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Aliyah: Going up or coming down to earth?

March 30, 2011 – 1:35 pm59 Comments

A sign to Sde Eliyahu. Who's responsible for transliterating this road sign?

By Kovi Rose

Having just arrived in Israel less than a week ago, I was excited and anxious to deal with the bureaucracy and slide into the culture and life of the locals. I arrived at the Airport on Friday, was partying in Tel Aviv on Sunday, and by Monday I had arrived at Kibbutz Sde Eliyahu; where I plan to spent the next 5 months studying Hebrew. On Wednesday however, we were all thrown into confusion and disarray upon hearing the news of the first bus-stop bombing in Jerusalem in several years. It was as if time stood still for a moment. Everyone crowded around the computers to look at Haaretz, Jpost and Ynet, whilst the Israelis began making calls to family members to check that everyone was okay. I approached our madricha (youth counsellor) for the Hebrew Ulpan to ask her something, and all that she could say was that she “take[s] that bus every day”.

I decided to go for a run to clear my thoughts, yet after a moment I began to sprint with anger and I felt my mind and body fuming with rage, anxiety and sadness. When my lungs finally began to feel as if they were struggling, I stopped, collapsed on the ground and sat there asking myself, or reminding myself that this is my world now. I am no longer a little kid here in Israel as part of some youth movement or birthright program; this is my home and this is what I have to live with for the rest of my life.

So, remembering that I had promised an article on my Aliyah process, I sat down at the computer and began thinking of what to write. Unable to keep the thought of the bomb – which killed someone and wounded more than 30 others – out of my mind, I thought that perhaps I could use this event to explain the reasoning behind my move to Israel.

For me, the cultural, historical, and traditional connection was never going to be sufficed by the odd donation to JNF or family holiday to Israel. I felt that I needed to be there, to live and breathe Zohan style. And once I was there, I could not just live without serving in the IDF, hiding like a thief in the night.  How could one be an 18 year-old in Israel and not strive to protect it from its enemies? Especially at a time like this in Israel, where rockets flying in from Gaza,  massacres  of families with children,  and bombs planted on buses are all being either ignored or downplayed by the world media.

David Ben-Gurion was a strong advocate of leading by personal example, with his move to Kibbutz Sde Boker prompting many thousands of people to settle the lands of the Negev. Similarly, I feel like by helping Israel in every way I can, I will hopefully encourage many other Diaspora Jews to make Aliyah.

אולי הגיע עת לשאול שאלות

כמו כמה זמן נוכל כך להמשיך ולחיות

(עוד אח אחד” – הדג נחש”)

Maybe it’s time to ask questions

Like how long can we keep on living like that

(“One More Brother” – Hadag Nachash)

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  • Larry Stillman says:

    I am going to be controversial.

    Bombings are criminal. Full stop. There is no need to debate that.

    But…we need to be aware of the dual character of Israel-Palestine.

    I have no objection to Jews who want to live in the Land of Israel. But the question increasingly, is at what cost and at whose expense to other people.

    Kovi, in your conscience, are you question why you now have rights to live anywhere in Israel when people in villages like Nabi Samuel a couple of kilometers from Jeruslem cannot access their old homes or build new ones or even a classroom because of de facto annexation of the West Bank and manipulation of the law? It is abominable. Meanwhile, the Jerusalem suburbs spring up around it. See http://tiny.cc/4005o.

    Kibbutz Sade Eliyahu where you are going is built upon the ‘depopulated’ village of ‘Arab al-‘Arida.

    Is this the birthright of Zionism that you have come to proclaim and be part of — the deliberate creation of a divided and unequal societ– or should the future of a new Israel be something else than the practice of such moral blindless? Are you prepared to say ‘sorry’ and support the creation of an equal society?

  • Sam says:


    You said to Kovi: “Is this the birthright of Zionism that you have come to proclaim and be part of — the deliberate creation of a divided and unequal society?”

    You knew that you would not get a lot of agreement to this statement on this website, as you prefaced in your opener.

    Israel and Israelis would love to live in harmony and in the same communities as their Palestinian neighbours. However have you forgotten that in the last election the Palestinian voters chose Hamas whose principal aim is to obliterate the Israeli Sate.
    You must be joking that you think that you will make Kovi or most of the readers feel a sense of guilt with statements like that.
    In fact, you are the one who should face up to reality after all this time studing the events that actually occur in Israel.

  • lombard says:

    Oh Mr Stillman.
    Nice to hear you have no OBJECTION to Jews wishing to live in their ancestral homeland – but, you ask, at what cost?
    Maybe you should also approach indigenous Australians and you will probably get the same answer.

    You probably justify the recent Fogel murders and bus bombings as being logical outcomes of your warped view of Israeli affairs. Sick!

    History has shown us time and again that there is nothing worse than a self hating [and in your case, apologist]Jew.

    You should open a Siddur [hebrew prayer book];read the words;feel the connection to and the longing for,the land of Israel; realise that for centuries, during pogroms and blood libels and Holocaust, one thing kept the Jewish people alive – the thought and the dream of one day RETURNING the our HOME.
    You also demonstrate a clear lack of historical perspective – the so-called palestinians have a homeland, and its called Jordan!

    may I suggest that you contact some of the local muslim clergy who would probably be happy to have you….in the meantime, you are a disgrace.


  • frosh says:

    Hi Larry,

    One could argue that Kovi, having repatriated himself from Australia back to his ancestral homeland, is now no longer living in a residence on land where Indigenous Australians have been dispossessed from.
    That puts him a notch above you or me, Larry.

  • mother says:

    Despite my inherent fears for the safety of my young, I for one am extremely proud of Kovi as he takes this enormous leap into the fire that is the Middle East and our homeland. Who knows we may even join him one day….. if he doesnt mind sharing his rather brave experience with us!

    Good luck my “little” Israeli!

  • Larry Stillman says:

    Thank you to all for such sharing such positive and intelligent comments.

    I constantly tell opponents or those who deny Jewish connection– to the Land of what is in the Siddur and everywhere else in Jewish history after the temple–though I am quite unobservant.

    What did Yehuda Ha-Levi say –libbi ba mizrah ve ani basof ha ma’arav My heart is in the East, and I am at the ends of the West?

    I recgonise such aspirations, thus there is no need to throw your inective at me on that point.

    Jewish history cannot exist in isolation from Christian or Muslim history and particularly the physcality of their existence. All 3 religions and histories have connections to the land, and particularly those Palestinians–or Arabs who in many cases can trace their connection back centuries, far far more than you or me. I cannot deny them their rights, just as I refuse to accept mythologies about who came first.

    The Land is an ethnic and cultural admixture. To deny this, is to be blind to the denial of the other. That has been one of the great failures and unresolved contradictions of Zionism as a colonizing movement ( And of course, it has been a failure of many in the Palestinian nationalist movement to recognise the depth of Jewish aspirations. )

    George Antonius was a Jerusalem Palestinian, famous for his history of Arab Nationalist and the revolt before World War Two, in the Arab Awakening (1938). He wrote, and this passage haunts me.

    “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. 394-395).

    From the Jewish side, this is what Kovi needs to be aware of, as it should be for Zionists of all stripes before it gets lost in mythology.

    And Frosh, at least we have said ‘sorry’ in this country and I hope that we will go further down the track of reconciliation and actions to make better the act of dispossession (such as granting Native Title). Of course, Native Title is not the case for all Palestinians, but is has been considered, I understand, in the case of Beduin, who are under constant legal and physical attack.

  • frosh says:


    I regret that I responded to your comment in the way I did.
    The reason for my regret is that Kovi’s article is ultimately about the personal experience of a very young man making a huge and brave leap into the somewhat unknown.
    I don’t want this to get sidetracked, and by responding to you the way I did, I probably assisted you in sidetracking the comments.
    As I’ve learnt this week on Facebook, with some people, you cannot even organise a Samurai film night without them trying to turn that into an opportunity to engage in the politics of Israel de-legitimisation.

  • Marky says:

    Australia has no security issues with the Aborigines, so it’s very easy to say sorry and reconcile. Whereas, if the Aborigines were constantly instigating murderous violence targeting men women and children, there would be no “sorry” or any type of reconciliation until security could be guarranteed.

  • Malki Rose says:


    Are you suggesting that Israel should, like white Australia, just utter a disingenuous ‘Sorry’?

    I also wonder if you have plans to travel to Europe and demand back all the property, homes and farms stolen from Jews before and during the Holocaust? Or perhaps start a movement towards that aim?

    I think some of the white liberal guilt might be better spent in such a pursuit.

    Rather than attempting to inject that your own sentiments into Kovi’s intensely personal experience of Israel.

    Kovi has made Aliyah because he believes Israel is his homeland.

    Perhaps you can allow him to enjoy that sentiment for a minute before immediately insisting that his first steps as an Israeli are to self-flagellate over the plight of the Palestinian people.

    Also, you should consider that the terrorist acts of the past few weeks have NOT stimulated ANY sympathy for the Palestinian cause.

    In fact they have had rather the opposite effect, and have generated a renewed patriotic fervour from Israelis and heightened Zionist sentiment from many Diaspora Jews.

    Kovi is at the nexus of these two groups.

  • Eli says:

    I wonder if Israel was established in 1848 and not 1948 if the issue of displacement of an “indigenous” people would be such an issue as it is today.
    Why is it sufficient for Australia to say “sorry” hand out some native titles a few million dollars and we seem to feel absolved of the crimes committed here. And even if those who still feel obliged to make further restitution, would they consider handing back large swathes of land.
    Of course the crimes and colonialist polices of most of the west are no reason for continuing such a policy in our “modern enlightened world”
    But why is only Israel and its population that must bear the brunt of the west’s guilty conscience.

    It is only through war that the middle east is shaped the way it is.
    Had things been different Turkey might still be in what is now Israel and countries like Jordan would not even exist.

    Many may claim to the land, but in reality only one can rule.
    The world has constantly been shaped by winners not losers. We may not like it but that is the nature of politics and war.

    But again Israel is treated differently.Even winning a a number of wars does not g;tee its existence.

    No war is fair, there are always casualties and losers.That does not justify the deaths and displacements, but they are the consequences of any conflict.

    It is iniquitous to be constantly siteing that this village or that town used to belong to another.For those who point that finger, are they comfortable in knowing that their own homes are ones usurped from indigenous populations?

    Or is that time and history allow us the benefit of not being complicit and therefore innocent.

    Why is it we do not allow Israel that leniency?

    Most do not deny that were wrongs, some can be rectified, others cannot.

    However when the majority of your neighbours do not even recognise your claim to existing in the region, then every grain of dirt becomes valuable. Because it is all that you have to bargain with.

    The lives of those who cling to its soil are not negotiable.

    Kovi accepts his new life and with it comes the unfortunate responsibility of having to defend his right to live there.

    He should not have to defend the wrongs that may have been committed in gaining that privilege.

    He is absolved from that as much as you or I are for living here in this wonderful country.

  • Larry Stillman says:

    I can really focus on one issue here and that is that a number of you think that there is an utter and complete difference between what happened in the past in Israel (say pre-1948) and what Kovi or any other Zionist might be engaged in now. That he or any other Zionist bears no responsibility for what has happened.

    Try telling that to probably every single Palestinian living in Israel today, and particularly those in the West Bank (not Israel) who are prevented in countless ways from having full and equal lives; that it is becoming legal to exclude Palestinians from living in Jewish communities on the grounds that they ‘do not suit the lifestyle and social fabric of the community’, even though it is illegal to exclude Jews from Palestinian neighbourhoods; that for Bedouin, the JNF is complicit in theft of their traditional homelands and on and on it goes. You can’t tell people born there to go live in Jordan or elsewhere.

    This is not stuff that has anything to do with terrorist threats, but is an active policy of dispossession and discrimination. Some call it ethnic cleansing, a term I am quite reluctant to use. One scholar called it politicide; that is, policy to get rid of others. Today is Land Day when Israeli Palestinians protest against their dispossession. The war of 48 solved little because it still remains a country of 2 peoples. If Israel is to be a real democracy for all its peoples, then things must change. And of course, that occupation that increasingly has nothing to do with security but everything to do with access to cheap land, resources, and corruption, is also a contradiction with being a democracy.

    Kovi may be young, but so was I when I went to live in Israel. Age is not an excuse in being able to ask hard questions about the society that you choose to live in where such things are not past history, but a daily reality. We all have the capacity to make choices.

    To pose the ultimate test which I am posing to everyone who is a Zionist– Are any of you prepared to tell a young, Jaffa-born Palestinian who is the same age as Kovi: “I, as an Australian born person have homeland greater rights than you and that my ultimate desire is not to have you in my country?” That’s a chilling prospect in so many ways, particularly if you say” you can hang around, but only on my terms” .

    If we want a legitimate Israel that is a democracy and not an ethnocracy (still a rotten term), then big changes are needed to what Zionism becomes in the future. Israel’s survival as an independent country now has as much to do with its internal as external relations.

  • Ari says:


    Yes. There is nothing wrong for Kovi to say to a Jaffa-Born Arab Israeli that they can stay as long as it is on his terms – that is, that it remain a Jewish and democratic State – Just as England is Anglican and democratic. NOw, obviously, some things need to be improved in how Israel deals with its minorities but again, this cannot be seperated from the context of the conflict – And it is unfair to judge it outside of that context only.
    It is the right of the State to defend itself against those who wish to threaten its essence and its security – such as MKs who attempt to contact Israel’s enemies during war time. They and their Palestinian friends have also payed little attention to that wondefully apt quote which you brought to my attention:
    “what does need stressing, in view of the widespread misconceptions that prevail, is that a [somewhat] 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 own, the natural rights inherent in actual possession.”

  • Larry Stillman says:

    Ari, of course, it was 1938 when that was written and Palestinians never thought that they would lose so much.

    But in any case, why should all Palestinians be considered enemies? But as well it is not just that ‘some things need to be improved’–there are key constitutional issues that stand out like a sore thumb. My view is that the country cannot be Jewish & democratic–it has not gone through a sufficient enough separation of religion/ethnicity from the state and that problem stands out like the proverbial dogs’. Only a secular constitution will solve the problem, nor am I satified by the arguments of people like Ruth Gavison the jurist who is beating around the bush in defense of a ‘Jewish’ constitution because it preserves a state of second rate citizenship for Palestinians. Of all the countries in the middle east, except for Egypt, Israel is the most religiously diverse now, and Egypt in its own way faces this problem of Coptic rights and status.

    But I don’t feel like going over all this again, as I have written about it in depth for Galus and debated many of the issues before. See http://galusaustralis.com/2010/05/2961/an-israel-for-all-its-citizens-rather-than-an-israel-for-all-jews/. Many Israelis on the left take the same view. The other point I would make is that Idon’t mind if people are Zionist, and that they have Zionist parties, but Israel has a lot of natural-born citizens whose best interests are not represented by Zionism.

    And in the UK, by and large the country is secular and disestablished though the Anglican church has legal status (as in the Scandanavian democracies). It is hard to make a comparison between the two.

  • Larry Stillman says:

    To pose a further question, ponder this as an outcome of irredentist Zionism and the moral quandary it poses to your views about the ‘losers’. Who is at war here for the sake of Greater Israel.Is a 15 y.o. victim a threat to Israeli security?

    See http://www.yesh-din.org/postview.asp?postid=156 where you can also download the court report.

    A/c to 972+ Strock is a settler from the outpost of Esh Kodesh (Holy Fire), which is near the village of Kusra, when F resides.

    “A Jewish settler was sentenced March 27, 2011 to 18 months in prison, a year of probation – after he was convicted of kidnapping and assaulting a Palestinian 15 year old boy. Jerusalem District Court Justice Amnon Cohen also ordered the defendant to pay a fine of 50,000 NIS in compensation to the victim.

    The case is one of the most severe cases ever handled by human rights group Yesh Din – the kidnap and assault of a Palestinian 15 year old boy of the West Bank village of Kusra. The boy was kidnapped by two assaulters near the Esh Kodesh outpost. The two offenders battered him, and left him naked, wounded, and bound in an open field.

    Human Rights group Yesh Din assisted the victim from the day of the incident, and helped him and his family file a complaint with the Israeli police. Following an investigation, police apprehended one of the suspects – Zvi Struk, resident of the settlement of Shilo. He was indicted, and his trial opened in February 2009.

    Last November, Struk was convicted with battery under aggravated circumstances and kidnapping for the purpose of causing grave bodily injury. He was also convicted of killing a lamb.

    This is a relatively rare case where investigators and prosecutors both succeeded to convict an offender of grave offenses. According to Yesh Din’s data, about 90 percent of complaints filed by Palestinians against Israeli citizens who harm them and their property end without any indictments.

    The victim’s father welcomed the sentence.”

  • lombard says:

    You all carry on about the palestinian people and the palestinian land.
    This holds no water for me at all.
    However, if the world would be talking about the Canaanite people and their claim to Canaan, then maybe….
    Yes, there was an earlier palestinian homeland before Jordan, and if you blow the dust of your history books, you’ll see that the Philistines/Plishtim traditionally occupied an area approximately where Gaza is today – the people of Israel have never [I believe] claimed any rights to this piece of land.
    So, in summary, historically, there were the Philistines [Palestinians] who occupied present-day Gaza, and the Canaanites who occupied present-day Israel.
    -so don’t get all teary about some group who may have settled on the Land at some later stage and now claim it as their own – unless they are the only true indigenous residents called the Canaanites, there is nothing to discuss – palestinians go back to Gaza or choose Jordan if you like…..[and stop trying to rewrite history]

  • TheSadducee says:


    I don’t think George Antonius was actually born in Palestine – you might want to check that out before you refer to him as a Palestinian.

    (I think he came to Palestine when he was in his mid-late 20’s?)

  • frosh says:

    This is all very side-tracked… but Lombard, the Philistines of the bible were of Aegean or Cypriot origins – they were not an Arabic people. The Palestinians (yes, I realise in Hebrew it’s essentially the same word for both peoples, but that’s a misnomer with its own history that I won’t go into here) are an Arabic people, and hence come from Arabia. They were not living in The Land of Israel until far more recent times (certainly not in the biblical period).

    What does any of this have to do with Kovi’s article? Gornisht!

  • Larry Stillman says:

    Sadduccee–a good riposte. But I think it can be strongly argued that Antonious was a key member of the Palestine-based elites.

    Lombard, who came first in antiquity is irrelevant, because we don’t know. You can’t divide up modern Palestine on the basis of ancient territorial/ethno-cultural divisions, especially those reflected in the Bible or in archeological finds (and the identification of groups between text/finds is often disputed and irresolvable). Reading modern historical claims through either Bibilical or Quranic lenses is a dangerous thing and claiming indigenaeity through that is dangerous. Stick to the last 1500 years or so where we have much stronger documentation.

    As an example, of the foolishness of reading back indigenaiety into the ancient period, having read the Amarna documents in their Canaanitised Akkadian, I can say that the people who spoke Canaanite preceded the Hebrews (whoever they were), and perhaps gave them the language…but we just don’t know the truth. There were probably Hittites and Hurrians running around as well. What we do know is that throughout history, the region has been an ethnic and cultural mix whose rights to possession are ‘read’ in different ways by different groups. Ancient Hebrews, then Jews, were one of those groups, as were the Greek/Aramaic-speakers in the Christian and Byzantine era, and Arabic and/or Greek speaking Muslims and lots of others…

    You call for ethnic cleansing. I don’t.

  • Zeev says:

    Firstly – mazal tov Kobi for reuniting your past with your present.

    Secondly – for me, Larry’s thoughtful ponderings boil down to a single point: What determines the legitimacy of a country? This answer, or set of answers, must hold true for other contexts too.

    In this case, Israel was granted legitimacy by the United Nations. Where I disagree strongly with Larry, is my belief that from this point onwards, everything else is political junk. I only say this because it is true for every other country.

    Where I agree with Larry, is that right to a country comes with the rights of minority groups to be well looked after. Israel has less than a spotless track record in this regard. However, any suggestion that this challenges Israel right, like any other country, to discriminate when determining who is granted citizenship or residency, is bogus.

    Whether a moral right or wrong, Mexicans have no realisitc claim on Mexico – because they lived there before the Americans. Many have ancestral homes there. America’s only claim is military success. As long as these are the rules of our world – they must apply to Israel too. Which common rules do you feel Israel is not entitled to?

  • Larry Stillman says:

    Thanks Ze’ev, and I put the same question to other regimes that disposses internal populations on ethnic grounds–as happened in former Yugolslavia, or to the Rom/Gypsies, or to Greeks and their Muslim minority, and to Turkey with its appalling record etc etc.

    The ‘defence’ and ‘security’ argument for Israel is increasingly thin on many fronts as many Israelis themselves argue, and not just people on the ‘left’, but more in the mainstream as well.

    And given the democratic revolution in the region–in which I understand many people, particularly in Egypt don’t want Islamism, but multiculturalism, Israel cannot exempt itself. See http://972mag.com/israel-must-change-its-approach-says-egyptian-journalist/ for a very interesting interview. These are the sorts of people who could be allies of a new Israel.

  • Mandi Katz says:

    Larry – you seem surprised that people have not engaged thoughtfully or intelligently with your comment but your first comment was quite antagonistic and off point. Kovi has written a personal reflection his experience and you have attempted to turn it into a Larry Stillman “post Z” exposition. That’s not really fair. You did a similar thing in your response to my article about Israel education in schools, pushing a different ideological agenda in that instance but still pushing your agenda rather than engaging with the content of the article.

    So to the substance of your initial comment – underpinning you comments is a presumption that every person who moves to Israel is guilty of historical wrongs and of all the wrongs that go on in contemporary Israel. Is that position specifically directed at Kovi because of your disagreement with him on his politics? (And if so, is that in line with you stated commitment to arguing the issues not the personality?) Or is it a default position applicable to all Jews in Israel however they got there?

    If the latter, the best metaphor I can find for your approach is that you have reversed the burden of proof here – instead of a starting point that people who live in Israel or move there have the right to do so (in spite of your saying that they do), the onus is on them to prove that they have that right because they are actively committed to changing society .

    You have asked before on this site not to be thrown in with the Israel deligitimisers. If you are saying that moving to Israel is in itself wrong, you come very close to saying that there is an inherent illegitimacy about Israel. Your subsequent comments on elements of Israeli society are mainly fair and important and I think we can agree that support for Israel should involve support for addressing the more unfair elements of Israeli society. But if the only way you can respond to information that someone has moved to Israel is to ask them what they will be doing to address all that’s wrong with Israel, it’s hard not to draw negative inferences about your views on Israel’s legitimacy.

    And for someone reluctant to use the term ethnic cleansing you use it an awful lot.

  • TheSadducee says:


    I don’t see Larry’s point in the way you are. I think he is putting forward the questions –
    – should Jewish self-determination, both political and cultural, be made knowingly at the expense of the non-Jewish?
    – Is this moral and/or ethically right?
    -Should the preservation of Jewish rights, identity and culture in Israel, even including those of Jewish individuals who are not born in Israel, trump the rights, identity and culture of non-Jewish inhabitants?

    (Larry feel free to correct me if I am reading you wrong)

    Depending on one’s answers to those questions will determine what position and goals one has in mind concerning Israel and the conflict.

    To address Rose’s hope (and tie in Larry’s original point) – helping Israel to encourage Jews to make aliyah needs to be measured against what type of help is being provided and with what aim in mind.

    To help Israel as it is today in the hope that the galut will leave their exile to support it as it is today is not necessarily a positive thing. I for one would not return to support the state as it is today because of my answers to the questions I drew from Stillman’s points earlier.

  • Larry Stillman says:

    I was pushing a strong case because I believe that in this time in Israel’s history (as it has been for as long as I can remember), I think we need to ask such questions, and that is pertinent for any person who chooses to live in Israel and particularly those coming out of strong Zionist positions.

    To be a Zionist in a vacuum when such bad things are happening seems to be disingenuous. And, as his article appears to strongly imply, Palestinians are viewed as eternal enemies rather than future partners for peace. If Kovi has rights to vote and go into the army, then he has the obligation to think about such things.

    As for delegitimisation…I think the view I have put forward here is something I have consistently put forward for a couple of years now (and our views change and evolve).

    I don’t feel that current constitutional arrangements (shorthand for a privileged Jewish position) offer a positive prospect for the future.

    But that does not prevent Zionist parties in the future of being part of a political whole in the future to represent what they see as Jewish interests, but it needs to be as part of one society for all. But again, what might differ in the future is the political underpinnings of the place. I am not accusing it of being the same as South Africa (see http://ajds.org.au/node/156 and the misuse of history), but as an example of a country that has changed (for all its faults), it moved from privileging one group in particular to a much more open and productive society. My Afrikaner friends have made that transition. That should be the dream for a new Israel, that belongs to both people and its many immigrants from all around the world. So what I say in no way comes close to the line taken by many people who wish Israel/Jews to just disappear or who take the most frankly offensive positions about the nature of all Zionists and Zionism.

    I have long and hot debates with some P. advocates which reveal profound ignorance of the Jewish experience and why Zionism (and its often unintended consequences–I am not a conspiracy theorist. when it comes to the ‘man or woman in the street’) Zionism is a deep ideology that goes back centuries. Denials of Jewish experience offend me deeply.

    I have probably gone further off track and people can look at the too many words I have written in my blog post for what I have been arguing.

  • frosh says:

    Mandi’s comment is spot on.

    Larry, this isn’t so much about what you believe (which is confused and contradictory in of itself), but what is appropriate behaviour. I happen to be against the meat industry, but it’s not appropriate for me to try to turn every discussion into a debate about the meat industry.

    E.g. Larry writes an article about his trip to South Africa and his observations of race-relations there, and I write a massive comment about how appalling the livestock industry is there (incidentally, forgetting it is appalling in Australia and most other places). Larry then writes a review of the film The Social Network, and I write a lengthy comment about how I’m appalled by how one of the characters was shown eating a hamburger. Ad infinitum.

    It seems that those who want to push the agenda of delegitimisation of Israel believe that any situation is a good one. You ought to apologise to those whose posts you have hijacked.

  • TheSadducee says:


    I don’t think Stillman is pushing a delegitimisation line nor has hijacked this thread.

    He raised a pertinent and reasonable question in response to Rose’s hope of encouraging the galut to return to Israel through his efforts in helping Israel – i.e. is he (Rose) providing the right type of help to Israel which would lead to Jews making aliyah and creating a better/fairer society?

    The fact is that Rose has voluntarily chosen to go and live and participate in a society which knowingly and willingly oppresses the inhabitants (i.e. Palestinians) outside of the 1967 borders and discriminates in a variety of ways against the non-Jewish inhabitants within the 1967 borders.

    I don’t think that Jewish self-determination, both political and cultural needs necessarily exist at the expense of non-Jews in Israel/WB/Gaza – which is the case at the moment and so I would not make aliyah, nor am I happy to see others do so, especially if they can’t or choose not to address the problematic issues that Stillman raises.

  • frosh says:


    Those same arguments could be used against moving (or continuing) to live in Australia or almost any other country in the world. You and Larry have singled out Israel for special attention.

    You can come up with lots of good reasons for not making aliyah – your family is here, your career is here, better economic opportunities here, easier life, safer life, or general disinterest…etc etc.

    All are perfectly fine reasons, but you pretend that the thing that is stopping you from making aliyah is your nobility. Spare us your sanctimonious and highly selective BS.

    And now you’ve aided Larry in his attempts to sidetrack and delegitimize.

  • Sam says:

    Stillman has hijacked the thread, and has deftly moved it to argue his ongoing agenda that the state should be a single one with arabs and jews sharing power and having some sort of true equality. Sounds like the original communist manifesto which never worked. This scenario I believe will never happen, and thank G_d, as it would rapidly become complete anarchy. The original article is about a young man making aliyah, to connect more deeply to his jewish roots, and that is what Stillman should be discussing. It is not Kovis responsibility to right whatever social wrongs exist in Israel, as there is in every country on this earth.

  • Kovi Rose says:

    Larry, Larry, Larry; i had just begun to gain some respect for you and now what happens? you hijack the comment thread on my article.
    Just to point out Larry, i did not mention even once, the word Palestinian in my article, so please refrain from saying ridiculous things like “as his article appears to strongly imply, Palestinians are viewed as eternal enemies rather than future partners for peace”

    Also, i really don’t appreciate your absurd and frankly untrue statements about the kibbutz which i know live on and am growing to love. Do not say that it Sde Eliyahu is “built upon the ‘depopulated’ village of ‘Arab al-’Arida” and imply that the Israeli’s in Operation Gideon came through and brutally massacred the Arab population. The ABSOLUTE fact of the matter is that in 1938(c) the land was bought from Templars in Berlin who had purchased the land 50 years earlier from the Ottomans; ALL ARABS WHO WERE LIVING THERE AT THAT TIME WERE SQUATTERS!

    Also with regards to your comment about Palestinian equal rights, please tell me that you are kidding when you say “the West Bank [is] not Israel”. Since time immemorial the land of Judea and Samaria has been the center of the Jewish world, with the majority of the post-biblical history occurring there. So yes, i feel as if i CAN “tell people born there to go live in Jordan” because that is the Arab independent state in the middle east with a Palestinian majority that was set aside specifically for them.

    And yes, sure.. lets do what you say Mr Stillman and “Stick to the last 1500 years or so where we have much stronger documentation”. We will all very conveniently find that there were far less Jews in that time period after they were kicked out by the Romans and slaughtered across the Arab Peninsula after the advent of Islam.

    Larry, for shame… i am beginning to feel that your hijacking of my piece is merely some sort of ego booster for you – and yet there isn’t a wiggling pinky in the world small enough for me to express my disdain for such actions.

    To you, brave mister Sadducee who has the courage to write under a pseudonym like a frightened child, you make way too many assumptions for anyone to consider your ramblings even vaguely intellectual. For you to say that I have “voluntarily chosen to go and live and participate in a society which knowingly and willingly oppresses the inhabitants” is utter garbage. Israel has one of the best human rights situations in the entire world, it is the only country that has completely outlawed all forms of torture (including non-physical tortures such as sleep deprivation and loud music), even in the event that torture could provide information to stop a terrorist act.

  • TheSadducee says:


    I write under a pseudonym exactly because I am frightened – you reveal your identity in the Jewish community and hold positions/views like mine and there are consequences – you are reviled, ostracised and deliberately excluded.

    Just look at the treatment that people like Stillman etc get within our community for putting up an alternative view. I admire his bravery in stepping forward in the face of such group-think.

    Nonetheless, I will note that you deliberately abbreviated the sentence about oppression – it is very telling that you did this, because you know as well as I do, that oppression of the Palestinians (and others) does occur outside of the 1967 borders.

    As regards Israel’s human rights record – within Israel itself, it is disputed as regards to treatment of non-Jewish minorities however on the whole it is quite reasonable. In the Territories, the rights record is abominable.

  • TheSadducee says:


    Again, I’m not sure how Larry’s questions were not pertinent to the topic at hand? Discussion flowed from that – is that considered hijacking a thread?

    Would you have preferred that everyone sit around and congratulate Kovi for his move to Israel and his perceptions of Israel as seen through his rose coloured glasses? I decline to engage in such group think, thanks.

    As to sanctimony – it is a pretty big call, after all you don’t know me personally and my views have been fairly consistent on this issue, so I’m curious to know how you determined that I am not being genuine? Perhaps you should take a leaf from your own sites suggestions – Be nice.

  • frosh says:


    No, I don’t think all the commenters need to be congratulating Kovi.

    I would have thought a more relevant discussion would be of the role of aliyah for diaspora communities and should it be encouraged, and at what age, and what are the key challenges etc.

    As I said, I against the meat industry, but I’m not chastising olim for moving to a country where one can buy meat.

  • frosh says:

    Now, to say something on topic:

    I think Kovi’s decision is a remarkable one. He’s leaving what I assume to be a very comfortable and secure existence in Melbourne to live in a far less comfortable and secure place. And he’s doing this at a very young age. I certainly don’t think I would have done that at 18… Actually, if I think about it, may be I would have been more likely then (at that carefree age)than I am now. May be it was only well after that age that I, probably more subconsciously than consciously, started to place a greater value on economic surety, not to mention familial proximity.

    Of my contemporise that made aliyah, but then subsequently emigrated from Israel, I think many of them did so because they found it difficult to make a living (particularly if they were inclined to compare themselves with those friends that didn’t make aliyah). But I think an even bigger factor for many aborted aliyot was the need to be there for family back in Australia. This feeling is particularly strong in Mediterranean (of which I would largely classify Jews) and Asian cultures. However, in cases where whole families made aliyah, then the influence of this factor was either far less pertinent or even reversed.

  • Marky says:

    Larry Stillman writes “As an example, of the foolishness of reading back indigenaiety into the ancient period, having read the Amarna documents in their Canaanitised Akkadian, I can say that the people who spoke Canaanite preceded the Hebrews (whoever they were), and perhaps gave them the language”

    According to historians the Amarna documents were from somewhere around two to six generations after King Solomon. So these Canaanites are not those that preceded the Hebrews. And the only way they can make sense of these documents is to match with what is written in the Torah-Nach. The Torah account is a lot more precise, so why the need for the Amarna? There are other writers from those times and plenty of archaeological proof that the Jews occupied Israel and what the Torah writes is correct.

    Although I suppose from anyone who writes “the Hebrews(whoever they were)”,one would expect “interesting” comments..

    As for the original Canaanites, as far as I know, the Torah is the only source from where we know that they preceded the Hebrews. You write “Having read the Amarna documents, I can say that the people who spoke Canaanite preceded the Hebrews”. Do the documents actually say this? If yes, it would just be quoting what we know from the Torah.

    If this looks off topic, you may be right, but this thread has been going that way for a while..



  • TheSadducee says:

    I imagine that it would be particularly difficult to make aliyah if you had a mixed extended family (both Jews/non-Jews) – after all not every Jew comes from a 100% extended Jewish family these days.

    Does anyone know of cases where mixed marriages have migrated and how these sort of things have worked out?

  • Larry Stillman says:

    I know I am off track, but take this as a footnote for those who are interested.

    But you mean to say that the Tanakh quotes some private letters written to the Phaoroh of Egypt by regional Canaanite and other military commanders but they don’t actually mention great Hebrew monarchs? That somehow, the writers of the Bible knew about them (it weren’t the deity or Moshe).

    You are wrong on 2 fronts 1) chronology 2) the non-linguistic analysis.

    What you refer to is drivel, based on incorrect chronology I was taught this stuff by one of the world’s 2 or 3 Amarna experts (Moran, William L. (1992). The Amarna Letters) as well as Haim Tadomor, the doyen of biblical chronology (see Enciklopedia Miqrai’it). Velikovsky was a fruitcake. But I can’t argue details any more as this was nearly 30 years ago.

    The Amarna letters don’t slip into Hebrew,but are in a Canaanite dialect. Even modern orthodox Biblical scholars don’t fall for this sort of zero-grade scholarship. I don’t even think Cassuto or Pinhas Artzi went for this.

    I’m not into Biblical literalism Marky. This is where orthodoxy parts with modern interpretations of Judaism, and it is exactly the same with Christian literalists.

    But if you also believe in Noah’s ark, why was the story circulating for probably 1500 years before it was written down as a Hebrew text. If you wish, I can send you an article I wrote about it for the Jewish News in about 1994. For those who are not literalists it’s like this: many biblical stories are just that, wonderful stories, picked up and reinterpreted. It doesn’t mean they are true.

    It’s the last thing I am saying on this before I get slammed by Frosh again.

  • frosh says:


    You don’t need to worry about getting “slammed” by me.

    It’s the Jaffa Gimmel one needs to worry about :-)

  • Marky says:

    What you just wrote sounds to me like rambling on. Doesn’t really make sense or answer anything.

  • Larry Stillman says:

    No, fast scholarship. My great regret is that a real modern orthodox rabbinical seminary was never established in Australia

  • Steve from Sde Eliyahu says:

    Get your messed up facts straight.
    Sde Eliyahu was bought from Templer movement in 1939. A family of German Christians sold the land to KKL. The transfer of the funds took place in Nazi Germany. The Templers were friendly to the Jews of the nearby Kibbutz Tirat Tzvi but never let them into their house (known to this day as “the red house”). When the Pioneers of Sde Eliyahu entered the abandoned house, they found a Nazi flag and photo of Hitler.
    Sde Eliyahu was founded in 1939 during the British Mandate.

  • Marky says:

    Larry, in your last post, you pine for Modern Orthodox, but what you wrote sounds more like recently created reform stuff.

  • Andrew Wirth says:

    Mazal Tov on making Aliyah, and thank you for sharing your impressions of the process. Dont be put off by people wishing to display their knowledge of abstruse points of history, or people who insist on reducing everything to their monochrome view of the world. Keep contributing the colour.

  • Mandi Katz says:

    Kovi – I was remiss in my original post in not wishing you all the best on your move, and doing as Andrew did, and thanking you for sharing your reflections.

  • Kovi Rose says:

    Thank you both Andrew and Mandi for your wishes, it is a shame that the piece got hijacked the way it did.

  • Joel says:

    There is a Palestinian state being declared in four months. Anyone care to comment, in light of any part of the discussion above, on the significance of impending, “Palestinain Kaf-Tet November”?

  • Kovi Rose says:

    “Not to put too fine a point on it: if you can’t finish drafting your constitution; if your “president” is in the seventh year of his four-year term; if you have no functioning legislature and cannot hold parliamentary elections; if half your putative state is occupied by terrorists; if your education system is a cesspool of anti-Semitism; if you insist upon dedicating public squares to those who massacred civilians; if your ruling party is corroded by corruption; if you have no free press or independent judiciary; if you cannot implement anything in negotiations that you refuse to conduct in any event; and if you haven’t finished Phase I of the Roadmap . . . well, you might not be ready for a state.” (Rick Richman)

  • Joel says:

    Save for the anti-Semitism (which could easily be replaced by institutionalized or tacit discrimination against Arab minorities by way of deliberately under-funded Arab and Palestinian schools), that list of descriptions seems equally, if not more applicable to Israel’s current state. Go figure.

    You’re right Kovi (quoting Rick); Israel might indeed not be ready for a state.

  • Kovi Rose to Joel says:

    Wow, you could just have easily have said “i know you are but what am i?” that is the level of ignorance and naivety displayed by your last comment Joel.
    None of those things which i said with regards to the proposed Palestinian state relate to Israel in anyway.

  • Sam says:


    Israel already had a state in 1948 following the UN resolution 181 in November 1947. Furthermore its transformation into a thriving democracy and technological powerhouse in only 62 years is truly remarkable. What have your people acheived in the last 62 years?
    You asked for a comment on the possible declaration of a Palestinian state in four months. This is my answer.
    In the 1970’s a Leonard Casley unilaterally broke away from the rest of Australia and formed an independent province he called Hutt River in a remote part of Western Australia. This is a link if you want to find out more info. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Principality_of_Hutt_River
    At this time the future Palestinian state might have somewhere around the same degree of relevance to the rest of the world.

  • Joel says:

    Kovi: Firstly, I am not quite sure why my response to your comments (note: your COMMENTS and not YOU) was met by a personal attack on my character (“naivety and ignorance”) and a distinct feel of anger towards ME. I find Galus discussions to almost always, at some stage or another, regress into argumentation that does not divorced itself from the bloggers themselves. It cheapens the debate and reduces the quality of this wonderful forum of community discussion. So please – address the arguments, not the person.

    Now to your point. The reason I didn’t elucidate why I believed your quote applied to Israel in many ways, was for the ironic reason that I felt it would be glaringly obvious to notice the parallels. But as you have failed to indicate how they do NOT apply, I will assist in showing how they DO.

    a) “Palestine can’t finish drafting their constitution” – Israel doesn’t have a constitution! This is based on the original grounds that the only ‘constitution’ that the Jews should ever commit themselves to is the Constitution of Israel i.e. Halakha. As that is obviously not the case in Israel (with the government mostly secular and so too vast sections of the Israeli populous), now all one has is a gaping abyss of fundamental human rights that are scarcely protected in the Basic Rights of Israel. If we had Halakha there, I’d be happy; after all the torah declares no less than THIRTY SIX times to do any of love/not oppress the ‘ger’ (lit. foreigner; stranger) etc. I won’t go into great detail because my aim is merely to touch on the parallels between Rick Richman’s description of the potential Palestinian state and the current State of Israel).
    b) “Your ‘president’ is in the seventh year of his four-year term” – firstly, the inverted commas around ‘president’ serve to show, yet again, how the insistence of democratic processes by the Western world on the Palestinian people are underhandedly rejected when their result is unfavourable to Western goals (in Gaza I will admit, throwing people of 10 story building to get elected is hardly grounds to call the elected leader, the “democratically elected leader”). Notwithstanding all of that, I will agree that the criticism of the Abbas holding term for longer than his election period allows is fair. However, where one might say this situation is “too fixed and not sufficiently dynamic”, Israel’s political climate is “too dynamic and not sufficiently fixed”; Israel has had five prime minister’s in 3 years and most Israeli’s will tell you (just a hunch) that the country is often on the verge of ousting the new government after waves of political discontent. No person will deny that Israel’s governments, cabinets and leaders are glued to a revolving door.
    c) “no functioning legislature” – well that is obvious – in the absence of a state, what socio-political life would such legislature be legislating? That same goes for “parliamentary elections”. And whilst there is the context of the PA in which election could occur, given that a) 60% of the West Bank is controlled by Israel and b) as above, there is no actual state in existence (rather a mere ‘territory’), then upon autonomy of governance, such parliamentary elections would have ground to flourish. Those two points by Richman are moot points as they are simply too presumptuous of what ‘might be’ if state were established.
    d) “half your putative state is occupied by terrorists” – obviously Israel is not full of Jewish terrorists so that parallel there is untenable. However, to exaggerate by saying ‘half’ the residents of the West Bank are terrorists is to ignore a) that a study of two major universities in West Bank (one Ramalla and I forget the other) showed that 60% of residents of the WB would leave to other countries (mostly Europe) if they had the economic/political ability to do so. i.e. they’d rather have a good life somewhere else than live there. If they wanted to stay and blow up Jews in Israel, that stat. would be far lower. B) to say that the approx 40% of those who would want to stay are terrorists is that usual tired and unexciting rhetoric that judges the masses on the actions of the minorities. It’s the usual, totally unsubstantiated, flippant remark, (more prevalent post 9/11 and recent European terrorist attacks) that helps a man sleep at night when he condemns a vast social group.
    e) “education as a cesspool of antisemitism” – this is well known fact and must change IMMEDIATELY if a Palestinian state were created on Israel’s doorstep for it to ensure the new generation of modern Palestinians do not perpetuate terrorism. But as I mentioned in my previous Galus comment, Israel too could do more to educate Israeli youth to banish racist remarks targeted at Arabs that you will hear on any random visit to an Israeli school. Jokes such as: “Q: What do you call a good Arab? A: A dead Arab” and “The entrance requirement to settlement [x] is to kill two Arabs and a cat. What question might you ask about this? – why the cat?” When you see a whole school table of Israeli students laugh at this heinous joke; you really do wonder – where did we go wrong? Institutionalized or not; racial discrimination spreads in a multiplicity of forms and both sides (in DIFFERNET measures) need to enforce against it
    g) “If your ruling party is corroded by corruption” – I found this one to be the most astoundingly hypocritical statement; I’m surprised Richman didn’t replace this part of the list with an epsilon (as most do when they want to bend the context little). Let’s start with a statistic released two days ago by The Sderot Conference for Social and Economic Policy that 69% of Israelis believe “Israeli politics and government are corrupt”. Couple that with the following, atrocious, NON EXHAUSTIVE, list of Israeli politicians either convicted of misconduct/crimes or were/under investigation:

    Prime Minister Ehud Olmert – 13 Criminal allegations (political trading; financial and housing fraud) – FORCED RESIGNATION
    Roni Bar-On Finance Minister – resigned after allegations of assisting organised crime
    Fuad ben elizer – political favours
    Ariel Sharon & Sons. – the list is long.
    Ruhama Avraham – Bribery; smuggling
    Eli Aflalo – misappropriation of funds
    Vice pres. Haim Ramon – sexual crimes
    Labour head Ehud Barak – being investigated
    Moshe Katzav – CONVICTED RAPIST
    Many more currently under investigation

    This list is a complete hilul hashm (“desecration of God’s name”) and a blight on the entire Jewish people given the core Jewish values of honesty, integrity and fairness that this religion has promoted for centuries. So you talk about political honesty being a pre-requisite for governmental autonomy, I tell Israel turn that accusatory finger right around and point it squarely home.

    h) “no free press and independent judiciary” – thankfully Israel DOES have free press and independent judiciary. The latter however is tied to an oppressively out-of-touch and extremely powerful legal institution called The Rabbinate. True, this legal body DOES have the judicial power to conduct Jewish religious matters of vital importance to most Israelis. However, leading Jewish halahkists and thinkers in Israel and a great many Jewish organisations, together with vast numbers of Israelis, have felt a great deal of angst for the extra-judiciary influence of this body on Jewish social life, hijacked by the ideology of a non-representative group of Haredi dayanim [judges]”. So when you have group of judges, judging on matters of extreme social importance (or even trivial importance) and one feels they have a stranglehold on their positions of power, one can justifiably feel scepticism towards the integrity of one’s judiciary. [this opinion of the Rabbinate s by no means just my opinion but is the dominant view in contemporary Israeli society).

    i) “if you cannot implement anything in negotiations…and if you haven’t finished Phase I of the Roadmap: – this is the last point but is probably the most complicated so I will only say a few general comments. Firstly, negotiations involve TWO parties; not one. When it is CLEAR that the BASIC, BASIC, BASIC element of statehood is to have some land upon which to build the state and when new homes are built on that land (i.e. West Bank building), it is damningly clear that Netanyahu too is failing to commit to implement core aspects vital to the current negotiations (I will not delve into past ones for the present and future matter to me most and should matter to all). Temporary freezes are important and Israel are to be praised for them; but let’s not delude ourselves – a temporary break is worth nothing at the negotiating table if it doesn’t even have a faint smell of permanence.

    Here is my point Kovi. Firstly, you can see that I am not “ignorant and naive” as there are grounds for these parallels; strong ones. You may not agree with them. You amy not agree with my interpretation of them and I respect that as a valid position within this political discourse. Secondly, your quotation of Rich Richman (thus adopting his opinion I presume) is reflective of a simplistic demand on pre-conditions for statehood. A state need not be in a PERFECT position to deserve independence and my points above about Israel are indicative of that. Despite Galus’ Sam describing Israel’s “transformation into a thriving democracy and technological powerhouse”, he cannot deny the flawed nature of this state and indeed many if not ALL democratic state of the modern world. I am proud of Israel’s statehood and I am proud of its achievements. And I hope every day that it never ceases to seek self improvement. But the double standards I see in Richman (and your) position show not merely a view to pragmatics but,

    Sam: Who are “my people?” If you thought that I am ‘representing’ Palestinians [or that I AM Palestinian] because I’m simply including grey to a black-and-white debate, that’s an unfortunate position for a Jew to hold. It only leads to ‘us’ vs. ‘them’ which NEVER, not in a million years, will lead to reconciliation.

  • Sam says:


    I think it is a very unfortunate position for a jew to hold; (your view that Israel may not deserve its statehood). In fact I thought that you may be a palestinian, such is the impact of your quote:

    “You’re right Kovi (quoting Rick); Israel might indeed not be ready for a state.”

    Sadly you came across in your second posting on the 14th. as something beyond a strong critic of Israel and thus join a significant and vocal minority who to a greater or lesser degree despise their own heritage. Your view was certainly not grey as you claimed, as you do not point out only the flaws, but you go across the board and damn almost every aspect of Israeli government and its institutions. As far as your contention that I hold an unhelpful “us and them mentality”, the ball is most definitely in the palestinian court. Glaringly obvious is their repeated failure to meet some imperative security conditions that could lead to the formation of their own state that would co-exist in harmony with the jewish one.

  • Joel says:


    I agree with you; which is why I’m a little confused as to your statements. If you met me in person and saw the kind of work I do for Zionism, I think you would find yourself a little bit embarassed claiming that I “despise my own heriatge”. YOu would find your arguments even more embaraassing after realising that my crtiques of Israel above are MAINSTREAM (in both Australia and especially Israel) and by no means fall under some sort of “controversial” leftist agenda. I wonder Sam, do you have ANY concern for the integrity and moral refinement of our state? Or is the fact that the ‘ball is in the other court’ mean that Israel essentially has a Get-Out-of-Jail-Free card on its political, social and educational values. This kind of attitude is the one that, peace or not with Palestinians, demands a state for Jews asd DIVORCED from the actual content of that state.

    Ask yourself Sam: When was the last time you vocally argued any series of critiques about Israel? If not recently and if hardly ever – Israel suffers because of it.

    Either way, your leaps of reasoning about my arguments are galactic! Example, from my reasonable (and well substantiated) critiques of Israeli society and government, with no mention of Jewish heritage at all (for that is a topic unto itself), you have concluded that I despise my heritage. Surely you can see oy needed to pave a few stones of logic between argument A and argument B for me, or any blogger here, to take that seriously.

    The fact that for the last 2.5 years I have essentially devoted my life to Zionist youth movement activity, been education officer, promoted Aliyah and trips to Israel, promoted a love and care for the well-being and security of our state to youth of all ages; taken part in serious discourse amongst Melbourne’s Zionist youth and gaining a great deal of respect amongst the Zionist youth movement community for it. I’ve been heavily involved with instilling in Jewish Zionist youth the tools with which to say, “I’m not afraid of self-critique because I do it from the RIGHT PLACE. I do it because I hug and wrestle with Israel on a daily basis”. Those who just hug, like an overly affectionate parent who strangles their child and thinks he/she can “do no wrong”, educates a morally inept individual. The same goes for the State of Israel.

    Secondly, the reason that my view IS clearly adding grey to this debate, and the reason I pointed out ONLY Israel’s flaws, was because the flaws of the Palestinian people were ALREADY INDICATED in Rick Richman’s (and Kovi’s) argument; so I obviously felt no need to elaborate further on them. I agree with them all. How can I not, when most are factual? Thus we now have Richman’s arguments about the Palestinian people and mine about the Israelis and we stand back and see a more nuanced debate about statehood.

    Your conclusion is faulty too. When I said, somewhat tongue-in-cheek that “Israel might not be ready for a state”, it is linked to my Apr 14th concusion that, as a state need NOT be perfectly ready to have a right to autonomy, it shows by my reasoning that both Israel AND the Palestinians, whilst flawed in their own ways, have been (or should be) given a chance at statehood. We already have our state – it doe NOT mean we can kick up our feet with a falafel in one hand and some Turkish coffee in another.

    I’ll be the first to admit that no state can be created unless their are guarantees of security for the Jewish people. But, if we are flawed and deserve a state (which we DO) – so do they.

    And lastly, my heritage is Judaism. And what is the core value that has allowed that heritage to flourish? “Machloket” – debate;argumentation For and against. For and against.

  • Larry Stillman says:

    I’ve kept low since my comments some time back appear to have been regarded as too strong or off track, but I think I read the implications of where Kovi was at correctly now.

    Thus, I am fascinated that people like Joel are finding a voice in defense of what could be a better Israel and yet (typically ) the attack goes personal: “a significant and vocal minority who to a greater or lesser degree despise their own heritage ” is patronising, intimidating, and by and large incorrect. That Australian Zionism produces such a narrow view of Palestinians (or complete ignorance) is of equal concern.

    And I’ll add, now having gone through the lot again, Kovi, and this is not a personal attack, but a political observation. To say I am on an ego trip or whatever is completely off the mark, but sometimes, complex things do take a lot of words to make clear, and words are my trade.

    Thus, I cannot see how your form of Zionism can exist without some sort of moral or spiritual fracture in the current situation. In essence, you give Palestinians no historical rights–it is all Land of Israel priority to you. You want them to go elsewhere–as you wrote- – “since time immemorial the land of Judea and Samaria has been the center of the Jewish world, with the majority of the post-biblical history occurring there. So yes, i feel as if i CAN “tell people born there to go live in Jordan” because that is the Arab independent state in the middle east with a Palestinian majority that was set aside specifically for them”

    This means that a Palestinian born in Palestine /Israel has less rights than you. This means that you basically want to kick people out. This is a recipe for a never ending war.

    What did I write in Feb 2010, before I am accused (as usual) of being a delegitimizer that I have an “an abiding connection and deep concern for the future of Israel as a democracy, and a country that has the potential to become a richly multicultural society. I believe that Israel has lost its soul and is eroding its democratic foundation, replacing it with something that is difficult to justify as anything close to a democracy.distinguish between my position and that of people, including some on the left, and Palestinian nationalists who take an uncompromising ‘Israel be damned position’ and condemn Israel as an inherently exclusionary, racist state, while ignoring the racism and religious intolerance that pervades other countries in the region…BUT….

    …Israel does have an option, and that is to stop acting as an occupier and oppressor when the excuse of security has increasingly become an excuse for real estate and resource theft, the collapse of the rule of law, and forced movement of populations, called by some, ‘ethnic cleansing’, all in the name of Jewish majority. Short of behaving like the old minority regime in South Africa, Israel will have to come to terms with the fact that in future, Jews won’t be the majority population group, and this means that over time, the country’s identity will change. That’s perhaps the subject of another article: can Israel survive as a multicultural state? And if such a state can live in peace, does it matter that it is no longer a Jewish state?

    If you believe in Israel at all costs; not as a country with human rights and an effective democracy, but rather one based on exclusivism, religious imperatives, nationalism, and an iron fist; then you have to accept what is happening for what it is commonly known – institutionalised separation, known in Afrikaans as Apartheid, and be prepared to live with it.”

    Now Kovi and others, if this is what you want to live with? [taken from http://galusaustralis.com/2010/02/2640/a-most-unpleasant-word/

    Israel has options, but traditional Zionism is not part of the story anymore. The other story is one which contains people who take a very strong-human rights oriented Zionist approach from secular or religious perspectives , or people who consider themselves post-Zionist, and people who regard themselves as Israeli by citizenship–including Jewish and Palestinians who should live in a fully equally society. The other story is also one in which there is a full peace settlement, including a compromise over right of return for Palestinians, withdrawal from the occupied territories, and a process of reconciliation set in place. It may well take 50 years–which might seem like a huge amount of time to you, but it’s certainly close enough to the amount of time I’ve been waiting for something to come out of the current colonialist mess.

  • Adam says:


    I don’t know anyone who will argue with you that Israel has flaws. But the insistence by so many to always present them side-by-side with the Palestinian flaws and actions paints a moral equivalence that very rarely has any basis in reality. Israel has many flaws, and in 1948 was still establishing the institutions of a functioning democracy. But Israeli identity has never been based on the desire to exterminate another people. The polls you cite address the desire for a higher standard of living, not the Palestinian desire to destroy Israel. Polls consistently show the Palestinian (and Israeli-Arab) populations to be mired in anti-semitism and bloodlust. It is ridiculous to make comments along the lines of ‘they incite their populations to murder through hate-filled education and crackpot conspiracy theories and we occasionally tell offensive jokes, so let’s just agree we all have things we need to work on.’ One-third of Palestinians believe slitting the throat of an infant is justifiable and 84% of ISRAELI-Arabs believed the gunning down of teenagers in a yeshiva was justified. You simply don’t find those kinds of numbers supporting the actions of a Baruch Goldstein.

    The dangers of giving the legal power of the sovereignty afforded a state to a population so intent on destroying its neighbor cannot be overstated. The Palestinians do not have to be able to always pick up trash on time in order to have a state. But they do have to be committed to a PERMANENT peace with their neighbors BEFORE they can have a state.

  • Joel says:


    I agree with you wholeheartedly and I appreciate your clarification in this debate.

    I see how my critique of Israel would seem like I have created an EQUAL moral parallelism. That was not my intention. Undoubtedly, the ingrained hate that one finds in Palestinian society is far more grave (and has sever practical ramifications) that is not EQUALLY morally reprehensible to raicsm in Israeli society.

    But when I say that there are PARALLELS between the corruptions you find in Palestinian society and ones in ours, this is undeniable and it is up to the individual, on the facts at hand, to determine “who is worse”. And I accept if one concludes that the other side is worse in every significant area. But to IGNORE flaws in our state and the moral imperative to be in a constant state of improvement is damaging.

    Yes – of the list I elaborated upon, fundamental national security and a commitment to end terror and deliberate targetting of civilians woudl fall near t, if not at, the top of prerequisites.

    Let’s not forget, as the potential for this state will only succeed BI-laterally, there is a relationship of commitment here, and commitments should and MUST happen SIMULTANEOUSLY from both sides. The whole, “we wont do A unless you do B first” and vice versa has been a notorious failure in past peace attempts. And Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza is not a good example of that because it was unilateral and was more a vocalization of: “we’re just going to ash our hands of this and get the hell outta here”.

    But I do hope you agree that to say that because of the added nuance I presented, I am defined as “despising my own heritage”, is a farcical comment that takes us 1,000 steps in an educated debate on Zionist and Middle-east politics.

  • Joel says:

    At the end I meant, “takes us BACK 1000 steps…”. Sorry for the slack spell check.

  • Marky says:

    Joel writes “And Israel’s withdrawal from Gazza is not a good example of that…..”

    Why not? They did it to test security and it failed miserably.

  • Sam says:


    you said: “But I do hope you agree that to say that because of the added nuance I presented, I am defined as “despising my own heritage”, is a farcical comment that takes us 1,000 steps in an educated debate on Zionist and Middle-east politics”.

    My comment originally has apparently caused you to undergo some introspection and your last posting has a completely different tone to your two orginal ones. I still do not fully agree with you but at least we now almost on the same page.
    I still stick by the generalization that I made, and because I do not know you, it may be that in your case I was mistaken.

    Have a freiliche Pesach.

  • Kovi Rose to Joel says:

    Joel, I’d like to apologize for the rather harsh and unfair nature of my previous response to you – i was very quick to judge and assume things about your political views.
    I understand what you were saying about seeing similarities between the unreadiness for statehood between Israel and Palestine, however i got very annoyed at the notion of making a full comparison (something which i could never do).
    Obviously you stated that you were not attempting to make a moral equivalent parallelism, however that is the way i initially took it.
    I simply felt that there is no way to make any kind of comparison between the situation in Palestine now – especially after the tragic killing at Joseph’s Tomb last week – to the functioning Jewish democracy that is Israel today.
    I have the utmost respect for Israel’s judiciary system and i feel as if it in no way compares to the often unjust system currently operating under the Palestinian Authority.
    My question to you now is, if you would allow me to ask, do you think that there is just reasoning for the establishment of a Palestinian state in Judea/Samaria?

  • Shaul says:

    Al Arida, a Palestinian village, was on part of Sde Eliyahu – Two comments on this page point out that Sde Eliyahu bought the deed from the Templars. But the question is, for which part of the land did this deed cover?

    You claim they were squatters, but I assume, if they were, that the Zionists who settled there in ’39 would have evicted them (and please don’t give me an answer such as “they were being nice”, I don’t think that is true).

    Is it possible that the deed did not cover Al Arida’s land? Where is the deed right now? Can anyone look at it?

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