world), and that they expect to have special treatment. Cults are typically suspicious of the rest of the world and view it as somehow dangerous to their existence or belief system or both, they require their members to dedicate their lives and talents to the survival of the cult and they punish one way or another people who question or who wish to leave. If you are not 'in' you're 'out' and you then join the enemy. Cult psychology and belief system aren't present only in religious groups. You can find them in street gangs, in groups that hold certain economic views, and even in nationalism to name but a few. It's a human phenomenon, not unique to any one race, religion or nation, and there are plenty of examples all over the planet. In my opinion Jewishness or Jewish identity is a cult identity.

      Some of the characteristics I listed above correspond with some of the items on the Narcissistic Personality Disorder diagnostic criteria but there are more. However, to diagnose a person they only have to have five of those nine. Arrogance and lack of empathy by the way are also on the list.

      So my point is that I do consider where I come from a cult. I think that Israel and what it is, is the only kind of state that a cult could have created. I believe the two points you list fit really well. BTW, as a person I displayed all the characteristics, and have personally been through a process that is identical to the process of many of my clients who were survivors of cults...

    • "Whatever settlers may say— and they generally have a lot to say—the primary motive for elimination is not race (or religion, ethnicity, grade of civilization, etc.) but access to territory. Ter- ritoriality is settler colonialism’s specific, irreducible element."

      ... "Settler colonialism destroys to replace. As Theodor Herzl, founding father of Zionism, observed in his allegorical manifesto/novel, “If I wish to substitute a new building for an old one, I must demolish before I construct.”8 In a kind of realization that took place half a century later, one-time deputy-mayor of West Jerusalem Meron Benvenisti recalled, “As a member of a pioneering youth move- ment, I myself ‘made the desert bloom’ by uprooting the ancient olive trees of al-Bassa to clear the ground for a banana grove, as required by the ‘planned farming’ principles of my kibbutz, Rosh Haniqra.”

      --- PATRICK WOLFE. (2006). 'Settler colonialism and the elimination of the native'. _Journal of Genocide Research_ 8(4), December, 387–409.

    • Hi Greta, Oh, please do use that language. It is entirely accurate.

      Part of my motivation in writing this latest piece was my growing impatience with the controls over our language, while at the same time the Palestinians continue to suffer and to suffer an incremental genocide by Israel. 'Incremental genocide' by the way is a phrase coined by Ilan Pappé.

      It's imperative to search our own motivation before we speak or act. If our motivation is pure and free of the needs of of *our own ego*, and of *malice or poison* -- to name but two possible and common motivations that most of us would experience from time to time -- then we should not accept any limitation on what we should say, especially when people are victims of cruelty and injustice.

    • @MaryT -- Who give up what??

    • @inbound39 -- Thank you for your comment. You echo precisely the ideas that I discuss in my talk on the psychology of Israeli settler-colonialism. Only one correction, not all of those who have been abused go on to abuse others of course, but even without abuse unresolved trauma gets passed on through the generations (Intergenerational Transmission of Trauma). There is a lot of good research about this in my field of work. (I am a psychotherapist).

    • @Raphael -- Thanks for sharing your personal story. I'm glad that you have found some spiritual connection in Israel, but just remember it isn't 'our' country and we have no right to it at all.

      I'm sorry but I don't have any advice about Hebrew books to offer. I am a native speaker of Hebrew so never looked at textbooks or Hebrew language courses. I'm sure if you google it you'd find plenty available.

      As for 'looking Jewish', there is no such thing as a Jewish look. It's a myth sadly created by historical antisemitism. The Jewish look you're probably referring to is a particular type of look that was common among Jews in a particular part of Latvia. Hitler picked on that as being the 'Jewish look' probably because he considered it unattractive, and it kind of stuck over time. Hitler wouldn't have needed to use the yellow star if there was a particular Jewish look. You lived in Israel long enough to look around and see that there is no one look for Jews but that the features are a mixture of everything out there.

      Jews have more or less the appearance of the people in which they lived, which obviously casts serious doubts on the whole idea of Jewishness as a race. A race of people should have features in common because they come from a common genetic pool. If Jews look like the people around them in the countries they originate from, what does that tell us about so-called Jewish genetics? So you probably don't have a Jewish look at all but possibly some kind of Latvian genetic background, and who knows where the Latvian people originated from anyway? It's not my area... :)

    • The business about going back 2000 years is just an excuse. The Jews were never exiled from Judea by the Romans. It's just not what the Romans did. Israeli historians knew this all along but they worked in the service of the Zionist project that sought to invent a Jewish nation where there wasn't one. Inventing the mythology of 2000 years of exile served to help justify the project to colonise and settle Palestine and help create a cohesive sense of identity among modern Jews, most of whom are descendants of converts into Judaism.

      This whole argument about Jews 'going back to their ancestral land' is total bollocks, excuse the bad language... But I am really tired of this nonsense. Besides it's time that everyone put morals and compassion first. What Israel did and is still doing to the Palestinians is unacceptable and it is our moral duty to stand against Israeli settler-colonialism. It's been wrong wherever and whenever it was done and Israel's overtake of Palestine is no different.

    • Good idea. This does not sound like a real open-minded crowd that is prepared to dicusss things fairly and openly. It sounds like a fearful group without much self-awareness. You're better out of it... :)

    • You're very welcome Tchoupitoulas!

    • Setter-Colonialism is what people do when walk into someone else's home and take it for themselves. Growing up in Israel I was brought up on the idea that the means justifies the end when it comes to Jewish survival. Everything was painted in black and white for us. I was told that the holocaust was proof that we can never be safe and was brought up both on the ideas of 'never again' (to us!) and that without the state of Israel another holocaust is imminent. I was brought up to believe that everyone hates Jews and always will and that there is no safety except in huddling together -- in what I now perceive as a ghetto of our own making.

      I have spoken and written extensively about how trauma in individuals and groups can become the organising principle of group and/or individual identity and can cause people to see the world in such terms. Victims of trauma can isolate themselves from the rest of humanity and live as cults do with the belief that only inside is safe and outside never is. This belief didn't start with Israel. It is present in Judaism right back to Biblical myths and stories and you'll find the same themes in Bashevis Singer's stories as well. The settler-colonial state of Israel was created out of the belief that it's either 'us or them' and that whatever the cost, it's OK to do this.

      I don't think so. Having born, raised and educated in Israel I eventually moved away from this mentality. I think it has something to do with my own journey to recover from my personal childhood trauma and then going on to make a conscious effort to recover from my group trauma. I ended up leaving the 'cult' and that means I haven't just left in body, I left its entire mindset, psychology and philosophy of life behind. I choose to not live in fear, to use my life for everyone's benefit not just 'my people's' and to learn universal rather than ethnocentric lessons from the stories of the people who raised me.

      So, the answer is no! Jews or any one of us, have no right to walk into someone else's home and take it for ourselves just because we might have suffered. We don't accept it inside our own societies and I don't see why we should accept it in the international domain.

      My point in the article was that Israel and the Jewish people who created it and populated are as liable as any of us would be, if we did this to someone else. There shouldn't be one standard for Jews and one for everyone else. Colonialism and settler-colonialism have been researched and written about extensively. I am not a scholar in this area but I do know that we live in a post-colonial era which means we no longer look at the times of 'empire' with romanticism but are now able to look at the crimes that were committed with more sober and critical eyes. Israel's project is still ongoing and it is a disgrace the in a post-colonial era it is allowed to continue. The article was about the way that language allows us (our governments) to ignore or avoid the obvious and therefore to enable what Israel is doing.

  • Hatim, King of the Natufians
    • Hi Hatim! Well written piece as usual, thank you!

      I only have one quite important reservation as a woman and as a psychotherapist, and it is about the widespread use of word 'misogyny' in reference to the new Chief Rabbi's permission to rape. Why not use the correct word here, which is in fact, 'psychopath'?

      Misogyny is a basic given principle in the laws and tenets of orthodox Judaism, which no matter how nicely you try to paint it, sees women as inferior to men in a number of very important ways. This individual however, demonstrates a much bigger problem than misogyny. He is a full-fledged psychopath. His position goes far beyond misogyny. As a psychotherapist I could probably easily diagnose him with Anti-Social Personality disorder (aka psychopathy/sociopathy).

      What normal (meaning non-psychopathic) human being would even consider that rape of any woman during war or at any time is OK, let alone say it openly in public, except someone who completely lacks the capacity for empathy? Even if he thinks that there is some obscure archaic law in Judaism that says its OK to rape women during war, if he had empathy he would ignore it and definitely not refer to it in public and as a way of giving permission to abominable psychopathic behaviour.

      There are men who are afraid of women and men who outright hate women, i.e. misogynists, which is without doubt a huge problem, in the same way as hatred of any 'other' is a problem. But, and a big 'but' here:

      Fear of 'otherness' or of the 'other' is natural for mammals. However, it requires something extra to turn natural fear into not just hatred but an actual will or act to cause harm, or incite harm against a group. To cause or advocate harm requires *psychopathy*, which among other things, and maybe most importantly, means a permanent inability to experience empathy.

      Empathy can be temporarily impaired in everyone's brain when we are triggered into extreme fear and feel under threat. But when we call it is a personality disorder when it is permanent. Only empathy can mitigate any impulse anyone might have to hate someone and wish them to be harmed or to disappear.

  • Thank you, Chief Rabbi. Now I know: Judaism is to blame for the Nakba
    • OK, some disambiguation for the befuddled:

      o Zionism IS sitting on a foundation of Jewish religion, values and Jewish identity myths. Therefore Judaism and Jewish identity need to be critiqued and scrutinised.

      o Questioning and critiquing Judaism and Jewishness is NOT the same as antisemitism. Antisemites are racists who do what all racists do. They generalise about a whole group of people indiscriminately. In extremes they call for turning their hated group into a pariah group unprotected by law thus making them vulnerable to abuse, discrimination and exclusion.

      o Israel is a settler-colonial state. Criticising it is an urgent moral and human rights necessity.

      o Criticising Israel is NOT antisemitism. Israel is protecting its settler-colonial project by presuming to speak for all Jews everywhere. To protect itself from urgent and necessary scrutiny, and given that Israel wants to be seen as yet another Western Liberal state, it deliberately causes and promotes this blurring of concepts.

    • Well said Robert. Bravo.

      "Why should Judaism be the only religion incapable of committing crimes in the name of faith and God?"

      That's right, it isn't. Remember Joshua and the comprehensive genocide in Canaan? Now that doesn't mean every Jew is guilty of course, but Judaism as a religion and the identity of Jewishness need to be scrutinised like everything else.

      I have always seen the Jewish roots in Zionism but it was politically incorrect to speak of the two in the same sentence because of fear of antisemitism. There is always a fear that if you implicate Judaism in Zionism's crimes (or equate the two somehow) it would give Jew-haters all the excuse they need to say 'Aha, I told you Jews were bad people' and justify their racism.

      Having been brought up on a morbid fear of antisemitism I am well aware of the intricacies involved, and where those invisible lines are supposed to be drawn in narratives about Israel, Jewishness, Judaism. But I have always been concerned about the intellectual dishonesty we were supposed to all exercise just because of fear.

      So I have been speaking up about problems in Judaism all along in the same breath as criticising Israel and Zionism, and of course no one liked it... In a desperate attempt to distance themselves from any hint of antisemitism they might be accused of, a lot of good people like to talk about these great Jewish values that I know nothing about...

      There are a few good tidbits in the vast world of Jewish traditions and liturgy as there are in every religion. There are also awful things, terrible things, not in the least Judaism's attitude to women, something that as a woman I have always had a particular problem with. I could go on about it all day. The point is that we should never be censored from exploring and examining anything that is part of our human experience, provided we do this with compassion. But fear of antisemitism is not a justification to tiptoe around difficult issues and around truths.

      This false distinction between Zionism and Judaism, tenuous and misguided as it was, is now breaking down because the very Chief Rabbi (of which country?) is saying what is self-evident to me. He of course wants to equate criticism of Israel with antisemitism but by so doing, he is also breaking down that false distinction everyone was trying to make. We must stand up against this. Criticism of a country is not the same as hating its people, and criticism of settler-colonialism and fighting against it are a moral necessity and a human rights issue. This Rabbi proves that Israel is not a normal country. It is an exclusivist cult with a territory that wants to be above the law and treated differently than any other country out there. I hope this Rabbi finally makes this point clear.

      I never thought Israel was worried about hyping up antisemitism in the world. Israel has always been resentful of Jews living elsewhere. Worried about demographics and the ratio of Jews vs Palestinians, Israel really hopes a surge in antisemitism would make more Jews support Israel and immigrate to Israel. This Rabbi isn't stupid and isn't just shooting his mouth. He knows exactly what he is doing, namely stripping Jews around the world of their last defence against real antisemitism. I think all he'll really cause is more distance between Jews around the world and Israel, and more anger towards Israel among Jews who would like to re-examine and deconstruct their own Jewish identity. Personally I have not felt 'Jewish', whatever that even means, for a very long time. I was born to a Jewish family yes, and brought up in the Jewish state, but I will define my own identity thank-you-very-much.

  • Why Miko Peled's story resonates for Palestinians
  • Saying Israel has no right to exist as a Jewish state is not anti-Semitic
  • 'In every important way Israel has failed'-- leading American Zionist says No mas
    • Well, I am really glad that this fellow is 'seeing the light' but the so-called 'Zionist dream' was morally and in every way wrong right from the start *because it was a settler-colonial plan*. There was no 'noble plan'...

      Would these people ever get it right?? I find myself so impatient and unimpressed by these late bloomers into this issue... Bah...

  • To my fellow Israelis: We can stop this
  • DC protests mark the end of PEP era -- progressive except Palestine
    • I understand people's need to feel optimistic in the face of what's happening. But it's too little, too late for American Jews. Netanyahu is winning and the Palestinians are in greater danger than ever. And when the movement 'US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation', changes its name to 'US Campaign to End Israeli Settler-Colonialism', I might start to take them seriously.

  • Netanyahu's craziness is calculated, to drive out Palestinians
    • Sadly, this is a very fair analysis of the situation...

    • Thank you Mooser! That's so lovely of you to say.

    • Thank you Bintbiba for being so considerate! I know this problem with the predictive text/spellchecker. It drives me up the wall sometimes... I know you know my name though so no offence taken, I promise... :)

    • @mooser- thanks!! And plenty of good wishes to you as well. :)

    • I really hope you're right. I want more than anything to be wrong!

    • Thanks Bintbiba! So nice to connect with you again. :)

    • Hmmm... Yes Eljay, thank you! I wonder what we can do about that, each one of us I mean...

    • Kris, I have been thinking the same thing myself for a while now...

    • Thanks Eljay. It is hard to stay optimistic... I oscillate...

    • Thank you bornajoo! Another great comment as always.

    • Hi again Danaa and thank you for your comment. As always, you take the words right out of my head and mouth and I agree with you 100%. My personal BDS is perfectly aligned with what you suggested. Nice to hear from you again!

    • Sibiriak, thank you for your interesting comment. I think what you challenge me on is this: Avnery is a supporter of the two-state solution and you suggest that this does not make him a Zionist. Is that correct? I base my views that he is still a Zionist on things that he wrote that I have been reading over the years. I have never read anything he wrote where he directly challenges Israeli settler-colonialism or even uses these terms. But it is quite possible that I am missing this in his writings and I am happy to be wrong. My point wasn't to be in conflict with Avnery but to offer a warning about the way that Israel is going. I just thought that labelling Netanyahu as insane was not helpful and that it misses the point about his determination to see through the Zionist project of achieving all the land without the people.

      As for my family therapy model, it's important that you read what I have said correctly. In a few places I explained very clearly that where we have violence in relationships we always separate the parties and protect the victims first. This is a priority. We never expect an abused individual to live out their days with the abuser, and I'm almost taking offence as a professional and a human being that you would take my analogy in that direction.

      All analogies have their limits. The fact is that the two-state solution is impossible now because of Israel and it is also profoundly unjust given what the Zionist movement did. Why should the Palestinians have a fragmented state between Gaza and the West Bank on 20% of historic Palestine? What kind of a state is it going to be and what about all the Palestinian land and property stolen by Israel? The Palestinians have a right to return to their ancestral lands and to live anywhere in Palestine they wish to live in.

      The Palestinians who support the two-state solution have compromised because they were forced into a compromise. The Palestinians have not had any formal support from anyone in a position of power out there. The support has been almost entirely on the Israeli side.

      The fact is that Israel does not have a right to exist as an exclusively Jewish state on stolen land and that the only thing that would come remotely close to some semblance of justice is a one state for all its citizens and a full right of return. Those who don't want to live there, Jews or Palestinians can move somewhere else if that is what they wish. But let me be absolutely clear that when it comes to domestic abuse, this isn't what I support. Like I said, analogies are only useful up to a point. In domestic abuse the priority is to separate the parties and protect the victims.

    • I suspect HarryLaw that the Palestinians know very well what Israel is up to. BThey have been doing their best without any international support and while watching everyone pander to the settler-coloniser that is bent on expelling/destroying them and taking all of their land. All the cards are on the Israeli side and without international intervention in the form of strong economic and cultural boycotts and sanctions and military intervention (or UN peacekeeping forces) on the ground, the Palestinians might not survive Zionism.

      My piece above is meant as a warning, not to those who already know this of course, but in the hope against hope that someone in a position of power might read and pay attention. I don't trust the power brokers of the world and not sure what we should do as we face this rapid descent into an inevitable repetition of 1948 and 196.

      I even fear that the power brokers do know what is about to happen and that what I have to say isn't news to them at all, but that to them the Palestinians are nothing more than 'collateral damage', expendable pawns in a cynical, sick international chess game. Just see how refugees are treated everywhere, the poor, those who are sacrificed regularly for whatever big 'important' games these politicians are playing... all those people who don't matter to anyone.

      What if our 'great leaders' know perfectly well what's coming and what if we still expect decency from those who are fundamentally incapable of it? The track record of these big international players is very bad indeed and I am pessimistic. I also hope that I am very wrong.

    • Agreed Eva, I think he is that bad and you are right that we haven't seen the end of it yet because things have not finished unfolding. I brace myself.

  • It's time for American Jews to recognize they have been duped
    • Yonah, my last words to you on this thread:

      At the moment the only people facing annilation in this context are the Palestinians and that is at the hands of the Jewish state. Since Israel is the perpetrator and the Palestinians are the victims, I am with the Paletsinians. It is very simple.

    • Thank you so much Bornajoo, it is such a pleasure to interact with such incredible people

      (Quickly, can you hand over a sickness bag to Irishmoses please?)

      Yes, I am aware that morality is only limited to those within the group. That was basically the framework I grew up with. In a way my sense of morality expanding to the world outside the group is at the heart of my recovery from the cult psychology I was brought up to have.

    • Sorry to cause you nausea Irishmoses... :)

    • RoHa, at the risk of making a fool of myself becasue I missed a joke and just on the off chance that you really didn't understand the phrase Yonah had used: It's Hebrew for 'The Jewish people lives'. Chai in Hebrew is lives pronounced not like the Indian tea but like in loch (as in Loch Ness) in Scottish English. There is such an obsession with it that even non-religious Jews would sometimes wear a neacklace with a pendant that says in Hebrew, ח״י 'alive'. It's often used as an acronym as well. The two Hebrew letters ח and י that make the word Chai, in Hebrew numerology make the number 18. This is almost a sacred, magical, number for those who believe in this stuff because it means Chai, alive...

      What Yonah is triumphing here, and triumphant is the sentiment behind this phrase, is the idea that the survival of the Jewish people comes ahead of all else and ahead of everyone else.

      Yonah's political analysis or argumentation is pointless when you get this idea. I was brought up on it too. The survival of the Jewish people is an obsession in Israel and among Zionist Jews. No cost to anyone or even to Jews (paradoxically) is too high in the name of survival. At the end of the day all the pseudo-intellectual 'debates' with Zionists about Israel and Palestine boil down to this belief. This is why there is no one there to really talk to. This obsession with survival of the Jewish people at all cost, means shutting down any possible empathy for the victims of the state of Israel. To me the discussion really ends here. I am so grateful that Yonah couldn't resist revealing the truth about where he really stands in terms of his values and belief system.

      From here on, the discussion needs to be about what is the price that is worth the survival of the Jewish people. This is what I really want Zionists to be honest about, and they are only honest about it when they are careless or really pushed to the corner and have nothing more to say. Benny Morris already said it years ago. He said that although the Nakba was a terrible thing, it was an OK price to pay for the survival of the Jews. Go argue or debate with that. I am so grateful to Yonah for being honest about it... But we are not the same. I don't believe that my personal existence is for the purpose of the survival of the Jewish people and in any case I don't think that it's OK to inflict suffering on others for that purpose. There it is. I keep saying that it's really simple because it is, albeit extremely tragic and pathological.

    • OK, Yonah, got it. So no compassion at all, only cold intellect, and loyalty to the people above all else. I grew up with it and grew out of it. Hannah Arendt by the way, also learned a universal lesson from the holocaust that she considered a crime not against Jews but against humanity. She believed in 'never again' to everyone not just 'never again to us' which is the lesson that you and I were brought up on. At the end of the day you have to live with your own conscience. So I do wish you all the very best.

    • Dear Talknic, thank you for your detailed response to Yonah's ludicrous 'proposal', echoing the so-called Left in Israel. Glad that you took it on. I couldn't stomach it...

    • Thank you so much Danaa! I got teary reading your comment. I hope that you will find meaning in the meaninglessness... :)

    • Dear Catalan, I can sympathise with your views on the BDS. You are not the only one who feels that way about this kind of campaign. Resorting to something like BDS is unfortunately the result of a very bad situation. If the situation wasn't as bad as it is (Israeli settler-colonialism and its gradual destruction of the Palestinian people), we wouldn't have to do it. As a counter-measure and a tool to stopping the oppression, it is the least horrible option available. With all due respect I don't think we can compare economic discomfort with what the Palestinians are going through. It's obviously not an ideal way, but what can you do when such a horrendous slow genocide is being committed? At least it is not violent, which is something we cannot say about what Israel does to the Palestinians every day, not to mention the historical evils it committed. Your disbelief that BDS helped topple apartheid is your opinion and you're entitled to. But it seems that the BDS against South Africa was a catalyst that brought internal resistance and division to a head and helped topple that regime. It didn't cause it, but it enabled and accelerated it.

      I said I sympathised with your views about BDS, but I don't understand them. How can you put economic hardship and discomfort ahead of what the Palestinians are going through? You say you have a child. Imagine raising your child in Ramallah or Gaza. Imagine having to escape with your child because someone decided that they want your house and you are not entitled to it because they have been homeless their whole life.

      So you are driven out at gunpoint, and if you try and protest you get punished, your child gets incarcerated and all the power to protect your child is taken away from you.

      BDS on one hand, that on the other? For me it's a no brainer. But thank you for being honest about what you think. You are certainly entitled to your opinion regardless of whether or not I or others agree with it. However, you will not convince me and I have explained here why that is. I think you need to speak to a few Palestinian parents and see what it's like for them, then perhaps evaluate the BDS against that...

    • I just love it Mooser how you and a few others on this thread lighten the mood with intelligent humour. You're great mate.

    • Thanks Straightline for this good and balanced review. I appreciate it. I am not attached to my hypothesis that ex-colonialism might be playing a part in support for Israel. The Jewish community in Australia is quite small and I have often wondered about the disproportionate level of influence that Israel has on Australian politics. I never understood that. I lived in Australia for 18 years until 2010 and was quite shocked to discover the amazing support Israel enjoys in Australia. I agree with you that it is on par with Canada for example. Have a look at the response I sent a day or two ago to Rossross roughly about these issues. Thank you for participating!

    • Hear hear Danaa, I have nothing to add! I love the way you write. You capture precisely my thoughts and sentiment as well. Thank you!

    • Thank you dear Danaa for your support of Scottish Independence. Alex Samond is talking about another Referendum in 2016. It's really upsetting Westminster. :)

    • So DoubleStandard,

      "My complaint is not that she moved to Australia/UK. If she didn’t like Israel, then she can leave. B’simcha.

      I just think that it really is something to leave your country and then go around agitating for it to be dissolved. It’s disgraceful to do that if you live there, but when you have indemnified yourself against the consequences…that’s just plain cowardly."

      So what you are saying is this: A person got away from a family that commits crimes say, like child abuse, and has left the family for their own safety. Now that they left, they shouldn't say anything to anyone about the family even though the family continues to abuse other victims... I am absolutely baffled by how you can put your loyalty to the tribe ahead of morality? This is really strange, unless you don't know that your tribe is not only committing horrendous crimes, but is itself a crime. I want to get this straight, you are a person who puts loyalty to your group ahead of morality. I think my conversation with you is over right now. Be well DoubleStandard and take care.

    • Good morning Irishmoses,

      (It's Wednesday morning here and the conversation still going. Incredible.)

      Thanks for your comment. I didn't think your previous comment was pathetic, but thanks nonetheless for being so kind to me.

      I do recognise these characters (Hasbara types and other Zionists) quite quickly too. I am a psychotherapist and in my profession I am trained to notice not only the content of what is being said, but also the process. So I can see. Plus I have been around this for the past 13 years to different degrees.

      My preference is to give these people the benefit of the doubt. They are living in an adversarial world where they expect enemies who hate them everywhere. I don't hate them, although I can feel angry at them sometimes. In therapy we know that if you offer clients more of the same, the same environment that they are used to, no change can ever happen. For us to change we need to be in a different environment and encounter things we do not expect. This leads to confusion but confusion is often what precedes change, or at least some soul-searching in those who are capable of it. BTW, not everyone is capable of it. It depends on the person's brain.

      If there is any chance of getting through to someone like that, it won't be through arguing content. They know what they believe and facts aren't going to change that as the cliché goes... I recognise the ones from Israel in particular having grown up there and recognising the particular 'flavour' of their narrative even if their English is perfect.

      I do have to say that they do tend to repeat the same lines of argumentation and go around in circles. This is because Zionist mythology has as much intellectual leverage as apartheid South Africa did or any other criminal system or individual for that matter.

      I deeply appreciate your passion to protect what I say and make sure it does not disappear into oblivion because of such characters. However, they have been trying to silence me and bury what I say for around 14 years now, and they haven't been successful. I have no intention of going silent. They really don't like that I am 'airing the dirty laundry' and I get that.

      I have worked and still do at present, with survivors of cults. I recognise the hatred, confusion and aggression with which cult members try to bring back 'apostates' or people who leave the cult and who reveal cult secrets to the world. It's a familiar pattern. With me they try the guilt and fear buttons, hoping that I still have them. Then when these fail, they start to attack my character and simply use insults or even threats. It's always the same. Those who have enough self control to remain 'nice' and 'civilised' longer, are actually the worst.

      Cults, particularly those who do wrong and try to hide it, are incredibly intellectually impoverished. The members and 'enforcers' only have the official teachings to go by and nothing else. They are not really allowed to think for themselves so they simply regurgitate what they are taught, sometimes actually deluding themselves that these are their own thoughts and ideas. Sadly, their world is extremely narrow. So is the world of Zionists, even those who sadly believe themselves to be nice and Left-wing, such as Yonah here. I am well aware that he never actually engaged with anything I said about the ethnic cleansing of Palestine or the simple immorality of creating a Jewish 'safe haven' at the expense of another people and the suffering that this has been causing. Absolutely not a word from him about that. I am so familiar with this and it is so typical. You see no real compassion or real depth of courage to engage with the colossal crime that Israel is. If they could engage properly, this would cause such an identity crisis that they fear their whole world would collapse.

      At the end of the day all cult members everywhere, and that includes Zionists, are people who live in fear. Although I am not that fond of them, naturally, I do feel for people who live their entire lives in fear and don't even have the ability to see that they do. Don't you think it's terribly sad? But like I said in my article I do hold people responsible for the consequences of their actions, or lack of action, irrespective. Being afraid isn't an excuse to sacrifice other people. Yet people do this all the time. Mothers allow their children to be abused or victimised every day in 'ordinary' families out there because they are afraid. When someone suffers every human being has a moral obligation to do whatever they can to overcome their fear and do the right thing. So I hold adults responsible regardless of how frightened they are. I can understand their actions but do not accept them.

      I prefer to treat all Hasbara agents here as the human beings they are. But then if they start attacking or are clearly not showing any signs of compassion or real engagement with what I say, I withdraw myself from engagement with them. I grew up in a very argumentative culture in Israel. It was all about 'one up-manship' and I don't do that anymore. I want to form connections with people. If they avoid that, this is their loss.

      Zionism is bound to be defeated. The momentum is accelerating. Any philosophy or way of life that is based on unreality and on an immoral and/or criminal foundation is bound to topple itself. It is self-destructive by nature. So I know that Zionism doesn't have much time left.

      My problem of course is what they are doing to the Palestinians in the meantime, and the fact that we might not want to wait as long for them to do it themselves. I also have fears about the Massada complex (or murder-suicide: 'I can't have her so no one will') that I think Bornajoo might have mentioned he has as well, albeit not in these exact words.

      Anyway, a really long response that is simply intended to thank you for your support and reassure you that I, or what I have to say, aren't going anywhere any time soon. It's really nice to know that I have friends like you out there. Please keep talking and expressing yourself everywhere you can. People need to hear what they don't want to hear.

      (BTW, are you Irish, or is this just a screen name you have chosen for other reasons? My partner is Irish.)

    • Good response to Yonah, Irishmoses. Thanks!

    • Thank you Mooser, that is such a lovely comment! I have a feeling you are the kind of person that doesn't suffer fools gladly. I can imagine you getting really pissed off in some of the classes I sat through and can see you rebelling against it all. I think you would have ended up a questioning, doubting activist one way or the other.

    • Thank you CigarGod and like I said to Ritzl, it is a privilege.

      Indeed it is so sad about families. Many of the clients I worked with have been let down by the very people that were supposed to love and protect them. We do expect and need so much from our primary caregivers and it can destroy lives when they are the ones committing neglect or worse. So I am not starry eyed about families. I think they have to prove themselves. It's wonderful to encounter people who have grown up in good families with parents who truly loved them. I never had that. My clinical supervisor Annette who is also a mentor to me and a mother figure, always says that if your family can't give you what you need, find others who will. So thank you CG and everyone for being a good family here.

    • Hello Ritzl and many many thanks to you for your comments. I feel humbled by so much praise.

      It's a great privilege for me to participate and be a part of such an incredible group of people. Like someone else said too, it's proof that it is possible! Activism needs to be done in an non-adversarial manner otherwise we simply contribute to the already existing problem.

      Relating to each other the way we do here and the way I am sure you are all doing in your personal and professional lives, listening to so much witty, good natured, intelligent humour, reading amazing research and knowledge that people contribute here is incredible. I never knew this was possible and it makes me very happy.

      I am not cynical and not interested in sarcasm or negativity for the sake of it. It's OK to feel discouraged from time to time, and it's OK to feel despair and anger. It's OK to feel like you've had enough and you have no faith left in anyone and that you even hate everyone. It passes...

      How can anyone not feel those feelings sometimes, living in the world the way it is? So we have to feel our feelings and accept them. Where it's possible and safe, share them with others, so that we can emerge into the world with renewed energy and motivation to do what we do. Above all I believe we must be kind to each other, especially to those we disagree with. Being firm and knowing what you believe isn't the same can exist along side being kind. That's what I see so many people here do.

      It's one thing to feel something, but it's quite another to act on it. I would rather spread love, warmth and humour than poison. I grew up with poison and have given it up... It wasn't good for me. Nearly killed me... So we can feel all our feelings and do the right thing not despite them but rather through accepting that it's normal to feel them.

      I am grateful to everyone here. As long as we engage with each other respectfully and kindly, there is hope! :)

    • And I am grateful for your presence here Just, your kind words and your contributions!

    • Thank you so much CG for your empathy and warmth. I don't have a 'tool' to help with this I'm afraid. None of my childhood friends would have anything to do with me and neither do any members of my family except my brother and his family and there too, there is tension as my sister in-law is a committed Zionist who doesn't question and isn't interested in politics anyway.

      In other words, I have no advice whatsoever except to try and remain calm, and always remain compassionate regardless, while at the same time maintain firm boundaries and insist on saying what we believe. We must demonstrate by example that there is an alternative way to live in the world that isn't about scoring points, about winning an argument and or knocking down the other person. 'Fighting for peace' is an oxymoron. I have always searched for a non-adversarial way to do activism, or do anything really... It seems to me, from reading your comments on this thread, that you would have no problem being this way with whomever you are relating to. So that's my wee contribution.

      I have to sign off for now as my first client is due in less than 10 minutes. Thank you so much for being you and for your excellent participation here. You and people like you are the ones who make a difference to the world and make it all worthwhile. Until later...

    • Thank you CigarGod!

      I think having been abused at home made me feel like an outsider anyway. It's really hard to look at society around you in a positive light when such terrible things happen to you at home, no one sees it, or if anyone does, they do nothing about it.

      It's easier to question maybe and not trust the mainstream around you. On one hand it's a terrible burden on a child and it was on me. I very nearly didn't make it. But on the other I have to wonder if it helped me know that things are not always what they seem and that bad things can happen even behind closed doors, even when people insist on maintaining an image on the outside. Maybe I could empathise with the look in the eyes of all the Palestinian labourers who were building our apartment blocks in the streets around me. Maybe I saw something familiar.

      As an adult survivor of abuse it is really easy for me to identify with other victims and certainly with the Palestinian people. I did a lot of work on this over the years and I could see that my family did not evolve in isolation. They were a part of a social context. Of course not everyone in Israel abuses their children. My parents are particularly damaged people. But you can see in them the elements of narcissism, of focus on image, of cowardice, deceit, superiority, fear and of a profound lack of compassion and empathy. Long story really.

      Not everyone makes it after a childhood like mine. I consider myself very lucky. Although I don't believe in god the way god is seen in our main religions, I have believed my whole life that something was watching over me. After two very real suicide attempts in my youth, I knew I had to make a choice to live and have clawed my way out of the black hole I was put into.

      It's an amazing place to be where I am now and I love the fact that as a psychotherapist I can accompany others on similar journeys. I questioned because I didn't have a choice but to question. Questioning my reality was part of recovering personally. As I was recovering from my family trauma I also recognised that I had to recover from my societal trauma.

      Many of those who are very loyal, patriotic Zionists in Israel come from good families where they were loved and not abused. They still believe that Israel is a good country. I have a few old school friends who despite their own military service still can't believe that the Israeli state is bad and immoral. If things don't look good they are armed with justifications and comfort themselves that they are good to their families and children, that they are good people who have good family values...

      The last time I had contact with an old school friend that I was very fond of, quite a few years ago now, and politely tried to say what I thought (he unfriended me on FB immediately after), he told me that he believed his government knew what it was doing and that things aren't as bad as I am portraying them. This is a very intelligent and capable man, a former officer in the Israeli airforce and I have a suspicion he is working for the Mossad. He comes from a well-to-do, very loving family. I knew them intimately and as a youngster always wished that his parents were my parents. Now, however, it seems that I am outside the cult, while he is completely sold out on it. My hellish childhood might have played a useful part in all of this after all... But I don't wish this on anyone and the outcome isn't always a good one. Sorry to go on here...

    • Thanks Oldgeezer. I appreciate it. :)

    • Why are you so sarcastic Catalan? I don't understand why such a tone is necessary. However, to try and address your point anyway: it took William Wilberforce 52 years to get slavery abolished in England, and that was just in England. He spent his entire career working towards it. How long did it take women to get the vote? How long did South African apartheid last before it was finally defeated? Some things sadly take time.

      The momentum against Israel is growing. Regardless of your particular sentiments, the world is beginning to ask questions that should have been asked a long time ago, but it's happening now. Partly this is because Israel itself is becoming more brazen and arrogant, thinking that it can get away with anything, partly because it's harder to hide things in a world with the communication technology we have now and partly because education about Israel's true beginning and true trajectory is gradually coming through everywhere all around the world. The momentum is growing whether you like it or not. The BDS empowers individuals who feel powerless otherwise because we can all make choices about where we spend our hard earned cash. We don't need to be rich and powerful to not buy dates made in Israel at Marks and Spencer or Tesco's.

      I believe we will see an end to the exclusively Jewish state, and the start of a one state for all in Palestine in my lifetime (that is unless climate change hasn't driven everyone out of that area already!)

      Your sarcasm isn't discouraging. It's just a bit sad. I don't even understand the purpose of it. I have heard this exact argument that you make from many people before. So because it takes time it means it is not happening, or that it shouldn't happen? It is a strange line of argument.

      There seems to be fear and wishful thinking behind this kind of argument. Fear is the greatest enemy of compassion, kindness, empathy and real human progress towards the wonderful, safe and wholesome world that we are capable of creating. Overcoming fear and resisting the fear others try to instil in us, should be everyone's main goal. How about it Catalan?

    • He means the biblical Ahab who was a king in the kingdom of Israel that supposedly split from the kingdom of Judea. The bible portrays it as sinful because it 'strayed' from the 'one true god' worshipped by 'ever faithful' Judea, and supposedly worshipped foreign idols. Propaganda is rife in the bible and if you read it right you can see who the dominant cult or faction is. People then were the same as us now, they just didn't have technology. But they thought the same and power plays and cultish psychology were exactly as they are today.

      But interesting to bring up that Ahab too.

      Either way, the bible obviously isn't history but a collection of writings that were cobbled together from scrolls at various times. They were written by people searching for answers to question we still ask now, or building a mythology for the purpose of particular groups and factions. Plenty of propaganda in the bible too. Ahab and the kingdom of Israel get a bad reputation because they don't follow the dominant faction that happens to be in power at the time. Simple stuff. It's being done today as we know. Who said that history is written by the victors? So we don't know really know if Ahab, if he even existed, really was 'bad' as he was portrayed in the stories of the bible. Just saying...

    • Thank you Rossross, look, this is all speculative anyway and more a hypothesis than anything certain. But when I talk about the effect of the past, on societies like the US or Australia, I don't mean that it is conscious. I think there are things that lurk in the shadows, underneath if you will, that people aren't aware of but that are affecting the way governments react. I do think there is guilt (of the wrong kind) both in the US and in Australia that might be playing a part in the policy on Israel.

      As for Australia's policy on Israel I am no expert but I tend to disagree with you. Australia has been starry eyed about Israel for a very long time. Didn't Bob Hawk get literally teary on TV talking about Israel? All Australian governments since then (not sure about before) regardless if they were Labor or Liberal, have been extremely supportive of Israel, always voting against resolutions that were not in Israel's favour or otherwise abstaining.

      Australian has been having really strong military ties with Israel for a very long time. Australian clearance divers (those divers whose job is to remove and disable old ordnance that lies at the bottom of the sea -- very dangerous job) are trained in Israel and so are sections of the police and special forces. Please do not ask how I know this but I do. The Australian public is largely unaware of these things going on and the personnel who do the training in Israel are not supposed to tell. Israeli 'experts' in various aspects of 'security' are contracted to come to Australia to instruct various sections of Australia's security outfits. So there are deep and quite practical ties going on. There is a real admiration of Israel in Australia and there I am not sure I can entirely attribute this to the Zionist Jewish lobby in Australia. Israel takes every new MP in Australia to a free of charge tour of Israel where they are being taught the official narrative of history as Israel wants them to know complete with the 'poor victim Israel that is the only bastion of democracy in a sea of a savage Middle East. I know this because three years ago when I went on a book tour in Australia I spend three days in Parliament House in Canberra on a lobbying attempt with politicians there. Bob Carr was the only one who really questioned Israel more openly and the other ones did that very quietly. The Australian Greens were the only ones who refused to go on this junket tours of Israel, on principle and even their policy on Israel leaves quite a lot to be desired. But either way, I and my companions from APAN were told all about how Israel does it. Not so much the Zionist lobby in Australia but the actual Israeli government.

      As for Australian treatment of Aboriginal people, I know you are very positive about it but I am not so convinced yet. Australia still has a way to go in its treatment of Aboriginal people, despite the formal apology from Rudd a few years back.

      Anyway, like I said, the business about the role that this alleged guilt plays is speculative and I am not attached to it. I just think it might be playing a part there. Crimes from the past, even if they have been atoned, don't just disappear from the psyche of people especially when the victims are still there to remind us of what was done to them.

    • Mooser, you are such a gem! You have such a spirit... :)

      I have to say I can relate to the same experience of the aggression and a kind of insistence in the delivery. It grated on me very badly. I had no 'evidence' to back up any opposition on my part, I just had a gut reaction against all of it. I too hated to be told what to think. In my case it was in regular classes at school (8 years of primary school and 4 years of high school that I otherwise loved) on the history of Zionism. We had dozens of ceremonies and 'special days' where we learned about Israel's wars, the war of 1948 or as they called it 'the war of independence, and holocaust memorial day. It seemed there were endless days like that throughout the year and in class we were forever rehearsing for these ceremonies.

      This continued also throughout my military service as well. They have a great many of those in the military to continue the indoctrination that starts in early childhood in kindergarten. And yes, the horrid Israeli folk dancing. Goodness. I hated it and felt guilty for hating it. Those who did it were considered the cream of the lot and the best of 'us'... They were the quintessential Israeli Jew, the new Jew' the one who wouldn't go again like 'sheep to the slaughter'... 'There was a class mate of mine who was gorgeous and who everyone liked and I was secretly in love with him throughout high school. He only thought of me as a friend sadly for me... He used to dance really well and loved it... I wonder now what I was thinking... I just thought it was awful and I didn't do it. But I am a singer and was always the soloist everywhere so used to sing all these Israeli nationalist folk songs. I never thought about the meaning of the lyrics. Can't sing any of them now. I shudder to think that I used to sing them and like them...! Awful stuff.

    • I know what you mean CG! I feel the same way.

    • Thank you Kris. Hopefully some of my comments now will look a bit more elegant! :)

    • Thanks so much JWP. I will give that a try!! Much appreciated.

    • I wasn't scoffing Mooser. I really do like your wit! I meant it.

    • Thank you CigarGod. I am so sorry you have had to go through this appalling experience but you know that although you / us are in a minority, you are by no means alone. I now understand why you related to my thoughts that the Jewish collective is cultish. Cults always put loyalty to the group ahead of loyalty to the individual. I am sorry that this is your experience but I know also that it's easier to live well with yourself despite those loses than it is to live a lie... You are in good company. Thanks again and well done to you!

    • Hello again Yonah,

      You say: "My formulation: Israel has to fix its relationship to the Palestinians."

      OK... So how do colonisers who are still in the process of settling-colonising the indigenous people, go about fixing their relationship with the colonised? I would love to hear your thoughts on this.

    • It's wonderful to witness this kind of human connection and warmth. I live for this! Thank you both Bintbiba and Shmuel for being so open and human here.

    • Not simplistic at all Tidings... I grew up on the same stuff. I think you have to have some compensation for living in such an oppressed, limiting group. Why bother sacrificing your whole life for the group and your individuality, if there isn't some kind of a payoff at the end. It's like in Catholicism or any group that is cultish. Life is hard but there is paradise at the end or there is some kind of special relationship with god, or something magnificent the group is destined to. Classic stuff. Believing that you are special and a 'light unto' others etc, is a form of compensation. I remember pondering about this in primary school. Never had anyone to talk to about this though back then...

    • Yes, I suspect some do, Marnie. Thank you for your comment.

    • Anyone wishing to respond to Catalan? I have a client in 15 minutes and am rather tired of repeating myself...

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