Saturday, December 29, 2012
You see, CBS celebrates Yom Ha'atzmaut, which marks a bitter milestone in the Nakba--the violent ethnic cleansing of Palestine by Jews in 1948. Yom Ha'atzmaut celebrates the declaration of "independence" by the Jewish state. This year, as Palestinians commemorated Nakba Day--which is illegal within the Jewish state--with protests, CBS was represented in Boulder's Yom Ha'Atzmaut celebration. CBS Rabbi Marc Soloway was there, along with "past and present IDF soldiers". On a day when Palestinians were brutalized, Jews in Boulder celebrated.
On the CBS web site, Rabbi Soloway makes clear his ethically bankrupt left/liberal Zionist stance: "Recently I was in the locker room of my gym in a conversation with someone who started talking in a very one-sided way about the brutality of the Israeli occupation, which had oppressed Palestinians for hundreds of years! I launched into a passionate, emotional lecture about Israel as the only democracy in the region and its right to self-determination and security and the world's media's bias towards the Palestinian side and what it feels like to be surrounded by people who want to destroy you!"
So, Michael and friends, we bid you godspeed. You have selected an appropriate place for your protests. As Elliott Abrams once observed: "Where is it possible to find a group of Jews who are committed to Israel, and whose children are likely to honor that commitment? The answer is, in a synagogue on the Sabbath."
See also: "Left Zionism exposed"
Wednesday, December 19, 2012
- AATA Adopts New Advertising Policy
- Coleman v. AATA Update
- Is Judge Goldsmith Biased in AATA Suit?
- Conflicts of Interest at AATA?
Monday, October 01, 2012
As Judge Goldsmith notes: "In his motion for preliminary injunction, Plaintiff requests that the Court enter an order directing Defendants to immediately accept and display Plaintiff's advertisement on terms no less favorable than those given to other advertisers." Opinion at p. 38. Yet, instead of doing that, Goldsmith leaves open the possibility of giving AATA another bite at the apple: "Another option could be to allow AATA to craft a new policy without the constitutional infirmities identified by this opinion." Opinion at pp. 38-39.
On the matter of the defense's motion to dismiss, Goldsmith writes: "Regarding the other issues raised by Defendant's motion to dismiss and not addressed in this Opinion (i.e., viewpoint discrimination and the as-applied vagueness challenge to the 'persons or group of persons' language), the Court will determine whether such issues remain to be adjudicated after it reviews the parties' forthcoming supplemental briefs." Opinion at p. 40.
With such a ruling, it's hard not to wonder if Goldsmith's pro-Israel bias isn't showing and this is all setting the stage for allowing AATA to reject the ad and/or a dismissal of the suit. If that turns out to be the case then it will be a pity that the Plaintiff and his attorneys at the ACLU of Michigan haven't asked Goldsmith to recuse himself. In the meantime local taxpayers will continue to foot the bill as the AATA's lawyers defend their right to violate Blaine Coleman's First Amendment rights. Parenthetically, it should said that the best southeast Michigan coverage of this case, so far, is on AnnArborChronicle.com. Their reporting has been far superior to that of the AP or AnnArbor.com.
Tuesday, August 28, 2012
For the full story behind Eat-a-Cheeseburger Day please see last year's post about this momentous day.
Sunday, May 20, 2012
There is then another power that Azzi and most others won't discuss or fight for and that is the power of naming. The dominant form of oppression in Palestine today is Jewish supremacism and it enjoys the support of the overwhelming majority of Jews worldwide but you'd be hard-pressed to find very many people in the West--Palestinian or otherwise--who will say that publicly.
As the pseudonymous Sara said in "The Forgotten '-ism': An Arab American Women's Perspective on Zionism, Racism, and Sexism": "In this country, progressive circles are Zionist circles. ... You might be able to say Palestinians are victims but you can't say they're victims of Jews. ... You can't name Jews as your oppressor, but it's the Jewish state." Or as Paul Eisen said in "Jewish Power": "The crime against the Palestinian people is being committed by a Jewish state with Jewish soldiers using weapons displaying Jewish religious symbols, and with the full support and complicity of the overwhelming mass of organised Jews worldwide. But to name Jews as responsible for this crime seems impossible to do."
Monday, December 19, 2011
Sunday, December 18, 2011
On the heels of this conflict of interest existing with AATA Board members and Counsel, comes this: according to U.S. District Judge Mark Goldsmith's biography, "[Goldsmith] has also served in the leadership of several community organizations, including ... the B'nai B'rith Anti- Defamation League." We have also determined from a separate and reliable source that his leadership included Board membership on the ADL. How many foxes does it take to guard this henhouse? Will someone ask Judge Goldsmith whether he supports Israel’s claimed right to exist as a Jewish state (the ADL sure does), and whether that answer might influence his ability to render a fair verdict?Judge Mark A. Goldsmith was nominated to the federal bench by Barack Obama while serving on the Oakland County Circuit Court. A little digging revealed more evidence of Goldsmith's potential bias in the Ann Arbor Transportation Authority case. Goldsmith's 2010 federal Financial Disclosure Report (Section VII) indicates that he doesn't own any US bonds but he does own Israel Bonds and they're the only asset for which he did not declare a value. Furthermore, Goldsmith and his wife sent their sixteen-year-old daughter to study in Israel. Can a man with such strong Zionist ties really be expected to preside impartially at a trial over the constitutionality of an advertisement graphically criticizing Israel as an apartheid state and calling for its boycott?
The Code of Conduct for United States Judges says:
CANON 2: A JUDGE SHOULD AVOID IMPROPRIETY AND THE APPEARANCE OF IMPROPRIETY IN ALL ACTIVITIESRegarding Canon 2B, Goldsmith has or recently had demonstrable family and financial ties to Israel. It may be, too, that his social relationships unsuit him to preside at this trial. In the nominee's questionnaire Goldsmith submitted to the judiciary committee, he discloses that he became Vice-President for Religious Affairs of B'nai B'rith Barristers in 2009. "Advocacy for Israel" is second on B'nai B'rith's list of "Our Prime Issues". B'nai B'rith has publicly "condemned" supporters, such as Archbishop Desmond Tutu, of the international boycott of Israel. Furthermore, Goldsmith has been a member of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee since the 1990s.
- Respect for Law. A judge should respect and comply with the law and should act at all times in a manner that promotes public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary.
- Outside Influence. A judge should not allow family, social, political, financial, or other relationships to influence judicial conduct or judgment. A judge should neither lend the prestige of the judicial office to advance the private interests of the judge or others nor convey or permit others to convey the impression that they are in a special position to influence the judge. A judge should not testify voluntarily as a character witness.
- Nondiscriminatory Membership. A judge should not hold membership in any organization that practices invidious discrimination on the basis of race, sex, religion, or national origin.
Goldsmith is also evidently a "strictly Sabbath observant," devout adherent of Judaism; he is a cantor at his synagogue and a serious student of the Talmud. In his nominee's questionnaire Goldsmith reports that he is a member of the Board of Directors of the Council of Orthodox Rabbis of Greater Detroit. Goldsmith was profiled in 2011 in "Jewels of Justice: Timeless Jewish Values in the American Courtroom" in the American Jewish Spirit (emphasis added). Reportedly, at his federal investiture ceremony, "the newly appointed judge said 'he was grateful to the Almighty for allowing my plan to be part of His plan,' and in the words of an ancient Jewish prayer, thanked God for 'granting us all life, sustaining us and allowing us to reach this day.' ... 'I do believe with a complete faith, Judge Goldsmith said, 'that the Spirit above guides the spirit within.' "
Being devoutly religious should not per se be a disqualifying factor but one wonders how the "Spirit above" will guide Goldsmith's "spirit within" when it comes to Coleman v. AATA. He's been a member of Congregation Beth Shalom since 1987; he joined its Board of Directors that same year and served until 2005. He was the president of the congregation from 1997 until 1999. Congregation Beth Shalom describes itself as providing "opportunities for all ages that nurture our love of and commitment to Jewish life, our Synagogue and the State of Israel" and it hosts an "Israel Affairs" committee. There can be little doubt that the Congregation Beth Shalom agrees that Zionism is an affirmation of Judaism and "has its origins and roots in the authoritative religious texts of Judaism. ... Anti-Zionism, not Zionism, is a departure from the Jewish religion."
Regarding Canon 2C, Goldsmith's service (1986-1994) on the "Regional Advisory Board of B'nai B'rith Anti-Defamation League" (ADL), which was highlighted in his Senate confirmation hearing, sets off alarm bells. The ADL is decidedly and undeniably pro-Israel and that to the detriment of Palestinians. A case can be made that it "practices invidious discrimination" (although probably not in its membership) against non-Jewish people and Jews who are not Zionist (or insufficiently so).
In 2000, a Colorado jury awarded a $10 million judgment against the ADL to two people who had been defamed as "anti-Semites" by the ADL. That award survived all ADL appeals. Earlier, in 1999, the ADL was forced to pay $175,000 in an out-of-court settlement stemming from forty years of domestic political espionage by the ADL. The ADL has been active in lobbying against Congressional recognition of the Armenian genocide. This had led some Massachusetts communities to pull out of the ADL's bogus "No Place for Hate" campaign. Interested readers are urged to have a look at Professor Steven Salaita's book, Israel's Dead Soul. Salaita devotes an entire chapter to the ADL where he makes a compelling case that "according to its own public criteria, the ADL should classify itself as a hate group."
In light of all of the above, should Goldsmith recuse himself? You decide. Canon 3C(1) of the Code of Conduct for United States Judges says: "A judge shall disqualify himself or herself in a proceeding in which the judge’s impartiality might reasonably be questioned ..."
See also Coleman v. AATA Update
Monday, November 21, 2011
The problem is that Lax, Bernstein, and Nacht are, apparently, supporters of Israel, the very entity targeted by Coleman's ads. The Washtenaw Jewish News reported in December 2009 that Jerry Lax has served on the boards of the two local pro-Israel outfits: the Jewish Federation of Greater Ann Arbor and Temple Beth Emeth. Lax also added his name to a campaign advertisement of "Michigan Jews Who Support Senators Obama & Biden". Here's part of the text of that ad:
Stay focused on the issues:Yes, those were the first two issues in the ad. No wonder those Michigan Jews supported "The First Jewish President."
Israel's security: "Let me be clear. Israel's security is sacrosanct. It is non-negotiable."
– Barack Obama, speech to AIPAC, June 4, 2008.
Iran's threat: "There is no greater threat to Israel – or to the peace and stability of the region – than Iran ... and my goal will be to eliminate this threat." – Barack Obama, speech to AIPAC, June 4, 2008.
As to AATA Board chair Jesse Bernstein, well, he's also on the Board of Directors of the Michigan Israel Business Bridge. 'Nuff said, right? Okay, but it won't hurt to mention that Bernstein is also a donor to Kehillot B'Yahad/Congregations Together (KBY), whose aims include: "STRENGTHENING THE JEWISH STATE". Bernstein also happens to be the chair of a Temple Beth Emeth's Long Range Sustainability committee. David Nacht's LinkedIn profile identifies him as a supporter of the Anti-Defamation League, a former Board member of Temple Beth Emeth, and a donor to the Jewish Federation of Washtenaw County.
Inquiring minds want to know how much these guy's--all three associated with Temple Beth Emeth--support of Israel may have colored their judgment in favor of violating the First Amendment rights of Coleman. The vote also potentially put the AATA and, thus, taxpayers on the hook for an expensive legal fight it seems likely to lose.
12/11/2011 Update: Just days after this post was published the ACLU announced that it is bringing suit in federal court against the AATA on behalf of Blaine Coleman. It's a real shame and a bit of a mystery that the Board of Directors are not named as defendants in the complaint.
See also: "Is Judge Goldsmith Biased in AATA Suit?"
Saturday, October 29, 2011
It is this very denial of the existential link between the Jewish Question and the Zionist Question–a link that is suppressed by formulations such as "Jews Against Zionism" or, more broadly, by many attempts of "Jews" to become anti-Zionist--that needs to be questioned and destabilised.To be an anti-Zionist without due regard to that being and thinking that Zionism may so tragically continues, may well be to confuse symptom and cause, thus perpetuating that history that leaves the symptom–Zionism–intact. There is need to fathom the extent to which the slogan "Jews against Zionism" may be an oxymoron. Such an oxymoron may be at the heart of the denial, and protection bestowed upon the denial, of the oxymoronic nature of another notion, namely that of a "Jewish and democratic state".
Source: "The Silencing of Gilad Atzmon" by Oren Ben-Dor in CounterPunch, March 15-17, 2008.
Sunday, October 16, 2011
And so they have ...
Source: Alexander Roda Roda (1872-1945) as quoted in "Germans use 'anti-Israel' Jews to soothe Holocaust guilt" by Benjamin Weinthal in the Jerusalem Post online edition, Oct. 16, 2011.
Monday, September 26, 2011
That boy grew up to be Henry Herskovitz and in 1954 young Henry was hungry from fasting on Yom Kippur. Eight-year-olds aren't required to fast and so the fact that his father Bill bought him something to eat is not remarkable, that he bought him a cheeseburger is.
Under Judaic religious law or halacha, cheeseburgers are treif, i.e. they're not kosher. Observant Jews aren't supposed to eat them and some Jews can get pretty worked-up about cheeseburgers. You see, keeping kosher is about Jewish self-segregation. But you don't have to believe me, you can believe Rabbi Yaakov Luban.
Rabbi Luban is a "specialist in communal [kosher] issues" and Executive Rabbinic Coordinator of the Orthodox Union's kosher certification division, the world's largest kosher certification agency. In "Playing with Fire", Rabbi Luban writes:
Thousands of years ago, the Rabbis of old recognized that Jewish identity is the key to the survival of Klal Yisrael ["the Jewish People, as a whole"]. To this end, they enacted three sets of food laws to limit socialization: bishul akum, pas akum and stam yainom (cooked food, bread and wine prepared by gentiles). This was based on the realization that bonds of friendship are established by eating together, and breaking bread with a stranger is the first step to developing a closer relationship. For thousands of years of exile, the biblical and rabbinic laws of kosher have formed a natural fortress that prevented the assimilation of the Jewish people into many different cultures of the world. Today, with spiraling assimilation wreaking havoc at a frightening rate, the prophetic vision of Chazal [an acronym, meaning "Our Sages of Blessed Memory" in ref. to the Talmud] is all the more apparent. It is significant that even for secularized Jews, a kosher kitchen often remains the last bastion against intermarriage and assimilation.Okay, so maybe I've taken a little interpretive license with this otherwise true story but, still, I like to believe that Bill Henry's decision to buy his boy a cheeseburger on the "Sabbath of Sabbaths" wasn't an accident but a mitzvah that helped set his son on the path of becoming a mensch, a fighter for human rights, justice, and, peace for all. So, what the heck? If you're not fasting on Saturday 10/8 then join people across the globe in eating a cheeseburger (really, any non-kosher food or beverage will do) in honor of our shared humanity and in memory of Bill Henry, a dad who truly loved his son enough not to try to turn him into a bigot.
More than two thousand years ago, the Rabbis prohibited eating certain foods cooked by non-Jews in order to limit socialization which might lead to intermarriage between Jews and gentiles.
P.S. If you're going to buy that cheeseburger at a fast food restaurant (Yuck, don't do it!) then skip McDonald's. With 153 restaurants in Israel, they're big-time violators of the global boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel. Try Burger King instead, they pulled out of Israel last year.
- "Gems from 'Jewish Medical Law' " in ZionistsOut
- "A Light Unto the Butchers?" in ZionistsOut
- "McDonald's bans Arabic" in The Guardian (UK)
- "McDonald's changes its brand to suit kosher appetites" in The Guardian (UK)
Saturday, September 03, 2011
Michael Mukasey's nomination as US Attorney General was placed in apparent jeopardy when he refused to state in Senate confirmation hearings that the form of torture known as waterboarding was illegal under US law. His nomination was rescued by two Jewish Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee, Diane Feinstein and Charles Schumer, who joined with all nine Republicans in an 11-8 vote to send the nomination to the full Senate where they were joined by Joseph Lieberman, another Jew who voted against his caucus. Mukasey was confirmed by a 53-40 vote--"the narrowest margin to confirm an attorney general in more than 50 years."Recently I had occasion to look at the voting records of the three Jewish Senators who pulled Mukasey's nomination out of the fire. They only highlight how remarkable it was for them to cross party lines to support Mukasey. According to the Washington Post's database, during the 110th Congress, Feinstein voted with her caucus 94% of the time, Lieberman 87%, and Schumer 97%.
- Israelis No. 1 in Supporting Torture
- Jews and Torture
- Jews and Torture Update
- Rabbi Dobrusin Tortures the Truth
- Chuck Don't Need No Stinkin' Facts
Saturday, July 02, 2011
See also: "Jews Could Decide Dems Presidential Nominee"
Monday, May 02, 2011
The "Gaza Invasion" of Finkelstein's subtitle was the 22-day Hanukkah Massacre in the winter of 2008-2009 wherein forces of the Jewish state killed 1,417 Palestinians and wounded 5,303 in Gaza. I can't say I made a thorough examination of Finkelstein's book but I did flag two pages in chapter six, "Ever Fewer Hosannas," in the hardcover edition for follow-up.
At the top of page 110 there appears the last sentence of a lengthy quote from "Poll: Attachment of U.S. Jews To Israel Falls in Past 2 Years" by Steven M. Cohen in the Jewish Daily Forward (March 04, 2005). It says: "Just 57% affirmed that 'caring about Israel is a very important part of my being Jewish,' compared with 73% in a similar survey in 1989." In chapter six Finkelstein is making the case that American Jewish support for Israel is declining.
Finkelstein, apparently, didn't go far enough in reading the article. When read in its entirety a more complex picture of the attitudes of Americans Jews towards Israel emerges. For example, there's the finding that 95% of Americans Jews feel some degree of pride in Israel with fully two-thirds saying they "always" or "often" "feel proud of Israel"; only 5% said "never". Then, too, "Only 13% said they are 'sometimes uncomfortable identifying as a supporter of Israel,' with an additional 14% 'not sure' "; 73% disagreed with the statement.
Concerning the attitudes of American Jews regarding Palestinians, Cohen writes:
When offered sharply critical characterizations of Israel's treatment of the Palestinians, more respondents disagreed than agreed. However, substantial numbers were unsure. Thus, by 60% to 11% the sample rejected the assertion that "Israel persecutes a minority population," with 29% not sure. Similarly, by a 65% to 13% margin, they rejected the notion that "Israel occupies lands that belong to another people," with 22% not sure.To restate that, only 11% of Americans Jews recognize that Palestinians are oppressed by Israel and only 13% admit that Israel occupies Palestinian territory. Curiously, only 17% of American Jews answered "Yes" when asked, "Are you a Zionist?"
Regarding a poll more closely related to the subject of his book, Finkelstein spins the results of J Street's March 2009 "National Survey of American Jews". On pages 118-119, Finkelstein writes, "a poll of American Jews found that 47% strongly approved of the Israeli assault, but—in a sharp break with the usual wall-to-wall solidarity—53 per cent were either ambivalent (44 per cent 'somewhat' approved or 'somewhat' disapproved) or strongly disapproved (9 per cent)."
Now, before I tell you what Finkelstein didn't tell his readers about that poll, I want to emphasize two points: First, these are American, not Israeli, Jews. Second, the poll was conducted from February 28, 2009 through March 9, 2009. The Hanukkah Massacre ended on January 18, 2009.
So, these American Jews were expressing their attitudes more than a month after the fog of war and Israeli gov't. propaganda had begun to clear. The one-sidedness of the 'conflict' was well-known by then, graphic images of Palestinian suffering had circulated widely, and respected international human rights groups had already begun to weigh-in against Israel.
What did American Jews tell J Street pollsters? Fully 75% said they "strongly approved" or "somewhat approved" "of the recent military action that Israel took in Gaza"; a plurality (47%) of American Jews "strongly approved". This despite the fact that 59% "felt that the military action had no impact on Israel's security (41 percent) or made Israel less secure (18 percent)". This is not quite the picture Finkelstein paints.
See also: "Quotable: '99 percent of American Jewry'"
Saturday, January 15, 2011
Dobrusin was long on generalities but short on specifics. He admits that JWPF is "expressing an opinion at odds with deeply held feelings of a majority of our members". This gives the lie to the claim sometimes made by vigil critics that many or most of the congregants agree with JWPF's criticisms of Israel but that the problem is mainly with JWPF's tactics. Dobrusin then proceeds to claim that JWPF misrepresents the "relationship" and "connection which our congregation ... feels with the State of Israel." Yet, Dobrusin's charge of misrepresentation is bald-faced with nothing to support it.
He follows with the claim that JWPF "has endeavored ... to publicize its message against the legitimacy of Israel and against any negotiated settlement based a two-state solution". This falsehood is not new.
Regardless of the varying positions individual JWPF members may have, as I wrote in 2007, "In fact, JWPF has never taken a group position on the legitimacy of Israel." Likewise, the group has never taken a position opposing a "two-state solution." In March, 2007, JWPF approved the following statement:
Jewish Witnesses for Peace and Friends have been asked what it would take for us to end our vigils at the Beth Israel Congregation (BIC).Following his misrepresentation of JWPF's position on Israel, Dobrusin says: "Now, the question is if we express our opinions ... are we accountable for what it is we believe? Can people disagree with us or should we be able to hide behind the walls of our synagogue and say this is our opinion and it can't be debated?"
Our answer is simple and well within the power of BIC. We would end our vigils at BIC if the Board of Directors of BIC publicly states its full support for the following principles that basic human rights require:
Although we are not all Jewish, we hold that inequality, the forced exile of millions of Palestinians, and military occupation are inconsistent with the highest ideals of Judaism.
- The full civil and political equality of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel within Israel;
- The prompt implementation of the rights of Palestinian refugees of 1947-8 and 1967 to return to their homes and properties in Israel and Palestine as stipulated in UN resolution 194; and,
- The prompt end of Israeli occupation and colonization of all lands seized by Israel in 1967.
Dobrusin answers his question in the negative claiming "if we want to have respectful discussion ... we can have respectful discussion ... surely that can happen." So, why is it that more than seven years ago the request of JWPF founder Henry Herskovitz, who regarded BIC as his spiritual home and regularly attended High Holy Day services there, to address the congregation, not at Sabbath services but on a week night evening, was denied?
In more than seven years, why haven't Henry and JWPF ever been invited in for the debate Dobrusin says he welcomes? The answer is, apparently, because JWPF's non-violent exercise of their own Constitutionally protected rights, which Dobrusin grudgingly admits is legal, feels "to us as harassment".
Dobrusin also claims that the signs JWPF members hold outside BIC are "often quite simply untrue." This is a tacit admission that at least sometimes they are true. Moreover, as before, Dobrusin's claims are simply unsubstantiated. What signs are untrue, Rabbi? Let's debate that.
Dobrusin talks about how "restrained," at his behest, the congregants have been in responding to the "harassment" of JWPF. "We don't want physical or verbal confrontation on the street outside the synagogue," he says.
This would have been a nice time to acknowledge that the only people ever investigated or arrested by police in connection with the protests were a Beth Israel congregant, Eli Avny (Assault with a Deadly Weapon), and a guest, Abraham Seligman (Assault and Battery). It would also have been an opportune moment for Chuck Warpehoski to make a belated apology for the fact that the organization he heads, the Interfaith Council for Peace and Justice, never took a stand against the violence directed at JWPF members but that probably wouldn't be good for business.
Dobrusin concludes his presentation with a plea for people to support BIC and speak out against JWPF's vigils. Dobrusin frames his plea by saying:
The point I want to stress this evening is really the one with the most importance. You know in the long-run this isn't a Beth Israel issue. And it isn't a Jewish community issue. And it isn't an issue about Middle East politics. It's an Ann Arbor issue. The atmosphere and peace of our entire community is tarnished when people feel tension as they approach their house of worship on their holy day ... as long as this type of action continues the spiritual atmosphere and the sense of comfort and peace of our community is severely damaged and that's truly a shame for all of us. (emphasis added)What's clear from this is that Rabbi Dobrusin is no student of the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. Here's something the Rev. King had to say in his "Letter from Birmingham Jail" about "tension" and "peace":
... I am not afraid of the word "tension." ... there is a type of constructive, nonviolent tension which is necessary for growth. Just as Socrates felt that it was necessary to create a tension in the mind so that individuals could rise from the bondage of myths and half-truths to the unfettered realm of creative analysis and objective appraisal, so must we see the need for nonviolent gadflies to create the kind of tension in society that will help men rise from the dark depths of prejudice and racism to the majestic heights of understanding and brotherhood.No doubt it was men like Rabbi Dobrusin whom the Rev. King had in mind when he lamented the one "who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: 'I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods ... ' "
Rabbi Dobrusin wants us to believe that the violent Jewish supremacist state that he and his congregation support is not the real issue.
Forget that when Israel turned Lebanon into a "free-fire zone" in 2006, BIC responded by publishing on their web site a photo of four Israeli flags along with a statement of support for the "people of the State of Israel at this time of crisis" and stating that "We pray for the safety of those who defend Israel …"
Forget that Rabbi Dobrusin wrote in the Ann Arbor News: "Beth Israel Congregation affirms without any hesitation or equivocation the legitimacy of the existence of the State of Israel as a Jewish state, and affirms the right of Israel to defend itself from enemies who seek its destruction."
Forget that BIC sends their young children to Israel and poses them for photos with armed Israeli soldiers.
Forget that Rabbi Dobrusin has offered a halachic justification of torture from the bima.
Forget all that. The real issue is the tension and tarnished peace in our community. Oh, the humanity!
Rabbi Dobrusin wants us to believe that "among the institutions which our community must respect is the sanctity of the house of worship." But Beth Israel's support for Israel has diminished, if not eradicated, its claim of sanctity. As Abraham Heschel explains:
The prophet knew that religion could distort what the Lord demanded … To the people, religion was Temple, priesthood, incense: "This is the Temple of the Lord, the Temple of the Lord, the Temple of the Lord" (Jer. 7:4). Such piety Jeremiah brands as fraud and illusion. "Behold you trust in deceptive words to no avail," he calls (Jer. 7:8). Worship preceded or followed by evil acts becomes an absurdity. The holy place is doomed when people indulge in unholy deeds.BIC's support of Jewish supremacism in Palestine is indeed an evil act and an unholy deed. And as the prophet Isaiah (ch. 1) said:
Though you pray at length,And as the prophet Amos (ch. 5) said to "the House of Israel":
I will not listen.
Your hands are full of blood.
Ah, you that turn justice to wormwood,You can find a 3.1 Mb audio file (.wav) of Dobrusin's speech here at http://a2vigil.org/video/dobrusinspeech-small.wav.
and bring righteousness to the ground! ...
They hate the one who reproves in the gate,
and they abhor the one who speaks the truth. ...
Hate evil and love good,
and establish justice in the gate ...
let justice roll down like waters,
and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.
Friday, December 03, 2010
Last night, the "first Jewish President" celebrated Hanukkah at the White House. Barack Obama underscored the nationalistic nature of Judaism by addressing opening remarks to Israeli ambassador Michael Oren and the people of Israel.
To cheers from the audience, Obama also noted, "One third of the Supreme Court is here." Of course, with his nomination of Elena Kagan, Obama himself helped ensured that an ethno-religious group comprising less than 2% of the US population would occupy three of the nine slots on the Supreme Court while the largest segment of the US population--Protestant Christians--is wholly unrepresented.
After a few more intros, Obama recited an abbreviated version of the Hanukkah story, neglecting to mention, of course, that the 'Maccabean revolt' that spawned the holiday was as much a religious civil war instigated by violent fanatics as it was a revolt against "the yoke of empire." Today, violent religious fanatics--Jewish and Christian--and their lackeys head an empire that far exceeds the scope of the Seleucid empire. That empire insures the Jewish state's existence and wages wars on its behalf in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia.
Also left out of the Obama's remarks is any mention of Israel's 2008-09 Hanukkah Massacre that killed 1,400 Palestinians or the millions of living Palestinians "who still suffer under tyranny and oppression". The clip ends with a saxophone performance by Joshua Redman. Too bad the White House didn't invite Gilad Atzmon and his sax, instead.
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
Author Thomas A. Kolsky writes that although there was Jewish opposition to Zionism from other quarters, "the longest, fiercest, and most persistent resistance to it in America came from Reform Jews" (28). He continues, "The only American Jewish organization ever formed to fight against Zionism was founded by Reform Jews" (29).
The organization in question is the American Council for Judaism (ACJ), which was belatedly founded in 1942, five years after the 1937 convention of the Reform movement's Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR) whence The Guiding Principles of Reform Judaism were adopted. The principles stated inter alia:
In the rehabilitation of Palestine, the land hallowed by memories and hopes, we behold the promise of renewed life for many of our brethren. We affirm the obligation of all Jewry to aid in its upbuilding as a Jewish homeland by endeavoring to make it not only a haven of refuge for the oppressed but also a center of Jewish culture and spiritual life.The precipitating event that led to the formation of the ACJ was the introduction and passage of a resolution on February 27th at the 1942 CCAR convention "favoring the creation in Palestine of a Jewish army" (42). The convention that year was presided over by "a staunch Zionist," Rabbi James G. Heller, who had proclaimed upon assuming the presidency of the CCAR "that Reform was no longer anti-Zionist."
In August 1942, 96 rabbis, including many who would later that year found the ACJ, issued a "Statement of Principles of Non-Zionist Rabbis." The document "recognized the importance of Palestine 'to the Jewish soul' and expressed support for the Jews in Palestine in their economic, cultural, and spiritual--but not nationalistic--endeavors" (54). The reaction by their foes was a resounding repudiation in the form of "Zionism: An Affirmation of Judaism". An early release of this document--which declared "Anti-Zionism ... is a departure from the Jewish religion"--listed as signatories the names of 757 rabbis, representing "the largest number of rabbis whose signatures are attached to a public pronouncement in all Jewish history". By the time the statement was released to the press on November 20, 1942, 818 rabbis had signed on.
As Kolsky shows, the Reform rabbis opposed to the Zionist hardliners in the CCAR were beset, at the very beginning, by internal divisions. One camp was primarily motivated by the Reform vision exemplified in the "Pittsburgh Platform" of 1885, which stated: "We consider ourselves no longer a nation, but a religious community, and therefore expect neither a return to Palestine ... nor the restoration of any of the laws concerning the Jewish state." The other camp shared the vision of their brethren but they were more strongly animated by and prioritized their opposition to Zionism as detrimental to Jews. Although he cites some individual rabbis who opposed the injustice that Zionism represented for Arabs, I found no evidence that the ACJ ever strongly appealed to Jews or anyone else on those grounds.
The story of the ACJ is, of course, much more complicated than just internal division and visionary short-sightedness. Suffice it to say, though, the ACJ's story is one of failure. Kolsky writes: "Unlike the Zionists, who had skillfully penetrated most American Jewish institutions by the 1940s, the Council was unable either to penetrate or to influence significantly even a single important Jewish organization during its struggle against the Jewish state" (199).
Despite their best efforts, by November 1945, a Roper poll of American Jews "showed that 80.1 percent supported the Zionist goal of a Jewish state in Palestine and only 10.5 percent opposed it" (126). Also, despite having access to high-level, sympathetic State Department officials, the ACJ was unable to thwart US support for the UN's partition resolution in 1947 or US diplomatic recognition of Israel in 1948. As Kolsky notes, Zionists--David Niles and Clark Clifford--were inside the White House (172). On the matter of recognizing Israel, Kolsky writes, "President Truman was constantly reminded by Jewish spokesmen and Democratic party leaders that he needed Jewish votes and financial contributions in the approaching 1948 elections" (188).
After the establishment of Israel, the ACJ, writes Kolsky, "did not have an appreciable effect on American Jews" and "became no more than a marginal, isolated, unpopular and largely ignored gadfly, an irritating critic of Zionism of all shades and degrees" (194).
Friday, May 28, 2010
Below is a translation of an article that first appeared in the Israeli newspaper Maariv. The translation is from an article by Didi Remez on the Coteret web site. I encourage readers to check out the article there as it has links to sources and others who have written about this story.
The complete guide to killing non-JewsSee also:
Roi Sharon, Maariv, November 9 2009 [page 2 with front page teaser]
When is it permissible to kill non-Jews? The book Torat ha-Melekh [The King’s Teaching], which was just published, was written by Rabbi Yitzhak Shapira, the dean of the Od Yosef Hai yeshiva in the community of Yitzhar near Nablus, together with another rabbi from the yeshiva, Yossi Elitzur. The book contains no fewer than 230 pages on the laws concerning the killing of non-Jews, a kind of guide for anyone who ponders the question of if and when it is permissible to take the life of a non-Jew.
Although the book is not being distributed by the leading book companies, it has already received warm recommendations from right-wing elements, including recommendations from important rabbis such as Yitzhak Ginsburg, Dov Lior and Yaakov Yosef, that were printed at the beginning of the book. The book is being distributed via the Internet and through the yeshiva, and at this stage the introductory price is NIS 30 per copy. At the memorial ceremony that was held over the weekend in Jerusalem for Rabbi Meir Kahane, who was killed nineteen years ago, copies of the book were sold.
Throughout the book, the authors deal with in-depth theoretical questions in Jewish religious law regarding the killing of non-Jews. The words "Arabs" and "Palestinians" are not mentioned even indirectly, and the authors are careful to avoid making explicit statements in favor of an individual taking the law into his own hands. The book includes hundreds of sources from the Bible and religious law. The book includes quotes from Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook, one of the fathers of religious Zionism, and from Rabbi Shaul Yisraeli, one of the deans of the Mercaz Harav Yeshiva, the stronghold of national-religious Zionism that is located in Jerusalem.
The book opens with a prohibition against killing non-Jews and justifies it, among other things, on the grounds of preventing hostility and any desecration of God’s name. But very quickly, the authors move from prohibition to permission, to the various dispensations for harming non-Jews, with the central reason being their obligation to uphold the seven Noahide laws, which every human being on earth must follow. Among these commandments are prohibitions on theft, bloodshed and idolatry. [The seven Noahide laws prohibit idolatry, murder, theft, illicit sexual relations, blasphemy and eating the flesh of a live animal, and require societies to institute just laws and law courts]
"When we approach a non-Jew who has violated the seven Noahide laws and kill him out of concern for upholding these seven laws, no prohibition has been violated," states the book, which emphasizes that killing is forbidden unless it is done in obedience to a court ruling. But later on, the authors limit the prohibition, noting that it applies only to a "proper system that deals with non-Jews who violate the seven Noahide commandments."
The book includes another conclusion that explains when a non-Jew may be killed even if he is not an enemy of the Jews. "In any situation in which a non-Jew's presence endangers Jewish lives, the non-Jew may be killed even if he is a righteous Gentile and not at all guilty for the situation that has been created," the authors state. "When a non-Jew assists a murderer of Jews and causes the death of one, he may be killed, and in any case where a non-Jew's presence causes danger to Jews, the non-Jew may be killed."
One of the dispensations for killing non-Jews, according to religious law, applies in a case of din rodef [the law of the "pursuer," according to which one who is pursuing another with murderous intent may be killed extrajudicially] even when the pursuer is a civilian. "The dispensation applies even when the pursuer is not threatening to kill directly, but only indirectly," the book states. "Even a civilian who assists combat fighters is considered a pursuer and may be killed. Anyone who assists the army of the wicked in any way is strengthening murderers and is considered a pursuer. A civilian who encourages the war gives the king and his soldiers the strength to continue. Therefore, any citizen of the state that opposes us who encourages the combat soldiers or expresses satisfaction over their actions is considered a pursuer and may be killed. Also, anyone who weakens our own state by word or similar action is considered a pursuer."
Rabbis Shapira and Elitzur determine that children may also be harmed because they are "hindrances." The rabbis write as follows: "Hindrances—babies are found many times in this situation. They block the way to rescue by their presence and do so completely by force. Nevertheless, they may be killed because their presence aids murder. There is justification for killing babies if it is clear that they will grow up to harm us, and in such a situation they may be harmed deliberately, and not only during combat with adults."
In addition, the children of the leader may be harmed in order to apply pressure to him. If attacking the children of a wicked ruler will influence him not to behave wickedly, they may be harmed. "It is better to kill the pursuers than to kill others," the authors state.
In a chapter entitled "Deliberate harm to innocents," the book explains that war is directly mainly against the pursuers, but those who belong to the enemy nation are also considered the enemy because they are assisting murderers.
Retaliation also has a place and purpose in this book by Rabbis Shapira and Elitzur. "In order to defeat the enemy, we must behave toward them in a spirit of retaliation and measure for measure," they state. "Retaliation is absolutely necessary in order to render such wickedness not worthwhile. Therefore, sometimes we do cruel deeds in order to create the proper balance of terror."
In one of the footnotes, the two rabbis write in such a way that appears to permit individuals to act on their own, outside of any decision by the government or the army.
"A decision by the nation is not necessary to permit shedding the blood of the evil kingdom," the rabbis write. "Even individuals from the nation being attacked may harm them."
Unlike books of religious law that are published by yeshivas, this time the rabbis added a chapter containing the book's conclusions. Each of the six chapters is summarized into main points of several lines, which state, among other things: "In religious law, we have found that non-Jews are generally suspected of shedding Jewish blood, and in war, this suspicion becomes a great deal stronger. One must consider killing even babies, who have not violated the seven Noahide laws, because of the future danger that will be caused if they are allowed to grow up to be as wicked as their parents."
Even though the authors are careful, as stated, to use the term "non-Jews," there are certainly those who could interpret the nationality of the "non-Jews" who are liable to endanger the Jewish people. This is strengthened by the leaflet "The Jewish Voice," which is published on the Internet from Yitzhar, which comments on the book: "It is superfluous to note that nowhere in the book is it written that the statements are directly only to the ancient non-Jews." The leaflet's editors did not omit a stinging remark directed at the GSS, who will certainly take the trouble to get themselves a copy. "The editors suggest to the GSS that they award the prize for Israel's security to the authors," the leaflet states, "who gave the detectives the option of reading the summarized conclusions without any need for in-depth study of the entire book."
One student of the Od Yosef Hai yeshiva in Yitzhar explained, from his point of view, where Rabbis Shapira and Elitzur got the courage to speak so freely on a subject such as the killing of non-Jews. "The rabbis aren’t afraid of prosecution because in that case, Maimonides [Rabbi Moses ben Maimon, 1135–1204] and Nahmanides [Rabbi Moses ben Nahman, 1194–1270] would have to stand trial too, and anyway, this is research on religious law," the yeshiva student said. "In a Jewish state, nobody sits in jail for studying Torah."
- Wars of Choice in Judaism
- Rabbi Dobrusin Tortures the Truth
- worth more than the lives of 1,000 Arabs
- until they scream, 'Enough!'
- Chief Rabbi-for-War Metzger in News Again
Sunday, April 04, 2010
As I've argued in several posts on this blog, Passover is part of a Judaic culture of death. Well, late last month the New York Times reported on "the story of the Obama Seder, now one of the newest, most intimate and least likely of White House traditions." One wonders how unlikely it is that Obama--the "first Jewish president"--would hold a Passover seder in the White House.
According to the Times, Obama's been celebrating them at least since 2008. That seder took place "at the bleakest point of the campaign, the long prelude to the Pennsylvania primary, which was dominated by a furor over Mr. Obama's former pastor" i. e. the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, an anti-Zionist and liberation theologian who Obama betrayed.
The Times also reports:
When Passover begins at sunset on Monday evening, Mr. Obama and about 20 others will gather for a ritual that neither the rabbinic sages nor the founding fathers would recognize.I guess White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel and Lee "Rosy" Rosenberg, who served on Obama's national campaign finance committee and is now the new president of American Israel Public Affairs Committee, celebrated Passover at home in Chicago.
In the Old Family Dining Room, under sparkling chandeliers and portraits of former first ladies, the mostly Jewish and African-American guests will recite prayers and retell the biblical story of slavery and liberation, ending with the traditional declaration "Next year in Jerusalem." (Never mind the current chill in the administration’s relationship with Israel.)
Top aides like [Senior Advisor to the President] David Axelrod and Valerie Jarrett will attend, but so will assistants like 24-year-old Herbie Ziskend.
Friday, March 26, 2010
It is the latter aspect of the doctrine--the idea of going to war for "greatness and reputation" or because it "is good for the country and for God"--that called to mind Passover. You see, as pointed out in an earlier post:
The book of Exodus, just before the first passover occurs, records that Pharaoh was ready to let the Israelites leave Egypt "But the Lord stiffened Pharaoh's heart and he would not agree to let them go" (Exod. 10:27). The idea that it is God and not Pharaoh who is hardening Pharaoh's heart is repeated several times throughout the account, including at the beginning (Exod. 7:3). ... It is important to note that God is not perpetrating this mass killing in order to free the Israelites. No, according to scripture, it is merely an opportunity to show off the "marvels" of God as he frees the Israelites (Exod. 11:9).I don't know if there is any Talmudic commentary that links the massacre in Exodus for the glory of God with the Talmudic concept of milchemet reshut. The modern texts I've read link the concept to Deuteronomy 20, 21:10-14, which is post-Exodus in the narrative. In any case, there seems to be a real congruence between the two. Further, both stand in contrast to the much abused medieval ecclesial "just war" doctrine, which is in turn a departure from the earlier nonviolent resistance of Jesus and the early church.
I'll close with an interesting excerpt from Rabbi Chinitz's article:
How could the Torah permit a discretionary war, how could we entertain such a notion in modern Israel? We have trumpeted the ideal of ein bererah – no choice. All of our wars were forced on us by our enemies, including the current struggle against suicide bombers.This excerpt suggests, if not demonstrates, the relevance of examining Judaism when considering Zionist foreign and domestic policy. This scrutiny is, of course, unwelcome for those who insist, despite the evidence to the contrary, on the disconnect between Judaism and Zionism, see e.g. "Response to M.", "Readers Respond to 'Israel's Hanukkah Massacre & Judaism's Culture of Death'", and "Will IJAN Challenge Jewish Power?".
Let me offer some qualifications to this posture of purity. With respect to the war in Lebanon – Operation Peace for Galillee - Menachem Begin said that sometimes a war of yesh bereirah – a war of choice - is better than a war of ein bereirah – a war of no choice. Ein bereira means your back is to the wall, as "And Jacob was left alone; and a man wrestled with him" (Genesis 32:24). In a war of yesh bereirah, you take the initiative, limit your casualties and decide when to stop.
Ezer Weizman stated that the Six Day War was not really a matter of saving the nation, but rather an opportunity. Egypt did not attack first. It only closed the Straits of Tiran.
Friday, March 19, 2010
The story of Jewish slavery in ancient Egypt has probably served more purposes more effectively than any other partially believed foundation myth in history. Every time the Jerusalem Post or Haaretz publishes a weekend magazine piece written by one of Israel's most prominent archaeologists, explaining that the story of Israelite enslavement in Egypt was a whole-cloth fabrication, a flood of outrage pours over the editor's desk. Some letter-to-the-editor writers even draw analogies to Holocaust denial. Why such a powerful response? Primarily because the myth still serves a variety of purposes.See also:
The fact that the Passover myth, or any accepted myth, has no historical validity makes it all the more revealing. It means that the myth is unencumbered by facts that do not [suit] its purpose. It also means that the extent to which the myth has been effective is the extent to which it has been retrospectively considered prophetic, and thereby validated — a self-fulfilling prophecy perceived as a prophecy fulfilled. ...
According to the [Passover] myth, Jacob's family left Canaan to escape a famine. They arrived in Egypt as impoverished and bedraggled guests of the Pharaoh (Genesis 47:26-27). Several generations later they left Egypt with a standing army of "six hundred and three thousand five hundred and fifty . . . . every man able to go forth to war" (Numbers 1:45-46). Logistical support included "very many cattle, both flocks and herds" (Exodus 12:38), and having gained the trust of their Egyptian neighbours, financing included several thousand kilograms of "borrowed" gold and silver (Exodus 38:24-25).
The Israelites were able to leave Egypt with so much wealth and power because their god "passed over" his people's houses when he killed all Egyptian firstborn children (Exodus 12:27). To this day, as instructed (Exodus 12:11-14), Judaism celebrates these fabled events as Passover.
Can you imagine the outrage that would be rightfully felt today — rightfully felt but eventually elicited, solicited, embellished, organized, manipulated, and incessantly propagandized to promote Zionist objectives through books, newspapers, magazines, radio, television, film, show trial litigation and tax-payer supported museums — if some group of eighteen to twenty million people annually celebrated a tale of the killing of all firstborn Jewish children as a "sport" of their god? [notes omitted]
- "A Reflection on Passover"
- "Judaism's Culture of Death"
- "Bloody Passovers: The Jews of Europe and Ritual Murders"
Sunday, March 14, 2010
In an Electronic Intifada interview with Jimmy Johnson entitled "Education and resistance at the Ann Arbor Palestine film fest" one of the festival's organizers, Hena Ashraf, is quoted characterizing the festival as combining her interest in film and Palestine solidarity activism. Ashraf says, "Film, and more broadly, media, can be used as a means to educate, but also unfortunately to miseducate. Mainstream media outlets have often presented gross stereotypes of Palestinians and biased misinformation." In the case of Ajami, it appears that Ashraf and her colleagues have not only violated the boycotts but if Raja Shehadeh, founder of the Palestinian human rights organization, Al-Haq, is to be believed they are also guilty of presenting "gross stereotypes of Palestinians and biased misinformation."
[The world of Ajami is] a city of drive-by shootings, drugs, and racketeering, where men, young and old, are shot or stabbed to death on the slightest provocation and shady sheikhs in Arab dress sort out the blood money in what is supposed to pass as tribal justice. ... the unrelieved blood-letting punctuated only by moments of love and loyalty to family and friends leaves us in no doubt that the Jewish citizens of Israel exist in a jungle infested by bloodthirsty, uncivilized Arabs who live inside and outside its borders exactly as Israeli propagandists claim. If Israel is to make it, the story goes, this tiny bastion of civilization has no choice but to remain militarized and on full alert.To return to the boycott issue, last month Hannah Brown touted Ajami in the Jerusalem Post as "a triumph for Israel in a year in which prominent industry figures called for a boycott of a program of Israeli films at the Toronto Film Festival last fall." She also noted, "It received some of its funding from the Israel Film Fund, which is government-supported." On Oscar night, responding to Ajami co-director Scandar Copti's criticism of Israel, Israeli Consul General Jacob Dayan told a Jewish Journal blogger: "Tomorrow no one will remember what [Copti] said ... They’ll remember that this is an Israeli movie and that it will help make Israel a little stronger by reinforcing the relationship between Israel and Hollywood."
The same article also says:
"The film represents Israel exactly," said Israeli-American choreographer Barak Marshall. "It touches on almost all of the issues we face in Israeli society and it shows how broad the public debate is; that someone who is from Israel can negate his very connection to the state shows how wonderfully strong and alive our political culture is."The issue of why Zionists like Ajami is also addressed here and in the Palestine Chronicle but the matter of why self-styled Palestine solidarity activists like Ashraf and her colleagues promote the film is another matter. Is it ignorance? Arrogance? Elitism? Who knows?
For Dayan, art that reflects a dynamic Israeli society and its status as a pluralistic democracy is an essential strength of statehood.
Saturday, February 27, 2010
There are many problems with IJAN, which lead me to doubt the purposes of the group. I first question whether they are a Palestinian solidarity group or yet another group that seeks to shield and preserve Jewish power both in Palestine and in the U.S.
In this writer's opinion, Jews - if they are acting in a group that represents Jews in the peace movement - should first and foremost challenge what Akiva Eldar and J. J. Goldberg, among others, call the "Jewish lobby" - the powerful people and institutions (and their rank-and-file supporters) who dominate the US discourse and policy regarding Jews and Israel. Often, these are the very people behind the charge of "self-hating Jews" (and for non-Jews, "anti-Semites") about whom Rebecca Tumposky, national organizer with the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network, complains. Yet, nowhere in her article does Ms. Tumposky show a disposition to directly do that.
It is perhaps worth mentioning that three originators of IJAN who live in southeast Michigan, including "Invincible," declined the invitation to stand vigil with us at our Global Vigil Day in 2007 or at any other time. They refused to expose and challenge Beth Israel Congregation--a local institutional bastion of open, unabashed Jewish support for Israel--when they had the opportunity. And yes, I'm the first to admit that standing in front of a synagogue is not the only way to challenge Jewish power, but at the same time ask where does IJAN directly challenge this power using another tactic?
In Tumposky's op-ed she says IJAN "seeks to challenge the violence and injustice of Israeli apartheid" but she and IJAN are US-based. So, where is her mention, let alone challenge, of the Jewish supremacism/power that allows Jews - less than two percent of the US population - to so effectively steer US policy and resources into underwriting Jewish apartheid in Palestine?
Right out of the box, she shows her hand - Tumposky's and IJAN's opposition to apartheid is rooted not in universalistic notions of justice and human rights but in Jewish chauvinism/exceptionalism. Thus, they appeal to Jews on the grounds of "our varied traditions of social justice." And Tumposky wants to make sure - absolutely certain - that fighting anti-Semitism is prioritized in any work on freeing Palestine from the genocide brought on by the Jewish state. Thus, she writes, "We challenge anti-Jewish prejudice while standing in solidarity with organizations that support Palestinian liberation and historic justice ..." In short, IJAN enters the Palestinian solidarity movement with an explicit agenda of highlighting, if not foregrounding, the concerns of Jews, the very people who enjoy Jewish privilege here and in Israel.
Her opposition to Zionism is carefully couched as a subset of opposing colonialism and imperialism, in general: "We share a commitment to participation in struggles against colonialism and imperialism. We therefore oppose Zionism ... IJAN, in fact, opposes all imperialist aggression". She refuses to take notice of the peculiar situation of Zionism - Jewish imperialism - in that Jews lacked a nation-state of their own and, thus, Zionists commandeered other countries, namely Britain and the US, to realize their goals.
Tumposky beats up one or two carefully placed straw men along the way: "We will say it again and again, despite accusations of being 'self-hating Jews': Zionism is not Judaism and the Jewish community." Just who is it that equates Zionism with "Judaism and the Jewish community"? And why is this point so essential for "anti-Zionists" like the IJAN folks? What would Tumposky say to the 757 rabbis - "the largest number of rabbis whose signatures are attached to a public pronouncement in all Jewish history" - who in 1942 stated that Zionism is an "Affirmation of Judaism" and "Anti-Zionism, not Zionism, is a departure from the Jewish religion"?
She also plays a Left Zionist game when she attempts to distinguish the 'types' of Zionism, claiming that "the Zionism we oppose is not a longstanding cultural or religious expression". She conveniently ignores the fact that when push came to shove, all the Zionists - Left, Right and Center - gave their blessings to destroying Palestine.
In the first chapter of his book Image and Reality of the Israel-Palestine Conflict, Norman Finkelstein challenged the myth that any of the Zionist tendencies (Labor, Religious, etc.) were ever benign. In short, the only thing about Zionism that really matters is that it "is a form of racism and racial discrimination," as the UN General Assembly correctly identified in 1975.
Tumposky's definition of Zionism is also problematic - "the 19th century ideology that led European Jews to work with imperialist powers to displace and ethnically cleanse the Palestinian people, which continues today." It is folly to imply that Jews were passive objects of that "ideology". Zionism was created, implemented, and popularized by Jews. Are readers supposed to believe that it was the imperialist powers that Jews only "worked with" that committed this crime? Isn't it more accurate to say that Jews led these imperialist powers by the nose - as they still do today - to have non-Jews die for the Jewish state?
When she writes "Israel and its U.S. lobby helped pushed us toward the Iraq war and are exerting similar pressure to attack Iran", readers need to be cognizant of what she omits - EVERY major constituent group of the organized Jewish community pressed for war on Iraq, and there's a list of at least two dozen Jewish individuals - in powerful government or media positions - who also pressed strongly for war.
Tumposky touts "Jewish visions of collective liberation and traditions of social justice", but doesn't give us any proof that this tradition ever existed, other than in the minds of Jews who want their image spit-shined, if not outright falsified. More than 300 years ago, Benedictus de Spinoza, who is often upheld as a great Jewish intellectual, observed that Jews had in fact nothing to commend themselves as superior to others, had acted in such a way as to "incur the hatred of all", and that this hatred was the glue that bound Jews together. Other than, perhaps, a few years during the Civil Rights struggle (and Benjamin Ginsberg casts doubt on even this), Jews collectively have acted in concert NOT for universal well-being, but for the benefit of Jews. IJAN does not seem to be an exception.
Distinguishing IJAN from AIPAC, J-Street and Tikkun, might make good reading, but doesn't let them off the hook. Once again, I'm reminded of Paul Eisen's words: "The crime against the Palestinian people is being committed by a Jewish state with Jewish soldiers using weapons displaying Jewish religious symbols, and with the full support and complicity of the overwhelming mass of organized Jews worldwide. But to name Jews as responsible for this crime seems impossible to do." It seems obvious to me that IJAN and similar organizations exist, in no small part, to prevent the naming of Jews as responsible for the Jewish-led genocide against the Palestinian people.