* Dear Judge Goldstone,

As rabbis from diverse traditions and locations, we want to extend our warmest mazel tov to you as an elder in our community upon the bar mitzvah of your grandson. Bar and Bat Mitzvah is a call to conscience, a call to be responsible for the welfare of others, a call to fulfill the covenant of peace and justice articulated in our tradition.
As rabbis, we note the religious implications of the report you authored. We are reminded of Shimon Ben Gamliel’s quote, “The world stands on three things: justice, truth, and peace as it says ‘Execute the judgment of truth, and justice and peace will be established in your gates’ (Zekharya 8:16).” We affirm the truth of the report that bears your name.
We are deeply saddened by the controversy that has grown up around the issuing of the report. We affirm your findings and believe you set up an impeccable standard that provides strong evidence that Israel engaged in war crimes during the assault on Gaza that reveal a pattern of continuous and systematic assault against Palestinian people and land that has very little to do with Israel’s claim of security.
Your report made clear the intentional targeting of civilian infrastructures such as hospitals, schools, agricultural properties, water and sewage treatment centers and civilians themselves with deadly weapons that are illegal when used in civilian
This is the ugly truth that is so hard for many Jewish people to face. Anyone who spends a day in Palestinian territories sees this truth immediately.
Judge Goldstone, we want to offer you our deepest thanks for upholding the principles of justice, compassion and truth that are the heart of Jewish religion and without which our claims to Jewishness are empty of meaning. We regret that your findings have led to controversy and caused you not to feel welcome at your own grandson’s Bar Mitzvah. We believe your report is a clarion call to Israel and the Jewish people to awaken from the slumber of denial and return to the path of peace.
Rabbi Everett Gendler
Rabbi Lynn Gottlieb
Rabbi Brant Rosen
Rabbi Brian Walt
Rabbi Haim Beliak
Rabbi Michael Lerner
Rabbi Arthur Waskow
Rabbi Michael Feinberg
Rabbi Shai Gluskin
Rabbi David Shneyer
Rabbi David Mivassair
Rabbi Laurie Zimmerman
Rabbi Douglas Krantz
Rabbi Margaret Holub
Rabbi Rebecca Alpert
Rabbi Mordecai Liebling
Rabbi Phyllis Berman
Rabbi Zev-Hayyim Feyer
Rabbi Eyal Levinson
Rabbi Lorraine Chaskalson
Rabbi Doron Isaacs

* The late New York Times managing editor, Gerald Boyd, has posthumously published a book, My Times in Black and White: Race and Power at the New York Times. You can read excerpts of the book at Amazon. Boyd talks about his childhood in St. Louis and the effect a certain Cooper family–grocery owners, Reform Jewish–had on him. He recounts listening to them talk about the Holocaust and about the glorious victory of the IDF in the Six-Day War which leads him to state that as a young boy, “I could not locate Israel on a map, but I cheered for it about as much as I did for the Cardinals.” (pg. 48).

Per Russell Baker’s review in the New York Review of Books,

Boyd was recruited for a management position in the 1980s by Max Frankel, then executive editor. By that time, Boyd had already established himself as a top-of-the-line reporter during an exemplary career with the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and the Times ‘s Washington bureau.

Oh, Frankel. He was a Holocaust survivor. And in The Times of My Life, his autobiography, he wrote:

I was much more deeply devoted to Israel than I dared to assert. I had yearned for a Jewish homeland ever since learning as a child in Germany that in Palestine even the policemen were Jews! Like most American Jews, however I settled on a remote brand of Zionism… American Jews poured energy and money into… vigorous political lobbying of presidents and Congress…Fortified by my knowledge of Israel and my friendships there, I myself wrote most of our Middle East commentaries. As more Arab than Jewish readers recognize, I wrote them from a pro-Israel perspective.

(It is so easy to frame American narratives in racial and class terms. Yes, and what about ethnic/ideological ones? Hat tip to Irek.)

* Haber: does BDS leadership seek ideological purity or a coalition?

Yesterday we published Ahmed Moor’s criticism of Jerry Haber’s appeal to liberal Zionists to offer guarded support to the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement. Today Haber, the Magnes Zionist, responds.
Ahmed Moor has criticized my modest attempt to convince liberal Zionists either to support BDS, or at least not to demonize the movement. He doesn’t like my approach, not because he thinks that it will not appeal to liberal Zionists (I have received that reaction) but because he doesn’t like the sell, which he finds offensive and paternalistic to Palestinians. He also doesn’t like liberal Zionism and sees no reason to reach out to liberal Zionists as long as they support a Jewish ethnic state. Time is not on their side, and sooner or later they will have to recognize that the days of a Jewish ethnic state are numbered.
To call for equal rights for Palestinian citizens, one of the movement’s founding principles, entails, according to Moor, the end of the state of Israel as “Jewish and democratic.” So does the recognition of the right of return.
Moor may be correct that time is not on the side of liberal Zionism. But if he thinks that the goals of the global BDS movement rule out a Jewish ethnic state, then why don’t the leaders of the BDS movement say so? Why don’t they simply say, “A main goal of BDS is regime change.” Perhaps they think that, but I didn’t see that in the founding principles of the movement, which I cited in my post.
True civil equality of Palestinian Arabs in Israel may entail the end of the Jewish state, but many people, Jews and Palestinians, don’t think that it does. They may suffer from a bad case ofdelusion or mauvais foi, but there you have it: The vast majority of Palestinian Israelis want civil equality; many Palestinian Israeli leaders want cultural autonomy and minority rights – but, if polls are correct, they do not oppose the existence of a Jewish ethnic state. Moor and I wish that they would, but they don’t. Is he not interested in marching together with them? 
Moor mistakes “liberal Zionist” for “liberal Israeli.” Perhaps my use of the term mislead him. What I mean by liberal Zionist is is somebody who accepts the state of Israel founded in 1948. Or to put it another way, if you do not demand of Israel to abandon its concern with democracy and Jewish demography, then you are a liberal Zionist. Now the number of liberal Zionists of that ilk may be declining, but not fast enough.
Most nations of the world, including the United Nations, accept the legitimacy of the existence of the Jewish ethnic state founded in 1948, but do not accept the legitimacy of the Occupation. Moor may think, as I do, that the two are fundamentally connected. But one wonders whether the Palestinian leaders of the BDS movement want to constrict the movement in this manner. They certainly don’t say that in their literature. On the contrary, they appeal to decisions by international bodies, which recognize the state of Israel without preconditions.
So the issue is what sort of coalition the Palestinian leadership of BDS wishes to build, and how long one wishes to wait.
And that is a question of tactics, not principle. Would it be a good idea for the BDS movement to gain more victories now, at the expense of making the coalition diverse? Or should it just focus on the message, which rules out (according to Moor) the Zionist regime founded in 1948? These are questions for the leaders of the BDS movement to decide. Again, I think they already have decided.
I understand Moor’s offense at the “naches” line, and I regret having used that term, which I have changed. Had I said “empathy with the Palestinian’s satisfaction at BDS victories” that would have been less offensive. Let me explain what I meant. When the BDS movement achieves small victories – and all their victories are small ones, at least for the moment – such victories buoy the movement.
Just look at the reactions to the boycott votes in the UK, and the partial divestment vote at Berkeley , or when a major artist decides not to appear in Israel. Now I never said that giving a little “naches” to the Palestinians is a goal of the BDS movement. Nor do I think that the guiding motivation of the liberal Zionist should be to sacrifice his principles just to make Palestinians happy.
But for somebody who is straddling the fence, some support for a cause can be motivated by good will towards the Palestinians. I myself am skeptical of the efficacy of the BDS movement on the grand scale. But moral victories are important in their own right.
So if one of the student senators at Berkeley were to stand up and say, I am not entirely sure of where I stand on the tactic of BDS – I certainly support the existence of the state of Israel – but I have seen how important this issue is to the both sides, and I have seen that one side is clearly suffering more than the other. So I will not deny them the satisfaction of a win here tonight.
Moor would presumably stand up and say to that senator, We don’t want your sympathy or your crumbs. If you don’t back the resolution on its own merits, don’t back it at all.
I, for one, admire his ideological purity. But I wonder whether the BDS leadership would not rather have one in the win column.
With due respect, my post was not – and is not — addressed to Moor. It was to the people who have been able to defeat the BDS movement time after time, the liberal Zionists, or to be more accurate, those who accept the Zionist regime founded in 1948. Why has the BDS movement seen so many of its initial successes reversed? Why does so much of the world concern itself with the Occupation but not with the plight of the Palestinian Israelis?
My point is that if more liberal Zionists could be convinced to be sympathethic to BDS, or at least not go out of their way to oppose it, that may not only be good for ending the Occupation, but for other goals, such as helping transform Israel from a Jewish ethnocracy to a state of all its citizens, a state with, to quote Michael Warschawski, “basic individual and collective rights, an end of domination and oppression, decolonization, equality, and as-much-justice-as-possible. “ What he calls “collective rights” I call cultural Zionism, in the Jewish case.
Two final points. Nowhere did I call on the BDS movement to accommodate its message or principles to liberal Zionists; that seems to have been Moor’s fundamental misreading. On the contrary, I think it already has done so, by not listing the end of the regime founded in 1948 as one of its principles. Moor writes that “The right of return is an inviolable and sacrosanct principle which necessarily spells out the end of the Jewish state, as such.”
That’s his opinion, and the opinion of most Zionists, including liberal ones, but I wonder whether it is the opinion of the global BDS movement. And if it is, why talk in codes? In fact, I don’t think the right of return does spell the end of the Jewish state as such. It certainly is not implied in Resolution 194, which the BDS movement insists upon mentioning. Did the UN recognize a Jewish state only to pass a resolution several months later calling for its demise?
But whether regime change is implied in Resolution 194 or not, the right of return is a major goal of the movement, and one is certainly on good grounds to insist on it. Still, I wonder whether engaging with people who accept the first two goals of the movement and who bracket the third isn’t a better way to go.
Building coalitions – or even unofficial agreements not to attack each other — not only makes for strange bedfellows, but allows people like Moor and me to make the case for the right of return to the folks who haven’t come over entirely to our side…yet.
But, again, that was not the point of my post, which was not addressed to him or to the leadership of the BDS movement. My point was that liberal Zionists, for their own reasons, would do well to give guarded support for BDS, or at the very least not demonize it.

* Haaretz asks Rahm Emanuel whether Obama should announce a US plan for two states:

“A number of people have advocated that. That time is not now. The time now is to get back to the proximity talks [and] have those conversations that eventually will lead to direct negotiations, start to make the hard decisions to bring a balance between the aspirations of the Israelis for security and make that blend with the aspirations of the Palestinian people for their sovereignty.”

* Important piece in the Jerusalem Post about Israeli thinker Avishai Margalit, in which he says things that he hasn’t written in the U.S.–and nor has his sometime co-author Michael Walzer. Jerusalem must be shared and under international governance– just what the UN said 60 years ago. Lift the siege of 1.5 million people in Gaza. Margalit talks about the Gazan students denied freedom to study, and denounces collective punishment. 

“To create this huge jail and believe that something good will emerge because now it’s quiet, that’s an illusion,” he says. “Actually, it’s moral bankruptcy and a terrible illusion.”

As we say in American bars, No s—, Sherlock. Reading this, I see Margalit’s illusions too. These conditions have been true for many years. He imagines that the mistakes of the brutal and stupid occupation can be reversed and Israel can be “little” Israel again in the 1948 borders. Can it?
Where were these denunciations when they would make a difference; and will the American press do anything to reflect them? The rough beast slouching toward Jerusalem is the Prime Minister, and the Israel lobby; note that in a recent poll most American Jews aren’t for dividing Jerusalem.

61% also said Israel should not be “willing to compromise on the status of Jerusalem as a united city under Israeli jurisdiction” as part of the framework of a peace settlement. (JPost again)

They’ve never been there, they’re against dividing it, and who is going to educate them?

* New poll of Palestinian opinion at Ma’an shows that 44% are for two-state solution, still, but binational state is growing, from 20 percent to 34 percent just in the last 10 months! Nearly a third regard the peace process as dead. Fatah outpolls Hamas.

Memo to Obama: Don’t take Palestinian opinion for granted; the growth in binational state sentiment is surely a reflection of Netanyahu repeatedly gaining the upper hand on colonization, etc.

* Gaza is coming home

billboard 1
Spotted this on my walk home from work yesterday – corner of Whitney and Trumbull, New Haven, CT.

* Jacqueline Rose will be speaking tonight in New York, hosted by LRB, on a contemporary reading of the Dreyfus affair. This is exciting. I’m hoping to get there. If I don’t, I’m hoping other folks go and report on it. 

[Free associating: Mark Rudd’s father was an Army captain in the 50s, having changed his name from Rudnitsky out of fear of anti-Semitism, but Mark Rudd went into the SDS in the 60s and today Jews don’t go into the military in the US in anything approaching rates of other religious groups, following other paths to success.
I save my J’accuse for the former Under Secretary of Defense, Douglas Feith, who peddled a list of bad “facts” to Congress to justify Iraq war, which he supported as a One-Jerusalem neoconservative with a portrait on his wall of Herzl, who was inspired by Dreyfus case to dream up Zionist escape from Europe. Feith’s imposture will transform the US establishment, ultimately, as lies about Dreyfus broke down a French regime.]

* Let the American media and politicians and Jewish leadership blind themselves to this, too

From the Palestine Telegraph:

Hebron, April 20, 2010 (Pal Telegraph) – Israeli authorities delivered demolition warrants to Palestinian residents in Halhul village north of Hebron in the West Bank, notifying them of their intention to demolish their homes and water reservoir.
Halhul Mayor Ziyad Abu Yousif said that Israeli forces raided Rumouz neighborhood in Hebron and notified Ahmad Awad, Muhammad Zamara and Dirar Zamara, of demolishing their homes.
The Israeli occupation forces delivered a warrant to Muhammad Abu Yousif, informing him that his water reservoir will be demolished because of it is close to area C [in the occupied West Bank] which is under the Israeli full control, the mayor added.

Hat tip, Peter Belmont.

* Times’ Filkins declares Ahmadinejad our ‘archenemy’

On “Fresh Air” today, Times correspondent Dexter Filkins told Terry Gross during a discussion of Afghanistan that Iran is “the archenemy of the United States.”

President Karzai invited Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the president of Iran, you know, the archenemy of the United States, to give a speech in Kabul.

And just as I was exclaiming at the folly of that claim, Filkins added,

he [Karzai] invited the president of Iran to come and give a speech or a press conference in the presidential palace, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the archenemy of the United States.

Gross did not challenge Filkins. But compare his assertions with what Haaretz columnist Bradley Burston says about Israel’s relation to Iran:

Occupation is an ugly word. That is why people who support the idea of a Jewish state should use the term, and use it often. Because, on this, Israel’s 62nd independence day, the Occupation has to be identified for what it has become: Israel’s worst enemy.
Not Iran. Not Hamas or Hezbollah. All three would like to see Israel cease to exist. But our government has tools to fight them. Against the Occupation, though, the government is powerless.



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