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Why I’m attending the J Street Conference 2011

February 22, 2011 – 6:33 pm78 Comments

By Liam Getreu

J Street has become one of the most influential organisations in American Jewry in recent years – I’m no expert on its efficacy in lobbying Congress, but there can be no doubt that it is creating substantial discussion in the Jewish community, in a way that few other organisations do.

The new kid on the block, J Street is aiming to provide an alternative voice in the American Jewish landscape to push a ‘pro-Israel, pro-peace’ agenda, in contrast, for example, to the America Israel Public Affairs Committee’s (AIPAC) singular, pro-Israel focus. It advocates for a two-state solution and for American assistance in helping both Israel and the Palestinian Authority achieve that aim.

It has raised the ire of hawkish members of the American Jewish community establishment and they, as well as others on the right, in the US Congress and in the blogosphere, have taken aim at the organisation. But I guess that’s exactly what it tried to do – stir the pot a little and offer up an another option.

This week I’ll be attending J Street’s second Washington DC conference, titled “Giving Voice to our Values”. Attempting to bring together and further strengthen the progressive Zionist community in America, J Street has arranged an impressive array of speakers and panellists, including American author Peter Beinart, former Israeli politician and president of the New Israel Fund Naomi Chazan, New York Times columnist Roger Cohen and former Israeli Defense Minister Amir Peretz.

But why am I going? Because in Australia I believe we lack a strong, progressive Zionist voice, too. In our community there are very many who tout the Israel right-or-wrong line and a much smaller, but very loud chorus of Jews who sing the Israel always-wrong song, with very little in between. There is not much conversation on liberal-democratic Zionism, a belief in Israel as the democratic home of the Jewish people, and a state that should embody the moral code of the Jewish people, of equality, inclusion and social justice for all.

When I told people I was going to the conference I was usually met with a mix of dismay and disgust. Of the many disparaging comments I got fired back at me “why are you going to see those self-hating Jews?” is probably my favourite. Usually it was also followed up with comments on how J Street is just a front, taking money from Soros and trying to con young Jews to back it so they can use their collective clout in Congress to shift US foreign policy against Israel. That the same naïve rhetoric is unthinkingly repeated over and over has now begun to make me chuckle.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m not a ‘member’ of J Street, I don’t back everything they’ve ever done and I’m certainly not advocating a copy-cat organisation in Australia. But what I do believe is that the argument put forward by Peter Beinart in his essay in the New York Review of Books last year, “The Failure of the American Jewish Establishment”, was spot on.

In referring to a study carried out by American pollster Frank Luntz, Beinart wrote: “When [Luntz] probed the students’ views of Israel, he hit up against some firm beliefs. First, ‘they reserve the right to question the Israeli position.’ These young Jews, Luntz explained, ‘resist anything they see as “group think.”’ They want an ‘open and frank’ discussion of Israel and its flaws. Second, ‘young Jews desperately want peace.’ … Third, ‘some empathize with the plight of the Palestinians.’ When Luntz displayed adverts depicting Palestinians as violent and hateful, several focus group participants criticized them as stereotypical and unfair, citing their own Muslim friends.”

That could not be more similar in Australia. While it is true that Israel is far more central to young Jews’ identities here than they are in America, the fact that those Australian Jews who tend to be less engaged in establishment community activities share those same three characteristics is a profound notion.

It’s my belief that not only is the gap between the conservative establishment community and the rejectionist anti-Zionist outsiders present, it’s fillable by something that engages, educates, inspires and activates both those disenfranchised students and the rest of the community that feels alienated. And it needs filling today.

For the most part, I think that’s what J Street has very successfully done. It has taken a group of individuals in the US who couldn’t find their place in the established Jewish community and given them a home to express their views in a safe and welcoming environment. That within hours of announcing their subsequently outlawed Birthright trip, J Street had signed up more than 100 young Jews is testament to that.

We have much to learn from them in Australia. While we don’t need a lobby group, we can take many of the lessons from J Street and its partners in America and put it into action here.

I think in the future we’re going to see a renaissance of liberal Zionist activism in Australia. Hopefully it can show the rest of the Jewish community that there is a place for a pro-Israel message that, when warranted, includes the right to be critical of certain Israeli policies. And hopefully it can also show the wider Australian community that we haven’t totally lost our minds when it comes to Israel, and we are still able to apply to it our wider values set, rather than turning a blind eye in favour of supporting the continued occupation.

In last week’s London Jewish Chronicle, UJIA chairman Mick Davis wrote that “the need to engage and retain the commitment of all Jews, particularly young Jews, takes precedence over misplaced fears that debate weakens us and provides ammunition to our enemies.”

The positions taken by progressive Zionist organisations may not be everyone’s cup of tea, and that’s to be expected. One of which, for example, might be a position that advocates for East Jerusalem to be the capital of the future Palestinian state.

Those who disagree with these stances should feel free to voice that disagreement, but what they must be careful to do is not to lump everyone into the same basket. Being critical of Israeli policy does not an anti-Zionist make. There are many shades of grey between defending Israel at all costs, all the time, and not believing in the state for the Jewish people. Take note of that or risk snubbing committed Jews and Zionists, casting them to the outer.

Those who hold progressive views on Israel may have hitherto felt alone, but no more will that be the case. That is our challenge, and the future success of our community depends on the maximum number of people being welcomed into the tent, regardless of what, in the scheme of things, are minor political differences.

** **

I’ll (hopefully!) be blogging each night from J Street’s “Giving Voice to our Values” conference in Washington DC next week. You can see my posts at www.liamgetreu.com, or you can follow me on Twitter @lmget.

Liam Getreu is a graduate of Bialik College and Habonim Dror and is a former chairperson of the Australian Zionist Youth Council and the Australasian Union of Jewish Students. He is currently pursuing his Honours in Middle East Studies at Deakin University. These are his personal views.

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  • ariel says:

    Here is a Palestinian’s view on the views of J-Street and others with similar ideas:

  • Looking forward to meeting you there, Liam. Allow me to introduce you to other bloggers as well. Reach me on email, you now have my contact info.

  • eli says:

    I for one support your sentiments
    “that there is a place for a pro-Israel message that, when warranted, includes the right to be critical of certain Israeli policies. And hopefully it can also show the wider Australian community that we haven’t totally lost our minds when it comes to Israel, and we are still able to apply to it our wider values set, rather than turning a blind eye in favour of supporting the continued occupation.”

    J-Street seems however to be having some massive problems in the US.
    I provide this link purely as some more information and not as reason that you shouldn’t be going.

    Hopefully in Australia we may be able to avoid the nonsense that surrounds J-street and provide a more balanced alternative. I will follow your comments with interest

  • philip mendes says:

    Liam: good article. You are right: there has to be a third way between the “all the way with Bibi” Jews, and the “self-denying” Jews. I’m sure the J Street Conference will be fascinating, and look forward to hearing your reflections. Also interested to hear more about your hons thesis here or via email.

    Philip Mendes

  • Tcherkessi says:

    Not Bad. The Haaretz article good thank you Ariel

  • Liam Getreu says:

    There’s no doubt J Street is frequently besieged by scandal – sometimes of it’s own making (e.g. not being as up-front as possible re Soros donations) but mostly not (e.g. this latest Birthright bus nonsense), but that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t now hold a very important role in US Jewry and that there aren’t a great many lessons to be learnt, which, as you say Eli, is as good a reason as any to check it out.

    Philip, my thesis is a compare/contrast job on Bibi and Arik Sharon, focussing probably on West Bank/Gaza settlements. Having said that, it’s not much of anything at all yet; I spent today at Niagara Falls instead if reading!

    I’ll be publishing a diary of sorts from the conference on my blog – http://www.liamgetreu.com/


  • frosh says:

    I think anyone thinking of supporting J Street should read the link provided by Eli.

    Of course, it is difficult to verify if all of these accusations are true – I’m not familiar with the source of the accusations. Some of them could be unfounded smears.

    I’d like to start with one accusation. J Street receives funding from those close to the Saudi government. Saudi Arabia, and their brand of Wahabist Islam, is singularly most responsible for anti-Semitism in the Muslim world. With their tremendous oil wealth, they have sadly been able to export this anti-Semitism via funding various programs all over the world. Technically, it is illegal for a Jew to even enter Saudi Arabia.

    Thus IF this one accusation that J Street receives funding from those close to the Saudi government is true (I haven’t yet found any denials from J Street), it totally discredits them.

    Liam, do you think you could ask some J Street machers this while you are at the conference?

  • Shaun says:

    Eli’s link is typical of the right-wing smear campaign against J-street. For a rebuttal of these accusations see http://jstreet.org/about/j-street-myths-and-facts/

    Good article Liam.

  • Liam says:

    Thanks Shaun, I was about to re-link to that. I actually posted a link to it in the original, too, and addresses many of the issues that people may have.

  • Nomi says:

    Liam’s article reminds me of when I went to hear Peter Beinhart in New York in late September.
    I was very taken by Beinhart’s thoughts and felt that our community had (and still has) a huge amount to learn from him and the diversity that exists in general in the American Jewish community (religiously, culturally, politically) and more specifically with regard to Israel politics (e.g. Jstreet, Ameinu, NIF).

    Interestingly, at the end of Beinhart’s lecture on “The Failure of the American Jewish Establishment” a young New Yorker stood up and explained how he had just spent some time in Australia and was amazed at how liberal minded the Australian Jewish community was with regard to Israel politics. He claimed that the Aussie Jews he met were open minded, willing to voice their critical views and that they were a common (and accepted) feature in the community… He went on to say how much the American Jews have to learn from our community.
    I actually laughed to myself as this boy was speaking. I don’t know which Australians he had been speaking to, but his impression of our community was so far off the mark that it was funny.

    Beinhart responded to this guy with the same assertion that Liam makes here and with which I concur… The Australian Jewish community is conservative and is becoming (on some levels) increasingly conservative with regard to its views on Israel. In fact it has a lot to learn from the progressive Zionist liberals of America and other Jewish communities around the world if it is to engage the parts of its community that are currently seen as self-hating Jews or naive leftists (despite the fact that many of these ‘lefties’ stand the same line as a majority of Israelis – 2 states and a democratic Jewish state).

    Beinhart was right. Liam is right. The few Jews in our community who are avidly trying to build (and to some degree reinvigorate) a progressive Zionist voice are right as well.
    The fact that I still hear voices calling for operation transfer, the fact that people still cannot accept that Israel does wrong (every country does wrong) and the fact that people cannot recognise that like ourselves the Palestinians are a people (arguments aside, they are a people now) with dreams of self-emancipation is indicative of something seriously wrong and something missing in our community.

    We’ve got to get it in to our heads that being constructively critical of Israel in an attempt to build a better Israel (rather than to slander it) is Zionist, is positive and is occurring from a place of love.

  • Sam says:

    With an opening statement of “Eli’s link is typical of the right-wing smear campaign against J-street”, you have betrayed your strong bias. Is there anything in the 26 points in the link provided by Eli (pajamasmedia) that might be true, and therefore worth checking further? I certainly think so, but obviously you have already made up your mind.
    Even the author of the original piece, Liam has left the door open pending his closer examination of J-Street, by stating:

    “Don’t get me wrong – I’m not a ‘member’ of J Street, I don’t back everything they’ve ever done and I’m certainly not advocating a copy-cat organisation in Australia.”

  • jan says:

    Eds: Comment removed. You seem to have made this comment in the wrong place.

  • ariel says:

    I understand that AIPAC’s position (along with their Australian equivalents) is to support the people and the State of Israel no matter who is in government.

    No Jew has the right to tell their government what it’s policy towards Israel should be.

    If you want Israeli policy to change, make aliya and have your legitimate say.

    The people of Israel have democratically made their choice of government and we should support them and their choice. If they make a poor choice, let them deal with it at the next ballot.

    It is condescending to say the least when we try to tell Israelis that they are stupid, elected the wrong government and we who sit in comfort in Australia and the US know what’s best for them.

  • Marky says:

    We have enough anti semites using the “criticising Israel” line, as a means to their hate for us. Any of us being publicly critical, makes it a lot worse, only strengthening them. I have seen many times where it gives them a lot more legitimacy, if the Jew agrees with them.

    So that’s Why I’m not attending the JStreet conference..

  • Sol Salbe says:

    Have I got it right? “No Jew has the right to tell their government what it’s policy towards Israel should be.” You mean I can tell Julia Gillard and Kevin Rudd what their policy should be on East Timor Vietnam, Vanuatu, even Wisconsin(!) but not Israel, while Kim next door can freely comment on Israel? [Maybe you’ll forbid to comment about her parents birth place of Vietnam?] Have I got it right? Because if I got it right your comment is nothing short of antisemitic denying me the right comment on I/P politics just because I happen to be Jewish. Email a letter to the Age saying that Kim has no right to comment on Vietnam and your letter will be rightly described as racist and discriminatory.

  • frosh says:

    Can someone with more patience than me inform Mr Salbe (who always seems to conveniently miss the point) that Vietnam is not a democracy, and thus his Vietnamese neighbour cannot move to Vietnam and participate in a democracy?

  • ariel says:

    i think you pretty much hit the nail on the head, frosh

  • Mandi Katz says:

    Hi Ariel – last year I went to hear Peter Beinart speak at the Melbourne Writers festival. I had read the NYRB article and heard him speak privately and agreed with a lot of what he says. But as I walked into the theatre in which he was to speak, I felt quite uncomfortable about going into a public and critical discussion about Israel. It’s not like the world is short of people ready to kick the boot in on Israel, right?

    Why that sort of reluctance to have an honest discussion about Israel ? and just as importantly, what does that mean if it seems clear (as it does to me) that this government is well off the mark, that Netanyahu lacks political will to make the right changes and that the government has made a terrible alliance with characters who encourage troubling racist and undemocratic influences, and religious nationalism?

    Should people instead go along with what you say and concede that having chosen not to live in Israel they need to stay “shtum” and they if don’t support the current government of they should just withdraw. So they cant talk with the people with whom they share their communal lives, except in whispers or behind closed doors, about something that matters enormously to them and is a huge part of their identities? The Jewish press, facebook, this forum, any public gathering can’t be used for honest discussion or engagement within our community, and with people beyond our community who want to increase their understanding and participate in dialogue and discussion?

    That’s a sad, nothing, disengaged kind of (non) identification with Israel. And for those of us with kids , what will be transmitting to children by doing that? Well, that’s easy – a whole lot of nothing about what they might feel about Israel.

    You also simplify the nature of democracy when you talk about elected government as the be all and end all of representation. As a very simple startling point, Kadima has 28 MKs compared to Likud’s 27. Many Israelis do not support this government and it policies and rely on and use other institutions of democracy – the press, NGOS, and parliamentary opposition, to influence outcomes. Why cant we support those democratic elements?

    And for those of us who won’t lie or dissemble, how is to responsible to let public discussion on Israel that inevitably will take place, be dominated by the hard left, anti Zionist haters and the “my country right or wrong” hasbaraniks?

    Ariel – if you really believe that we shouldn’t try to influence Australian foreign policy on any issues , I assume that means you don’t support the efforts of AIJAC . So while it claims to be the premier voice on Jewish affairs in Australia, it doesn’t speak for you. Well there’s something we agree on!

  • ariel says:


    You have the right to comment and to try to persuade your friends who live in Israel;
    You don’t have the right to petition the Australian government to undermine the genuine democratic choice of the Israeli people. That is for Israelis to decide after you have convinced them in private discussion. Otherwise you’re dictating to them from the comfort of Australia that you know best and Gillard knows best and they haven’t a clue.

    I would also say that you (nor any ex-pat East Timorese living in Australia) have no right to tell PM Gillard that she should undermine the outcome of the last election in East Timor and pressure the government there to adopt a policy that the people don’t want and did not vote for!

  • Sol Salbe says:

    Frosh, Vietnam is not a democracy and Kim is an Aussie who has no interest in moving to Vietnam. But Australia is a democracy and Kim has every right to persuade the Australian government on any issue she cares about: climate change, I/P, condition of Vietnamese workers in US owned factories or whatever.

    Anyone who denies her, or anyone from Timor Leste or Israel the right to lobby their government, the Australian government on anything does not understand democracy. What foreign countries do is up to the citizens of their countries to act upon. But Australia is a sovereign country and it has every right to act in the way that reflects the collective views of the Australian people. And if an Australian of Timor Leste origin wants to lobby the Australian government in the direction of something that is totally opposite to what the people of Timor Leste have voted that is their democratic right in a free country.

    It looks as if some of us believe in Australian sovereign democracy and some don’t.

  • Sol Salbe says:

    PS There is a corollary: Israelis have a right to lobby their government to do anything in its power to stop the NT intervention. And Australian Israelis have as much right to do so as any other Israelis.

  • Mandi Katz says:

    And Liam, what I should have said first off – good piece.

    I had the opportunity to hear professor Yitchak Galnoor speak last night. He is a board member of the New Israel fund (NIF) mentioned by Liam, which is an Israel based NGO which works to promote civil rights of all Israelis including Palestinians, reinforce pluralism in Israeli society and empower groups on the economic margins of Israeli society. This may mean that their agenda is at odds with this Knesset’s current legislative agenda.
    Many Australian Jews privately support NIF or institutions which have similar goals to NIF – I think Liam is absolutely right, and for the reasons he spells out and to which I and others have added our own 2c – we need something that can bring together people who support those things in Israel, and do so in a coordinated way .

  • frosh says:

    I’m looking forward to reading your robust defence of those American industrialists in the 1960s & 70s who lobbied the US Govt to use the CIA to undermine socialism and democracy in South America to protect their financial interests in United Fruit company etc

  • frosh says:

    Hi Mandi,

    I would distinguish between NIF and J Street.

    Even though they attract similar types of people, I would argue they do the opposite of each other.

    In my opinion NIF is about facilitating an agenda through the vehicle of Israeli democracy. And I think there are good arguments that NIF activities works to improve the strength of Israeli democracy. Kol Hakavod.

    J Street, since it is about lobbying foreign governments to pressure Israel toward a particular agenda, undermines Israeli democracy. In essence, J Street treats Israel as if it were some undemocratic third world regime that needs the enlightened people from the first world to force it into a course of action via any means necessary.

  • Mandi Katz says:

    Hi Frosh – I agree 100%. I wasn’t equating the two – except as you say that both may appeal to similar people. I have lots of reservations about JStreet. In addition to what you have said, I am not so comfortable with the way it uses discussion on Israel as as a sort of tool of Jewish identity.
    So using the language of UIJA chairman Mick Davis that Liam quotes: “the need to engage and retain the commitment of all Jews, particularly young Jews, takes precedence over misplaced fears that debate weakens us …” – well thats all fine but the need to engage and retain young Jews – while absolutely critical in itself – shouldn’t take precedence over whats best for all the people who live in Israel and under its control.

    I’m not saying that JStreet policies conflict with what’s best for people in Israel and I certainly agree that engagement and identification is an important part of this discussion.

    But the primary driver has to be what’s best for people who live this, and the best shot at getting that right is support for Israel based organisations.

  • Mandi Katz says:

    and from this mornings paper – an article about Kadimah MKs attending the JStreet conference and the controversy within the party about that.
    Interesting comment from Kadimah MK Nachman Shai:“I am not a supporter of J Street, but I support Jews helping Israel, each in their own way. There are young people who have questions, and if we don’t answer them, we may lose them. We are too small a people to throw anyone away.”

  • balderdash says:

    Propaganda organisations to “strengthen Israeli democracy” that I wish I could fund with the kind of cash that “the most successful project in the Jewish world” – Birthright – has to throw around:

    Sheikh Jarrah Just Jerusalem campaign
    Anarchists Against the Wall
    Popular Struggle Coordination Committee

    Just sayin…

  • Mandi Katz says:

    Balderdash – when you say all the organisations you have listed are “propaganda” organisations, do you intend people to read that as a negative comment on those organisations?

  • philip mendes says:

    Shoshanna: when you chose to quote Ron Radosh were you aware of his contentious political background? I have been following Radosh’s political twists and turns for more than 20 years. This is not to say he is either wrong or right on J Street, but he has his own agenda.


  • Sam says:

    Hi Mandi,
    I have got to agree strongly with your sentiment:

    “So using the language of UIJA chairman Mick Davis that Liam quotes: “the need to engage and retain the commitment of all Jews, particularly young Jews, takes precedence over misplaced fears that debate weakens us …” – well thats all fine but the need to engage and retain young Jews – while absolutely critical in itself – shouldn’t take precedence over whats best for all the people who live in Israel and under its control.”

    And that seems to be the modus operandi of the Kadimah MKs who have been invited to speak at the upcoming J-street convention.
    Some Jewish university age people (and a few older ones also),are fairly strongly left leaning and won’t be swayed by an argument claiming that J-street aims to influence Israeli politics by undemocratic means, so they use methods that are objectionable to mainstream Israelis.
    It was the same in my day at Uni; being left, and objecting to US interventions around the world, and Australia’s involvement, was almost the norm. Most of us left uni eventually and our politics generally changed as well.

  • Gedalia says:

    J-street opposed the US Veto of the UN resolution to condemn Israel this week.

    Bear in mind that the definition of the UN includes Jerusalem, and the Jewish people’s holiest site.

    That to me is enough to demonstrate that this group acts against the interests of Jewish nationhood.

  • Liam says:

    Gedalia — can you understand why opposing settlements could be considered in the interests of Jewish nationhood, as you say?

    Unless Israel withdraws from the West Bank, either Israel’s legitimacy will be questioned (a continued occupation, or the annexation of the West Bank and denial of the right to vote for Palestinians) or its Jewish nature undermined (annexation of the West Bank and the right to vote given to Palestinians, who will soon outnumber Jews).

    Stopping settlement growth and dismantling most of them will ensure that Israel can continue to exist as the democratic home of the Jewish people.

  • Gedalia says:

    Hi Liam

    My comment is more in reference to places like Jerusalem and the Temple Mount, which, under the definition on the UN resoultion, supported by J-Street, would be denied as part of the legitimate homeland of the Jewish people.

    With respect to “settlement” areas of the West Bank, my answer in the current environment is no, I cannot understand how opposing Jewish people legitimately living in their legitimate land is in the interests of Jewish nationhood. Take for example areas such as Gush Etzion, which were purchased using JNF money and were owned by title deed prior to the establishment of Israel. Israel reclaimed this land in a war they didn’t start, and resumed living there.

    I accept an ultimate reality of trading land for peace. However at the moment, the climate suggests that Israel would give up land for no concessions whatsoever. Not even an acknowledgement that Israel has the right to exist as a Jewish homeland. To trade away Israel’s security for nothing in return is in my view very foolish and naive.

  • ariel says:

    I wonder if people read the keynote address at J-Street:

  • Mohan to Gedalia says:

    Could you please tell us what makes Jerusalem and the surrounding areas the “legitimate homeland of the Jewish people”. I would like to know the basis in written or common law, international law or history for such a claim. I am not speaking of liturgical or cultural and religious connection but a legal claim for occupancy.

  • ariel says:


    It’s the same historical claim as Aborigines have to Australia.

  • Gedalia says:

    Mohan, before attempting to answer your question, could you please tell us what makes Canberra and the ACT the legitimate Capital City of Australia? I would like to know the basis in written or common law, international law or history for such a claim.

  • Mohan to Gedalia2 says:

    There are relavant acts of parliament passed into law and accepted by the citizens of Australia and acknowledged by the courts to the effect. One can read the hansard to acertain this.

    That is, there is evidence in both written and common law.

  • Mohan to Gedalia3 says:

    And the hansard provides historical evidence as well. One has to only look it up.

  • Marky says:

    You mean it was passed into law by the parliament set up by the colonialist invaders?

  • Mohan to marky says:

    Marky you are right up to a point. It was passed by the parliament set up by the descendents of the colonial invaders who became a part of the society and have been tryiong to undo the wrongs of colonisation.
    Now if you would care to shed some pearls of wisdom on the legal claim of Jews anywhere in the world to settle in Jerusalem and surrounding ares and displace the indigenous people – that is go back to the original question – that would be wonderful.

  • Marky says:

    Well, you now agree that the act of parliament of colonialists is not worth the paper it’s written on. Any country can manufacture a legal claim. So the act of parliament of Israel re Jerusalem is at least not worse than many countries such as Australia. But then Israel has a claim that none of these countries have. That being Jerusalem was the capital of the country of the Jews about 2500 years ago.

    There are many sources from that time that back this up. In addition to the Bible, there are writers such as Josepus, Greek and Roman writers and others. Also many archaeological finds show it. So really it is fact and if you want to be like an ostrich, that’s your decision.

    In fact since the Jews lived in their land in those days, Jerusalem was until today never anyones capital. It was always colonised by different countries. The only people whose capital is/was Jerusalem is the Jews.

  • Mohan to Marky says:

    Sorry Marky I have said nothing of that kind. Thatwas a pathetic strawperson. I said there is living evidence of the fact that Canberra is the capital of Australia – not about the morality, legality of colonisation.

    The living truth is that all citizens of Australia (Christian, Aboriginal, Hindu, Buddhist, Muslim, Jewish etc and atheist) have a continued connection with Canberra as capital – their MPs work there, parliament, Governor General, prime minister, cabinet, ministries work fom there.

    And there is historical evidence in the hansard that the capital was located there at a certain time etc.

    So please stick to the facts and show what evidence you have for such a legal claim.

  • Mohan to Marky2 says:

    I have not said anything about Jerusalem being the capital of a jewish kingdom – there were two Jewish capitals if the history is right. And the same history tells us Jersalem was the capital of the Jebussites and was invaded by Jewish tribes.

    Incidentally the region was invaded and ruled by the Greeks, Persians, Romans, Turks and the British. So where is the legal title for any of these nationalaities, religions, or the Jews anywhere in the world to occupy the place ?

    I was talking about the right to ownership and that over the heads of the inhabitants. The Himyar dynasty that ruled Yemen was Jewish. The berber tribes had Jewish chietans among them. How does that translate into a right to occupy Yemen or Morocco ?

  • frosh says:


    I think others here have answered your question. It appears that, as with almost every thread, you are trying to hijack the conversation with your moronic attempts at deligitimisation.

    There are people of would like Australia’s capital to be in Sydney or Melbourne. There are also people in Western Australia who would like their state to secede from the federation. None of this lessens the facts on the ground that Australia’s parliament and federal government are based in Canberra.

    Likewise, the facts on the ground are Israel’s parliament (The Knesset) and its government is based in Jerusalem. Get over it!

    Furthermore, none of those invading empires that you have listed ever based their capital in Jerusalem.
    I’m glad that you think Jews also have a claim to Yemen and Morocco. Perhaps you could go visit those places and argue the case. Let us all know how it goes.

    I believe your questions have now been more than sufficiently answered.

    I think the vast majority of readers would appreciate that if you leave any further comments on this article, that they be genuinely related to the topic the author has addressed.

  • Mohan to frosh says:

    Thank you for your “moronic” compliment. As you can see I had asked a pointed question about apoint made by Gedalia as axiomatic. The simplest way is to give a pointed reply based on objective standards. I did not prolong the issue with specious arguments about capitals and presence etc. It was your fellow posters who did it.

    It would be genuinely appreciated if slander abuse and smear were not used instead of principled debate.

  • Sam says:


    For someone of your expansive vocabulary, your spelling is absolutely shocking. Maybe you could take an English course instead of hijacking almost every thread with your ridiculous and tiresome claim that Jews have no right to be occupying the land of Israel.

  • Mohan to sam says:

    Thank you for the comment about my spelling. Now if you would care to move away from ad hominem attacks – If as you cliam Jews have the right to occupy Palestine, please show the right in written, common law and history ?

    Simple and straightforward. Those who have grounds for such a claim need not feel insecure and fear about the legitimacy of their cause at a simple question.

    have a good day. I will leave the comment at this.

  • Sam says:


    This is not about ad hominem attacks. It is about you being unable to spell and more importantly hijacking this thread as well as all the previous ones for your little smarmy pathetic agenda which no one visiting this site is the slightest bit interested in.
    However I will provide my version of the evidence once only, as I refuse to debate with hardened anti-semites.

    The name “Palestine,” that was used by Roman and briefly by Arab rulers, was revived by the British, who received a mandate from the League of Nations to administer Palestine as a national home for the Jewish people.

    Israel was created in 1948, after UN Resolution 181 partitioned the territory of the British Mandate for Palestine into two states for Jews and Palestinian Arabs. The Arabs objected to the creation of the Jewish state and fought a war against it. The Arab side lost the war, and the Palestinian state never really came into being

    If you object to the validity of UN Resolution 181 then I suggest you go to New York and protest there.
    Similarly if you dispute the validity of the Balfour Declaration which led to the British mandate, go to London and dispute it with the current British government as I fear that Arthur Balfour is no longer available for cross examination.

  • Mohan to sam2 says:

    You prove the point about ad hominem attacks. As I said, I have merely asked apointed question about something claimed as axiomatic. The honest response would be a simple answr giving the relevant information.

    And you are doing exactly what you accuse me of, using this thread to make statements unrelated to the question I had asked; About the legal claim of Jews anywhere in the world to settle Palestine – even at the cost of dispalcement of the indigenous people.

    If you have an answer give it. If you wish to debate history and the name “Palestine” (Syria Palestine in Greek times taken over by the Romans, incidentally), the Balfour declaration, the toying with Argetine, Uganda, the UN resolutions – that had a sub clause on Jerusalem – et al I am quite happy to do that. But don’t come out with abuse and smear about hijacking. If you are ready for a principled debate using objective, universal standards of argumentation, I am happy to oblige.
    You might wish to run a spellcheck on this.

  • larry stillman says:

    Two Palestinians have given their assessment of J-Street the conference, and where J-Street sites in the scheme of things: very limited they argue.

    This, rather than Jewish navel gazing is what really counts.

    http://972mag.com/j-street-a-palestinian’s-perspective/ and don’t ignore http://counterpunch.org/madar03022011.html

  • Shaun says:

    Larry, it seems only the first article is from a Palestinian, the other from a lawyer in New York.

    It seems that J-street can’t please anyone – either on the right or the far left.

    Having watched two of the sessions from the conference on the web (the panel of MKs), I was pretty impressed by the quality of the discussion coming out from there.

  • Reality Check says:

    Could someone please tell me what the J stands for?

  • ariel says:


    Please prove in international law that the Aborigines of Australia, Canada and the USA have any legal claim to their land.

    The Jewish claim to Israel is far more founded in history as it has been documented by every ancient empire that was around at the time.

    If you’re only authority is international law, I fear for the future of the world, since international law is highly flawed.

  • larry stillman says:

    You chose those 3 carefully obviously, because they are not international signatories, though their internal law has plenty of application. Don’t play lawyer tricks on non-lawyers.

    Many countries recognise pre- modern colonial rights.

  • frosh says:


    I can’t work out what your point is. However, your comment sounds much more lawyer-ish than Ariel’s.

  • Sam says:


    Your last posting reads as if you are giving some sort of support for Mohans warped agenda, being that Jews do not have any authority to be living in Israel. Please clarify that posting.

  • Marky says:

    Sam, maybe he is from the neturei karta?

  • Ilana Leeds says:

    For the other side of things as this is a rather one sided discussion at present.


  • Sol Salbe says:

    Reality Check,
    The J in J-Street is a pun on the fact that city of Washington DC does not have a J-Street although it has all the letters of the alphabet before J and a K-Street where the office of AIPAC are situated.

  • ariel says:


    “Many countries recognise pre- modern colonial rights.”

    Except of course of the Jews to Israel. Go figure!

  • Mohan to Sam3 says:

    Hello Sam. I asked a direct question all the reply I get is more smear, slander and abuse about “warped agendas”. OK. Expose my “warped agenda” and show the evidence.

  • Mohan to Ariel says:

    Sorry Ariel the mere physical presence on the land for generations is a common law fact as is an organic connection with it irrespective of religion, ethnicity (i.e not described in religious/sectarian terms). So what organic connection does a 1000th generation Indian Jew have with Palestine, or a descendent of Morrocon Berbers, Ethiopian Falasha ?

  • Sam says:


    You know very well what your warped agenda is, I do not need to provide proof.
    I think that I speak for the overwhelming majority of readers of this site, that your postings are obnoxious, and unwelcome here.

  • Mohan to sam says:

    Hello Sam. I have invited you to a principled debate and all you can do is come up with smear, abuse and slander and then scurry into darkness from the light of a simple question.

    If my postings are what you say, you are welcome to expose them or remain silent if you do not have an honest reply. rats bite in the dark and run away from the light.

  • Marky says:

    Mohan, you want principled debate? Don’t give me that crap. You will not accept any response on this matter unless it agrees with your hateful agenda. Bombarding countless threads, you keep changing the goalposts whenever the colonialism of any other country than Israel is brought up. I have already shown your proof to be misleading and dishonest on another thread. You also change your ideas where it’s convenient for you. One example, on one of your posts a while back, you wrote that it is a myth that Jews occupied Israel a few thousand years ago. You changed that recently because the proof is clearly out there.

    Yes, you will come back accusing us of smear, abuse, slander, weasel words. If you have a good look at yourself i the mirror you will see all that and a lot more.

  • Sam says:


    What sort of moron keeps contributing to a website where he has been told in no uncertain terms that his postings are unwelcome, hateful and of no interest to anyone reading Galus?
    No one here is going to believe a word you write, and we are not feeling terrorized by it either.
    Please tell us what you are hoping to acheive?
    I am sure that if you are looking for a friend you will find one here: http://www.qassam.ps/

  • Sol Salbe says:

    For the record, I don’t believe that I’ve ever met either Sam or Mohan I don’t think I know either.

    Now, have I miss something — when did the esteemed editors of GA told Mohan to go away “in no uncertain terms”? Galus Australis is read by a wide variety people but I suspect that there are few who would not believe a word that someone else would write. The majority are willing to listen to arguments and weigh them on their merits. We don’t need fineschmeckers to berate contributors. If anyone deserved to be told off we have the talented RSD to do so, and no doubt she would be very tactful and polite about it, as has always been.

  • Mohan to sam says:

    Hello Sam what sort of a moron assumes to be the editor of Galus Australis when he clearly is not ? As I said cockroaches and rats scurry from the light and bite in the dark.

    If you wish to silence dissent recommend to the editors to censor out all inconvenient truths.

    I have no desire to get into a slanging match but please be aware that I can return abuse tenfold and with far greater power. You are welcome not to reply to my posts, but if you do so please make sure you are capable of civilised conduct and principled debate.

  • frosh says:


    You have left many comments on Galus on a variety of topics (in terms of the articles your comment have been filed under); but from memory, your actual comments are only ever about your attempts to delegitimize Israel, even when it is irrelevant to the topic of the article.

    If my memory is failing me, then please feel free to provide examples.

  • Sol Salbe says:


    Surely from a scientific point of view you can only express an opinion on the basis of the small proportion of readers of this website who actually comment on GA. Even with access to number of hits how can you tell anything about the readership? I’ve had quite a few allusions to GA discussions on my Facebook pages by people who may have more in common with Mohan than you or I.

    I do not often agree with Mohan but I really have an aversion to assertions of a gut feelings [which may or may not be correct] presented as facts.

  • Sam says:


    What are your scientific qualifications? I can provide you with mine, however this is not about science as you know.
    I am not privy to your facebook friends’ opinions nor should I be.
    However if your facebook friends have more in common with Mohan than with the overwhelming majority of contributors to Galus, then you have a problem, not me.
    Obviously this is a public forum and if members of Hamas or the Neo-Nazi party read Galus then this is out of anybody’s control.
    Anyway what is your real issue that you are jumping to his defence? Yes, you wan’t to give his hateful, racist arguments oxygen.
    You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to see Mohan’s agenda.

  • Mohan to sam3 says:

    I have exposed the hollownes and bankruptcy of your position enough. In spite of repeated invitations to a honest debtae you have only responded with abuse. Legend has it that a satyr goes mad with rage when they it looks at their own face in the mirror.

    Have a good day.

  • Mohan to frosh says:

    Somethin legitimate need not fear delitimisation by opne questions. If you feel delegitimised you need you examine your views.

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