Peter Beinart, Jewish not Zionist

Peter Beinart participated in a discussion last December 15 panel with  Representative Rashida Tlaib, Professor Marc Lamont Hill, Professor Barbara Ransby and moderated by Rabbi Alissa Wise. He was told he was betraying his  people.The opposite is true. His people are betraying Judaism. by blindly linking a foreign state with the essence of Judaic values.

I’d be lying if I said the accusation doesn’t bother me. It bothers me immensely. For years, I’ve tried to criticize Israel in a way my fellow Jews can hear. I’ve tried—not just in my work, but in the way I live my life—to be what Michael Walzer has called a “connected critic”: someone who shows love and loyalty to the community with whom he disagrees. The attacks make me worry I’ve failed. I’ve frittered away whatever communal goodwill I had left by sharing a panel with not just one but two people—Tlaib and Hill—who have been labelled anti-Semites. It’s hard enough to defend myself. Why associate with them?

Answering that question requires understanding the perverse way in which charges of anti-Semitism often function in the contemporary American debate over Israel. Frequently, they serve not to combat bigotry but to excuse it. In the West Bank, which Israel controls, millions of Palestinians live alongside hundreds of thousands of Jews. The Jews enjoy citizenship, free movement, due process and the right to vote for the government that controls their lives.The Palestinians enjoy none of these rights. (Defenders of the Israeli government sometimes claim that West Bank Palestinians actually live under the control of the Palestinian Authority. But the PA is not a government; it is Israel’s subcontractor. When PA officials do things Israel doesn’t like, Israel arrests them).

Two peoples live in the same territory under a different law. That’s legalized bigotry. Former Israeli Prime Ministers Ehud Barak and Ehud Olmert have both likened permanent Israeli control of the West Bank to apartheid. But, with every passing year, Israeli control grows ever more permanent. In 1982, the then-deputy mayor of Jerusalem warned that 100,000 Jewish settlers in the West Bank would make a viable Palestinian state impossible. Today the number is close to 650,000, and rising. Last week, the Associated Press reported that the Israeli government was planning a new network of roads connecting the West Bank to Israel proper, which would “pave [the] way for massive growth of Israeli settlements.”

As Israel has bound the West Bank every more tightly into a single state from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea—a state in which millions of Palestinians lack basic rights—Israel’s defenders have claimed ever more vehemently that questioning the Jewish nature of that state constitutes anti-Semitism. It’s Kafkaesque. The very people who are making a two-state solution impossible label anyone who imagines one equal state—the only alternative for granting West Bank Palestinians citizenship in the country in which they live—Jew-haters. Thus, if you believe an independent Palestinian state is no longer possible, the only way to avoid being labelled a bigot is to accept the bigoted status quo. 

Fundamentally, this is why Tlaib and Hill are labelled anti-Semites: Because they support replacing the current one state—in which millions of Palestinians lack citizenship and the right to vote—with one state in which Jews and Palestinians live under a common law. Because they hold this view, and because they are people of color, their statements are interrogated in ways that the statements of American politicians and commentators who support one unequal state rarely are. I’ve sat on many panels with supporters of one unequal state, people who openly justify denying Palestinians equal rights to Jews. Yet my presence at such events has never garnered significant controversy.

Take, for instance, Tlaib and Hill’s declarations that Palestine should be free “from the river to the sea.” By employing this phrase, their critics allege, they are signaling that they want a single state that denies Jews safety and freedom. But Israel is, today, a single state—from the river to the sea—that denies millions of Palestinians safety and freedom. Mike Pompeo celebrates this reality. Joe Biden pledges to fund it, no matter what Israel does. America’s most prominent politicians support, in practice, the ethno-religious domination that Tlaib and Hill are chastised for supporting in theory. Yet if you search for “Tlaib” or “Hill” and “anti-Semitism,” Google will cough up an unending series of references. Google “Pompeo” or “Biden” and “anti-Palestinian bigotry” and you’ll find almost nothing at all.

If Tlaib and Hill really did desire a single state that oppresses Jews, that would constitute anti-Semitism—and would absolutely merit condemnation. Critics note that some who use the phrase “Palestine from the river to the sea,” such as the leaders of Hamas, have advocated an Islamic state that subjugates Jews. But the phrase long predates the birth of Hamas, and has historically encompassed a variety of Palestinian visions, including a secular democratic state. Luckily, we don’t have to guess whether the one state that Tlaib and Hill desire would offer equality to Jews. They have both told us. In the very 2018 speech in which he used the phrase “a free Palestine from the river to the sea,” Hill repeatedly cited the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as his guide for the rights that a single state should safeguard. He subsequently explained that he supports a “single bi-national democratic state” that offers “peace, safety, security, and self-determination for both Israelis and Palestinians. Justice requires that everyone, not just a single side, is free and equal.” 

But Hill and Tlaib’s detractors don’t want to debate them. They want to ostracize them. They want to delegitimize support for a single, equal, state even as they defend the legitimacy of a single, unequal, state.
beinart Dedfund.jpg

Whatever our differences, Tlaib, Hill, Ransby and I share a belief in the infinite value of human dignity. So central is human dignity to Jewish tradition that, according to the Babylonian Talmud, it supersedes all rabbinic commandments. According to the Jerusalem Talmud, it supersedes most Torah commandments as well. For me, therefore, participating in a conversation aimed at defending human dignity—including the dignity of Palestinians—constitutes not an act of betrayal but an act of loyalty, loyalty to ethical principles that the Jewish people, my people, have helped bequeath to the world.

More Jews:It’s apartheid

INCREASINGLY, Jewish and Israeli critics of Israel’s policies in the occupied territories are using the term “apartheid” to describe them.  In January 2021, the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem issued a statement which declared that the Israeli government was an “apartheid regime.” It stated that, “A regime that uses laws, practices and organized violence to establish and maintain the supremacy of one group over another is an apartheid regime.”
Apartheid | B'Tselem

B’Tselem argues that the Israeli regime “of apartheid” rests on four pillars: citizenship, land, freedom of movement and political participation. Virtually any person of Jewish ancestry anywhere in the world can claim Israeli citizenship; immigration to Israel is all but impossible for Palestinians, and only a minority of Palestinians—about 1.6 million out of seven million—-who live on land controlled by Israel are citizens of Israel and even their rights are limited compared with their nearly seven million Jewish counterparts.

This report has been largely ignored in the media and by mainstream American Jewish organizations. One who paid close attention was Rabbi Brian Walt, the founder and rabbi emeritus of Congregation Mishkan Shalom, an activist congregation in Philadelphia.  He was the founding executive director of Rabbis for Human Rights-North America and is a member of the Rabbinical Council of Jewish Voice for Peace. Rabbi Walt grew up in South Africa and knows a great deal about apartheid.
Rabbi Brian Walt Imagines a Judaism Without Zionism | Shalom Rav

In an article published on Feb. 17 in Truthout, Rabbi Walt recalls, “When I first heard that B’Tselem was saying matter-of-factly that Israel and the lands it occupies constitute an apartheid system, I immediately flashed back to 2008, to the moment when the truth became clear to me when I led a Rabbis for Human Rights-North America (T’ruah) trip to Israel and the occupied West Bank. When we arrived in Hebron, Michael Manikin, a leader with the Israeli human rights group Breaking the Silence, gestured to Shuhada Street, the street our group was about to walk down, and told us it was a ‘sterile street’—a street forbidden to Palestinians. Only Jews and other tourists were permitted to walk down the street.”

Rabbi Walt remembers that, “I was horrified. My heart beat fast as tears rolled down my face. As a child growing up in apartheid South Africa, I was intimately familiar with separate beaches, buses, cabs, entrances to post offices and public benches with ‘whites only’ signs. But even in Apartheid South Africa, there were no ‘sterile streets’ that only white people could walk on. In South Africa, as a student at the University of Cape Town, I had fought against apartheid. I worked on issues of economic justice for domestic workers and founded and edited a Jewish student newspaper dedicated to ending apartheid. Throughout my anti-apartheid activism, Israel was always an essential part of my Jewish identity. I was a committed progressive Zionist. Creating a just, democratic Israel that reflected the highest moral values of Judaism was—and remains—a core commitment.”

Over decades, Rabbi Walt engaged in political activism on the West Bank with groups such as the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions and encountered disturbing realities. He witnessed the demolition of Palestinian homes, the expropriation of Palestinian land for Jewish settlements, olive orchards uprooted by settlers, and Palestinians uprooted from homes in Jerusalem that they had owned for generations.

“Those experiences were so shocking,” notes Walt, “that, if I hadn’t seen them with my own eyes, I would never have believed they were true. These experiences reminded me of very similar injustices that I had seen in South Africa…At that moment in Hebron, I felt a new determination to name what I saw as apartheid. We, the Jewish people, must tell the truth. We can no longer cover up the shocking systemic discrimination and oppression of the Palestinians by the State of Israel—a state that relies on our support and acts in our names and in the name of our tradition.”

More and more Israelis have been using the term “apartheid” to describe their country’s occupation. Professor David Shulman of the Hebrew University notes that, “No matter how we look at it, unless our minds have been poisoned by the ideologies of the religious right, the occupation is a crime. It is first of all based on the permanent disenfranchisement of a huge population…In the end, it is the ongoing moral failure of the country as a whole that is most consequential, most dangerous, most unacceptable. This failure weighs…heavily on our humanity. We are, so we claim, the children of the prophets. Once, they say, we were slaves in Egypt. We know all that can be known about slavery, suffering, prejudice, ghettos, hate, expulsion, exile. I find it astonishing that we, of all people, have reinvented apartheid in the West Bank.

Alan C Brownfeld is a syndicated columnist and associate editor of the Lincoln Review, a journal published by the Lincoln Institute for Research and Education, and editor of Issues, the quarterly journal of the American Council for Judaism.This is an edited version from The Washington Report

Hocaust Remembrance Day

Yom HaShoah day celebrated every April 7 in Israel  commemorates Hitler’s industrial murder of Jews but what have Israelis truly learned about the Shoah?

inured: accustomed to something unpleasant.Amira Hass the daughter of a survivor of Bergen Belsen has little time for  her Israel’s manipulation of the Nazi Holocaust

Holocaust Remembrance Day This Year: A Brotherhood of the Inured

YomHaShoah day celebrated every April 7 commemorates Hitler’s industrial murder of Jews but what have Israelis truly learned about the Shoah 

inured: accustomed to something unpleasant.

Amira Hass the daughter of a survivor of Bergen Belsen has little time for  her Israel’s manipulation of the Nazi Holocaust

Death to the Arabs a frequent graffito

hese are the days to stop and think about the ordinary folk, who became inured. These are the days to think about the people who were not in favor, who were not active participants, but couldn’t emigrate, and just lived on while their Jewish neighbors were banished first from the sidewalks, next from the clinics and the libraries, and then from the street and from the city, and in the end, from the mind.

In the next two days screens and websites and radio broadcasts in Israel will all but collapse under the visual, verbal and emotional outpouring of the memories of the dwindling number of Holocaust survivors. But anyone who was born to a family who survived the cattle cars doesn’t need these two days in order to remember. Our knowledge has no need of new details. It is etched in us, even if we don’t want it to be.

The spread legs of armed and uniformed officers, laughing as they looked at naked women standing alongside the pit, can pop up from our acquired memory any day. Railroad tracks and striped shirts always arouse nausea, even if our eyes see ordinary railroad tracks and unremarkable striped shirts. Our parents died a long time ago, but by the day we become less capable of understanding how they endured in the freezing weather, on planks alongside other living corpses, burning up from typhus. No new study and no memorial day will answer the questions that we couldn’t formulate, or didn’t insist on asking, in our childhood.

The heart goes out to the survivors, who are moved by the attention they get one day a year. The heart is sickened by the commercialization; because Holocaust Remembrance Day is one of the most effective shapers of the Israeli national-chauvinistic ethos. Between interviews and films and the siren, speeches filled with pathos and insincerity will be heard, disseminating demagogic poison.
Once again they will use our murdered families in order to glorify the Israeli army and its heroism against Gaza and against the village of Bilin, in defense of the Esh Kodesh outpost and the settlement of Sussia. Once again they will draw a line as straight as a snake between the German and Ukrainian murderers and the Palestinians, who in 1948 tried to defend their homeland from those who came to dispossess them.

Our hearts go out to them. Their anonymity is very personal and present, in every succulent prickly pear at the sides of the road, stone houses with arches 90 to 150 years old, and a gentle hill where the ruins of a village can still be seen.

In the next two days it will be difficult to escape the raucous noise of the commercialized, belligerent victimhood. One possible refuge is to think about the ordinary people who were silent. Because they had children to raise and feed, a job, and an elderly mother. People who did not support, but became inured.
Survival on a death march is hard to comprehend. Not a cell in our bodies can understand the assembly line of murder and the murderers. On the other hand, we all share and are familiar with the mechanism of becoming accustomed: to the noise in the street, to the building that blocks our view, to wrinkles, to the coronavirus directives. Becoming inured is part of our daily experience.

In the 12 compressed years of its existence, Nazi Germany managed to implement part of its genocides plan. Israel, which became a refuge for Jews who fled in time, and for the survivors, has existed for 73 years by now. Its military occupation has existed for 54 years. By its conduct Israel proves on a daily basis that dispossession and expulsion of the Palestinian people from their homeland is an integral part of its identity.

Seven Decades after the Nakba, Palestinians Continue to Experience  Displacement and Dispossession | Left Voice
Opponents of the regime in Nazi Germany risked imprisonment, torture and death. There was no information and no photos accessible on social networks. The power to bring about change was not in their hands.

Here, the power to bring about change is in our hands. Protest, opposition and reporting do not involve a particularly high price: a hate-filled internet response, lies by a settler organization, beatings by God-fearing thugs. Dismissal from school. None of these suffice to explain the paucity of Israeli activists opposing the policy of dispossession and expulsion, or the fact that those who are not declared racists have become accustomed to the racist reality and the constant deterioration.

On this day the Israelis who have become inured and those who remain silent must at least show understanding, even, empathy, for the ordinary Germans of those times.

Jonathan Pollard: Dual loyalty

IAllan Brownfield  has written a powerful indictment of both Jonathan Pollard but about American Jews whose faith has been suborned by Zionism

Jonathan Pollard, the U.S. Naval intelligence analyst who spied for Israel, was sentenced to life in prison.  He was released after serving 30 years, and last year emigrated to Israel, which he said was his real “home.”  He received a hero’s welcome and was met at the airport by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.  He arrived on a private plane provided by the late casino mogul Sheldon Adelson.  Adelson once said that he regretted serving in the U.S. 

In 1929, Orthodox Rabbi Aaron David Tamares wrote that the very notion of a sovereign Jewish state as a spiritual center was “a contradiction to Judaism’s ultimate purpose.”  He noted that, “Judaism at root is not some religious concentration which may be localized or situated in a single territory.  ’  No, Judaism is Torah, ethics and exaltation of spirit.  If Judaism is truly Torah, then it cannot be reduced to the confines of any territory.  For as Scripture said of Torah, ‘Its measure is greater than the earth.”

One of the leading Jewish theologians and philosophers of the 20th century, Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, who marched with the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. for civil rights for all people, said, “Judaism is not a religion of space and does not worship the soil.  So, too, the State of Israel is not the climax of Jewish history, but a test of the integrity of the Jewish people and the competence of Israel.”

In his book “What Is Modern Israel,” professor Yakov Rabkin of the University of Montreal, an Orthodox Jew, shows that Zionism was conceived as a clear break with Judaism and the Jewish religious tradition.  .There was little room for Jewish tradition in the Zionist scheme…It is not the physical geography of the Biblical land of Israel which is essential for Jews but the obligation to follow the commandments of the Torah.”

The early Zionists not only turned away from the Jewish religious tradition but, in their disregard for the indigenous population of Palestine, Jewish moral and ethical values as well.  In his book “Israel: A Colonial-Settler State,” the French Jewish historian Maxime Rodinson writes that, “Wanting to create a purely Jewish or predominantly Jewish state in Arab Palestine in the 20th century could not help but lead to a colonial type situation and the development of a racist state of mind, and in the final analysis to a military confrontation.”

In reality, Judaism is a religion of universal values, not a nationality.  Israel claims to be the “homeland” of all Jews.  Jonathan Pollard believed this and refers to Israel as “home.”  Because he had been hearing the Zionist message all his life, and believed it, it caused him to engage in massive espionage.  But Israel’s claim to speak in behalf of all Jews is without any foundation.  American Jews are American by nationality and Jews by religion, just as other Americans are Protestant, Catholic or Muslim.  Their homeland is the United States.  Israel would do well to confine itself to speaking in behalf of its own citizens, as other countries have no difficulty doing. Pollard is, in many ways, a tragic victim of Zionism.  Sadly, he is now encouraging others to follow in his footsteps, something neither America nor genuine Judaism can properly accept.

Allan C. Brownfeld is a nationally syndicated columnist and is editor of ISSUES, the quarterly journal of the American Council for Judaism. (

Cornel West: following a Palestinian Jew

en Samuels interviewed Cornel West for Haaretz.Here are some highlights.
Harvard University refused to consider West  for tenure – a decision he links to his support for Palestinian rights.

Cornel West Reconsiders President Obama : NPR

West tells Haaretz that while he believes his anti-occupation stance played a central role in the university’s decision, he feels bullish about how far pro-Palestinian activism has come over the past 40 years and where it’s heading.
He does not believe his public support for Sen. Bernie Sanders or Black Lives Matter was a deal breaker, “Then I thought of the Palestinian issue and the Israeli occupation – now that is a taboo,” West says.
“I begin to see a pattern and hear the different stories of folks being weary of any critique of Israeli occupation,” West says. “What’s happening now in this reactionary moment in both the United States and Israel – our gangster is gone, yours is still in place – [is that] the neoliberal hegemony in the universities is still very reluctant to have a robust, respectful, free dialogue on what’s going on, past and present, when it comes to Israeli and Palestinian issues,” he adds.

The Occupation - Palestine Portal

West, who will now join the faculty at New York’s Union Theological Seminary, describes his claims as “a hypothesis based on evidence,” adding that he’s sure there were other issues influencing his particular case.
West describes the support he has received as overwhelming, and that the Ivy League school’s decision backfired on them. “I don’t think they had planned on this, I really don’t,” he says, adding that the support he has received could influence similar events in the future.
He is careful to note that he is in solidarity with anybody tracking anti-Jewish hatred, but says that criticism of Israel does not correlate with such prejudice. “I can understand some suspicions people have where critiques of Zionism shade into anti-Jewish hatred. We can have none of the latter, we need to have a serious discourse on the former. I don’t really get upset when folks say ‘Brother West, you know, you strike me as antisemitic.’ Let’s sit down and let me tell you why I’m not. I won’t brush it off and act as if it’s irrelevant,” West says.

anti racist.jpeg

“Many of us can argue some very important points, and very compelling conclusions of critiques of Israeli occupation, that have nothing to do whatsoever with anti-Jewish prejudice. It’s a moral and spiritual issue across the board, and one tries to be consistent in that regard,” West says. “That argument, unfortunately, doesn’t resonate among a significant slice of my Jewish brothers and sisters.”
One such critic is Harvard Hillel Executive Director Rabbi Jonah C. Steinberg, who recently accused the “shameful” West of “egging students on” in “scapegoating and demonizing” Jewish people.
“I told the rabbi, ‘It’s clear you don’t understand me. Let’s have a jam session. Let’s go at it, that’s what students need. Not just at Harvard, but anywhere and everywhere.”Said and Chomsky
Despite the events surrounding his departure, West believes the debate on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has evolved exponentially over the past several decades. He recalls that he, the late Palestinian academic Edward Said and renowned linguist Noam Chomsky were essentially “voices in the wilderness” when they protested in front of The New York Times, attempting to get them to use the word “occupation” and leading protests against Israel’s actions in the first Lebanon war in 1982. 

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“Edward was viciously attacked; they would have security and police in front of his office” at Columbia University, West recounts. “When I think of where we are now, it’s a very different moment owing to their sacrifices. To go from where we were 1980 to 2021, I see unbelievable progress.”
West, who describes himself as “a prisoner of hope,” calls Said and the late Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel his spiritual forebears, despite their seemingly disparate connections.“There’s a crucial overlap between their legacies,”
West adds: “I have both of them inside of me – a free, Jesus-loving Black man. I come out of Martin Luther King Jr., John Coltrane, Curtis Mayfield, Aretha Franklin. I add something else that Heschel didn’t have and Said didn’t have, but we overlap as a threesome.”
West highlights the growing demand from students to engage with these issues as perhaps the most important development in the pro-Palestinian movement, specifically noting the IfNotNow progressive Jewish organization. “The students are now hungry and thirsty. They’re awakened and it’s setting in – but it’s not spilling over to too many on the faculty,” West says.

Progressive Jewish millennials are returning to their roots -- thanks to  Trump | The Times of Israel

“You could hardly get a faculty member to raise a public voice being critical of Israeli occupation, they’re scared,” West charges. “There’s this fear among the faculty, and among the staff.”When asked if his falling out with Harvard could dissuade others from speaking out, he says it cuts both ways. “It would scare some, but for others it could make them think about their fear and become more bold.”
He continues: “Palestinian students would look for faculty advisers and hardly anyone would come forth. I said, ‘I would, sure.’ We had some very intense dialogues in the years I was here, we’ve had at least three death threats and all the things that go along with those kinds of events.”
West recounts how he would start each gathering by saying, ‘This is a spiritual and moral issue. There’s wholesale internationalism with occupations all around the world. We are concerned about structures of domination wherever they are, we’re talking tonight about this particular occupation and we do not tolerate any anti-Jewish sentiment, prejudice, hatred or contempt.’ And if it spills over, human beings are human beings and we point it out.”
He believes the debate about Palestinian rights will continue to trend in what he calls the proper direction. “To use Harvard’s motto, it cannot but be a move toward veritas, toward truth, and the condition of truth is to allow suffering to speak. It’s harder for defenders of Israel who act as if the occupation either doesn’t exist or is some tertiary element, and therefore overlook the suffering and social misery of Palestinians. Their position is increasingly weaker, and this situation reveals this,” he says.
I know 2,000 years of history of being hated and haunted. I know the history of pogroms and ghettoization and the Shoah. I’m deeply committed to Jewish security and justice, but you can’t predicate Jewish security on domination and occupation. That’s basic 101 history. Sooner or later, chickens come home to roost.”


West is further reminded of his activism on South Africa when he considers the controversy surrounding the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement, for which he has long been one of its most notable proponents.
“I understand BDS as very similar to the boycott vis-à-vis South African apartheid“Go back to Martin King’s Montgomery boycott – he was not hating the white brothers and sisters, he was hating American apartheid and Jim Crow and Jane Crow,” he notes. “As soon you mention BDS in the United States, oftentimes hatred and contempt come up rather than love and justice. And it’s very difficult to have a conversation on that issue.”
West stresses that his desire to be morally consistent is what he hopes his skeptics understand about him. “When I talk about my deep love for Palestinian brothers and sisters, it always goes hand-in-hand with a deep love of Jewish brothers and sisters. But when you’re consistent, it means that you’re always willing to be trashed, misunderstood, misconstrued ­– you’re willing to pay that cost,” he says.
“I’m following a Palestinian Jew named Jesus; I’m not on Pontius Pilate’s payroll. I’m never surprised by evil or paralyzed by despair. I’m having a good time. I do it with joy and a smile on my face, and whatever style I can preserve.”

The prophetic left

Abraham Heschel died on December 23, 1972. Three days earlier, on a bitterly cold day, he had stood outside the gates of Danbury prison about 70 miles from New York City. Aged 65 at the time, he embraced my late friend Philip Berrigan who had done 40 months in prison for resisting the nuclear arms race. both men were powerful examples of the biblical prophetic.

 Heschel was a Moses man, one who took the covenant absolutely seriously; Philip was a radical disciple of Jesus. They were “the Jewish” and “the Christian” – both absolutely authentic towering religious figures of the 20th century. Heschel had stunned the rabbinate in 1965 by telling his cohorts that a Torah which did not accompany the marginalized black community south was irrelevant. The goal he said was “to do justice and love mercy.” And so he marched beside Dr. King, deeply upsetting rabbis who had grown comfortable in middle-class suburbs. Philip paid a great price for his radical peacemaking in the Vietnam years.

These men are mentioned here because they knew in their bones that vox victimarum, vox dei, the voice of the victims, was the voice of God. Heschel had written that “the prophets had disdain for those to whom God was comfort and security; to them God was a challenge, an incessant demand. He is compassion but not a compromise.” For the great Hasidic rabbi, religion declined “not because it was refuted, but because it became irrelevant, dull, oppressive, insipid.” 

Now when we scan the horizon, we see the churches and synagogues emptied of young people for similar reasons. In my own communion, institutional leaders were always absent in the justice struggles of the last 40 years. The Comfortable Pew with the odd delightful exception was the norm. The synagogue was no better. Gone were the Eisendraths, Slonims and Feinbergs replaced by decent but hardly inspiring leaders who sadly remained silent as Israel grabbed almost all the Palestinian land. 

As secular Israeli prophet Jeff Halper wrote” “imprisoning and impoverishing them in tiny enclaves in both Israel and the Occupied Territory, after burying the Palestinian presence and patrimony under Israeli-only cities, towns, kibbutzim and national parks, after assassinating its leaders and leaving its youth with no hope of a future, it now brings the full force of one of the best-equipped militaries in the world against two million poor people living in an area the size of Mobile, Alabama.” 
The brave Israeli writer another prophet Amira Hass

Amira Hass | Author | Common Dreams

The Palestinians are fighting for their life, in the full sense of the word. We Israeli Jews are fighting for our privilege as a nation of masters, in the full ugliness of the term. That we notice there’s a war on only when Jews are murdered does not cancel out the fact that Palestinians are being killed all the time, and that all the time we are doing everything in our power to make their lives unbearable. Most of the time it is a unilateral war, waged by us, to get them to say ‘yes’ to the master, thank you very much for keeping us alive in our reservations. When something in the war’s one-sidedness is disturbed, and Jews are murdered, then we pay attention.” 

All this is well known in the diaspora, but courage seems in short supply. 
No shul would dare invite great Israeli prophets when they came to Toronto – Gideon levy, Amira Hass, Jeff Halper, Max blumenthal, Miko Peled, Ilan Pappé, and American Jewish dissenters Noam Chomsky, Marc Ellis, Norman Finkelstein and Sara Roy. All were personae non gratae in shuls where signs read “Time to stand up for Israel” and “support the JNF.”

The prophetic had departed from synagogues where Jewish identity had tragically been equated with Zionism, where the powerful biblical faith had been emptied of its “challenge and incessant demand” that rabbi Heschel had proclaimed. The deep ethical values of Judaism had been suborned by a false messianism, which in the words of london rabbi David Goldberg, “It can be said without fear of contradiction that Zionism, founded in the knowledge that it would have to resort to ethnic cleansing to achieve its goal, never had a moral compass.” 

The man who bought Washington

By Eric Margolis
Most billionaires spend their money on mansions, yachts, airplanes and much younger wives. But not so casino mogul Sheldon Adelson who died in Las Vegas on January 11th, aged 87.

Adelson rose from humble origins. He used his $33 billion plus gambling fortune to buy governments in order to fulfill his passion for Zionism. He became one of the single most important private political influences in both the United States and Israel. 

Through his political action committees and charities, Adelson focused the huge power of his money on expanding Israel’s borders, squeezing Palestinians into ever smaller ghettos, and ensuring that the Jewish state received almost unlimited American military, financial and political support.


Over recent years, Adelson gave at least $150 million to Donald Trump and the Republican Party. That’s a lot of money for nickel and dime politicians. Adelson also financed a host of political action committees, mostly with tax deductible funds. Some sources even spoke of $11 billion worth of political donations. Those few legislators who did not kowtow to Adelson or the idea of a greater Israel were quickly subjects of his wrath and sharp political attacks. US senators Newt Gingrich and Marco Rubio became major recipient of donations from kingmaker Adelson. However, the most important recipient was Donald Trump.

An important part of Trump’s political funding came from Adelson’s casinos and a coterie of ardently pro-Israel billionaires. Many were linked to Israel’s rightwing Likud Party. In fact, one of Trump’s prime political goals was aiding Israel’s hard expansionist government of Benjamin Netanyahu.

Critics accused Trump of being a Trojan Horse for Israel’s far right. The US State Department was gutted by Trump and his hatchet-man Mike Pompeo, allegedly for harboring too many ‘old Mideast’ hands who were insufficiently submissive to Israel’s demands. Other government agencies were similarly purged, including CIA and Voice of America. Media commentators who did not toe the pro-Likud line were consigned to obscurity. 

In Israel, Adelson was even more direct. He created a free newspaper, ‘Israel Today,’ to support policies of Benjamin Netanyahu and his Likud Party. Adelson played an important role in crushing Israel’s peace parties that opposed Netanyahu.

After years of lavish spending, Adelson ended up giving marching orders to both Trump and Netanyahu. As a Parthian shaft, the departing Trump muscled the Arab states of the United Emirates, Oman, Bahrain, and Morocco to come out of the closet to recognize Israel and ditch the Palestinians. Orders from Washington could not be ignored by these monarchies and autocracies.

Evangelicals and Israel: The Story of American Christian Zionism: Spector,  Stephen: 9780195368024: Books

Trump’s other pillar of support was America’s Christian fundamentalists. As author Upton Sinclair wrote before WWII, ‘when fascism comes to America, it will be under the sign of the cross.’ The mob of pro-Trump thugs that stormed the US Congress was seen waving ‘Jesus saves’ banners – but these were quickly deleted from later TV news reports. Still, extreme Christian rightists remain a powerful force in American life and seemingly limitless support for Israel. They are also the key power bloc in the Republican party.

As I wrote three years ago, the Republican Party has become a religious cult. It has nothing at all in common with the old, moderate party of Lincoln or Eisenhower. The new Republicans are found it the southern and Midwest Bible Belt that brought the US Prohibition and racial politics. This reborn Bible belt was anti-intellectual, xenophobic, anti-education and steeped in primitive theology.
The Cult of Trump | GQ

Donald Trump was clever enough to gain control of America’s hillbilly right by setting himself up as a quasi-religious Biblical figure. Many of his apparently bizarre actions were political theater designed to play to religious fundamentalists or to the type of primitives who stormed the US Capitol.

In spite of this monstrous political crime, the Republicans remain firmly under Trump’s thumb and almost in power. The next mid-term elections might well bring them back to power. Trump and his rightwing Israeli allies are counting the days.

Eric S. Margolis is an award-winning, internationally syndicated columnist. 

All Together Now: The Israeli Army Committed No War Crimes

The prophet without honour in Israel, Gideon Levy assails the idolisation of the army of occupation the Israeli Defence Force. Israel is in effect an army with a flag. It was inevitable in the history of Zionism.

A settler colonial project Zionism was eliminationist in its structure. Coming from Russia seeking relief from antisemitism, it arrived in an area which had been populated by Muslims for 1300 years. Like all such projects its end goal was the removal of the indigenous people. 

Revisionist Jews led by Vladimir Jabotinsky its atheistic founder lost all contact with the age old pacific traditions of Judaism. Jabotinsky was  quite open and honest about the  fact no people in history ever gave  up their patrimony, the love of their homeland, the takeover of the homeland by another people. Violence was the only way forward and it has been the only way for 100 years.

A foundational myth was cobbled that God had given Jews the  land as the atheist Ben Gurion with straight face argued in front of Lord Peel in 1937 and most recently by New York senator Chuck Schumer. God as a divine realtor.

Jabotinsky’s revisionism gave the world terrorist Prime Ministers Begin, Shamir and Sharon. Netanyahu followed his father who was Jabotinsky’s secretary.The result was always the same
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The army as Levy argues below is sacrosanct, beyond criticism. Anything the army does is morally justified but as the world  has seen, each decade the army has ratcheted up the death count and the massacre of 550 women and children in Gaza in 2014 and 190 nonviolent protestors on the Great March of Return in 2018 a Rubicon was crossed. Jews of conscience, religious and secular are calling out Zionism as a false creed, totally divorced from the ethical tradition  of Sinai and the prophets.

All Together Now: The Israeli Army Committed No War Crimes

Gideon Levy

Remove the hatred or idolization of Benjamin Netanyahu and the upcoming election has no importance. You want to know why? Because barring the hatred and idolization of the prime minister, all Jewish parties are saying the same thing – they all affirm Zionism, Jewish supremacy and the continuation of the occupation. Thus, this election is devoid of any real choices, an election offering no alternatives, an election that is not a real election.

Note, for example, the reaction of the heads of all the Zionist parties to the decision made in The Hague to investigate Israel, a decision which on a really good day could generate a sea change in Israel’s conduct. From Benjamin Netanyahu to Merav Michaeli and all the others, everyone parroted the same phrases: they all trust the IDF and rely on its investigations. In other words, they all agree that there have been no war crimes. A children’s choir, the choir of the sanctimonious. Only Meretz leader Nitzan Horowitz said something different, not sufficiently different, but the election does not revolve around Meretz.

This blind rallying behind the IDF and the state on an issue as significant as the occupation brings on despair. After all, the majority of politicians in the center-left, from Michaeli to Yair Lapid, know the truth. They know everything about the IDF and almost everything about its crimes and the way it “investigates” itself, but they lack the courage to tell the truth. They lie to themselves, in their silence and in the backing they give the army.

The right, in contrast, believes that Israel and the IDF are permitted to do as they please, with no one anywhere in the world permitted to question this, with only antisemitism driving any criticism of the state. Between the right, which believes Israel is permitted anything, and the left, which doesn’t dare tell the truth, the choice is difficult. There is no difference and the result is the same: support for everything caused by the occupation and unwillingness to take any responsibility.

For two generations there has been an occupying army in an occupied land, without a day going by that its soldiers don’t violate international law, with an entire country cheering it on. A settlement enterprise exists, 53 years old, with 700,000 settlers, established under left-wing governments and fortified under right-wing ones. Most of the world says that this is a clear-cut violation of international law, and the Israeli choir pounces furiously on anyone wishing to investigate and punish those responsible for the crime of the settlements.

Take, for example, Saturday, a beautiful weekend day. A Palestinian family, parents and eight children, go out to their own plot of land for a picnic, where they are attacked and stoned by masked settlers coming from the settlement of Mitzpeh Yair, in the southern Hebron hills. Terrified cries can be heard on a video taken by B’Tselem, where the father can be seen taken to a hospital with his face bleeding.

A crime or not a crime? It is not for the first time that the attack came from this violent settlement. And not for the last time either, obviously. There is no army, no police, and no justice. But there is a response from the occupation authorities: “Israel is aware of the incident.” No one was arrested and no one will be, just like no one was arrested after an assault on Khalil Haryani, a 78-year-old shepherd who was attacked with chains, clubs and stones two months ago by settlers from the same Mitzpeh Yair.

“Israel is aware of the incident.” The awareness does not lead to any action. Awareness and encouragement. That’s how Israel investigates itself. The leaders of the left and center know this full well. They know that only an international body could put an end to this, but they lack the integrity and courage to say so.

This is precisely where the court in The Hague must enter the picture. This is precisely where the left should have invited the court to do so, and that is precisely the place where Israeli politics sings in a strident, despair-inducing choir, almost from wall to wall.

The identity of this choir’s next conductor is of much less importance than one might think. The style might be different, as well as the arrangement, but the song will remain the same song and the choir the same choir.

Israel: the serial perpetrator

Michael Sfard is an Israeli human rights lawyer


“Being an active consistent supporter of the concept of an International Criminal Court … the Government of the State of Israel is proud to thus express its acknowledgment of the importance, and indeed indispensability, of an effective court for the enforcement of the rule of law and the prevention of impunity [for war criminals].war crim 3.jpg
“As one of the originators of the concept of an International Criminal Court, Israel, through its prominent lawyers and statesmen, has, since the early 1950s, actively participated in all stages of the formation of such a court. Its representatives, carrying in both heart and mind collective, and sometimes personal, memories of the Holocaust – the greatest and most heinous crime to have been committed in the history of mankind – enthusiastically, with a sense of acute sincerity and seriousness, contributed to all stages of the preparation of the Statute.”

Few people are aware of it, but on the final day of 2000, Israel signed the Rome Statute that established the International Criminal Court. The above quote is from Israel’s statement when it signed the statute. Like the United States, which also became a signatory that day (that’s why we signed), Israel later announced that it wouldn’t ratify the treaty and so wouldn’t become a party to it.

It took the Interrnational community 50 years to establish a permanent tribunal to try anyone suspected of war crimes, crimes against humanity, crimes of aggression and the so-called crime of crimes – genocide. From 1948, when the idea of such a court was first raised in a UN General Assembly resolution, to 1998, when the Rome Statute was adopted, Israel aspired to take a leading role among countries pressing to establish the court. With the pathos of those speaking on behalf of the ultimate victims, Israeli delegates ostensibly represented the conscience and morality that only victims of discrimination and persecution of pogroms and extermination like us could and were entitled to represent.

war crimes.jpg

That was then, but it’s no longer the case. In recent years, Israel has crossed the lines and heavily armed itself for an unconventional battle against the organization whose establishment it once supported. Following Wednesday’s decision by the ICC’s prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, to launch investigations into war-crime suspicions in the occupied Palestinian territory, the Israeli government in the coming months will be carrying out its battle plan for an ambitious goal – the elimination of humanity’s first permanent international criminal court.

To understand the danger the ICC faces, one needs to appreciate the tough spot the Palestine case has driven it to. The court began operating in 2002 and has more than 120 member states, mostly from the developing world (or what used to be called the Third World). Since three of the major powers – the United States, China and Russia – aren’t members and actually are hostile to it, the court’s political power and financial backing come from Western European countries, all of which are members and view the establishment of the court as an implementation of a key lesson of World War II. The idea is to bolster the most basic prohibitions adopted by humankind as a lesson from the history of wars, particularly the horrors of World War II, and ensure that perpetrators of such crimes don’t escape justice.

Since the court was established, charges have been brought relating to nine countries – all of them in Africa. The office of the prosecutor has investigated 13 disputes – 10 of them in Africa and the rest in Afghanistan, Georgia and Myanmar.

Those figures explain the harshest criticism of the court in recent years: That though it is a universal court and is supposed to investigate and try criminals from around the world, in practice it has become a court for African crimes, and that it has gone after the politically weak. The stringent critics claim that because Western countries also commit crimes but don’t face trial, the ICC is actually another imperialist-colonialist arm of the West, that once again the white race is “educating” people of color.

This criticism has exposed the court to real danger; many African countries have threatened to withdraw their membership. South Africa, a country with a history that makes it a moral symbol, has decided to withdraw from the ICC, a decision that for now has been suspended, but the country’s membership is by no means a sure thing.

Therefore, Bensouda’s decision to launch investigations into suspicions of crimes committed in the context of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict raises the stakes. On the one hand, such investigations (and potential prosecutions) would buttress the critics’ argument that the court is afraid of confrontation with Western countries and prefers to focus on criminals from politically, militarily and economically weak ones.

war crime gaza.jpg

For an Israeli audience, it may be difficult to hear this, but Israel is known around the world as a serial perpetrator of crimes: the establishment of settlements in the territories, disproportionate attacks on the Gaza Strip every few years in which thousands of people are killed, and the patently apartheid regime it has created. A different decision would risk a wave of countries that might leave the ICC, endangering its very existence. On the other hand, the launching of investigations against Israelis leads the court straight into an abyss. Israel is one of the politically strongest countries in the world and is not ashamed to declare war on international law. And it doesn’t take prisoners.

It’s clear that in the coming days, Israel will apply unprecedented pressure on West European countries to get them to mount pressure on the prosecutor, maybe even threaten with withdrawals. Will a country like Germany, with all the historical sensitivities, withstand such pressure? Is it politically capable of surrendering to the ICC Jewish Israelis against whom arrest warrants have been issued? You can’t be a member of the court and not carry out warrants issued by the court’s judges. Withdrawal from the court by Western countries would spell its end.

It’s hard to see how this morass will be resolved. What’s certain is that now and in the near future, for the first time in their history, the Palestinians are holding a card that’s a great deterrent against Israel.
Palestine J.jpeg

Take the case of Khan al-Ahmar, the West Bank Bedouin village that has long been slated for forced transfer by Israel. If Israel wants Germany, France, Britain and others to assist on the ICC issue, the minimum they would demand is that – at the moment at least – Israel not commit more war crimes. The evacuation of Khan al-Ahmar therefore appears more distant than ever. Sometimes, just sometimes, the law really is the tool of the weak.

At this very moment the Israeli government is activating its war rooms at the Prime Minister’s Office, the Foreign Ministry and probably the Mossad. I am ready to give them a free advice. Borrowing on a remark attributed to the late lawyer Amnon Goldenberg, who in response to a client’s question on what he should say in his testimony, said that sometimes the truth is also an option, I would suggest that sometimes not committing war crimes is also an option.

If Palestinians were black

On October 15,2000 The UK Observer printed an article by writer Knut Rognes which made the salient point: If Palestinians were black, Israel would now be a pariah state subject to  economic sanctions led by the United States. Its development and settlement  of the West Bank would be seen as a system of apartheid, in which the 
indigenous population was allowed to live in a tiny fraction of its own  country, in self-administered ‘bantustans’, with ‘whites’ monopolising the supply of water and electricity.
Is Pariah.jpg

This is undoubtedly true and the Biden administration and in particular Joe Biden and Kamala Harris who both have genuflected to the Zionist idol would be raising hell. Loudly proclaiming as they have that “America is back” and the rule of law and universal rights is sacred their blindness to Palestinian rights is palpable and shameful.
Amira Hass the brave Israeli reporter calls out the EU for its timidity below

The sloth  of the European Union has once again been  revealed in all tits shame,. The EU is good at giving the Palestinians charity and preaching the rule of law. It fails politically when it comes to stopping Israel’s plan to concentrate the Palestinians into reservations in the West Bank and clear most of the land for Jews.


Where will the EU be when the supporters of Kahanist Itamar Ben-Gvir and the erudite proponent of transfer Bezalel Smotrich get even stronger-as seems likely given the anti-Arab attitudes of Haredi and so-called religious Zionist teens in Israel? What will it do when they carry out their threats to expel Palestinians “disloyal to Israel?” Will it send it in organizations to hand out tents and teach the Palestinians about hygiene and desert conditions?

On Monday for the first time this year and the sixth since November, iIsraeli civil administration and Army forces razed and seized structures in Khirbet Humsa, in the northern Jordan Valley. Their plunder this time:17 tents, five of which served as an animal pens, four water tanks and a few tents that hadn’t yet been pitched. Israel wants the entire community to move to the west, to a reservation allocated to it-ostensibly so the army can train in the area, but as experience of over 73 years teaches, it’s to make more room for Jews in this case the settlement of Ro’l and Bekaot on either side of Humsa. Many of the structures that were destroyed/confiscated were donated by European states, representatives have even visited the site three times.

The Office of the EU Representative in Jerusalem has already said that this is a forcible transfer that violates international law, like ones carried out and planned for the future in the southern West Bank. Like those executed daily by the privatized arms of the military and the Civil Administration – those proliferating outposts resembling ranches of armed and violent cowboys, behind which stands the Amana dispossession movement. Amana’s eternal director, Ze’ev Hever, confirmed Sunday what has long been clear to every Ta’ayush and Machsom Watch activist: In terms of stealing land from Palestinians and promoting expulsions, these ranches are more effective than construction in the settlements.

Israel’s reservations plan is known and is contrary to Europe’s official policy, and over the past decade it has been expedited openly and shamelessly. The European failure to stop it has nothing to do with the coronavirus crisis, some internal weakness or disagreements between Hungary and France. It testifies to the fundamental apathy of Europe, whose 19th-century colonialism is alive and kicking in the land between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea. After all, the Palestinians’ international position, unlike Israel’s, is very weak; they have no superpower or great economic force with teeth standing behind them.

The Israeli Jews of north Tel Aviv, for example, or of Dimona or Mishmar Ha’emek, don’t care that every day their army, their friends and relatives and they themselves are carrying out some small transfer, guaranteeing with their cannons that the Gaza reservation remains isolated and cut off. How do we know? Look at the news shows, see which posts are popular on social media and note how few Israelis support the Palestinians against their predators. But that’s precisely why we have international law, human rights conventions, historical research and European apologies for the crimes of the past – in order to prevent new catastrophes, the products of human action, politics and economic interests.

Only painful political and economic sanctions imposed by Europe will teach the Israeli Jewish public that it cannot have the best of both worlds: to receive unconditional support as “the eternal collective victim and survivor” of the expulsion and genocide project carried out in Europe in the 1930s and ‘40s, while also engineering an expulsion and dispossession project that seems to have no end.

Haaretz reader John C. Walsh adds his own postscript

War crimes, crimes against humanity, distain for international law, apartheid. We’ve been abusing the Palestinians on a daily basis for years. In the West Bank, we’re stealing their lands from them. Humaneness? What does that have to do with us?

If only Palestinians were black…sigh.