Barnaby Raine Jew not Zionist

Despite being born and raised in London’s Jewish community to a family of committed Zionists, Barnaby Raine will not be celebrating the centenary of the Balfour Declaration.

The PhD student at New York’s Columbia University is a practising Jew whose mother was part of socialist Zionist movements in her youth and later spent time on a kibbutz.

However, that commitment to the Zionist cause was not shared by her son, who is now an ardent critic of Israel and the role Britain played in its creation. 

“I am now a firm anti-Zionist,” Raine told Al Jazeera, explaining that his ideas developed as a teenager when he could not reconcile his Jewish beliefs with Zionist ones.

“We as Jews are religiously committed to ‘tikkun olam’, ‘mending the world’, and for centuries, Jews have stood at the forefront of struggles against oppression and exploitation,” he said.

“In one corner of the planet in Palestine, we are asked to believe that Jewish values mean not fixing the world but smashing it, not fighting oppression but instilling it with gruesome violence.

“That betrayal of Judaism is hard to stomach.”

‘Empire’s policemen’

A student of history, Raine is critical of the British role in empowering the early Zionist movement, which he considers a result of colonial self-interest rather than genuine concern for the aspirations of the Jewish people.

He argued that imperial powers, such as Britain, had a long-standing policy of using settlers from Europe in colonial territories to help administer their empires.

“The British did a similar thing in South Africa. Settler-colonists, whether Jewish or Boer, became empire’s policemen,” Raine explained. 

Palestine is not the unfortunate meeting of two legitimate national movements … the problem is, and always, was a single colonial nationalism, which can permit no equal place in the land for its indigenous inhabitants.

British support for the Zionists was therefore not due to the legitimacy of their claim to Palestine, he continued.

“Palestine is not the unfortunate meeting of two legitimate national movements … the problem is, and always was, a single colonial nationalism, which can permit no equal place in the land for its indigenous inhabitants.

“The Declaration reserves full ‘political’ rights for Jews alone, licensed by the British empire to serve as civilised administrators over the natives.”

The argument is backed by historical evidence.

Some early Zionists actively encouraged the idea of Jewish settlers in Palestine serving as a vanguard of British interests in the Middle East.

In a letter dated to 1914, the leader of the Zionist movement, Chaim Weizmann wrote: “Should Palestine fall within the British sphere of influence, and should Britain encourage a Jewish settlement there, as a British dependency, we could have in 20 to 30 years a million Jews out there … they would … form a very effective guard for the Suez Canal.” 

In the build-up to the centenary of the Declaration, Britain has faced calls from pro-Palestinian activists to apologise for its role in the dispossession of Palestinians, a demand it rejects outright.

According to Raine, besides the futility of such an apology, there is little chance of the structures responsible for the continuation of Palestinian suffering going away.

“Balfour has been reproduced every day for 70 years. Apologising for Balfour would require dismantling that status quo, and few in power in the West would find that an appealing proposition.”

Raine features in a short film alongside other Jewish critics of Israel titled, Independent Jewish Voices: 100 Years After Balfour, in which he sets out his criticisms of Zionism and the British role in creating Israel.

‘Blip in Jewish history’

For Raine, Zionism represents a “tribalist” vision of what it means to be a Jew that conflicts with the Jewish ideal of opposing oppression. 

“Zionism is a strikingly recent blip in the course of Jewish history, less than 150 years old … where universalists see oppression as a problem per se, tribalists object only, ‘it shouldn’t be me who is oppressed,'” he said, adding: 

“Zionism is one brand of tribalism, made for an era of nationalism and empire. It has always had to contend with universalist currents in Jewish politics.

“Before the Holocaust, those currents were stronger in most Jewish communities, and the sheer scale of Israeli violence now risks generating enough revulsion for universalism to make a comeback.” 

by Shafik Mandhai  Al jazeera Nov.2, 2017

The cowardly hunters of Israel

The Israeli Army Doesn’t Have Snipers on the Gaza Border. It Has Hunters 

Gideon Levy  

They’re the best of our boys. One is a “musician from a good high school,” another a “boy scout” who majored in theater.” They’re the snipers who have shot thousands of unarmed protesters along the Gaza border fence.

In the Gaza Strip there are 8,000 permanently disabled young men as a result of the snipers’ actions. Some are leg amputees, and the shooters are very proud of that. None of the snipers interviewed for Hilo Glazer’s frightening story in Haaretz (March 6) has any regrets. If they are feeling at all apologetic it’s because they didn’t spill more blood. One was mocked in his battalion with “here comes the killer.” They all act like murderers. If their actions don’t show it – more than 200 dead as a result of them – then their statements prove that these young men have lost their moral compass. They are lost. They will go on to study, to have careers and to raise families – and will never recover from their blindness. They disabled their victims physically, but their own disabilities are more severe. Their souls were completely twisted. They will never again be moral individuals. They are a danger to society. They lost their humanity, if they ever had it, on the shooting berms facing the Gaza Strip. They are the sons of our friends and the friends of our sons, the young people from the apartment across the hall. Look how they talk.

The soldiers’ talk we once knew – the collection of testimonies on the Six-Day War published in English as “The Seventh Day” – turned into the talk of butchers. Perhaps that’s for the best – we have spared ourselves some hypocrisy – but it’s hard not to be shocked at the depths to which we have sunk. They recalled the number of knees they shot. “I brought in seven-eight knees in one day. Within a few hours, I almost broke his record.” “He got around 28 knees.” They shot at unarmed young men and women who were trying in vain to struggle for their freedom, an issue that couldn’t be more just. “The regular scenario is supposed to be that you hit, break a bone – in the best case, break the kneecap – within a minute an ambulance comes to evacuate him, and after a week he gets a disability pension.”

WHAT KIND OF A COUNTRY TOLERATES SUCH OBSCENITY?

Not enough for you? “The objective is to cause the inciter minimal damage, so he will stop doing what he’s doing. So I, at least, would try to aim at a fattier place, in the muscle region.” Still not enough? “If you mistakenly hit the main artery of the thigh instead of the ankle, then either you intended to make a mistake or you shouldn’t be a sniper. There are snipers, not many, who ‘choose’ to make mistakes.”

They knew who they were facing. They don’t even refer to their victims as “terrorists,” only “inciters.” One compared them to members of a youth movement.

“Even if you don’t know their precise ‘ranks,’ you can tell by the charisma who the group leader is.”

They chose their victims by their charisma, with a sniper’s precision. Their “leadership aura” has destined young men to a life of disability in the cage that is Gaza. But that was not enough. They become bloodthirsty as only young incited people can be. They wanted more blood, not just blood, a child’s blood. Not just a child’s blood, but in front of his family.

“‘Let me just once take down a kid of 16, even 14, but not with a bullet in the leg – let me blow his head open in front of his whole family and his whole village. Let him spurt blood. And then maybe for a month I won’t have to take off another 20 knees.”

They wanted blood from a boy’s head only to spare themselves the need to take down 20 more knees. They identified their victims’ age by their shirts: Dress shirts for the older ones, T-shirts for the youngest.

None was court-martialed. Correction: One got seven days in military jail for shooting a sheep. Soldiers in the world’s most moral army don’t shoot sheep. With 200 dead and 8,000 wounded, they think “the restraints on us are shameful.” That is their shame. They are our shame. They, and their commanders. They and the army that orders them to shoot at protesters as if they were “ducks who chose to cross the line.”

People who shoot ducks aren’t snipers. They’re hunters.

42 knees in one day-terrific

Moshe Sharret Israel’s second Prime Minister only wrote in his diary the truth of what Israel was becoming “The phenomenon that has prevailed among us for years and years is that of insensitivity to acts of wrong…..to moral corruption…What is our vision on this earth – war to the end of all generations and life by the sword?”

The answer is Yes

Diaspora Jewry must acknowledge that it finds Israel’s militancy, callousness, and chutzpah repugnant, a far cry from the values of Judaism.

Yaakov Rabkin University of Montreal

Hilo Glazer in Haaretz  March 6.Edited for space

42 Knees in One Day’: Israeli Snipers at Work 

Over 200 Palestinians were killed and nearly 8,000 were injured during almost two years of weekly protests at the Israel-Gaza border. Israeli army snipers tell their stories

Seeing is believing

The mass demonstrations on Israel’s border with the Strip began on Land Day, in March 2018, and continued on a weekly basis until this past January. These ongoing confrontations, in protest of Israel’s siege of Gaza, exacted the lives of 215 demonstrators, while 7,996 were wounded by live ammunition, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Despite the large number of casualties, the grim protests and responses along the fence continued unabated for nearly two years, until it was decided to reduce the frequency to once a month. Yet even in real time, the violent Friday afternoon ritual provoked little public interest in Israel. Similarly, the international condemnations – from allegations of the use of disproportionate force to accusations that Israel was perpetrating massacres – faded like so much froth on the waves. 

Shedding light on this very recent slice of history entails talking to snipers: After all, they were the dominant and most significant force in suppressing the demonstrations at the fence. Of the dozens of snipers that we approached, six (all of them discharged from the IDF) agreed to be interviewed and to describe what reality looks like through their gun sights.

Eden says he broke the “knee record” in the demonstration that took place on the day the new U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem was inaugurated, on May 14, 2018. He did it jointly: Snipers usually work in pairs – together with a locator, who is also a sniper by training, and whose task is to give his partner precise data (distance from the target, wind direction, etc.). 

Eden: “On that day, our pair had the largest number of hits, 42 in all. My locator wasn’t supposed to shoot, but I gave him a break, because we were getting close to the end of our stint, and he didn’t have knees. In the end you want to leave with the feeling that you did something, that you weren’t a sniper during exercises only. So, after I had a few hits, I suggested to him that we switch. He got around 28 knees there, I’d say.” 

Itay: “The directive is to keep watching after shooting to see whether the goal was achieved. You only report a hit after an additional look. To look afterward is the easy part, or more correctly, it’s the part that brings relief. Because in this specific case, the terrorist was less than 100 meters from my buddies, and it could have ended badly.” 

And after you look a second time and you see the actual wound, is it still easy?

“You are not meant to see massive bleeding, because in the region of the knee and bones there aren’t a lot of capillaries. If you see blood, that’s not a good sign, because you probably hit too high. The regular scenario is supposed to be that you hit, break a bone – in the best case, break the kneecap – within a minute an ambulance comes to evacuate him, and after a week he gets a disability pension.” 

But Shlomi,says hitting the kneecap is also not desirable: “The objective is to cause the inciter minimal damage, so he will stop doing what he’s doing. So I, at least, would try to aim at a fattier place, in the muscle region.” 

He adds, “You don’t hit those who whip up the crowd because of what they’re doing. It doesn’t come from an emotional place‘He’s the one who’s causing the uprising, so let’s take him down.’ This isn’t a war, it’s a Friday afternoon D.O. [disruption of order]. The goal is not to take down as many as possible, but to make this thing stop as quickly as possible.‘It’s your destiny’

Not everyone succeeds in restraining his feeling of intoxication. A video clip that circulated in 2018 showed a Palestinian approaching the fence and being shot by a sniper, as the soldiers celebrated the direct hit with shouts of “Right on!” and “What a fab clip!” Roy says the soldiers’ response there attests to a lack of professionalism and too much enthusiasm, although he saw nothing similar in his squad. 

“On the other hand, I think it’s human,” he says. “When you have a certain goal, even if you are shooting arrows at a target, obviously there’s joy at the hit. The soldiers’ mistake was in their behavior. Let them laugh somewhere in the back, but don’t make a clip of it. There’s such a thing as appearances, too.” 

Amir,. “The snipers in the squad we replaced were legends. They were IDF champions and they had two or three super-cool Xs [on their rifles] from manning the line in Gaza. We heard the story about the Xs, and we wanted them, too. It’s your profession, your destiny, the essence of your being from the moment you get up until you go to sleep. Obviously you want to display your capabilities.” 

Do you have to celebrate? Isn’t there some other way?

Amir: “No. Actually, the more he does it, the more indifferent he’ll become. He will no longer be especially happy, or sad. He’ll just be.” 

Merkel out of touch

Germans cant seem to get past war guilt 75 years later.Wake up, Gideon Levy tells Angela Merkel

A Different Germany? Not With Its Israel Policy

On Friday, Germany proved that it’s on a downward trend toward its past. Its decision to be a friend of the Israeli occupation at the International Criminal Court in The Hague, alongside beacons of morality like the governments of Hungary, Austria and the Czech Republic, should worry all Germans haunted by the past.

Late in her impressive career, under the threat of anti-Semitism in her country, Angela Merkel is willing to forgive Israel everything in an utter knee-jerk reaction. Thus she’s abusing her office as chancellor of the different Germany and one of the last defenders of human rights in the world. We’re left with Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin and 

A Germany that doesn’t allow an investigation into war crimes, no matter by what country, isn’t a different Germany but a Germany that provokes war crimes. Sometimes it seems that until Israel adopts the methods of the Nazis – and of course it’s very far from this – Germany will legitimize all Israel’s actions.

Germany thinks it does this to atone for its past, but the truth is the opposite: As long as Germany doesn’t stand at the side of the oppressed and the occupied, it’s betraying the lessons of the past. When it comes to Israel, the country of its direct victims, and the Palestinians, its secondary victims, this is particularly severe.

In its application to be a friend of the court, Germany has accepted Israel’s claims that the ICC has no authority to hear suspicions of war crimes in the territories. The explanation that Germany gave for its position is especially strange: Germany is a firm supporter of the two-state solution and the ICC has no jurisdiction in the matter.

We’ve seen Germany’s firm support over the years; at its height it reached hollow lip service. One issue before the court is the settlements: No other issue has more thoroughly destroyed the possibility of a two-state solution. Now Germany tells The Hague to leave the settlements alone. So who will stop the settlements? The Yesha Council? The Israeli government? The White House? Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, Merkel’s partner as a friend of the court

A question for Germany: If not The Hague, who should investigate what happened in Gaza between Black Friday in Rafah and the killing of protesters at the border fence? The Israeli army? AIPAC? Maybe that renowned expert on international law, Donald Trump, through his son-in-law, that honest broker Jared Kushner?

It took ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda five years to conclude that there are suspicions of war crimes regarding the settlements, the 2014 Gaza war and protests at the Gaza border fence. Does the Merkel government believe that these suspicions shouldn’t be investigated? Why not? Because the suspect is Israel?

After the Bundestag’s decision that the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement is anti-Semitic comes its support in The Hague for the Israeli occupation, casting a heavy moral shadow over Germany. Germany’s obligation is to do everything for Israel’s security and prosperity. It should also be cautious in its criticism of Israel, more than any other country.

But to jump to the head of the line of those supporting Israel’s complete immunity is a step too far that works in the exact opposite direction of the lessons of the Holocaust. Immunity for Israel isn’t a gesture of friendship, nor does it reflect concern for its image. The founders of the different Germany would be ashamed. Back in the first half of the ‘70s, German Chancellor Willy Brandt wouldn’t have lent a hand to such a step. And his Austrian counterpart, Bruno Kreisky, wouldn’t have let his country stand up for the occupier and against the victim.

On Friday, Germany said to Israel: Expand the settlements to your heart’s content, bomb Gaza as much as you like, continue shooting at protesters with real bullets, unrestrained. You’re immune to all criticism and certainly to prosecution in The Hague. The Hague is for weaklings. The Hague is for Yugoslavs and Africans, not for Israeli political leaders and military officers.Germany says to Israel: You are a country above all suspicion. This is how far guilt has led the most enlightened leader in Europe today. When it comes to Israel, Merkel is the same as Trump. Nothing less.

What more can we ask for?Racist, not us


Leave it to the secular prophet Gideon Levi to shred the credibility of one Yoaz Handle. One may ask are there  any other kinds of prophets in Israel where Zionism has corrupted Torah Judaism and the rabbinate, save a  brave few are taking to the evangelicals who voted Trump.

Actually Mr Levy has topped himself in his prophetical utterances. In one incredible phrase he has summed up the tragic transvaluation of Judaism into jewish nationalism or Zionism with his phrase “seeing holiness in stones.”For these true believers Judaism is about land and not profound ethical values, not too dissimilar to the blut und boden” (blood and soil of Nazi Germany). This was exactly the devastating critique of the brilliant rabbis of the early 40’s (Reichert, Phillipson, Berger et al) who saw  the tragedy of Jewish identity defined by the allegiance to a nation state.

================================================================================

Gideon Levy

Head of the splendidly named Institute for Zionist Strategies, founder of a (likewise perfectly named) human rights organization, Blue-and-White Human Rights, devoted to preserving human rights and improving Israel’s standing, and whose findings are relayed to the IDF for investigation.

Member of the public council of Beit Hillel Rabbis and of Natal – the Israel Trauma and Resiliency Center, and of the board of Bshvil (which supports IDF combat veterans). Author of the book “In an Unsown Land: An Israeli Journey,” resident of a picturesque moshav in the Jerusalem hills.

What more could we ask for?

Hendel is the embodiment of the beautiful Israeli because he tells us that we can have it both ways, that we can have it all. This is just how we want to see ourselves – liberal and nationalist, moral and Zionist, occupiers and humanists, Jewish and democratic, secular but basing our claims on a divine promise, enlightened and believing in our exclusive right to the land, modern and seeing holiness in stones, Jewish and Israeli, moral and ethical, patriots who love to hike the Israel Trail and sing patriotic songs together, and of course to do reserve duty with the unit

Hendel is the beautiful Israeli because for him, there is never any ugliness. The IDF is the most moral army, Israel is a beacon of justice, the occupation was imposed on us, we are really its victims. “It pains me that we have to do this, but there’s no choice,” he said about the horrors of the occupation.Israelis love this kind of thing: the Chosen People, but having no choice. The most moral, but this was all imposed on us. We shall never forgive the Arabs who force us to shoot their children.

In an interview with Ravit Hecht on February 7, Hendel said: “I believe Arab culture is the jungle. There you find gross violations of every human right that we recognize in the West. They haven’t reached the stage of evolution in which there are human rights.”

An Israeli speaker, an enthusiastic supporter of the occupation – one of the cruelest tyrannies in the world – dares to speak about human rights and preach to others. This has to break the record for chutzpah and lack of self-awareness.

Hendel is the political center’s dream come true, which is why he found his place in Kahol Lavan. Neither right nor left, both right and left, something in the middle. This something in the middle is most often a right wing in disguise with a minority from the cowardly left. Hendel belongs to the first group. This is the dream, too: to get the best of all worlds, to be with and feel without.

Hendel is not a racist, God forbid; what is racist about him? He is a Zionist. And see how impressed he is with his doctor wife’s reports about how Arabs are treated in the hospitals, and he also enjoys seeing an Arab woman compete on “Master Chef.” What’s racist here? They will never obtain national rights, he said. A state? They can call it whatever they want. He’s not a hilltop settler who beats on Arabs. He’s not Itamar Ben-Gvir. He just understands what everybody understands.

But now his right-wing, nationalist, racist face has been revealed and the enlightened Israelis are beside themselves with anger. How dare he refuse to sit in a government with the Joint List? How dare he rip the mask off our faces? How dare he become so racist? That’s not who we are at all.

\

Please help me to understand

United Church minister calls on Trudeau and Champagne to reconsider their accusation that boycotting Israel is “anti-Semitic”

pastedGraphic.png

Reverend Steve Berube of St-Paul’s United Church in Riverview, NB. has been in Palestine several times. In 2018, he frequently visited Ofer Prison where Palestinian children are tried in Israeli courts. He also visited hospitals where other children are being treated as a result of injuries inflicted by Israeli police or military forces. In a painful personal letter to Prime Minister Trudeau and Foreign Affairs Minister Champagne, he explains why boycotting Israel has nothing to do with anti-Semitism and everything to do with human rights. Read his letter here. …

.

Dear Prime Minister Trudeau and Minister Champagne,

I wish to join you in condemning anti-Semitism and all forms of religious and ethnic hatred around the world. I have worked hard on these issues for over 25 years as a United Church of Canada minister.

It was a privilege for me to live in Bethlehem and visit Jerusalem frequently in 2013. Many suspect my strongest memories are of the Church of the Nativity, the Dome of the Rock, the Western Wall or other scared sites. They are wrong.

My strongest memory from Bethlehem is of sitting in a hospital next to 14 year old Mohamed Kurdi who had been shot by an Israeli sniper in the abdomen. One of his doctors told me he had never seen as many internal organs damaged by a single shot caused by a “dum-dum” bullet.

pastedGraphic_1.png

15 year old Fathi Saleh in hospital in Bethlehem after being shot in head by Israeli soldiers.

My strongest memory from Jerusalem is of a hospital room with 15 year old Odai Nael Fathi Saleh who was in a vegetative state as a result of being shot in the head by an Israeli sniper in Bethlehem. Doctors said they would never be able to remove all the bullet fragments. I remember his family’s outrage when authorities presented them with a bill for 25,000NIS for his treatment due to an Israeli soldier shooting him.

Both of these children were innocent bystanders posing no threat to any Israeli. But their images will forever haunt me.  

Gideon Levy’s recent column in Haaretz focused on an Israeli military spokesperson who said it is appropriate to shoot children. Apparently, what was condoned by Israelis in my time continues today.

pastedGraphic_2.png

Reverend Berube participated in a World Council of Churches observer mission called Ecumenical Accompaniment Program in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI).

In 2018, I visited the Israeli military courts in Ofer Prison. Each year, 500-700 Palestinian children face these courts that have a conviction rate of over 99%. Over 75% of Palestinian children report being abused or tortured while in Israeli custody awaiting trial.  Please try to imagine, the fear a child you know would experience after spending two or three nights alone in prison, most likely enduring torture or physical/psychological abuse and having no access to their family or legal counsel before entering a military court where the court officials speak a language the child does not understood. Would you wish this on the child you thought of or any child? Should these practices not be condemned?

I cannot unsee what I have seen. Day after day, I witnessed the abuse of Palestinian human rights and violations of the 4th Geneva Convention by Israeli officials including innocent children being shot and their lives being ruined. Therefore, my perspective is radically different from the dominant narrative about Israel and Palestine that recent statements by your government portray.

As a human rights advocate and peace activist, can you help me understand why on Feb. 6, Minister Champagne rose in the House to condemn the peaceful, nonviolent BDS movement and linked it to antisemitism?

BDS is a form of free speech that calls attention to the egregious actions of the Israeli government and its daily violations of International Human Rights laws, the 4th Geneva Convention, along with ignoring motions adopted by the UN Security Council and the judgments of the International Court of Justice. Linking BDS to anti-Semitism is an attempt to delegitimize the valid criticism of Israel over its documented human rights violations against Palestinians. Further, linking BDS and antisemitism deepens prejudice against Palestinians and those who support the rule of law and international treaties. 

Your government prides itself on supporting international human rights. Yet, you often seem to fail to criticize Israel for its ongoing violations of its responsibilities as an occupying power and as a high contracting party to the Geneva Conventions. Can you help me understand why your government seems to be progressive on most human rights issues except for joining the vast majority of countries who speak out on behalf of Palestinians who have lived under the longest occupation since WW II?  

Please join with me and other human rights supporters in working to eliminate anti-Semitism as well as the prejudice stoked by those who unjustly criticize Palestinians.       

I look forward to your reply.  

Rev. Steve Berube 

St. Paul’s United Church, Riverview, NB

Taking a Knee vs the Occupation

And this guy Ari Berrman  is a teacher? Would you stand if you were a Palestinian and they played the anthem of the country which stole your land and humiliates you on a daily basis? This is why the author below, Dave Zirin is the best sportswriter in  America today.He refuses to give SportsWorld a free pass as sacred outside the culture.  Where is Berman’s ultimate allegiance in the universal values of Judaism or a political movement which traduced those values? 
No justice.jpeg

Taking a  knee against the occupation
In the tradition—and the extension—of this movement, two volleyball players from Brooklyn College went to one knee before a game against the Yeshiva. They kneeled during the playing of Israel’s National Anthem this week, which Yeshiva plays before every contest, as a protest against Israel’s racism and state violence; most pointedly against Israel’s apartheid policies of occupation that keep the two million Palestinians of Gaza in an open-air prison surrounded by checkpoints and walls. They weren’t just going to stand for Israel’s anthem, hand over hearts, and do nothing.

The two athletes, Hunnan Butt and Omar Rezika, were immediately slandered as anti-Semites because of their simple, silent gesture of dissent.download-2.jpg
Yeshiva University president Dr. Ari Berman went on the attack, and in a shockingly irresponsible—not to mention dangerous—statement about two students, he said:

It is unfortunate that some members of the opposing team disrespected Israel’s national anthem. We are proud to be the only university who sings both the American and Israeli national anthems before every athletic competition and major event. Nothing makes me prouder to be an American than living in a country where our religious freedom, our Zionism and our commitment to our people will never be impeded and always be prized.

Think about the irony of this statement. Berman prizes “living in a country where our religious freedom, our Zionism and our commitment to our people will never be impeded and always be prized,” yet this educational leader is willing to demonize two teenagers for exercising our most cherished freedom: freedom of speech. Berman also doesn’t see the irony in the fact that this was the national anthem of another country in which the players kneeled, not the country in which the players were in fact living or playing.
download-1.jpg

Berman, by turning up the heat instead of seeking some kind of dialogue, opened the floodgates against these two students, who have since set their social media to private in the face of a tidal wave of attacks. 

The Simon Wiesenthal Center, to take just one example, described their actions as “this flagrant display of antisemitism,” and demanded Brooklyn College punish the students.

Not surprisingly the story was also picked up by hard right-wing Zionist twitter feeds, none of which I care to give free publicity to. But suffice to say, these same feeds that praise a President who makes anti-Semitic comments and whose acolytes chant “Jews Will Not Replace Us” are slandering two young people in frightening fashion because they dared stand for the voiceless of Palestine.
Several of these feeds have also spread the lie that the athletes did not shake hands with their opponents following the game, something that both Yeshiva and Brooklyn College have denied.

I reached out to Noura Erakat, the author of Justice for Some: Law and the Question of Palestine. She said to me,

There’s a stark distinction between anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism. And though there has been a deliberate effort to conflate Jewish liberation with Zionism, that is neither universally accepted and hardly historically accurate. These students took a clear stance against a national symbol of the state in a manner that echoes protests among Black athletes in the US. And just as Black protest has been maligned in order to avoid the issues of racial injustice, so too is the students’ legitimate protest being unjustly attacked.

I also talked to Yousef Munayyer, from the US Campaign for Palestinian Rights. He commented,

These young athletes demonstrated the courage of their convictions and chose to send a message of dissent with this simple act. At a time when activism for Palestinian rights is increasingly facing attempted repression, they stood tall for justice by taking a knee. They should be applauded.

Now, the two athletes are not making any comment, perhaps fearful that being put on “jihad watch” by one web site (seriously) could affect their lives. This is not Israel. If Yeshiva wants to play the anthem that is their business. To expect athletes to stand with their hand over their hearts, only demonstrates just how many inroads Trump’s brigade of Christian soldiers (who think we are going to hell come the rapture) along with their pro-Occupation allies have made in challenging basic freedoms of speech. Many rushed to Colin Kaepernick’s side in solidarity when he took the knee. We should do the same for Hunnan and Omar.