Propaganda on the Tennis Channel during rain delay at the French Open
Posted: 27 May 2010

What conversations we yet need.  Yesterday morning during a rain delay the Tennis Channel turned into the Israel lobby.  Anchor Ted Robinson praised “Shahar Peer’s reputation for standing up versus the forces of injustice,” segueing to a nine-minute video glorifying the Israeli tennis player and Israel while condemning Arabs and Muslims.  The film equated the latter with Nazis in their inexplicable hostility to innocent, “modern” “normal” Israelis and Jews. Roll tape:
Beautiful footage of Peer and her lovely family cooking gorgeous dinner, celebrating Shabbat, family, Jewish and Israeli traditions.  Father Dovic Peer says to camera: Shahar went through a “normal life, school, her army service”; juxtaposed with baby photo, school picture of Shahar in row of girls in formal dresses, Peer offering military salute. “We’re a close family,” she tells u, “it’s a very cultural thing, because in Israel families are really close.” Slow motion shots of delectable food, the handsome family hugging and kissing, pictures of mother Aliza Peer embracing all kids together.
Roll menacing music: Shots of 2009 NYT headline, “ISRAELI TENNIS PLAYER IS REFUSED VISA TO PLAY IN DUBAI EVENT”; masked Arab demonstrations depicted as violent; fire; tire flung into air; frowning old woman in keffiyeh holding up rifle.  Shahar Peer asks: “…I don’t see why a player cannot go [to Dubai] because she’s or he’s Israeli or Jewish or Muslim or Christian, and for me not to get a visa to Dubai was for me a really hard thing.” 
No mention of all the visas Israel denies, the pain of Palestinians and others refused travel to, from, or throughout illegally occupied Palestine and Israel.
Dovic Peer: “Shahar standing up to her right and making it clear that this cannot happen, she opened the door for other players that have any problem…that sports will not mix with politics whatsoever.”
Silence about Palestinians imprisoned in Gaza and the West Bank, not allowed abroad even to study–let alone to make millions playing professional sports. Nothing about the three Palestinian national footballers killed in the Israeli 2008-9 bombardment of Gaza.
Cut to photo of police dragging protester.  Peer: “After having all these demonstrations against me…”   Shot of homemade sign:  “Boycott Israel/end Israeli apar–” (the rest of the word cut off). “…And I find the good moments of my career playing in these situations.” In Dubai, Peer reached the semi-finals for the first time.
Switch to Shahar Peer boarding propellor plane for pilgrimage to Auschwitz with her mother and darling grandmother Yuliana Eckstein.
Eckstein announces melodiously through translation, “I’m very happy and that’s why I’m doing this….; I had said that I’d never travel to Auschwitz…I’m doing it for Shahar….and maybe for the coming generation.” Peer affirms, “It was very exciting for me and especially seeing my grandma next to me and telling me all the stories when we were passing by the places…where she was for half a year.”  Footage of Peer and her grandmother walking in a blissfully sad yet triumphant “March of the Living,” whose banner and many Israeli flags are carried by demonstrators depicted as peacefully heroic–in contrast to the alien Arab protesters.
Cut to Eckstein’s memories of Auschwitz: her terrible meeting with Joseph Mengele, the doctor of atrocities; lightning montage with lights flashing, Nazi symbols, barbed wire, archived pictures and footage, ghastly music. Peer’s grandmother tells us about horror and loss: the murder of her beloved family.  Segue to Shahar Peer helping to light a “torch in honor of the second and third generation of the Jewish people [not those who died]”, then to Shahar leaning against a red Nazi boxcar, lastly to a frame of Peer with her grandmother and mother all holding an Israeli flag, as the antidote to the past.
Snap back to happy music. Peer: “[T]here is, like, so much to see in Israel.”  Film of modern blue train–in contrast to red cattle cars at Auschwitz. Skyscrapers, people on pristine beach.  Dovic Peer assures us, “It’s a normal, Western country.”
Switch to Shahar Peer playing tennis in fast motion; cheerful tunes.  Slow motion shots of Peer’s feet in tennis shoes with gold Reebok logo.  Peer confides her dream of winning a grand slam, ” I dream about it at night…dreams might come true.” 

Return to Ted Robinson rhapsodizing: “Wonderful story for Shahar Peer, who’s given herself that chance to dream again–pushed herself back into the top 20,…in the second round of the French Open.” 
Then former tennis pros Leif Shiras and Justin Gimelstob enthuse. “Such a compelling story about Shahar Peer,” says Shiras. Gimelstob: “Shahar Peer: what a courageous effort…to play as well as she did this year, getting to the semifinal.  She’s a true competitor and a worthy ambassador to [sic] Israel.”
If sports don’t  mix with politics whatsoever, then who composed this paean to a foreign country and its number-one player? The Likud government could weave no more obsequious tribute.
Oh, and is it any coincidence: Tennis Channel CEO Ken Solomon was honored by AIPAC last year.

Israel attacks the ‘gourmet’ flotilla to Gaza
Posted: 27 May 2010

At a time when Israel’s security officials should probably be focused on this week’s extensive home front security drill, it seems that that most of their attention is being paid to the flotilla of ships on its way to the Gaza Strip, laden with humanitarian supplies. Frantic consultations between officials and the prime minister’s top military chiefs of staff have taken place, an urgent meeting of a forum of senior government ministers was held, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has engaged in extensive activities, and an urgent press conference was held at the Erez border crossing.
 In particular, the Israeli government’s public relations machine has been mobilized with the intent of persuading the public that there is no need for the flotilla, due to the fact that the humanitarian situation in Gaza is fine, the Strip’s markets are abundant, and its gourmet restaurants are thriving.

gisha gaza goods
Goods: Needs vs Supply 4/25/10-
5/25/10 (Source: Gisha)

Of course, an initial question comes to mind – if there is such prosperity, then how exactly is the closure policy promoting Israel’s goal to weaken the Hamas government? But beyond that, the government’s message is likely to be confusing to the layperson.
For example, if the economic situation in Gaza is so magnificent, as stated in the cynical message distributed by the Government Press Office yesterday – why does another public statement by the State of Israel proudly declare that 738,000 tons of humanitarian aid were transferred to the Gaza Strip last year? How, the reader might also ask, are these statements of prosperity compatible with the contradictory information frequently released by international organizations (organizations with whom Israel proudly declares itself to be cooperating)?
Is it not true that 80% of Gaza’s population is supported by international aid organizations? Is it not true that the unemployment rate in Gaza is around 35%? And, how is the decisive statement that “Israel has taken measures to support trade and commerce” consistent with the sweeping ban imposed by Israel for the past three years on the entry of raw materials to industrial plants and factories in the Gaza Strip? Indeed, the ban is perpetuating a situation in which over 90% of industrial establishments are closed or are operating at less than 10% of capacity.
Does the fact that Israel prevents the entry of margarine in large containers designed for the production of foodstuffs in Gaza, while it allows the entry of margarine in small packages (made in Israel) promote the economy in Gaza?
But what really may confuse the naive layperson are Israel’s peremptory statements that there is no restriction on the entry of equipment into Gaza, except that which might be used by Hamas for terrorist activities. Based on this, the layperson may conclude that coriander, sage and children’s toys constitute a security risk, given that Israel prohibits the transfer of these goods to Gaza.
 In addition, he or she might wonder whether shoes and clothes constituted a security threat for 2.5 years before having their status as a security threat recently removed. A layperson might further ask, if Israel’s policy on the restriction of goods really benefits the people of Gaza, then why does Israel insist on refusing to reveal the secret of her success, arguing that producing documents explaining its closure policy will harm national security?
All of this is confusing not just to the layperson but also to the passengers on the ships. Israel states repeatedly, time and again that the organizers of the flotilla should transfer the goods “in accordance with procedure”. Yet how are they to know what these procedures are, if Israel refuses to disclose them?
Gisha is an Israeli not-for-profit organization, founded in 2005, whose goal is to protect the freedom of movement of Palestinians, especially Gaza residents.

‘Forward’ cartoonist says Americans are abandoning their Jewish identities because of Israel’s actions
Posted: 27 May 2010

Non-Zionism, anti, whatever you want to call it– it’s becoming la mode. Eli Valley has a funny cartoon about a sociologist who learns that Israel’s actions against human-rights groups and the Palestinian minority are causing New York Jews to abandon their Jewish identities. The sociologist’s client has an answer to that: money. Good and vicious. “… to restore Jewish identity… remove Israel from the equation, or insist it radically change its course.”

You say Margolin, I say Margolis, let’s call the whole thing off
Posted: 27 May 2010

 City Paper of Washington does a big piece on Theater J‘s decision to cancel the play “Imagining Madoff,” by Deb Margolin, because it would offend Elie Wiesel, a personal friend of the theater’s artistic director. I get the legal/defamatory issues, but to me this is about privilege. The numbers in the Madoff case were huge, millions and millions, and the resulting work of art is not proletarian theater, it’s an examination of ethnic solidarity within a high American caste.
And yes, in turn, Jewish institutions are part of that world. Remember that Wiesel made his reputation initially with a literary work, Night, but here he is the censor. I’m glad the work’s being produced in Hudson, New York, whose artistic director is Laura Margolis.

“A work of the imagination,” [Theater J’s artistic director Ari] Roth called it.
Wiesel, though, was in no mood for works of imagination. In a letter FedExed to the playwright, he called Imagining Madoff “obscene” and “defamatory” and promised that his lawyers would make sure it never reached the stage, the Washington Post reported last week. “Nothing of me is in your script,” Wiesel thundered…
As Margolin revised, Roth traded several communiqués with the Elie Wiesel Foundation. Back in March, he and Margolin had contacted the humanitarian organization to give them a heads-up about the play, with Margolin penning what Roth calls a “deeply reverential” letter….
But now, with Wiesel furious about the results, Roth was offering to share Margolin’s eventual draft with the foundation to show that it contained nothing legally actionable.
To Margolin, this sounded too much like giving Wiesel a veto..So why did Roth decide to duck a fight this time? Interviews with Roth, members of Theater J’s governing council, and top JCC administrators suggest that he never even considered attempting to go forward with the original version once Wiesel raised objections. “Wiesel is part of the family,” he says, referring to Wiesel’s symbolic relationship with Jewish artists and the Jewish community.
That could apply to Roth’s own family, too. His mother, who as a child was hidden from the Nazis during World War II, has been acquainted with Wiesel for half a century; he advises the Holocaust Education Foundation of Chicago, of which she is a founder. And they’re friends: Roth says Wiesel heard him sing Adon Olam in Chicago when he was 12.
“This play was designed to reconstruct something of Bernie Madoff’s motivations and confer some pathos on Elie Wisesel. But to him it represented—he felt the play was defaming,” says Roth. “That is not a fight we want to have—when you’re looking at that kind of traumatic reaction, that’s not a fight we would want to have.”
All the same, it’s not a fight they necessarily would have lost, either. In fact, Margolin had prepared for a bit of blowback. Some time before she wrote her letter to Wiesel, Margolin also asked a lawyer friend of hers to take a look at Imagining Madoff. In a memo, the New York attorney wrote that Theater J had the right to use Wiesel’s name and likeness in a work of art because he is a public figure.
Whether the play was potentially defamatory was a trickier question. Lawrence B. Steinberg, a lawyer practicing entertainment litigation in Los Angeles, says that as long as Imagining Madoff was clearly labeled a work of fiction, a public figure like Wiesel would have a hard time in court. To establish defamation, he’d have to prove malice. But if Wiesel would have difficulty winning a suit, that wouldn’t stop him from bringing one. (After Margolin began revising her play, the JCC’s counsel looked at the proposed name changes and concluded the work would no longer be legally actionable.)
That wasn’t enough for Roth, who felt that the gray areas of the law could land him in court—a place he’d willingly go to defend some sorts of creative freedom, but not the right to offend Elie Wiesel.

h/t Janet McMahon

Bethlehem Checkpoint: Waiting in a Line vs. Waiting in a Line under Occupation
Posted: 27 May 2010

Bethlehem chkptGoing through checkpoints in the West Bank is often described as similar to going through airport security before leaving on an international flight–with much more unpredictable waits, fussier metal detectors, and the added humiliating features like full-body turnstiles between caged passage ways that resemble cattle chutes. Instead of encountering airline security officials who smile patiently at successive discoveries of forgotten back-pocket change, I’ve watched armed soldiers yell at Palestinians in Hebrew from a glass booth. 
At Bethlehem checkpoint occasionally I’ve watched soldiers stand on platforms above my head.  I’ve watch them yelling at the Palestinian workers below as their guns hang on their shoulders, at an angle giving me a clear view to see up the barrels of their guns. 
Instead of presenting a passport, Palestinians with West Bank IDs trying to get to Jerusalem have to present electromagnetic ID cards (in addition to their West Bank IDs). Instead of showing a plane ticket, they have to present a permit for entering Jerusalem. Palestinians with West Bank IDs going to Jerusalem have to have their hands scanned as well. Instead of spurring a widely reported debate in the media about the ethics of mandatory fingerprinting–as its use in US and UK airports has–precious few US media reports have even mentioned Israel’s widespread use of biometrics at checkpoints.
Thousands of Palestinians and large numbers of tourists depend on Bethlehem checkpoint to enter East Jerusalem and Israel daily. It is also called Gilo checkpoint, named after the nearby Gilo settlement. When I first moved to Bethlehem I was confused about the name, originally assuming that “the Gilo checkpoint” would be a checkpoint that Gilo settlers would have to use. Why would a checkpoint only for Palestinians be named for Jewish-only settlements, residents of which don’t ever have to use this kind of checkpoint?
But if you take a look at the full list of the 69 permanently staffed checkpoints in the West Bank as documented by UNOCHA in its November 2009 report, you’ll see a long list of Palestinian-only checkpoints named after the adjacent Israeli settlement (Shave Shomeron, Yitav, Beit Hadassa, etc). These major obstacles to Palestinian movement are often named after the nearby settlement for which these Palestinians are ostensibly being obstructed.
Seems like a blatant admission that individual checkpoints for Palestinians are installed by Israel primarily to serve these illegal settlements–rather than the Israeli citizens living within Israel. In fact, all of these checkpoints–along with over 600 other closures–are within the occupied West Bank, an area approximately the size of Delaware.  (None of the checkpoints located on Israel’s Green Line border are not included in these figures.) 
Bethlehem chkpt 2Perhaps the most mysterious difference between waiting in line at a checkpoint and nearly every other line I have ever waited in is that I’ve rarely had any idea what causes these checkpoint delays. The soldiers are hidden from view until you get up to the very front of the checkpoint, so it’s often impossible to tell.
One time at Qalandia checkpoint I waited behind a turnstile while I watched female soldiers inside a glass booth take turns sitting on each others’ laps and gleefully snapping pictures of each other with their digital cameras. (Perhaps they were all tagged in an “IDF on Duty” Facebook album later that day?)
I watched a soldier at Bethlehem checkpoint nod sleepily, with his eyes closed, hooked into his I-Pod. Not until I yelled “Shalom” several times and rattled the full-body turnstile repeatedly did he open the first of a series of turnstiles at the checkpoint. (I’d love to know how long he would have waited if I had been a Palestinian, rather than a non-Arab looking Westerner waving a U.S. passport.)
Most lines I’ve waited on–whether at movie theaters, grocery stores, or even at airport security–operate with some sort of correlation between the number of people in line and the anticipated wait time. At checkpoints such logical principles rarely apply. The delays are often caused not from shuttling people through the metal detectors but rather from the soldiers failing to open the gates to the metal detectors at all.
Sometimes it has taken me 5 minutes to get through the checkpoint, often it takes two hours, and not infrequently for workers in the early morning hours, it takes 5 hours.
The Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI) has a team that regularly monitors Gilo checkpoint. According to Stefan Olsson from the EAPPI team, 2,000 workers line up at Gilo checkpoint by its 5 AM opening time in order to work in Israel and in Israeli settlements every work day. These workers are among an ever dwindling number of Palestinians (45,000 with West Bank IDs) who have been given permission to do so after extensive security checks. 
While these workers are permitted to work in Israel, they are not allowed to drive their cars into Jerusalem.  Even though the same number of workers pass through Gilo checkpoint daily, it can take between 2.5-5 hours to shuttle the workers through, depending on how many gates soldiers open and how often soldiers close those gates.
Bethelehem chkpt 3I met Khaled at the Gilo checkpoint on April 26th, a morning when it took four hours to get the workers through, causing hundreds of workers to lose a full day’s work. Khaled works at the Gilo settlement which is less than 3 kilometers away from his house.
He granted me permission to use only his first name since he fears that otherwise Israel could revoke his permit for entry into Jerusalem for criticizing the situation.  His anxiety was understandable. In 2007 he spoke with a reporter about the difficulties at the checkpoint and within a week his permission to work in Israel was revoked for 4 months. The Israeli authorities didn’t explain the reasoning behind their decision, simply stating that his permission was revoked for “security reasons”.
The Gilo checkpoint has three metal detectors, making three separate lines possible.  The soldiers on duty only opened one of the gates for most of that morning. According to Olsson from EAPPI, they rarely ever open all three. Usually workers have to start work at 7 AM. By the time the soldiers allowed all of the workers inside of the checkpoint through at 9:10 AM, many had already left. For some workers, if they don’t arrive at their jobs at 7 or 9 AM, their bosses won’t allow them to work at all that day. If this happens often enough, they can lose their jobs altogether.
Khaled told me “this is a political program to inflict physical and psychological punishment to force people to quit working in Israel”. Rather than make an explicit policy to keep Palestinian workers out of Israel which would possibly draw criticism from the international community, he explained that the longer and more arbitrary waits at the checkpoint would progressively discourage more and more workers from attempting to cross the checkpoint. That way, Khaled reasoned, “Israel can say to the whole world that Palestinians don’t want to work–that it’s the Palestinians’ problem”.
Some workers I talked to that morning arrived at 4 AM, while others had arrived even earlier. According to the AP, workers can make up to $50 a day in Israel, which is four or five times what they could make in the West Bank, where unemployment hit 19% in 2008.
Khaled said “waiting at the checkpoint is more work than my job”. He was sure that many if not most workers at the checkpoint felt the same way. Most of these men work in construction or other jobs involving hard manual labor. But having to go through the checkpoint is like having a second job–one which requires you to wake up in the middle of the night and wait for hours in holding pens behind metal bars until a series of 18 year old Israeli soldiers press the right buttons allowing you passage.
When you finally pass through Gilo checkpoint, you have a wide open view of the Wall cutting Bethlehem off from the ever-expanding Gilo settlement. Buses for the Old City in Jerusalem wait just outside, running not according to any schedule but the arbitrary speed of the checkpoint. As I watch women put their earrings back on and men slip the belts through their belt loops after having to take them off for the metal detector, the airport metaphor seems quite appropriate. The buses, just waiting on passengers to fill them up, remind me of shuttles at the airport driving passengers from one terminal to another across stretches of tarmac.
While international airport-security procedures are usually determined by internationally recognized borders between countries, a settlement in violation of international law determines the placement of this checkpoint. Unlike an airport security line where every passenger is required to endure long lines and metal detectors, this checkpoint is only for Palestinians and tourists–not the settlers who have bypass roads connecting them directly to Jerusalem.
Comparing Gilo checkpoint to international airport security grossly understates the humiliation involved. But it’s a valuable comparison in that it gives you some idea of what kind of message it must send to Palestinians when going to Jerusalem.  The entire process of traveling to Jerusalem–or even between different cities deep in the  West Bank–simulates the experience of going through an international border.  It’s not just the settlements that say “this is not yours” to Palestinians, but it’s also a clear message from the checkpoints that accompany them and the very process of crossing them. 

When Truman and Ben-Gurion took a stand for… terrorism
Posted: 27 May 2010

I’m reading an amazing book on the U.S. decision to recognize Israel in ’48 called A Calculated Risk, by the late State Department aide Evan Wilson.The two excerpts below are from the year 1946. The first refers to David Ben-Gurion’s testimony before the Anglo-American Committee of Inquiry of 1946 (which Wilson served and which deprecated partition of Palestine). The second excerpt describes a diplomatic incident in the summer of 1946. Bear in mind that within three weeks of the second incident, Jewish terrorists blew up the King David Hotel, killing 91 people.
Oh and it goes without saying, but: Substitute Palestinian for Jewish in these excerpts, and then consider what the U.S. position would be.

Ben Gurion refused to be drawn out on the subject of Jewish terrorism, on which he was repeatedly questioned, saying only that it was “futile” for the authorities to try to stamp out the Jewish resistance movement when it commanded the support of the whole Jewish community…. He said that the Jewish Agency [the official representative of Jews in Palestine, which Ben Gurion headed] had nothing to do with the Haganah [Jewish paramilitary force] and that he had no knowledge of who the head of the Haganah was or where its headquarters were…
On June 28 [British Prime Minister Clement] Attlee cabled the President [Harry Truman] informing him that the British had decided to take stern measures to curb Jewish terrorism in Palestine, including the arrest of certain leaders of the Jewish Agency. Attlee added that anything the President might feel able to say in support of the British decision would be welcome. Truman, however, after receiving a group of American Zionist leaders on July 2, issued a statement saying he had not been consulted by the British about this action and expressing the hope that the persons arrested would soon be released.

Liberal Zionism, oxymoron
Posted: 27 May 2010

The biggest flaw in Peter Beinart’s admittedly very important NYRB piece is his failure to recognize that Liberalism and Zionism are at root inconsistent. There are two reasons for this:
First, like all nationalisms, Zionism privileges the group over the individual. The rights and obligations of individuals derive ultimately from their membership in the collective. Liberalism, in contrast, is premised on the fundamental notions that rights and obligations exist primarily by virtue of the individual. 
Second, while all nationalisms tend to have religious roots, Zionism is particularly heavily shaped by its religious content both in terms of the focus of its nationalist aspirations (the biblical land of Israel) and its definition of who counts as a Jew (matrilineal descent or Orthodox conversion).
Beinart is nostalgic for a golden age of Liberal Zionism, but like all mythic pasts, it is more complicated than his account suggests. True, the founding fathers of Israel were avowedly secular and talked a good game about equal rights for all in the new Jewish state. But the reality, as Israel’s New Historians have shown us, is that Ben Gurion and other early Liberal Zionists pursued a pretty aggressive nationalist agenda of conquest and ethnic cleansing and only begrudgingly respected the rights of non-Jews in the new state. Moreover, their secularism, while undeniable, hardly prevented them from conceding great power to religious authority from the get-go and did nothing to prevent the rise of messianic religious nationalism in Israel, particularly after 1967.
Given all of this, Beinart’s call for a reinvigoration of Liberal Zionism seems quixotic. I am not at all surprised that young Liberal Jews, both here and in Israel, are moving increasingly in the direction of some form of post-Zionism.

Beinart has defined the new center, two steps to the left
Posted: 27 May 2010

Neoconservative Eli Lake and Peter Beinart are shown here arguing about Israel at the NYT website. Lake looks to be in considerable pain. He wants to believe that Israel has not become a rightwing ethnocracy slouching toward fascism. Beinart says that Israeli democracy is in danger. He points out that Meir Kahane’s party was banned in Israel (Kach) but that Avigdor Lieberman, who has endorsed expulsion of Arabs, is today the Foreign Minister.
The significance of the dialogue is that Lake feels himself being marginalized; indeed, former AIPAC’r Beinart’s apostasy has in an instant created the new center and exposed people like Leon Wieseltier and Jeffrey Goldberg as rightwingers, made the neoconservatives look extinct. Lake’s pain is not just his illusions about Israel being challenged, but about the center moving to the left.
Speaking of the left, a lot of their dialogue is about Whether Arabs are better or worse off now than they were in 1965. Some day we will get to hear Palestinians on the NYT website discussing this question. You’d think they might actually know about Palestinian conditions? Both these guys are at bottom Israel lobbyists, concerned about American support for the Jewish state. That’s the new Establishment. Can’t wait for a little air in the room.

Schaeffer: ‘the religion tends to feed exclusivity’
Posted: 27 May 2010

A few days back I did a post about Haaretz’s profile of the human-rights-lawyer Emily Schaeffer, who was drawn to Israel from the U.S. as a girl. The piece did not explore identity fully; I wondered what Schaeffer’s Jewish/Zionist identity consists in. She wrote the following to me:

I actually think it’s fairly clear that I’m not a Zionist, and there is even a place in the article where Coby Ben Simhon describes me as “devoid of nationalistic sentiment and full of human compassion,” which I find to be very accurate and perhaps the simplest answer to your question on both topics.
But more specifically on religion, I am completely non-religious these days, while being “cultural” the way that many Jews are in terms of marking holidays. I think even as a teenager I had no belief in god, but I found the prayers and community and identity empowering. Now I find that to be quite a complex and difficult arena for me, not only because I cannot say the prayers with any feeling (especially now that I understand their full meaning), but also because of how much the religion tends to feed Zionism or at least exclusivity.
I still identify myself as a Jew — it’s at the very least my family history and tradition, and it is the label I take in the Israeli and Palestinian spaces, for better and for worse. But even if you’ll see me dipping parsley in salt water, you won’t catch me in the synagogue, and I refuse to read much of the Hagaddah. And unless I’m with people who I am certain do not espouse Zionism or any form of oppression, I cannot comfortably honor the tradition, or even be sure I want to be part of it.

‘We expelled the Palestinians to create a large Jewish majority. And it was wrong…’
Posted: 27 May 2010

James W. Loewen in the LA Times, on sundown towns, towns where blacks had to be out by the end of the day:

Calhoun County, in neighboring Illinois, has a similar tradition of violence toward African Americans lingering after sundown. It voted for Barack Obama 53% to 46% in 2008, the same proportion as the nation. Nevertheless, it boasts not a single black household, and some residents suggested to me last year that it would not prudent for one to move in “just now.”
To recover from this sundown past, a community needs to take three steps:
Admit it. “We did this.”
Apologize. “We did this, and it was wrong, and we’re sorry.” 
Promise never to do it again. State, “We don’t do it any more,” and the statement needs to have teeth.



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