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Total number of comments: 143 (since 2009-10-17 21:00:07)

George Smith

I'm a retired biology professor and a member of Mid-Missourians for Justice in Palestine as well as Jewish Voice For Peace. I'm not religious or Jewish by birth. But my wife is Jewish and our sons are bar-mitzvahed, and I'm very engaged with Jewish culture and politics.

Showing comments 143 - 101

  • Netanyahu’s war on transcendence 
    • This is a very persuasive comment: "I have always refused to refer to Gaza as an open-air prison. Prisons are permanent institutions in our societies. Individuals are convicted and sentenced to prison for a time, and we debate the policies of their treatment. Gaza is a GHETTO, an ethnic enclosure where babies are born into open-ended confinement. Whole communities are condemned to carve out their family and collective lives in a ghetto. In essence, a ghetto deems a people to be less than human, deserving of less than the rights of humans."

      The Great March of Return is the Gaza Ghetto Uprising.

  • Obama was shocked -- shocked -- to find that settlements were eating the West Bank!
    • Jon S is correct: the 1949 armistice line (green line) went around the east side of the Sea of Galilee, while splitting the Dead Sea in half. So even then the new state of Israel appropriated the Sea of Galilee to itself. Still, in capturing and annexing the Syrian Golan Heights, Israel appropriated to itself important additional water resources: the many small rivers that feed into the upper Jordan River and the Sea of Galilee, and also the lower Yarmouk River that feeds the Jordan River just south of the Sea of Galilee.

  • The Gaza blockade is illegal-- and so is the use of force to maintain it
    • Norman Finkelstein's logic

      The name of the action in Gaza is The Great March of RETURN. The demonstrators are not just protesting the blockade, which Finkelstein rightly condemns as a flagrant violation of international law. They are also asserting their right to return to the land in Israel from which they or their forebears were expelled in 1947-1949 or subsequently. The right of return is a key provision of UNGA resolution 194, which was incorporated into UNGA resolution 273 admitting Israel to the UN. Denying Palestinians' (including most Gazans') right of return is thus also a violation of international law.

      Finkelstein demurs, and that's probably why he doesn't mention the right of return in his post. In his condemnation of the BDS "cult," whose principles include the right of return, he contends that there's an "overwhelming international consensus" that Israel has a right to exist (as a specifically Jewish state), effectively nullifying the right of return. According to this logic, couldn't Israel be said to be legitimately protecting its borders from Palestinian infiltrators, as Israeli hasbara indefatigably asserts? If so, while Israel would still be guilty of using grossly excessive force (as Sari Bashi's HRW report charges), it would at least be using that force for a legitimate purpose.

      Of course both Finkelstein and the overwhelming international consensus of MW readers are outraged at Israel's massive ongoing crime against humanity in Gaza--a crime that Finkelstein has so thoroughly documented in his latest book and elsewhere. Israel's assault on the Great March of Return must surely be seen as of a piece with this seven-decade criminal enterprise, and that would remain true even if Israel had limited itself to tear gas, rubber-coated bullets, and skunk water. I'm arguing simply that by denying the Palestinian right of return, Finkelstein is not entitled to the same level of outrage as most of the rest of us.

      I fervently hope that Finkelstein will change his mind about Israel's "right" to exist as a Jewish ethnocracy. That's a long shot, of course. He's a stubborn guy. The sumud we so admire in him can be an impediment to recognizing and rectifying errors in judgment.

  • Jewish allies must understand that solidarity entails a loss of privilege
    • "Asking JVP to address this is like asking oil to turn into water. Their 'Jewish politics' is the problem, transforming the obligations of US citizens to the obligation of “being Jewish”--CitizenC

      Really, CC?? JVP aren't acceptable allies because their moral commitment is rooted in their Jewish religion or cultural identity? So I guess we need to expel Sabeel from our ever-diminishing band of ideologically pure brothers and sisters, because they too root their moral commitment in their Christian religion/identity??

    • Bilal: This needed to be said! Thank you, thank you!

    • Echinococcus: I fully agree that Gideon Levy and Amira Hass are "non-tribal," in the sense you presumably mean it. But by that criterion, surely Ariel Gold and the five IfNotNow dissenters are too. (Maybe you're not familiar with the work of Jeff Halper and Neve Gordon, but if you were I'm sure you'd agree that they're non-tribal as well.) The list of non-tribal Jews, both in Israel and the "galut," who are anti-Zionist is long and honorable. I don't think this is confusing.

    • If Ariel Gold and the five IfNotNow dissenters represent "normalization," we need to define some other term for the oppression-affirming "dialog" that I despise and oppose. If Breaking the Silence are our opponents, are Amira Hass, Jeff Halper, Gideon Levy, Neve Gordon, etc., also our opponents?

  • 'Al Jazeera' has 'canned' undercover investigation of Israel lobby -- leading pro-Israel operative
    • Correction: "The Occupation of the American Mind" has been available in the U.S. Our group, Mid-Missourians For Justice in Palestine, has had public screenings.

  • Conflicting dreams and realities: Amos Oz in Rochester
  • An open letter from a Palestinian refugee to an ex-Irgun terrorist on the 70th year of the Nakba
    • I don't know: will winning Uri Avnery over to the side of equal rights be a victory? Certainly, very soon after the nakba that he helped to perpetrate and has so disappointingly valorized ever since, he became an indefatigable campaigner for "peace" with the "Arabs"--at a time when proclaiming such views required considerable moral courage. Now that it's clear that "peace" with the "Arabs" is a cruel trap, getting Avnery to finally repudiate Zionism and own up to his crimes would be a huge step--at least for him and for those of us who have admired him for years despite our reservations. But in today's Israel, and among today's Israel lobby in the U.S., flawed leftists like Avnery have zero influence. Would NPR interview him after his (hypothetical) epiphany? I don't think so. Uri who?

  • The gas masks of the Great March of Return
  • Contextualizing the Great March of Return
    • Mayhem:

      You picked a singularly unconvincing example. True, the U.S. didn't suffer nearly as many deaths, either military or civilian, as the Reich. But the main combatant on the Allied side was the Soviet Union, who suffered 10.6 million military deaths, 10 million civilian deaths due to war and crimes against humanity, and 6 million deaths due to war-caused famine and disease. And you have no right to compel Annie Robbins or anyone else to choose a side in that bestial conflict, in which "our" side was guilty of grisly crimes against non-combatants, such as the firebombing of Tokyo and Dresden. Like most (but I guess not all) readers of this website, I'm on the side of NOT using up-to-date U.S.-made engines of death and destruction to assault a captive people with no means of defending themselves as retribution for resisting their captivity.

    • Point taken, Mayhem. Czech partisans assassinated Reinhard Heydrich. The Nazis demolished the village of Lidice, killing 199 men, deporting 195 women to Ravensbrück, and sending 81 children to the gas vans at the Chelmno death camp. They then shot 33 adults in Ležáky and burned down the village. Even Steven.

    • OK DaBakr: Let's break the news to you more gently. The "three genocidal wars" were just massacres or assaults. The majority of the 200,000 Palestinians who fled into Gaza weren't themselves "violently expelled." Rather, they fled into Gaza because of well-grounded fear of Zionist violence. Virtually none have been allowed to return to their homes and lands. So let's just call them "involuntary exiles," shall we? It isn't the "vast majority," it's 71 percent of Gazans who are exiles or their descendants (200,000 Palestinians fled into Gaza to join 80,000 Palestinians who already lived there; the ratio hasn't changed significantly since). There, DaBakr, does that make you feel better, or more secure?

    • Here's how I described the 2014 assault in an OpEd scheduled for the Columbia (MO) Daily Tribune this Saturday:

      Over a span of 51 days, Israeli forces killed 2,200 people, 1,600 of them noncombatants and 550 of them children; destroyed or severely damaged 18,000 homes, displacing 100,000 people; destroyed or damaged 203 places of worship, 285 schools, and 73 medical facilities (1); and left behind 2.5 million tons of rubble (2). Scaling from Gaza’s 1.8 million people at the time, it is as if the entire U.S. population of 326 million, forcibly confined to a fenced-in reservation slightly larger than West Virginia, had suffered almost 400,000 deaths, including 100,000 children, while 3.26 million of their homes were destroyed or rendered uninhabitable, and rubble equivalent to 290 World Trade Center attacks was left to clear (3). While Israeli forces used advanced weaponry supplied and partly paid for by the U.S., Gaza’s fighters had only small arms, mortars, and primitive rockets; they killed 67 soldiers and six civilians, one of them a child; and destroyed or damaged one Israeli home, two synagogues, one school, and no medical facilities (1).

      (1) Norman Finkelstein, Gaza: An Inquest Into Its Martyrdom, University of California Press, 2018, Table 12.
      (2) Norman Finkelstein, op. cit., p. 211.
      (3) Urich, G., Analysis of the mass and potential energy of World Trade Center Tower 1, Journal of 9/11 Studies, vol. 3, 2007 (, Table 17.

  • Israeli paper's publication of BDS ad marks beginning of society's return to sanity
  • How a Palestinian girl from an occupied village emasculated the Israeli army
    • You're still not getting it, echinococcus. I'd ask you to read what I actually wrote in my original comment, but now I have little faith that it would do any good.

      Over and out.

    • Set the record straight for us, echinococcus: Unlike most BDS supporters, including me, you're not for a single secular democratic state in which Palestinians and Israeli Jews live as equals? You want Israeli Jews to be expelled from Palestine because they're (descendants of) foreign invaders?

    • 1. Read again, echinococcus: I didn't take it upon myself to decide for 'Ahed. Exactly the opposite. I argued that neither Yossi Gurvitz nor I nor others (including you) should put words in her mouth. My criticism was directed at Gurvitz's proposed words for 'Ahed.

      2. The "residual right" of Israeli Jews that you so contemptuously dismiss is analogous to the right, affirmed by the ANC as integral to their anti-Apartheid movement, of white "invaders" to continue to live as equal citizens in post-Apartheid South Africa. That right is not a pitiful little "residual" that sneaky crypto-Zionists try to slip in on the sly. It's a basic, universal human right of people to live securely in their homeland--precisely the same right as we anti-Zionists insist on for all the Palestinian people, including the exiles. Thankfully, that right doesn't depend on a commendable political philosphy or voting record, and certainly isn't canceled by great-grandparents' crimes.

      3. Punishing a people--yes, even Israeli Jews--is collective punishment, a war crime. Punishment is for individual criminals. You and I could probably come up with a reasonable list of defendants, but not the entire population of Israeli Jews. Indeed, even the defendants would still be citizens of a democratic Palestine.

      4. As for restitution, who would disagree? Certainly not me. Israel could easily afford an immediate $100,000 per original expellee, or about $100 billion altogether. That's only ~1/3 of their GDP, and would bring their national debt to GDP ratio to roughly the same as the U.S.'s.

    • Let's not put words in 'Ahed's mouth. Yossi Gurvitz's suggested addendum may sound good: "This the Palestinian youth are doing, and this they will do, until you are removed from this land and return it to its rightful owners." But in context it is troubling, especially if we're drawing a parallel with British colonists in mandatory Palestine.

      Dov Gruner was demanding that the British foreigners clear out of Palestine altogether, leaving it to its "rightful owners," European Jewish foreigners like him. If by "land" Gurvitz means the entirety of historic Palestine, and if "rightful owners" in this context means the Palestinian people, the statement he's suggesting for 'Ahed would be a call for Jews to clear out of the entirety of historic Palestine, "returning" to their natural homeland in--what? the Pale of Settlement? That's certainly not what I would regard as a just outcome. The homeland for third- or fourth-generation Israeli Jews is surely in Palestine. Not that any part of Palestine BELONGS to them, of course; Palestine in its entirety is obviously also the homeland of the Palestinian people--all of them, including the exiles.

      Perhaps, though, Gurvitz intends "land" to mean just the occupied Palestinian territories--the 22 percent of historic Palestine that would constitute the Palestinian state as envisioned in the "peace process." Ethnically cleansing that 22 percent of Jewish Israelis to make way for a Palestinian state would admittedly be a condign ending of the settlement enterprise. But as numerous posters and commenters on this site have repeatedly argued, it would leave major injustices unaddressed: equal rights for the Palestinian citizens of Israel, and the right of return of the Palestinian exiles. So I wouldn't regard this version of Gurvitz's addendum as a just outcome either.

      'Ahed will say what she will say. Let's not take it upon ourselves to decide for her.

  • Forget pinkwashing, it's brownwashing time: self-Orientalizing on the US campus
    • By "obfuscaters and propagandists" Yonah Fredman means the professional historians, adhering to disciplinary standards of honesty, who have labored to reveal the historical realities that hasbaristas like Yonah seek to obscure.

      The particularly shameful chapter in Zionism's record that Yonah tries to valorize here is its manipulation of Israel's huge oriental immigrant Jewish population into an extreme form of anti-Arab extremism that repudiates their own oriental, largely Arab, heritage.

  • Miko Peled on free speech and Zionism
    • Holocaust deniers and Zionists may be deplorable, but they certainly have the same free-speech rights as do righteous people like us (Miko Peled's point 1). That certainly doesn't mean we (the righteous) need to "make space" for deplorables every time we organize an event (part of Peled's point 2). But what about disrupting, blocking, or otherwise shutting down an event organized by deplorables? We (the righteous) hate it when the deplorables do it to us, and the deplorables hate it when we (the righteous) do it to them. I think we ought to continue to protest vigorously when deplorables try to shut down our (righteous) events, and by the same token I think we (the righteous) ought to refrain from trying to shut down their (deplorable) events. That doesn't mean we (the righteous) can't ATTEND their deplorable events and vigorously contest their deplorable ideas.

  • Video: Senator Chris Van Hollen announces opposition to Israel Anti-Boycott Act
    • Not all that brave. See jsinton's comment below. All senatorial opposition has been on First Amendment grounds. Not one is willing to step on AIPAC's tender toes. "Liberal" senators such as Elizabeth Warren make clear that they're totally opposed to boycott of Israel.

  • Zohra Drif's memoir of Algeria's fight for freedom is stunning
    • In the excerpt in Helena Cobban’s September 26 post, Zohra Drif writes, “[W]e did not face the same dilemma as Camus, who, ordered to choose between justice and his mother, sacrificed justice. In fact, his mother being his country, France, as a colonial power she was antithetical to justice….Our own mother being Algeria, her liberation was one and the same with justice.”

      This is a terrible distortion of Camus. Here is his often misquoted response to a student comment in Stockholm on December 12, 1957: "A l’heure où nous parlons, on jette des bombes dans les tramways d’Alger. Ma mère peut se trouver dans l’un de ces tramways. Si c’est cela la justice, je préfère ma mère." (As we speak people are throwing bombs in the tramways of Algiers. My mother could find herself on one of those tramways. If that's justice, I prefer my mother.) He wasn't saying he preferred his mother to justice, as Le Monde reported and his enemies so frequently charged. He was saying he preferred his mother to indiscriminate bombing.

      Adam Gropnik has written movingly (New Yorker, April 9, 2012) about Camus, himself a pied noir, and France’s savage attempt to keep its Algerian colony:

      “Though impeccably anti-colonial, Camus refused to take part in the sentimental embrace of the National Liberation Front, the F.L.N., that became de rigueur in left-wing circles in those years. Struggling to explain why he could not abandon the idea of a French Algeria—or, at a minimum, of some decent compromise that would insure majority rule while protecting the rights of the ‘settler’ minority—he ended with the weak-sounding formula that he could not abandon his mother, which made it seem merely a question of blood. Lacking a better way of putting it, he chose silence, and this most indispensable of editorialists spent the last five years of his life, until his death, in a car crash, in 1960, with his own tongue under house arrest, vowing not to speak about the Algerian problem.

      “Camus felt as deeply for the seeming oppressor as for the oppressed. He grasped that the great majority of the settlers in any country, and in Algeria in particular, were as much victims of the circumstance as the locals, and made the same claims on decency and empathy….Colonialism is wrong, but the human claims of the colonists are just as real as those of the colonized. No human being is more indigenous to a place than any other. This remains an unfashionable, even taboo, position; one feels it still, for instance, in the condescension that American leftists offer white South Africans….Camus wasn’t wrong. What he meant by his mother was his mother: not blood loyalty or genetic roots but the particular experience of a woman who had labored all her life as a domestic servant and was no more guilty of or complicit in colonial crimes than everyone else who lives on earth is complicit in dispossessing someone. It wasn’t that he wouldn’t abandon his roots for a cause; it was that he wouldn’t abandon his mother for an idea.”

      Zionism must come to an end, but we should pray that for Palestine’s Jews the advent of justice doesn’t mean—as it did mean for the pieds noirs—choosing between “la valise ou le cercueil” (a suitcase or a coffin).

  • Soros and the Illuminati! Netanyahu Jr. spreads anti-Semitic cartoon
    • This is my question too. On its face, this ludicrous schema seems like self-deprecating humor rather than actual anti-Semitism.

  • American Jews have a right to resist Israel as Jews
    • "So when you state '…Israel is an exceptionally Jewish issue…' you are wrong because you are thus saying that Israel represents all the Jews in the world, which is definitely not true. The fact that Israel has this right of return law for all the Jews in the world, does NOT mean it represents all of those Jews." -- Paranam Kid

      ?? Really?? Zionists claim to speak on behalf of the "Jewish people"--a tendentious and dishonest attempt to recruit the entirety of worldwide Jewry to the defense of the Zionist project. Jews who vehemently reject this claim have a special duty to discredit it AS JEWS. They have special standing in this aspect of the public conversation, not because THEY think Jews are more important than Palestinians or other non-Jews, but because ZIONISTS do. On other aspects of the conversation, they're speaking as human rights advocates with no special standing.

  • From lamentation to triumphalism: the story behind 'Jerusalem of Gold,' Israel's second national anthem
    • Shemer admitted to unwittingly incorporating elements of a Basque lullaby, Pello Joxepe, into her Jerusalem of Gold melody. She was extremely embarrassed when she realized the debt she owed to that song. Still, this does not seriously detract from Shemer's artistic accomplishment, which goes far beyond the melodic elements she borrowed. We may be dismayed by the Jewish supremacism that underpins her lyrics, but can we not at the same time admire their high artistry?

      Actual Israeli accomplishments, like other human accomplishments, should be celebrated. What's revolting is ethnocentric exaggeration of and bragging about those accomplishments.

    • Would anyone like to respond to the last section on Ofra Haza and the two versions of Yad anuga I linked to?

    • I'd like Yonah to know that in countering his suggesting that I meant "excess" when I wrote "access," I had no intention of belittling him. His was an entirely understandable error, and not a sign of either ignorance or arrogance.

    • Here are my responses, Yonah:

      1. Leibowitz's "attitude toward the Kotel" is an essential part of the essay, not a "side point." The idolatry that he disdained as misplaced emotional reaction is well exemplified by Shemer's lyrics.

      2. "Access" is precisely the correct term. It means both an emotional outburst and an attack or fit (as of a disease).

      3. "A Western Wall emptied of yehudim is [indeed] 'empty' in a certain sense." But that Shemer's politics, of the time as well as later, was tainted is pretty much the point of the essay. Perhaps the lyrics themselves aren't NECESSARILY tainted, as you claim, but we can't unread or unhear Shemer's tainted commentary on her own masterful work.

  • Liberal Zionists think the '67 occupation is all about them
  • The explosion hidden inside the UN Apartheid report
    • "What do you think “anti-Zionism” means? It means, as it did for Berger, that people of Jewish background are either a religious minority, or secular citizens, period. " --CitizenC

      This is very confused. One can vehemently reject the racialized notion of a "Jewish people" and the Zionist cause it has inspired, while at the same time embrace membership in a Jewish community with (imperfectly) shared values. Such overlapping, non-mutually-exclusive "imagined communities" (to use Benedict Anderson's term) enrich and give shape to our lives. Most members of the Jewish community that I know are also secular citizens. The image of Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel on the front line of the Selma march ( still inspires human rights activism on the part of American Jews. Sure, the community has been slow to reject Zionism, but JVP, Open Hillel, IfNotNow, etc. have been instrumental in reversing that stance.

      I agree with CitizenC in decrying JVP's dismaying vilification of Alison Weir, and like many other JVP members complained vociferously to the leadership. I didn't drop my JVP membership, but I rushed on over to IfAmericanKnew to donate. Again: two overlapping, non-mutually-exclusive communities.

  • Finders Keepers in the Holy Land: So who was there first?
    • "These positions can be maintained while simultaneously rejecting Zionism and the Nakba." --Fathi Nemer

      ?? Zionism and the Nakba belong to different categories. Zionism is an ethnocentric ideology, and indeed we ought to reject it. But the Nakba is the accepted name for an undeniable historical event. Surely we must NOT reject it.

      I think what Fathi Nemer wants us to reject is not the historical truth of the Nakba, but Palestinian ethnocentric nationalism--the flip side of Zionism. In my opinion, ethnocentrism is much less intense among Palestinian Arabs than among Israeli Jews. Palestinians love their country and culture with great intensity, but I don't think they have a deep need to be the only inhabitants of Palestine.

  • Signs you may be a 'normalizer'
    • "Normalization": so reasonable, so destructive. Haidar Eid's list of warning signs embodies the essence of the cultural and academic boycott of Israel. The goal must be to hammer home the truth that Israel is NOT a normal state, that Israel is ineligible for respectful intercourse until it rejects Zionism and fully embraces democracy and human rights.

  • Getting away with murder: the Elor Azarya 'manslaughter' case
    • I wasn't being clear. The crime itself was heinous, as we all agree. I'm not arguing that it shouldn't be punished. What I'm objecting to is the personal vindictiveness directed against Elor Azarya himself, who lived in a clotted milieu of incitement on the part of his peers, his superiors, the social media, TV commentators, and politicians at the highest level. For young Mizrachi second-class citizens especially, I imagine that the pressure to "belong" by joining in the hate-fest against "Arabs" for whom they themselves might otherwise be mistaken must be particularly strong. I feel sorry for Osha and Charlie, Elor's parents, as well. Put yourselves in their place. Can you not see the grief on her face in particular, and not take pity?
      Sure, the inciters "console" her with vile encomiums to his "service" to his country. So it is with us too. Our soldiers who fall in Iraq or Afghanistan are laid to rest with vile lies about their "service" to their country, instead of honest, abject admissions that they killed and died for injustice.
      Let's say the army and the political establishment had arranged to charge Elor Azarya with murder instead of manslaughter. Lock him up and throw away the key. Would that be an increase in justice on their part? Should that lessen in even the tiniest degree our rage against the system they've put in place?

    • Would it be more satisfactory if Azarya were convicted of murder? I don't think so. Are we forgetting the incessant incitement that, particularly compelling among Mizrachi youth like Azarya, that is the real cause of this killing? Is not manslaughter a fitting charge, so that the real murderers can be appropriately indicted?

  • Wikileaks emails did a tremendous public service, revealing how government works
  • Groping and crying
    • At least it's groping and crying, not groping and justifying. Near the end of his chapter on Lydda, 1948, Shavit writes: "I will not damn the brigade commander and the military governor and the 3rd Battalion soldiers. On the contrary. If need be, I’ll stand by the damned, because I know that if not for them the State of Israel would not have been born. If not for them, I would not have been born. They did the filthy work that enables my people, my nation, my daughter, my sons, and me to live." A proper parallel to his take on Lydda would have been for him to have consummated his sexual attack, and after describing it in lurid detail conclude: "I will not condemn myself for this assault. It was filthy work, but it enabled me to get my rocks off."

      Shavit was not always such a hypocritical blowhard. During the first intifada, he published a moving essay in Haaretz (translation published as "On Gaza Beach" in the New York Review of Books in 1991; included essentially intact in My Promised Land) on his tour as a camp guard in a detention camp in Gaza. The writing has almost none of the portentous bombast of his present work. He conveys in simple, direct language the growing horror he felt at what he witnessed and abetted. Needless to say, there was no heartfelt peroration earnestly justifying his country's or his own actions.

  • Clinton on 2005 Palestinian elections: 'If we were going to push for elections, we should have made sure that we did something to determine who was going to win'
  • My family's Nakba story
    • Yes, U, all human deaths are tragedies. But in this case the root cause of the tragedies on both sides is the same: Zionist determination to dispossess the indigenous people of Palestine. We need peace under UNGA resolution 194.

  • 'We are Israel and Israel is us' -- Governor Cuomo ends all the confusion!
  • To the Holocaust survivor I interviewed, in regards to Palestine
    • Thanks for reminder, Annie. I read Hatim Kanaaneh's article at the time (I read all of his articles), but had forgotten it. Great picture of a glorious sabr.

    • Page: 1
    • Excellent, apposite post, Shmuel. I remember well this vivid passage (one of many) in Benvenisti's book.

      The settler's hatred of sabra (tzabar in Hebrew; sabr in Arabic) cactus is richly ironic, given that "tzabar" was the Mandate-era name for Jews who were born in Palestine, rather than immigrating from Europe.

      Doubly ironic, since sabra is itself an immigrant from Mexico:

      "Word of the Day: Tzabar David Sarna Galdi, Haaretz, June 21, 2013

      What's rough and prickly on the outside, but sweet and soft on the inside? A tzabar. What is a tzabar? It's a native-born Israeli. Well, technically, it is Opuntia ficus-indica, or the common cactus.

      Tzabar is the Hebrew term for a cactus. But it's also slang for someone born in Israel, which was a badge of pride during the early years of the young state when almost all of the Jewish citizens were recent immigrants fleeing pogroms and prejudice in Europe and Middle Eastern countries.

      Jewish folk born in the land of Israel after 2,000 years of diaspora clearly deserved a nickname. "Tzabar" is recorded as having been used by a journalist in the long defunct Doar Hayom newspaper in April 1931. The term was also ingrained in society by Israeli politicians and the kibbutz movement, bent on constructing the image of the "new Jew" – a young, strong, healthy agriculturist in Israel.

      Why a cactus? Good question, especially since the common cactus is actually Mexican. It made its way to Israel long ago, after Spanish conquerors of the Americas brought it to Europe. However, it is quite prevalent in Israel, and more importantly, it is an analogy for the Israeli personality: overtly tough but warm and kind under the surface - a decidedly good comparison.

      "Soft on the inside," in the case of the cactus, actually refers to the red-yellow fruit beloved by Israelis called "sabras" in Hebrew, which have a unique flavor but require a certain talent to peel without getting stabbed, if picked straight from the cactus.

      So, once you've tasted a sabra and had to deal with an argumentative Israeli, you've officially been immersed in a real native Israeli experience! (Or Mexican.)"

      Triply ironic, since the sabra's determination to come back after being cut back, which the Eastern European settler so despised, is a symbol of Palestinian awda (return), as in this handala cartoon:

    • I agree with Jon S that the name Zippori (Tzippori) probably pre-dated Saffuriya (Saffuri, Saffuriyya, etc.), but it's likely that the Hellenistic name Sepphoris came between them. Tzippori is often taken to mean little bird, but it could also mean the Biblical Tzipporah (Safurah in Arabic). Whatever the derivation, the decision of the JNF Naming Committee (or some equivalent Zionist authority) to name the moshav built on Saffuriya's land "Tzippori" was undoubtedly intended to erase the linguistic evidence of many centuries of Arab culture in the Galilee, thus complementing the IDF's previous physical erasure of the Palestinian town.

  • PEN director praises Charlie Hebdo's courage, then suggests BDS makes students feel 'isolated, vulnerable, threatened'
  • After 68 years of Nakba, is coexistence still possible?
    • Mohammed Alhammami: "The only way to bring about coexistence is to resolve the root causes of the conflict: the occupation and refugee crisis."

      Hasbara translation: "The only way to bring about coexistence is for 'Israel to be destroyed'."

      Israeli Jews equate loss of their ethno-religious sovereignty over part (or all) of Palestine with "destruction." They will eventually be forced learn that loss of their militarily imposed ethno-religious sovereignty will be a liberation rather than a destruction.

  • The end of apartheid in Israel will not destroy the country, it can only improve it
    • Indigeneity is a fraught concept. As both Echinococcus and MHughes point out, the long-standing population of Palestinian Jews was tiny in comparison to the European and (eventually) Middle Eastern settlers who flooded into Palestine under the banner of Zionism. In 1936, say, at the beginning of the Arab Revolt, it is at least arguable that those Jewish settlers weren’t “indigenous,” and that no great injustice would have been done if the truly, unarguably indigenous Palestinian Arabs had managed to expel them and their abhorrent Zionist ideology by force of arms. Now, 80 years later, Zionism is no less abhorrent, but surely the second, third and fourth generations of the settlers’ descendants are more “indigenous” than their forebears. If you don’t like the term “indigenous,” can you not at least admit that these people have human rights as individuals that parallel those of the descendants of the victims of the Nakba? To deny these Jews their individual human rights because they mostly support Zionism is just as wrong as Zionists’ denial of the human rights of Gazans because they support (or don’t overthrow) Hamas. Individual human rights inhere in individuals, not in the political ideologies those individuals espouse or tolerate.

      I presume that Echinococcus (and MHughes) agree with anti-Zionists (including me) in fully endorsing the right of return of the Palestinian Arab refugees and their descendants to their homeland. That in itself would mean an end to Zionism. Given that premise, what is s/he objecting to so strenuously? What does s/he mean by Palestinian Arabs’ “sovereignty over their own territory”? Does s/he want the right of return to be accompanies by an ethnic cleansing of “non-indigenous” Jews? Does s/he want those Jews to be relegated to second-class citizenship as punishment for the Nakba? If either of these is her/his position, s/he parts company with all but a fringe of the global anti-Zionist movement, and with basic demands of justice.

    • Bryan:

      Excellent expansion of Stephen Shenfield's excellent comment. I fully endorse the geographically appropriate term "Palestine" for the new democracy. It was after all the term that both Palestinian Arabs and Palestinian Jews used in the Mandate era.

      Still, we must admit that the name is no longer entirely neutral. "Palestine" has taken on an additional nationalist connotation over the last 100 years as the Arabs of Palestine have come to appreciate the commonality of their heritage and culture. They insist on referring to themselves as "Palestinians" rather than deracinated "Arabs," in order to assert their indigeneity, and to counter "transferist" ideology that insists that the greater Arab region outside Palestine is homeland enough for them. It is understandable, then, that Zionists regard changing the name of their homeland to "Palestine" as adumbrating replacement of the Jewish ethnocracy with a Palestinian Arab ethnocracy. That might be a condign end to Zionism, but it would be adding a new injustice to the old one.

      Of course, replacement of one ethnocracy with another is not at all what the anti-Zionist, anti-apartheid, pro-democracy movement stands for. But has the movement made that sufficiently plain, either inside Palestine or outside? When Americans like me say we're in "solidarity" with the Palestinians, do we make it crystal clear that that solidarity is an entirely different kind of solidarity from the solidarity that AIPAC, ADL, etc. feel with Israeli Jews who are enforcing their ethnocratic supremacism on Palestinian Arabs? Indeed, I think anti-Zionists should avoid the term solidarity entirely. It weakens our case. The only enduring commitment that stands to prevail is solidarity with universal rights. We should explicitly, emphatically, and consistently declare that we regard both Palestinian Jews and Palestinian Arabs as indigenous people sharing their common Palestinian homeland.

  • Against Balance: Thoughts on teaching Israel/Palestine
    • A thoughtful and inspiring guidebook and meditation. I suggest a benchmark for responsible teaching in a highly contentious area of inquiry: Will a student opposed to the teacher's viewpoint be a more effective advocate for his/her opinion as a result of taking the course?

  • 'NYT' article on roots of recent violence in Israel/Palestine fails to use the word 'occupation'
    • Well, Herchel, if the shooter's first cousin and a dozen neighbors had recently been killed by the victims' gang under protection of the police, maybe it WOULD be responsible reporting to cover the shooter's perspective.

  • Health Advisory: Notes from a sandstorm
  • Can Holocaust compensation agreements be a model for Nakba reparations?
    • About 1 million Palestinians were dispossessed in the Nakba, 3/4 of them by being expelled. Conservatively estimating the current market value of their lost property at $100,000 per person, compensation would amount to about $100 billion, or about 1/3 of Israel's current GDP. The country's current public debt amounts to about 2/3 of its GDP. So financing compensation by borrowing would increase the public debt to about 100% of GDP, which isn't at all outrageous. Decreasing Israel's military/security budget by 90% would go a long way to servicing this debt. This is an eminently do-able program.

  • Responding to Gershom Gorenberg's 'Atticus Finch principle of Israeli history'
    • Excellent analysis! In the immediate aftermath of the 1967 war, Israel had an opportunity to choose the path of peace and reconciliation. The green line border was suddenly opened, and for a brief time many Palestinian Arabs expelled in 1947-1949 were able to visit (though not return permanently to) their homeland. If the Israeli state had chosen to build on this opening, even partially, they would have been REPUDIATING (at least partially) the core of political Zionism: the Nakba that had been an unavoidable condition of a Jewish majority in the new state. To claim, as Gorenberg in effect does, that the path of peace would have been a continuation of a valorous pre-1967 Zionism is a fundamentally dishonest distortion of reality. Of course, all this is counterfactual speculation. In fact, Israel didn't choose the path of peace. They chose instead to double down on the Nakba, colonizing the remainder of Palestine along with the Golan and Sinai.

  • Hillary Clinton promises megadonor she will work with Republicans-- to oppose BDS
    • You bet there's a candidate who doesn’t pledge blind loyalty to Israel! That's Jill Stein for the Green Party. And she's on the progressive side of countless other issues as well. By all means donate to Bernie Sanders and attend his rallies, despite his shameful record on the Middle East. But WORK for Jill Stein! She'll still be there for us long after Sanders has endorsed Clinton, as he's promised he will.

  • Jewish community must 'welcome' anti-Zionist, pro-BDS Jews, Beinart says-- but Shavit says, Excommunicate them
    • " surely an excellent writer who composes ideas in an elegant compelling manner." --Philip Weiss

      Correction: He USED to be an excellent writer. Now every topic he touches is "a turning point in history" or some such overblown rubbish. There is a single chapter of straightforward, non-hyperbolic, sincere writing in My Promised Land: a reprint of his 1991 essay On Gaza Beach (translation in the New York Review of Books: He was young then. Now he's able to write without embarrassment and shame: "I know that if not for [the ethnic cleansing of Lydda in 1948] the State of Israel would not have been born....[T]he filthy work [enabled] my people, my nation, my daughter, my sons, and me to live." A new genre in liberal Zionist punditry: "ethnic cleansing and weeping," as Shlomi Segall aptly put it in a letter to the editor of the New Yorker.

  • Combatants for Peace responds to Memorial Day report
    • "Regarding the final agreement, CFP is not a think tank but a grass-root movement. We do not see it our role to draft the future agreement between the TWO SIDES. Indeed, the right of return, just like water and borders are all details that have to be agreed upon by BOTH SIDES." -- Combatants for Peace response to Dan Cohen; my emphasis

      It's not dialogue itself that's wrong-headed about CFP and allied peace initiatives. It's the futile "two-sides" framing of the dialogue. Dialogue that starts there, ends with continued oppression and dispossession. The two "sides" in this conflict are equal human rights on the one hand versus their denial on the other. The conflict can end only with victory for the former. Such an outcome could be considered a victory for the indigenous people of Palestine, but it wouldn't be a victory for their ethnic community over the Israeli Jews' ethnic community. The human rights of both communities, non-Jewish and Jewish alike, would be affirmed.

  • Leading American rabbi issues first public criticism of apartheid conditions in Jerusalem
    • I suppose it's possible to imagine more pusillanimously timid criticism of Israel than these two leveled. You'd have to work at it, though.

  • Terrorism and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: An argument
    • "Since 1988, however, both the declared and observable purpose of Arafat, the PLO, and the present Palestinian Authority under Mahmoud Abbas has been the end of the Israeli occupation and the creation of an independent and viable Palestinian state in the 23% of the historical land of Palestine that remained after the Israeli victory in the 1948 war—a clearly just cause." -- Jerome Slater

      A SEMI-just cause. A CLEARLY just cause would be full democracy from the River to the Sea, with equal rights for Jews and non-Jews alike.

  • The Nakba Day denial
    • Deri is a Mitzrahi name. It's likely that Ben Deri comes from an Arab Jewish family from Morocco (I don't know this for sure of course). That young Mitzrahim have been drawn so thoroughly into the culture of hatred against their fellow Arabs is emblematic of Zionism's betrayal of the Middle East's rich Jewish culture .

  • Settlers' video accuses B'Tselem, Breaking the Silence, Peace Now and New Israel Fund of collaborating with Nazi anti-Semites
  • 'She dedicated the whole of her young life to helping those in need of freedom, justice and peace': American hostage killed in Syria remembered for work in Palestine
    • Actually, does it matter if ISIL or Jordan killed Kayla Mueller? I think we have to agree that ISIL are responsible in either case, since they were imprisoning her against her will. And there's no allegation that even if she was killed by a Jordanian airstrike that Jordan specifically intended to kill her. Even if we oppose the coalition's military intervention in Syria, I don't think we can lay the blame for this particular death at its door.

  • Why do Muslims object to depictions of their prophet?
    • That won't wash, C.O. The cartoon's hook is that the most unlikely conceivable person, the Prophet on whose behalf the attackers claimed to act, is himself joining the throngs of demonstrators expressing solidarity with (and forgiveness of) the victims by holding up the je suis Charlie sign. If Mohammad is instead forgiving the attackers, where's the hook??

    • Tout n'est pas pardonne

      A large part of what's offensive about CH's cover cartoon is that it's completely undeserved self-forgiveness. I could see circumstances in which depiction of a tearful Prophet under the very same banner (tout est pardonne) would be shocking but not offensive in the same way. If, say, Mohammad were forgiving some 7th century offense for which some 21st century Muslims had just killed some other 21st century Muslims, it would be a principled rebuke, not a boorish, gratuitous insult.

  • A Knesset without Arab parties?
    • Jon S is right about the numbers (and perhaps one or two other points in his commenting career). In addition, United Arab List-Ta'al got 3.65% of the vote in 2013, which would be enough to make the threshold in the March 17 election. There are only two Palestinian-identified lists in the current Knesset: United Arab List-Ta'al and Balad, with 4 and 3 MKs, respectively.

      Raising the threshold to 3.25% may indeed have had the purpose of further reducing Palestinian representation in the Knesset, but it could have the opposite effect if it inspires like-minded politicians, both Palestinian or Jewish, to unite for the common cause of equal rights, at least in '48 Israel.

  • Mamdani's 'holistic' challenge: Anti-Zionists must persuade Jews they can only be safe by dismantling the Jewish state
    • A corollary of Mamdani's thesis is that there must be a credible government in waiting, ready to oversee the transition from ethnocracy to non-ethnocratic democracy. Otherwise, the dominant ethnic group will not be persuaded that there is an alternative to continuing ethnocratic rule. By the 1990s the ANC had built a credible government in waiting, led by Mandela and other visionary leaders, that de Klerk and the Nationalists had confidence in.

      What corresponds in Palestine today to the ANC in, say, 1985? There is no shortage of visionary leaders (no, I'm not talking of Mahmoud Abbas), but there is little by way of organized, non-ethnic political structures comparable to the ANC. The parties of the PLC (legislature created by Oslo) vie with one another to represent the interests of the Palestinian people in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, but not Palestinians as a whole, and certainly not Israeli Jews. The PNC (theoretically representing the Palestinian people as a whole) is moribund. The "Arab" parties in the Knesset represent the interests of the Palestinian citizens of Israel, even when equality is central to their ideology (e.g., Balad).

      Knesset elections are coming in March 2015, and it looks like the threshold for representation will be increased so that both Balad and United Arab List-Taal are in danger of losing the few seats they have. There is thus an impetus for coalition building. Balad is already proposing coalition lists. Hadash (descendant of the communists) is resisting combining with "Arab" parties like Balad since they are nominally non-ethnic and have a few Jewish members (including one MK). It would be a hopeful sign if such parties could get over their differences. Formation of a coalition party or list that includes both Palestinian and Jewish politicians, and is committed to full equality in Israel itself, would be a significant achievement on the road to democracy.

      I don't mean to downplay the importance of BDS in any way. That too is vital. And in fact it's a model for the non-ethnic politics I'm advocating, in that its adherents prominently include Jews, both in the diaspora and in Israel itself. But it's not a government in waiting. That too is vital in my opinion.

  • It's always been a holy war
    • The "locals" refused to accept the newcomers as fellow residents because ever since the second aliyah the newcomers made clear their intention to wrest control of the country away from its indigenous inhabitants. This intention was evident in large ways in Zionist writing, which Palestinian intellectuals in Jaffa and Haifa became aware of; and in small ways in the expulsion of Palestinian fellahin from the growing number of Zionist settlements committed to "Hebrew labor" and (Hebrew) democracy. Sure, the "war part of it" may not have been intended: the Zionists may well have hoped that the Palestinians wouldn't resist their dispossession. But the Palestinians did resist, and continue to do so to this day.

  • The Combined Jewish Appeal's deep complicity in Israeli crimes
    • Inspiration from the Polish shoah

      The cultural reference in your choice of Mordechai Gebirtig's famous song 'Es brent (Undzer shtetl brent) is heartbreakingly apposite. For those who don't know this furious rebuke to Jewish passivity and urgent call to Jewish resistance, here's the refrain in Yiddish and English:

      Un ir shteyt un kukt azoy zikh
      Mit farleygte hent,
      Un ir shteyt un kukt azoy zikh—
      Undzer shtetl brent.

      And you stand there looking on
      With futile, folded arms,
      And you stand there looking on—
      While our village burns!

      Could there be a better metaphor for what the "organized Jewish community" is allowing to happen to Judaism? Here's the final refrain:

      Shteyt nisht brider ot azoy zikh
      Mit farleygte hent,
      Shteyt nisht brider, lesht dos fayer—
      Undzer shtetl brent.

      Don’t stand there, brothers, looking on
      With futile, folded arms,
      Don’t stand there, brothers, douse the fire!—
      Our poor village burns!

      Here's a classic version that fully captures the spirit of Gebirtig's song without distracting ornamentation:

      Here’s an adaptation by Israeli anti-apartheid activist Yonatan Shapira, a name that will be familiar to most Mondoweiss readers, in Yiddish, Hebrew and Arabic:

  • Netanyahu says there will never be a real Palestinian state
    • Sorry, what's your point Dan? Keep up the rockets? Are you claiming that rockets will bring on justice faster than will international delegitimization of Zionism? "Uncle" Phil isn't counseling patience, he's counseling urgency. And his advice isn't being delivered to Palestinians; it's being delivered to the global community of justice.

    • This "international consensus" is a consensus of a tiny coterie of ruling elites. It's not a consensus that can mobilize a global campaign for justice. For that, only equal rights will do, and equal rights will mean an end to Jewish ethnocracy. The phony two-state "consensus" only serves as a smokescreen for continued Zionist expulsion and oppression. Zionist governments, from left to right, have made abundantly clear that they have no intention of permitting creation of a sovereign Palestinian state; Netanyahu's intransigence is anything but extreme in Israeli political discourse.

      Implementing the two-state "solution," even if by some incredible miracle it came to pass, would hardly be a occasion for unreserved celebration. It would in effect entail yet another ethnic cleansing, this time of Jews. It would be acceding to the false premise that the conflict is about ethnic sovereignty, not about justice. Isn't it long past time to repudiate nationalistic, exclusivist "solidarity," whether Jewish or Palestinian?

  • Young Jew seeks to prepares his community for heretical & inevitable-- end of Jewish state
    • I don't know whose parenthetical definition of Yom Ha’atzmaut was in Katz's narrative, but it's certainly wrong. Yom Ha’atzmaut doesn't commemorate the Shoah. It's what we know in English as Independence Day, celebrating the declaration of the Israeli state in 1948. Not that that declaration is something to celebrate. Palestinians COMMEMORATE the same event as Youm an-Nakba (Day of the Catastrophe), which ironically translates to Yom HaShoah in Hebrew. And truly, as Katz and so many Jewish followers of this website have come to realize, it has turned out to be a shoah for Jews as well as for Zionism's Palestinian victims.

  • Fear of anti-semitism accusation did not stop Presbyterians from witnessing occupation
    • "You are kidding yourself if you feel that this weak move will influence any sort of policy or start a trend. It was a last gasp."--Pat

      How right you are! That's why the Zionists made no effort to counter the weak move. No, wait. They DID make an effort. A HUGE effort. I wonder why that was.

      "[I]t made anti-Semites very happy with themselves."--Pat

      Perhaps. I wouldn't know. But for sure those anti-Semites are WAY happier when the IDF kills unarmed Palestinian teenage protesters in their own land, while the Zionists claim that the IDF is "fighting" on behalf of Jews everywhere.

  • Israeli checkpoint reinstated outside Nablus stops Palestinian traffic for over two hours
  • Why a false understanding of the 'Six Day War' still matters
    • Exhaustive list of Israel's defensive wars:

      1973 Yom Kippur war* (but questionable)

      List of Israel's major wars of aggression:

      1947-1949 War of Palestinian Expulsion
      1956 Sinai War
      1967 War of Territorial Expansion
      1982 First Lebanon Massacre
      2006 Second Lebanon Massacre
      2008-9 War of Gaza Extermination

  • Fire Thomas Friedman
  • The mass hunger strike returns: Palestinian prisoners refuse food to protest detention without trial
    • Please change the caption of the pic: Ofer prison is in the West Bank, not in Israel.

  • NY Times troubling corrections: Hebron youth who first 'had brass knuckles' now investigated for possessing 'weapons' (Updated)
  • A surprise: Bush is respected in Africa for launching huge campaign against AIDS
    • OK, James North, I bow to your greater familiarity with PEPFAR, and have to admit that I was exaggerating my criticism of the program for my own ideologically driven reasons. And it's news to me that President Bush was willing to downplay the abstinence/fidelity requirement.
      It must have been a great honor to meet Judge Cameron in person.

    • Misplaced credit! We should be celebrating South Africa's Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) much more than PEPFAR for progress in antiretroviral (ARV) accessibility. Whereas Bush vigorously defended and enforced drug companies' patent rights (while at the same time funding very modest levels of drug availability), TAC has been at the forefront of the generic ARV movement that has had far more impact on ARV accessibility. PEPFAR's disproportionate emphasis on abstinence and fidelity in its anti-AIDS programs was an ideologically-motivated impediment to progress ( (It was TAC, too, that was primarily responsible for defeating denialism in South Africa.)

  • Video: SodaScream -- Bubble trouble
  • 'NPR' denies the Nakba
    • Phil's population numbers:

      The number of Jews and Palestinians in Palestine at the onset of the Nakba in 1947 are usually given as about 660,000 and 1.3 million, respectively. About 750,000 of the 1.3 million Palestinians were expelled from their homes in the future state of Israel, but undoubtedly the great majority of them ended up in Gaza and the West Bank, which lie within historic Palestine. So Jews remained a minority in historic Palestine after the Nakba. Immediately afterward, the Jewish population was augmented by immigration of about 330,000 Mizrahi Jews, along with a lesser number of European Jews. After the second major wave of expulsion during the 1967 Six Day War (about 250,000 Palestinians), Jews finally became a majority in historic Palestine.

  • Avigdor Lieberman: 'Our Oscar goes to Scarlett'
    • Eyes on the prize, everyone! Johansson's person and character are not our enemies. Our goal is not to vaporize her with the withering rays of our sarcasm, but to use boycott--of her movies, of SodaStream's bubbles--to try to change her, and others', behavior.

      Lieberman's person and character aren't our enemies, either. His policy is. If, inshallah, democracy comes to prevail over ethnocracy in Palestine, Lieberman will be a Palestinian citizen in exactly the same degree as the returning refugees will be. He may be a citizen in jail, of course, but if so only at the end of a fair trial. If you think the struggle for justice in Palestine is "transferist," you may be confusing it with Zionism.

  • Student who exposed 'leftist' teacher is honored at Knesset, while teacher gets violent threats
    • Gee, Gilad! I didn't think of this. Let's do the math: 700,000 Palestinians expelled. 500 Palestinian villages and towns depopulated. That's 1,400 Palestinians expelled per village/town on average. I can't believe I've been making such a big deal over so few inhabitants! Well, I've learned my lesson, thanks to you. I'm going to turn in my Delegitimizer Identity Card and follow Mark Twain's advice: I'll become a Zionist!

    • Mikhael again:

      1. It's unfair to accuse me of playing with a sterotype. As a good American, I know very well that appearance is a very unsure guide to ethnicity. I advanced my conjecture about Sapir Sabah with a candid admission that I could be wrong.

      2. I offered that Sapir Sabah is pretty not only because that's my opinion, but also to head off any idea that my opinions followed from a negative stereotype of Mizrahim. My reaction to her face was an immediate feeling of empathy, as is my reaction to most faces that I encounter for the first time, before any encounter with the attached character. And even after learning something about her, my reaction is not personal condemnation of her or her ethnicity, but the sadness that I've described in my response to your earlier comment above..

    • Mikhael:

      1. You're not denying Arab Jews were heavily recruited by Zionist agents, are you? Conversely, I'm not in the least denying that many Arab Jews emigrated to Israel willingly, even when (as was frequently the case) it meant giving up all their possessions.

      2. Doesn't your response to my distress that Arab Jews repudiated their natural sympathy for Palestinian Arabs make my point? Of course, and entirely expectedly, the Arab olim identified with other Israeli Jews. The Mizrahim indeed had good reason to be "Zionist," in the sense of fully embracing their new country; and the same applies to their descendants. But does it follow that they should abandon their natural sympathy with Palestinian Arabs. Wouldn't one expect exactly the reverse? Our own immigrant communities in the US don't generally become enemies of the ethnicities of their origin. That Arab olim have felt compelled do just that is a pathology of ethnocratic states. That at least is the argument I'm putting forth here.

    • Look at Sapir Sabah's pretty face. If she's not of Mizrahi (Middle Eastern Jewish) parentage, my eyes are deceiving me. Whether or not I'm right in Sabah's case, it is one of the many heartbreaking illnesses of Israeli Jewish culture that the Mizrahi citizens, heavily recruited by Zionist agents to the new country, but subject to severe social discrimination once they got there, have repudiated the natural sympathy they should feel for their Palestinian brethren.

  • Scarlett Johansson gets an ally-- Mike Huckabee
    • Sorry, where do you get that H has visited Israel 9 to 20 times?? All he says is "so many times I've lost track," which means at least once.

  • Why Americans must see 'When I Saw You'
    • "For a long time it has been clear that the American love affair with Israel will not be altered by journalism or government or activism or scholarship, it will come down to art." --Philip Weiss

      As moved as I was by Jacir's other awda (return) film "Salt of This Sea" (available on Netflix; I haven't succeeded in getting a copy of "When I Saw You" yet), Phil's sentence is incoherent, and I hope that as a journalist and activist he doesn't believe it. Otherwise, why am I donating to this site?

      The arc of the moral universe is long, and to bend it toward justice we need:

      1. Responsible journalism

      2. Government action

      3. Sustained activistm

      4. Honest scholarship

      5. Art: Annemarie Jacir's, Carlos Latuff's, Rafeef Ziadah's,......

  • 'The Nation' and the privileging of Jewish voices on Israel/Palestine
    • JeffB: Precise calculation of liberalism's pivot point on the Pro-Israel/Pro-Palestinian axis is a loser's task. BDS lies on an orthogonal axis: Pro-equal rights/Anti-equal rights. Is there any question where The Nation should be on that axis? The analogy with South Africa is very close indeed.

  • Preaching to the choir: reflections on Max Blumenthal's 'Goliath'
    • Jerry Slater writes "I can imagine circumstances in which the 2ss is revived, but none in which a binational state will occur."

      Fair enough. There are certainly legitimate differences of opinion on the likely outcome of the conflict in Palestine.

      But the crucial choice here is not among different guesses about the future, but rather among different focuses of advocacy and activism. Many, probably most, people Jerry would classify as advocates of a binational state see themselves instead as advocates of equal rights and justice. That certainly would be my stance. We focus on people as individuals, not "peoples" collectively as nations, ethnicities, confessional communities, etc. It's true that the equal rights movement threatens the continued existence of Israel as a specifically Jewish state. But how many takers will there be for an "equal rights EXCEPT..." movement?

    • Sorry, Jerry. I withdraw my stupid aside. I was intending to mock Eric Alterman, not you! I have the highest respect for your long-standing, clear-eyed confrontation with the reality in Palestine.

    • Comments on comments:

      1. "The great majority of Palestinians...are not struggling “for equal rights in all of Palestine” but for the equal right to have a state of their own in the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem."

      This is disputable, especially if the Palestinian diaspora and the Palestinian citizens of Israel are taken into consideration (as they should be).

      2. "The right to end foreign oppression and win a nation-state is, in fact, a very important human right, both at the collective and individual level."

      I agree about foreign oppression, of course. But I don't agree about winning a nation-state. The principle of "self-determination of peoples" (plural, "peoples" meaning nationalities) has been the pretext for oppression and violence for a century. It's people, not peoples, who have rights. I would not regard relacing the single existing ethnocracy in Palestine with two to be great advance in human rights.

      3. "A binational state has no chance of coming into existence. That being the case, the real-world consequence of abandoning the two-state idea in favor of a binational single state would be that the Israeli occupation and repression of the Palestinians will continue."

      Two sovereign states have no chance of coming into existence. That being the case, the real-world consequence of pinning hopes for justice on the two-state idea would be that the Israeli occupation and repression of the Palestinians will continue.

    • As indispensable as Jerome Slater and other liberal Zionists have been for the freedom movement in Palestine, they undermine that movement when they frame it as a territorial dispute rather than a struggle for equal human rights in all of Palestine. The utmost of his ambition is to "cause the majority of American Jews and other 'pro-Israeli' groups to change their minds and support serious U.S. pressures on Israel." He urges a more nuanced understanding of Zionism, but it's an understanding that clashes with the unremitting reality on the ground--Goliath's depiction of which, he agrees, is "mostly technically accurate." Liberal Zionists' kinder, gentler brand of Jewish ethnocracy has no hope of mobilizing a global movement comparable to the one against South African Apartheid. Equal rights for all the people of Palestine, Jew and non-Jew alike, does. And despite Slater's assertion to the contrary, there is even hope that many "centrist" American Jews, increasingly divorced from Zionist Israel as a keystone of Jewish culture, will join the equal rights movement.

  • Did the U.S. undermine democracy in the Maldives because it wants to set up military bases there?
  • What Comes Next: A new generation will rise to inspire, unify and liberate
    • "The creation of a unifying body that will translate the aspirations of our nation to a resistance project with fitting movement ethics" --Abir Kopty

      This is indeed an urgent need, but to be successful and ethical it must be a movement of "co-resistance," meaning that it must incorporate Jews, including Israeli Jews. The liberated Palestine to come will be half Jewish in terms of population, and at the moment of liberation overwhelmingly Jewish in terms of wealth and political power. Whatever the crimes of Zionism, the Jews as individuals are Palestinians too.

  • What Comes Next: Once the one-state reality in Israel/Palestine is recognized, the basis for a comprehensive peace will be clear
    • "Like other settler-colonial projects, Israel created something new from the old, reviving and modernizing the Hebrew language, fostering a polyglot culture that drew upon traditions Ashkenazi and Sephardic, Arab, Persian and Turkish, Levantine and North African, to list a few. "

      This is a startling contention. Surely the effect of Zionist enterprise has been overwhelmingly destructive of Middle East Jewish culture, not creative. The vibrant, TRULY polyglot Jewish communities in Tehran, Cairo, Damascus, etc., etc. shriveled in the aftermath of the Nakba, partly as a result of strenuous Zionist recruitment and covert action (cf. the Lavon affair), and partly as a result of a sharp, understandable, if not excusable, rise in anti-Semitism in the region. The "reverse Nakba"--the exodus of ~800,000 Jews from the countries of the Middle East--may not have been the moral equivalent of the Nakba itself, but it was nonetheless a disastrous impoverishment of Middle East Jewish culture. I'm thinking what a "birthright" trip might be for American Jews today if Zionism had not become a campaign for ethnic sovereignty--if it had become a modernizing enrichment rather than a militaristic wizening of Middle East Judaism.

      None of this is to deny that Israeli Jews have the same inherent right to live in their homeland as the Palestinians they expelled. But isn't this the whole point of BDS?

  • 'Occupied Palestine' doc'y finds new life 30 years after a bombthreat killed its release
  • Bill Clinton is Weiner's role model, not his boss
    • Weiner’s a jerk of the first water—a jerkwater for short—but sexting has nothing to do with it. Who exactly is the victim of that “crime”? Who exactly has been harmed by that “lapse in judgment”? Perhaps you say his wife Huma Abedin, but if so how do you know that? And what business is it of yours anyway? Can you not easily imagine a circumstance in which, say, going out to play golf some afternoon would be a far graver marital betrayal than one-handed messaging? Only in the Land of the Prurient and the Home of the Pusillanimous would sexting rather than the [Israelization] of the mayoral race be considered appropriate grounds for hounding candidate Jerkwater out of office.

  • I thought this was a copperhead snake
    • You live in the stomping grounds of my boyhood hero Raymond L. Ditmars. No excuse for such ignorance.

  • The homogeneity and 'intense political programming' of Jewish day schools
    • An extraordinarily thoughtful, mature meditation on education. What struck me most about your story is your youthful essay about Israel's violations of international law. I could no more have done such a thing in high school than, let's say, make the varsity football team. You may not have outwardly protested against your score of 40 out of 100, but perhaps--I wouldn't put it past you!--you gave him/her the LOOK. You know, the one that expresses contempt more eloquently than any words. The one that we teachers dread almost beyond anything else.

  • 'Palestine' is an ancient name, for a land of many cultures
    • Bottom line: "Palestine" is a geographic name, not an ethnic or sectarian identity. It is the name that the Yishuv themselves called the land that they coveted. So "Palestine" is an entirely appropriate name for the Free Palestine of the near future. "Israel," a sectarian ethnic name, is entirely inappropriate. Examples of Palestinians with full citizenship and equal rights in Free Palestine:

      Arab Palestinians dispossessed in the ongoing Nakba, whether they live in Israel, West Bank, E.J., Gaza or the diaspora
      Righteous Israeli Jews like Amira Hass, Gideon Levy, etc.
      Kippa-wearing former Uzi-toting hilltop youth
      Moldovan immigrants like Avigdor Lieberman

      Same freedom of expression (even of Zionist sentiment), same laws, same rights. Same jails if they break the law.

  • Approaching 60, Norman Finkelstein reflects
    • I also admire Finkelstein tremendously, and am shocked if he's being blacklisted by some elements of the Palestine solidarity movement for his politically incorrect views on the resolution of the conflict.

      At the same time, I thoroughly agree with your last paragraph, especially about Finkelstein's reasoning concerning the 2SS. Which is more likely to attract the "masses" he's ambitious to woo: (1) a kinder, gentler brand of ethnic exclusivism, where only 1.3 million Palestinians continue to be Jim-Crowed within the 67 borders while the remainder are free to make what they can of 22 percent of their homeland; or (2) equal rights for everyone in 100 percent of Palestine? I think we all can agree with Finkelstein that (1) is better than the present situation. But I can't imagine building a mass movement for (1), whereas the example of South Africa in the 80s makes a mass movement for (2) highly plausible. And I already see a movement for (2) with strong parallels to anti-apartheid activism in the 80s; it doesn't feel like a cult to me. The real cult here is the phony "mass movement" that's actually behind (1) as the "international consensus." Who exactly subscribes to this "consensus"? Tony Blair. Check. Barack Obama. Check. Let's see. Uhh...give me a minute, will you?...

  • Updated: al-Aqsa Foundation discovers mass graves of Palestinians killed during the Nakba in Jaffa
  • The 'double standards' issue and moral judgment of Israeli policies
    • The increasing support of the one-state "solution" among Palestinians and the anti-apartheid movement is not an indication of polarization. It's a shift from a fruitless struggle for territorial sovereignty over an ever-decreasing fraction of the Palestinian homeland to a global struggle for equal rights in all of the Palestinian homeland. The 2SS and 1SS are not two points on a single continuum of "polarization." They are different dimensions of political action.

    • The Columbia Daily Tribune and its editor Jim Robertson are as mainstream as it gets here in mid-Missouri. They don't run columns by Carlos Strenger or Shlomo Avineri, but they do regularly publish right-wing hasbarista Mona Charen, who was all over Hawking like white over rice. They also occasionally run my counter-hasbara Op-Eds, though, plus this letter to the editor in response to Charen:

      A long-standing staple of Zionist rhetoric is “what-aboutery,” the argument that supporters of Palestinian human rights single out Israel while giving a pass to much worse abusers. “What about Darfur?” “What about Tibet?” And so forth. The implication is that the true motivation must be irrational hatred of Israel, or even of Jews, rather than principled support of human rights.

      Mona Charen’s indictment of Stephen Hawking (Tribune, May 22) is a classic of this genre. On May 8, at the urging of Palestinian colleagues, the renowned wheelchair-bound physicist canceled his scheduled participation in a conference honoring Israeli President Shimon Peres. Because Hawking didn’t boycott conferences in the Soviet Union in 1973 or Iran in 2007, countries with arguably even worse human rights records than Israel, Charen implies that his selective boycott of the latter cannot be grounded in principle.

      If what-aboutery were taken seriously, it would instantly paralyze every human rights movement in the world. Only after the very worst abuse had been agreed upon and addressed could work begin on the remaining injustices in their proper order of badness. The task would be impossibly monumental, the postponement indefinite. Every human rights abuser on Earth would be off the hook.

      Charen is undoubtedly correct that Palestinian rights activists single out Israel over worse abusers. But does it follow that our activism is hypocritical? that we condone the abuses we don’t elect to focus on? that Israel is not guilty as charged of ongoing dispossession and oppression of the Palestinian people?

  • 'What about Iran and China?' attack on BDS draws boos from the commenting crowd
    • I’m registered for Advanced Outrage Calculus III next semester. We’ll cover partial moral differentials and Jacobean transformations. The Honors Section may get to the chapter on specification of global atrocity extrema.

  • Land swaps in Israel/Palestine (and a bridge for sale in Brooklyn)
    • @frankier:

      1. I think SA fits (b) better than (a). Sure, there was (and is) resentment against the whites, but it's crucial that that resentment didn't result in expulsion or government organized reprisals. This is not to say that the single state that emerged in SA was a "solution." Political apartheid may have given way to political democracy, but the neoliberal economic apartheid regime continues, though no longer on enforced along strict racial lines. There has been only a tiny steering of resources to "integration and reconstruction."

      2. What made "acceptance by the minority" (the white minority in SA) possible was the establishment over ~3 decades of a highly credible government in waiting: the ANC. F.W. de Clerk's Nationalist party had enough trust in the ANC's commitment to reconciliation that they saw it in their interest to relinquish political power in favor of democracy.

      3. In the case of Palestine, with roughly equal numbers of oppressors (Zionists Jews) and oppressed (Palestinians), all means of coercion being with the former, it is extremely unlikely that the Zionist leadership will relinquish political power to a nationalist Palestinian government in waiting. In order to be credible in the eyes of the Zionist leadership, a government in waiting will have to be a non-nationalist coalition of Jews and Palestinians, with a central platform of equal rights for all. There is very little Jewish-Palestinian coalition building in the formal political arena today, either in the Knesset, the Palestinian Legislative Council (legislative arm of the PA) or the Palestinian National Council (legislative arm of the PLO). Coalition politics is certainly visible in civil society, however, as can be seen in the Friday demonstrations on view in "5 Broken Cameras," or in a growing number of op-eds in Haaretz. Building on those small beginnings and bringing them into the formal political arena seems to me the most plausible pathway to democracy in Palestine.

  • 'They have stones, we need drones': Israeli activists tell Obama 'thank you for supporting our Apartheid state'
    • Wow! They could be a new party! I estimate maybe 20 activists in the video. Probably good soccer players, too, so they could call themselves Forward. No, wait, that's taken. What about Red Flag? They'd have garnered 0.000633 Knesset seats in the last election. Progress!

  • 'Did Hagel get $25K speaking fee from Friends of Hamas?' -- Daily News seeded suspicion
    • I'm with piotr on this one. Friedman's jokey internet style is familiar to anyone who reads comments on this site. And this applies equally to the second e-mail: Friedman doesn't get a response to his first off-the-wall joke, so he prods with an even more over-the-top joke. Who among us hasn't done this? Mondoweiss must be totally infested with irresponsible rumor-mongers! Just as Capitol Hill is apparently (manifestly?) infested with knuckle-draggers. And none of this depends on Friedman's views on Palestine.

  • First they stole our books, then they took our story
    • Allies should be welcomed!!

      Abulhawa: "The fact is that Mr Brunner’s film is wonderful and he’s being compensated for it, with whatever funds, fame or recognition the film brings."

      But is it really true that he's being compensated with what he values most? By all evidence, Mr. Brunner's ambition isn't funds, fame or recognition. He wants a just Palestine, as does Ms. Abulhawa. He may stem from recent colonial immigrant stock with a racist ideology, but still he's Palestinian, a full citizen in the inclusivist Palestinian state to come. And is it not evident that Mr. Brunner loves these stolen books, values them as his heritage too? Has he not in his own way joined Palestinian society, like Neta Golan and Amira Haas? As Fritz somewhat timidly insists, "everybody has a right to express ideas," and if a few of those ideas are informed by unpalatable, condescending "context," the appropriate response is counter-context. I imagine Brunner would be completely receptive to his ideas about the disposal of the books being corrected. But that doesn't mean he should be denounced. As Ms. Adulhawa herself emphasizes, Brunner is an ally, not an adversary, in what really matters on the ground.

  • Comparisons to Nazi Germany are exaggerated
    • Wake up, guys! Slater's being sarcastic, "defending" Zionism by pointing out the many ways it isn't nearly as bad as Nazi Germany. With shomers like Slater, who needs delegitimizers? Very funny, Jerome!

  • Beyond Brooklyn College: How and why Israel advocates are fighting BDS
    • To Ben White’s list of reasons why the Zionist establishment fears BDS, I would add an important bullet: that BDS has largely succeeded in refocusing the movement, both globally and within Palestine itself, from a struggle between two ostensibly comparable contestants for sovereignty over land (a contest that Palestinians have no hope of winning) to a struggle for equal rights. If the struggle is between Democracy and oppression (as indeed it is), who apart from radical Zionists is going to side with the latter? Then-Prime Minister Ehud Olmert (Haaretz November 29, 2007): “If the day comes when the two-state solution collapses, and we face a South African-style struggle for equal voting rights….the State of Israel is finished. The Jewish organizations, which were our power base in America, will be the first to come out against us because they will say they cannot support a state that does not support democracy and equal voting rights for all its residents.” The then-prevailing non-Zionist community disagreed only in our belief that the two-state solution had long since collapsed by 2007.

  • Hagel's 'caged animals' line echoes Israeli soldier at checkpoint-- 'the animals are locked'
    • "I have come to view the Hagel hearing not as an actual hearing – I believe it was actually a fundraiser." --Krauss

      Les mots justes!

  • Palestinian ghettos, created by violence, have been Israeli plan since '67 -- Amira Hass
  • Bab Shams (Gate of Sun)
  • Preparing for the best
    • Bumblebee:

      Sorry, I wasn't clear when I used the term "de-Judaization." In the context I meant the ideologically driven erasure of all traces of Palestine's Zionist history. Your comment refers instead to the starkly non-symbolic adjustments that justice most urgently demands, and that will surely be the first business of a new government under Democracy. In particular, all property will surely be opened up to all citizens, especially the property held in trust for the Jewish people under Israel's racist land administration.

      Your point about the threat of a housing market collapse and overall economic retrenchment is very well taken, and has been emphasized by other observers. It closely parallels the economic threat that would be the major factor persuading the Israeli Jewish establishment to agree to Democracy according to some scenarios. We can only hope that the new government will be able to head off disaster as much as possible. As implied by the last paragraph of my post, preparing to avert that "second Nakba" is one of the chief reasons why a government in waiting is needed.

    • Bumblebee:

      Of course I agree the the political regime under Democracy will have to be decided by citizens as a whole. My post wasn't an argument for continuation of the current Israeli and Palestinian regimes! It was about what might be done now, under the current regimes, to help prepare for the change.

      You raise the usual arguments for and against proportional representation, but that wasn't the subject of my post.

      Incidentally, whatever the form of the hypothetical new legislature, would it not be pleasing if it were called the Knesset, even by non-Jewish citizens? More generally, I hope the new Democracy will not embark on a project of de-Judaization parallel to Zionism's ongoing project of Judaization. Like Ilan Pappe, I despise historicide in all its forms.

    • Pabelmont: The "may" was not for safety, but to reflect the tentativeness of my partial opposition to academic boycott. And you bring up the very arguments that make my opposition tentative. But I would counter that in this boycott there is no coherent division of "us" (Palestinians and their supporters) versus "them" (Jewish Israelis). It is the apartheid system, not the Jewish population of Israel, that is the real target of boycott, and Israeli Jews will be among the boycott's beneficiaries if it's successful. Anti-Zionist Israeli profs like Drs. Z and G(ordon) must be full, unboycotted partners in this struggle.

  • Bin Laden execution has claimed more innocent victims
  • 'It was like pictures of Babi Yar' -- an Israeli witness to Sabra and Shatila speaks because of the stain on his soul
    • This testimony is classic "shoot and cry," in much the same vein as Waltz with Bashir. The Palestinian victims have only a faceless presence, quite analogous to their ghostly disembodiment in the movie. Nevertheless, I cannot share Mndwss's contempt. In this story, as in the great Khirbet Khizeh by S. Yizhar, the anguish is manifestly not caused by the noxious smell or any other inconvenience to the witness, but rather by being party to great suffering of others. I don't think S. is asking us to feel sorry for him. I think he's asking us to share his horror at the great crime he and his country helped commit. There's not a hint of "ein breirah" (no choice) justification in his words.

  • Ali Abunimah KO's Jonathan Tobin in 'Democracy Now' debate
    • Just watched the video again. Tobin does indeed interrupt Abunimah briefly at ~7:50, but the melee really begins at ~10:20. I think an unbiased observer (I couldn't claim to be one) would come away with the strong impression that it was Abunimah who started the overtalking match.

      But "who started" isn't the point at all. We (anti-Zionists, peaceniks, activists--whoever "we" are) have all the reason on our side. The lesson is to let the Tobins have their say, then dissect their nonsense in a calm, dispassionate, utterly convincing way. This is Norman Finkelstein's style when he's at his most effective. It's Abunimah's usual style, too: this DN debate seems to me an aberration from his enviable ability to maintain personal comity while forcefully making his (often accusatory) points.

      I'm personally a terrible interrupter. I find it extremely difficult to restrain myself in exchanges with people like Tobin. I'm trying to learn to be a more effective spokesman for peace and justice--more like Abunimah usually is.

    • Out on counts, perhaps, but not a KO. Ali Abunimah is a most effective and forceful spokesperson for peace and justice in Palestine, but I thought he greatly undermined his effectiveness when he broke in on Tobin's diatribe about the "destruction" of Israel. The "debate" then descended into a barely intelligible simultaneous speaking match. Abunimah's objection to the "destruction" meme was entirely justified, of course, but it would have been so much more devastating if he'd delivered it after waiting patiently for Tobin to finish. Up to that point, it should be pointed out, Tobin himself had waited patiently for Abunimah's confrontational points to be made, even when he (Tobin) was not given a chance at rebuttal. The overall impression by the end was of a symmetrical catfight between two pugilists. And undoubtedly Tobin will, with some justification, claim that he was unfairly treated on DN.

  • Finkelstein stands by 'BDS cult' accusation, says it's 'historically criminal' to not support the two state solution
    • I believe tokyobk is correct that a full RoR, one of the three core principles underlying the BDS call, would indeed spell the end of the ethnically exclusivist Jewish state. To say this would be the "end of Israel" is rhetorical obfuscation, however. The BDS campaign emphatically does NOT call for replacing the ethnically exclusivist Jewish state with an ethnically exclusivist non-Jewish one. Jews would still be a major part of the citizenry in either a single Palestinian state or in a separate state within the Green Line.

      The essence of the BDS call, and the root of its appeal among an ever-growing community of supporters worldwide, is replacement of a struggle for Palestinian sovereignty over a much-diminished remnant of their homeland with a call for equal rights within whatever polity or polities emerge in that homeland.

      BDS might arguably recruit a few additional liberal Zionists--perhaps even members of the “pro-Israel, pro-peace” lobby J Street--by backing off the RoR and explicitly endorsing the "right" of Israel to continue as a specifically Jewish state. But such a move would greatly weaken the movement overall, and not only among Palestinians themselves. As in the South African campaign of the 1980s, an uncompromising appeal for full democracy and human rights has the potential to rally justice-loving people the world over, whether Jewish or not. A deeply compromised appeal for a modified form of ethnic exclusiveness does not.

  • Senate challenge to Obama on refugees came from Israel
    • Oops. I meant this to go after another giladg comment below. I've reposted it there.

    • Gilad’s post is certainly a good example of Nakba denial, but it’s also a good example of why it’s a bad idea to moderate Nakba denial from Mondoweiss. He’s expressing the standard mythological account of Israeli “independence,” a mythology that’s a hulking roadblock to peace and justice in Palestine. Discrediting that mythology wherever it appears is an urgent mitzvah for those who hope for a durable (= just) resolution of the Middle East conflict, whether or not they’re Jewish. So let us patiently pick apart Gilad’s main arguments.

      1. Yes, of course Palestinians and their Arab supporters rejected the 1947 UN partition plan, which was also rejected by all UN member states with a sizable Muslim population. What right did that organization have to give away 56 percent of the Palestinian homeland to some recent European invaders openly bent on taking away all their homeland if they could? invaders who at the time owned less than 10 percent of the land, and who represented only a third of the population despite decades of effective control of immigration by the Jewish Agency. Does Palestinians’ resistance to this UN-sanctioned theft mean they forfeited all subsequent right to struggle for their lost land and property?

      2. The Arab armies didn’t “invade” Palestine until May 14-15, 1948, by which time a quarter of a million Palestinians had already been expelled from their homes. The “Arab invasion” was an attempt to intervene in the ongoing ethnic cleansing (i.e., the “episode of Palestinian refugees,” in Gilad’s sanitized language), not its cause. It was a feeble attempt, undertaken with great reluctance on the part of Arab leaders, who knew only too well how futile it would be, but who felt compelled by the strong feelings of their subjects.

      3. And in case there are those who sometimes get confused with all the terminology …. White Europeans = Ashkenazi Jews of Palestine. Ashkenazi Jews of Palestine are white Europeans. Ashkenazi Jews of Palestine are part of the white European family. It was a white European army who attacked Palestine in 1947-1949 with the sole purpose of wiping the indigenous Palestinian Arabs off the map.

  • Video: Israeli mob demands all African refugees be deported from the country (and anyone who disagrees deserves to be raped)
    • Dim:

      Huh?? I'm praising a (presumed) Israeli Jew for her moral courage, and this is vilifying Jews or Israel??

      As for YOUR "problems": they're OUR problems, too. Israel's oppression of Palestinians (and the rampant racism on the part of some Israelis that reinforces that oppression, and that is on shameful display in this video) is a problem for Jews in general because of Israel's claim to being the homeland of all Jews. And it's a problem for the US as a whole because of the material support we give to its program of oppression. So sorry: we non-Israelis have standing in this case.

    • The woman is a righteous Jew (even if she's not Jewish). How many of us would stand up for decency the way she did???

  • The awakening: Missouri paper runs a Jew's call for equal rights for all
    • Thanks for the clarification, Hostage.

      I'd be interested in your take on a fundamental question: Did the Arab Legion prevent the Zionist forces from taking over what is now the West Bank, as is usually contended? Absent the Legion, would Israel have expanded its control to encompass the West Bank, as it did so many other areas assigned to the Arabs in the 1947 UN Partition Plan?

      I don't suppose the Zionists of 1948 could have anticipated the economic importance of the West Bank to the future of the Israeli state. Most importantly, it is now an indispensable source of water (unless perhaps Israel were to abandon its agricultural sector = ~50% of high-quality water consumption and ~3% of GDP). Whatever their understanding of the water situation, the Zionists of 1948 certainly placed a high value on Jerusalem, as witnessed for example by their multiple assaults on Latrun in order to preserve the corridor connecting Jerusalem to the coastal plain.

    • Hostage: I don't really disagree with this. Compared to the more than 100,000 troops ultimately deployed by the Yishuv (and the state of Israel), the Arab Legion's 8,000-12,000 men at arms was tiny. My counterfactual scenario envisioned Arab Legion "intervention" in the ethnic cleansing, not blocking or reversing it altogether. Suggesting that the Arab Legion "actually posed a threat to the Zionist takeover" is admittedly venturing beyond the facts. My arguable exaggeration of the strength of the Arab Legion was rhetorical, ceding even more than I needed to to the Zionist myth of an overwhelming Arab "assault" on a nearly defenseless infant nation. I don't understand in what sense this is "shopworn propaganda."

    • Oops! Indeed, I meant three quarters of a million.

    • Lobewyper: I'm an alter kaker too: age 71. And I would thoroughly agree about the young people who have emboldened older people like you and me to be less pusilanimous.

    • Annie et al.:

      The main Columbia Daily Tribune web page is Within that webpage, you click on the Commentary tab to get to editorials.

      You get 10 free views per 30 days at the website without subscribing.

      So far there are no comments on the editorial.

    • I wish I'd called myself an "unconverted" rather than a "nonreligious" member of Congregation Beth Shalom. I'm not Jewish, and neither I nor our (ultra-Zionist) rabbi Yossi Feintuch would countenance a hypocritical "conversion" just so I could say I spoke as a bone fide member of the tribe. But the congregational community does welcome me as family--even those who like Yossi vehemently disagree with my jeremiads on Palestine.

  • Watching propaganda in a Missouri synagogue
    • Mooser: I call myself a Jew-in-law because I identify with the Jewish community and Congregation Beth Shalom through my wife and sons, but as an unbeliever am unwilling to convert to Judaism as a religion. Nor would Rabbi Yossi Feintuch countenance such a “conversion,” his motto being “say what you mean and mean what you say.” And like many Mondoweiss followers, including for example those who belong to Jewish Voice for Peace, I don’t accept that it’s Judaism that’s in conflict with decency and righteousness in Palestine. I doubt you do either.

    • Thanks for posting, Phil. HOWEVER: I'm sorry you "corrected" "abba ghanoush" to "babba ghanoush."

  • '60 Minutes' profiles Palestinian Christians, Michael Oren falls on his face
    • More about the Apartheid Wall, W. Jones:

      1. Currently Israel uses 83% of the water from the West Bank aquifers, Palestinians getting the remaining 17%. Palestinians' overall per-capita water consumption is ~25% of Israel's and ~33% of Jordan's. A true two-state "solution" would put Israel's control of that precious water in jeopardy (that, by the way, is one of the major reasons why I think Israeli Jews will in the end agree to a single non-sectarian state in all of historic Palestine). The Apartheid Wall is designed to place not only the major settlement blocs but also some of the most important Palestinian aquifer resources on the "Israeli" side.

      2. Please take to heart tree's conclusion: the Apartheid Wall did NOTHING to stop Palestinian violence in Israel. As far as a would-be terrorist is concerned, the current 60% completed Apartheid Wall is the same as a 0% completed Apartheid Wall. The violence has taken place WITHIN the Occupied Palestinian Territories, the overwhelming majority committed by Israeli soldiers and settlers against Palestinians in their own land.

  • A dialogue about divestment that didn't happen in the Columbia Tribune
    • Hey, that's my rabbi!

      I just sent out this e-mail to Rabbi Feintuch and some friends concerned about Palestine:


      Mondoweiss has a post about Yossi's Columbia Tribune column of Wednesday 4/11/2012 ( The unpublished response letter by Andrea Whitmore (among other things a supporter of Jewish Voice for Peace) reflects views that are increasingly commonplace among American Jews, though certainly not yet a majority of them.

      It should be noted that the proposed divestment on the part of the United Methodist Church ( is very focused so as to avoid being a fundamental challenge to Zionism. It specifically targets three American corporations, Motorola, Caterpillar and Hewlett Packard, that profit from Israel's occupation and colonization of Palestinian lands in the West Bank (or "the so-called West Bank" = "Judea and Samaria" in settler parlance), East Jerusalem and Gaza. Every country on earth apart from Israel condemns this settler colonial project, and the violent oppression that's necessary to support it, as blatantly illegal under International law. That even includes occupation's main foreign funder, diplomatic protector, and all-round abettor the United States, though our country has taken pains never to actually act on its supposed principles ever since the occupation began nearly 45 years ago.

      Liberal Zionists who believe that Israel has a right to exist as an exclusivist Jewish state (I'm not one of them) should eagerly join with such divestment projects in resisting and undermining the occupation. As many mainstream Israeli leaders have argued, the occupation is by far the biggest threat to the Jewish state, and it's at least arguable that an end to the occupation might rescue the Zionist project from the collapse it's currently rushing toward. In November 2007, for instance, then-Prime Minister Ehud Olmert famously warned that unless Israel grants the Palestinians an independent state soon, it will “face a South African-style struggle for equal voting rights, and as soon as that happens, the state of Israel is finished.” This is indeed the terrible threat that Zionist Israel faces: that all the people it governs, all the inhabitants from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea, should have equal rights. This form of government has a name: Democracy.

  • Ahmed Moor in WaPo: Harvard One State conference 'informed by the uncontroversial view that all people are created equal'
    • Not trivial, and of course I don't know the answer. But I would point out that a geographic name like Palestine, which is the name the yishuv themselves used before 1948, is much more appropriate than a sectarian name like Israel.

  • Why young Palestinians chant the word 'thawra'
    • Sorry Chaos, I don't get it. I'm not being belligerent, I just don't understand what you're (apparently) flagging as unprincipled. All the best.

    • Gamal: "Galuts" like Phil are your friends! You're using the same term of contempt that the settlers of Yehuda and Shomron use for self-hating Jews in comfy apartments in New York and London. Is that how you really feel about activists like Phil??? Self-centered condescension is a perpetual enemy, never to be defeated. It's built into our natures. Please accept our perpetual apologies. But the real foe--yours, Phil's, mine (I'm what you might call a self-hating Jew-in-law)--is Zionism (sorry, Phil, if you're not there yet, but I think you are). Not Jews, not Israelis, not even Zionists, but ZionISM. That's a vulnerable foe. Maybe I've come to despise Zionism unconscionably slowly and for a different mix of reasons from yours, including an arguably clannish concern for Jews and Judaism. That's not inconsistent with being on the same side. Indeed, I largely agree with your comments about violent resistance (and so do other "galuts" such as Max Ajl of Jewbonics), about steadfastness ("existence is resistence"), about the pathetic futility of further "concessions" to Zionism.

    • Phil: I think the word is transliterated "thawra," meaning revolt or revolution.

  • The end of the 'two-state solution' is the beginning of a more just future
    • First some terminology

      In this response to Jeff Halpern’s article, “Democracy” means what it means in South Africa: equal rights for all the citizens of Palestine. It stands opposed to Apartheid, the present form of government in Palestine. Another term for Apartheid in Palestine is Zionism, the ranks of former liberal Zionists swelling steadily as one by one we reluctantly come to acknowledge the equation. “Palestine” here means the land between the river and the sea. I don’t know what the land will actually be called under Democracy, though a geographic name like Palestine—the name the pre-1948 yishuv themselves used—would certainly be more fitting than a sectarian name like “Israel.” If the name indeed turns out to be Palestine, Jewish citizens whose roots in the land go back 30 or 60 years will be no less Palestinian than Arab citizens whose roots go back five or ten centuries. Hilltop youth would become just another Palestinian police problem. Tel Aviv and Birzeit Universities would both be Palestinian institutions of higher learning. My purpose in this post is not to rehearse the many reasons for this vision of Palestine’s future. Rather I want to call attention to what seem to me to be obvious and urgent implications for today’s anti-Apartheid struggle.

      The urgent need for a government in waiting

      Little time elapsed between when South African Democracy still seemed a far-off utopian dream and its ultimate triumph. But the ANC was not caught off-guard. For decades they’d been creating a government-in-waiting, so that when F.W. de Klerk’s Nationalist Party voluntarily surrendered power, it was to an established entity in whose commitment to just treatment they could have some confidence. And how about Palestine’s new leadership: is it ready to govern on short notice? Is an alternative to the Apartheid regime being vigorously developed, an alternative at the same time just and practical?

      The task will much more difficult in Palestine than in South Africa. That’s because Jews and non-Jews are about equally numerous. Any workable government will have to be a non-sectarian coalition to whom the Apartheid leadership will reluctantly relinquish power despite having overwhelming superiority in armed force. The ANC, in contrast, represented 90 percent of the citizens and had no need to build a coalition with anti-Apartheid whites.

      The listless Democracy movement

      A “list” in parliamentary elections with proportional representation is a grouping of parliamentary candidates standing as a single political party. Elections to the Israeli Knesset and Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) are 100 percent and 50 percent by proportional representation, respectively. Both venues are well-suited homes for the government in waiting. In Israel it’s especially easy to create a list with real prospects for a substantial number of Knesset seats, as illustrated by the respectful reception of Yair Lapid shows. Two of the sitting Arab lists already have “Democratic” as part of their names, and Balad (Haneen Zouabi’s party) is ostensibly both Jewish and non-Jewish.

      Some aspects of BDS may stand in the way. Consider the extreme hypothetical case posited by the admirable Ahmed Moor on Mondoweiss on March 12, 2010: “Dr. Z is an anti-Zionist history lecturer at an Israeli institute of higher learning who actively contributes to the delegitimization of Zionism through his research. He feels strongly that Palestine/Israel ought to be one country and that Jewish privilege has no place in a modern democratic state. He is, in every way, an ally to the cause for equal rights in Palestine/Israel. So, why do I feel he should be boycotted?” Why indeed? Even if we agree with Moor’s “personal judgment…that Israeli academic institutions are not independent of…Zionist…political aims and goals,” is it wise to boycott the Neve Gordons of Israeli public discourse? These rare academic prophets, along with non-academic activists like Jeff Halpern, are, and must be seen to be, the vanguard of a new, truly Palestinian democracy, in which Dr. Z and his university are no less Palestinian than Ahmed Moor.

      The neoliberal threat

      South Africa’s anti-Apartheid movement may have triumphed politically, but it collapsed on the economic front. The economic principles of the ANC’s 1955 Freedom Charter were abandoned in favor of a neoliberal regime that has created some of the bleakest economic disparity in the world today. And much the same disaster, a second Nakba, looms in Palestine. Silwan will be sacked no less surely if the City of David theme park is run by Disney than if it is run by Elad. The neoliberal threat adds urgency to the need to create an alternative coalition government in waiting: a leadership with sufficient credibility among all Palestinians, including Jews, to guide the future democracy firmly toward liberty and justice for all.

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