Rabbibrian's Blog

A Voice for Justice and Peace in Israel/Palestine

Tony Judt poses difficult questions

Posted by rabbibrian on June 23, 2009

Yesterday,  Tony Judt,  the British historian, published a very important  op-ed in the New York Times about the settlements.  Today Ha’aretz reports that the Israeli government Israel has just authorized the building of 300 new homes in the West Bank!

Pointing out that there are now close to half a million Israelis who live in settlements,  Judt writes:

“Despite all the diplomatic talk of disbanding the settlements as a condition for peace, no one seriously believes that these communities — with their half a million residents, their urban installations, their privileged access to fertile land and water — will ever be removed. The Israeli authorities, whether left, right or center, have no intention of removing them, and neither Palestinians nor informed Americans harbor illusions on this score.”

He argues that we all pretend that this huge investment by successive Israeli governments will be undone, and speak of a two state solution based on 67 borders.

Further he argues U.S. aid for Israel has made this all possible.  As Judt says, “If Israel is drunk on settlements, the United States has long been its enabler.”

Judt believes that the settlements have made a two state solution impossible.  I fear he may be right.

I personally support a two state solution, because it seems to be the only option acceptable to both peoples at this point in time.  If the two peoples could figure out how to share one country, I think that is a much better solution but there are so few Israelis who trust that Jews could be safe in such a state.   The establishment of two states may end the violence and  begin a period of building trust between the two peoples.  After a period of relative calm, maybe other options may be viable.

For anyone, like me,  who still  holds on to the possibility of a  two state solution,  the Ha’aretz report today is very depressing.   Despite our President’s call for a freeze on settlements, the Israeli government continues cynically to manipulate and deceive.

What will it take to get Israel to stop the expansion of settlements?  Is it only the threat of a cut in aid or an actual aid cut that will convince the Israeli government that it can no longer deceive America and the rest of the world.    As I wrote in a earlier blog, now is the time for the Administration to move beyond words to actions.   All our hopes for a breakthrough in the Middle East will be dashed, unless Obama and the America government get really “tough” with Israel and demand that the building of settlements end immediately.  If Israel continues to be unwilling to end the policy, the U.S. government should withhold aid until it agrees to do so.

As Judt points out freezing settlements  is not even the core issue.  The real difficult issue is the dismantling of settlements to make a Palestinian state a viable option.

I encourage you to read his article and I welcome discussion in response to his argument.  I am sure there are some passionately held differences of opinion among us.  Even though I find his writing challenging, I am grateful for Judt’s honesty, courage and clarity.  What a blessing!

I also encourage you to read Judt’s short tribute in the New York Review of Books in memory of  Amos Elon, the Israeli journalist who died recently.  I remember reading Elon’s book, Israel: Founders and Sons in the 1970’s.  It was one of those books that you remember reading and it played an important part in my evolving approach to the issues of Israel and Palestine.  His daughter Danae Elon, a filmmaker, has made one of my favorite films about Israel:  Another Road Home.  It is an important reflection by a young Israeli of her relationship to a Palestinian man who took care of her as a child. It is poignant and beautiful film.  I highly recommend it.

Finally, Judt writes about Amos Elon:

“Amos, unlike so many of the land-fixated commentators among his fellow countrymen, was one of the first to recognize that the settlements in the territories Israel has occupied since 1967 were a self-imposed catastrophe: “The settlements…have tied Israel’s hands in any negotiation to achieve lasting peace…. [They] have only made it less secure.”

“As he foresaw in 2003, Israeli insistence upon ruling over an Arab population that will eventually become a majority within the country’s borders can only lead to a single authoritarian state encompassing two mutually hostile nations: one dominant, the other subservient. With what outcome? “If Israel persists in its current settlement policy,…the end result is more likely to resemble Zimbabwe than post-apartheid South Africa.” Many have since come to this depressing conclusion; I believe Amos was the first to make the point.”

How little has changed since he wrote those words!  Truly a prophetic voice.  May his memory be a blessing and may we all be blessed with many more prophetic Israeli voices.

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30 Responses to “Tony Judt poses difficult questions”

  1. I was troubled by Judt’s essay because I thought it was dyspeptic and unnecessarily so. Yes, things are grim. But for Judt to assume that Obama doesn’t have the political will or inclination to take on Bibi & the settlements is simply wrong (at least imo). On what basis does he believe Obama will fold? I maintain that Obama has been unwavering until now in his commitment to Israeli-Palestintian peace. Except for his silence on Gaza and Chas. Freeman (ea. of which posed extenuating circumstances) his timing & voice has been impeccable.

    No, I simply don’t buy Judt’s pessimism at least as far as Obama is concerned.

    • rabbibrian said

      Richard,
      I hope you are right. I agree that we must do all we can to support Obama. I guess by nature I am less optimistic. I hope he can pull it off, but as you know, the Occupation grinds on and everyday houses are being built in the settlements. I can’t see Israel dismantling any significant number of settlements. They haven’t even agreed to a freeze.

      Anyway, I really do hope your more optimistic view is the one that will be come reality. As my mother would say, “from your mouth to God’s ears”

      Thanks so much for your amazing blogsite!

  2. Louis Frankenthaler said

    Hi Brian,

    Tony Judt’s piece from the NY Reveiw of Books in 2003, “Israel: The Alternative” was profound and well worth reading now.

    http://www.nybooks.com/articles/16671

    • rabbibrian said

      Louis,

      Yes, Judt believes in an alternative that most people believe will result in more blood being spilled than now. I think we all want a solution that ensures security and dignity for both peoples. Judt believes that a bi-national state is the alternative that will best accomplish this goal. Most Jewish progressives and most Americans believe that a two state solution is the only possible solution at this point. As I said in my post, I support a two state solution but am very pessimistic that it is possible after 30 years of the creation of settlements by all Israeli governments with the express goal of preventing the creation of a Palestinian state. Like Judt, I am not optimistic that Israel will ever dismantle these settlements.

  3. Michael Levin said

    Clearly, it is important to focus on the significant impact of the post-67 “settlements.” [And, as an aside, the use of the term “settlements” is an example of a choice of language which Saree Makdisi examined and critiqued in last week’s LA Times — http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/la-oemakdisi19-2009jun19,0,1505080.story ] However, in highlighting and isolating the “self-imposed catastrophe” of the settlements in the occupied territories from a larger narrative of the history of Zionism, one risks avoiding or minimizing the significance of the Palestinian Nakba [Catastrophe]. Important voices, such as those of Norman Finkelstein and Ilan Pappe, can help to remind us of ways that “self-imposed catastrophe[s]” after ’67 are closely tied to what happened before ’67.

    For example — Norman Finkelstein:

    “The tragedy of Zionism,” Walter Laqueur wrote in his standard history, “was that it appeared on the international scene when there were no longer empty spaces on the world map.” This is not quite right. Rather it was no longer politically tenable to create such spaces: extermination had ceased to be an option of conquest. (5) Basically the Zionist movement could only choose between two strategic options to achieve its goal: what Benny Morris has labeled “the way of South Africa” – “the establishment of an apartheid state, with a settler minority lording it over a large, exploited native majority” – or the “the way of transfer” – “you could create a homogenous Jewish state or at least a state with an overwhelming Jewish majority by moving or transferring all or most of the Arabs out.” (6) [ . . . . ] Israel confronted the same dilemma after occupying the West Bank and Gaza as at the dawn of the Zionist movement: it wanted the land but not the people. Expulsion, however, was no longer a viable option. In the aftermath of the brutal Nazi experiments with and plans for demographic engineering, international public opinion had ceased granting any legitimacy to forced population transfers. The landmark Fourth Geneva Convention, ratified in 1949, for the first time “unequivocally prohibited deportation” of civilians under occupation (Articles 49, 147). (25) Accordingly Israel moved after the June war to impose the second of its two options mentioned above – apartheid.”

    Finkelstein’s full article — An Introduction to the Israel-Palestine Conflict (Updated: September 2002) — is available on-line at http://www.normanfinkelstein.com/article.php?pg=4&ar=10

  4. Y. Ben-David said

    I am new here and not familiar with your ideas. You stated:
    —————————————————
    I personally support a two state solution, because it seems to be the only option acceptable to both peoples at this point in time. If the two peoples could figure out how to share one country, I think that is a much better solution…
    —————————————————–

    Would it be correct to say that you consider yourself “anti-Zionist”?

    • rabbibrian said

      Am I anti-Zionist. In a word, no.

      Am I a Zionist? Depends what you mean. If you mean do I support all the policies of the Israeli government, I am not a Zionist. If you mean do I support privileging Jews over Palestinians either within the Green Line or under Occupation, then I am also not a Zionist.

      If you mean, do I love the Hebrew culture that has been created in Israel, the Jewish learning, theatre, poetry, Hebrew language that has been given new life, yes I am a Zionist. I love Hebrew and I love being in a country where the rituals and year cycle of Judaism are shared by so many people.

      People mean so many different things when they say the word, Zionist. I am definitely a cultural Zionist in the tradition of Ahad Haam. I love what Israel offers in terms of Jewish culture and I am heartsick that this culture has been and continues to be created on the backs of Palestinians. I am deeply disturbed that what Zionism has come to mean is privileging Jews over Palestinians, a systemic form of discrimination. Because of this I prefer to think of myself as a committed Jew who loves Hebrew and Jewish culture and is devoted to it’s core values of menshlichkeyt/human decency, rochmones/compassion for all, and tsedakah/justice.

      I am not sure whether you wanted such a long answer or whether the question was asked as a test of my loyalty. I will probably fail any test of ultimate loyalty to any nation state, not only Israel.

      • Kol Hakavod, Brian! We need to get away from using “Zionist” as a litmus test for Jewish loyalty and “anti-Zionist” as an epithet for an enemy of the Jewish people and clarify our terms. The term “Zionist” is particularly unhelpful because it was initially coined before there was an actual state. Now that the state has been created, this term is in many ways obsolete. We need to move beyond these simplistic assumptions and be clear about our vision for the land and its inhabitants given the current reality.

        I share your love for the national cultural renewal represented that Zionism created – but I increasingly fear the idolatrous political nationalism (ie worship of power and political control) that it has spawned.

      • rabbibrian said

        Gut Gezogt/Well said. You said it so clearly.

        As you know, Avram Burg makes the same point about Zionism i.e. that it is a pre-state concept and the goal of political Zionism has been accomplished, there is a Jewish state. Time for us to move on. I guess that is what people mean when they define themselves as “Post- Zionists.” We live in a “post-Zionist” reality, the issue is no longer about creating a state that will provide a safe haven for Jews (the goal of political Zionism), it is about the character of that state, it’s mission and it’s relationship to Judaism, Jewish values, to Palestinians, to the world and to Jews who live in the Diaspora. Those are the issues we should be discussing not whether we are “Zionist” or “anti-Zionist.”

        I hope that we can have that discussion without the Zionist litmus test.

        As a Diaspora (American) Jew with strong ties to Israel, I am horrified by the policies of the Israeli government and want to connect with Israelis as partners in a an equal and respectful relationship to work together each in our own countries to change those policies.

        Shavua Tov/ May it be a good week for all.

      • louis frankenthaler said

        Hi Brian and Brant,

        On Yom Haatzmaut here there is a custom of putting Israeli flags on cars. I always refuse. My kids, wanted flags and (after hearing an adult ask) asked me if I love Israel? I said that I love you and you and Ima. The country I respect (though that is getting increasingly difficult in terms of so much of its behavior) and therefore want to make this space and place better more democratic for all its members, citizens and occupied…

        So – When I am asked if I am a Zionist I say that it is an irrelevant question and term… I want democracy, equality, justice, an end to the Occupation and a country where all its citizens and residents enjoy all rights… I do not want an ethnocracy… Whoever is asking about Zionism can keep asking as long as he or she can answer my concerns.

  5. Elizabth Sholes said

    For decades – centuries – we in the Christian communities of faith have had an appalling record on both sides of these issues of Muslim and Jewish interaction with each other, and both with us. We have failed both parties in our own rapacious quests for dominance. I therefore don’t prescribe – it’s arrogant of me to do so. However, we are called to be involved, and I find this blog enormously helpful in posing justice as its centerpoint. Bypassing “fault” to find that justice helps those of us outside the immediate conflict to see ways to be honorable. However, the one-state, two-state solution is never going to be an easy question for Christians largely because we have no real “skin in the game”. I think a two-state solution is the only real one since the prospect, recently declared, that Israel must be considered a Jewish State, makes a one-state solution too likely to result in apartheid. I am more than willing to be educated differently, but I see no alternative to the removal of West Bank settlements and repatriation of Palestinians in that area. That in and of itself is grim, affects over half a million real, live people. But is there really any better way? I cannot see it at this stage. Continued building is politically cynical. The end is inevitably a tragedy for real human beings, be they Israeli or Palestinian.

  6. David Frankfurter said

    The Judt piece was indeed challenging; it is always difficult to be called on one’s optimism. But, having viewed settlements as the problem for years, I have been very hopeful about Obama’s new strategy.

    The problem is, I think, how to demonstrate to Obama that most (?) American Jews support a firmer approach to Israel, when the strident “voices of the Jewish community” are your Abraham Foxmans and your Avi Shafrans. Now that we have, finally, a more settlement-focused discussion about resolving Palestine-Israel, perhaps there can be some more galvanization on our side, not just to write op-eds and NYRB essays, but to gain credibility as an American Jewish mainstream on which Obama can lean.

    The other thing that would serve the cause of publicly critiquing the settlements it not to let them be cast as innocent apartment communities on disputed land, allowing the right’s charge that we support a Judenrein Palestine (cf. Jonathan Reich’s NYT letter against Judt). The facts are that these settlements massively exploit natural resources, and many of them engage in repeated pogroms against local Palestinians. Neither allows serious coexistence.

    • rabbibrian said

      David,
      I am very encouraged by the work of J Street. I think it has a brilliant strategy and has had a profound impact in a very short time. I encourage everyone to come to their conference in October.

      I also hope that we can create more shared interfaith initiatives that join Jewish, Christian and Muslim Americans in supporting a fair American policy that supports Israeli-Palestinian peace.

  7. I have read Judt for years. Read his tribute to Elon and read his article in the Times. It is much too early to despair of a two state solution. To do so gives the lie to our promise to protect Obama’s back. I think it is premature for a Palestinian state, what with our experience with Lebanon and Gaza. AND I think we need to hold the line on no new settlement growth. Read “Settlements in Focus==Top 5 Bogus Excuses for Opposing a Settlement Freeze” (http://www.peacenow.org/policy.asp/rid=&cid6329/

    I do not think it is fair to our Israeli brothers and sisters to open to Judt’s conclusion that only a one state solution is possible. A one state solution is a prescription for blood on everyone’s territory.

    The immediate need is to press for a settlement halt and dismantling. Settlements may be in the grain of the Zionist enterprise. There but for fortune go you and I. Tekoa is a far cry from Efrat. I have heard in Tekoa: give us real peace and we’ll leave. And they probably won’t be asked to.

    Let us have the courage of our convictions.
    What are the rabbis of Shomrei Mishpat saying? I want to hear from them. It is easy for us to equivocate about a two state solution. We are not living on the territory that will be the ground of the blood letting as parties contest for who controls the one state.

    It is beyond disheartening to read emails describing President Obama as anti-semitic. The situation is fluid. The bottom line is: no settlement growth. Dismantle the smaller settlements. Commit to two states.

    There may come a time when two states are no longer possible. May God help us then.

    Rabbi Joshua Chasan, Burlington, VT, USA

    • rabbibrian said

      Thanks Josh for your reply.

      As regards the rabbis of Shomrey Mishpat/Rabbis for Human Rights, they define themselves as a Zionist organization and undoubtedly all or most believe in two states.

      I agree the backlash to Obama’s relatively modest demand for a freeze on settlements (U.S. policy for decades) is very disturbing. We must support Obama but it’s not clear yet whether he is going to push Israel hard enough. It is going to take a huge effort on his part to get Israel to depart from it’s policy of professing commitment to the peace process, while at the same time aggressively building settlements that make a solution (a two state solution) harder and harder to bring into reality.

  8. Y. Ben-David said

    RabbiBrian-
    If I might pursue what you said about being a Zionist a little further.
    You stated:
    ————————————————————-
    People mean so many different things when they say the word, Zionist. I am definitely a cultural Zionist in the tradition of Ahad Haam. I love what Israel offers in terms of Jewish culture and I am heartsick that this culture has been and continues to be created on the backs of Palestinians
    —————————————————————
    You also stated that you “would fail any test of ultimate loyalty to any state”.

    I note that you made no mention of Eretz Israel (the Land of Israel) in your self-defintion of being a Zionist of the Ahad-Ha’Am variety. Is that because you think it is so obvious that it needs no mention, or that it is not important, and that as a Zionist you would have supported putting a Jewish state in Uganda? If you have read Amos Elon’s book “The Pity of It All” you saw that he believes that Nazism and the Holocaust were some sort of historical accident that didn’t need to occur. If that is the case, then one could say he seemed to believe that the Jewish people’s ulitimate historic fulfillment was in Weimar Germany (and I am referring not only to Jewish involvement in their beloved general German culture-music, theater, the arts, science but also to the flowering of Jewish culture under people like Buber, Rosenzweig and other) , but since that didn’t work out, the surviving Jews had to go somewhere so they were sent to Palestine, but ideally, Weimar Germany would have been the ultimate “cultural Zionist” dream. Do you agree with this?

    Regarding the other statement of yours I quoted (no “ultimate loyalty to any state”), could be please explain what you mean by this. For example, if the US were to go to war with some other country and reintroduce conscription of military Chaplains, would you agree to serve in that capacity?

    • rabbibrian said

      Ahad Haam’s vision was of a Jewish/Hebraic cultural and spiritual center in Israel alongside a thriving Jewish life in the Diaspora.

      I haven’t read the Pity of it All and plan to do so. Until I read it, I don’t think I am in a position to respond to your comment about this.

      As regards serving in the military. I am a pacifist and would not serve in the military.

      Could you tell us a little about your definition of Zionism? Are you a Zionist and what does that mean to you?

      Thanks for your comment.

  9. Rick in KC said

    Reading Judt’s column, I was reminded of Orwell’s quote: “No common man could believe such a thing. He’d have to be an intellectual to fall for anything as stupid as that.”

  10. Y. Ben-David said

    Rabbi Brian-
    I would define myself as a “Religious Zionist” (I was born in California and made aliyah to Israel 23 years ago). I do not believe that with the creation of the state of Israel, the mission of Zionism ended. Regarding Ahad Ha’am’s view of things (I am not that familiar with his views) – I think that it is sitting on shaky ground, i.e. a vibrant diaspora existing side by side with a cultural center in Eretz Israel is not viable in the long term. After all, we saw how vibrant communities in Europe, North Africa and the Middle East, communities that had existed for centuries if not millenia, were all liquidated within a period of about 20 years, within living memory. Who says the same couldn’t happen in the US or Western Europe sometime in the future? But even if such a catastrophe does not occur, there is still the problem of widespread assimilation which is eroding the Jewish communities outside of Israel.
    My definition of Zionism is that the future of the Jewish people is dependent on the ultimate ingathering of the Jewish people in to a Jewish state in Eretz Israel and that the different ideological and religious trends need to make this their top goal, with compromises being on these other issues so that everyone can live together, a modus vivendi. In addition, since peace between Israel and its Arab neighbors has not been achieved, and may not be for the foreseeable future, then continued high priority must be given to the ongoing absorption of olim (Jewish immigrants), security and settlement in areas of the country that need strengthening.

    Regarding your defining yourself as a pacificist, and thus saying you would refuse to serve in the military, it is well known that Judaism is not a pacificst religion, in the sense that Quakers or Mennonites are. Thus, you have decided for yourself to take this course. My question is how can you justify not taking up arms for the United States if necessary, a country that provided refuge for your ancestors and millions of persecuted Jews (and other people), should it ever be attacked?

  11. David said

    As I understand it, political Zionism — ie actually-existing Zionism — stands for the existence of a Jewish state. This state is to be Jewish not only in the cultural sense; it requires structures set uo up that the state will be controlled by, and operated for, the Jewish people.

    This leads inevitably to systematic racial discrimination. Being Jewish is not a nationality. It is, rather, based [for practical purposes] on ancestry. Israel exists to serve, not [like other countries] all its people, regardless of ancestry, but just the opposite — all people of a certain ancestry, regardless of where they live. That’s why a Jew born and raised in the USA has automatic residemce and citizenship in Israel, while the Palestinian on whose land the Jew lives may not. That’s why 93 percent of pre-1967 Israel may not be sold or leased to non-Jews.* That’s why, in the West Bank, the Jewish [not Israeli, but Jewish] settlements are under Israeli domestic law, and their residents have the right to vote in Israeli elections, while the surrounding Palestinians have neither. That’s why the West Bank is crisscrossed by roads on which only Jews — not Israelis, but Jews — may travel. That’s why I, a Jew who has never lived in Israel, was invited to vote in an election of officials of a group which was part of the Israeli Land Authority — an election in which only Jews could vote.

    Sweden is a Swedish state. Japan is a Japanese state. But Israel is not an Israeli state. It is, rather, a Jewish state. It’s as if Britain declared itself an Anglo-Saxon state and provided comparable priveleges for Anglo-Saxons from around the world.

    The main reason Israel doesn’t look like apartheid South Africa is that Israel had the chance to get rid of the vast majority of non-Jews while white South Africans had to live with a black majority. Israel has to deal with only a 20 percent minority and thus can keep them on a longer leash. [However, any Israeli Arab party or candidate who opposes the above state of affairs can be disqualified from participating in elections.] Ehud Barak admitted this a few years ago when he said that the only alternative to a two-state solution was [his term] an “apartheid” state.

    For more on the subject, see the work of Professor Oren Yiftachel, of the University of the Negev in Beersheva, or google the words ethnocracy and Israel together.

    • Y. Ben-David said

      David said:

      ———————————————————–
      That’s why the West Bank is crisscrossed by roads on which only Jews — not Israelis, but Jews — may travel.
      ————————————————————-

      This, of course, is untrue. How are the police supposed to tell if the people in a car are Jews or not? Some roads, a few, are restricted to Israelis, and that includes Israeli Arabs, but when I travel in Judea/Samaria, the main roads I see all have Palestinian vehicles travelling on them.

      • David said

        To Y Ben-David, concerning Jews-only roads in the West Bank: you wrote:

        “How are the police supposed to tell if the people in the car are Jews or not?”

        Answer: the two have different color license plates.

        Please see http://www.counterpunch.org/aloni01082007.html

      • David said

        Oops. The article I linked to above tells much about the Jews-only roads but nothing specifically about the license plates. For that, see

        http://www.btselem.org/English/Publications/Summaries/200408_Forbidden_Roads.asp

      • Y. Ben-David said

        Did you read the links you provided? It says ISRAELI CITIZENS, not “Jews”. This includes Israeli Arabs. The distincition is made for security reasons.

      • David said

        1) You asked how the police can differentiate in this matter. I said it was by license plates. Your point of Jewish vs Israeli, however valid, is a detail of that. I see no comment from you on the larger issue — namely that I have answered your basic question.

        2) Ahhh — “security reasons.” Could be true. Could be false. Problem is, they say that about pretty much everything they do. So it doesn’t necessarily mean much of anything.

        3) The post which included that statement included a whole lot of other claims, pretty much all of them considerably more controversial than the one you commented on. Should I conclude that you agree with the rest? Including that the West Bank settlements are open only to Jews?

        4) Your manner is rude. There’s no need for that. I haven’t been rude to you. A civil way of putting it: “The distinction specifies Israelis, not Jews. Actually that’s in the article.” In any case, obviously I do read the links I provide; otherwise I wouldn’t have known that the first one didn’t discuss the license plates.

      • Y. Ben-David said

        David-
        Prior to the Oslo Agreements and the vast increase in violence that came in their wake, all roads in Judea/Samaria were open to everyone. All the restrictions on Palestinian movement came as a consequence of Arafat using the Agreements to build a terrorist infrastructure which he turned loose full force in the year 2000, leading to the suicide bomber war.
        Regarding the claim that “Jewish settlements are open to Jews only”, I don’t think that is a matter of law. The fact is that the settlement of both Arabs and Jews around the country, outside of the large cities is generally divided along ethnic/religious lines. People simply feel more comfortable living among there own, due to the great differences in customs, lifestyle and, frankly, political outlook. Do you think a Jew could ever buy land or a house in most Arab villages? Of course not, no one would ever sell to him (again, in the large cities there is somewhat more mixing).

        Jews have lived more or less continuously in Judea/Samaria for 4000 years, so nothing is more natural than having Jews build communities there. There were Jewish communities in Gaza, Hevron, Jenin, Shechem (Nablus) and other places in Judea/Samaria before 1948 but most were ethnically cleansed by Arab violence in the pre-state period, particularly by the pogroms of 1929 and the 1936-9 Arab uprising. Jewish settlement there is simply reasserting an historical right. Once the violence is greatly reduced, and in the absence of a peace agreement which is clearly not achievable for the foreseeable future, a modus-vivendi will be achieved which will restore free Palestinian movement through the region.

  12. David said

    Footnote to my previous post:

    *in 1997 the Israeli Supreme Court overturned this law. However, my understanding is that since then the Court’s ruling has not been applied to any Israeli Arabs other than the one family which brought the court case. [Remember what happened to Brown v Board of Education?]

  13. louis frankenthaler said

    כולם מדברים על ציונות ואף אחד לא מדבר על צדק
    My adaptation of a line in a popular song from a few years back…
    ‘Everyone is talking about[ Zionism ] and no one is talking about justice… ‘
    I know that Justice is filtering in and out of the discussion especially in the voices of those, in this conversation, who have dedicated their lives to justice and human rights, but Zionism is no longer the issue. The State of Israel exists, coming to existence at the expense of others, like the US at the expense of Native Americans. It is driving it self into the ground in so many ways and the people who seem to be most angry are those who choose to monitor Israeli academics, for instance, for not being Zionist enough. It is time to lose that worry and start worrying about being democratic enough, dedicated to justice, human rights and human capacity to change lives… The settlements, (I would have liked to hear President Obama include a demand to freeze the building of that ugly encroaching invading wall/fence/barrier, which cuts people off from fields, friends and family and cuts all those who look at it and feel nothing or see nothing wrong with it from their humanity) the Occupation is the polar opposite of democracy but for far to many it has come to symbolize their connection to Israel.

    As for pacifism and Judaism… is torture a part of Judaism? Abusing Detainees? Beating Palestinian farmers, destroying their fields, etc. etc.?

  14. Jo said

    I’d like to second the comments of David on June 30 in this discussion about (specifically ‘political’) Zionism. There are two questions. The first is about ethnic states. As an American (Jew) I can’t support that, for anyone. I came thru public school before the Supreme Court decision banning school prayer, an unpleasant experience for a non Christian where I grew up. And so I enthusiastically applaud separation of religion/state, no matter whose religion/state. And if you are going to answer that Judiasm is more than, or not only, religion, then tell me what unites me with a Yemeni Jew if both of us are secular? And so to complicate all of it, even if you did support the idea of ‘the Jewish state’,the second question is: so who is a Jew? And why do orthodox rabbis get to decide?

    That kind of leaves me out of supporting J Street in toto. I’m glad they are giving cover to Obama to resist settlement expansion, and if all the folks in what was mandate Palestine are happier with a two state solution, so be it, I don’t live there, and am not interested myself in ever living there. But I think if it doesn’t lead to equal provinces/canons/states in some over all confederacy or some sort of equal structures it’s probably doomed.

    And lets face it, even if Israel did not have the Palestinians to unite against, what kind of Judaism will there be in Israel in 50 yrs? And how will our grandchildren in the diaspora connect with it? and they, over there, with us? Will there still be the essence of Hillel in any of it?
    and if not that, what?

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