In addition to her own distinguished career, Achinoam Nini (aka Noa) has a history of working on behalf of peace and reconciliation. Notably, she has partnered with Israeli-Arab singer Mira Awad, a Christian and resident of Haifa, on a concert tour and as the country’s entrants 2009 entrants into the Eurovision contest. This creative collaboration brought them wide attention around the world, mostly of the positive sort.
On Yom Hazikaron, the acclaimed international Israeli musical artist performed for a gathering of Combatants for Peace, an organization of former fighters and their families on both sides of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. This recent performance brought on attention of a much uglier, vile sort from extremist corners in Israeli and North American Jewish corners.
Calling her “Garbage” and “Rat” and far worse. They’ve taken to facebook calling for a boycott of Noa’s performances, and Noa has responded.
Coming of age in Israel, I encountered quite a few reminders of how strange politics can be. In the mid-80s, I went with members of the scouts (Tzofim) to protest Meir Kahane outside a venue in Petah Tikva. An elderly man came to argue with us. He didn’t yell and wore a forgiving smile. And a kippa. He said that Arabs are dogs, they only look human. Looking back, I can finally appreciate how bizarre he was. Only… he was one of the more normal Kahane supporters. And he didn’t try and assault anyone (that I saw). Not like the other guys spitting and throwing punches at us.
A few short years later, Kahane came to my little hometown. I only found out because the bus passed the town square he was using. A couple hundred folks had gathered – more than I’d ever seen assembled (outside of the soccer games). I got off the bus, put away my schoolbag, put on my keffiyah, and marched over there to protest. By myself. While I didn’t have a sign, I did have bright yellow stickers reading ‘say no to racism’. I held one up and stood not four meters away from him.
Again, looking back, I have to say that was stupid. Even if thugs hadn’t followed me in a car and given me a stomping outside my apartment building in front of all the neighbors.
Later still, when I was a soldier, I was forced to attend a lecture by the commander of our corps. Which is to say, he was above the head of our training base and in charge of all sorts of things related to our specialty, though he would never again lead troops into battle. In this lecture, he gave a military-political survey of the situation with Lebanon and the Occupied Territories. When he opened up the Q and A, I said: “Officer sir, since the conflict with the Palestinian people can only have a political solution, not a military one, aren’t you deceiving us by talking about ‘winning’?”
Boy was he mad. I never got punished though. Just ostracized.
These incidents surely paint a picture of the young man as a foolish dissident. But grant me that I had heart – lots of heart. Whatever my politics, however wrong headed my political analysis or ideology, it was sincere and flowed from a sense that my reference group, my peers in Israeli society, included both Palestinian and Jewish comrades. Whenever some right winger or patriot made a bloviating reference to ‘we’ meaning Israeli Jews, I always thought to myself – yes, ‘you’, because my ‘we’ is made up of Arabs AND Jews. Of all Israelis, exactly in the way that in America, ‘we’ includes whites AND blacks.
How odd then, to find myself dismissed as a ‘Zionist’ here and there in the Palestinian solidarity movement. Not like so many people actually know me or anything. But… there was that JATO woman at the UFPJ gathering, the trainer at the Student PSC conference, the outright verbal assualts on the activist listserve, and a picture comes to mind.
The Palestinian solidarity movement, especially as it has coalesced around the strategy of BDS, has two faces. One face is warm, friendly and intelligent. It says that BDS is a tactic not a preferred political solution. It doesn’t require B, D and S, and it can be directed at the occupation or at Israel in general – no coercion. It makes Gush Shalom feel right at home.
The other face is quite clear that the one state solution is preferred and the two state solution is dead – and good riddance. Anyone in support of an Israeli identity is a Zionist. Anyone seeking compromise with Zionists is a Zionist. Anti- or non-Zionists who refrain from calling for an end to Israel are ‘soft-Zionists.’ Israelis are ‘butchers’ who commit ‘massacres’, their peace camp isn’t really for peace except for a handful, the Palestinian Authority is not only corrupt, it is ‘only corrupt’, lacking in any other attributes or identity. It’s everything awful about the 90s campus culture wars/identity politics madness, with the eager pleasure in despising whatever isn’t politically correct.
Everything I used to hate and fear about the Israeli right wing: the extremist language, the eagerness to demonize the other, the closing of ranks around a narrow set of ideas, the very harshness of the voice and tone. It’s the flattening of every nuance into a slogan or holy truth. It’s the utter impossibility of dialogue with people who feel differently.
I used to be part of that first group. Some days, I still am. But… I keep running into that second group and it turns my stomach. Sometimes it’s the same person displaying one face or the other, depending the audience. It’s as if all the experiences I have growing up in Israel and ‘putting myself out there’ as a refusenik, participant in militant demonstrations, getting arrested, working inside of majority Palestinian political organizations – count for nothing. Because I’m insisting on the slogans of my youth (Arab/Jewish unity, two states for two peoples, down with the occupation, negotiations yes/war no) somehow I’m excluded from the cool kids lunch table at the Palestinian solidarity middle school. Back in Israel, that’s who I sat with. Now they sneer at me.
But I can’t sit with the Zionist kids anymore! Not after all that stuff I said about not being a Zionist…. sniff.
I guess I’ll go sit by myself. And I am NOT a Zionist! I’m just another Israeli yored in New York waiting for the occupation to be over. So I can go home.
So far, however, Bibi has condemned the psak din, but has not done anything to fire the rabbis who issued it. So too, the ruling has not been countered by the chief rabbis, or by any of the rabbis who guide Netanyahu’s coalition partners. In other words, while Netanyahu may profess outrage, this does seem to be the normative halachic ruling for the State of Israel.
Would 50 Israeli civil servants be so stupid as to piss off all 6 billion goyim on the planet, including over a billion Christians? You betcha!
After all, the Israeli Orthodox establishment has gone to great lengths to alienate 5 million non-Orthodox American Jews. They’ve declared the child of one of our top theologians to not be Jewish; they’ve arrested our religious leaders for the crime of carrying a Torah in public; and they’ve decreed that Sabbath observance is the only defense against forest fires.
They’ve kicked us in the face, and the leaders of American Jewry — the Jewish Federations and the Jewish organizations — did nothing but applaud and defend the government that empowered them. There was no price to pay.
Back in 1988, the Jewish establishment had balls (I’m looking at you, Shoshana Cardin). Yitzhak Shamir was on the verge of forming a coalition with the haredim by giving in to Habad-fomented demands to ammend Who Is a Jew. A high powered delegation of American Jewish machers flew to Jerusalem… and the result was Israel’s first national unity government.
But that was then. Now, not so much noise from American Jewry. No real push-back as the Israeli Foreign Minister announced, at the UN, his plan to remove the citizenship of Israel’s non-Jewish citizens. No, nothing but applause. This disastrous coalition of Lieberman and Ovadia, of racist nationalists and racist fundamentalists, doesn’t offend the American Jewish establishment.
The question is, will American Christians be so forgiving?
The attack ad practically writes itself:
“”My opponent voted to give billions of dollars in foreign aid to a country where government supported clergymen preach hatred toward Christians….”
If AIPAC leaders care about Israel (rather than the Republican party), they might want to look up from their porn and give Bibi a call. Because this time, Bibi’s buddies are playing with fire.
Max Blumenthal visited this past weekend’s intensely noxious Israel rally organized by far-right and religious nationalist Jewish orgs in New York. Cheers and accusations of “Obama is a Muslim” and a non-citizen, that Rahm Emmanuel is a “self-hater” and others like him “kapos,” and that “Binyamin Netanyahu is the leader of the free world” make this footage surreal. Unlike some of Blumenthal’s past visual indictments, however, these words were spoken aplenty by the organizers at the podium.
According to the NY Jewish Week, NY Representative Anthony Weiner sought a moment at the podium, but was denied by organizers lest he defend the Obama administration too much. State assemblyman Dov Hinkind castigated mainstream Jewish groups for their perceived silence. Fliers were distributed supporting the Prime Ministerial candidacy of Likud’s Moshe Feiglin, advocate of ethnically cleansing the Palestinians. In attendance were the Republican Jewish Coalition, the Hudson Institute, World Committee for the Land of Israel, the Jerusalem Reclamation Project, the Zionist Organization of America, Z Street, Americans for a Safe Israel, Christians United for Israel, and Manhigut Yehudit, the latter of which calls for a Jewish theocracy.
The seven-minute clip ends with a quote from my favorite religious commentator on Israel, Yeshayahu Liebowitz, “Religious nationalism is to religion what National Socialism is to socialism.”
Here is the full text of the speech given by Sarah Beninga representing the Israeli activists at the weekly demonstration at Sheikh Jarrah on March 6. Yes, it is a few weeks old, but with everything happening in that insane corner of the world and in DC, it is nice to have a moment of hope. (Translation from the Sheikh Jarrah site. Hat tip to The Magnes Zionist.)
There is a New Left, and it is not a left that is content with peace talks; it is a left of struggle. There is a New Left that knows that there are things you have to fight against even when they are identified with the state and even when they are sanctioned by law. There’s a New Left that knows that this struggle will not be decided on paper, but on the ground, on the hills, in the vineyards, in the olive groves. There’s a New Left that is not afraid of settlers – even when they come down on us from the hills, masked and armed. This left does not succumb to political oppression by the police, nor does it care what Ma’ariv writes about it.
Sarah Beninga at Sheikh Jarrah demonstration
There is a New Left in town. This left does not want to be loved, does not dream of filling town squares and does not bask in the memories of 400,000 demonstrators. This left is a partnership of Palestinians who understand that the occupation will not be stopped by missiles and bombs, and of Israelis who understand that the Palestinian struggle is their own.
The New Left links arms with Palestinians in a cloud of tear-gas in Bili’in, and with them, bears the brunt of settler violence in the South Hebron Hills. This left stands by refugees and work immigrants in Tel-Aviv and fights the Wisconsin Project [privatized “welfare-to-work” program]. This New Left is us, all of us.
All those who came here tonight; all those who dared to cross the imaginary line separating West and East Jerusalem despite the threats and intimidation – we are all the New Left that is rising in Israel and Palestine. We are not fighting for a peace agreement; we are fighting for justice. But we believe that injustice is the main obstacle to peace. Until the Ghawis, the Hanouns and the El-Kurds return to their homes, there will be no peace; because peace will not take root where discrimination, oppression, and plunder exist. There is a New Left in town and this left stands with the residents of Sheikh Jarrah tonight, and it will continue standing with them until justice overcomes fanaticism.
But there is also a New Right in town. A Right filled with envy and racism that seduces the masses with its jingoistic rhetoric. The New Right has no interest in the well-being and the welfare of human beings. The New Right is only interested in a narrow ethnic and tribal loyalty a la Avigdor Liberman. For the New Right only the Jewish poor deserve attention. And what makes someone Jewish is that they’re not Arab. The New Right has nothing to offer but never-ending war. The New Right has nothing to offer bur hate for the other: Arabs, refugees and leftists.
This New Right creates the fanatic settlers against whom we are demonstrating tonight. These settlers hate Jerusalem. They have no love for Israel and no love for humankind – they love only themselves. There are many amongst the settlers who we can and should carry out a dialogue with. But the settlers in Sheikh Jarrah who sing songs of praise to Baruch Goldstein – must be defeated.
The New Right created the mayor of Jerusalem Nir Barkat. He is a technocrat who doesn’t understand or care about Jerusalem. He is a mayor who uses administrative terror against the residents of East Jerusalem and neglects the residents of West Jerusalem, while mouthing empty clichés. If Jerusalem is a powder keg, then Nir Barkat is the one who is striking the match. But Barkat doesn’t scare us and neither do the settlers or Liberman.
We will continue coming to Sheikh Jarrah and everywhere that justice is crushed by the forces of occupation and oppression. Take a look around you; we are not as few as we thought we were! And we will prevail!
Toyota crashes into N.Y. synagogue steps
February 9, 2010
(JTA) — An elderly man said his Toyota car’s accelerator stuck, causing him to crash into the steps of a New York synagogue.
Gerald Silver, 86, a D-Day veteran and Purple Heart recipient, was driving home with his wife, Rosalyn, when his 2009 Camry’s gas pedal jammed, causing him to lose control of the car.
Silver hit two parked cars and flew over some bushes before slamming into the steps of the Forest Hills Jewish Center in Queens, according to reports. He nearly missed hitting a group of people, WPIX TV reported. The couple were [sic] treated for minor injuries.
Toyota has recalled millions of cars over sticky accelerator pedals.
Haaretz correspondent Akiva Eldar calls out American Jewish foundations which support terrorists who call for the killing of Palestinian babies.
How can President Barack Obama object to furthering education in a settlement like Yitzhar, located in the heart of the West Bank? After all, his own tax revenues contribute to the flourishing of the Od Yosef Chai Shechem yeshiva, the settlement’s crowning glory.
This is the same yeshiva whose rabbi said it is permissible to kill gentile babies because of “the future danger that will arise if they are allowed to grow into evil people like their parents.” In his latest book, the head of the yeshiva, Yitzhak Shapira, who bears the honorable title of rabbi, even permits killing anyone “who, through his remarks and so forth, weakens our kingdom” (Obama, beware!).
On November 17, this column reported that the Education Ministry’s division for Torah institutions transferred more than NIS 1 million to this yeshiva in 2006 and 2007. The Welfare Ministry made do with a mere NIS 150,000.
A report on donations submitted by the yeshiva to the registrar of nonprofit organizations revealed that the American public also participates in financing the message coming out of Yitzhar. It states that in 2007 and 2008, the yeshiva received NIS 102,547 from an American foundation known as the Central Fund of Israel.
Its about frickin’ time somebody did something. Oh I know—I’m sure NGO Monitor is on it.
Full story here.
(h/t to Shaul)
It’s called “synecdoche” in literature — when a small part is used as a reference to a whole thing, or vice versa. Hence, “Washington declared” for “the US government declared;” or “two more pairs of eyes” for “two more people watching.” Who do you think the featured teenagers out on the Midrachov represent? Who would back them up? Where do they acquire their attitudes?
Presenting this the way Max Blumenthal did is misleading. Anyone who knows Israel sees these kids and knows those accents are American. With the exception of the South African-sounding girl and the Israeli accented guy at the very end, these all appear to be pre-college, right-wing yeshiva Americans. It’s a very recognizable demographic in Israeli life, not the broader public. (The Israeli also says something dismissive that one might say in the presence of such Americans.)
New Israel Fund and Yuf Bet B’Heshvan (a grassroots Orthodox group) are organizing a rally in Israeli Arab town Um El Fahm this Sunday, April 5, to express solidarity with the local residents and the Arab citizens of Israel. The event is in response to the recent march by Kahane supporters. Video of the ugly Kahane march and violent counter-protests below on CBS and on Al Jazeera.
This has been reported in afewotherplaces, no doubt you’ve seen it already. But for those who can read Hebrew, I want to make available the excerpts of the pamphlet which have caused (in some circles) righteous horror and (in disconcerting places) yawns of unsurprise.
IDF Chief Rabbi Avi Roznik Rontzki distributed a booklet to soldiers called Go Fight My Fight: A Daily Study Table for the Soldier and Commander in a Time of War, published for Operation Cast Lead. The text borrows the most war mongering traditions of Judaism — of which there seem to be plenty fodder, albeit a selective reading — and teachings from cheif fundamentalist Rabbi Shlomo Aviner. The purpose: “to fill them with yiddishkeit and a fighting spirit.”
Understatement. of. the year. Israeli groups Yesh Din, Rabbis for Human Rights, and Breaking the Silence have called for Roznik’s Rontzki’s resignation, and rightfully so. Excerpted pages in JPG and translated quotes below the fold, with the resignation request to Ehud Barack.
It’s worth remembering when confronting this material that this is fringe Judaism, a tiny and ugly hole within which the worst of our people festers, the same ugliness that can be found in any people. But the problem is, this is our people. And I will work to end this type of Judaism the same as I will this type of Islam, Christianity, or anything else.
And for those who are upset that I post ugly material like this, I’ll explain why next post. More »
During the evacuation of Yamit, in 1982, I was listening to the radio in my dorm room in Yeshivat Har Etzion. This was during the time that Yaakov Ariel was down in Yamit acting the Rosh Yeshiva [Head of the Yeshiva] of his newly founded yeshivah, trying to convince Israeli soldiers not to follow orders to evacuate the settlers of Yamit. Most of the settlers took their checks, left peacefully and tried to rebuild their lives elsewhere.
On this day, a reporter was interviewing a settler, a religious settler, who had just been forcibly evacuated, with his family, from Yamit. The settler was angry, crying, screaming. The reporter asked the settler if the trauma that they were causing to the country as a whole was worth it. The settler replied: “What about the trauma caused to my young children who forcibly removed from their home?!” The reporter then asked the obvious follow-up question: “How long have you lived in Yamit?” “Three weeks” was the answer.
Language is often a casualty of tyranny and terror. The house in Hebron which bears a sign which reads “God gave Israel to the Jews” is called the “House of Peace” by the Jewish community of Hebron. More »
So, for some unknown reason, I am on the email list of the “Jewish community of Hebron”. As a result of this good fortune I receive an email two or three times a week from David Wilder, the spokesperson of the community. This morning my inbox brought me Mr. Wilder’s response to Nicholas Kristof’s column in today’s New York Times (mentioned here). I won’t rehearse Wilder’s “arguments” (which seem to consist of repeating a version of “x is exaggerated” or “y is a fairy tale”) which are available here.
The telling thing about his response is his opening paragraph:
Nicholas D. Kristof called me a few days ago and we spoke for a while on the phone. Obviously he visited Hebron, but did not see fit to interview me at the time, preferring a phone conversation. That fact, in and of itself, is unfortunate, for had he spent some time with me on site, seeing Hebron through Jewish-Israeli eyes also, perhaps his column would have been written differently.
“Seeing Hebron through Jewish-Israeli eyes.” Since Kristof seems to have spent time with many apparently Jewish Israelis, it seems that Wilder does not consider people who care about Palestinian human rights, or who work for or with B’Tzelem, or who volunteer at checkpoints to help Palestinians to be Jewish-Israelis.
This brings to mind a Shabbat I spent in Hebron in the mid-80s. It was pre-first Intifada Hebron and therefore Jewish settlers could swagger through the Arab markets brandishing AK-47s with impunity. I spent Friday night with the Levingers. Over Shabbat dinner, Moshe Levinger told us that Israel should, in fact, invade Jordan since it was Eretz Yisrael but that the time was not right. This was just a few years before he was arrested and convicted of shooting towards shops in the Arab market at random, killing Khayed Salah, a 42 year old Hebron shopkeeper, after Palestinians threw stones at his car.
The Jewish settlers in Hebron have created a religion which is foreign to the traditions of our ancestors. The open question is, as Jeffrey Goldberg asked in an important 2004 New Yorker piece, will they destroy Israel?
I was struck by the story Mobius posted yesterday regarding a well known Rabbi resorting to violence in order to make a point about how he felt Jews should act. It made me think about the relationship between our current political situation and our everyday behavior. In that light, this strange chat transcript seemed particularly eerie.
Let me give you some background. Many years ago, when I was a teenager living in Calgary, I was very involved in NCSY, and I used to participate in these weekly chats moderated by NCSY staff. Through the magic of the Wayback Machine I came across a chat transcript that NCSY had proudly displayed on their site in December of 1998. The topic of the week was, â€œThe Connection Between the Jewish People and Israel,â€ and mixed in with advisers giving Kahanist rants is a surreal account of high school rebbe pushing a student through a glass window. Yes, according to how it is presented here, the kid probably deserved a little punishment, and maybe even a nice kick in the tush, but what is frightening is how almost everyone in this chat is nonplussed by a high school teacher physically assaulting a student.
Cast of characters:
Nachum1 â€“ A Kahanist NCSY adviser
Alw â€“ a NCSYer from Texas. I made her acquaintance through this chat, and today she is a good friend of mine
Roger â€“ A national NCSY administrator, and the coordinator of the chat room
Advisor_aaron â€“ Another NCSY adviser
Erwos – A slightly younger NCSYer from Silver Spring
Valerie – A National NCSY officer from LA
Everyone else, I either donâ€™t know or donâ€™t remember. And me, where am I? Well, I had to miss the weekly chat. I was taking my Spring Break in Vancouver and Seattle, and that night in particular, April 1, 1997, I was sitting in a café in Vancouver getting ready for an Allen Ginsberg poetry reading. After a half hour of sitting around, we got the word that the master had canceled. It turns out Mr. Ginsberg, zâ€l, was sick – he passed away a few days later.
“It is absurd that the American taxpayers should fund a plan that will ethnically cleanse an area of Jews by expelling tens of thousands of Jews from their homes,” stated Assemblyman Dov Hikind, D-Brooklyn.
“And why should US citizens whose government is in the midst of fighting a war on terror pay to help establish what will clearly become a center for global jihad after Israel evacuates?” Hikind said.
The lawmaker arrived in Israel yesterday for a whirlwind tour of many of the West Bank Jewish communities slated for evacuation under Olmert’s convergence plan, which seeks to change Israel’s borders by withdrawing from most of the territory.
Yeah, goddamnit! Why should the US in any way have to pay for the road map it’s imposed on Israel? Better they should pay for Hikind’s staff to fly to Israel to obstruct the IDF from carrying out its evacuation orders. Because, if anyone should be getting ethnically cleansed, it should be those damned Palestinians, right Mr. former-JDL-lieutant Hikind? You sure do speak for New York City’s Jewish community, particularly your large hareidi anti-Zionist constituency, and I’m sure, all the people of color in your district, plus those damned liberal Jewish reshayim who want to make peace in the Middle East and think your esteemed Rebbe Kahane was a prick.
Which, I guess, is at least one quality you share with your deceased hero. Ya prick!
Israeli police prevented the attempted sacrifice of a Passover lamb at the Western Wall.
A group of religious Jews led by far-right activist Itamar Ben-Gvir, lamb in hand, was blocked from reaching Judaismâ€™s holiest site Wednesday.
They said they wanted to slaughter the lamb as part of pre-Passover rituals, but authorities said Ben-Gvir, who is identified with Jews campaigning to establish a Third Temple in place of Al-Aksa Mosque, aimed to provoke Palestinians.
“You were punished by God and now you’ll have to ask for the forgiveness of Gush Katif residents,” Marzel wrote in a letter to southern residents whose communities were affected by bird flu.
“The kibbutz was used to house the expulsion headquarters because of greed, and therefore the bird flu outbreak happened there of all places,” the far right leader wrote in his letter to Ein HaShlosha kibbutz.
Tens of thousands of French Jews responding to the murder of Ilan Halimi, took to the streets of Marsailles, Paris and Jerusalem in protest Sunday, many brandishing the flag of the Jewish Defense League, the right-wing extremist faction founded by R’ Meir Kahane. For video click here.
A memorial service was held at La Victoire synagogue Thursday night, in Paris, and was attended by President Jacques Chirac and Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin, as well as several local Christian and Muslim leaders.
Halimi’s distant cousin, Shmouel Halimi, a French ex-pat living in Jerusalem and an avid reader of Jewschool responds: “Generally, French Jews are right-wing. Sometimes very right-wing. We do not like Arabs. You need to live in France to understand this. Arabs in France are very violent and hateful. They attack Jews all the time, for years on-end. You can’t imagine the situation.”
When asked if he felt that “responding to hate with hate” is the right thing to do, he replied, “No, I prefer to focus on the light. The Torah is our force. But I dont like the Arabs in France. There is nothing controlling them. They are extremely racist. So, then, what? Should we love them?”