Social distance from hatred

Robert Cohen is a thoughtful UK Jewish blogger with a penetrating wit and a sense of humour. His blog says that he is rescuing the Hebrew covenant one blog post at anime. This was his latest from Mondoweiss.

Insist on social distancing from hatred

Passover truths

Earlier in April we held a Zoom Seder night to connect with our older children for Passover from their lock-down in Leeds. The Exodus story we recount each year is a multi-layered religious myth. That means that although the events we remember may never have happened, they are still packed with truth.

The truths Passover can reveal change over time, depending on how our current circumstances influence our reading of the text. So this year, when we retold the story of the ten plagues and their role in the liberation of the Hebrew slaves from Egypt, one truth stood out. Plagues can trigger dramatic and transformative change with social, political and ethical consequences. 


My normal ‘beat’ in for this blog is Israel/Palestine and how it plays into the 21st century Jewish condition. Over the last decade of writing, I’ve tried to challenge what have become accepted wisdoms about the meaning and interpretation of Jewish history. I’ve questioned our Jewish understanding of safety and security. I’ve charted how the relationship between Israel and the Palestinian people has distorted our Jewish identity and undermined long standing traditions and values. But is there a COVID-19 ‘angle’ to my on-going critique of Jewish communal politics? How is Palestinian freedom and Jewish wellbeing infected by coronavirus?

Like everywhere else, COVID-19 arrived in Israel/Palestine within an existing context. The context is the same power imbalance, the same human rights abuses, the same occupation and blockade that existed in pre-COVID ‘normal times’. COVID-19 plays out unfairly just as everything else does in that part of the world. The pre-existing dynamics make some minor adaptations and then, by and large, it’s business as usual. That’s certainly the picture witnessed by Mondoweiss’ Palestine reporter Yumna Patel, based in the West Bank:

“Despite widespread shutdowns, curfews, and quarantines, Israel has continued to raid Palestinian cities and towns, arrest and imprison Palestinians, demolish homes and tear down structures, and facilitate attacks carried out by settlers.”


The Gaza context for COVID-19 is one of the most frightening on the planet. It’s already been globally isolated for the last 13 years thanks to Israel’s stance and the co-operation of its western allies. Gaza’s economy and health system were shattered long ago. The tiny strip’s population of 2 million are the ultimate example of COVID vulnerability. As Jonathan Cooke wrote recently in The National: “Unless Gaza enjoys a miraculous escape, an epidemic is only a matter of time. The consequences hardly bear contemplating.”

If that happens Israel will undoubtedly put the blame squarely on Hamas. That’s despite still being effectively responsible for the territory under international law. Global public opinion may be less willing to see it Israel’s way. But that’s assuming people have the emotional bandwidth to absorb the news of COVID tragedies beyond their own national borders.

A COVID-19 catastrophe in Gaza will be the next test of Jewish communal leadership around the world. It would be better not to behave as Israel’s local public relations officer. But old habits die hard, even when they do more harm than good. Some social distancing from the government in Jerusalem would be a healthier response from the Board of Deputies, and others, this time around. But I’m not optimistic. COVID compassion is likely to run short of supply when it comes to Palestinians.

Some ways of thinking, some political ideologies, some religious attitudes will not serve us well in the years ahead. When it comes to my blogging ‘beat’, I’ve said before that Climate change makes Zionism obsolete as a strategy for Jewish security. Pandemics make it redundant too. Fortress states based on ethnic privileges are no longer practical responses to the greatest challenges we face.

As with the biblical epic of liberation we tell to ourselves each Passover, let’s make this plague one that changes the course of our history too. In 2020, a nationalist ideology dependent for its continuance on the on-going subjugation of a neighbouring people is not only immoral but unsustainable in every respect. And it’s infected every aspect of modern Jewish experience. It’s time to let it pass over.


Canada: Tell Israel to respect international law

Several of Canada’s largest and most influential Christian organizations, representing nearly two million members, have written a powerful letter to the Liberal government urging a stronger stand on the issue of Israel’s threat to take over even more of the territory Israel occupied in 1967.

Rt. Reverend Linda Nicholls (Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, Rick Cober Bauman, Executive Director of the Mennonite Central Committee, and Nora Sanders Secretary Gen of the United Church of Canada were among nine signatories of a joint letter to Foreign Affairs minister Francois-Philippe Champagne urging Canada to speak out in defense of international law as Israel threatens to annex more territory in the Occupied Territories.

The Hon. François-Philippe Champagne, P.C., M.P. Minister for Foreign Affairs

House of Commons

Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0A6

RE: Canada must uphold international law and condemn the government of Israel’s annexation plans

Dear Minister,

Greetings. We pray that you and your colleagues are well and safe in these challenging times.

We represent Christian denominations, church agencies, ecumenical organizations and networks who work with long-standing Palestinian and Israeli partners towards a just and lasting peace.

We write to you with great concern about Canada’s silence regarding the plans of the current coalition government of Israel to propose a vote in the Knesset (likely July 1st) on annexing a significant part of the occupied Palestinian territories. These plans constitute a grave breach of Canadian and international law, specifically Article 147 of the IV Geneva Convention, prohibiting the appropriation of property. This silence of the Canadian government is puzzling in light of the recent vote at the UN affirming the Palestinian people’s right to self-determination, Canada’s policy position on Palestine-Israel, and its staunch support for the rule of law.

Palestinian partners rightfully question the inaction of the international community, stating, “Clear decisions are already taken by the UN. So why further waiting to apply what is already decided?” (Kairos Palestine). Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem is asking, “How can the rule of law have any meaning when it is determined, interpreted and applied in accordance with the interests of those who control and oppress their subjects with the intention of perpetuating their rule by means of this same “law”?” The Council of Patriarchs and Heads of Holy Land Churches urge the government of Israel to restrain from unilateral annexation plans which would surely bring about the loss of any remaining hope for the success of a peace process.

It is alarming that to date, Canada has remained silent on the threats of annexation made by the government of Israel, when on March 16th, you stated with regard to Russian annexation of Crimea:

Furthermore, Canada’s silence is in stark contrast to the European Union’s position of April 23rd: 1/…

     “Today marks six years since Russia illegally annexed Crimea. Canada unequivocally condemns this violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and of international law. Canada and the international community will continue to keep up the pressure to compel Russia to respect Ukraine’s sovereignty and international law.”

The European Union’s position on the status of the territories occupied by Israel in 1967 remains unchanged. In line with international law and relevant UN Security Council resolutions, including resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973), the European Union does not recognise Israeli sovereignty over the occupied West Bank.

Several European governments have spoken publicly against the government of Israel’s plan to annex parts of occupied Palestinian territory, including Ireland and Norway who, like Canada, are running for two seats on the United Nations’ Security Council.

In February 2020, you received a number of letters from a variety of Canadian churches and civil society organizations, urging the government to publicly denounce the United States administration’s ‘Peace and Prosperity Plan’. Your office stated that Canada would respond after having studied the plan. We are still waiting for Canada’s response on this issue. Decades of ongoing occupation have seen numerous violations of Palestinian human rights allowed to continue without consequence. For example, Canada’s non-recognition of Israel’s illegal annexation of the Golan Heights carried no consequences. Instead, impunity appears to be winning the day while violations of international law continue unchecked.

We call on the government of Canada to:

● publicly condemn the plans of the government of Israel to annex any and all parts of occupied Palestinian territory;

  • publicly denounce the United States administration’s “Peace and Prosperity Plan”, which explicitly supports this illegal annexation plan;
  • work with the European Union and like-minded allies to take all diplomatic and political actions available to hold the government of Israel accountable for violations of international law, including annexation of any and all parts of the occupied Palestinian territories;
  • take all diplomatic and political actions available to enforce the rule of law without exception regarding violations of international law; and

● protect the human rights of Palestinians, including their right to self-determination, and to resist occupation and annexation.

The choice is to acquiesce in the face of significant, sustained human rights violations, or to join with those who condemn and work to end those violations. Our choices define us as people and nations. It is our prayer that Canada will choose to be a nation that does not remain silent in the face of illegal actions, but will work alongside other nations to uphold human rights and international law.


 The European Union reiterates that any annexation would constitute a serious violation of international law. The European Union will continue to closely monitor the situation and its broader implications, and will act accordingly.

We look forward to Canada’s prompt response in this regard. We offer our prayers for the healing of the Earth and all its inhabitants.

Yours sincerely,

Bishop Linda Nicholls, Anglican primate of Canada

Rick Cober-Bauman mennonite Central Committee

Nora Sanders, Secretary-General United Church of Canada

jennifer Henry Kairos Canada and 5 others

Nakba Day 2020

The Nakba is the Palestinian term for the events of 1948 that established the state of Israel. It means “the catastrophe” in Arabic, underscoring the fact that some 750,000 Palestinians were driven from their homes to make way for the new state and over 500 Palestinian villages were destroyed..

May 15 1948 is the day the Israeli state came into being but it is also the day Palestinians suffered the greatest calamity  in their long history

The Palestinian poet and diplomat Elias Sanbar situates the catastrophic time

The contemporary history of the Palestinians turns on a key date 1948  hat year a country and its people disappeared from maps and dictionaries.”The Palestinian people does not exist,” said the new masters…A long absence was beginning.”

for decades that absence has captured the world’s attention and now many more know the truth of the Nakba, the theft of the land of the indigenous Palestinians. 

Nakba Day commemorations typically take the form of rallies and speeches in cities around Israel, the West Bank and Gaza, with Palestinian marchers commonly brandishing placards, flags and house keys, the latter symbols of the homes and still-deserted villages their families have not been allowed to return to.

However, this year the rallies have been cancelled amid the coronavirus pandemic. Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas has officially authorised digital activities to observe the anniversary, with many planning to join virtual reality tours and Zoom video chats.

The wonderful irony is that it was Israeli historians who peeled the curtain back and told the truth about an ethnic cleansing that still continues

The official history of Israel has often falsified the actual story or told it in a manner to legitimize the occupation of Palestinian land and the displacement of Palestinians. Since the last decades of the twentieth century, however, Israeli revisionist historians have brought the facts to light. Their works include Simha Flappan’s The Birth of Israel: Myths and Realities; Benny Morris’s The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem, 1947–1949; Avi Shlaim’s Collusion Across the Jordan: King Abdullah, the Zionist Movement, and the Partition of Palestine, and The Iron Wall: Israel and the Arab World; Ilan Pappé’s Britain and the Arab-Israeli Conflict, 1948–51 and The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine; and Tom Segev’s One Palestine Complete: Jews and Arabs under the British Mandate.

These histories confirm the reality of Palestine’s historic and ongoing ethnic cleansing. The purpose of these histories is not to demonize Israel or to “delegitimize” it but rather to recognize the injustice done to Palestinians in the creation and maintenance of the State of Israel. Ultimately, as this historical context comes to light in the West, it should lead to a more accurate perspective on the situation.  

In June 1967 Israel defeated Egypt and occupied the West Bank, the Syrian Golan Heights, East Jerusalem and the Gaza strip. Palestinians call this the “Naksa,” the “setback,” because some 400,000 were displaced, half of them refugees from 1948. Many say that the Nakba has never ended, that it was repeated in dramatic fashion in 1967, but continues inside Israel and within the occupied territories today, with land confiscation and ethnic cleansing of entire villages.Nakba Day commemorations typically take the form of rallies and speeches in cities around Israel, the West Bank and Gaza, with Palestinian marchers commonly brandishing placards, flags and house keys, the latter symbols of the homes and still-deserted villages their families have not been allowed to return to.

Canada: End the Gaza Blockade

Nothing portends the end of Zionism as the flowering of authentic Jewish voices springing up globally.The false creed which linked Judaism to a piece of land stolen from indigenous inhabitants is in its dying days.More Jewish Jews have recovered Tthe prophetic unversalism freed from the wrong-headed idea of turning the gift of Judaism into nationalism. For too many, Israel had become an idol, a modern day golden calf.

In the tragic days of the Nazi menace many brilliant Reform rabbis made the link that Zionist nationalism was similar to other nationalisms running amok in urope. The brilliant Baltimore  rabbi Morris Lazaron put it starkly

Behind the mask of Jewish settlement , one can see the specter of the foul thing which moves Germany and Italy. 

Groups like Independent Jewish Voices (IJV) here in Canada and the Jewish Voice for Peace are returning to a more authentic Judaism succinctly  described by another great rabbi of that time Elmer Berger

Judaism is to do justice and to have mercy and to walk humbly with God; and all the rest is commentary and of secondary importance.” 

Witness this release from IJV:

Independent Jewish Voices Canada is calling on the Canadian government and civil society to put the utmost pressure on Israel to end its siege on the Gaza Strip and alleviate travel restrictions in the occupied West Bank, which threaten the Palestinian healthcare system and could lead to a severe outbreak of COVID-19. 

According to the World Health Organization (WHO) there have been 335 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 2 deaths in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt), including 17 cases in the besieged Gaza Strip, as of April 23rd. While these numbers may seem small compared to elsewhere, it is important to remember that Israel’s border restrictions and siege on the Gaza Strip have effectively decimated hospitals and healthcare systems in Palestine and deprived them access to essential equipment and other resources.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO) there have been 335 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 2 deaths in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt), including 17 cases in the besieged Gaza Strip, as of April 23rd. While these numbers may seem small compared to elsewhere, it is important to remember that Israel’s border restrictions and siege on the Gaza Strip have effectively decimated hospitals and healthcare systems in Palestine and deprived them access to essential equipment and other resources.

Gaza has already run out of the 200 Coronavirus test kits Israel allowed to enter the besieged territory in March. Since then, the Israeli Defense Minister, Naftali Bennett, has ordered a total halt to COVID-19 testing in Gaza. Meanwhile, there are currently only 96 ventilators available to cover Gaza’s approximately two million residents, or roughly 1 for every 20 thousand residents. By contrast, Israel has 2 800 ventilators for a population of nearly 9 million, or roughly 1 for every 3 thousand residents.  

Meanwhile in the West Bank, since 2006 patients and hospital staff must apply for Israeli-issued permits in order to access the main specialized hospitals in East Jerusalem. These permits are difficult to obtain for many. Equally troubling is that ambulance access in the West Bank has been severely curtailed by the Israeli military, making the transfer of patients affected by COVID-19 to hospitals potentially very difficult.

Sadly, the Coronavirus has laid bare the systemic racism that Palestinians face at the hands of the Israeli government. Healthcare discrimination during the pandemic has also been evident against Palestinian citizens of Israel, who account for approximately 20% of Israel’s citizenry. As Palestinian-Canadian lawyer Diana Buttu has pointed out, “Israel had tested a mere 4,000 Palestinian citizens of Israel for the virus up to April 2nd. This is the same as the number of Jewish Israelis tested every day”. 

As Khalil Abu Yahia, an English teacher and activist from Gaza City, has bluntly stated,“if you don’t put the maximum pressure on Israel to lift the siege right now, Gaza will become a graveyard”. There is an intense racism that maintains Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip, according to Abu Yahia: “the reason we’re suffering, and why we’re not getting proper treatment for the virus, is because we weren’t born to Jewish mothers. Think about it. If I, Khalil, had been born to a Jewish mother, my health might be better and I would have access to treatments.”

IJV stands with Khalil and millions of other Palestinians who are demanding the simple right to survive. We call on the Canadian government to demand that Israel urgently lift the siege on Gaza, and immediately end its illegal occupation of the entire oPt. Given the devastating reality faced by Palestinians, IJV encourages its members and supporters to donate to one of several  organizations and initiatives that are raising funds for urgent COVID-19 relief efforts in Palestine. Those currently accepting donations include the Palestine Medical Relief Campaign, the International Development and Relief Foundation, and Islamic Relief Canada.

Canadian Jews Stand With Palestinians

How times have changed! Many Jews worldwide have seen through the false religion of Zionism and are embracing authentic universal Judais values centred on justice rather than defending a piece of land as somehow central to their faith. Nobody put it better than Rabbi Phillipson of Cincinnati who presciently made the point in the mid 40s:

Reform Judaism is spiritual, Zionism is political. the outlook of reform Judaism is the world. The outlook of Zionism is a corner of eastern Asia.”

On January 28, 2020, US President Donald Trump unveiled his “peace” plan for Israel-Palestine alongside Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Notably absent alongside these two embattled leaders, fighting to hang on to their damaged political careers, was any of the Palestinian leadership. This is simply because the disastrous plan that Trump has touted as the “Deal of the Century” is being seen by much of the world for what it really represents – the “Steal of the Century”. Trump’s new plan is a significant shift from previous American foreign policy in the region, and a slap in the face of international law.

Independent Jewish Voices Canada condemns this ill-fated plan in no uncertain terms. We stand with the Palestinian people who are taking to the streets in the thousands, both in Palestine and throughout the world, to denounce what many have called Trump’s “apartheid plan”. Moreover, we call on the Canadian government and Foreign Minister François-Philippe Champagne to unequivocally denounce this plan, and instead to remind Trump, Netanyahu, and the international community of their responsibilities to follow the principles of international law and justice.

There has never been a better time for BDS

While the Trump plan could represent a disastrous turn for any chance of peace and justice in Israel-Palestine, for us it means staying the course, digging in our heels, and continuing the work we’re already doing. 

IJV was the first national Jewish organization in Canada to endorse the Palestinian campaign of boycotts, divestments, and sanctions (BDS). Trump’s plan is a stark reminder of the importance of BDS at this critical juncture.

It is worth recalling the main demands of the BDS campaign, and how they relate to Trump’s apartheid plan:

1.Ending the Israeli occupation and colonization of all Arab lands and dismantling the wall

Trump’s plan proposes that Israeli settlement blocs inside the occupied West Bank remain under Israeli control; that Jerusalem be Israel’s “undivided” capital; and that some form of a Palestinian state also be created, albeit with limited sovereignty.

The Israeli occupation of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank is the longest military occupation in modern history. Trump’s position to suddenly view the Israeli settlements in the West Bank as legal under international law is a complete reversal of previous American foreign policy, and patently dangerous. The path towards a just peace in the region must include dismantling Israeli settlements, ending the occupation, and tearing down the inhumane wall.

2. Recognizing the fundamental rights of Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality

Trump’s plan suggests stripping nearly 250 000 Palestinian citizens of Israel of their citizenship, and transfering them to a future Palestinian state. The mayor of Tayibe (one such Israeli town slated for a population transfer), Shuaa Massarweh Mansour, stated in no uncertain terms, “There will not be another Nakba (the Arabic word for ”catastrophe,” referring to the ethnic cleansing of Palestine during the war of 1948).

Photo: Oren Ziv, +972 Magazine

Palestinian citizens of Israel already face incredible discrimination in areas related to land rights, cultural and languange rights, and education. Rather than stripping them of their citizenship, Palestinian citizens of Israel must be granted full civil and human rights under Israeli law.

3. Respecting, protecting, and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN Resolution 194

Trump’s plan will effectively put an end to one of the central tenets of the Palestinian struggle: the right of return for all Palestinian refugees ethnically cleansed by Israel from 1948 onwards. The plan lays it out in a blunt and cruel fashion: “The Israeli-Palestinian Peace Agreement shall provide for a complete end and release of any and all claims relating to refugee or immigration status. There shall be no right of return by, or absorption of, any Palestinian refugee into the State of Israel.”

We know that there can be no just peace in Israel-Palestine until all refugees are allowed the right to return home. 

IJV invites all people of good conscience to join us in BDS actions, and resisting this plan with all our hearts and energies.

Canadian Jews Stand With Palestinians

In Israel Zionism is a Religion

The Joint List is a political alliance of the main Arab-majority political parties in Israel.Benny Gantz could have toppled Netanyahu by taking these 15 votes as part of coalition. The List comprises citizens of Israel,,,but for racists like Netanyahu and others members of the List are “terrorists.” ’It is of course to laugh.

To many diaspora Jews Zionism is indeed their religion, having long ago junked the universal ethics of Torah Judaism. These landsmen have no understanding of the colossal pain and suffering visited on the country’s indigenous. They choose not to know.

Levy I trust. A life long sabra with impeccable credentials he has long been my guide here. He has written:

Zionism contradicts human rights, and is thus indeed an ultranationalist, colonialist and perhaps even racist movement, as proponents of justice worldwide maintain”. 

Israeli society is today by far too brainwashed. Life in Israel is by far too good. Israel is, let’s face, it a society which lives in denial, totally disconnected from reality.

Levy wrote on March 6

I know some Israelis who agonized for days whether to vote for the Joint List, who talked about crossing the Rubicon and the end of the world, and at the last moment their hand betrayed them and they voted for Gantz or Peretz. They say they just couldn’t do it

What exactly prevented them? After all, they support justice and equality and peace for two states – and the Joint List offers them all of this good stuff. But they found excuses for themselves: Balad is too nationalist, Ra’am too religious, Tibi too glib and Odeh too charming. Others who did vote for the Joint List after a lot of soul-searching, likened the feeling to coming out of the closet.

This reluctance does not necessarily derive from racist motivations. The Arab character of the Joint List was far less off-putting than its being non-Zionist. That’s just going too far, an unforgiveable crime. Voting for a party that doesn’t have the Zionist banner flying over it is a painful, almost impossible step. That’s the result of 100 years of indoctrination that is practically unmatched.

 With the exception of North Korea, no other country has such a ruling ideology that is not to be doubted or deviated from. Aside from Iran, no other country has a mandatory religion. In Israel, Zionism is a religion, and it is mandatory.

A Jew who votes for the Joint List is still considered a traitor, or at least a person who has some kind of screw loose. In our childhood, this is how we viewed activists from Rakah and Matzpen, and we shunned them like lepers. The Rakah office on Maza Street in Tel Aviv was like a mysterious, menacing headquarters of an enemy army. You didn’t want to be seen anywhere near it. I remember the first time I went there: I was terrified.

These were the adolescent growing pains of a young country. But when a strong, thriving country disqualifies a legal ideology and makes it illegitimate, something has gone wrong with its democracy.

Zionism is a worldview like any other. One can see its attractive and unattractive sides. It is not a religion in which doubters are denounced as heretics – yet it is forbidden to reject Zionism. Why? Because Zionism is not sure of itself. It knows that it brought a catastrophe upon another people and it knows that the fire of evil and injustice is burning beneath the carpet upon which it treads.

 If Zionism were certain of its righteousness, it would put itself to the test like any other worldview and it would be permissible to doubt it. Israel in 2020 is not yet ready for that. A true left will only arise here when we wean ourselves of the addiction to Zionism and free ourselves from its chains.

Shills for Zionist Israel

Phil Weiss reports on the sad news  for Zionist true believers that Israel and its myth making trolls no longer have the same influence they once had. As I have reported before, this has resulted in deep anger and frustration in those parts of the Jewish community where Zionism had trumped authentic Judaic values.

This has been due to an avalanche of truth telling without the usual hasbara of spin doctors. Israel has failed to control the omnipresence of the internet and social media platforms which portrayed a true version of shocking abuse which occurs daily to Palestinians.

Young people very hip with the new technology have turned their back on tribal interlocutors who have essentially lied to them over the generations. Today  Israel firsters at the New York Times like former correspondents Friedman, and the former Jerusalem Post editor Brett Stephens  are joined by Bari Weiss. Ethan Bonnera nother former correspondent and those mentioned above  are simply seen for what they are: shills for Israel, never for the universal ethics of  Toraj Judaism. 

Friedman who attended Zionist camp in Wisconsin when he  was nine actually referred to Israel as  his “ancestral homeland” though born in Minnesota and  his parents were also born in the US

Phil Weiss writes this in Mondoweiss

We always said that Tom Friedman (the New York Times columnist) and Dennis Ross (the former White House Middle East negotiator) were propagandists for Israel, well a longtime former Israeli ambassador has confirmed the roles.

Ido Aharoni, former consul general in New York, gave a webinar to the Streicker Center of Temple Emanu-El in New York Wednesday April 29 about threats to Israel and how they are changing. The elites aren’t working for us in the same way, he said, since the smartphone came along. 

In the old days, reality was mediated to us through the eys of a handful of people, the political leaders, the commentators, the pundits, the influencers, the VIPs of the old world. For example, Israel was pre 2007, the introduction of the first iphone– smartphone, Israel was mediated or communicated to the world through the eyes of people like Tom Friedman and Dennis Ross and of course the political leadership. And they were great people, they’re all still very active. It’s just that our voices– their voice is not being heard as before for a very simple reason, we are now able to design our own informational feed using a very sophisticated and precise algorithm. It allows the leadership to actually address the people directly by bypassing the elite, those people that communicated reality to the masses before. 

It’s happening in the United States, obviously you see how President Trump is using his twitter account, but it’s also happening in Israel, it’s happening almost in every western country. It’s a disruption to the classic model of representative democracy. 

Ross has long had this reputation of an Israel lobbyist inside the executive branch. In 2005 his colleague Aaron David Miller said that the U.S. negotiating team at Camp David functioned as “Israel’s lawyer.” In 2016, Ross embraced the role in what he thought were private comments to the Central Synagogue in NY: American Jews need to be advocates for Israel. 

There are some in the Jewish community who basically want to look at the Palestinians and think that the Palestinians really are the ones who have been forthcoming, it’s only Israel that’s holding back. It’s not true. … And so when we raise questions about what Israel needs to do it shouldn’t be seen as if somehow we’re advocates for the Palestinians. Plenty of others are advocates for the Palestinians. We don’t need to be advocates for Palestinians. We need to be advocates for Israel.

Tom Friedman also appeared to embrace the Israel advocacy role in an appearance at the 92d Street Y last year. When asked if he has Jewish “fatigue” over Israel’s problems, Friedman assured the audience, “Israel had me at Hello… Don’t worry… In times of crisis, I know where I will be. When the Jewish state is under threat.” 

I was in Beijing… I was driving to the airport. Just as I was coming in an El Al plane landed… And I just thought, what an amazing time to be alive as a Jew in this era of the Jewish state when an El Al plane flies from Tel Aviv to Beijing. And I still get a buzz out of that. OK? And I know about that fatigue. I feel it some time myself. But I never feel it when I’m in Israel.

Israel had me at hello. Whatever you think folks– don’t worry. In times of crisis, I know where I will be. When the Jewish state is under threat–

But I worry about– I’m 66, I’ve been the foreign affairs columnist [at the New York Times] for 21 years– what about the next generation? Will the next foreign affairs columnist– we got David Brooks, we got Bret Stephens, we’re all sort of the same generation, one that socialized in a different era– Will they [the next foreign affairs columnist] get that buzz when they see an El Al plane landing in Beijing? That’s what worries me.

Palestinians are good enough to save Jews’ lives in Israel

The only democracy in the Middle  East (LOL) is segregation on steroids.Israel  is paranoid about being too close to indigenous Palestinians. The state has been masters at hafrada, the Hebrew word for  separation. Physical distancing has long been perfected in the apartheid state. Survey after survey indicates the abhorrence of living anywhere near Palestinian citizens.The simplest way to sum up israel is the great  illegal Separation Wall but now as Phil Weiss last moth writes below when Covid 19 hits…no separation. Those Arab doctors are too valuable.

Palestinians are good enough to save Jews’ lives in Israel, but not to be in their government

The Israeli health system would collapse without Palestinians. “If the thousands of Arab health workers–doctors, nurses, pharmacists–were to stay at home, the entire system would collapse,” former spy chief Ephraim Halevy wrote in Haaretz.

The only physician in the Israeli parliament (per Kowaz) is a Palestinian: Ahmad Tibi. Dr. Tibi has been playing a leading role in getting out health information during the crisis, in helping to evacuate Israelis from other countries— including former IDF soldiers who were smoking pot in faraway places to decompensate after years of raiding Palestinian homes and arresting children in the West Bank.

Dr. Tibi celebrates the work of health workers both Jewish and Arab in this inspiring video (screenshot above). Dr. Tibi also posted the photo of praying health-care workers at the top of this article with the message, “Let us all be healthy, Jews and Arabs. We will defeat the Corona virus, overcome the racism virus.”

The racism virus. Benjamin Netanyahu, the caretaker prime minister who faces trial on corruption charges, has been attacking those very Palestinian legislators, including Dr. Tibi, in racist billboards (above) and chalk talks to the press. Netanyahu dismissed the 15 seats the Palestinians won in the March 2 election as non-factors in the coalition math that will produce a new government. He only counts Jewish legislators feed.

Netanyahu speaks of the Palestinian legislators as “terrorists,” and his lieutenant in the Knesset, Yuli Edelstein, says that if the opposition Blue White were to form a governing coalition based on the outside support of the 15 seats of Palestinian Joint List, that would be “anarchy.”

Netanyahu’s 58-seat bloc of Jewish legislators contains a lot of “extreme racist and messianic Jews,” as Yossi Alpher writes at Americans for Peace Now.

One of them, Yaakov Litzman, is the health minister and he said last week that the “messiah will arrive before Pesach to liberate us [from corona]”. Here’s the full quote:

We are praying and hoping that Moshiach (messiah) will arrive before Passover as it is a time of our redemption. I am sure that the Messiah will come by Passover and save us the same way God saved us during the Exodus and we were freed. The Moshiach will come and save us all.”

Yaakov Litzman, Israel’s Health Minister under Netanyahu, who has said that the “messiah” will save the country from coronavirus before Passover. March 2020.

Some liberal Zionists in Israel are calling attention to this atrocity. “Anyone who disqualifies the Arab MKs [members of Knesset] disqualifies their supporters, including the doctors who are currently saving the lives of Israelis–Jews, Arabs and Druze alike. This is a disgrace and, worse, a self-inflicted wound,” says Halevy in Haaretz, as reported by Americans for Peace Now.

While Neri Zilber, an Israel advocate, told the Israel Policy Forum, “you can’t argue that you’re the only democracy in the Middle East” when you say that the votes of 20 percent of your citizenry don’t count.

There ought to be daily outrage from American Jews about these evolutions of the Jewish state, but… hey, 95 percent of American Jews are Zionists, according to the leading media advocates of Zionism, so the Miracle that is Israel is their immaculate conception.

But– and here’s the kicker– it looks like Netanyahu is going to stay prime minister because of all this racism.

It’s the third largest party in Israel. Because no Jewish leader of any credibility in Israel ever wants anything to do with them.

Even as Palestinians are saving Jewish lives.

It boggles the mind. And– of course– our newspapers are not explaining this racism to American readers. And U.S. liberal Zionist organizations are not howling about it, as they should be, every day.

But it’s alright, the messiah will stop coronavirus by Passover, so Israelis can stop thinking about Palestinian doctors and nurses and pharmacists soon…

Get Out of Jail Card Now Defunct

“The trouble is that once you see it, you can’t unsee it. And once you’ve seen it, keeping quiet, saying nothing, becomes as political an act as speaking out. There’s no innocence. Either way, you’re accountable.”

Arundhati Roy

Historically driven by Western holocaust guilt we handed  Israel a get-out-of-jail-free card. It intimidates and silences mainstream media and particularly US politicians civil society leaders, and  many activists – by making the issue of Israel so toxic that none dare touch it. It has been the modern day third rail. Nobody wanted to be called an anti-Semite which you were deemed if you criticised the longest running  occupation in history. A Dutch holocaust survivor  Hajo Meyer had a witty repose in this regard: In the past anybody who hated Jews was an anti-Semite, now it’s anybody who Jews hate. 

When I was 11 playing on a Jewish ball team I was called a fucking kike. From then on I was never neutral.  My faith like Bishop Tutu’s demanded a bias—on the side  of those without voice, without power. The  great Japanese theologian Kosuke Koyama reminded  me in his Waterbuffalo Theology (1974) if Jesus was the spat-upon Christ, expect a little saliva on you if you try to follow him.

In 2003 after retirement from teaching I was editing the Catholic New Times and i picked up the phone to hear me called an “Effing Nazi” because I dared criticize Israel. i knew the gentleman well, a Jewish friend of long standing who knew nothing about the Middle East or had read anything I wrote on this issue. I brushed it off as a sad tribal rant with no serious analysis of Israel/Palestine. He had been on the phone to another tribalist Jew whom had long ago substituted the state of Israel for authentic Judaic values.

I kind of laugh about it now. The ranter did not realize that I had my own “Get out of Jail card” a mitzvah from the  B’Nai Brith attesting to my support of the Jewish people. They appreciated my groundbreaking teaching on the Nazi holocaust when nobody else was touching it in Canadian schools in a serious way. 

A decade ago I was called an anti-Semite by an old friend and then by  high school classmate, then 5 years later the latter  issued a needless apology. His wife was Jewish and now they both agreed with me! My crime—-defending Palestinian rights. Another from high school asked me if I didn’t realise  the number of Jewish Nobelists. A non-sequitur. Ho hum.

A year ago on an elevator the door opened  and a man outside spying my lapel pin which simply stated End the Occupation, his face contorted in fury, screamed, “You should be killed.” Then as the door closed, “You should go there.” i had probably been there more than he had.

When I got off at the 14th floor to see my doctor he asked me what floor this warm reception occurred. The same floor as the National Post and the Toronto Sun but it could have been Rosie Dimanno’s floor at the Star.

As Archbishop Desmond Tutu famously said: “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.”

I was invited  to lead workshops for the Holocaust Remembrance Committee as early as 1979.  Schmidt was kosher then in the Jewish community especially when my memoir Shabbes Goy was released in 2001. I spoke in  many synagogues, B’Nai Brith, Hadassah  and other Jewish groups, in private homes. My favourite venue was Baycrest, the wonderful Jewish geriatric centre. They invited  me twice. I think they liked my tossing around a lot of Yiddish expressions. I think they sensed that i was a downtown Toronto Jew lover.

One day after my talk a steely eyed 86 year old bubbe  approached me with her walker.

“Can I tell you von thing” she asked in her lovely Polish yiddish accent which she had never lost and was music to my ears.

“Sure,” i said.This will be rich I said to myself.

“There should be more goyim like you!”

I couldn’t stop laughing and later wondering what experience she  had had to say this.

I assured her that there were a lot of goyim (non-Jews) like me.

Since those experiences in the early 2000s the justice of the Palestinian cause  gained traction, especially after the mass slaughter of innocents in Gaza in 2014. Jews of conscience  cried enough.The internet and social media proclaimed another truth : Little Israel had become Goliath, a brutal state which treated Palestinians  like Jews under Pharaoh.Their Judaism and fundamental decency kicked in and their Zionism, a palette of lies  which denied the Nakba  the ethnic cleansing of indigenous Palestinians ebbed.They began to realize  that they had been heavily propagandised  by tribal elders who had linked  Zionism with Judaism.

The resurgence of another narrative, a more truthful one of Palestinian displacement increasingly drove  tribal Jews angrier. They responded with brutal attacks , employing trolls  to vilify anybody who proclaimed justice for Palestine. Rabbis who should have known better remained silent. Catholic bishops remained silent. Our Catholic teachers’ union openly proclaimed justice as a cardinal value—-but never for Palestinians.The third rail was still warm and it read: Do not approach.

Print media  presently dying dares not risk any boycott so the range of acceptable opinion narrows and courage contracts but people of conscience should not be neutral in situations of injustice.

Israel’s get out of jail card finally has elapsed. and I have mine.What remains is the self-enclosed  jail of the denial of its original sin, the dispossession of an indigenous people.The way forward, the way to redemption, the way out of  jail is a Truth and Reconciliation Commission a la South Africa where the  pariah state admits its original sin. Here they will find a willing partner in Palestine.

Trudeau on Israel

  • Justice for Palestine Matters (JFPM) is a voluntary non profit organization based in Sydney, Australia providing urgent appeals on human rights abuses and atrocities against Palestinian civilians by the government of Israel. The co-ordinator Dr Viacy Viazna took PM Trudeau to the woodshed for his appalling silence  on Israeli abuses.
  • Many keep wondering why Trudeau who keeps speaking about “the rule of law” keeps silent about Israel’s egregious flaunting of international law.
  • The Guardian reported in November 1917

The chief fundraiser and senior adviser to the Canadian prime minister, Justin Trudeau, who played a critical role in the rise to power of the charismatic politician, was involved in the movement of millions of dollars to offshore havens, the Paradise Papers reveal.That’s Stephen Bronfman the heir to the seagram’s fortune

Prime Minister,

History is repeating itself.

You have dishonourably exploited your apology for Canada’s historical rejection of Jewish refugees during World War II to falsely conflate antisemitism with and callously reject Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) efforts to protect the human rights of generations of Palestinian refugees ‘chased out of their homes’ and ‘Persecuted, robbed, jailed and killed because of who they were.’ Furthermore the Jewish state ‘had denied them their citizenship and their fundamental rights.’

“Anti-Semitism is far too present. Jewish students still feel unwelcomed and uncomfortable on some of our colleges and university campuses because of BDS-related intimidation. And out of our entire community of nations, it is Israel whose right to exist is most widely and wrongly questioned.”

Wrongly questioned??? For the informed and integrity-minded it is ‘impossible to ignore the challenges and injustices still facing’ Palestinian families today under the illegal Israeli occupation of their land.

Your ambassador to the United Nations says,

Since coming to office, Prime Minister Trudeau and the Government of Canada have been clear about the importance of the United Nations and multilateral engagement. Canada recognizes that a collective effort is needed of all Member States and all stakeholders if we are to find solutions to the many challenges before us.”

However your and the Harper governments, unmoved by the plight of these [Palestinian] refugees, and indifferent to their suffering, have turned their backs on multiple UN resolutions condemning the alarming rate of Israel’s apartheid policies, illegal settlement expansion and daily crimes against humanity and war crimes according to the Fourth Geneva Conventions.

Thus, Canada continues to turn its back on these innocent victims of the Jewish state’s brutal regime and by collaborating shares the immoral responsibility to doom Palestinian families to the horrors of the West Bank and Gaza ghettos.

Surely, you would agree that one’s home and nation is also a sanctuary. But there are the massacres perpetrated today by Zionist snipers slaughtering unarmed non-violent refugees, abled and disabled Palestinian children and youth, who daily bravely demand, at the walls and fences of their humanitarian crisis, for their right of return to their homes under international law. Like the Jewish refugees on the MS St Louis, Canada deems the Palestinian refugees, innocent victims of the Zionist regime, unworthy of a home, and undeserving of your help.

As a member state of the UN, under obligation to uphold political and human rights of the people of Palestine, Canada has failed miserably and the bounds of its humanity is morally and gravely limited thanks to your servile prostration to Israel and the USA.

It was unacceptable that Canada turned its back on the Jews of Europe, and it is unacceptable now that Canada is failing to stop the discrimination, hate-motivated crimes, violence and threat of Zionism against the vulnerable Palestinian people.

More than 70 years ago, Canada turned its back on Palestine by voting for the UN Partition Plan for which the UN had no legal mandate to divide up foreign territory. Certainly, ‘time has by no means absolved Canada of its guilt or lessened the weight of its shame.’ In fact, you have augmented both guilt and shame with your indifference, lack of political courage and legitimisation of Zionist atrocities.

It is time that the ongoing dishonourable chapters of Canada’s abusive history of the Palestinian people end and that its lessons are never forgotten by Canada’s ‘children and grandchildren’.

Palestine does not need you to apologise. Rather, Canadians must unwaveringly ‘pledge, now and forever, never again’ to violate the respect for Palestine’s humanity enshrined in the UN Charter and pledge to take part in the ‘social struggles for fairness, justice and human rights,’ ‘for democracy and the rule of law, for equality and liberty’ that is the spirit and agency of BDS.

Nor should the international community pit a Palestinian state against a Jewish state. It is our ‘collective responsibility’ to support a one-nation solution in which Palestinians and Jews live together in equality and peace.


Dr Vacy Vlazna SteCoordinator Justice for Palestine Matters

Sydney, Guringai, Australia