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Jews Against Israel: Uncovering the Anti-Zionist Agenda

August 25, 2009 – 9:08 pm75 Comments

Source: https://pacificaforum.org/wildcat/jagainstz.html

Source: https://pacificaforum.org/wildcat/jagainstz.html

by Philip Mendes

In the last five years, close to ten major books have been published on Jewish anti-Zionists and other Jewish critics of Israel. Specific Jewish groups promoting one-sided critiques of Israel such as the Independent Australian Jewish Voices have been established in many Western countries.

Yet in reality, anti-Zionists remain a tiny, marginal and generally detested group within Jewish society. There is no serious pro or anti-Zionism debate within most Jewish communities. The only debate occurs within the minority of Jewish groups who identify with the ideological Left, and even there anti-Zionists arguably constitute a small minority. (I deliberately omit here the small number of ultra-orthodox Jews who adhere to anti-Zionist views. Their unique perspective necessarily belongs in a separate analysis.)

Jewish anti-Zionism is not a new phenomenon, but rather fits clearly into a long-term political tradition whereby some far left-wing groups persuade Jewish members to exploit their own religious and cultural origins in order to vilify their own people. There were Jews who defended the 1929 pogroms in Palestine, and there were Jews who endorsed Stalin’s anti-Jewish campaigns in the early 1950s. Today there are Jews who support the most extreme Palestinian political demands against the Jewish state of Israel.

I distinguish between Jewish anti-Zionists and other Jews who are critical of Israeli policies but nevertheless support Israel’s continued existence as a Jewish state. I define contemporary anti-Zionism as a view which regards Israel as a racist and colonialist state which should be eliminated in favor of an Arab state of Greater Palestine – sometimes disingenuously called a secular state – in which Israeli Jews would continue to exist as at best a tolerated religious minority.

Jewish anti-Zionists reject any notion of ethnic or religious solidarity with Israeli Jews whom they regard as inherently evil oppressors. Rather, their sympathies and loyalties lie with the Palestinians whom they construct as defenseless victims.

Prior to the Holocaust, Zionism existed as a minority movement throughout most of the Jewish world. It has been estimated that even in Poland, for example, only 25-30% of Jews supported Zionism during the two inter-war decades. Many Jews appear to have regarded Zionism as an extremist movement with utopian, if not politically dangerous, objectives. Ideological opposition to Zionism was particularly strong from three sources: Orthodox Jews, socialists including particularly Bundists and reform and assimilated Jews.

However, following the Holocaust and the creation of the State of Israel, Jewish opposition to Zionism largely vanished. Religious Jews gradually came to see Zionism as a fulfillment, rather than contravention, of Jewish religious destiny. Many Bundists and socialists remained critical of Zionism’s negation of the Jewish Diaspora, but in practice offered strong support for the State of Israel.

Today, many Jewish leaders argue that Diaspora Jews should unite in support of Israeli policies. This unified support is seen as enhancing Israel’s international standing. Conversely, Diaspora Jewish criticism of Israel is depicted as dividing the Jewish people, and giving heart to those who wish to harm the State of Israel. This attitude is dominant in English-speaking Jewish communities, and has been reflected in constant attempts to censor or silence the minority of Jews who do not unconditionally support Israel.

However, recent studies suggest a more fluid and diverse Jewish identity amongst the younger generation. There is some evidence that whilst younger Jews do assume a continuing close relationship with Israel, they may differ from their parents in that some are more willing to be critical of Israeli policies in the same way that they are critical of specific Australian government policies.

In contrast, Jewish anti-Zionists reject any intrinsic connection between Jews and Israel, and seem to apply a virtual time warp framework whereby the 1947-48 debate about whether or not to create Israel is yet to be resolved. Additionally, their pride in prioritizing universal values over tribal loyalty seems to involve adopting extreme political positions that regard most Jews as the enemy.

Conservative Jewish commentators, who often fail to distinguish Jewish anti-Zionists from those Jews who are critical of specific Israeli policies, have often argued that Jewish critics of Israel are self-hating Jews. Self-hatred is an alleged psychological condition which involves members of despised low-status racial, religious or sexual minority groups identifying with the values and prejudices of the majority group and internalizing their stereotypes.

Significant Jewish self-hatred may have existed in particular historical and political contexts when Jews seeking to assimilate into modern societies were confronted with demands to abandon any behavioural characteristics that distinguished them from the majority culture. However, it is hard to make an empirical case for Jewish self-hatred today given the absence of significant anti-Semitism in most Western societies.

There is little if any benefit to be gained today by individual Jews who express dislike or distaste for other Jews. Moreover, they are likely to earn almost universal detestation from their fellow Jews. In contrast, I would argue that any serious analysis of Jewish anti-Zionists and their beliefs needs to concentrate on their political rather than Jewish or psychological motivations.

Most Jewish anti-Zionists appear to propose two key reasons for rejecting Zionism and Israel. One is that they view Jews as only a religious rather than ethnic or national group, and they reject states based on religion as racist, undemocratic, and contrary to the liberal values of the Enlightenment. However, this argument is wishful thinking since it erroneously assumes that Jews are not a nation. In fact, most Jews today perceive themselves to be a nation who are just as entitled as any other group to national self-determination.

This argument also appears to confuse ethnicity and nationalism with race and racism. Most Jews would arguably define themselves as part of a Jewish people with common cultural characteristics and beliefs. However, this Jewish people or nation incorporates enormous variation in terms of language, religious beliefs, and racial origins. There are Ashkenasi Jews, Sephardi Jews, Ethiopian Jews, and so on. The common factor is not religion per se given that an increasing number of Jews are secular, but rather shared beliefs, values and identity. Overwhelmingly, this includes a close identification with Israel as the national home of the Jewish people.

A second argument from Jewish anti-Zionists is that universal values and human rights should always take priority over what they label as the narrow tribal loyalty associated with Jewish support for Israel. This is, however, a very partial application of universal rights. Most Jewish anti-Zionists do not seek to protect the rights of both Israelis and Palestinians, but are only concerned with defending Palestinian rights.

In addition, few if any Jewish anti-Zionists offer positive reasons for publicly claiming a Jewish identity, and most appear to have little or no interest in or knowledge of Jewish history, values and culture. They also deny any sense of solidarity with other Jews, and present no positive vision for restructuring Jewish communal activities. Nor do they identify with any poor or disadvantaged groups within Jewish society. Their rejection of Zionism and Israel appears to be a purely negative emotion.

There is also little evidence of any existing commitment to Jewish communal life. A number of other UK Jewish leftists have pointed out in relation to Independent Jewish Voices, for example, that most of their spokespersons have actively distanced themselves from the Jewish collective. I would therefore argue that there is little if anything that is authentically “Jewish” about their anti-Zionism unless they also demonstrate a significant positive commitment to Jewish life. In contrast, many Jewish Left groups, which are critical of Israeli policies but still support Israel’s existence, seem far more genuine when they align their criticism of Israeli policies with specific Jewish religious and spiritual values and morality.

In offering this criticism, I am not ruling out the possibility of an authentic Jewish anti-Zionist group based on traditional Bundist principles. Bundist groups still exist today in a number of countries based on a solid commitment to Jewish culture and ethnicity in the Diaspora as a key component of their identity. These groups have largely come to terms with the centrality of Israel to contemporary Jewish life, but still maintain their distance from Zionist-inclined activities. However, their critique of Zionism (which they mostly call a non-Zionist rather than anti-Zionist perspective) forms an insignificant component of their overall Jewish activities. In contrast, most Jewish anti-Zionists today seem obsessed with attacking Zionism at the expense of any positive Jewish identification.

In the past, Jewish anti-Zionists were largely dismissed by the political mainstream as eccentric freak shows at best, and self-hating Jews as worst. However, they have arguably achieved greater traction in recent years for three reasons. One is their smart use of the internet to spuriously imply the existence of serious divisions within Jewish communities over Israel. Secondly, they have shrewdly marketed themselves as “the” alternative Jewish voices even though their voices are neither authentic nor representative.

The other factor is that the Jewish debate over Israel has changed. Many younger Jews do not automatically endorse the positions of a particular Israeli Government, and wish instead to debate the merits of particular policies or actions. Yet mainstream Jewish institutions are often reluctant or unwilling to accommodate open debates where the strength of Jewish support for various positions on Israel could actually be tested.

In this limited debate, advocates of two states are sometimes at a relative disadvantage. Their position is complex and based on balancing various competing political tensions and dilemmas. They support both Israel’s right to exist and to defend itself against external violence and terror, and the creation of an independent Palestinian State based on an end to the Israeli occupation of the West Bank.

In contrast, Jewish anti-Zionists offer a neat and simplistic analysis based on constructing Israel as evil and the Palestinians as victims, and advocating the end of Israel. This black and white sound-bite, however ill-informed and unconnected to reality, seems to be appealing to some sections of the media.

Dr Philip Mendes is the co-editor of Jews and Australian Politics, Sussex Academic Press, 2004. This article is an edited version of a much longer paper he presented to the Limmud Oz conference in Sydney on 8 June, 2009.

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  • Larry Stillman says:

    This is of a much higher quality and more measured than the other materials which Philip has produced of which I have been highly critical. I am glad that he does not appear to have lumped AJDS into this category.

    However, the point remains, that the article will be objected to, I am sure, by some Jewish anti-Zionists as making overgeneralised and unsubstantiated statements about their personal Jewish identify.

    Additionally, Philip is still relying upon the ‘two state’ solution as the benchmark for acceptable debate. As I have suggested in previous post, I think is is unwise to be bound to one, two, or three or whatever states at this time, when the focus should be on the resolution of violence and inequity, rather than firm national boundaries–this might too, require the renunciation of independence of Palestine as a state as well. Who knows what the final answer should be? But to say it must be two states may not be wise.

    To come back to the main point. For example, the eminent historian EJ Hobsbawm would I think be classified as anti-Zionist by many , yet he is not obsessed by anti-Israelness or blind support for Palestinians. He is secular, non-religious, yet it is obvious that his life’s work is suffused with his experience as a German Jews. There are probably any other figures for whom a similar case could be made.

    Or of course, there is Chomsky–but remember, he was advocating two states back in 1969 (I still have the paperback Peace in the Middle East) –and was excortiated then. 40 years of being attacked on all fronts and some bad errors (Cambodia, Faurison), have certainly made him bitter, but you cannot accuse him of having no Jewish attachments or identity.

    At the other end of the scale is someone like Gilad Atzom, the British Jazz musician born in Israel who has vehemently denounced his background.

    Thus a statement like “(In contrast to Bundists), most Jewish anti-Zionists today seem obsessed with attacking Zionism at the expense of any positive Jewish identification.” needs to be supported by strong empirical evidence to show more about such people. This could only be got through sampling such people using standard inventories or good qualitative research to at least build a strong fact based assertion.

    As Philip knows, Jewish identity can be manifested in a huge number of rich and fruitful ways outside of the 613 postcode so to speak. Certainly, in the US, there is a long-standing reform Jewish tradition based upon a prophetic, rather than observance practice, reflecting the a particular trend in American society.

    They are thus not neccessarily the ‘political’ Jews as Philip calls them. Rather, in a cultural sense, they are ‘prophetic Jews’ even if there lives are largely secular and their sense of ritual is attenuated. It is certainly possible to live such a positive Jewish life in the US and I suggest there are plenty of people like this in other countries.

    Thus, it is likely that there are many Jews who are highly critical of Israel, and who take a position supporting Palestian rights because they believe that Israeli is not the underdog, judging the situation the same way as they look at, for example what the US did in Guatemala in the 80s in the name of anti-communisim (death squads) , or the oppression of gays in Cuba today, or human rights outrages in Egypt. Some of you may scoff about ‘irrelevant’ matters such as Guatemala, but these and other abuses at least for many Jews and others in the US, are pretty formative in developing identity with the underdog, even flawed underdogs.

    Thus, for many Jews on the edge of the traditional community, they can’t be considered as ‘anti-Zionist’ because rather, taking a universalist human rights perspective, based on the evidence from both sides, take the view that Zionism has been completely corrupted, and Israel is the bad guy because the complete contradiction between the espoused values of democracy etc and its betrayal through the establishment of military caste, the occupation etc.

    They are making a moral judgement–that the resolution of the problem is more with Israel rather than Palestinians, because Israel has the balance of power and resources. It is thus not a question that they aren’t applying human rights values in a balanced way, rather, the situation they are looking at is not balanced. Both sides are not equal vicitms. Palestinians are the ones who suffer most.

    This is a position I take, but does that make me simply ‘anti-Israel’? No. I wish for a better Israel, but not one that, in my opinion, has made the wrong choice too many times resulting in an ongoing tragedy. And of course, as if I have to graffiti walls, I don’t particularly care for Hamas, Palestinian extremism, terrorism and all the rest of the bad stuff. But it is time we admitted that something is very wrong in our camp and it should change.

    It would be entirely wrong to parade this as simply ‘anti-Zionist’ or that I or many like me have no Jewish identity other than a ‘political’ one. We all wear many hats (so to speak), and have coats of many colours.

    Thus Philip may be focussing on a much smaller group — the twos and threes in Australia, the people who turn up at demos, and the dozens in the UK and US who make a lot of noise. But of course, part of the reason why they are so successful is that all the ‘hasbarah’ in the world won’t explain away the current injustice and imbalance that requires international intervention and demilitarization.

  • David Zyngier says:

    Mendes writes that he distinguishes between Jewish anti-Zionists and other Jews who are critical of Israeli policies but nevertheless support Israel’s continued existence as a Jewish state.

    The problem here is that Mendes posits that there is only 2 ways – 2 approaches – binary opposites if you like – at play. Were it really so easy!

    What about Jews who support the continued existence of Israel as a state as described in the Proclamation of Independence … a state that will …
    foster the development of the country for the benefit of all its inhabitants; it will be based on freedom, justice and peace as envisaged by the prophets of Israel; it will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex; it will guarantee freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture; it will safeguard the Holy Places of all religions; and it will be faithful to the principles of the Charter of the United Nations.

    In that one sentence he has demonstrated his compliance root and branch to the current subterfuge of the Israeli right’s discourse – that unless you accept Israel as a singularly Jewish state you are therefore an anti-Zionist.

    I must agree with Stillman – I would ask Mendes to actually provide validated quality research about the so-called Jewish identity crisis he attributes so easily to Jewish anti-Zionists – as Yakov Rabkin (Professor of History at the University of Montreal, currently Visiting Scholar at La Trobe University)details in his well researched book A Threat from Within: A Century of Jewish Opposition to Zionism – Zionism can also be understood as a revolt against Judaism!

    While I disagree with this view, Rabkin’s argument is a serious one from a Jewish identity and ethical moral and religious perspective and cannot be dismissed as easily or flippantly as Mendes attempts to here.

  • Chaim says:

    Larry – you really have to get over your personal “biff” with Phillip and concentrate ONLY on the issues…

    His article was not about you or the group/ philosophy you espouse.

    It is about a small group of “Jews” who dismiss Israel and Zionism in its entirety. Not that they oppose some policies or actions of Israel while supporting Palestinian rights. If it was about corruption then they would support a “clean” Zionism. And if it about being against nation states because of their inherent discrimination, violence (Army) and support a one world Utopian government they should also not support Palestinian statehood.

    Religious Jews also oppose some policies of Israel in fact Chabad does not officially accept the concept of secular government in Israel but will support Israel and its government because of the Jews that live there and the land of Israel itself.

    These ANTI-zionists also dismiss G-d, Jewish rituals and customs etc

    What really makes them Jewish at all? As if non-Jews don’t also have humanistic / liberal values that this is their definition of a Jew.

    As for “prophetic” Jews – their descendants are eventually lost to “Judaism” completely without some forms of rituals.

    As for your personal position. The real question is are their sufficient , active Palestinians around with a voice who can stop Hamas etc Are there people now in power to talk to? – Dialogue and concessions need to be a two way street – oh that’s right. That is what Phillips previous article was about.

  • Larry Stillman says:

    Chaim, this is an intellectual, not a personal biff about the quality of argument and assertions.

    As Mr Zyngier suggests, the situation is far more nuanced. One of the problems is that in the polemics which masquerade as debate, nuance is lost. Look at the letters in the AJN and the way that critics of Israeli policy are characterized.

    Second, you are raise the issue of so-called orthodox perspectives on Judaism ‘versus’ the rest. I don’t think that it’s a topic Philip or I would feel comfortable into being drawn into arguing about in a political context. It is an entirely different topic. Perhaps it needs to be addressed by a member of the reform rabbinate. But you may wish to look at an older publication called Varieties of Judaism by Joseph Blau. Identification has many paths.

    Third, yes, there are very articulate Palestinians around who present alternate ‘democratic’ positions. Start with the bitterlemons website.

    But I also suspect one reason why we don’t know so much about the nuances there is that a lot of the argumentation is in Arabic, not English or Hebrew.

  • Chaim says:

    I must not have made myself clear.

    No one disagrees that being critical of Israel policy is beneficial and important. You don’t have to be left to disagree with Israel policy.

    The article seems to be addressing one specific view which is anti-Israel, anti- Zionism in its entirety and where this comes from.

    I had a very brief look at the bitter lemons website. I failed to see a Palestinian that was not just attacking Israel but also criticizing current Palestinian causes for the conflict and lack of peace. I found plenty of Jews/ Israelis attacking Israel policy. I am sure there are some. I will keep SEARCHING.

  • eli says:

    Unfortunatley i am not as competent or as well read as Phillip or Larry and some others here on the subject, so excuse my simplicity, but it seems to me that while there is constant debate within the Jewish community as to the problems of the middle east and how to solve them,while there are myraid of Jewish peace activists, Palestinian supporters/sympathises not to mention those advocating a one state solution. I do not see, hear or read any of the same from the Palestinians themselves.

    One website does not a peace movement make.

    There are as far a I know no major peace groups,intellectuals, academics, politicians making any noise of any consequence arguing for a balanced peaceful solution. Not one person or group in 60 years has been prepared to stand up and say “we must try to find a solution, if not for us but for our children’s sake.

    The onus,responsibility and need for concessions has always been and remains with Israel. It seems as if history only began in 1967 and that threats,expulsions and terror are to be excused.Where are the Palestinians who will say that “we have also been foolish and wrong” and that we also accept responsibility for the situation as it exits today.

    Like most Jews I would be than happy to concede territory make concessions ,whatever it takes to make Israel free of this curse.

    But until they who want so much to be recognised can stand up and say “we to” recognize you , the Jews , the Jewish state, as having a legitimate, historical and moral right to co exist with us, then I am loathe to entertain a discussion with a “hostile” witness let alone negotiate away our very existence.

  • Larry Stillman says:


    1. I don’t have the time, unfortunately, to provide a full ‘alternate’ reading list of Palestinian viewpoints, but for example, look at other sites like http://www.miftah.org/ and discussions of the politics behind the election of Hamas. Of course, such sites oppose the occupation, accept what they say is a just two-state solution based on UN resolutions (as do the Australian Friends of Palestine).

    2. I think it disingenous when you say that there have been no calls for a balanced solution in 60 years–the American Friends Service Commmitee has one example, has been active on this front from a civil society perspective for years.See http://www.afsc.org/israel-palestine/ht/d/ContentDetails/i/3689/pid/13382 which sets out principles and the and the host of plans alluded to below, relect attempts to provide solutions.

    3. For a review of peace plans see http://www.mideastweb.org/peaceplans.htm or http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arab-Israeli_Conflict

    4. As I have suggested before, one of the reasons why there is an apparent absence of internal critique (at least in English), is because for Palestians, the major problem is with Israel, not in expending energy on what they all know and live with–that their society is divided politically over this issue, and that Israel has encouraged those divisions all along. Palestinans like Hanan Ashwari, for all the noise about her, have been highly critical of the failure of Palestian politics. You can find essays by her on the MERIP website.

    I have a section of the article I wrote in critique of Philip’s characterization of AJDS and others devoted to this issue, but I only wish to quote here on part of it, a quote from Omar Bargouti

    [I]n contexts of colonial oppression, intellectuals that advocate and work for justice cannot be just intellectuals, in the abstract sense; they cannot but be immersed in some form or another of activism, to learn from fellow activists through real-life experiences, to widen the horizons of their sources of inspiration, and to organically engage in effective, collective emancipatory processes, without the self-indulgence, complacency, or ivory-towerness that may blur their moral vision. ”

    This can of course also lead to internal silencing, but from what I understand, and this came out in the Fatah congress, there is plenty of debate.

    5. But I don’t see it my role to speak for Palestinians. Seek on google…

    6. But additionally, part of the problem is like that of a divorce I suppose–wanting to argue with the ‘partner’ rather than find a just solution. It’s better to start ignoring the rhetoric, the picky points of he said-she said , and concentrate on moving forward

  • Chaim says:

    Isn’t the root of this a religious conflict in reality rather than based on nations or land?

    Why aren’t Palestinians fighting for control of Jordan too?

  • Larry Stillman says:

    It’s a struggle over colonization in the last, and this century. And yes, religion, sigh, got messed up in it. But religion got messed up in the mess over Yugoslavia and claims going back at least 1000 years, but at least they have got somewhere after the last bought of self-destruction.

    BTW, I regard attempts to dismissive Jewish history, presence and attachment to the ancient land as erroneous and offensive, but I take into account at least 1300 documented years of Arab presence and attempts to appropriate the term ‘indigenous’. In the same way, I find Jewish attempts to dismiss Arab/Palestinan presence, whether Christian or Muslim as offensive.

    Each side has metaphysical truth claims that need to be put aside.

    I must take a break from this discussion and do my real work.

  • ariel says:

    David Z, you quote Israel’s Declaration of Independence, which is not a legally binding document, but rather a kind of mission statement which the founders of the modern state saw as an ideal to strive towards. This is much like the American Declaration of Independance as opposed to its Bill of Rights which is legally binding.

    Ironically, the paragraph you quote has actually been achieved by Israel except, i would argue, the statement of “freedom, justice and peace as envisaged by the prophets of Israel”. Many of us have been to Israel and have seen that this is not the case between two Jews at a bus stop, let alone between Jews and those minority groups which are hostile to the majority.

    As for the rest:
    “equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex”? Achieved.
    “freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture”? Achieved.
    “safeguard the Holy Places of all religions”? Achieved
    “faithful to the principles of the Charter of the United Nations”? Achieved as best as possible, given that no country in the world can claim 100% achievement in this area.

    I believe however, that the debate is about who constitutes Israel’s “inhabitants” as listed in the first statement above.
    In other words, the question is whether Palestinians who live in “the territories” – and are not Israeli citizens – are still under the auspices of the Israeli Government or of the Palestinian Authority.
    I posit that with the signing of the Oslo Accords, Israel recognised the PLO as the point of authority for all Palestinians and therefore it is the PLO who must provide for the needs of its subjects.
    That is, Israel has no responsibility – under all recognised agreements – for the day to day lives of Palestinians.
    Therefore, Israel does not have to provide for their rights. That is Hamas and Abu Mazen’s prerogative.

    Regarding the second and third statements re freedom of religion and culture and access to holy sites, I challenge anyone to bring and case where the government of Israel has denied this right of religious freedom to anybody living between the Jordan and the Mediterranean. In fact, the conditions of the holy sites are in better condition with freer access today than they were before 1948 and certainly 1967.

    To conclude, I will state my belief that an anti-Zionist Jew is akin to an Indigenous Australian relinquishing his/her sovreign right to the land we now blessedly call home.

  • ariel says:

    Larry, why do you make it a point that you have real work to do?
    I also work for a living, but the issues facing the Jewish People are more important to me than climbing the corporate ladder.

    You also seem to argue against ideas which nobody here has raised. For example you claim to “find Jewish attempts to dismiss Arab/Palestinan presence, whether Christian or Muslim as offensive.”

    I do not recall anyone denying their presence. It is simply a matter of perspective. That is, recognising that history began thousands of years ago and not in 1967 or 1948 or even 1917. The facts remain that the continual Jewish presence in Israel (especially Jerusalem) has lasted four millenia, whilst the Christian and Muslim presence only a few hundred years. And now there is a study which claims that most of them decend from native Jews who were forcibly converted over the past 800 years or so.

    [By writing the last paragraph, I have fallen into your trap of categorising Judaism as merely a religion like Christianity and Islam. It would be more accurate to refer to a Jew/Arab/Druze/Circassian/Beduin presence based on immutable ethnicity, rather than transient faith].

  • Larry Stillman says:


    1). Have a sense of humour, –ein kemach, ein torah.

    2) Joan Peters and others were renowned for denying that there were such people as Palestinians and if I am not wrong, Golda Meir said the same thing and this canard comes up all the time in debate.

    3) My position is that I’m not going to enter into debates over who came first or what happened in ancient history, when metaphysics get muddled up with what we know, and often don’t know from the historical record. This, to put it another way, is non-orthodox thinking that has been going on for about 150 years now.

    And I take the same viewpoint on Islamic or Christian essentialist assertions.

    The position of uninformed religious-nationalist thinking and denial of others’ rights rapidly degenerates into insults and essentialism and the flip side, for example, is claiming that Jews are khazars.

    Read Michael Ignatieff Blood and Belonging for a study of what this sort of thinking does in a range of conflicts around the world.

    We are on much safer ground in sticking to the population conflict in the contemporary era.

    Back to the grindstone.

  • ariel says:

    I will only say that the term Palestinian was never used to describe a nationality until 1967.
    During the British Mandate period, for example, the British referred to Jews as Palestinians because they lived the area.

    I don’t deny anyone their rights. I just find it strange that an entire nation magically appeared in 1967, most of whom were quite happy to be counted as ethnic Syrians prior to this.

  • Larry Stillman says:

    What ever the terminology, there has been a dispute over the real estate and there has been a reaction since the 19thCent. to Zionism.

    It’s like saying that Kurds never existed in Turkey, but are in fact Mountain Turks (as has been used, to deny their existance). It’s another example of denialism, an extension of the terra nullius argument.

    I cut and paste from something I wrote a while back.

    George Antonious was a Palestinian Christian Arab (see the wikipedia entry), who wrote one of the first books on Arab Nationalism. His life was controversial, as a player in elite Arab circles,

    His is most famous for his polemic the Arab Awakening (1938). Looking at it recently, one passage struck me as extraordinarily prescient:

    ‘The Zionists base their claims on the historic connection of Jewry with Palestine, which they represent as entitling the Jews to return to their ancient homeland. The connection is too well-known to need recapitulation, but what does need stressing, in view of the widespread misconceptions that prevail, is that a historic connection is not necessarily synonymous with a title to possession, more particularly when it relates to an inhabited country whose population claims, in addition to an ancient historic connection of their won, the natural rights inherent in actual possession (p. 294-395).

    In the final page of the book, he goes on to point out the terrors that the Jews have been going through under Hitler at that time, but that the Arabs in Palestine cannot be made responsible to carry that burden, particularly in the eviction of Palestinians from their home.

    In a nutshell, I think he has summed up the core issues around the conflict: two claims to possession, with the Palestinian grievance never being really taken seriously, resulting in a situation of seemingly permanent hostility rather than steps to accommodation.

  • TheSadducee says:


    I would like to take the opportunity to address a few of your points if you will indulge me.

    You mention military intervention. By who? What forces have the legitimacy or credibility (or even capacity) to intervene effectively?

    Demilitirization – of who? and why? If your suggesting Israel then you need to explain why this country and not others that are potentially (or actually are) more dangerous are not disarmed first? eg. the US, UK, PRC, CIS – all engaged currently or recently in significant armed conflicts. If your talking about the Palestinians being disarmed your in the same company as the Israeli PM. Similarly, based on the military capacity of its neighbours could you sensibly provide assurances to Israelis to undertake such a course of action?

    You mention the FYR and seem to suggest something positive has been achieved since the last conflict? – I would suggest instead that this has been a disaster – a state split along ethnic lines with effective ethnic separation and strict border delineation. Is this a solution that you have in mind with Israel and Palestine? It is also odd when you suggest people not get hung up with borders – yet that is precisely what has stopped the hot conflict in that part of the world.

    I appreciate your sentiments about the support for the underdog, even the flawed underdog because of the disparity of power etc. However what about the underdogs within that underdog society? The persecuted Christian minority, people of GLBT identity, women? Don’t you and others like you, by your own criteria, have a responsibility to agitate for their rights as much as you do for Palestinians generally?

    I also note that you mention that you don’t like Hamas or the bad stuff -but lets face a serious point – they were democratically elected by the Palestinian electorate. The electorate has a responsibility to explain to the world why they voted in a racist, homophobic, extremist religious militia as their leadership and then explain why people who espouse leftist and universalist positions should support them? It is not merely bad stuff or unfortunate, it is deplorable and can’t be separated from an analysis of the conflict and its circumstances.

  • ariel says:


    The fact that you use an Arab nationalist to support your views tells the whole story.

    Furthermore, your reference to Israel as “real estate” simplifies the entire issue. Israel is not real estate. I would suggest listening to how an Indigenous Australian talks about this land and to then understand how every Jew should feel about the Land of Israel.

    If we are going to play “possession is 9/10 of the law” then here it is: Israel is currently in possession and this must be taken into account.

    Finally, as Alan Dershowitz points out, the Palestinians were not innocent bystanders during the Holocaust. Their leaders (led by the Mufti al-Husseini) encouraged Hitler to build a concentration camp in Nablus to help them with their own “Jewish problem”. As far as I’m concerned, they are as guilty as the German people. Because intention is also 9/10 of the law regardless of outcome.

  • Larry Stillman says:

    1. I have a reasonable exposure to indigenous points of views through my work and have spent hours in discussion on this point.

    I don’t think their situation is the same as that as Palestinians. Indigenous Australians have a clear claim to the land (moderated under law)

    I argue that the Palestinan claim to being original inhabitants is as false as Jewish claims to being original inhabitants. The region has been ethnically, and religiously mixed for millenia, thus both have real-estate claims.
    Israel is part of my cultural identify, but not to the point at which it disposses others. And in the same way, Palestinian attempts to disposses Jews are wrong.

    By quoting a pretty distinguished Palestinian scholar of the 1930s I was trying to show that in fact, before 1967, there was deep Palestian consciousness of the situation. And what’s wrong with quoting the insights of such a person when he hits the nail on the head?

    Compromise is the the key the situation.

    I want to deal with the situation that exists now, not one based on competing truth claims. Why is the Palestine-Israel conflict important? Because it is an international flashpoint.

    As for details on the how and why of demilitarization etc. Great overviews can be found in wikidpedia for starters.

    Who said I sympathize with Islamo-fascism, persecution of gays etc? I think I’ve made my views clear about Hamas intolerance in the pages of the AJN, but as even secular Palestinians such as Aswari argue (I don’t have time at the moment to find the sources, but they are online), and many Israeli commentators, like it or not, it was elected because of a desparate political situation. Its similar to what happened in Iran in 1979 when Khomeni was supported by the left.

    It’s what we have to contend with, and there is evidence (I think it is extensively discussed in the recent Journal of Palestine Studies), that there are divisions within Hamas showing that compromise and de facto recognition of Israel are possible. And Hams and Fatah are getting to be buddies again.

    Now, I’ve probably written about 2500 words today. I think on this current round of discussion, I would like to end my input for the sake of sleep and sanity.

    My fingers are worn off stumps. To paraphrase old yekke scholars who got a write up in thick obscure tribute volumes when they passed away, ‘Jetzt, ich muss legte sich mein Feder hin’.

  • David Zyngier says:

    Ariel wants us to believe that Israel’s Proclamation of Independence is not a legally binding document! What nonsense. The Law of Return is enshrined in that document!

    And does he really believe that all Israeli citizens have equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex? Doesn’t he read the Israeli press about the recent murder of Gays in Tel Aviv – about the riots in Jerusalem by the orthodox over a parking lot open on Saturdays – about the law being discussed in the Knesset to forbid Nakbah commemoration by Arabs – about the inability of Jews to marry whom ever they want in any way they want – about the pitiful existence of the Agunot – about Bedouin who are denied land tenure and civil rights for over 40 years – need I go on – the former PM Olmert even conceded publicly that Israelis had been involved in pogroms against its own Arab citizens in 2008!

    Ariel go and do some research and be prepared to discover some hard home truths about inequality in Israel.

    But I am perplexed by the degree of venom that Stillman has been subjected too by the readers here- given the provocations of Mendes who has written the following hateful and prejudicial statement about fellow Jews and I quote:
    few if any Jewish anti-Zionists offer positive reasons for publicly claiming a Jewish identity, that is that anti-Zionist Jews are not Jews at all!

    This is his key point that needs to be vociferously debated – he has in other places called Australian academic anti-Zionists like Docker and Curthoys part-Jews – what does he intend to mean by the term part? I wonder – which part – who is the judge here – does Mendes see himself as the benchmark for who is a (good) Jew?

  • Chaim says:

    Did you notice how this discussion is really off topic and where is Mendes anyway?

    Larry – If you change the definitions and parameters of the debate to prove your theories e.g. ignoring Jewish Religious and “ancient” historical connections to the land your views may then seem plausible but they are not realistic nor appropriate. There will never be true peace by changing the confines of the debate for a minority of people involved.

    Also you ignore the fact the Palestinians and their causes are used as proxies by fundamentalist Islamic regimes and groups including Iran, Al Qaeda, etc in a religious war to show and manifest superiority and control of Islam over the rest of the world staring with the middle east. Hamas, Al Quaeda copycat and splinter groups are not going to go away nor give up. even if the Palestinians are given all of Judea, Samaria and East Jerusalem do you really believe that these groups are going to stop there. I understand there are secular and moderate Palestinians BUT are they prepared for a civil war and banishment of these groups?

    Again why are Palestinians not trying to reclaim their autonomy in Jordan?

    “And Hamas and Fatah are getting to be buddies again” – dreamer…

  • frosh says:

    David Z,

    I assumed Philip Mendes used the term “part-Jew” because that is how those individuals nominate/consider themselves. This is not pejorative, but rather it is recognising how they define themselves.

    At any rate, there are plenty of people ou there who classify themselves as “part-Jews” rather than “Jews”.

  • eli says:


    How unusual it is for Israel and the Jews to have to be perfect. More perfect than everyone else. Israel has some of the most liberal gay communities in the world, murders of gays is not tantamount to the inequality of sexual rights, riots by orthodox Jews over parking lots, how does this reflect a religious inequality, perhaps their method was not palatable to many, but it points to a tolerant society able to absorb such actions and move on.

    All the “inequalities” you list have occurred to some degree, with other minority groups, in the most democratic nations in the world including Australia. None of these countries have a perfect record. But what sets them, Israel and other nations in the Middle east apart is that over time we have the infrastructures for recourse, debate and ultimately a legal system to bring about a change in the long term. None of this or very little exits in the Arab world let alone the Palestinian world.

    I am sick and tired of people picking the eyes out of situations and policies of Israel that in most nations would rate low on the scale of undemocratic. The same people rarely if at all make any similar comparisons of Israel’s neighbors nor hold them to similar standards.

    How about pointing the finger of blame at the a Palestinian leadership who have abysmally failed their own people for over 40 years. Failed to to accept on three occasions peace deals, that although not perfect were more than adequate in providing a stable basis for an economic and political framework that by now would have perhaps seen an independent state. Instead rejection after rejection has allowed fundamentalists to hijack the agenda and turn what was once a political problem into religious reactionism.

    It has allowed Hamas to segment and divide an already fragile social and political structure, and create a 3rd power that neither Israel or the PLO want involved, despite the “brotherly” overtures of the PLO towards its political rivals in Gaza.

    The Palestinian leadership do not want a separate state. Because this would mean terrorists turning into teachers, public servants and responsible citizens. They would have to build roads and schools and a health system. All the things that make for a nation.

    After 60 years of being able to suck dry billions of dollars in aid,into their own pockets, after 60 years of controlling their population with terror and guns, having virtual fiefdoms over large parts of land. Those in power are not about to become servants of a genuine political democracy. Its not in their nature. So they convince their populations that they must continue the “struggle”

    They would much simply prefer political autonomy and let Israel worry about the security and social needs of the population. The PLO will continue to fail its people simply because they know no other paradigm except the one that exits. Conflict,accusation and lack of accountability.

    Please stop blaming Israel,in spite of its flaws and failings its is still the only genuine democracy that gives hope to a solution.

    These are the hard truths!

  • Chaim says:

    kudos to you Eli!

    The extreme left are living in a bizarre fantasy world.

    David – If you actually read the article in a non biased, Venomous way you would notice it is not about specific nor individual Jews – it is about a small movement or group which most people here completely disagree with and find very disturbing.

  • eli – you make an excellent point, and this is yet another example of the way the world demands Israel operate on a much higher standard of behaviour than anyone else.

    If there are gay bashings in Australia, do we declare the country in breach of its own constitution? If there is open dissent and demonstration that leads to violence, does that render the country not legitimate? If there are prejudices in US or Australia against some minorities, does this make them aparthied states?

    Israel is the most liberal democracy in the Middle East; Arabs and Palestinians living in Israel enjoy far better rights and standard of living than their brethren in the Arab world, but for the far-left, this is still not good enough!

    Any self-abiding lefty who knows about Maslow’s hierarchy of needs would realize that they would be better off directing their energy at improving the quality of life of the millions at the bottom of the pyramid (I’m thinking basic human rights in the Arab world and in Africa), than lobbying for the few near the top.

  • ariel says:

    Thank you Eli and David W for writing what I had in mind!

    David Z: It is you who needs to do research. Go ask any legal expert in Israel – even the most liberal, left wing, progressive, activist judge – and they will tell you that the Declaration of Independence is NOT a legally biding document. Just like the US Declaration is not, but the Bill of Rights IS.
    I said this before, but you clearly haven’t read my whole post.

    As for the Law of Return, it was passed as an individual bill in Knesset. The rest of the Declaration was not.

  • philip mendes says:

    What surprises me here is the passion that my critique of Jewish anti-Zionists provokes from Stillman and Zyngier (who may or may not be writing as official representatives of AJDS, nobody really knows). I say this given that AJDS historically always supported the secure existence of Israel, and opposed anti-Zionist fundamentalist groups which sought its destruction. So I feel that I am actually doing the job that AJDS itself should be doing – that is left moderates opposing the far Left – and used to do in the past. But today AJDS seems to adhere to the 1960s adage that there are no enemies on the Left.

    It seems to me that this passion in defence of Jewish anti-Zionists (and conversely their passion for attacking mainstream Jewish organisations) reflects the way they construct their relations with the rest of the Jewish community. And here I will draw a contrast with my own views.

    As a community development lecturer and researcher, I always believe in starting where the community is. And that means recognizing and accepting the diversity of the Jewish community. There are Jewish progressives and conservatives, and everything in between. There are politically fluid people who have left views on some issues, and conservative views on other issues. There are people active in supposedly right-wing establishment organisations who express left-wing views on Israel. There are socially conservative religious people who hold strong social justice passions based on their faith. And so on. To be sure, there are aspects of the Jewish community’s internal and external attitudes and values that I would like to change and fix (tikkun olam), but overall I personally feel a sense of solidarity with that community which obviously reflects in its beliefs the experiences of Jews as a historically oppressed group. And I feel obliged to defend that community when it is attacked unfairly using racial and ethnic stereotyping by persons from the far Left and far Right.

    In contrast, AJDS seem to frame their political identity as lying outside that broad and diverse community. They talk as if there is a right-wing Jewish mass which they construct as the enemy, and then a small number of idealistic left-wing Jews who congregate only in AJDS or other left organisations. They appear to adopt a paternalistic and elitist approach based on assuming that they are the only Jews who hold progressive and humanistic opinions. And then they seem surprised that many in the mainstream view them as unsympathetic and even hostile to the community.

    One final point: Much has been written about the allegedly powerful Jewish lobby which attempts to silence any viewpoints not critical of Israel. But little mention is made of the pro-Palestinian lobby which is hegemonic in key sections of the Left, and attempts to prevent any criticisms of the Palestinians, and particularly any exposure of the ethnic/racial stereotyping paradigm employed by the abolish Israel crowd. Many of the key Left journals in this country parade as their “Court Jews” Jewish anti-Zionists who trash Israel and all Jewish supporters of Israel whatever their political affiliations, just as Communist and pro-Communist organisations paraded marginal Jewish apparatchiks (who politically hated all other Jews) as defenders of Stalinist anti-Semitism in the early 1950s. This is a disgrace and a tragedy for both Jews and the Left.

    For example, one leading Left journal recently published Docker and Curthoy’s manifesto for the dismantling of Israel which (using a perspective traditionally associated with the far Right) essentialised all Israeli Jews as evil oppressors. I would have loved to see AJDS representatives aggressively confront this malevolent practice and loudly defend a two-state perspective and critique anti-Zionist fundamentalism on the Left. But they were passively silent. The question is why they don’t feel aggrieved by these hate-filled diatribes, and why conversely they feel so excited by my critique of Jewish anti-Zionists.


  • TheSadducee says:


    I suggest they are passively silent because they know what the consequences are of fighting against the extremism within the cause – the worst forms of criticism leading to repudiation, ostracism, etc. I suspect your thinking of the situation in the UK Academic Union and the boycott problems?

    If they were kicked out where then would these leftist anti-Zionist Jews be? Outside the fringes of the discourse and totally irrelevant. Neither the Palestinian cause or mainstream Jewish community would engage with them or take them seriously. They would fade away into obscurity. This is a fate worse than death to most activists.

    I suspect they feel so aggrieved when you critique them because they know that their Jewish identity is the important element which gives them prominence in their cause. Without it who would they be and why would their opinion hold any prominence? Court Jew is much more important than non-Jewish or Palestinian activists – there are plenty of those around who frankly do the job better and would leave them irrelevant in the cause.

  • Larry Stillman says:

    I was not going to respond, I’m only going to comment on two things, and I will let others take up the cause due to personal time pressures

    1) I am writing on my own behalf. And I assume David Zyngier is as well. That is what blogs and comments are about. Please stop throwing around the party line canard Philip with that ‘nobody really knows’. That’s McCarthyism.

    2) ” In contrast, AJDS seem to frame their political identity as lying outside that broad and diverse community. They talk as if there is a right-wing Jewish mass which they construct as the enemy, and then a small number of idealistic left-wing Jews who congregate only in AJDS or other left organisations. They appear to adopt a paternalistic and elitist approach based on assuming that they are the only Jews who hold progressive and humanistic opinions. And then they seem surprised that many in the mainstream view them as unsympathetic and even hostile to the community.”

    Unsubstantiated garbage. I, or no one else ever claims to be the voice of an eternal left truth squad. Members of the AJDS who I know are in fact connected to the community. Some, believe it or not, go to synagogue, so stop with that sort of assassination please.

    3) I’ve called Docker and Curthoys stuff garbage (or slightly nice words) on a number of occasions in the Jewish press, in my blog and elsewhere.

    4) I’m so repelled by some of the ultra left rubbish that I consider it not worth even responding to. It’s as bad what comes from the right. Others, like Sol Salbe, however, are constantly circulating material in an attempt to stop the ultra left/right.

    5) Just to label critical views of Israel as ‘pro-Palestinian’ is really inaccurate.

    6) I sense in another comment there was an attempt to associate AJDS with boycott organisations. Wrong wrong wrong.

  • Chaim says:

    Mendes – your personal attacks on AJDS are not helpful. That was a previous article. Stick to the issues.

    Larry – “critical views of Israel as ‘pro-Palestinian’ is really inaccurate” – I cant find anyone who actually said that. Believing in greater Israel is also a critical view of the current government. Jews who promote the DESTRUCTION of Israel was mentioned.

  • Larry Stillman says:

    1.. Chaim, I take that point about my simple statement of ‘pro-palestinian’ as a pejorative.I realized it was nonsense while cycling home (here I can state an AJDS position — environment is a significant issue, and we hope that everyone does something to reduce the carbon footprint but I suppose we will be attacked for being concerned about that as well!).

    2. More seriously, in the interest of demonstrating what AJDS members, as individuals, can argue in interms of the need for nuance, and critique of doctrinalism in left circles (e.g. the boycott campaign) see http://www.ajds.org.au/node/73.)

    3. On reflection, I would like statistical evidence from Philip that I, or AJDS members are elitist or paternalistic (well, I am a parent), rather than the cop-out phrase ‘it appears that’ to argue such a case. This is intellectually sloppy. Argue the case, not the person.

  • David Zyngier says:

    I post for your edification an article by Dennis Altman in Overland in which he details issues of Jewish ambivalence to Zionism, critiique of Israel & overt anti-antisemitism. I wonder what Mendes might respond!

    OVERLAND 196
    spring 2009
    ISBN 978-0-9805346-3-4
    published 22 August 2009

    From Galus Australis: The article (which was posted in full) has been deleted, as re-publishing in full without permission may constitute a breach of copyright. In future, please do not post full articles. Rather include quotations, links, or references to the full article.

  • Chaim says:

    I read TheSadducee’s comment carefully too.

    She did not mention your name nor ADJS and I don’t believe she meant you personally either. She was talking about anti-Zionist Jews in general at the extreme left.

    You seem to me paranoid?

    Do you consider yourself the “anti-Zionist Jew” or just a Jew critical of Israel?

  • Larry Stillman says:

    For Denis Altman’s piece please see http://web.overland.org.au/?page_id=1541 .

    I realise that the article contains reference to a number of controversial reports and authors (e.g. Mearsheimer, Tony Judt), but I think if there is to be any conversation it is around the issue of identity, as debate over their views is a well done sausage and doesn’t really need new airing. I don’t agree with all of Altman’s assertions, but it is a highly thoughtful piece which has as part of its final sentences,

    “Seeking to slowly change official Australian perceptions of the conflict and to find ways to shift the language of the debate is far more meaningful than the campaign for sanctions on Israeli cultural and academic institutions just launched by a group of Australian academics. Their call was sadly reminiscent of the call by the Jewish Community Council to boycott former Iranian president Khatami’s visit to Melbourne – in both cases one suspects moral indignation was more important than any calculation of what might bring effective change.

    In the end, the debate revolves around the persistence of tribalism, the deep and often irrational loyalty felt for those with shared histories and memories and fears of persecution”

    Please also look at this week’s AJN summary of the community survey — about 12% of the the sample response consider themselves as ‘non-zionist’ and about 20% as secular. I am still not sure on the sample methodology, which may in fact in the accuracy of the figures. But if they can be regarded as indicative, such ‘groupings’ indicate not insubstantial presences.

  • Chaim says:

    There is still the need to differentiate between non-Zionist and anti-Zionist..

    [Editor’s note: this promised article is coming soon. It has now been written and is in the process of being edited – the delay is due to the writer having a medical operation this week – the article should be up sometime on Sunday]

  • TheSadducee says:

    My unreserved apologies to the site and Drs Zyngier and Stillman if they were offended by my admittedly poorly written personal opinion.

    I should have made clear that I was not referring to representatives of the AJDS. I can see now that it could be interpreted in this manner without due care being taken in writing the comment removing it from the context that Dr Mendes set.

    A lesson learnt for all – be very careful what you write or you’ll have to face threats of litigation by a current committee member of the AJDS, an organisation which indicates on its website that:

    “The AJDS was formed in 1984 to promote free discussion on Jewish and general social and political issues.”

    Ironic isn’t it?

  • Chaim says:

    Sorry – also there is the subjective opinion displayed here that tribalism is inherently bad.

    and “loyalty felt for those with shared histories and memories and fears of persecution” is not always irrational.

    In fact it explains the persistent existence of the Jewish people when most other cultures we faced and have even been in servitude to have vanished.

    IN the end we are talking about subjective and personal value judgments what are not necessarily correct nor desired.

    Am Yisroel Chai!

  • frosh says:

    David Z,

    You write,

    “Be warned I have already taken successful action over similar issues with the an Australian Jewish newspaper in the recent past!”

    And on another blog, I see you have recently written:

    “I have recently been involved in a defamation action against a another Jewish institution in which I was publicly defamed. Needless to say I was successful!”

    I’m curious as to why you would write these irrelevant and unverifiable stories.
    Is it because you want us to know that you are highly litigious?

    Do you consider litigiousness to be a virtue? Do you consider litigiousness to be menschlikayt?

    If you wish to sue us, please just send us the paperwork so that I can pass it on to our solicitors, and then can have a good laugh…after which they can send you a bill. But please don’t come onto this open forum that we provide and make threats against us and our readers/commenters. We will not stand for it, and counter-action will be taken if you persist.

    Thankfully, we live a country where you cannot sue someone simply because you disagree with their opinion or find their arguments too challenging to counter.

    Finally, I understand that Antony Loewenstein is in the habit of removing comments from his blog that he finds disagreeable. We are not in that habit. However, you may find things more to your liking on his website, where you will not have to encounter opinion that challenges your own. Consider this well meaning advice.

  • Michael Brull says:

    You didn’t print my last comment criticising Mendes. (rendering ironic your claim about not removing comments you find disagreeable). But I nevertheless want to commend you for not giving in to threats. Not everyone is so brave.

    Editor’s note: Michael, We have no idea what you are talking about. We are not aware of removing or withholding any of your comments. Perhaps you are confusing us with another website. We look forward to you withdrawing this accusation and issuing us an apology

  • David Zyngier says:

    I am pleased to accept the apology written by TheSadducee:
    TheSadducee says:
    August 28, 2009 at 9:58 am

    My unreserved apologies to the site and Drs Zyngier and Stillman if they were offended by my admittedly poorly written personal opinion.

    I should have made clear that I was not referring to representatives of the AJDS. I can see now that it could be interpreted in this manner without due care being taken in writing the comment removing it from the context that Dr Mendes set.

    Be clear that I am NOT litigious but lashon ra’ah otherwise known in Latin as ad hominem has nothing to do with free speech. Given the clear link in the arguments and comments raised by some that anti-Zionism=anti-Semitism being labeled either by name or by association as being an anti-Zionist is indeed highly offensive and defamatory if it is a lie.

    Frosh writes:
    Thankfully, we live a country where you cannot sue someone simply because you disagree with their opinion or find their arguments too challenging to counter.

    Referring to some one as an anti-Zionist is not an opinion or an argument, but a descriptive label that if not challenged then as Goebbels famously said If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it or as Mao similarly wrote: A lie repeated a hundred times becomes the truth..

    For the record I have always been a proud Socialist Zionist and supporter and member of MERETZ Australia.

  • TheSadducee says:

    I personally can’t decide what I find more distasteful – the exaggerated 20+ point font or a proud Socialist Zionist quoting “Reich Minister of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda” Goebbels?

    Btw, I’m concerned that Dr Zyngier has somehow linked me (and Frosh) to the policies of “Reich Minister of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda” Goebbels based on the fact that I wrote a comment poorly and which I apologised for. Perhaps I (or Frosh) should be getting some legal advice?

  • Michael Brull says:

    Yes we now know Zyngier isn’t litigious.

    I’m sorry, I could’ve sworn that I wrote something, and I looked back and it was gone. I’m not sure if you really think an apology is necessary (though if you threaten to sue me, I will be happy to issue one).If you post this (where I will try to recreate my criticisms), I will assume that my computer stuffed up or something.

    [Editor’s note: Hi Michael, just for your assurance, we are not a litigious bunch at Galus and do not readily instigate law suits – only counter suits :-) – we are glad are to see that it was just a misunderstanding. If you ever believe that one of your comments has been withheld, please just shoot us an email]

    Mendes, interestingly, withdraws some of his more appalling smears against Jews he doesn’t agree with. He doesn’t apologise for his smears, but considering he publishes practically the same thing in every journal and blog that will print him, it’s noticeable that this time, for example, he doesn’t accuse left-wing Jews of supporting terrorism.

    Mendes solemnly explains that the dreaded anti-Zionists regard Israeli Jews “as inherently evil oppressors”. Well, the recent survey has only released some preliminary findings, but about 11.5% of Jews say they are not Zionist (besides 6% who declined response). The Jewish community in Australia is over 100 000, so Mendes thinks it may be the case that over 11 000 Jews in Australia are anti-Semitic. Surely we now understand better the grave need for Mendes to confront this dangerous fifth column.

    Also – what “recent studies” of the younger generation of Jews in Australia does Mendes refer to?

    Mendes’ article in some ways is a more cautious version of his earlier essay, omitting some of his more egregious assertions. Nevertheless, he is still untroubled by any need for consistency. He claims there is little “authentically” Jewish about anti-Zionists. Okay, well Mendes also says the Jews are a nation, and Zionism is basically Jewish nationalism. If a Jew is not a nationalist, presumably they would reject whatever nationalist identification Mendes would consider important. However, it is Mendes who is most inconsistent: if he think that Jews are less Jewish because of their views or affiliation, it appears he does not take seriously Jewish nationalism. If he did, he would hold that Jews are Jewish simply by nationality. In criticising anti-Zionists, Mendes abandons Jewish nationalism, in defence of Jewish nationalism.

    Interestingly also, Mendes complains that some Jews only manifestation of Jewishness is in their criticisms of Zionism. Well, there are Jews who manifest their Jewishness solely in their pro-Zionism. Why is one authentically Jewish, but the other not? Mendes plainly thinks one view is Jewish, the other is somehow counterfeit. Apparently, people’s Jewishness to Mendes is based on whether he likes their opinions.

    It is also nice to know that Mendes thinks Docker et al should be “aggressively confronted”. Presumably, this means his usual custom of calling them anti-Semitic. You know, I think it’s silly enough that Mendes pretends Jews he disagrees with are Jewish, but it’s annoying when he pretends to be left-wing when he does so. He’s no less jingoistic than AIJAC, so he should say he is at least conservative on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

  • philip mendes says:

    So as a critical left-wing supporter of Israel (albeit from a non-Zionist perspective ideologically as I don’t support the Zionist belief that all Jews should ideally live in Israel, or that Jewish life in Israel is inherently more functional and important than Jewish life elsewhere), can Messrs Zygier and Brull please explain to us mere mortals how their respective self-defined “socialist Zionist” and “libertarian anti-Zionist (I think) beliefs actually differ.


  • Michael Brull says:

    Hi Galus: I am outraged that you previously called for an apology. I demand an apology for this, or will sue you for defamation! Be warned, I’ve never sued anyone, I oppose defamation lawsuits on principle, and when I was threatened with a lawsuit folded promptly. I’m glad we were able to sort this out amiably, though I imagine you disapprove of my politics.

    Dr Mendes: you seem not to have noticed that you *endlessly* write the same smears of people you disagree with. You then combatively ask what my opinions are – after claiming I’m libertarian Zionist, without having any idea what my views are. I’ve never called myself libertarian anti-Zionist (though I promise not to sue you for it), and am not sure what it means. Frankly, I’ve written several articles on newmatilda about Israel, I’ve written lots of stuff on my blog, you could find out some of my views there if you were interested. Generally, I don’t address Zionism, because it seems to me comparatively unimportant (though I did in my politics in the pub talk, because I was asked to).

    And no, I don’t think you should be called a “critical left-wing supporter of Israel”. All you’ve written for years is why people are anti-Semitic or not really Jewish for being left wing. There’s nothing in there that couldn’t be written by or for AIJAC. You don’t seem to have noticed any human rights reports, any crimes. Just a perfunctory acknowledgement of controversy over settlements, before smearing those dreaded anti-Zionists, whose arguments you show *no signs* of responding to. Everything you write is perfectly consistent with ECAJ, AIJAC and so on. In some cases, such as on Pilger, you’re to the right of them. In this context, I’m not interested in responding to your request, because you have yet to show any willingness to actually engage with any views that are different from yours, beyond name-calling.

  • TheSadducee says:

    Michael Brull accusing people of name-calling? Beyond parody. I haven’t seen Dr Mendes unfairly label anyone IIRC an “anti-Muslim racist” to date…

  • The Hasid says:

    I don’t know about the rest of you, but I am loving this. Someone pass the popcorn. (Or else I’ll sue!)

  • philip mendes says:

    Well Michael if you don’t want to discuss your ideological beliefs, perhaps you could at least tell us more about your recent talk at Politics in the Pub on “The influence of Zionism on Australian politics” and how that topic contributed to the combatting of racism and anti-Semitism in Australian life.


  • Chaim says:

    I give up…

    We should lock these guys in a room with a keg for a week.

    Either they will destroy each other and the last surviving wins the debate or they will make peace which seams even more extraordinary than a true middle east peace.

    I though the topic was Jews AGAINST Israel: Uncovering the ANTI-Zionist Agenda – not non-Zionists, not left wing Zionists, not meretz or even AJDS. As afar as I can tell no person nor organizations was actually mentioned in the article yet people are saying they were slandered and that they are actually not Anti-Zionists… Well i guess the article DOES NOT APPLY TO YOU then.

    Maybe anti-Zionists don’t exist and are really a myth.. But I don’t believe that and I know they are some out there…

    It would be nice if someone were to say they were an anti-Zionist i.e. calling for the destruction of the state of Israel as Jewish entity (whatever that means) and then address the article.

  • Michael Brull says:

    Dr Mendes: I enjoy discussing my beliefs with people who are interested in them.

    Chaim: I suppose you can say I’m anti-Zionist. I oppose the existence of a Jewish (or Muslim, or WASP etc) state (or any for that matter). I would address the substance of the article, if I could find it. Mendes doesn’t substantiate anything he says, it’s all smears. He claims anti-Zionists don’t support the rights of Jews when violated by Palestinians. This is his polite way of saying Jews he doesn’t like are pro-terrorism. He doesn’t name anyone, because then he might have to show it was true, and Mendes is uninterested in actually discussing any of his disagreements, though he is in favour of aggressively confronting people he disagrees with.

    Strangely enough, despite my purportedly radical views, I advocate a two state agreement, and don’t support the boycott either. But perhaps I should say I do so that Mendes can start calling me anti-Semitic too.

  • Chaim says:

    Michael you say you are anti Zionist but you support a 2 state solution – two nation states separated by arbitrary borders because of ethnicity or religion.

    If you are against all nation states then you should not be supporting any particular state but rather the integration of Jews and Arabs into one big entity with equal rights…

    You don’t seem to fit the definition of anti-Zionist to me…

  • I’m an anti-Zionist!

    No, I’m not really: sorry :-)

    At least, I am not in favour of the dissolution of the State of Israel and I am not opposed to people who wish to view it as their homeland. That said, if I were to take Mr Mendes’ post at face value, it would seem as though he is defining anti-Zionists fairly broadly, and I would perhaps fit into the category that he delineates. I don’t think that Israel constitutes the “eternal homeland” of the Jewish people, and don’t even believe that it provides a solution to the various problems that we have historically faced. Furthermore, I suspect that at heart Zionism is a racist ideology and, while the state should have immediately absorbed all of the Arabs as citizens, they instead chose to clear a space on which to put Jews.

    We can all agree that there is a powerful driving force for peace in Israel, and only a meagre driving force for peace in Palestine. Rather than viewing this as indicative of the idea that the Palestinians are killers and the Israelis gentle souls, we can perhaps suggest that this is a predictable scenario. Now that Israel has established their strong Jewish state and has put the Arabs out of sight and out of mind, nothing would be more pleasing for them than to live in peace. For the Palestinians, living in Gaza and on the West Bank, a situation that perpetuates their current predicament is unsatisfactory, and they will continue fighting for something better until that’s what they get.

    I’m not offering any solutions, as I don’t have any. It is beyond too late to absorb the Palestinians into Israel, and any suggestion that implies the dissolution of either entity is unsatisfactory. Existential considerations that concern the State of Israel (if they are truly as widespread as Mr Mendes seems to suggest) would be better framed as concerns about the fabric of Israeli society than about whether or not the state itself was a good idea. I think we can all agree on that.

  • philip mendes says:

    Michael: I see you deftly ignored my question about the content of your joint talk with Peter Slezak on “The influence of Zionism on Australian Politics”, and whether or not it is connected to the Protocols of The Elders of Zion. Still waiting. Perhaps Galus Australis might even be willing to publish.


  • Michael Brull says:

    Chaim: I’m not a capitalist. I advocate an end to workchoices. That doesn’t mean that I’m in favour of capitalism. It means if there are means of support for a particular poltical project, it is achievable, and worth advocating. It is worth discussing things I don’t like about capitalism, but it isn’t a serious political program. Similarly with anti-Zionism: I don’t think Zionism was a legitimate enterprise, I’m not a Zionist, but I think the prospects for challenging the Jewish state are dim for the next 50 years, at which point the Palestinians inside Israel will be a large enough population for Israel to either take more drastic measures against them within the green line, or begin repealing discriminatory measures against them.

    Mendes. That is the most outrageous slur I have yet heard from anyone. Perhaps you also think it is fun to ask people if they beat their wives, and mock those who are not interested in discussing this topic. I won’t reply to you again. You’re an [insult removed – Editor].

  • David Zyngier says:

    Why a Zionist can be anti-Israel

    Well let’s get down to some basic definitions – What does it mean to be a Zionist – or an anti-Zionist for that matter?

    Mendes describes himself as a critical left-wing supporter of Israel from a non-Zionist perspective ideologically as he doesn’t support the Zionist belief that all Jews should ideally live in Israel, or that Jewish life in Israel is inherently more functional and important than Jewish life elsewhere. By contrast I describe myself as a radical or socialist Zionist. What could this mean?

    Zionism is a political ideology.
    -The Britannica defines Zionism as:
    Jewish nationalist movement that has had as its goal the creation and support of a Jewish national state in Palestine, the ancient homeland of the Jews (Hebrew: Eretz Yisrael, “the Land of Israel”
    “Zionism.” Encyclopædia Britannica. 2009. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. 28 Aug. 2009 .
    – Wikipedia states:
    Zionism is the international political movement that originally supported the reestablishment of a homeland for the Jewish People in Palestine. … It is a type of the broader phenomenon of modern nationalism. Initially one of several Jewish political movements offering alternative responses to assimilation and the position of Jews in Europe, Zionism grew rapidly and after the Holocaust became the dominant power among Jewish political movements. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zionism
    More succinctly Zionism is defined as:
    The Jewish national liberation movement which proclaims that the Jewish people constitute a nation and are entitled their national homeland.

    Clearly Zionism is a political movement – therefore it is an ideology.
    Is Zionism a Philosophy? A philosophy is more broadly understood to mean:
    # a belief (or system of beliefs) accepted as authoritative by some group or school
    # the rational investigation of questions about existence and knowledge and ethics
    # any personal belief about how to live or how to deal with a situation


    Clearly Zionism is also a philosophy!
    You can read definitions of Zionism By Zionist Groups.

    The World Zionist Congress of 1968 described Zionism as:
    The national liberation movement of the Jewish people, brought about the establishment of the State of Israel, and views a Jewish, Zionist, democratic and secure State of Israel to be the expression of the common responsibility of the Jewish people for its continuity and future.
    The foundations of Zionism are:
    1. The unity of the Jewish people, its bond to its historic homeland Eretz Yisrael, and the centrality of the State of Israel and Jerusalem, its capital, in the life of the nation;
    2. Aliyah to Israel from all countries and the effective integration of all immigrants into Israeli Society.
    3. Strengthening Israel as a Jewish, Zionist and democratic state and shaping it as an exemplary society with a unique moral and spiritual character, marked by mutual respect for the multi-faceted Jewish people, rooted in the vision of the prophets, striving for peace and contributing to the betterment of the world.
    4. Ensuring the future and the distinctiveness of the Jewish people by furthering Jewish, Hebrew and Zionist education, fostering spiritual and cultural values and teaching Hebrew as the national language;
    5. Nurturing mutual Jewish responsibility, defending the rights of Jews as individuals and as a nation, representing the national Zionist interests of the Jewish people, and struggling against all manifestations of anti-Semitism;
    6. Settling the country as an expression of practical Zionism.

    Zionism as defined by the World Zionist Movement is therefore both a political ideology AND a philosophy.

    So what does it mean when Mendes says he is a supporter of Israel? I am a supporter of the Geelong Football Club. That means I am pro Geelong and anti the other AFL teams. I favour (am pro) Geelong above all others whom I am against or anti. I am gladdened when they are victorious and saddened when they lose.

    So what does it mean to be pro-Israel?

    To be pro-Israel according to Mendes means neither that you are a Zionist politically, ideologically or philosophically! At its most basic to be pro means to support or stand up for, pertaining to, or supportive of.

    But would anyone understand what you mean if you said you were pro-France or pro-China?

    Not really – such a person may however want to call themselves a Francophile or Sinophile.

    Only pro-(or anti)American makes some sense – but usually only in reference to the country’s foreign policies – no-one would suggest that being anti-American has ever meant that you are in favour of the destruction of the USA or its people – that you believe in its right or not to exist!

    This is not just pilpulisitc semanticism.

    If the same logic is applied to Israel then Mendes’ term to support (pro-)Israel makes sense. But it does not equate – he explains – with being a Zionist or a belief in Zionism.

    To be pro-Israel could also mean merely to support it financially or politically for all kinds of crazy reasons [for example – geopolitical strategic advantage or the Christian Fundamentalist belief that only when all Jews are in Israel can Jesus make his second coming.]

    But again this does not equate with Zionism.

    That is why a Zionist can indeed be anti-Israel – in as much as a Zionist can reject or disagree with the policies of the Israeli government but vehemently and vigorously support the right of the Jewish people to their national homeland.

  • Doogie says:

    I think that David Zyngier has WAY too much time on his hands…

  • Yaron says:

    If you wish to criticize certain Israeli policies, that’s you’re right as a Jew. If you side with our enemies and decry the State of Israel as evil and vicious, while arabs and their states are pure and wonderful, you’re batshit fucking insane and don’t deserve to have anything to do with the Jewish people.

  • cyberjew says:

    Hello there David Zyngier,

    You articulated the point very well, but left out one small point that I consider to be of some importance.

    The one oversight in your treatment is that a number of very interesting Zionist thinkers have been non-statist Zionists. And I am not talking about the pre-state Brit Shalom people, but rather Ahad Ha-Am (representing cultural Zionism) and Yehudah Magnes (who vitually no one remembers but who was a very interesting guy). These thinkers tended to emphasise communal autonomy and the revival of a vibrant (usually Hebrew speaking) Jewish society, in Eretz Yisrael (for various reasons that they each explain). The World Zionist Congress has long been dominated by political Zionists and revisionists, as has Israeli society.

    I for one think that we have lost out by silencing the voices of these thinkers. The obsession that Jews have with the Jewish State and its defense often comes along with an alienation from Jewish culture and tradition (in particular in its “Gulesdik” or (to employ the deeply derogatory Israeli term) “Galuti” manifestations – i.e. all of them for the last millenium and a half). To some extent, cultural Zionism is undergoing a limited revival in the growing secular Israeli movement that aims to return to the “Jewish bookshelf” (“Aron ha-sefarim ha-yehudi”), but we have yet to see the return of cultural Zionism as any kind of serious force within world Jewry.

    Also, I don’t think that the fact that the state happens to exist (i.e. that the political Zionists won) means that the focus of world Jewry should be on political Zionism. On the contrary, the superficiality of political Zionism has meant that after the realisation of its goals many Israelis don’t know what to do with themselves as Jews (or Israelis, for that matter). Davka a less politically focused and more culturally oriented Zionism could help secular Israelis to build some kind of positive relationship with their Jewishness.

    Also, the political Zionism of many Jews overseas is shallow, paranoid, obsessive and rooted in either fear or in the idealisation of a society that they don’t actually know anything about. (For clarification’s sake, I am a frum Aussie Jew who grew up in a pretty secular family with some pretty impressive revisionist history, went to Bnei Akiva – and then moved to Israel, only to discover that I knew nothing about this place. After quite a few years here, I’m leaving (for a while at least). But being here has made me realise just how two-dimensional our community’s relationship with the country is.) I think that cultural Zionism could be a much more enriching approach.

    OK, I’m done. I realise it’s not completely on the topic, but while we’re discussing the ideological components of Zionism I thought I’d just bring in another viewpoint.

    May we all merit some measure of success in our pursuit of the Good!

    And a gite vokh.


  • David Zyngier says:

    Can Mendes please further elucidate on his claim that Brull in his joint talk with Peter Slezak on “The influence of Zionism on Australian Politics”, made a connection to the Protocols of The Elders of Zion. This is most interesting and I would love to read what Mendes knows about this.

  • Chaim says:

    Historically a Zionist was a Jew who wanted to move to the land of Israel, Palestine (whatever you want to call it)

    Since 1948 the definition has become subjective. Really any person can define themselves as a Zionist or anti-Zionist whichever term pleases them more, by just changing the definition to support their ideology.

    eg Simon is anti everything (just kidding – love you Simon)

    Personally I believe there is no justified Zionism except religious Zionism (see the first commentary of Rashi on the chumash) and that without it the only possible justification to the land of Israel is the fact the Jews won each and every war and the land now belongs to them whether fair or not.

    Having said that they also inherited a problem – the Arabs. While they are under Jewish authority they need to have all the human rights owed to them incuding health, food, shelter and protection from their corrupt and violent leaders.

    As for the Arabs – either join Israel and regain what you felt you lost democratically (not that I actually personally believe in a democratic Israel or even secular government that does not follow the Torah) or leave.

    A violent or armed struggle against the Jews might be an appropriate and just response to the Jews current ownership of the land but it has its consequences. You can not send unlimited rockets from populated areas or even schools and hospitals and then cry because your wife or children got hurt.

    Similarly you rebel you can be expelled from the land.

    G-d gave the land of Israel in its entirety as an eternal inheritance. While I don’t advocate taking over the greater biblical Israel at this time, to me it is inevitable.

    The Muslims too have their own religious argument why they should own the land.

    To ignore religion in this conflict is stupid and a useless pursuit.

  • ra says:

    The Hasid: ditto that!

    Chaim, your point is an interesting one: “Really any person can define themselves as a Zionist or anti-Zionist whichever term pleases them more, by just changing the definition to support their ideology.” But whether we realise it or not, the definitions of these concepts are changing around us (in the Diaspora and Israel), and we (in the Diaspora) are struggling to adjust.

    The meanings of these words have changed over the past century (or so) in important ways: what does it mean now to be a ‘Zionist’ in Australia? Is it enough to qualify as a Zionist if you put money in the blue box and attend UIA fundraisers? Or do you need to visit Israel every year? What about those who actually make aliyah? And how should Jews in Australia identify if they have no great interest in Israel?

    I’m following the debate with interest, but hope that Zyngier, Mendes, Chaim etc decide to turn their attention to what they mean when they use terms like ‘Zionist’, ‘anti-Zionist’, ‘Bundist’, etc.

  • Red says:

    I am a Zionist, even though I do not live in Israel. Theoretically I believe that I should, but practically, that does not work for me at the moment (and probably never will). My parents left Poland for Israel (then called Palestine) in the late 1930’s. Most of their families, remained in Poland and did not survive the holocaust. So if Zionism had not brought my parents to Israel/Palestine then I would not exist.

    I object to Simon’s statement “…Zionism is a racist ideology and, while the state should have immediately absorbed all of the Arabs as citizens, they instead chose to clear a space on which to put Jews.”

    Firstly it is incorrect as there are over 1 million Arabs who were or are the descendents of those absorbed as citizens in 1948. Secondly, “they instead chose to clear a space on which to put Jews” indicates that they were in a position of strength in which to do that. They were not … they were worried about a second extermination within a decade of the first. It was a war, that the Arabs waged following the United Nations decision for partition. The jews were desperate to survive. The British who had left, in many instances left the strongholds and military machinery in the hands of the Arabs. We now know that there were jewish atrocities, but we also know that the Arabs committed (more?) atrocities.
    My parents were always proud to tell me of the stories of co-operation with the Arab population, and also how their mayor had asked the local population of Arabs not to flee, but rather to stay.

    I am worried that the “non-zionists” of this world only believe the histories written by the anti-zionists.

  • Chaim says:

    Ra: That is my point. They are just labels.

    In the end it is about what specific actions and words (your self or through a proxy group) come out.

    Will they lead to a stable Jewish homeland or lead to its destruction?

    on another note:

    Is Zionism really racism? Maybe it is now since it focuses on Jews only but everyone is racist with their preconceived ideas and judgments regarding others. When was the last time any of you sat down and discussed life, hardships with a “black” person or a refugee from Nepal, Bhutan, homosexual from an Arab state and help them. I am a Zionist by every definition and I do that every day.

    Israel is a eternal Jewish homeland. Non-Jews can live there freely with rights but have to follow the law and in my personal opinion the 7 noachide laws as it applies to them in Israel. That includes do not murder.

  • Sorry, Red – I was referring to the situation after 1967, not after 1948. It is true that Israel, after 1948, did absorb a large number of non-Jews.

    As for Zionism being racist, the issue is probably an academic one and we could argue about it forever. Certainly the current State of Israel is exceptionally racist, but that doesn’t necessarily reflect on Zionism as a philosophy. I had a good friend once, a Catholic fellow, who overstayed his Israeli VISA by almost a week. He was deported to Spain and was not allowed to return to the country for a set amount of time. I overstayed my VISA by 11 months and had to pay 120 shekels and write a note that said I wouldn’t do it again. You cannot tell me that Israeli bureaucracy does not possess an institutionalised double standard. Whether or not you feel that they were justified in the beginning is very different to the question of whether or not they continue to be justified today.

  • frosh says:

    Hi Simon,

    You write that “Certainly the State of Israel is exceptionally racist”

    In comparison to which other states? Japan, China, Australia, the USA, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, France, Malaysia…

    Please let us know which states you consider to be non-racist.

  • Frosh, I fail to see how relevant that is. Are you really going to smile and shrug and say that “everybody else has double standards too” by means of exculpating Israel? By doing so, you have effectively just acknowledged that you also think that Israel possesses a race-oriented double standard and, until Japan, China, Australia, the USA, Jordan, Saudi-Arabia, France or Malaysia become topics of this thread, that’s the only bit that will stay relevant to the discussion.

  • frosh says:

    Simon, you used the word “exceptionally.”
    I’ll repeat what you wrote one more time for you:
    “Certainly the State of Israel is exceptionally racist”

    The word “exceptional” means this is much more so relative to others (or a norm).

    I’ve asked you to back this up. Thus my question was entirely relevant.

    If you are going to make statements that other people think are exceptionally absurd, don’t be surprised when people challenge you on them.

  • Hayahalom says:

    I wonder what would happen if you would overstay your visa in most western countries with an Ausralian passport under the name of Simon Holloway ?
    I think a small fine and a slap on the wrist will satisfy most of those countries.

    Now I wonder what would happen to my jewish sefaradi friend “Salim Ajami” travelling on a Israeli passport and overstaying his visa ?

    Guantamo ? (Hopefully this is a slight exageration)
    Most likely extradition I would say, not because of the passport but more because of the name it bears.

    And what about Farouk Taziz travelling on a Lebanese, Syrian, Iranian or other arab nations pasport, does he stands a chance of getting away for it with just a fine ?
    What do you predict.

    Sorry Simon,I don’t get your point about Israel being racist.
    Are your so called double standart visa polities only applicable to Jewish states ?

    Oh I forgot ! I wrote states but we only have 1 Jewish state on this planet. Let’s keep that one.

    I don’t think that the rest of the world is lacking attractive properties,(as the Larry’s and friends described the land of Israel) that we are happy to leave to the rest of the worlds population to bid for.

    Maybe it is time for a real estate agent to convince one of the Arab heads of states to auction one of the many empty sandy lots, still undevelopped in the arab world, at a good prise to the Palestinians.

    And I am certain, if after the auction the Palestinians come and ask nicely to the Israeli business comunity to sell them irrigation systems and technology developped in Israel to fertilise that sandy lot they just bought from their brothers,the Israelies will be more than happy to set them up with whatever they desire as long as it will bring peace and prosperity to the region, but more importantly security for their children.

  • Hayahalom says:

    I also wanted to add another question I have.

    How many Christian states of the world invite us ,the jews,with open arms to stay on their properties for as long as we want.

    Also has anyone ,with a surname like Goldstein or a first name like Shlomo and a passport that is not a Israeli passport, tried to get a visa to any Arab country ?
    Not easy at all if not impossible for certain countries. How strange.

  • I wasn’t going to bother responding to your first comment, because it was inane. Your suggestion that the Mid-East conflict could be solved by offering the Palestinians some place else (because none of them really want to go back home) was funny enough that I figured it might as well sit there without anything qualifying it. Your second comment, however, is just weird. I have to ask, did you make up that information while you were sitting at your desk? Or do you have a friend named Shlomo Goldstein, who wanted to holiday in Dubai and who got knocked back?

    Yet again, though, the conversation moves to what other people are doing. I was unfortunate enough to be embroiled in an argument with some Islamic fundamentalists a while back, and criticising Muslim extremism was impossible for the same reason. Every time I pointed out Palestinian atrocities, they came right back with things that Israel was responsible for, as though that was directly relevant. When are you going to realise that you’re doing the same thing? Nobody here has tried to whitewash the appalling problems in Arab countries, but you keep on reminding people of them the moment they criticise Israel. Why is that?

  • David Zyngier says:

    On August 30 I asked Mendes:
    please further elucidate on his claim that Brull in his joint talk with Peter Slezak on “The influence of Zionism on Australian Politics”, made a connection to the Protocols of The Elders of Zion. This is most interesting and I would love to read what Mendes knows about this.

    I am still waiting!

  • GalusAustralis says:

    Dear all,

    The discussion on this thread got rather heated on the weekend, and although our shabbes table conversations are sometimes fairly feisty, we are worried that this type of conversation can intimidate potential participants from commenting.

    For this reason, we have updated our Editorial page to include a moderation policy. Check it out here.

  • Red says:


    Your example of racism does not prove the case to me. I would not attribute the different treatments to bureaucratic bungling nor racism, but to a mixture of a security situation, where non-Arabs have been involved in suicide attacks and anti-Israel actions; and the law of return. Now you may say that the law of return is racist, but I say that it is positive discrimination and provides the only guarantee that Jews will have a homeland if they desire or need it.

  • Your point is a good one, Red, but it is only positive discrimination if you are Jewish. If, like my friend, you are a Catholic who is attempting to convert to Judaism then the discrimination can only be described as negative. No doubt such things happen in many countries; my point was merely that, in Israel, such activity is insitutionalised at an official level. This is getting way off topic, but I had originally mentioned that point when I was asked to clarify why I viewed Zionism as a racist ideology, and I also mentioned at the time that the State of Israel, while oftentimes exhibiting racist policies (or “racialist”, if you prefer), does not necessarily reflect on Zionism as a philosophy.

    CyberJew made an excellent observation that was sadly overlooked: he noted that there are many forms of Zionism, of which the stative Zionism that won out was merely one. I should not be so quick to label them all so pejoratively – but it’s astonishing how rapidly tempers can run high when politics is on the table :-)

    Thanks, Galus, for your timely reminder about Derekh Eretz!

  • Larry Stillman says:

    I am also intrigued by now as well, that Phillip Mendes has not clarified what meant meant by his assertion that Michael Brull had made some mention of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion in a discussion of Jewish leadership at a Politics in the Pub talk in Sydney.

    And for the record, I have not been in communication with Mr Zyngier about this matter.

  • Chaim says:

    CyberJew – What was the significance of cultural Zionism after the establishment of the state? Originally it seems that Hebrew and core religious values were important without a nationalistic approach even though it still encouraged Jews to live in the land of Israel and for it to be majority Jewish.

    I can understand that political Zionism was pushed at the expense of cultural Zionism – but today does it still exist on its own except in Neturi Karta! Have they not really merged into one “beast”?

  • David Zyngier says:

    There has been much discussion about the possibilities of Israel being racist against its own citizens – Jewish or not Jewish – most comments have tried to whitewash the issues. Perhaps the most recent events will cause some to think more deeply:
    The tirals and tribulations of several dozen “Ethiopian” pupils in the Israeli town of Petah Tikva who have not been admitted to schools continue to make wave in Israel. Writing in the left-wing website Haokets (Hebrew) Yossi Dahan imagined a scenario of a similar number of Jewish children being refused admittance in France (Or Germany England). He copied the same arguments as being used by the school principals and conjectured the possible reaction. He also compared it to the Little Rock who broke through the barrier of segregated education in the US.

    But Gideon Levy points out that it is a bit hypocritical to lambast the school racists but accept other forms of racism so prevalent in Israel.

    But the very week the country was in a huff over the Ethiopians, Nir Hasson reported in Haaretz that Jerusalem invests NIS 577 a year in a pupil from East Jerusalem and NIS 2,372 in a pupil from West Jerusalem. Four times less, only because of the child’s ethnicity. That does not count in Israel as racism. Neither does the fact that East Jerusalem lacks about 1,000 classrooms, only because its residents are Palestinian. No one howls against these revelations, no one is infuriated by them, including the president, who fights against racism.

    This is Gideon Levy at his best.


    Ethiopian students affair shows prevalent racism in Israel
    Gideon Levy, Haaretz Correspondent

    Read it and now is it possible that Israeli policies are just a little bit racist?

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