Israel, Mishegas

Hannah Mermelstein: One State Solution Advocate

Don’t trust the links I gave you in the previous post that are anyway on Birthright Unplugged’s own site as proof that its co-creator wants to preach the destruction of Israel to her campers?  Or perhaps you just can’t be bothered to check? Well, here you go.  Straight from the quilt maker’s own blog.

I am increasingly frustrated by “left-wing Zionists,” people who believe in an end to the 1967 occupation and in the creation of two states, but who don’t question the character of those two states; people who admit to me that they’re not quite sure how Zionism and democracy can coexist, but that there has to be some way, and besides, their “bottom line” is that Jews need a state. They are not willing to think their thoughts to their logical conclusions. They simply end with their “bottom line,” while millions of Palestinians live in refugee camps all over the world waiting for that bottom line to change.
The uncomfortable truth I’ve come to is that Zionism and democracy are incompatible. This is not to say that Israel must be wiped off the face of the earth. This is simply to say that you can’t have a democratic state and a Jewish state at the same time. You can’t have a democratic nationalism that is based on religion and ethnicity instead of geography. I’ve heard people say Israel can be a “Jewish state” if it embodies Jewish values of justice and humanity. Fine, then let Israel be that kind of Jewish state, which will also make it a Muslim state, a Christian state, a Buddhist state, a secular-humanist state, …
Israel has been pushing and pushing at the borders, expanding and expanding, cantonizing the Palestinian population and essentially making a two-state solution impossible. So some of the progressive thinkers on both sides may end up being right, and may find themselves living in the one state they’ve been calling for for so long. I think this is a likely scenario for the far future, that all of historic Palestine will be one state (whether it’s called Israel, Palestine, or something else), and that everyone in that state will have equal rights, at least under law. I don’t see a viable long-term alternative. This is an end to Zionism. The question is, how long will it take until people come to terms with this necessity?

All I am asking is one request. Due a little due diligence before jumping on an anti-Zionist bandwagon and demanding the Jewish community flip the bill. There is no mitzvah to give these anti-Zionist groups the benefit of the doubt, and no need.  Do a little research before declaring outrage or mixed feelings. And then be honest about what and who you are supporting, partially or wholeheartedly.

67 thoughts on “Hannah Mermelstein: One State Solution Advocate

  1. While I do agree that Birthright Unplugged should NOT latch onto Taglit Birthright for whatever reason (name included), I think we should let Ms. Mermelstein defend herself from these obviously radical charges of advocating the “destruction of Israel”. I mean, there’s nothing in there that rules out a Jewish homeland. Besides, the Gush-Katifnik expansionist philosophy is also technically a one-state “solution”.

  2. OneTopJob6, you wrote,
    “I mean, there’s nothing in there that rules out a Jewish homeland.”
    Oh really? How about her demand for Palestinian right of return?
    “Besides, the Gush-Katifnik expansionist philosophy is also technically a one-state “solution”. ”
    And I guess that according to you this wouldn’t rule out a Palestine?

  3. one indelible tension… one i myself struggle fiercely over is:
    if the jews are to be treated as a nation, then how can they exist without the physical (political, geographical) manifestation of such a classification.

  4. In other words, to Kelsey, if you believe that states shouldn’t be based on religious identity, you’re a “collaborator” who supports Israel’s “destruction.” And if so, you obviously can’t have a hobby, like quilt-making, nor can you address LGBT people’s concerns in your FAQ. You’re obviously so evil that those things are just part of your propaganda.
    For some reason, two of my comments on the earlier post on this haven’t gone up. I hope they will at some point (Mobius? Any ideas what happened?), but i won’t repeat them here.

  5. I just don’t understand why you’re attacking Ms. Mermelstein on Jewschool when you’re real beef is with the small successes of Birthright Unplugged providing the only alternative to what is certainly a right-wing Birthright. The mega-event Mr. Kelsey? Natan Sharansky, Bibi Netanyahu both spoke. And you know what me and some of my new friends did, booed as loud as we could. Who cares about Mermelstein’s essays. I think you’re scared dem mighty youth might begin to believe her. You’re belligerence isn’t convincing me you’re camp has any hope in bringing the youth into the grasp of the land. Phoo.

  6. eli,
    100,000 buddy. “My camp” is doing just fine.
    “I think you’re scared dem mighty youth might begin to believe her.”
    Damned straight. And risk ending up a “martyr” in a bulldozer accident. “Phoo” indeed.

  7. The eneny? Which enemy is this? In my comment last night, i went through Is B’Tselem a front for Islamic Jihad? Is anyone who opposes the Wall an “enemy”?
    I’ll say it once again–you toss around terms like “enemy,” collaborator,” and “destruction of Israel” with an immense disregard for their power or true meaning. It really shoots your credibility.

  8. Heh. Eli you crack me up. Tell me Eli, what happenned at the fascist right wing mega event when you and your ungrateful little pisher friends booed Netanyahu and Sharansky? Arrest? Anal probe? I know one of my charges wheen I was a madrich booed Sharon and c alled him a criminal quite audibly at a mega event. She then ran out with one of her new friends and knocked over a girl in a wheel chair. I ran out horrified ready to intercede on her behalf with security whereupon I ran into Sharon’s non-plussed bodyguards. I asked what they were going to do with my charge and they laughed at me and said “Nothing. Israel is a democracy chabibi.” And sure enough, nothing happenned. I’m guessing nothing happenned to you either otherwise we’d surely hear you whining about it ad nauseum.
    So birthright wasn’t so right wing that you felt compelled to refuse their largesse and finance your own trip to Israel. In any case, you are fantastically ignorant. There are a number of birthright providers who provide quite the nuanced perspective on Israel. But I suspect that anything short of advocating a one state solution or complete and total capitulation is what you would consider right wing.
    I am so sorry we wasted all that cash on a narrow minded ingrate like yourself. Do me a favor, don’t come back.

  9. “So birthright wasn’t so right wing that you felt compelled to refuse their largesse and finance your own trip to Israel. In any case, you are fantastically ignorant. There are a number of birthright providers who provide quite the nuanced perspective on Israel. But I suspect that anything short of advocating a one state solution or complete and total capitulation is what you would consider right wing.
    I am so sorry we wasted all that cash on a narrow minded ingrate like yourself. Do me a favor, don’t come back.”
    “But I suspect that anything short of advocating a one state solution or complete and total capitulation is what you would consider right wing.”
    you suspect wrong. I’m a committed Zionist with a deep affection for a whole spectrum of Jewish history and culture. Your comments are intensely hurtful and incorrect.
    If I could have financed my own trip to Israel, I would have years earlier. I trusted that Birthright (not you) would pay for my trip whether or not I agreed with Sharansky or Netanyahu at the Mega-event. I don’t appreciate your attack, I’m hurt by your words and I’m sorry that a committed Jew like myself would come under fire for having a different perspective on birthright than yourself. i hold fast that from Masada, to Caesarea to Jerusalem to Sheinkin Street, any discussion of how we should sensitively dialogue with Arab and Palestinian students on our campuses was nil. I realized quickly that Birthright was a trip that allowed Jews disconnected from Israel to travel through the country and receive a Zionist narrative throughout, whether it was from Hashomer Hatzair or Betar, outdoor adventure or social justice themed. What Birthright doesn’t provide is a larger discussion of the Arab-Israeli conflict, one that included a long history of Jewish opposition to Zionism, how Zionism has evolved from its ideological crystallization, or how left-wing students can reconcile their sympathy with Palestinian plight with their intellectual and emotional attachment to Zionism and the land of Israel.
    I’m a regular reader of Jewlicious, and I will continue to be. I know that you run Jewlicious Birthright trips. And we’ve had discussions about how some of your roots lie outside the land of Israel as well, in Morrocco, like mine. Phoo is right, brother.

  10. Well, thanks for your restrained response eli. I may have been a tad harsh but dude – you booed a guy who spent 9 years in a gulag only to come to Israel to be booed? Really, how did you expect me to respond? OK, so you’re coming to Israel. you’re invited over for shabbat – I make a very passable vegetarian chamin and a world class shakshuka, in case you miss your mom’s cooking. I don’t think it is or ought to be birthright’s mission to, in 10 days, give participants a tour of Israel and a highly disputed historical analysis of the history of Zionism, the kind of which you’d approve of. let someone else pay for that – many of them get enough of that on their campuses. I’m sorry that i hurt you but surely you can sort of understand my response given, you know, your tone and stuff. Anyhow, we’ll talk about it some more over chamin. B’slama.

  11. i’ll take that invite brother. i’m trying to make it clear that their is a large proportion of birthright participants that are entirely undecided and impressionable when it comes to the “right” answers on the arab-israeli conflict. even a smaller portion of that group will question some of the silences that every birthright trip provokes. Every participant and group leader knows that some things are left out, even very important things that affect the lives of every Israeli, whether left-wing, right wring, religious or not. Cities like Nablus, Tul Karm, and Ramallah and Bi’ilin are inseperable from the Land of Israel, inseparable from Zionism and inseparable from the lives of Israelis today and tommorow. I would have liked my specific trip to have addressed those silences, even if visiting them wasn’t possible because of bombs, snipers and other physical manifestations of Jew-hatred. That’s all I was saying. Other people have noted these silences and used them to their advantage: to discredit Birthright and propagandize well-meaning Jewish students on their first trip to Israel in the form of Birthright unplugged. Apology accepted, see you in Israel
    – Eli

  12. She sounds like a very clear and logical thinker.
    Whoops!
    We can’t have the kiddies listening to all sides and making up their own minds can we?

  13. Eli and nony,
    as a 4-time madrich I can tell you that birthright does not dictate to you what you can and cannot talk about. I am somewhat familiar wwith the situation on campus and not only do i not shy away from disccussions about the matsav, I invite such discussions. I don’t know who your trip provider was but there is no silense on any issue relevant to Israeli society on my trips and birthright does not in any way shape or form discourage you from having those sorts of discussions. See you in jerusalem Eli.
    Dave

  14. I have to smile when I see some of the comments on posts such as this. I remember when I lived in a world in which it was so easy to classify things as good and bad, black and white. And then I grew up and realized that the world had multiple shades of gray.

  15. 80% of American Jews have never visited Israel, and couldn’t care less if she sinks into the Dead Sea. The purpose of Birthright Israel is to create a connection with American Jewish Youth. No one stops them from reading newspapers in Israel, no one stops them from discussing the issues. the trip I accompanied as a reporter had students from Berkeley who had an agenda and pursued it and were surprised to see what they saw, which was that Israel isn’t the hellhole the media likes to show–nor is it the apartheid country my own son calls it. you all spew hyperbole and maybe it’s cause you’re in the Mediterranean, but all of you need to get some knowledge. As for the quilter, she’s an idiot. At least what she wrote is idiotic and makes no sense whatsoever. SHADES OF GRAY, FOLKS, IT’S ALL SHADES OF GRAY, and for what is about to hit the Jewish people in the States, in Europe and in the Middle East, we are going to need our own home state.
    Haven’t you guys seen the Nazi youtube flick? Have you heard about this jerk in Iran?
    Blame the Jews for everything man, we control the world, the media, the palestinians, the iranians, the banks, everything. We own the world and therefore we all need to just bury ourselves because some stupid leftist geek said so.
    Sheesh. We Jews are so controlling of the planet, we can’t even scratch our own butts properly. Hey, we did the global warming. It came from all the cholent-induced methane we pass on Shabbos.
    Oh Please! I am just a fascist pig Zionista ho–ask Mobius, he will tell you what a racist p.o.s. I am, how I don’t believe in democracy and that I want everyone on the planet dead. I am a Jew bitch Zionista. So shoot me.
    BTW, the reason birthright doesn’t go across the green line has plenty to do with promises they made to parents and insurance policies.
    But hey, what has reality got to do with anything? It’s all about YOU and the hell with the rest.

  16. Frankly, I think it’s high time that Anti-Zionism returns to repectability in the mainstream American Jewish community. I’m a former Zionist, I spent a year on a movement “hachsharah” program, and have returned to visit on occasion since then. But I have come to the conclusion that Zionism, as a solution to the “Jewish problem” is a big fat failure.
    What has all this sturm und drang given us? A ghetto state ruled in part by an Orthodox minority. A state in which many Jews don’t have full religious freedom to practice their Jewish beliefs. A state where the very physical safety of its Jewish residents can’t be fully guaranteed (and sometimes the violence is inflicted by Jews on their fellow Jews.) A state where Jews persue a foolish and impossible dream of “normalcy.” Maybe withing the borders of Israel the residents can fantasize that they are like any other people — this while, they barricade themselves behind a wall and live in (unwarranted) fear of existential destruction. But in the big scheme of geopolitics, Israel is a dinky little state of 6 million people, of whom maybe 1.5 million aren’t Jews, surrounded by a sea of hundreds of millions hostile Arabs (who might not have been so hostile to Jews living in Israel had it not been for the Zionists.) Israel is not sustainable as a nation-state. The Jewish people are not sustainable as a “normal” nation.
    This history of Jewish political independence does not give any cause for optimism. The Kingdoms of Israel and Judah were corrupt according to our mythic biblical history, and God destroyed them both. Judah, in particular, got arrogant, and thought it had more power than it really did, and played double dealing games between the Powers Egypt and Babylonia, only to get detroyed. The Hasmonean Kingdom started as a Taliban regime (read the Boos of the Maccabees) and ended up corrupt and easily overrun by Rome. How will the third independent Jewish state meet its end? I would prefer a soft landing, where individual Jews can live in their historic homeland in peace and security, with full political rights, free to make the kind of Jewish life they with to make.
    The eternal fate of the Jews is to be the “light to the nations,” the alienated outsider. The only solutions to the “Jewish problem” are total assimilation and disappearance of the Jew, or Liberal Democracy, where Jews will have to eternally deal with their dual identity. So what’s the problem with a secular democratic nation in the Land of Israel? Of course, I underdstand how that might not be practical to implement right now. But whatever I can do to secularize the population of the Land of Israel and help individual Jews overcome their obsessive need for national self-determination, I will do.
    The originators of Zionism may have made an honest mistake. Perhaps the concept of Zionism was a reasonable possibility at the time. But now, with the experience of almost 60 years of having a Jewish State, we know the hope was not well founded. Yes, we can cut Herzl at. al some slack for their mistake, but those who continue to hold to the failed ideology are fools palying a dangerous game over the safety and well-being of k’lal yisrael.

  17. Eli: Kol hakavod l’cha for booing Sharansky & Netanyahu. Few Israeli politicians deserve it more.
    As for Birthright Unplugged, I’m glad that someone stands up to present an alternative to hardline pro-Israel propaganda in the form of Birthright/Taglit.

  18. What’s with all the schizo’s here one Jewschool? Hannah has a good point, either you have a Jewish state or a democratic one. She just happened to choose the latter. She is being HONEST. Mistaken in my opinion, but honest in any case.
    As for all of you bleeding heart (for the pals) hypocrites. When are you gonna choose?
    You can’t have your cake (jewish state) and eat it too (democracy).

  19. SIERRA’s STATEMENT
    My name is Sierra. I signed up with Birthright Israel to learn about my background and to develop a deeper understanding of my ancestry and heritage. But I was removed from Birthright Israel’s trip because of their opposition to my planned tour with Birthright Unplugged, an educational group touring the West Bank.
    I’m biracial and grew up in a multicultural environment at home with my parents. My mom is African-American and my father is European-American Jewish. I am sensitive to cultural conflict and my particular vantage point has shown me through my life and my community that building bridges across such conflict is possible.
    I want to travel to Israel to learn about and increase my connection to Jewish culture and religion. I was very much looking forward to this trip with Birthright Israel. I was excited to take advantage of the fantastic opportunity provided by Birthright Israel and committed to participating fully in all their activities and learning from these experiences during their ten day tour.
    I also want to learn about the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. I know that there’s a human rights issue going on in Israel/Palestine, a conflict with people suffering on both sides. I don’t want any organization or the media to tell me what to think; I want to see for myself and learn from different perspectives. Participating in Birthright Unplugged’s upcoming tour will provide me with this opportunity.
    Israel/Palestine has always seemed like an inaccessible place to me, both because of the historic violence and because of an almost otherworldly nature that the region has due to its religious and spiritual importance.
    Over the past few years I’ve had a couple close friends go and come back, and they’ve made me realize that it’s a real place; it has layers and is not only accessible, but is a phenomenal region of the world. I was excited to partake in my first trip and still hope that I can go.
    Wednesday morning, May 31st, I received a phone call from Tel Aviv with Avi Green, the director of Israel Outdoors, on the other line. Israel Outdoors is the trip organizer contracted by Birthright Israel for the trip that I joined. He called me bearing “unfortunate news.” According to Mr. Green, it wasn’t meant to be a value judgment on Birthright Unplugged, but I must be removed from the pending Birthright Israel trip due to my anticipated participation with the Birthright Unplugged tour. When I asked if my removal was caused by an email sent to Birthright Israel, informing them of my planned trip with Birthright Unplugged, he said that he was not able to discuss that topic.
    I asked him about the trip waiver form that I signed. It didn’t refer to the West Bank or Birthright Unplugged; in fact it stated that the decision to extend my plane ticket and participate in another program is mine:
    “Furthermore, and without derogating from the above, you understand that should you decide to extend your ticket and remain in Israel longer, or should you participate in a program which goes beyond the days in which BRI participates financially, the decision to do so is yours, and the said extension is in no way part of the program for which any funding or assistance was provided by BRI and/or by BRI Funders.”
    Mr. Green said that Birthright Israel is a serious organization and mustn’t be taken trivially. I continue to agree with him and my actions and intentions are very serious. I was excited and looking forward to learning about Israeli and Jewish culture from Birthright Israel, just as I am excited and looking forward to learning about the Palestinian and Israeli conflict with Birthright Unplugged.
    I simply want to learn about the conflict and learn about Israel. I do not believe this is mutually exclusive or a reason to remove me from Birthright Israel’s trip. I hope that I can continue my plans to participate with Birthright Unplugged’s tour and fulfill my dream to learn about my Jewish ancestry and learn about the Israeli/Palestinian conflict.
    (end of statement)
    WHAT CAN YOU DO?
    1) Call Birthright Israel and tell them what you think about their attempt to stop people from learning firsthand about the situation in Israel/Palestine. Birthright Israel phone number: 888-99-ISRAEL (994-7723). Israel Outdoors program (the specific program Sierra planned to go on): 800-566-4611.
    2) Support Sierra to come on Birthright Unplugged. Now that she is not going on a Birthright Israel trip, she needs to raise the money for a plane ticket if she wants to join our Unplugged trip. We want to send a message to Birthright Israel that they can’t stop people from learning. Please contact us ASAP at [email protected] if you are interested in sending a donation to help buy Sierra a plane ticket, and let us know how much you are able to give. Make checks out to Birthright Unplugged with “Sierra” in the memo line, and send to Birthright Unplugged, 18 Northview Drive, Glenside, PA 19038. (But don’t forget to let us know how much you’re sending so we can count it towards our total!)
    3) Donate to Birthright Unplugged to support our important work at a time like this! As walls and barriers continue to go up, we are more committed than ever to continue our work and cross those barriers. To send a tax-deductible donation to Birthright Unplugged, please make checks out to the Gandhian Foundation, with a notation in the memo line for “Birthright Unplugged”, and send to Birthright Unplugged, 18 Northview Drive, Glenside, PA 19038. (If you don’t need a tax deduction you are welcome to make checks out directly to Birthright Unplugged.)

  20. kelsey, instead of dissing dykes on the internet, why don’t you write Gideon Levy an angry letter:
    http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/722364.html
    It would have been preferable had the opponents of the occupation in Israel not needed the intervention of external groups to fight the occupation. It is not easy to call upon the world to boycott your own country. It would have been better had there been no need for Rachel Corrie, James Miller and Tom Hurndall, bold people of conscience who paid with their lives after standing in front of the destructive bulldozers in Rafah. These young foreigners did the dangerous and vital work that Israelis should have done.
    The same is true for the few peace activists who still manage to roam the territories, to protest and offer assistance to the victims of the occupation in the framework of organizations like the International Solidarity Movement(ISM) which Israel fights preventing its members from entering its borders. It would be better if Israelis mobilized to fight instead of them. But except for a few modest groups, there is no protest in Israel and no real mobilization. Thus, it only remains to hope for the world’s help.

  21. from Ha’aertz, 7/16/04
    http://www.commondreams.org/headlines04/0716-03.htm
    […]
    Jessica, along with a friend who also went on to become an ISM activist after the free 10-day trip, was one of 11,000 birthright participants to visit Israel this summer alone. “For the first few days, we played undercover,” recalls the 22-year-old, who helped erect a mock wall on campus last year as part of a protest activity against the separation fence Israel is building in the West Bank. “We listened, took notes, and got to know people. One day on the bus, they asked us about anti-Israel activity on campus. We talked about it, but we didn’t say that we were also behind it.”
    “When we felt comfortable, we began to ask critical questions, and they saw where we were coming from politically,” she says. “They talk about birthright as a family, and at the end of the trip, we were very much part of that family.” The leaders of her trip, she adds, “were very encouraging.”
    For Jessica, who says that she joined birthright for a window into “Jewish nationalism,” the free trip was a perk, but certainly not the driving force behind her decision. Also, unlike Max, she came to birthright knowing she wanted to do volunteer work, and though ISM was a definite option, she says she was exploring other options as well. Knowing her political inclinations, one birthright leader encouraged her to look into working with the Israeli political left, but ultimately, she says, ISM “offered the most useful role.” The Israeli jobs, she explains, consisted mostly of office work.
    And so, instead of faxing and photocopying, Jessica spent her summer attending protests and demonstrations. She says she’s been chased, harassed, and called a self-hating Jew, but she says that it’s her Jewish identity that brought her to the region in the first place. “Israel tries to speak for me and for all Jews,” she says, “and so it’s my responsibility to be here and be active.”[…]

  22. Birthright is not in any way a right-wing group. I went on Oranim, which is the biggest organizer, and at no time did I feel as though they were trying to pour right-wing propaganda down my throat. Birthright does not visit refugee camps – it doesn’t visit settlements either. We got what can be called a mainstream telling of Israeli history. There was no West Bank politics. I suspect Birthright uses Sharansky and Netanyahu because they are known internationally, and in Netanyahu’s case, speaks good English. They weren’t a part of the trip when I went a couple of years ago.

  23. If you believe that states shouldn’t be based on religious identity, then your grif is with Pakistan, not Israel (and I think Pakistan is 100% legitimate). Israel is based on ethnic identity (and yes, it has ethnic minority citizens and and the main minority language is co-official language). Judaism, however, is a national religion, specific to the Jewish people, not a universal dreed seeking to convert the world,which might lead to confusion.
    Now and then, some well-intentioned young Jew, usually from the USofA, discovers the horrible truth: that Israel is not like America nor is it ever going to be. Israel is a nation-state and a democracy, the US is a democracy and not a nation-state; most democracies are nation-states (like Israeland unlike the US or Canada) tied to a particular ethnic identity with its national culture, language, and sometimes religion, they are democracies nonetheless and tend to treat their ethnic minorities adequately.
    As for the problem of the refugees, the solution is very straightforward: dissolve UNRWA and have their case dealt with under UNHCR statutes, but then the UNHCR is known for turning refugees into regular people rather than into forever-refugees.
    And for last:
    Israelis and Palestinians don’t want to share the same state, they each want their own. It’s lack of Derekh Eretz to dictate one’s “likely scenario” on other people, to say the least.
    So: Ms. Mermelstein is not an “enemy” or a “collaborator”, she just lacks common civility.

  24. The best antidote to anti-Semitic anti-Zionism is Jew loving anti-Zionism, preferably grounded in a religious practice and participation in the wider Jewish community.
    Sadly, anti-Zionism often gets a bad rap from young angry types, with thier strident voices and in your face slogans. I prefer, say, the American Council for Judaism – http://www.acjna.org/. Another great avenue is a truly open and inclusive synagogue, but those are hard to find.
    I think one of the best things about Jewschool and say, l’havdil, Heeb Magazine is that the ‘community’ is not defined as pro-Israel or pro-Zionist, but rather as ‘engaged.’ May opponents of this approach wither on the vine, as a settlement without state funding….

  25. Hey, y ben a:
    “I may attack a certain point of view which I consider false, but I will never attack a person who preaches it. I have always a high regard for the individual who is honest and moral, even when I am not in agreement with him. Such a relation is in accord with the concept of kavod habriyot, for beloved is man for he is created in the image of God.” —Rav Joseph Soloveitchik

  26. My point is that calling someone an “enemy” is a personal attack, and hence violates the standards to which this discussion is apparently supposed to adhere. My point is that here, as in the initial discussion of this post, the rhetoric has degenerated and gotten profoundly nasty, with people being called traitors and enemies, and earlier, with Sierra being compared to Jews for Jesus and, in one amusing moment, Patty Hearst.
    To say why you oppose a particular point of view can be productive. To attack the person who says it by simply saying that s/he is an enemy is basically just ad hominem attack. And it doesn’t make for interesting conversation.

  27. Ok, Matt without examining the belly button in too much depth (cause it’s not that complicated):
    No Wall = terrorisim + deaths of Jewish innocents
    Wall = fewer deaths of Jewish innocents.
    Ergo, the Wall saves lives, the wall is good, the wall is our friend.
    So therefore, “the enemy of my friend is my enemy.”
    It’s really nothing personal unless you happen to be or feel for the thousands of families who have been touched by Arab Islamic Fundamentalist terrorism. Kinda makes it hard to make a case for the “poor” dayworkers or eminently domained

  28. and p.s. I see Sierra as more of a Rachel Corrie type rather than a Patty Hearst. PH would have paid her own way. Sierra seems to be a cheap political freeloader without a cause.

  29. “Wall = fewer deaths of Jewish innocents.”
    i shouldnt prognosticate, but you just did. because this wall is mostly built in the WB, don’t be surprised if katyushas start raining on yer head. yesterday haaretz titled the following danny rubenstien “convergence won’t bring security”:
    http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/722951.html
    In view of this, whoever supported the pullout from the Gaza Strip may, of course, also support the convergence – in other words, withdrawal from parts of the West Bank – which will improve to a certain extent Israel’s international standing. But as far as security and peace is concerned, the contribution of such a move will be minimal. In fact, the security situation may even deteriorate, and it will be very difficult for Israel to move closer to peace.
    The internal Palestinian developments have therefore reinforced basic political axioms that may have been known in the past, but have now gained significantly greater validity. Without the principle of the 1967 borders, without East Jerusalem as the capital of the Palestinian state, and without recognition and some form of compromise on the issue of the refugees, there is no chance for a settlement, and probably also not for calm. No Palestinian can accept anything less than this. Surely not Hamas, but also not Abbas.

  30. Ergo, the Wall saves lives, the wall is good, the wall is our friend.
    I could take that on in two ways. One would be to question whether the wall is actually responsible for the decrease in suicide attacks. There are many other possible explanations, including changing political situations, cease-fires, and the overall decrease in the tone of hostilities since the height of the violence around 2002.
    The other way to take that one would be to ask if the wall is acceptable, even if it does have a limited impact in reducing attacks. I suspect that mass slaughter of Palestinians would also reduce attacks in the short run, but it’s morally unacceptable. (Not to mention that in the long run, it would–and the wall does–probably increase Israel’s instability.)
    But beyond all that, I have to say that I’m glad you actually explained your reasoning, because then I (or others) can engage with it. That’s not belly-button examination; it’s political debate. Just saying, “They’re my enemies, period” really does nothing to advance a discussion.

  31. It’s really nothing personal unless you happen to be or feel for the thousands of families who have been touched by Arab Islamic Fundamentalist terrorism. Kinda makes it hard to make a case for the “poor” dayworkers or eminently domained
    I can’t imagine what it’s like to have my family be victims of terrorism or violence, not having experienced it (for which I am thankful). If your family has been touched by such horrors, I offer my sincere sympathy.
    I imagine that any victim is likely to focus on his/her own safety rather than the situations of others who are far removed. Sadly, though, just as you refer to people who may lose land, livelihood, and access to health care because of the Wall as “‘poor’ dayworkers and the eminently domained,” there are probably Palestinians who have lost children and family members to Israeli military action who think of Israelis hurt by suicide attacks in similarly dismissive terms. And so the cycle continues.
    My hat is off to those with the courage to break the cycle. I only hope that I would have the courage they do if I were in their situations.

  32. “Ergo, the Wall saves lives”
    The wrong solution
    By Daniel Gavron
    http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/717610.html
    […]There’s not a scrap of evidence proving that the 42 percent of the barrier that has been built has prevented even one suicide bombing. The statistics quoted in the editorial are meaningless. If we are looking for a correlation between acts of terror and Israeli policy, it is no less logical to accept the claim of Benjamin Netanyahu that his tough, no-nonsense stance as prime minister sharply reduced terrorist actions. It’s certainly true that during his term of office, there was a far lower rate of attrition.
    In fact it has to be said that the highest rate of terrorist bombings was during the super-tough period of retaliation implemented by Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz. It can be argued that the IDF campaign at that time encouraged motivation on the Palestinian side, but the sad fact is that the number of attacks depends on them, not us. If there are less attacks today than in the past, it’s because the various forces in the Palestinian Authority territories are planning and executing less. It’s a moot point whether this is a result of Israel’s policy of incursions, arrests and targeted assassinations, but it’s certainly not because of the separation fence. […]
    The separation fence should not be completed. It should be abandoned, and those sections already built should be torn down. Israel can re-occupy the territories and send the IDF into every alley and building there to bring terrorism to a stop, or, alternatively, it can sit down and talk to the Palestinians – to Abu Mazen, to Hamas, to everybody. This latter approach, which I favor, will require huge patience and nerves of steel, but at least it can be tried. The separation fence is merely an ad-hoc improvisation. It doesn’t solve anything.[…]

  33. Heeb is not anti-zionist. Neither is Jewschool. I wrote that both are places where the basic assumptions don’t presume Zionism on the part of the audience or the writers. This is a good thing. That’s all!

  34. “there are probably Palestinians who have lost children and family members to Israeli military action who think of Israelis hurt by suicide attacks in similarly dismissive terms. And so the cycle continues.”
    There is no moral equivalance between fanatic suicide bombings of innocent Israeli civilians and Palistinian civilians killed in the course of military action in defensive response. There is no country in the history of the world that has been as careful and restrained as Israel in response to hostilities. As Jews we have become so used to being the brunt of unprovoked hostile government action, so it’s understandable why we are so extra careful not to do what has been done to us. But just imagine… no Israel, Shoa ends and the Polish survivor Jews retun to Poland, demand their lands back, no, make it a two state solution, and then get frustrated and begin suicide bombings. Just Imagine… two states side-by-side Polish/Jewish? Who but the Jews would tolerate the loss of one inch of their land? NO ONE!

  35. I have no interest in debating moral equivalence. As you pointed out well, y ben a, when one is the victim of violence, one is unlikely to worry about the abstracts of who’s right and who’s wrong. That applies to the parents of an Israeli killed by a bomber while getting lunch at a restaurant, and it also applies to the parents of Palestinians whose kids are killed when the IDF alunches a missle at a nearby car. And so, as I said, the cycle continues, but fortunately, some are strong enough to seek a way out.

  36. “I have no interest in debating moral equivalence”
    I’m afraid without that debate there is no debate… nuff said,

  37. Judaism differs in regards to Christianity and the Islamic faith in which Judaism represents a people and a religion. Christianity and Islam are only religous based and transcend any particular nationality. A democratic state can be based on a particular people or ethnicity. A democratic state does not have to be neutal and geograhic as the United States in regard to prefrence to a particular ethnic group. A democracy can give advantages to the Majority group as long as the rights of the minority group are implimented. Israel was created as a Jewish state for the Jewish people and a democracy the United states was created as a geographic democarcy. Israel is not obligated to give self determination to the Non jews living inside the pre 67 borders yet is obligated to its non Jewish citizens the right to partake in the democratic process. Israel as a Jewish democracy is perfectly allowed to regulate who imigrates to its country. The right of return for the Jewish people only is allowed. Israel is a democracy based on a nation state.
    Birthright unplugged wants Israel destroyed as a Jewish state! One who goes on Birthright should not be allowd to go on any trips that are sponsored by those organizations that are anti Israel while on Birthright!!

  38. Well, we disagree there. I think that there is a lot to be debated. But I also think that if you want to solve things in real life, abstract concepts about which killing is morally acceptable will be of no relevance. Which, I’ll repeat, is similar to what you said when you brushed off suffering caused by the Wall.

  39. kelsey, you were wondering where they get their funding:
    http://jta.org/page_view_story.asp?intarticleid=16692&intcategoryid=5
    The group is funded largely by private donations from American Jews,
    Mermelstein said, and recently received a grant from the Sparkplug
    Foundation, which funds startup projects and innovations in music,
    education and community organizing.[….]
    from the same article:
    Of Birthright Unplugged, he said: “Theirs is a tiny organization
    which tries to build on a very successful brand, taking part of its
    name, trying to teach potential participants in Taglit-birthright
    israel how to go to meet with Palestinians with a generous gift
    funded by the Jewish people. And when Taglit-birthright israel does
    not cooperate, then they go to the public and complain.”
    But Birthright Unplugged – which says it has hosted just more than 20
    young Jews on its programs since its first trip last summer, and
    expects to bring an additional 15 or 16 this summer – denies the
    charge.
    “We started this program to put trip participants in conversation
    with Palestinian civil society, to learn firsthand about the
    situation in Israel/Palestine, and to use their knowledge to make
    positive change in the world,” said Hannah Mermelstein, co-founder of
    Unplugged.
    “By denying Sierra the opportunity to have this educational
    experience, birthright israel is further proving the need for our
    existence.”
    Birthright Unplugged takes young Jewish adults through the West Bank
    to “try to get people to understand what it means to live under
    occupation,” Mermelstein said. Some of those who’ve taken part in
    Unplugged have previously been on birthright israel trips, she added;
    others have taken part while on their year abroad in college, or
    while visiting Israel with their families.
    The program also takes young Palestinians living in refugee camps to
    their ancestral homes in Israel.
    The group’s name, Mermelstein acknowledged, is a reference to
    birthright israel, but also refers to something larger.
    “We are against this concept of a Jewish birthright to this place,”
    said the Boston-based Mermelstein.
    “We’re not afraid of people going on birthright israel, seeing what
    they have to say and then coming and seeing what we’re showing them
    on our trip,” she said. “It seems like birthright israel is afraid of
    having people see things that would put into question the perspective
    they’re trying to give their participants, or provide information
    that isn’t controlled by birthright israel.”

  40. xisntox,
    Thanks for the info. I would also love to know who they work with to get around Paelstine, and importantly, for them to be open about their preference for a 1 State solution which, coupled with their demands for the Palestinian Right of Return, means no Israel.
    Why isn’t Mermelstein disclosing that?

  41. “I would also love to know who they work with to get around Paelstine”
    good question. them quilt-making lesbos are slick. they probably have an escort of senior militants from Islamic Jihad.
    “Why isn’t Mermelstein disclosing that?”
    write them at their website and ask them. this is turning into a major story and I appreciate your staying on top of it.

  42. xisntox, you said
    “they probably have an escort of senior militants from Islamic Jihad. ”
    But of course not! The “international comrades” are never ever militant. They are for One Love. And One State.
    But we don’t mention that One State thing. We just call it a “different perspective” and an “educational experience.”
    We don’t say what that is, though. No judgments over here, folks, no assumptions. We’re just having a “conversation.”

  43. “international comrades”
    hmm…. you think they are commies, too? likely. they are quilt-making, self-hating, jihadi-loving, faux-lesbo anti-Zio commies who throw themselves in front of bulldozers!!!

  44. Richard Silverstein wrote: “Eli: Kol hakavod l’cha for booing Sharansky & Netanyahu. Few Israeli politicians deserve it more.”
    Must excercise restraint. Must excercise restraint. Damn that little rabbi on the bottom of the page. Consider yourself fortunate Dick.

  45. Xisntox,
    Commies? Hey–I just noted their own language, and that it suggested this is–in their minds– a counter culture left wing movement, this One State thing, and insist that it is, in fact, something else besides a return to the Summer of Love.
    But don’t think the I don’t like the fact that you are resorting to shrill sarcasm and throwing out links not directly related to the topic by some Israeli not talking about Birthright Unplugged anyway.
    I like it, because I think it shows that you suspect their case is weak, or you would actually defend it and them, which you are not doing.
    And you are right. It is weak. And the Jewish community will probably use this as an opportunity to back Birthright Israel further. But don’t worry, the non-Jewish Anti-Israel Left doesn’t have someone like me calling them out as One Staters. And of course, it isn’t on their site. So your team will still get play out of this whole thing, and show how terrible American Zionists are for not allowing little Joey to hear a “different perspective” as part of the “conversation.”
    So we both win. Relax. You still get something out of this.

  46. I like you, Kelsey, cause guys like you and me, we’re not members of the “factinista,” we don’t let stuff like reason stand in our way, we shoot straight from the gut. and my gut tells me there is an Israel, and that it’s my birthright. and that they have 22 states; but we have just one.

  47. xisntox,
    By all means, ascribe whatever motivations you feel like to me. Please–continue. Why stay on topic, and when you, as an anonymous person — can sit back and instead suggest that I do or do not feel and think this or that?

  48. “But don’t think the I don’t like the fact that you are resorting to shrill sarcasm and throwing out links not directly related to the topic by some Israeli not talking about Birthright Unplugged anyway.”
    “some Israeli.” you don’t know who Gideon Levy is, DK? He has approx 20 years of experience reporting on the occupation for Ha’aretz. I daresay he knows a thing or two more than you or me about it. I don’t see how it’s not directly related to the topic — because what he’s talking about is international activists in the territories, the same people you’re railing against. can you just dismiss his opinion with a wipe of the hand? think he’s a one-love quilt-making lesbo, or a respected journalist that’s figured out a thing or two?
    “Commies? Hey–I just noted their own language, and that it suggested this is–in their minds– a counter culture left wing movement, this One State thing, and insist that it is, in fact, something else besides a return to the Summer of Love.”
    You’re so busy seeing red you’ve missed something that ought to be vitally important to you that mermelstein sees, and it’s that the two-state solution itself is threatened by the occupation. unilateralism, disengagement, convergence, realignment, whatever it’s gonna be called tomorrow, is not going to end the occupation. only a negotiated solution’s gonna do that, or a complete israeli withdrawal. And as long as the occupation continues, Israel is the de facto sovereign over the Palestinians — de facto, one state. so it’s you that’s advocating the one-state solution. so I hope you like One Love.

  49. Acutally, xisntox, I’m not advocating any solution at all. I don’t dictate policy to Israel, because I don’t live there. There are plenty of other American Jews (and gentiles) you can fight about the general Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and possible solutions.
    What I am concerned about–again–is:
    1) I don’t think Birthright Israel, a program for Diaspora Jews, should filp the air ticket bill for One State Solution trips. I think demands to the contrary are absurd and unfair, and have stated why.
    2) I want it understood that the organization seeking to piggyback B.I. trips with their own is an unequivocal supporter of a One State Palestinian state. I think they should be honest about this. Birthright Israel is transparent about their position in support of the Jewish State. Birthright Unplugged should be honest about their support for its dismantling.

  50. “Acutally, xisntox, I’m not advocating any solution at all. ”
    perhaps; i read the following as advocacy:
    “Note the language of an “apartheid wall.” This is simply ridiculous. The fence is clearly a precursor to disengagement. They know this. They are concerned that unilateral disengagement might solve Israel’s demographic problem, and alleviate pressure from the international community. So they call it something it is not in order to preempt its success. Apartheid is a hot and sexy concept, but it has nothing to do with this fence, which also serves as a defensive barrier to prospective infiltrators seeking a bus ride to eternity. ”
    as to your points:
    1. Birthright Israel is a private organization; I don’t care what criteria it uses. But I’m curious, do you think Birthright Isrel should allow people on its program who openly declare their intention to become settlers, thus endangering the security of Israelis, and the two state solution, not to mention breaking international law?
    2. I fail to see how Birthright Unplugged is being “dishonest.” Why are you so shocked and scandalized that one of the founders advocates a one-state solution? if someone wants to lead a birthright group and they happen to put on their blog that they believe in one Jewish state from the river to the sea, or even the Nile to the Euphrates, should Birthright put that on their website?
    If Birthright is so threatened by quilt-making lesbos showing young Jews the seamy underbelly of the occupation, then I’d say the program itself is a failure. By barring Sierra, they are saying their message is fragile, and giving mermelstein more attention than she could have ever hoped for.

  51. I know the people running BU personally, yet have never heard them talk about one-state/two-state, especially not on their tours. BU tends to be pretty hands-off, allowing its participants to form their own opinions given what they experience around them.
    Calling BU a ‘one state solution trip’ is far from accurate.

  52. xisntox, you asked,
    “Do you think Birthright Isrel should allow people on its program who openly declare their intention to become settlers, thus endangering the security of Israelis, and the two state solution, not to mention breaking international law?”
    I think that would be bad policy. Birthright Israel shouldn’t fund people becoming settlers while on their trip.
    You asked,
    “if someone wants to lead a birthright group and they happen to put on their blog that they believe in one Jewish state from the river to the sea, or even the Nile to the Euphrates, should Birthright put that on their website?”
    Do you really need me to explain this to you? Do you really not see a difference between a tour leader and a program creator and leader?
    Okay. I will explain, but this is really a waste of time. Here you go. The difference between a mandate of a pogram and someone who happens to lead one of many programs is the mission of the larger program itself. If Steinhardt and Bronfman and the high ranking executives of Birthright Israel intended this to promote a Kahanist vision of Israel, or a Religious Zionist vision of Israel, or whatever vision, then yes, this should be stated openly. And it is. They support a State of Israel. They are open about this. And Birthright Unplugged is not open about what they support.
    “If Birthright is so threatened by quilt-making lesbos showing young Jews the seamy underbelly of the occupation, then I’d say the program itself is a failure. ”
    If it were a failure, our quilt-making friends would not have started their own program with Birthright’s name. You use failure to mean a diffferent world virew than your own. That is silly and dishonest. I would not call ISM a failure.

  53. “I think that would be bad policy. Birthright Israel shouldn’t fund people becoming settlers while on their trip.”
    and do they do anything about this? if a mother wrote to birthright and alerted them that her daughter intended to become a settler, do you think they’d prevent her from going on their trip?
    but this doesnt throw you into hysterics, or are you gonna now post such people must be barred or it will harm Israel? Do you think Mermelstein is a bigger threat to Israel than the continuing colonization of the territories?
    “And Birthright Unplugged is not open about what they support.”
    again, why on earth is it surprising that there would be one-staters in Birthright Unplugged? It would amaze me that anyone would imagine otherwise.
    “You use failure to mean a diffferent world virew than your own. ”
    what worldview is that?

  54. xisntox, you asked,
    “again, why on earth is it surprising that there would be one-staters in Birthright Unplugged?”
    The relationship isn’t some casual easy thing. These aren’t one staters who happen to be IN Birthright Unplugged — Birthright Unplugged is owned and operated by One Staters.
    “Do you think Mermelstein is a bigger threat to Israel than the continuing colonization of the territories?”
    No idea. Stop bringing in Israel generally. I already told you — I am not like you. I don’t claim to know what is best for Israel. I live in New York. And this isn’t only about Israel. Again, for the 18th time (or so it feels) this is–for me–about demanding that Birthright Israel pay for something quite clearly outside of its mandate. You think partying with Mermelstein and her “comrades” is going to be good for Israel, you pay for it. Birthright Israel’s mandate is something different, and that is why the American Jewish community is a significant funder.
    “what worldview is that?”
    You tell me. Or alternatively, tell me how Birthright Israel is a “failure” by its own mandate and goals (of sending young Jews to Israel), and not your own.

  55. ” Birthright Unplugged is owned and operated by One Staters.”
    ok; i still can’t figure out what’s shocking or surprising about that, but no matter.
    “No idea. Stop bringing in Israel generally.”
    you’re right, what does Israel have to do with this? why would we even be discussing it?
    I already told you — I am not like you. I don’t claim to know what is best for Israel.”
    then why do you think birthright shouldnt allow settlers? and have you not been expressing a strong opinion on one state vs. two?
    “tell me how Birthright Israel is a “failure” by its own mandate and goals (of sending young Jews to Israel), and not your own.”
    it’s entirely successful according to that definition. I meant it’s a failure if it’s indeed so vulnerable that it fears what sierra does afterwards. perhaps failure wasn’t the right word. I do think they mishandled this one big time; it’s been a publicity bonanza for the hippie lesbos.
    I strongly doubt we will be hearing about birthright barring settlers anytime soon.

  56. Hi Eli, Matt, Xisintox, Eli, David,
    Your comments sound like a 1960’s era discussion between southern bigots and northern liberals. Yes yes you are probably wondeful people and wonderful on other issues. But here, you’ve got the hawks and doves on how to respond to someone else’s freedom struggle. There are exceptions, like Matt Borus who seems to see Palestinians as human beings. But many of your post reflect a view of Palestinians as a security problem only.
    How can you ever hope to understand the legitimate issues of Palestinians from this selfish point of view? Yes, violence is bad, and there is a problem of security for Israelis. But I think you are more deeply reacting to the fact that freedom for Palestinians IS a threat to Jewish priviledge, just as black freedom is a threat to white priviledge. Don’t you understand that even this priviledge is based on injustice? Jew’s were damn good on civil rights for blacks, and gave their lives in the freedom summers. Many Jews are now stepping up to the plate for Palestinians. I hope you will be among the early ones to recognize this and discard all this ridiculous fear and racism that seems to be so present in your posts.
    But who cares what I say anyway? I’m just some anonymous email troll who probably isn’t Jewish, and my name is certainly not:
    Ward Cleaver

  57. You gave a very long excerpt from the site of Birthright Unplugged. Nothing you quote however “preaches the destruction of Israel.” Even if she had that opinion and expressed it to the adults on the tours, you think they would just adopt her opinion as theirs? Not everyone is the sheep you seem to think they are. I certainly hope that your readers read the quote carefully, which just explains the facts that you cannot simultaneously have a Jewish state and a democratic state. The author’s opinion is that it is better for Israel to be a democratic state than give special rights to Jews. If that is “preaching the destruction of Israel”, then I know a whole lot of Jews who preach the destruction of Israel. I prefer to think of it as social criticism in the tradition of Judaism.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.