To "more fully understand why conservative [American] politics [has] become synonymous with no-questions-asked support of Israel," Author Tom Bissell went on a ten day “Stand with Israel Tour” hosted by right-wing Jewish Conservative talk show pundit Dennis Prager. My Holy Land Vacation: Touring Israel with 450 Christian Zionists, is this month’s Harper’s Magazine cover story. [more inside]
The Trials of Hannah Arendt by Corey Robin [The Nation]
There’s a history to the conflict over Eichmann in Jerusalem, and like all such histories, the changes in how we read and argue about the book tell us as much about ourselves, and our shifting preoccupations and politics, as they do about Eichmann or Arendt. What has remained constant, however, is the wrath and the rage that Eichmann has aroused. Other books are read, reviled, cast off, passed on. Eichmann is different. Its errors and flaws, real and imagined, have not consigned it to the dustbin of history; they are perennially retrieved and held up as evidence of the book’s viciousness and its author’s vice. An “evil book,” the Anti-Defamation League said upon its publication, and so it remains. Friends and enemies, defenders and detractors—all have compared Arendt and her book to a criminal in the dock, her critics to prosecutors set on conviction.[more inside]
Former Virginia Tech professor Steven Salaita's blocked appointment to teach at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has ignited a debate over academic freedom. [more inside]
The Political Science Department at Brooklyn College is co-sponsoring a panel discussion about the BDS Movement (boycott, divestment, sanctions) against Israel this Thursday Feburary 7th. The event features Omar Barghouti, BDS co-founder and Judith Butler, prominent philosopher. The college has come under widespread attack for its hosting of the event, with a coalition of New York City councillors threatening to defund the school. [more inside]
Yesterday, 1500 protesters denounced the Netanyahu government, carrying signs reading "Zionism is racism" and wearing yellow stars to emphasize comparison between the Israel and the Nazi state. “What’s happening is exactly like what happened in Germany,” said one man wearing a yellow star. “It started with incitement and continued to different types of oppression. Is it insulting that we wear these stars? Absolutely, and it hurts people to see this, but this is how we feel at the moment, we feel we are being prevented from observing the Torah in the manner in which we wish.” Wait, what? Yep -- the protesters aren't Arabs or latte-sipping Berkeley radicals, but ultra-Orthodox Jews in Jerusalem, angry about recent TV news coverage of incidents in which haredim threw rocks at handicapped Modern Orthodox children in Beit Shemesh who were using their wheelchairs on Shabbat. The angry crowd was also protesting the jailing of Shmuel Weisfish, a member of the "Modesty Squad" who recently started a 2-year prison sentence for beating and threatening employees of a computer store for selling MP4 players which might expose customers to inappropriate content. As always, Failed Messiah is your (admittedly one-sided) source for bad behavior among the frum. [more inside]
Minority Death Match: Jews, Blacks, And The "Post-Racial" Presidency by By Naomi Klein. An interesting look at the failure of the two United Nations Durban conferences on racism — and a whole lot of other stuff. [more inside]
Birthright Israel, funded by the Israeli government and Jewish philanthropists, provides free all-inclusive 10-day trips to Israel for Jewish young adults. The program's goal is to promote Israel along with general Jewish unity and engagement. The blog Jewlicious has a category about these trips. (Scroll down past many promotional entries for the interesting stuff.) Some question its efficacy and results, while some Jews subvert the program. The trips end with a "Mega Rally" featuring entertainment, giant inflatable Stars of David, and speeches by dignitaries including PM Ehud Olmert. Here is video coverage (FLV) of the most recent rally. There is also a satirical Something Awful report.
Beautiful early Zionist propaganda posters, courtesy of the Swann Galleries. The first 73 items in this large batch of vintage posters up for auction are related to Israel, Jews or anti-Semitism. [via Paperholic]
A Powerful Lobby The Middle East scholar Martin Kramer takes on the various writers, sites, that proclaim that the American invasion of Iraq is but one more indication of the Jewish/Israeli Lobby influence in America. One of the nuttiest passages in "The Israel Lobby," the co-production of professors Stephen Walt (Harvard) and John Mearsheimer (University of Chicago), occurs in the very first footnote. (It's in the full version, on the website of the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard.)... and, in addtion addresses our involvement in Iraq, caused, claim some, by "Jewish/Israeli interests." [more]
Newsfilter: If Mahmoud Ahmadinejad called for the destruction of Israel, would anybody listen? Apparently this time they are. While vague threats from Iran are a dime a dozen, "Since 1945, the establishment of the United Nations, no head of state which is a member of the United Nations ever called for the destruction of another member of the United Nations, publicly and clearly, as the president of Iran did." according to Shimon Peres, in demanding that Iran be expelled from the UN for the statement. Much of the world seems pretty upset (including the US, who's destruction was also called for on this merry "World without Zionism" conference), but will it lead to anything, or is it just a ratcheting up of the hyperbole between Iran and the IAEA?
...This is one of the reasons why I am convinced that Zionism should not simply be dismissed. Hans Kohn turned away from Zionism, but Martin Buber and Ahad Ha'am definitely did not. If Zionism can produce voices such as these, this is evidence of a fermentation of rare value. Discovering thinkers like Martin Buber and Hannah Arendt and Ahad Ha'am was like encountering pieces of coral from a deep pool. I had read Arendt and indeed some of Buber's work before, but I did not anticipate the sheer prescience of their critique of Zionism. For example, Arendt predicted that the Jewish state would become utterly reliant on American force, and live 'surrounded by an entirely hostile Arab population' in which all 'development would be determined exclusively by the need of war'; this is so accurate, it sends a shudder down your back. Then there was the romantic, semi-mystical discourse of Buber and Ahad Ha'am, posing the question of who we are at its most profound. Their vocabulary revolves around spirituality, selfhood, self-knowledge, truth, understanding, denial. In order to put into words the perils of Zionism, these thinkers had to explore why people can desire identities that become ultimately destructive...
from an interview with Jacqueline Rose, who wrote The Question of Zion via Open Democracy
from an interview with Jacqueline Rose, who wrote The Question of Zion via Open Democracy
"Expertise is a very good thing, but it is not the same thing as sound judgment regarding strategy and policy. George W. Bush has more insight, because of his knowledge of human beings and his sense of history, about the motive force, the craving for freedom and participation in self-rule, than do many of the language experts and history experts and culture experts." -- From a fascinating profile of Douglas Feith, undersecretary of Defense, and one of the main architects of the war in Iraq. From the New Yorker.
Rethinking Zionism. "Although embattled nationalistic movements are a commonplace, no nationalistic cause is as entwined with the larger issues and fault lines of global politics as modern Zionism is. Not least, the crisis of Zionism has implications for the ability of America to achieve its policy goals in the Middle East and in its wider confrontation with Islamic militancy."
"I am the first to say that the Protocols of the Elders of Zion is a forgery, but what is strange is that they [the Israelis] perhaps read it and decided to implement it." Mohammed Sobhi, screenwriter of The Horse without Horseman, reacts to charges that his Egyptian mini-series is anti-semitic. The program tells the story of an Egyptian who leads the struggle against the British colonizers until he finds a book that provides proof that the true enemy is not the British, but the "Elders of Zion".
The Guardian isn't so good at letting you link to their articles anymore. But if you use this link then click on "printable version" you might get to the site I want you to link to. My title being: If you're Jewish and American its hard to know whose side your on these days.
Zionism - Outspoken criticism from the unlikeliest of places. Neturei Karta, members of this orthodox clique condemn zionism, claiming there is no place in the modern world for a jewish state.
Pariah dogs of the Middle East No, not these two jokers, but the real thing: Canaan dogs. Like the more refined Saluki, Sloughi, Azawakh, Afghan Hound and "barkless" Basenji (among many others), Canaan dogs have been known for thousands of years. They guard herds for modern Bedouins like they did for ancient Israelites. During the 1930s, when traditional "war dogs" were having trouble adapting to Palestine, Zionists carefully redomesticated the semi-wild animals, turning them into seeing eye dogs and guards for isolated settlements. Canaan dogs became one of the first breeds trained to detect mines effectively, although their use for bomb-sniffing remains a touchy subject [LAT, reg'n]. You also might enjoy pondering the provocative question raised by this detailed essay: Why have all three major monotheistic religions considered dogs "a threat to the authority of the clergy"?
The far right's success in setting the national agenda is provoking an identity crisis for Israel. Radical settlers are effectively in the driver's seat and are redefining Zionism in terms that threaten the future of a Jewish state. Meanwhile, demographics is a hotter issue than ever in Israel, as Israelis on the right and left struggle with the questions "Can Israel be a Jewish and democratic state? Is there any such animal?" [More inside.]
Non-religious Israeli settlers are financially trapped, argues a sympathetic Tel Aviv University professor. He slams Ha'aretz Daily for constantly urging Jewish settlers to just move out, "as if people who somehow managed to buy a cheap housing unit in a settlement could simply leave it behind and buy another house somewhere else." Seems that for a lot of settlers, financial benefits like reduced income taxes and generous loans are more important enticements than appeals to biblical righteousness. Too bad the "doubly cheated" and heavily villified settlers can't get any financial help when they decide to move back. The solution? "Jews in America and world-wide should therefore use their money to support settlers who wish to leave the occupied territories and return to Israel."
Voices, Explosions, Silence: The Middle East Turmoil On (And Off) The Air. "We apologize for the discontinuation of the transmission of the Voice of Love and Peace. The offices, studios and transmission equipment were destroyed totally by Israeli forces in their last invasion of Ramallah." (from Radio Nederlands, more...)
Army Radio reported that at least one person was killed and 30 injured in an explosion in Rishon Letzion, either at a banquetting hall or a disco, on Sakharov Street in the town's new industrial zone. Initial reports stated that the explosion occurred at around 11:00 P.M., and emergency service were on the way to the scene moments later. Peace? Yeah right...