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Two Jews...
September 10, 2007 1:18 AM   Subscribe

An Unholy Act. This is the story of when two Jews disagree. Nothing new there. But a violent confrontation at UCLA brings to light the emerging divide among American Jews in regards to the most contentious issue of modern Jewish identity: Israel.
posted by PostIronyIsNotaMyth (60 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
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posted by Eideteker at 3:36 AM on September 10, 2007


I can't believe I read the whole thing.

A high profile peacenik promoting peace and tolerance... but not walking the talk. Unbelievable.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 3:51 AM on September 10, 2007


It seems that the peacenik lefties in the US Jewish community are more listened to than those in Israel of late. If there is a positive note here it is that Jews in the US as in Israel are both able and do take public stands for what they believe; find something similar throughout any of the arab countries.

I am always amazed at how many very pro-Israel Jews in the US are formerly of Israel. I know that living is difficult there, and so many leave to come to the US, where once here they stand firm in support of the country they served in but have left.
posted by Postroad at 4:00 AM on September 10, 2007


Wendell and all that.

Israel makes me embarrassed to be Jewish. So I'm not anymore.
posted by fourcheesemac at 4:40 AM on September 10, 2007 [1 favorite]


Though I suppose s. Neuwirth would call me an anti-semitic self-hating Jew for thinking Israel might not be perfect or entitled to kill anyone it likes. People like her, to be more specific, make me embarrassed to be Jewish.
posted by fourcheesemac at 4:42 AM on September 10, 2007


I'm all in favor of, er, spirited, political discussions, but physical assault is another matter entirely. I happen to agree with Seidler-Feller more than Neuwirth, in fact she sounds a lot like a Jewish version of Coulter, but I can't justify kicking people in an argument...

Its going to take two states or genocide to end the fighting in Israel; I'd prefer two states.
posted by sotonohito at 4:42 AM on September 10, 2007


I tried to read the whole thing. Couldn't do it. It seemed to be more about the personalities of these two--both of whom have honestly unlikeable attributes--and less about the differences in their opinions.

Seidler-Feller reminds me of someone in my life who shouted at people that they had to respect him, and if they disagreed with him, it was not disagreement, it was disrespect. Hard to find a common ground there.

Neuwirth--well, I stopped caring before I got to Neuwirth's profile.
posted by beelzbubba at 5:00 AM on September 10, 2007


For me, intolerance of Dr. Chomsky's criticisms of actions of the Israeli state say a lot about its proponents, not much of it any good:

Although Chomsky is himself Jewish, he has been accused of antisemitism by people such as critic Werner Cohn [21]. His role in the Faurisson Affair has also led to allegations of anti-Semitism. Alan Dershowitz has criticized Chomsky's endorsement of Norman Finkelstein, a political scientist whose work Dershowitz considers to be anti-Semitic. [7]

Chomsky has responded to the charges of antisemitism made against him many times. In 2004, Chomsky responded thus "If you identify the country, the people, the culture with the rulers, accept the totalitarian doctrine, then yeah, it's anti-Semitic to criticize the Israeli policy, and anti-American to criticize the American policy, and it was anti-Soviet when the dissidents criticized Russian policy. You have to accept deeply totalitarian assumptions not to laugh at this."[22]

posted by Blazecock Pileon at 5:01 AM on September 10, 2007 [1 favorite]


Out of the other’s view, Neuwirth and Seidler-Feller were each struggling to cope. Before she left UCLA that night, Neuwirth went to campus police and reported the assault. Officers called paramedics, who found bruising on her lower left leg (Neuwirth, according to their report, rated the pain a seven out of ten) and an abrasion, “with minimal blood loss,” on her right hand. They bandaged her and gave her two ice packs. Once at home, Neuwirth felt like she had been in an accident. Her heart was racing. She was dizzy and sore. “I couldn’t sleep,” she says. “My head was going sheeee-yeeee, sheeee-yeeee . Something was wrong.” The next day a friend took her to the Cedars-Sinai emergency room. She was given a CT scan, but nothing turned up. “Any other woman would break something,” says Neuwirth, who believes her athletic background spared her further injury. Doctors prescribed Vicodin and assigned her a social worker. Still complaining of headaches and anxiety, Neuwirth began seeing an orthopedist, a chiropractor, a physical therapist, and a psychiatrist, who put her on antidepressants. The visits continued for nearly two years and left her with $20,000 in medical bills.

Shit, I kinda want to give her two for flinching.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 5:07 AM on September 10, 2007


This feud reminds me of Rosh Hashana dinners at my house - oy, the fighting!

I think that it's easy for American Jews to forget the conditions that most Israelis grow and live in - constant threats of random bombings, security alerts at all times, military ever-present. I think that some of the peace-at-all-costs proponents might change their minds if they spent a year living in Israel. How would most of us react if Arab Nationals began conducting regular suicide bombings in major American cities? How would our government react? It's not an easy question to answer.
posted by Flakypastry at 5:23 AM on September 10, 2007


It's not an easy question to answer.

Actually, I think it's fairly easy. We'd go absolutely batshit frothing-at-the-mouth crazy and destroy every Arab country on Earth.

It still wouldn't be right, of course.
posted by Avenger at 5:42 AM on September 10, 2007


Why are people who support Israeli aggression called "pro-Israel"? Are we saying that the people who think occupation of the Palestinian territories is wrong are anti-Israel? That's kind of like saying that people who oppose the Iraq war are anti-American.
posted by Clay201 at 6:02 AM on September 10, 2007 [1 favorite]


I think that it's easy for American Jews to forget the conditions that most Israelis grow and live in - constant threats of random bombings, security alerts at all times...

Okay, but are you suggesting that supporting Israeli aggression is somehow going to correct this problem? Because there's a strong case to be made that it's making things much worse (as violence tends to do).

Or, are you suggesting that those advocating non-violent methods are somehow not concerned about the safety of Israelis? Because I feel certain they'd say that they're recommending the course of action they think most likely to prevent further attacks.
posted by Clay201 at 6:09 AM on September 10, 2007


Flakypastry The problem is that the approach taken by Israel towards its problems is, self evidently, not working.

Everything the most frothing at the mouth neo-cons in America have proposed has pretty much been implemented in Israel a long time ago. Suspension of hebias corpus, done. *ROUTINE* torture of suspects, done. Use of assassanation as a political tool, done.

The list goes on, and the point remains the same: it hasn't worked. Yes, it seems reasonable from an emotional and intuative standpoint to assume that taking the "RAAAAARRRGGG I'M BIG AND WILL HURT YOU" approach might succeed, or at least feel good, but it obviously hasn't worked.

I don't think a fair two state solution can be viewed as some sort of "peace at all costs" surrender. Especially when the "let's kick some ass" crowd has such a record of failure.

I'm a utilitarian, I say go with what works, not what feels right emotionally. And really, look at the options Israel has:

1) Continue on the present course and continue to have near daily suicide bombers, etc, making life bad.

2) Comit genocide and kill all the Palistinians.

3) Decide that its worth it to make a fair split with the Palistinians to end the fucking daily bombings.

4) Hope that somehow, despite all evidence, despite all history, despite everything, if they just git tuff a bit longer the Palistianians will magically wake up one morning and say "oh, hey, no hard feelings about stealing our country and driving a lot of us out to refugee camps, let's all pull together and be good Israli citizens. And especially no had feelings about the time the Israli police tortured my brother for a few weeks before releasing him because he was innocent." [1]

Some people might say that 3 is a surrender, and to an extent I suppose they're correct. But really what other choice is there? Also, there is the tiny detail that the Palistinians have at least a semi-legitimate case, in that a whole shitload of Palistinian land was stolen when Israel was founded, or re-founded if you want to put it that way.

Your analogy is false in that is proposes that somehow the Jewish Isralis were always a majority and that one day, out of the blue, these mysterious Palistinians just appeared and started bombing, which is hardly the case.

[1] Note that this also requires the Jews in Israel to say "hey, no hard feelings about the time my baby brother was killed by a suicide bomber, I'll now embrace our ethnic Palistianian co-citizens with open arms and not practice any sort of discrimination against them" I don't see either of those things happening.
posted by sotonohito at 6:26 AM on September 10, 2007 [1 favorite]


Okay, but are you suggesting that supporting Israeli aggression is somehow going to correct this problem? Because there's a strong case to be made that it's making things much worse (as violence tends to do).

Or, are you suggesting that those advocating non-violent methods are somehow not concerned about the safety of Israelis? Because I feel certain they'd say that they're recommending the course of action they think most likely to prevent further attacks.


Neither. I'm suggesting that those American Jews who criticize Israel's aggression are often looking at the problem too simplistically and theoretically. It's tough to tell someone to not react violently when their child has just been torn to shreds in a market. The sad truth of the conflict is that the Israelis are not just dealing with problems associated with occupying former Arab and Palestinian land, but idealogical objection to their existence.

I don't think that it's a choice between aggression and non-aggression. For American Jews to debate the issue at this level is nonproductive. The real issue is how Israel can effectively defend itself against those that use violence to get their message across no matter what Israel says or does, maintain its own economy, and provide safety and security to all people in its borders. Over the past 60 years, it's obvious that aggression was not only called for, but necessary to Israel's survival.
posted by Flakypastry at 6:27 AM on September 10, 2007 [1 favorite]


Flakypastry wrote "The sad truth of the conflict is that the Israelis are not just dealing with problems associated with occupying former Arab and Palestinian land, but idealogical objection to their existence."

Yeah, but I'll bet that when the problems associated with "occupying former [...] Palistianian land" are resolved the ideological objection to their existence won't produce suicide bombers. The fanatic Christians in America have an ideological objection to the existence of homosexuals, but you'll notice we don't have Christians strapping explosives to themselves and blowing up gay pride parades.

Ideological objections make talk radio hosts rant, and people gripe, but they don't produce suicide bombers.
posted by sotonohito at 6:33 AM on September 10, 2007 [1 favorite]


Over the past 60 years, it's obvious that aggression was not only called for, but necessary to Israel's survival.

I'm officially ending this thread before your comment here puts us over 500 comments.
posted by Avenger at 6:36 AM on September 10, 2007 [1 favorite]


It's tough to tell someone to not react violently when their child has just been torn to shreds in a market.

I'm sure it is. But in this case, it's also the right thing to do. Clearly you're opposed to Palestinian suicide attacks (as am I). So surely you'd agree that when a Palestinian child is murdered by Israelis, it's not okay for someone in their village to then strap a bomb to his chest and wander into a Pizza Parlor in Tel Aviv. As the old saying goes, two wrongs don't make a right. I'm just saying that the same logic should work the other way as well. If things are ever going to improve, Israel will have to stop responding to violence with violence and withdraw from the territories.

Over the past 60 years, it's obvious that aggression was not only called for, but necessary to Israel's survival.

First of all, that isn't true. But more importantly...

You do understand that by "aggression" we mean "invading and occupying countries that you have no right to be in," right? I mean, aggression is, by definition, unacceptable. If what Israel did was somehow in self defense, then we'd call it something other than "aggression".
posted by Clay201 at 6:58 AM on September 10, 2007


The real issue is how Israel can effectively defend itself against those that use violence to get their message across no matter what Israel says or does

Did I miss the part where Israel tried something else?
posted by JaredSeth at 8:01 AM on September 10, 2007


You do understand that by "aggression" we mean "invading and occupying countries that you have no right to be in," right?

And what is your definition of "invading and occupying countries..." in this case? Because to Hamas and other groups like it, all of Israel is occupied territory, and therefore Israel must be annihilated. It is naive to assume that pulling back to 1967 territories will end the conflict.

From Avishai Margalit's "the Suicide Bombers":

Still, even when it is clear that Israeli policies toward the Palestinians are evil and irrational, it is far from clear how to confront the suicide bombers in ways that are rational and effective, as well as morally justified. This is why the moderate left is in trouble in Israel. The public is scared and in despair, and has no use for moralizing comments. It wants strategic solutions for stopping the suicide terror.

No easy answers here. Pulling out of the Palestinian territories will not solve the larger issue of Arab distaste with the existence of Israel. Is it the right thing to do? Undoubtedly. Will ending violence mean the end of Palestinian and other Arab violence? No way.
posted by Flakypastry at 8:03 AM on September 10, 2007


straight out: Israel is anything but perfect but I am proud to be both an American and a Jew and I wish Israel well. For those "ashamed to be a Jew because of Israel, " are you also ashamed to be an American because of Bush or our world-wide empire, our CIA tortures, our grabbing for oil under the guise of national secureity, the many coups we have sponsored in S. America?

If you are, say Catholic are you ashamed because of priests and child abuse and so you deny the faith? A protestant so you quit because of stand against gays? A Muslin, so you quit because of Osama Ben Laden?

why not affirm atheism and support the UN and that way keep your credentials nice and clean.
posted by Postroad at 8:18 AM on September 10, 2007


When Jews Attack.
posted by LarryC at 8:20 AM on September 10, 2007


Flakypastry;

Militarily, Israel is vastly more powerful than Palestine. Even if you're right and Arabs are just a bunch of fanatics who will never rest until Israel is erased from the world map, they can't make it happen until they put together an airforce on par with Israel's. The US would never allow that. And even if they did, it would take decades.

If Israel gave back the conquered territory, they'd have enormous amounts of cred in the international community. If Arab attacks continued, they could get help from the UN, NATO - even countries like Egypt and Pakistan if they wanted it - to defend themselves and to pressure the attackers to stop. The US citizenry would support sending the 82nd airborne over there. It would be be the best defended state in the history of the world.

In this situation, Israel doesn't have a lot to lose by giving up the conquered territory. (Except, of course, control of the water and arable land.) So why not try it? Clearly violence isn't helping.
posted by Clay201 at 8:40 AM on September 10, 2007


are you also ashamed to be an American because of Bush or our world-wide empire, our CIA tortures, our grabbing for oil under the guise of national secureity, the many coups we have sponsored in S. America?

Yes. Very.
posted by fourcheesemac at 9:00 AM on September 10, 2007


And the more so, actually, because we also drove out and committed genocide against indigenous inhabitants declaring our divine right to the land they had lived on for generations. Shameful is the right word.
posted by fourcheesemac at 9:01 AM on September 10, 2007


while declaring our divine right . . .
posted by fourcheesemac at 9:02 AM on September 10, 2007


Young U.S. non-Orthodox Jews are becoming increasingly lukewarm if not alienated in their support for Israel in a trend that is not likely to be reversed, according to a study released on Thursday.
Blending into U.S. society, including marriage to non-Jews and a tendency to look on Judaism more in religious terms than ethnic ones, is part of what's happening, the study found.
"For our parent's generation, the question that mattered was, how do we regard Israel? For Generation Y (born after 1976) the question is indeed, why should we regard Israel?" ...
(and it's not just Gen Y by any means--i don't know one person my age--early 40s--who is ok with Israel's actions at all)
posted by amberglow at 9:08 AM on September 10, 2007


the notion that israel ought to give back land taken at the loss of their soldiers without getting a peace agreement first is odd. Israel gave back Gaza. Guess what? rockets continue to be shot from there and Hamas still says it is out to destroy Israel. give give give...why? how many attempts to destroy the nation does it take before one rethinks beings so liberal?We gave back occupied Germany and Japan when they accepted a peace accord, and not before that.
posted by Postroad at 9:20 AM on September 10, 2007


Israel--the stronger one in the equation, and the one who can eliminate all in the region without breaking a sweat--has to make any and all peace moves first. They have continually broken agreements and catered to their fringe settlers instead of doing what they promised. There are bantustans of Palestinians, cut off from water, and all jobs. There are walls and checkpoints and guards, making Palestinians prisoners of the shitty land Israel "gave" them. It's like South Africa, but worse.

They have to grow the fuck up too, instead of depending on the US's largess and billions of arms and aid each year. Either they're an independent nation, or just another US colony like Iraq. We're at blame too, for their stupidity and crimes.
posted by amberglow at 9:57 AM on September 10, 2007


Postroad writes "We gave back occupied Germany and Japan when they accepted a peace accord, and not before that."

Those lands were never claimed and settled by the US. Israel not only claims the land as its own, which is illegal under international law (as it was gained through acts of aggression), but it also settles the land.
posted by krinklyfig at 10:51 AM on September 10, 2007


Also, re: Israel and peace accords, I've got no objection to making a land trade conditional on a peace treaty, but it hasn't been seriously proposed lately, and they're the ones who have to propose it since they're the ones with the land.

It'll hurt, because the Palistinians won't take the deal unless the land includes some good stuff (eg: water, natural resources, etc), and good stuff is always in short supply so its all but certain that any Israli government that makes an offer the Palistinians will accept is going to be reviled.

But let's face it, giving up good land, land not split into tiny little ghettos and requiring a trip through a hostile Israel to get from one place to another, is the only non-genocide option Israel has which will produce peace.
posted by sotonohito at 11:00 AM on September 10, 2007 [1 favorite]



But let's face it, giving up good land, land not split into tiny little ghettos and requiring a trip through a hostile Israel to get from one place to another, is the only non-genocide option Israel has which will produce peace.


Exactly--and they have to take the initiative. They can't wait til violence stops since it's partly why there is violence. They'll never ever have any peace until they step up and act honestly and fairly and as adults.
posted by amberglow at 11:11 AM on September 10, 2007


For me the problem with Israel has less to do with the political/military situation in the Gaza strip and more to do with how it's taken over modern Jewish identity. The whole idea of a separate Jewish identity, one that's specifically American in nature, is dying out because there's this obsession with Israel that's killing diaspora culture. With the exception of Heeb magazine, I think that ideas around what it means to be American and Jewish are stagnating, mainly because Zionism teaches that there shouldn't be a diaspora culture. So there's this weird contradiction where Jews in the diaspora are placing Israel on a sacred level, yet not actually practicing what they preach (i.e. moving to Israel) that for me embodies a kind of cognitive dissonance. I don't quite understand why we have to elevate Israelis over ourselves...

Another thing that kind of gets to me: Israel is supposed to be the land of the Jews, but a guy like me who was raised Reform and whose mother was not born Jewish would not be considered Jewish by the staunch orthos that run Israel. Yet the Reform movement never addresses that issue... again cognitive dissonance.
posted by PostIronyIsNotaMyth at 11:11 AM on September 10, 2007 [2 favorites]


For me the problem with Israel has less to do with the political/military situation in the Gaza strip and more to do with how it's taken over modern Jewish identity. The whole idea of a separate Jewish identity, one that's specifically American in nature, is dying out because there's this obsession with Israel that's killing diaspora culture.
It's actually not--it's the pundits and thinktanks and paid loudmouths who are all about Israel--not us American Jews--we have a healthy and thriving Jewish culture that's more and more just not about Israel or connected to Israel at all. It's non-Jews too, who continue to tie us together. We aren't doing it--or at least the vast majority of us aren't doing it or even bothering about Israel at all--rightwing Christians are, and rightwing columnists and "Institutes" and stuff are. They keep tying us to Israel, and it's most often non-Jews behind it all nowadays. For every one AIPAC bigmouth or Jackie Mason or other old man, there are thousands of Christian preachers and fundamentalists bloviating about it and us.
posted by amberglow at 11:19 AM on September 10, 2007


Oy vey.

Relatively recently I was exposed to the idea that "American Jews must support Israel so they will have a place to escape to in the next pogrom, because there will be one someday just you wait and see." This idea shocked me, and I think many people who hear this sentiment are thinking "Fine, let me buy you a ticket, just don't come back."

The smartest thing I ever heard about Israel was on NPR some years ago by a commentator whose name, if I ever knew, I have forgotten. This wise person said "The problem is that they want a peaceful, Jewish state, right there. And the best they can realistically get is two out of three."
posted by ilsa at 11:26 AM on September 10, 2007 [3 favorites]


that's so true, ilsa.

but in the back of my mind, i too believe that Israel is an escape hatch--a horrible unsafe one, but one anyway (i think we're all taught that at some point). That, however, doesn't make me ignore the horrors they're inflicting on others at all, or make me support it no matter what.
posted by amberglow at 11:30 AM on September 10, 2007



I can't believe I read the whole thing.

A high profile peacenik promoting peace and tolerance... but not walking the talk. Unbelievable.


Yes, people who are not tolerant of the intolerant, or use violence to prevent violence, are intolerant and violent, and therefore hypocritical. Therefore only violence and intolerance are the only logically consistent world views. QED.
posted by delmoi at 11:33 AM on September 10, 2007


amberglow

I see what your saying but I think that's a cop out. I was raised Reform, the most progressive of the progressive branches in the US, and everywhere from my classes in Shul to sermons on Rosh Hashanah to lectures at the NFTY convention there was an emphasis on Israel and one that placed it in the most dire terms possible (basically the Palestinians are like the Nazis, we're about to be slaughtered... etc). So to say that American Jews don't have a preoccupation with Israel is wrong... I mean there's Birthright trips for a reason right?

When I say that it's killing diaspora culture, what I mean is that Zionism tells diaspora Jews that their culture is inferior. We saw this with the birth of Israel when Yiddish was outlawed at any official public event and there was a concerted choice to choose the Sephardic dialect of Hebrew over the Ashkenazi one because the softness of the Ashkenazi dialect sounded weak and was thought to be associated with the diaspora. And this is ignored when we as Jews, institutionally, talk about Israel.

At the end of the day, the problem is that Israel is a state. It's a country with its own goals and self interests and I think many Jews don't realize that because they can only see it in these religious or sacred terms (the holy land, Zion) and not for the political entity that it really is.
posted by PostIronyIsNotaMyth at 11:36 AM on September 10, 2007


Well, overall I'm with Asimov, I think that Israel was the single worst idea that any large group of Jews ever had.

I'm also opposed, ideologically and philosophically, to a nation founded for religious reasons, to enshrine a particular religion, and with a pseudo-theocratic government.

Take marriage, as an example. The only marriage that the Israli government can legally perform is an Orthodox Jewish marriage. The government *recognizes* marriages performed outside Israel as legitimate, but if you don't qualify for an Orthodox Jewish wedding you can't marry unless you are rich enough to travel to another country. Interestingly this means that even many Jewish Isralis are unable to marry in their own country.

The idea of Israel as a nation with a majority Jewish population is fine. But the idea of Israel as a Jewish nation seems as wrong to me as the idea of America as a Christian nation. Nations that are defined by religion have not historically been good places to be.

I'm aware that many Jews take the attitude that Israel as a "Jewish Homeland" somehow offers protection against pogroms. I think that's wishful thinking at best. Furthermore, turning Israel into a huge ghetto, in the original sense of the word, seems to be a lousy tactic for achieving much of anything.

As for escape hatches, there have always been places to flee from pogroms. How do you think that America got the huge infusion of Jewish talent it did prior to WWII? The victims of the pogroms were those unwilling, or unable, to flee, and having Israel around wouldn't have helped them.
posted by sotonohito at 11:43 AM on September 10, 2007


Israel is a Jewish homeland for those who want a Jewish homeland. If you are Jewish and you don't feel this need, then stay wherever you are--England, France, Russia, Argentia etc...50% of American Jews are now considered secular and identify with Jewishness through habit, culture, upbringing.

In my view: Israel made big mistake in allowing settlements. On the other hand, it is simplistic to say Israel must be the ones to give this and that and make offers. Abbas seems very willing, and Israel too, to negotiate a peace arrangement, but you can bet Hamas in Gaza will not and will try to block it, much as many of the neighboring states will (Saudi, Syria, Iran).

As for the original post: a thousand years ago I got married in a place shared by a rabbi and a minister, at Christmas time, with Xmas decorations all over the place. Eventually, because of yet another war bewtween Israel and arab states, the minister and the rabbi had a falling out and they broke up the sharing of the premises. My marriage followed suit some years later, though not because of a political problem.
posted by Postroad at 11:54 AM on September 10, 2007


I don't know, PostIrony--i'm Reform too, and we never were indoctrinated that much at all--either in Hebrew School or at home. Maybe it was different during the era i was young (when Israel was fighting and winning all those wars--60s-70s, and real progress in talks and accords a la Camp David, etc) and not seen with such clear eyes as today or more recently? Or maybe it's just families and how they treat it? (on a related note: my family sent my grandma and grandpa there for their 50th anniversary---they hated it--hated everything about it and everyone they met and the hard sell they got too.)

I know Israelis think they're better than us, but they're wrong. Why buy into that? Immigration figures alone show that it never was the promised land for most Western Jews--it never will be as long as it acts the way it does. And only a tiny amount of young people do Birthright or any of those trips--many parents won't allow it because it's too dangerous.

The idea of Israel as a nation with a majority Jewish population is fine. But the idea of Israel as a Jewish nation seems as wrong to me as the idea of America as a Christian nation. Nations that are defined by religion have not historically been good places to be.
Totally. I don't blame us for that tho--it was Western Europe's guilt that created Israel more than any of our actions as Jews, i think. It never could have happened without non-Jews making it happen.
posted by amberglow at 12:02 PM on September 10, 2007


If you look at Iraq, that's kinda similar--Britain created so many of the "nations" of the Middle East, i think. (but the creation of Israel the way it was is much more entwined with Europe's treatment of us, etc)
posted by amberglow at 12:04 PM on September 10, 2007


PostIrony, what we got as kids was how brave and strong Israelis were--plucky even--and how it was good for Jews everywhere, but not how fabulous Israel was as a country, or that they were doing something we should want to do or in a place we should want to be (and Vietnam was going too, for all of my childhood--it soured everyone on soldiers and wars and fighting at the same time i think)
posted by amberglow at 12:07 PM on September 10, 2007


And what is your definition of "invading and occupying countries..." in this case? Because to Hamas and other groups like it, all of Israel is occupied territory, and therefore Israel must be annihilated. It is naive to assume that pulling back to 1967 territories will end the conflict.

It only "Must" be annihilated if Hamas is unwilling to negotiate. As far as I know, Israel has never tried or attempted to do so.

As far as I can tell, Israel constantly says that it is impossible to negotiate, and then continues to bomb. You say that it's Obvious you'd want to respond with violence to violent provocation, the same holds for the Palestinians, which is why this thing continues to this day.

the notion that israel ought to give back land taken at the loss of their soldiers without getting a peace agreement first is odd.

Peace agreement with whom? The people they refuse to negotiate with? Presumably, "giving back" the land by removing settlements in the west bank would be part of a piece agreement, and so far the Israelis have never even offered a full withdrawal to the 1967 borders, without settlements.
posted by delmoi at 12:10 PM on September 10, 2007 [1 favorite]


like--Israelis (and the whole soldier thing) are probably still used as a counterweight to old and nebbishy (and continuing) stereotypes of us, but I never got Israel as a fabulous country or a better place than America. It was never Thank God there's an Israel--it was always Thank God there's an America where we're not killed or pogromed or led by Nazis and Cossacks like in Europe or Russia, etc.
posted by amberglow at 12:11 PM on September 10, 2007


Peace agreement with whom?
And that reminds of how much all the neighboring countries use the I/P thing to distract their own people and how Israel is a readymade and potent "other"--and the difference from years ago, when Egypt and others were actually sitting down and trying to help a little.
posted by amberglow at 12:14 PM on September 10, 2007


One need not be Jewish to be a citizen in Israel. On the other hand, it is a Jewish state, and somehow one arabs prefer to live there as citizens rather than not, and then, isn't Saudi Arabia, Iran, Jordon, etc religious states? try being non-Muslim in Saudi Arabia and looking for a church. I too dislike the notion of a religious state, but Hamas has stated in its charter that it wants a Palestinian state that is Muslim. That is ok with me if they just let other beliefs and nations alone.
posted by Postroad at 12:14 PM on September 10, 2007


try being non-Muslim in Saudi Arabia and looking for a church.

Wheee, race to the bottom!
posted by fleetmouse at 12:56 PM on September 10, 2007


if only we could all love each other
posted by Postroad at 1:05 PM on September 10, 2007


You first, sucker.
posted by fleetmouse at 1:24 PM on September 10, 2007


As for escape hatches, there have always been places to flee from pogroms. How do you think that America got the huge infusion of Jewish talent it did prior to WWII? The victims of the pogroms were those unwilling, or unable, to flee, and having Israel around wouldn't have helped them.
Huh? Lots of people -- mostly Jews, but many non-Jews as well -- were scambling to get the hell out of Europe in the late 30s and early 40s, and were turned down by virtually all the nations of the world. Nobody likes refugees.

It is often ignored that in the late 30s it was significantly easier to get out of Nazi Germany than it was to get in to another Western country, particularly if you were a Jew, a gypsy, or member of some other not-particularly-welcome group. (Who, ironically, were the ones who really needed that ticket out. Sorry, guys.)

Now, there is a valid question as to how many Jewish refugees Israel could possibly take in a modern repeat of the Holocaust or the Russian pogroms; at some point they would simply run out of food or space. But at least they would theoretically have a mandate -- practically their raison d'être -- to help.

Based on the historical evidence (and you don't have to look back to WWII to find it), assuming that otherwise-disinterested 'civilized' nations will go out of their way to save civilian lives from butchery because it's the 'right thing to do' is incredibly foolish. You don't have to look back more than a few decades to see that the Western world's response to genocide is mostly a lot of tongue-clucking and hot air.
posted by Kadin2048 at 1:37 PM on September 10, 2007 [2 favorites]


The fanatic Christians in America have an ideological objection to the existence of homosexuals, but you'll notice we don't have Christians strapping explosives to themselves and blowing up gay pride parades.

That may be so, but have you tried taking out a fire insurance policy on an abortion clinic recently?
posted by Faint of Butt at 1:40 PM on September 10, 2007


so far the Israelis have never even offered a full withdrawal to the 1967 borders, without settlements.

What exactly is behind the obession with the 1967 border? It's not like the Arab governments in the region liked that demarcation much more than the one they have now. Sure, they might claim that the modern border is much more offensive than the old one, but if the old one was itself enough for them to go to war over, the distinction seems pretty much academic, and shifting it back doesn't seem like it would be buying anyone much.

What reason does Israel have to think that the 1967 line will be respected, when it wasn't the first time around, and the current one isn't now? After all, the 1967 border didn't produce peace -- it produced the war in 1967. Likewise, the 1947 U.N. partition plan only produced warfare.

And if either border is likely to result in attacks or harassment from the other side, it's understandable that the Israelis would want to keep the more defensible one, which the post-67 border (which puts the Golan Heights on the Israeli side) is. And in terms of the time it has stood without major multi-party regional warfare (even factoring in 1972), it's by far the most successful.

I just don't get it. I'd like to see peace there as much as anyone else, but the "1967 border" has become a touchstone of U.S.-backed plans for the area, and it doesn't seem to have much going for it. The '67 border stood for only 18 years, and they were years marked by escalating tension ending in a major regional war. It's hardly a high-water mark.

Given the history of the area, I'd prefer that the strategic areas go to the party with the most stable government, the deepest ties to the West, and the most to lose in a major war, and that describes Israel a lot more than it does its neighbors.
posted by Kadin2048 at 2:15 PM on September 10, 2007 [2 favorites]


"I am always amazed at how many very pro-Israel Jews in the US are formerly of Israel."

Yeah...amazing....
posted by rougy at 2:32 PM on September 10, 2007


I've always been surprised and a bit repulsed at the "escape hatch" idea (at least among American Jews). It's stupid, insulting, yet almost tacitly accepted as fact. First, there's the harmful victim mentality which constantly asserts itself in Jewish discourse that sees anti-semitism as inevitable, innate in the non-Jewish population, and a personal failing caused by poor morals or malicious intent rather than seeing it largely as the result of ignorance and something that must be actively fostered. This impossibility (or possibly unwillingness) to imagine a world where we aren't universally reviled just for being who we are severely hampers our potential as Jews.

Secondly, there's the largely unmentioned and incredibly large cost of maintaining such an escape hatch. Israeli Jews are not sitting around peacefully waiting for some government to persecute their Jews so that they can add a few more settings to the table for Shabbat dinner. They're getting blown up on buses, having rockets fired onto their homes, and getting conscripted into an army to deter their neighbors from invading their country. Which is fine (or not, depending on your view) for people defending their own homes and children. But when you think about what the escape hatch people are asserting, it is a terrible thing they are asking for. As an American Jew, I enjoy full civil rights, a high standard of living, my own country's armed forces that are committed to protecting my religious freedoms, and a history of over 200 years of relative peace and prosperity (virtually unprecedented in Jewish history). I might need an escape hatch someday, but that possibility is thankfully so remote and theoretical as to be laughable. This theoretical scenario of future American progroms is not strong enough to ask an Israeli Jew to fight out in the desert to provide me with a safety net that I will probably never use. This ideology severley undermines the idea of Jewish unity that many of these people pay lip-service to. Basically they are saying that to protect unborn American Jews from future potential harm requires placing real Israeli Jews in real danger right now. I'm not so up on my Torah study, but I'm pretty sure that this is very much antithetical to Jewish values of self-determination and individual responsibility.

Then there's the practical problem of the escape hatch. It's kind of tough to imagine a scenario where all of America's ~5-7 million Jews are oppressed so badly that they would need an escape hatch, but let's imagine the worst case where another Hitler has managed to take over America and Jews are being rounded up and shipped to camps. Do these Jews think they'll be able to just go to LaGuardia and buy an El Al ticket for Tel Aviv? Obviously any government that is going to make it bad enough for Jews to want to leave here is going to work pretty hard to make sure that they can't. Which will mean what? Teams of Israeli commandos infiltrating America in daring rescue operations, to airlift millions of American Jews that are scattered throughout the country halfway around the world and settle them in a new country (which of course will be perfectly happy to nearly double the size of its population, teach Hebrew to the new refugees, and provide jobs and housing, because, hey, we're all part of the tribe)? Israel has rescued isolated Jewish populations in danger before and has done so bravely and selflessly, but I don't think people realize that such an option could never scale to rescuing the Jews of America from some future tyrant. Pretty much, we're on our own here. There just aren't enough planes, boats, or acres of land to make Israel an effective escape hatch for Americans. Even if we could all make it over there, it wouldn't be a very pleasant escape hatch with all the overcrowding.

Finally, there's the opportunity cost of the escape-hatch paradigm. Namely, American Jews, afraid for their future safety, have tried to project an image of Jewish strength by maintaining a militarily strong Israel. However, having an adept army half a world away doesn't really help individual Jews that aren't in Israel. Basically, Jews are putting all their safety eggs in one very far away basket. If the goal is to be able to practice religion freely and outwardly display one's Jewish identity unmolested, why is it considered more important to give money to Israel than to learn self-defense? If the Holocaust is supposed to serve as a lesson that we as Jews are vulnerable simply for being Jews, why isn't every young Jew taught how to fight? We lionize the strong Israeli Jews who go through intense army training and know how to defend themselves. But the individual responsibility is transferred to the IDF. I've been very lucky in that I've only encountered mild verbal anti-semitism once or twice in my life and I don't even look Jewish. Jews worldwide are told they are safe because of Israeli planes, missles, etc. But if you're attacked on the streets of Paris or Prague or New York for wearing a yarmulke, a surgical helicopter strike probably won't help you, but your fists might. I've always been puzzled why there weren't kickboxing classes after Hebrew school. If we're really in so much danger, it would only make sense. I guess it's not a mutually exclusive choice to support Israel's defenses or to learn to defend yourself, but it does seem like the latter is vastly overlooked in deference to the former.

Now, I could see some validity to the escape-hatch argument if you were a Jew living in Cairo, or Damascus, or even France, but every time I hear an American Jew make that argument, I just want to smack them and say "Don't you realize how good we have it here?"
posted by SBMike at 2:54 PM on September 10, 2007


it's an idea that history has shown over and over is needed--it's not about how good we have it now, but about "never again" and always having options. Options are things all people should have. It would be insane not to hang on to any options--even bad ones. The vast majority of Jewish Germans and Austrians felt as we Americans feel now--look where it got them. Our families had the option of coming to America--we have to have options too. It's not even about realism, since Canada would be where we went, most likely--it's about a really important lesson learned.
posted by amberglow at 3:06 PM on September 10, 2007


It's really empowering to know there's actually a place in the world where you could never be turned away, i think--even if you have no desire at present to go there or be there.
posted by amberglow at 3:08 PM on September 10, 2007


and it doesn't stop any of us from fighting like hell to ensure it doesn't get as bad here--it didn't during the civil rights era and it doesn't now.
posted by amberglow at 3:10 PM on September 10, 2007


Yes, people who are not tolerant of the intolerant, or use violence to prevent violence, are intolerant and violent, and therefore hypocritical. Therefore only violence and intolerance are the only logically consistent world views. QED.

And if that is what happened, and what uncanny hengeman was talking about, your comment would mean something.
posted by Snyder at 5:22 PM on September 10, 2007


Carter: ... "There hasn't been one single day of peace talks in the last seven years," he complained. ...
posted by amberglow at 11:02 AM on September 11, 2007


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