Good Math, Bad Math

I’m working on more substantive, mathy posts, but in the meantime, I’m pissed,
so I’m making a quick off-topic post.

With the horrible things that are going on in Gaza right now, I’ve gotten a raft of antisemitic spam. Most of it has been through private mail, but some has been in comments on
the blog.

I’ve mentioned plenty of times on this blog that I’m Jewish. Not Israeli. Jewish.

I’m not a member of the Israeli military. I am not a citizen of Israel. I don’t get to vote in Israeli elections. I have no say in anything that the state of Israel does.

If you’re the type of good-for-nothing coward who thinks that the correct way to
handle a political conflict is to fling insults around at some random powerless blogger,
you should at least bother to check that you’re not shooting yourself in the foot with what you’re saying.

I’m not an antisemite, you fucking jew dog. I can’t be an antisemite – I’m an arab, which means I’m a semite. I don’t hate myself. And I don’t hate jews, I hate zionists who
oppress my people.

You start off with “You fucking Jew”, but don’t worry, I believe you. You don’t really hate Jews, it’s just those zionists. Of course, you don’t know whether or not I’m a zionist. You just assume that I am because I’m a Jew. And you hate me enough to spam me with insults about being a “fucking jew dog”. But you’re don’t hate Jews, no.

And you’re not an anti-semite because you’re “arab”. Well, see, in your typical
pig-ignorance, you don’t know that “anti-semite” is a rather deceptive word. It was
created to give an intellectual gloss to jew-hatred. See, Jew-hatred just sounds
so ugly. Back in the late 19th century, a group of German intellectuals was trying
to make Jew-hatred fashionable, and they chose the word “antisemiten” in German to provide a
pseudo-intellectual term that fit with the in-vogue racial theories of the time. That’s where it comes from. It doesn’t matter that looked at in terms of etymology, it doesn’t appear to be a term related specifically to jews. It’s got a clear pedigree dating back well over a century. Antisemitism is Jew-hatred, plain and simple. That’s what the word was created to mean, and that’s what everyone, you included, mean by it.

Even if that weren’t true, it wouldn’t help you. Even if “antisemitic” really
did mean “hating people of semitic origin”, an Arab could be as antisemitic as anyone else. Being a member of a group doesn’t exist stop you from hating that group. Hell, there’s no reason that a Jew can’t be anti-semitic (in the true, Jew-hating meaning of the word): there’s no shortage of people who are Jews by family history who have a deep and intense hatred of Judaism.

People have a hard time separating Jews and Israelis. Not just people like the
assholes who triggered this post. As a child, I lived in a small town in Ohio for four long, miserable years, and constantly heard from people – including my schoolteachers – who couldn’t figure out how I could possible be a Jew and an American at the same
time – because Jews were Israelis.

It’s really not a hard thing.

Judaism is a religion; being Jewish is a matter of belief, custom, and ritual.

Israel is a country. Being Israeli is a matter of politics and citizenship in
that country.

You don’t have to be Israeli to be Jewish, and you don’t have to be Jewish to be Israeli.

Like most countries, Israel has laws describing how you can become a naturalized citizen
if you aren’t born there. It happens that under that law, it’s extremely easy for
many Jews to become naturalized Israeli citizens. That doesn’t mean that all Jews
are Israeli citizens. It means that if you’re part of the group recognized as Jews
by the Israeli government, it would be easy for you to become a naturalized Israeli
citizen if you ever moved there.

I don’t like what’s going on in Gaza right now, but I don’t pretend that the situation is
simple or clear. One one side, I don’t think that any country can afford to let someone shoot
missiles at their people on a daily basis, and not do anything about it. On the other side, I
don’t think it’s remotely acceptable to kill hundreds (or more) of innocent people in the
hopes of stopping a small group of murderous bastards. The Israeli response is complete out of proportion, and the people who are the real victims, who are paying the real price for the most part, aren’t the guilty ones.

But none of that is my choice. Because I’m Jewish, not Israeli. There’s a huge difference
there. (I know that many Israeli’s oppose this conflict; but just like I believe that I share
in the responsibility for the horrors my country has inflicted on the Iraqi people, I think
that Israelis – even the ones who oppose this conflict, share in the responsibility for what
their country has done. And the people in the Palestinian territories who voted for Hamas
share in the responsibility for what Hamas has done in their name. When you’re a citizen of o country, you become a part of it, and you own a share in both the good and the bad of what it does.)

Comments

  1. #1 Michael
    January 7, 2009

    I don’t think the Palestinians who didn’t vote for Hamas have much of a responsibility for what the Hamas government does, nor the Israelis who didn’t vote for the current administration.

  2. #2 larry
    January 7, 2009

    Revelation 2004:
    God disguised as Mel Gibson fathered the Passion of Christ.
    Revelation 2006:
    God disguised as Mel Gibson chose a Jew (policeman) to relay and broadcast “The Jews caused all the wars in the world” message to Jews and all people in the world.
    Revelation 2008:
    An Iraqi man threw 2 shoes at Bush to remind everyone that no Jew ever threw 1 shoe at Hitler.

  3. #3 Alex Besogonov
    January 7, 2009

    I’m about as anti-antisemitic as it gets…

    However, an excuse that you’re not a citizen of Israel and have nothing to do with this conflict is a thin one. You are a citizen of the USA, which currently supports EVERYTHING Israel does. USA also supplies Israel with weapons, including bombs and airplanes.

    PS: IMO the only way to stop conflict is either to give Iran/Palestine nuclear weapons (MAD does wonders…) or disarm Israel and station UN peacekeeping forces there.

  4. #4 Joshua Zelinsky
    January 7, 2009

    Alex, you are being ridiculous on multiple levels. I’ll point out just one of those issues: who precisely do you intend to give nuclear weapons to? If you give them to Hamas do you think that Hamas will do anything other than immediately launch them at Israel? Hamas has shown repeatedly that it is interested first and foremost with the destruction of Israel. To Hamas, all other concerns are secondary. MAD does wonders for minimally rationale individuals. We don’t have that here.

  5. #5 Mark C. Chu-Carroll
    January 7, 2009

    Alex:

    Give me a fucking break.

    I suppose that you then also agree that every citizen of Iran is responsible for everything that Hamas does? After all, their elected government provides Hamas with financial support and weapons, and supports everything that they do. And every Russian citizen is responsible for the massacres in Kosovo? After all, Russia sold weapons to Serbia, and supported them at the UN.

    We can play games like that all day. But we both know that it’s bullshit.

    And the idea that disarming Israel would solve anything is just stupidly naive. The situation there is crazy – but it’s not one-sided. There’s two groups of crazy people intent on killing each other. You could wipe out the entire Israeli army – and you wouldn’t have peace. What you’d have is just more bloodshed.

    Even nuclear weapons wouldn’t settle it, except by turning that whole part of the world into a giant radioactive hole. There are enough crazy people on both sides who’d consider mutual assured destruction an acceptable tradeoff. (Or,
    more accurately, who are so sure that God is on their side that they believe that their side would be protected, and only the baddies on the other side of the border would be hurt.)

  6. #6 Peter Hollo
    January 7, 2009

    Mark, bravo for the post, with which I wholeheartedly agree (although I would say I can be a Jew even though I’m not religious and don’t particularly even follow Jewish customs).

    But as this comments thread has demonstrated almost instantaneously, it might be worth simply leaving the post there as a statement, and closing off comments, ‘coz they’re just going to degenerate into an off-topic shit-fight right away. Unless you’re a sucker for punishment, I don’t think it’s really worth it :/

  7. #7 ri.ann.on
    January 7, 2009

    kudos on the blog mark, I found it randomly as I was interested in seeing different views of this issue.
    And I also agree with Peter.

  8. #8 Keith Nicholas
    January 7, 2009

    bloody americans! ;-)

  9. #9 PalMD
    January 7, 2009

    It’s getting nasty. Independent of any epithets, conflating a jewish neighborhood with the Knesset or the US gov’t is just hateful.

  10. #10 Alex Besogonov
    January 7, 2009

    “I suppose that you then also agree that every citizen of Iran is responsible for everything that Hamas does?”

    Where did I say that you’re responsible for _everything_ Israel does?

    “After all, their elected government provides Hamas with financial support and weapons, and supports everything that they do.”

    Yes, since most of Iran’s population supports war in Palestine – it makes them partly responsible.

    “And every Russian citizen is responsible for the massacres in Kosovo? After all, Russia sold weapons to Serbia, and supported them at the UN.”

    I happen to be a Russian citizen. So yes, I do feel partly responsible for situation in Chechnya and recent war in Ossetia.

    “And the idea that disarming Israel would solve anything is just stupidly naive. The situation there is crazy – but it’s not one-sided. There’s two groups of crazy people intent on killing each other. You could wipe out the entire Israeli army – and you wouldn’t have peace. What you’d have is just more bloodshed.”

    Read the second part of my proposal – install UN peacekeepers. Because Israel is incapable of solving the Palestine problem on its own.

    “Even nuclear weapons wouldn’t settle it, except by turning that whole part of the world into a giant radioactive hole. There are enough crazy people on both sides who’d consider mutual assured destruction an acceptable tradeoff.”

    Israel _already_ has nuclear weapons. However, I fail to see glassy craters in place of Iran and Palestine. So at least one side is not suicidal enough.

  11. #11 Greg Laden
    January 7, 2009

    Mark (and others) It is a drag that people are not getting the distinction. There really was a time in the past when there was much more similarity in political viewpoints between Israeli Jews and US Jews, but even then conflating the perspectives of the two was not accurate, and over time this has become more so.

    What we are seeing here is people dividing their efforts between being assholes on one hand and morons on the other. Sorry this is happening.

  12. #12 Alex Besogonov
    January 7, 2009

    Just to clarify: I know that there’s a huge difference between Israeli Jews and US Jews and Russian Jews and … My business partner is US Jew, for goodness sake.

    I also do not believe that any nationality should suffer for the crimes of the few or be discriminated in any way. Actually, I’m a rabid anti-nationalist (and that includes extreme aversion to Russian nationalism, BTW).

    I’m just telling that US citizens _partly_ share responsibility for the current conflict.

  13. #13 coh
    January 7, 2009

    jews love israel as much as muslims love mecca … it can’t get simpler than that.

  14. #14 Alex Besogonov
    January 7, 2009

    Coh:

    I know a couple of Muslims who hated Mecca (it’s probably not a very nice place during Hajj).

  15. #15 Anonymous
    January 7, 2009

    let’s lob missiles into saudi arabia and see what happens ;p

  16. #16 Joshua Zelinsky
    January 7, 2009

    Coh, that’s false and betrays a massive level of ignorance.

    The most obvious counterexample is how many ultra-Orthodox Jews don’t recognize the state or support it since they believe that there shouldn’t a state until the the Messianic era.

    Jews have a large variety of different attitudes about the state. Indeed, there’s not even a strong correlation between specific branches of Judaism and attitudes about the state of Israel.

    If one wanted to salvage your analogy one might replace “Israel” with “Jerusalem” and you would have something was just a moderately poor analogy rather than a wretched one.

  17. #17 coh
    January 7, 2009

    joshua zelinsky,
    the satmirs don’t represent the majority of jews.

  18. #18 Clay
    January 7, 2009

    I’m just telling that US citizens _partly_ share responsibility for the current conflict.

    Citizens who do not support their country’s actions are not responsible for that country’s actions. Otherwise, your arguement leads to being morally responsible for officials whom you voted against.

    So in my opinion, your statement should read:
    I’m just telling that _some_ US citizens share responsibility for the current conflict.

  19. #19 Joshua Zelinsky
    January 8, 2009

    Coh, the satmars aren’t the only charedi group that has issues with the state. They are only one of the most vocal.

    Moreover, even one major group of that sort is more than enough to blow your analogy to shreds. And they aren’t the only such group.

    As individuals, many Orthodox, Conservative, Reform and Reconstructionist Jews have different attitudes about Israel. Your analogy sucked. Deal with it.

  20. #20 Paul Murray
    January 8, 2009

    It’s quite the propaganda coup, how the state of Israel (and Zionism) has managed to co-opt jewishness.

  21. #21 coh
    January 8, 2009

    joshua zelinsky,

    ok, since you’re a grammarian, most jews love israel.

  22. #22 coh
    January 8, 2009

    after some discussion back and forth, both joshua zelinsky and i have further refined my previous analogy. the new analogy is:

    “the love jews have for israel is similar but not equal to the love muslims have for mecca.”

    upon further detail, we can say that this ratio is set at about 4:5 with an error margin of about 5%.

  23. #23 AL
    January 8, 2009

    Judaism is a religion; being Jewish is a matter of belief, custom, and ritual.

    Yeah, I’m curious about this. I have friends and acquaintances who readily identify themselves as Jewish, but are either not religious, or belong to a religion other than Judaism (e.g. a Christian Jew). Perhaps they are using the label in some loose ethnic sense?

  24. #24 adam
    January 8, 2009

    Hamas is a creation of ISrael and USA. USA was lecetd democratically thru an election supposedly supported by the USA.

    when your ppl are starving, denied basic rights, confine in the world largest open air prison what else can you do to defence yourself and your ppl.

    the point is stop occupation, stop killing innocent lives children include on both sides.

    let s live in peace. no more holocaust

  25. #25 Bob O'H
    January 8, 2009

    “And every Russian citizen is responsible for the massacres in Kosovo? After all, Russia sold weapons to Serbia, and supported them at the UN.”

    I happen to be a Russian citizen. So yes, I do feel partly responsible for situation in Chechnya and recent war in Ossetia.

    Please tell me you didn’t read that carefully. You tend to lose credibility when you imply that Serbia and Kosovo are in Chechnya or Ossetia. And if you read the last paragraph of Mark’s post, you’ll see that you both agree that citizens should feel some responsibility for what their own government does. The difference is whether you should feel responsibility for what another government does.

    Mark – don’t let the idiots get you down. I also agree with Peter and ri.ann.on.

  26. #26 Marwan
    January 8, 2009

    I am sorry that this is happening. I am Palestinian myself, my grandmother has always told me stories of how Arabs and Jews lived together like brothers, how their children would play together all morning, how they saw themselves as one people. It’s very sad how in a few decades everything changed, how many Arabs and Jews have become bigoted and self-righteous, how many Arabs and Jews have given up ideas of coexistence and respect for one another in favor of hate, propaganda and dehumanization of the other.

    I am sorry that you have received such emails. There’s no excuse for this. Those people are obviously childish and are blinded by propaganda. The racist assholes that exist on both sides of this conflict prove how propaganda is bad regardless of how good the cause is.

    I admit that this conflict has turned many people; Arabs, Asians, Muslims and Christians into anti-semites, and we (Palestinians) definitely bear some responsibility in making sure we stop this (rather than promote it as some of us do).

    Again, I would like to say how much I enjoy reading your blog, and that I am sorry for the emails you have received. I believe that the majority of the people who do such things are ignorant and that the majority of them have probably never even met a Jew in their whole lives (and probably never will), which is also a little sad too, since not ever meeting a single Jew is why it’s so easy for them to be anti-semitic, because they don’t have Jewish friends or neighbors. Because on the Internet it’s easy to say shit about people that you don’t know!

  27. #27 lukas
    January 8, 2009

    Is “aiding and supplying a foreign government while fully aware of its policies and actions” not something a government does? Saying that Israeli/Palestinian voters are responsible while exempting the US/Iranian governments (and, by extension, US/Iranian citizens) is disingenuous.

  28. #28 AH
    January 8, 2009

    “It’s really not a hard thing.

    Judaism is a religion; being Jewish is a matter of belief, custom, and ritual.

    Israel is a country. Being Israeli is a matter of politics and citizenship in that country.

    You don’t have to be Israeli to be Jewish, and you don’t have to be Jewish to be Israeli.”

    Actually, it _is_ that difficult. There’s no general agreement as to who is Jewish and who is not. There’s a lot of discussion both in and outside of the community, in the pages of Commentary and Christian Science Montior, as to the precise meaning of the predicate “x is Jewish”. It’s essentially the sorites paradox. Clearly you have your own specific definition of Judaism, but as AL remarked, there are many people who call themselves and are called by others Jewish, while at the same time fail to satisfy the requirements of your definition.

    By the ever-present currents of metonymy, it is possible to use “Israel” as a noun meaning “the set of all Jewish people, for some value of Jewish” and “Jew” as a noun meaning “a person of Israeli nationality”. I don’t think it is proper to argue that the two predicates “x is Jewish” and “x is Israeli” can be obviously distinguished when they can so easily mean each other. It’s prescriptivism, which should be avoided in linguistics.

    Thanks for clearing up the etymology of “anti-Semite”, by the way. I’ll be sure to point people towards this in the future.

  29. #29 do not bother
    January 8, 2009

    > Back in the late 19th century, a group of German intellectuals was
    > trying to make Jew-hatred fashionable, and they chose the word
    > “antisemiten” in German to provide a pseudo-intellectual term that
    > fit with the in-vogue racial theories of the time.

    Oh, so it is these bad Germans who started it all! Unfortunately, according to Wikipedia, the word in question was first used by Moritz Steinschneider (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moritz_Steinschneider), and with quite a different purpose.

  30. #30 Guest
    January 8, 2009

    The basic problem here isn’t Hamas firing a few rockets… the basic problem is THEFT! Consider this:

    Suppose the UN decided to annexe California from the US to make a homeland for the Scientologists (or Buddhists or 7th Day Adventists etc.), who’s members then kicked Californians out of their own houses and land, bombed and shot their women and children, shelled their hospitals, turned off services etc., denied them the ability to work and generally tried starving them into submission.

    Add to this explosive mix some external foreign power (say, the North Koreans) supplying these “New Californians” with weapons, military, financial and moral support.

    Now, would this be ‘kosher’ with you — or would you be wanting to fire off a few rocket rounds yourself? And is it any wonder that the Arabs (and every other country in the world) hates your guts for endorsing this theft?

  31. #31 Captain Obvious
    January 8, 2009

    The problem is grade A idiocy and it’s compounded by the fact it’s often willful.

    It goes for both sides – muppets claiming all Jews somehow magically support everything the state of Israel does without question are are retarded as muppets claiming everything Israel does is without question in the best interests of all Jews.

    Israel should be seen as any other state – it will tend to do what the people in charge think are best – if you are lucky, best for the world, if you are unlucky best for themselves, or anything in between.

    The religious components, like always, just confuse and inflame the issue. It’s not like any same-religion states have never had brutal wars with each other, is it.

    /sigh.

  32. #32 Christophe Thill
    January 8, 2009

    There are quite a few people who are Jewish Israeli citizens and who are against the war. They hold demonstrations in favor of peace. You don’t hear about them very often in the media. The fact that you don’t, in my opinion, helps antisemites. Perhaps very, very little, but still.

  33. #33 RoyK
    January 8, 2009

    Allow me to suggest a small correction, regarding

    I don’t think it’s remotely acceptable to kill hundreds (or more) of innocent people in the hopes of stopping a small group of murderous bastards. The Israeli response is complete out of proportion

    Hundreds of Hammas terrorists were killed in the operation, and only a relatively small fraction of the casualties were innocent civilians (estimates made by the Palestinians themselves indicate 20%). So in that respect I think Israel is setting very high standards in avoiding innocent casualties, way better than what the US achieves in Iraq/Afghanistan, and way better than what NATO achieved in Kosovo.

    Second, the “proportionate” idea is baffling. Hammas fires rockets into cities, aiming to kill and terrorize citizens. Are you suggesting that a proportionate response is better than what Israel is doing (i.e, should Israel also fire rockets into civilian centers, rather than try to bomb Hammas infrastructure and personnel)?
    I realize this is tongue-in-cheek, but seriously. I think that a single concentrated military effort is a much better solution than years of limited, pointless mutual destruction.

  34. #34 Baratos
    January 8, 2009

    Second, the “proportionate” idea is baffling.

    If the response to an attack is not proportionate, the popularity of the attackers will be greatly increased by the over-response. My traditional example for this is WW2, and how the Axis lost local support by killing 100 people every time one of their soldiers died.

  35. #35 Snark7
    January 8, 2009

    “I can’t be an antisemite – I’m an arab, which means I’m a semite. I don’t hate myself.”

    Well, I don’t believe him at all.I don’t think it’s even possible for an Arab not to hate himself.

  36. #36 Stephen Wells
    January 8, 2009

    Israel would be justified in taking action to stop Hamas rocket attacks.

    Bombing Gaza is not such an action.

    Dismantling illegal settlements would be more constructive.

  37. #37 Snark7
    January 8, 2009

    @30:
    The basic problem here isn’t Hamas firing a few rockets… the basic problem is THEFT! Consider this:

    Now, would this be ‘kosher’ with you — or would you be wanting to fire off a few rocket rounds yourself? And is it any wonder that the Arabs (and every other country in the world) hates your guts for endorsing this theft?

    But this kind of “Theft” is actually, what history is actually made of. If you really would want to treat this “fairly”, than muslims would have to disappear from a lot of places in the world. Starting with Constantinople, maybe ?

    There is simply no reason why just the oldest existing religious group in that region shouldn’t have the right to it’s own nation.

    And frankly: I believe still a lot more people in the world despise Arabs than Israelis. They just tend to be a bit more civilized and quieter than the dumb as bricks consulate burning rabble.

  38. #38 Blake Stacey
    January 8, 2009

    There is simply no reason why just the oldest existing religious group in that region shouldn’t have the right to it’s own nation.

    If there were, we’d have to take Israel away and give it to the New Age loons who worship Isis and Osiris. Long live the Egyptian Empire and its divine dominion over the land of Canaan!

  39. #39 Estragon
    January 8, 2009

    “But this kind of “Theft” is actually, what history is actually made of.”
    History contains a lot of atrocities, the repeat of which might be best avoided. War, invasion, ethnic cleansing and genocide was indeed a common feature of human history and was probably involved to some extent in the history of almost all nations. The same thing is true of slavery. That doesn’t mean, however, that either should be acceptable in the modern world.
    You cannot look at a snapshot of the world two thousand years ago and say ‘this nation is forever’. Where would the United States be if we suddenly adopted that rule.
    Pragmatic rationalism, rather than ancient religious texts, or indeed ignorant racism, should drive our policy in this regard.

  40. #40 Andrew
    January 8, 2009

    Imaginary men who hate the followers of other imaginary men make up the majority of the problems, and will continue to do so until there are zero imaginary men.

  41. #41 ponderingfool
    January 8, 2009

    How can people still conflate being Jewish and being pro-Israel? Between family members and friends who are Jewish, most I know are actually anti-Israel (and anti-Hamas, you can be both after all).

  42. #42 Snark7
    January 8, 2009

    @38: No, we wouldn’t. We’d just give them Egypt back.

    @39: Exactly. The existence of Israel is a fact. Period.

  43. #43 SLC
    January 8, 2009

    I really get a laugh out of these arguments based on proportionality. Does Mr. Chu-Carroll think that the US and Britain were being proportional in WW 2 when Germany cities were bombed, in part as retaliation for the bombing of British cities? At least 10 times as many German civilians were killed as British. Does Mr. Chu-Carroll think that Hiroshima and Nagasaki were proportional to the attack on Pearl Harbor? The civilian death ration was at least 100 to 1.

    The bottom line here is that the proportionality argument is piffle. The object of going to war is to win the war. As General Patton said, nobody ever won a war by dying for his country; wars are won by making the other guy die for his country (I cleaned that up a bit).

  44. #44 rpsms
    January 8, 2009

    One can rationalize the conflict any which way one wants, but none of the above comments have anything to do with the basic fact that Mark–a guy in NY–is receiving electronic drive-bys by people angry about what the isreali army is doing.

    That is insanity. And unjust. And ridiculous.

  45. #45 Anonymous
    January 8, 2009

    Mark, I’m sorry that you were the victim of angry & irrational spam. It looks like you’ve now got some angry & irrational comments to go along with it. :-)

    [Having said that, I can't resist inserting that, if SLC thinks Israel is "winning" this war, then he's living in a hawkish dreamland (putting aside the amoral character of his argument, to focus only on the efficacy, from the standpoint of Israel's self interest, of their policies). More likely, it is inspiring another generation of terrorists through the suffering and humiliation it is causing with its recklessly harsh military response.]

    In any case, of course you (Mark) are not responsible for the policy decisions of Israel’s leaders — nor, for that matter, are all Israeli-Jewish citizens (e.g. Peace Now, which has been calling for an immediate ceasefire for over a week).

  46. #46 Mu
    January 8, 2009

    The question of “theft” of land is ridiculous – when do you set the point of “right full owner”? Blake already mentioned the question of “who owns Canaan/Israel/Palestine”, how about who owns what is today Poland? The Poles, since they live there? The Germans, since they were kicked out of it using what is today ethnic cleansing? The Poles again, since the Germans took it from them in the 11th century? The Germans, since the Slavs that later became the Poles drove the Germanic tribes west during the 4th and 5th century? Or whoever lived there when people started to organize in larger than local organizations?

  47. #47 Levi Keller
    January 8, 2009

    Attitudes of Jews toward Israel, by affiliation (if professed):

    1. Reform, Reconstructionist, and Renewal Judaism:

    With a primary focus on “Tikkun Olam”, a doctrine of social Justice, and a sentimental feeling about the land, these groups support peace and reconciliation projects. Many of these projects are grassroots community based affairs.

    see http://www.arabjewishpartnership.org or google jerusalem peacemakers

    2. Conservative.

    The conservative movement is divided: the liberal branch is in agreement with the groups mentioned above while the more conservative conservative congregations are more likely to support Israel unequivocally.

    3. Orthodox Judaism has several subsections:

    A: Modern Orthodox:
    No unanimity, but a strong tendency toward Zionism.

    B: Litvak / Yeshivish:
    With a focus on the study of Torah above all else, this group is rather apolitical, the ones in israel will support any party that offers more money to their Yeshivot (Academies). Their party, UTJ, tries to monopolize the economic ministerial post.

    C: Like the Litvaks, Hasidic Jews have a strong anti-zionist history, but are currently divided in this regard:

    I. Habad, the fastest growing faction, are against a zionist state in principe, but currently oppose all negotiations and take a very militant stance

    II. Belz, Ger, Alexander and most other Hasidic groups, while against Zionism in principle, take a compromising stance, and will participate in local politics to their benefit, usually aligned with parties like UTJ.

    III. Breslov Hasidim are apolitical and mildly anti-authoritarian, they mostly just dance.

    IV. Satmar, Neturei Karta, Toldos Aaron and a few other small groups, are vocally anti-zionist, they refuse to participate in the israeli political process, and sometimes wont even take government money for their institutions.

    4. Religious Zionism is a growing movement that attracts disaffected youth from modern orthodox, hasidic and Yeshivish backgrounds. It is a particularly virulent form of Zionism because it is rooted in faith, not nationalism as traditional zionism is.

  48. #48 Levi Keller
    January 8, 2009

    of course, one must recognize that heterodoxy is prevalent everywhere, and individuals vary on this, as they do on all issues

  49. #49 Jens Berlips
    January 8, 2009

    Take a break and see “Religulous”

  50. #50 mufi
    January 8, 2009

    Levi, I’m not sure which comment prompted your inventory of religious Jewish attitudes towards the modern state of Israel, but (as a former Orthodox Jew) I can attest that it’s a fairly accurate summary.

    I’m not sure, however, that “faith” and “nationalism” deserve such contrast. It seems to me that they can, and often do, overlap – especially in Judaism, with its long history of binding together the people and land of Israel. Indeed, that tradition appears to have had a strong emotional influence even upon secular Jews.

    So, while you’re at it (and we’re so off the topic of this blog, anyway), perhaps you’ll want to add an inventory of the different forms of Zionism – including the cultural likes of Martin Buber and Judah Magnes, who advocated “a binational state [in Palestine] in which the two peoples will enjoy equal rights” (as described here) – a very different vision than the one that eventually won out through violent means and with even more violent consequences.

  51. #51 S. Rivlin
    January 8, 2009

    First, I would like to command Marwan for his comment (#26). It is relatively rare to read comments like his. The majority of Palestinians commenters, just as he states, are antiSemites and Israel haters.

    That said, eventually his mother did not tell him all the truth about Jews and Arabs living together in Palestine. Long before the birth of the state of Israel, Arabs in Palestine were not very friendly to Jews there. Twice, in 1929 and in 1936, the Arab residents of Hebron massacared many Jewish residents of that city, the latter pogrom cause a Jewish exodus from that city not to return until after 1967. I should know because my father’s family is from Hebron where they lost everything they owened, including their house. They were other clashes between Arabs and Jews in Palestine and during WW2 the Mufti (an official Muslim ruler) of Jerusalem actually met with Hitler, vowing to help him in his final solution of the Jewish problem. Nevertheless, I recognize the problem that innocent Palestinian people face both in Gaza and in the West Bank. The occupation of these territories in 1967, though were happened during a war against Egypt and Jordan, left the residents of these territories to suffer from the occupation. Jewish zealot settlers do not help in resolving the problem, but so do terrorists groups such as Hamas and Hizbullah, whose declared aim is to destroy the state of Israel. Their tactics, among others, involved using the local civilian populations as shields and employing every civilian casualty as propaganda, which they know is very effective in the West. Pictures of bloody or dead Palestinian children advance the image of Hamas much more that a picture of an Israeli tank in Gaza does for Israel. Let’s not forget that Israeli tanks where out of Gaza for more than three years, including Israeli settlers and settlements, yet, Hamas sent over 5,000 rockets into Israel over the past six years. There are no antiArab e-mails and blog comments when rockets fall on Israeli towns and kinergartens; there are no emergency meetings of the UN security council when Israel is being attacked, there are no demonstrations in Paris, London, Rome and Washington when Israeli casualties of Palestinian terror are burried; there are no destruction of Muslim grave stones in cemeteries around Europe when Israelis are blown to pieces in cafes, buses and discos; there are no calls to boycot Muslim marchants in Italy (as one can hear now regarding Jewish merchants) when Hizbullah kidnaps Israeli soldiers, murders them and sends rockets into Israel, including one today that hit an Elderly Care Center in northern Israel.

    Have you ever thought why when Israe is attacked no one sounds even a peep, but when Israel defends herself, the whole world is demonstrating not only against her, but against every Jew in the world?

    AntiSemitism is alive and well in this world and Israel stands as a much clearer and greater target of that hatred that any small shtetle in Europe.

  52. #52 An Arab
    January 8, 2009

    @Snark7: You are a despicable racist, and a complete fucking imbecile.

  53. #53 S. Rivlin
    January 8, 2009

    One additional remark to my previous comment (#51):

    If there were no Jewish State (Israel) to be the target of most of the antiSemitic arrows that the world shoot at her, these arrows would find other Jewish targets around the world, including the writer of this blog and myself, at a much higher frequency and greater harm than we see today.

  54. #54 Joshua Zelinsky
    January 8, 2009

    coh, “ok, since you’re a grammarian, most jews love israel.”

    I’m not a “grammarian” (you may want to look up what that word means). Precise language is important. Indeed, you should as a reader of Mark’s blog be aware of how imprecision can create serious problems. Moving on to the third version of your statement, what do you mean by “love”? Do you mean consider it to be their country of primary allegiance? That’s pretty obviously false. Do you mean have some sort of emotional attachment that is higher than their emotional attachment to other countries? That might even be true. But it hardly justifies either your earlier bad analogy or the responses Mark is getting.

    AH,

    There’s a lot of difficulty about how to define who is a Jew (indeed it is extensive enough an issue that a large amount has been written on the subject. See for example http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Who_is_a_Jew%3F ). But there’s no reasonable system in which Israeli and Jew become synonyms. Obviously, complete proscriptivism is bad but there are pretty blatantly people who are Jewish who are not Israeli in any way and there are Israelis who are Christian or Muslim or Ba’hai or at least a dozen other religions. Anyone who uses those terms interchangeably is at best ignorant.

    (Incidentally, Levi’s summary above of the different attitudes towards the major groups is a decent approximation for a quick blog post. One other thing to keep in mind is that support for Israel or sympathy for the state doesn’t mean agreeing or defending every Israeli action.)

  55. #55 Fernando
    January 8, 2009

    #40 (Andrew): I’m officially your fan, and I’m incorporating your phrase to my quote database.

    Regards,

  56. #56 mufi
    January 8, 2009

    Mr. Rivlin, how can anyone know if anti-Semitism would be greater or lesser in the world today if there were no modern state of Israel? I would tend to agree with the speculation that, because anti-Semitism is so old and thereby deeply rooted, it wouldn’t likely be zero in the scenario where no Israel ever existed. But it probably reflects wishful thinking (not to mention political ideology) to say that Israel in any way protects Jews in the Diaspora from religious or ethnic persecution. On the contrary, enough people are offended by the concept of a Jewish state (recall the Zionism=racism UN decision) and/or its actions over the past 60 years as to lend support to the counter-claim that its existence actually helps to feed the cause of anti-Semitism. Not that that’s necessarily a reason to criticize Zionism, but it’s hardly a reason to uncritically support it, either.

  57. #57 sung lim
    January 8, 2009

    It’s sad how people don’t seem to be able to tell the difference between religion and nationality.

    I just hope the terrible events at Gaza reaches a conclusion that’s best for both sides… Though that’s very unlikely by now.

  58. #58 Michael Paul Goldenberg
    January 8, 2009

    Mark: If Judaism “is” a religion, then I’m not a Jew, since I don’t subscribe to any religion. Obviously, it is NOT a race, since “race” is a false construct. It’s not a nationality, since being Israeli does not equal being Jewish and vice versa. Yet, for purposes of this conversation and for potential inclusion in any pogrom or extermination camp or genocidal plan in the past, present or future, I am pretty sure I qualify as “Jewish,” and the bombers, commandants, and oven-operators aren’t going to quibble or ask me when I last went to synagogue. They’re just going to kill me or try to.

    I get more than a bit pissed at the sloppy and politically correct/convenient use of the word “genocide” in the current flap over Gaza. Is Israel pursuing genocide there? I could be very wrong, but it doesn’t look like it from here. Have they EVER pursued such a policy? Again, not from what I can see. Do they do stuff that is reactive? Of course. Do I approve their every move? Not a chance: neither do many, many Israelis. But there is so much more to this than Israelis bad, Palestinians good or the reverse. Anyone who needs to see this in black and white terms isn’t going to listen to reason or look at facts that might move them an angstrom off their entrenched and extremist position, and I don’t ever expect that anyone who starts throwing around epithets at Jews, Muslims, Israelis, Arabs, Palestinians, etc., is going to be thinking a whole bunch about what I write. Of course, that doesn’t make it any more fun to get screamed at, and I understand Mark’s reaction fully.

  59. #59 Alex Besogonov
    January 8, 2009

    Bob O’H@25:

    “Please tell me you didn’t read that carefully. You tend to lose credibility when you imply that Serbia and Kosovo are in Chechnya or Ossetia.”

    Of course, I know where Ossetia, Chechnya and Serbia are located (and I have also visited all of them). I’m only giving them as examples.

    “And if you read the last paragraph of Mark’s post, you’ll see that you both agree that citizens should feel some responsibility for what their own government does. The difference is whether you should feel responsibility for what another government does.”

    I’d feel responsibility if my government supported a band of military criminals. I still feel ashamed that Putin supported the former government of Turkmenistan.

  60. #60 Lycosid
    January 8, 2009

    Mark, thanks for writing this. People don’t seem to realize that Judaism and Israel are separate concepts. Too many people jump to calling people who see the Palestinian side of the conflict Nazis and I’m sick of it.

  61. #61 S. Rivlin
    January 8, 2009

    mufi,

    My assumption is based on the fact that the basis of hating israel is antiSemetic yet, it allows the antiSemites to continue to promote their hatred without admitting it to be antiSemitism, rather a “political” or even a “human rights” stance.

    Some, of course, cannot hide their antiSemitism when they lash at Israel and thus are sending Jew-hating e-mails to Mark and many other Jews they can identify. However, for those who are a bit more sophisticated, being anti-Israel would suffice to fulfill their primordial need to hate people they don’t even know. Bigotry and racism, just like antiSemitism, is a human trait that the modern man has learned to curb through education, study of history and opening of borders and iron curtains. Others, still living in the dark ages, ignorant and provincial, stick to their parents’ bigotry.

  62. #62 Orac
    January 8, 2009

    Actually, the conflation of criticizing Israel with being anti-Semitic is abused both by anti-Semitic bigots and defenders of Israel. On the one hand, some defenders of Israel are far too quick on the draw to label critics of Israel as anti-Semitic. However, on the other hand, anti-Semites love it when Israel does something they can criticize, because they can then latch on to the legitimate criticism and thereby try to hide the bigotry and Jew hatred behind the claim of being “anti-Zionist” and of criticizing Israel’s excesses.

  63. #63 S. Rivlin
    January 8, 2009

    Here’s something to lighten us all up!

    What happens when a fly falls into a coffee cup?

    The Italian throws the cup and walks away in a fit of rage.

    The Frenchman takes out the fly, and drinks the coffee.

    The Chinese eats the fly and throws away the coffee.

    The Russian drinks the coffee with the fly, since it was extra with no charge.

    The Israeli sells the coffee to the Frenchman, the fly to the Chinese, buys himself a new cup of coffee and uses the extra money to invent a device that prevents flies from falling into the coffee.

    The Palestinian blames the Israeli for the fly falling in his coffee, protests the act of aggression to the UN, takes a loan from the European Union to buy a new cup of coffee, uses the money to purchase explosives and then blows up the coffee house where the Italian, the Frenchman, the Chinese and the Russian are all trying to explain to the Israeli that he should give away his cup of coffee to the Palestinian.

  64. #64 mufi
    January 8, 2009

    Too often I come across the following implication in these threads: criticize Israel and you’re an anti-Semite (or a self-hating Jew). I realize that there are bonafide Jew-haters out there (e.g. white supremacists) who have nothing nice to say about Israel (as well as Jews), but using this faulty logic really harms one’s credibility.

  65. #66 Grétar Amazeen
    January 9, 2009

    Thanks for a good levelheaded post.

  66. #67 mike t
    September 18, 2009

    The land originally belonged to and was occupied by people who practised the Jewish religion–they were not Arabs. This land was overrun and the occupants were scattered. The land was given a new name and subsequently Palestine was created. For generations this land was thus occupied by “Palestinians”. After WWII, the land was given back to the original owners, the Israelites. Palestinians were devastated, this had been theirs for a long time–they felt that it belonged to them. Israel was reestablished and the two peoples have been in conflict ever since.

    As I see it, this little chunk of land should belong to the Israelites–there’s plenty of room in the neighboring Arab countries to absorb their fellow Arab/Muslim Palestinian “brothers”.

    The Israelis are a hard-working, democratic people with values very similar to Americas. They are more evolved than their Arab neighbors and remain the only “civilized” nation the region. They deserve our support.

  67. #68 Guest
    September 19, 2009

    @guest: “Suppose the UN decided to annexe California from the US to make a homeland for the Scientologists (or Buddhists or 7th Day Adventists etc.), who’s members then kicked Californians out of their own houses and land,”

    Americans did just that during the U.S.-Mexican War. Note, American books now want to use Mexican War, nice! So, back to my point. Americans, shoot, killed, raped and stolen land from Mexicans.

    And your point gain?

    Palestinians are like the little brother who annoys the hell out of the big brother. They keep pushing the envelope, until big brother hits it hard and then they cry uncle.

    If you can’t fight, don’t start it. Simple.

    Stop firing rockets and blowing people on buses, then perhaps Israel can give them more freedom.

  68. #69 Guest
    September 19, 2009

    Marc, great post!

  69. #70 Bud
    October 3, 2009

    All the comments are pretty good, but here is my 2 cents on this issue. Let people\governments manage their own countries manufacture their own weapons follow their own religions, beliefs or whatever the shit these arseholes spew. We all know crap needs to be discharged, it is essential to life, but do I come and crap in or on your house. Could not do it.
    So, let all the people\governments crap all they want, just do it in their own house. DO NOT SELL YOUR WEAPONS, IDEOLOGIES. If your stuff is great. mine is wonderful. If mine is great then your stuff is wonderful. So we both have something great and wonderful. JUST for the sake of our kids and their kids, live in peace.

  70. #71 Lesacre
    April 9, 2010

    Mark,

    You seem to be much more forgiving about manifestations of Jewish ethnic self-interest than European (ie White) self-interest. For example, this doesn’t seem to bother you, too much:

    “It means that if you’re part of the group recognized as Jews by the Israeli government, it would be easy for you to become a naturalized Israeli citizen if you ever moved there.” Look, if Jewish Israelis would let Arabs freely move into and live in the Land they inhabit, and if Jews did not preference one another to Arabs, there would be no problem.

    Do me a favor an write a post about Jewish racism:

    1. I am an Jewish racist—because I never noticed all of the unearned privileges that are given to me until someone pointed them out.

    2. I am an Jewish racist—because even after learning about the unearned privileges that I recieve, I still don’t notice them.

    3. I am an Jewish racist, because I have grown up in a culture that, at every turn, teaches me that to be Jewish is to be better, and smarter, and I have absorbed that lesson.

    4. I am an Jewish, because I instinctively react to members of Christian-European and Arabs with fear.

    5. I am an Jewish racist, because I live in a sunset town.

    6. I am an Jewish, because I believe that I deserve the success I have, even though I know people who are more smart, capable, and talented than I am never had the chances that I did to be successful, because their ethnicity.

    7. I am a Jewish racist—because I am a Jew who has directly benefited from the unfair preferences that have been directed towards me all of my life.

    8. I am a Jewish racist—because every day, I benefit from the denial of basic privileges to other people.

    9. I am a Jewish racist, because I do not notice the things that are denied to people who are different from me.

    10. I am a Jewish racist, because I do not notice the advantages that I have over others.

    11. I am a Jewish racist, because even when I do manage to notice what is denied to people of different ethne and backgrounds, I don’t speak up.

    Maybe you could help me solve the problem of Jews getting illegitimate European preferences. Once it’s made clear that Jews are not IndoEuropean, and once they are distinguished for Affirmative Action purposes, in the way Hispanics are, I think we will move along way to bettering this situation.

    What do you think?

  71. #72 Lesacre
    April 9, 2010

    Edit: make ‘along’ ‘a long’ and scratch the n’s from the an’s.

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