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Nathan

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  • A Jewish 'sickness': Israeli journalist explains young American Jews' support for Palestinians
    • Elizabeth Block - Just as the late Isaac Asimov is quoted as saying "who cares" when asked if he is a descendant of the Khazarians or of the Israelites, so too should be our reaction when confronted with the issue of the lessening support for Israel. So what? What difference does it make if a young American Jew speaks up for Israel or if he remains silent? It's really quite similar to all our comments here at Mondoweiss. We can write the most amazing comments, and yet nothing changes. Reality is created by those who actually take action, and actually troubling oneself or dedicating one's life for a cause is not the calling card of American Jews.

  • Israeli Jews 'will never accept' giving vote to Palestinians -- liberal Zionist leader
    • "...and it’s important to me to see that American Jews abandon the idea of a Jewish state..."

      It's hard to understand why the point of view of the American Jews would be so important. The Jewish state exists because the Jews living in Israel insist that there be a Jewish state. There have always been American Jews who objected to the establishment of a Jewish state, but their objection has had no real impact on the outcome of events. Jews in America can sit around the Friday evening table and speak in favor of or in opposition to Jewish statehood. Speaking in favor or speaking in opposition has had about an equal influence: Somewhere between entirely negligible and nothing at all.

      Every so often, one reads an article in the internet about the lessening of support for Israel among the American Jews. It's a mystery why anyone would take an interest in the statistics. The approval rate of those who don't participate in the making of Israeli society is not really a factor.

      It's not possible to convince the American Jews to abandon the idea of a Jewish state. And, surely, the concept of "the separation of church and state" is not the argument that is going to capture the imagination of the Jewish public in America (a VERY irreligious community, indeed). The idea of the Jewish state is not about the Jewish religion. It's about the Jewish people - and the debate about Israel in the American Jewish community is simply a means for expressing Jewish identity in America as a peoplehood identity, both for the pro-Israel and the anti-Israel audiences.

  • 'NYT' leaves out Dennis Ross's charge to US Jews: 'We need to be advocates for Israel'
    • It is reported that Dennis Ross said: "We don’t need to be advocates for Palestinians. We need to be advocates for Israel". From such a statement, Phillip Weiss concludes: "So much for justice and compassion." In other words, if you are pro-Israel, then by definition in the world of Mondoweiss you are the bad guy. It's a very strange intellectualism at this website. There is no awareness that others see the world differently. It's normal to say of others' opinions that you disagree, or that you think that they are misinformed, etc. But the presentation of the other as simply bad (because he doesn't advocate that which you believe in) is Pravda-style reporting.

      "But Ross is a committed Zionist..." No, he isn't. I never thought that it could be such a difficult task to step in the shoes of others and to define terms the way that someone else would define them. But, apparently, it's asking for too much. Anyway, a committed Zionist is one who makes aliyah (i.e. he actually comes to live in Israel). A lot of pro-Israel American Jews like to call themselves "Zionists". They like to take pride in Israel's success and to pretend that they're part of it. However, aliyah is the criterion of commitment, not pro-Israel advocacy.

      "...Dennis Ross never mentions Zionism, just Jews." Well, don't forget that in the Mondoweiss world "Zionism" is a derogatory term, and therefore the anti-Israel American Jews are "Jews", and the pro-Israel American Jews are "Zionists". I realize that it's tough to understand that Dennis Ross might not be acquainted with the Mondoweiss dictionary. He seems to think that he is calling upon Jews to advocate for Israel, so he uses the term "Jews". He is not calling upon them to make aliyah, so indeed he felt no need to discuss Zionism.

  • Is Yiddish the language of the Jewish soul?
    • "In 1946, sociologist Sidney Hook warned that American Jews 'cannot orient their life to activities halfway around the world'.” Well, of course they can, and reading the Mondoweiss website is proof that the sociologist's "warning" is absolute nonsense. Many American Jews are focused on Israel - whether this focus is one of identification or whether this focus is one of animosity. In both cases, Israel has provided a tool through which American Jews can express a sense of participation in the drama of Jewish history. The definition of Jewishness as "religion only" is not quite interesting enough for many, many Jews. The focus on Israel is a way of renewing the sense of Jewish peoplehood - and this is true also for the anti-Israel club.

      Abba Solomon tells us that "Yiddish - the language of my parents and grandparents - to me sounds like the language of 'my people'.” How nice. It is an admittance that, indeed, being Jewish is a peoplehood experience. Not too long ago, the Yiddish language was understood to be the symbol of a Jewish national identity (even for the anti-Zionists and the non-Zionists). It is worthwhile to google the "Czernowitz Conference of 1908" and to read the manifest of Yiddishism.

      The article is very careful not to mention the word "Hebrew". There is a mention of the Mizrachim in Israel having to abandon their "non-European mother tongues". In Israel, all the waves of immigrants adopted the Hebrew language - and this is a gigantic success story. I understand that in an anti-Israel article the most normal sociological phenomenon (the successful integration of immigrants in their new society) must be presented as "bad". Anyway, people in Israel are quite proud to be Hebrew-speakers. The re-birth of an ancient language is really a unique story.

  • Charlottesville is moment of truth for empowered U.S. Zionists (who name their children after Israeli generals)
    • "If Israel does not end the occupation sharply, and if organized Jewish opinion in other countries appears openly to back it, there will indeed almost certainly be a further surge in anti-Jewish sentiment..."

      The absurdity of the above quote is in its assumption that "anti-Jewish sentiment" is a logical result of Jewish behavior. Anti-Semitism is quite a stubborn phenomenon, and it predates the founding of Israel and Jewish identification with Israel. Actually, "anti-Jewish sentiment" has a life of its own (and a twisted logic that defies us all). It's really quite strange that the author of the article takes it seriously.

      However, just for the intellectual excercise, let's assume that it's true: Israel's policy and Jewish support for Israel's policy will arouse "anti-Jewish sentiment". So what? The anti-Semites are the bad guys, and anti-Semitism is despicable. Why on earth would someone even imagine that their logic should be taken into account? The bad guys also are angry about newspapers being owned by Jews. Should we ask the Jewish newspaper people to change their business so as not to arouse "anti-Jewish sentiment"? If you want to present a case against the occupation, go ahead and do so. Leave out the logic of the anti-Semites.

      Actually, the claim (that Israel and Jewish support for Israel is arousing anti-Semitism) is propaganda. There is the opposite propaganda which states that "Israel is a haven from anti-Semitism". Apparently, this is a very good argument, because someone felt the need to give some counter-propaganda: "Israel arouses anti-Semitism". Well, both arguments are total nonsense. Israel was not founded as a reaction to anti-Semitism, and Israel is not the source of anti-Semitism.

      "Klug said American Jews must pressure Israel to end the occupation or give Palestinians equal rights..." This is another absurdity. It's almost as if someone has forgotten the main point of it all - i.e. the conflict has to be resolved. "Ending the occupation" means that you support "the two-state solution"; and "giving the Palestinians equal rights" means that you support "the one-state solution". Both possibilities assume as self-evident that the conflict has to be solved through an agreement. This is not a conflict that was born because of an occupation; neither was it born because of a civil-rights crisis. Therefore, the founding of a Palestinian state in the West Bank is not going to solve the conflict; and the granting of Israeli citizenship to the Palestinians is also not going to solve the conflict. There has to be an agreement that the real issues of conflict have been solved to the satisfaction of both sides - and only then will the agreement be implemented (either living in two separate states or living together in a single state). If someone thinks that American Jews must apply pressure, they should apply pressure on both sides to reach an end-of-conflict agreement. It's absurd that in the debate about the conflict everyone seems to have forgotten that the issue at hand is ending the conflict.

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