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The Australian Press Council has considered complaints by Dale Mills and Vivienne Porszolt about headlines on articles in The Australian on 28 July 2011 related to the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign which is aimed at businesses associated with Israel. One complaint related to the headline on a print article and the other to the headline on the somewhat different online version.
The articles reported a public protest against BDS by a number of people several weeks after a BDS protest against an Israeli-owned chain of confectionery stores which is part of a broader food and beverage company that supplies the Israeli army. The print version was headed Anti-Jew protest condemned and the online version was headed Prominent Australians fight anti-Semitism with hot chocolate. The articles noted that the BDS protest had been condemned as “violent” and “anti-Semitic” and the on-line version added a quote that it had been “anti-Jewish”.
Mr Mills claimed that by describing the BDS protest as “anti-Jew” and “anti-Semitic” the headlines were inaccurate, because it was actually a protest against Israeli government policies. He said that these assertions involved matters of opinion being presented as facts. He also said that the newspaper should have published the letter to the editor in which he sought to correct the inaccuracy.
The newspaper initially said the headlines were accurate because, if the BDS protest was simply anti-Israeli, it should have been targeted at agencies or representatives of the Israeli Government. Mr Mills replied that the organisers live in Melbourne, and there are no Israeli government agencies in that city.
The newspaper added that concerns about the anti-Jewish nature of the protest, together with the accompanying violence, were at the heart of the story’s newsworthiness. It subsequently informed the Council, however, that since these articles appeared it had clarified that the BDS campaign should not be described as “anti-Jew” and had advised its staff accordingly.
The Council has concluded that the headline on the print version, Anti-Jew protest condemned, was a clear breach of the Council’s Standards of Practice because it reported a matter of opinion as if a fact. It also failed to reasonably convey the tenor of the article itself, in which the original demonstration was described as “anti-Israel” but not as “anti-Jew”. Accordingly, the complaint against the headline is upheld on both these grounds.
The Council has concluded that the headline on the online version, Prominent Australians fight anti-Semitism with hot chocolate, is reasonably capable of being read as a description of the prominent Australians’ opinions, rather than a statement of fact. This interpretation also means that the headline fairly reflects the tenor of the online version especially as, unlike the print version, it included a quote that the campaign was “not anti-Israel but anti-Jewish”. On balance, therefore, the complaint against the online headline is not upheld.
Note (not required for publication by the newspaper):
This adjudication applies the Council’s General Principle 1: “Publications should take reasonable steps to ensure reports are accurate, fair and balanced. They should not deliberately mislead or misinform readers either by omission or commission”. It also applies part of General Principle 6:” … headlines and captions should fairly reflect the tenor of an article”.
Some of the ideas that inspired me to create this blog, and write my book, come from the doctrines of Orthodox religious Jews who reject Zionism in the name of the Torah. The tradition in Orthodox Judaism that takes an anti-Zionist approach is not novel in our world, as is Zionism itself, but stretches back in time to the Oaths taken by the Rabbis, and recorded in the Talmud, around 130 AD according to Jewish tradition. The early advocates of Zionism found staunch resistance from the Orthodox community to say the least. Yosef Salmon tells us that;
It was the Zionist threat that offered the gravest danger, for it sought to rob the traditional community of its very birthright, both in the Diaspora and in Eretz Israel, the object of its messianic hopes. Zionism challenged all the aspects of traditional Judaism: in its proposal of a modern, national Jewish identity; in the subordination of traditional society to new life-styles; and in its attitude to religious concepts of Diaspora and redemption. The Zionist threat reached every Jewish community. It was unrelenting and uncompromising, and therefore it met with uncompromising opposition (cited in Rabkin, 2006, p. 2).
Israeli intellectual, Boaz Evron has stated:
“Zionism is indeed the negation of Judaism” (cited in Rabkin, 2006, p. 56).
Over the last six months, a number of Christian folk, both in support of this blog and against it, have made comments that challenge the more favourable view of Judaism that I hold to in this blog. According to them, Orthodox Judaism is ultimately guided by the Talmud, particularly the Babylonian Talmud, which they say, contains teachings that are reprehensible to all gentiles and Christians in particular. The Talmud’s teachings are held up as near satanic doctrines that all Christians should be made aware of. The Christians who have made these comments are sincere in their position and tell me that their conclusions have come from years of careful study. I have decided to post some comments made by one of the Rabbis of Neturei Karta, Rabbi Beck, concerning these claims about the Talmud. Jewish Rabbis are not naive to these criticisms in any way; having come across them on many occasions. If anyone would like to chase these comments up further, I would refer them to the Neturei Karta website, the link to them can be found under the Links heading down the left hand side of my blog.
I do not claim that criticism of the Talmud is always evidence of anti-Semitism (any more than I think criticism of the New Testament is necessarily evidence of Christaphobia) and I do not think it is so in the case of those fellow Christians who have commented on this blog. Nor do I claim to be an expert on this matter, but I do think the primary way to learn about Judaism is by first listening to its advocates directly.
An Orthodox Rabbi writes in defense of the Talmud.
When G-d gave us the Torah, He also gave us an explanation of its laws, to be transmitted orally from generation to generation. For example, the Torah prohibits work on the Sabbath, but does not say exactly what “work” means. G-d explained to Moses orally that it means carrying objects in the street, lighting fires, tying knots, slaughtering animals and so on. The Torah says to take the fruit of the goodly trees on Succoth, but does not say which fruit. Oral tradition explains that it is the ethrog or citron. If you think about it, most of the laws in the Torah are impossible to observe without more explanation.
These explanations were passed down from teacher to student for about 1500 years, until around the year 200 of the Common Era. At that time the Sages became afraid that the laws would be forgotten, and they decided to write them down. This written work was called the Mishnah, and is the backbone of the Talmud. Even this Mishnah was written in a concise style and left much room for oral explanation, which went on being passed down for another 300 years. At that time it was written down, again out of fear of being forgotten, as the Talmud. All of Jewish law today is based on the Talmud, and is kept by all observant Jews.
Countless passages in the Talmud, its commentaries and legal codes show the ideals of kindness and fairness to all of mankind aspired to and practiced by the Jewish people.
Unfortunately, some individuals in our time have accused the Talmud of advocating racism and unfair treatment of gentiles. They provide short quotations, invariably taken completely out of context, that seem to support their accusations.
In reply to these accusers, we can only remind people that the Talmud contains a vast amount of material; to cover it all takes the brightest scholars a lifetime of study. Although it does contain a small number of statements directed at gentiles, most of the Talmud consists of laws and sharply-stated ethical teachings directed at Jews. For every “anti-gentile” statement the critics can find, there are ten “anti-Jewish” statements. And just as the latter must be studied in context, so too the former.
One brief example: the Babylonian Talmud was written in Babylonia as its name indicates. Yet it contains the statement, “Whoever lives outside the Holy Land is as if he worshipped idols.”
The greatest proof that the Talmud does not advocate unfair treatment of gentiles is that ever since the Talmud was completed, the Jews who follow it have lived in exile among many gentile countries. In every place where they lived, they conducted their business affairs with the local gentiles with the utmost honesty and fairness.
Many of the quotations posted online by anti-Semites are half-true but are translated incorrectly or taken out of context. You can read a good refutation to most of these accusations at:
Below you will find quotations from the major codes of Talmudic law, exemplifying the Talmud’s positions on gentiles. The Code of Jewish Law, written about 500 years ago by a Palestinian rabbi named Rabbi Joseph Caro (1488-1575), is today the universally accepted codification of Talmudic law. Before that, the codes of Maimonides (1135-1204) were prevalent.
Jews are obligated to give charity to poor gentiles as well as poor Jews (Code of Jewish Law, Yoreh Deah 251:1)
Jews must bury the dead of the gentiles, comfort their mourners and visit their sick. (Maimonides, Laws of Mourning 14:12)
The commandment of “visiting the sick” applies to sick gentiles as well as sick Jews. (Code of Jewish Law, Yoreh Deah 335:9)
Anyone who steals even a minor amount violates the prohibition of [Leviticus 19:11] “You shall not steal” and is required to repay [the amount stolen] whether one steals from a Jew or a gentile. (Code of Jewish Law, Choshen Mishpat 348:2)
It is forbidden to rob or to cheat even a minor amount from either a Jew or a gentile. (Code of Jewish Law, Choshen Mishpat 359:1)
It is Biblically forbidden to steal even a minor amount; even a gentile – it is forbidden to steal from him or to cheat him. And if you stole from him or cheated him you must return the stolen money or object. (Maimonides, Laws of Stealing 1:2)
Maimonides of blessed memory wrote that if one lies in his measures and thereby overcharges even to an idolatrous gentile one violates a negative commandment and must return the money. Similarly, it is forbidden to mislead the gentiles in calculating prices as it says [Leviticus 25:50] “he shall make a reckoning with his purchaser” even if he is subjugated to your authority; even more so if the gentile is not subjugated to your authority, and it says [Deuteronomy 25:16] “For an abomination to the Lord, you G-d, are all who do this.” (Sefer HaChinuch, 259)
And similiarly, lies, tricks, subterfuges, cheatings, and circumventions of gentiles are forbidden. They said, “It is forbidden to deceive anyone, even an idolatrous gentile” and even more so when it can lead to the desecration of G-d’s name. For that is a great sin and imbues in a person bad traits. And regarding all these wicked actions, G-d explained that He will be disgusted with them and with those who perform them, as it says: (Deuteronomy 18:12) “For anyone who does these is an abomination of G-d.” (Maimonides, Commentary to the Mishnah, Keilim 12:7)
Returning Lost Objects
R. Chaninah told this story: Some rabbinic scholars bought one pile of wheat from some gentile soldiers. [The scholars] found in it a bundle of money and returned it to [the soldiers]. [The soldiers] said “Blessed is the G-d of the Jews.” (Jerusalem Talmud Bava Metzia 2:5 (7a))
Once, Rabbi Shimon ben Shetach bought a donkey from an Arab. His students went and found a precious stone hanging around [the donkey's] neck. Rabbi said to him [Proverbs 10:22] “It is the blessing of G-d that enriches.” R. Shimon ben Shetach said to him “I bought a donkey. I did not buy a precious stone.” He went and returned it to the Arab and the Arab said “Blessed is the G-d of Shimon ben Shetach.” (Midrash Devarim Rabbah 3:3)
R. Shmuel ben Sustrai went to Rome when the empress had lost her bracelet and he found it. A decree was proclaimed in the region that anyone who returned it within 30 days would be paid such and such; anyone who returned it after 30 days would be beheaded. He didn’t return it within 30 days but after 30 days. She said to him “Weren’t you in the region?” He replied “Yes.” She said to him “Didn’t you hear the proclamation?” He replied “Yes.” She said to him “What was it?” He replied “Whoever returns it within 30 days will receive such and such; whoever returns it after 30 days will be beheaded.” She said to him “And why didn’t you return it within 30 days?” He replied “So that you wouldn’t say that I did it because of fear of you; rather I did it out of fear of G-d.” She said to him “Blessed is the G-d of the Jews.” (Jerusalem Talmud Bava Metzia 2:5 (7a))
Talmud, Tractate Chullin 94a. Shmuel said: One may not deceive another person, even a non-Jew. This was not said explicitly by Shmuel, but was derived from the following story: Shmuel once crossed the river using a ferryboat. He told his servant to pay the ferryman. The servant gave the ferryman a non-kosher chicken, allowing the ferryman to assume that it was kosher.
The Talmudic commentator Rashi explains: Shmuel’s law explains why the Mishnah says that one may not give a non-Jew a piece of meat from which the sciatic nerve (forbidden to Jews) was not removed. The non-Jew might not notice this and may assume that the Jew is giving him valuable kosher meat. He will then feel gratitude toward the Jew, a gratitude based on a false premise.
This law is codified by Maimonides (Laws of Sale 18:3) and by the Code of Jewish Law (Choshen Mishpat 228:6).
In summary, Judaism exhorts Jews to give non-Jews fair treatment, and thereby to sanctify the name of G-d in the world by showing mankind that those who follow His laws are just and compassionate.
Rabbi E. Beck
Our western society seems to take it for granted that Arabs in general, and Palestinians in particular, are anti-Semites. How else can we explain Arab violence towards the state of Israel? Israeli lobbyist, Alex Joffe, has recently said that Arabs only understand ‘somebody smacking them on the head,’ http://mondoweiss.net/2011/08/arabs-only-understand-somebody-smacking-them-on-the-head-explains-israel-lobbyistarchaeologist-who-lives-in-new-rochelle.html.
We are advised that, to depict Arabs, particularly Muslim Arabs, as barbarians, is not racist, it is simply an observation, an historical reality of life in the Middle East. When it comes to Hamas, we are in anti-Arab heaven. Hamas are the very minions of hell. Westerners are free to vent their racist attitudes towards these people. They drink to the very dregs with no sense of shame at their hateful indulgence. We are told that Hamas deserves all our hatred and vilification. Goldstien looks loved in comparison. When Christ said that we should love our enemies, we all know that He wasn’t referring to Hamas any more than He was referring to Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, Ted Bundy or Genghis Khan. We should not love all people as equals regardless of whether they are Jew or gentile…
Israels supporters very often demand that Europeans are clearly superior to the Arabs and hence the civilised world must not cave in to liberal demands for Palestinian rights. To do so would mean losing the battle for civilization. Israel is the front line of US versus THEM.
The following article and video appeared on the Electronic Intifada website. It gives us a bit more balanced idea of racism in the Middle East.
Video survey: Racism rampant among Israeli youth
18 August 2011
Over the past three years, my wife Pennie and I have been working on a documentary film about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. During our second production trip to the region, one of the many remarkable people we encountered was Uri Davis. He is one of a handful of Israelis who has built a life for himself among the Palestinians of the West Bank. This made him a very interesting subject for our film, which examines the practical and moral failings of the two-state solution.
During our interview with Davis, one of the questions we asked was whether he had encountered any anti-Semitism in the West Bank. The question was motivated by a desire on our part to address a narrative — prevalent among American and Israeli Jews — which claims that anti-Semitism is an obvious feature of Palestinian culture.
As these two groups are an important part of our target audience, we felt that it was our responsibility to address this perception. Who better to ask about the veracity of this narrative than a Jew living among Palestinians? Davis answered by saying that although Palestinian anti-Semitism does exist, it is a marginal phenomenon, while anti-Arab sentiment among Israelis is a mainstream phenomenon. Shortly after the interview, it occurred to us that we could either substantiate or disprove Davis’s provocative statement with our cameras.
We began our survey in February 2011 and completed it in early March. On the Israeli side, we interviewed a total of 250 Jewish Israelis in Haifa, Tel Aviv, Herzliya, Jerusalem and Beersheba. For this part of the survey I conducted the interviews myself from behind the camera in Hebrew. On the Palestinian side, we interviewed a total of 250 Palestinians in Jenin, Nablus, Ramallah, Bethlehem and Hebron. (Despite multiple attempts, we were unable to procure permission to enter the Gaza Strip.) Here, we collaborated with local journalist Mohammad Jaradat who, using my questions, conducted the interviews in Arabic.
The questions we asked pertained to a number of sensitive political topics and the idea was to get people to talk long enough to detect if there was any racism at play in their answers. In sociological terms, we were engaged in qualitative analysis, but unlike typical qualitative interviews, we spent minutes, not hours with our subjects. Our survey is not exhaustive and our method was very simple. We went to public places and asked people to talk to us on camera. In designing the questions, I set out to distinguish actual racism from conflict-based animosity. That is, to allow for the possibility that Israelis might exhibit animosity towards Palestinians without being racist and to allow the same on the Palestinian side in reverse.
The very first question we asked of Jewish Israelis was the extremely broad “What do you think about Arabs?” It is only reasonable to expect that people who harbor anti-Arab sentiment would mask their feelings when answering such a direct question on camera. Most people responded to this question with some variation of “They are people,” although we were surprised that a sizable minority used the opportunity to launch into anti-Arab diatribes.
One of the most disturbing trends that we noticed was the strong correlation between age and anti-Arab sentiment. The majority of Israeli teenagers that we spoke to expressed unabashed and open racism towards Arabs. Statements like “I hate them,” or “they should all be killed” were common in this age group.
When looking over the data, we divided the respondents into three groups: those who were neutral about Arabs; those who were positive about them; and those who expressed negative attitudes. Amongst the responses, 60 percent were neutral, 25 percent negative and 15 percent positive.
Interestingly, some of the same people who answered the first question by saying that Arabs are people, went on to say that they wouldn’t be willing to live next door to them. Internal inconsistencies of this nature cropped up in many of the interviews and it is for this reason that we reserved our overall judgment on the prevalence of anti-Arab sentiment until all of the answers were tabulated. Our results show that 71 percent were willing to live next door to Arab neighbors, while 24 percent were unwilling. Five percent failed to answer this question with either a “yes” or a “no.”
It should be noted that the Israel Democracy Institute received dramatically different numbers in response to the above question. In its 2010 survey, it found that 46 percent of Jewish Israelis were unwilling to live next door to an Arab. The implication of this discrepancy is that our survey sample was much less anti-Arab than the population at large.
When it came to equal rights, a clear majority of our respondents answered that they felt it was important for Arab citizens of the state of Israel to enjoy equal rights. Upon review of the data, one of the significant trends that emerged in these answers was the recurrent use of the phrase “rights and responsibilities.” Many people openly resented the fact that most Arab citizens of the state don’t perform military service and argued that Arabs should only have equal rights if they are held to the same responsibilities as Jews. This response demonstrates a profound misunderstanding of the very concept of rights, but it was prevalent enough that we felt it justified its own category. We called this category “conditional.” Of these responses, 64 percent were in favor of equal rights, 16 percent were opposed and 20 percent were in favor of conditional rights.
Once again, we saw a clear discrepancy from the Israel Democracy Institute numbers, which showed that 46 percent of Israelis were opposed to full and equal rights for Arab citizens of the state.
Democracy for Jews only?
Israel defines itself as a “Jewish democracy” but we were interested in discovering which part of that definition is more important to Jewish Israelis. We went about doing this by asking: “What’s more important: that Israel be a Jewish state or a democratic state?” What we discovered was that a clear majority of the people we spoke to felt that the Jewish character of the state was at least equally if not more important than the democratic character. There was, however, an impressive minority who were clear about the fact that it was more important to them that Israel be a democratic state. This last category represents, by a slim margin, the single largest group of our respondents: 37 percent felt that a democratic character was more important, 36 percent felt that a Jewish character was more important and 27 percent felt that both were equally important.
On the subject of the settlers, we asked a more leading question: “What do you think about the settlers? Are they an impediment to peace?” We broke the responses down into three groups: those who were neutral about the settlers; those who were positive about them; and those who expressed negativity. In this instance, answering “yes” was taken as evidence of negative feelings towards the settlers, answering “no” without qualification was taken as a neutral stance and answering “no” followed by something like “they are the heroes of the Jewish people” — a phrase that we heard a number of times — was taken as evidence of positive feelings. What we discovered was that more than 70 percent of the people we spoke to were either neutral or positive towards the settlers. Of the responses, 45 percent were neutral, 28 percent were positive and 27 percent were negative about the settlers.
Many of the people we spoke to exhibited a deep suspicion and mistrust of the Palestinian people. When asked whether it was possible to make peace with the Palestinians, less than half of our respondents answered “yes.” This is a sobering statistic for anyone invested in the peace process. It would seem that most of the people we spoke to have given up on the prospect of peace. Even among the Israelis who believed that peace is possible, a recurrent theme was “not in this generation.” Another important trend in this part of the survey was blaming the Palestinian leadership for the lack of progress in the peace process. Many of the people who answered “yes” stated that peace was possible with the Palestinian people but not with their leaders. Of the responses, 48 percent believed that peace with the Palestinians is possible, while 40 percent felt that peace is not possible. Thirteen percent failed to answer this question with either a “yes” or a “no.”
Little knowledge of one-state solution
Given the subject of our film, we were very interested in exploring people’s preferences for potential solutions to the conflict. What we noticed almost immediately was that it was very important to clarify to our respondents exactly what we meant by one state or two states. For the purposes of our survey, we defined the one-state solution as a secular democracy with equal rights on all of historic Palestine, while we defined the two-state solution as two states more or less along the lines of the 1967 boundaries, with East Jerusalem as the capital of the Palestinian state. It was important that we were able to explain exactly what we meant, because many Israelis answered one way but meant something entirely different.
For example, when asked whether they preferred the one-state solution or the two-state solution, many respondents answered that they preferred the two-state solution. But when we followed up and asked what territorial concessions they would be willing to make, these same people said that they wouldn’t agree to any concessions.
Furthermore, almost no one that we spoke to was familiar with the concept of the one-state solution. Many people even took this to mean one state for Jews only, until we clarified our meaning. When we reviewed the data from this section of the survey, we decided to break down the responses into seven different categories: one state; one state (i.e. a state for Jews only); two states; two states (i.e. without territorial concessions); either one or two states; neither one nor two states; and other. What is really fascinating about our results is that over two thirds of the people we spoke to were actively opposed to the classic two-state solution on the 1967 borders. Furthermore, there were almost as many true one-state solution supporters as there were classic two-state supporters. Amongst those we surveyed, 27 percent were true two-state supporters, 23 percent were true one state supporters, 22 percent supported neither, 16 percent were in favor of two states without territorial concessions, 6 percent were okay with either one or two states, 4 percent were in favor of one state for Jews only, and 2 percent didn’t fit into any of these categories.
Racism highest in Jerusalem
In trying to answer the question of whether anti-Arab sentiment is a mainstream phenomenon among Israelis, we looked at all of the answers and divided the data into three categories: not anti-Arab; mildly anti-Arab; and strongly anti-Arab. Once again, we allowed for the possibility that a person might exhibit animosity towards Palestinians without being anti-Arab and we did not put people into one of the anti-Arab columns simply because he or she expressed right-wing political views. So, for example, if the only evidence in an interview of anti-Arab sentiment was that the respondent said that equal rights for Arabs are conditional upon equal responsibilities, we did not put them in an anti-Arab column. However, if a respondent stated that they wouldn’t live next door to an Arab, this was sufficient to push him or her into the mildly anti-Arab column. To qualify for the strongly anti-Arab category, a respondent needed to exhibit anti-Arab sentiment in two or more answers.
Our results showed that 46 percent of our respondents were either mildly or strongly anti-Arab. When we broke these numbers down according to city, there were obvious regional differences. Jerusalem was by far the most anti-Arab of the five cities we visited, with 58 percent exhibiting some level of anti-Arab sentiment, while Haifa was the least with 32 percent. Interestingly, after Jerusalem, Tel Aviv was the city with the most anti-Arab sentiment (49 percent).
The data we gathered substantiates the idea that anti-Arab sentiment is a mainstream phenomenon in Israel. Almost half of all the Jewish Israelis we spoke to exhibited some level of anti-Arab sentiment. The single most disturbing trend that emerged was the correlation between youth and strong anti-Arab sentiment. We also learned that support for the classic two-state solution along the 1967 lines was very low among the people we spoke to. This data point was reinforced by the strong support that we saw for the settlers. Given our leading question, the fact that less than a third of respondents were willing to characterize the settlers as an impediment to peace, is further evidence that the two-state solution, as it is currently being proposed by the international community, is decidedly unpopular in Israel.
Despite the lack of knowledge about the one-state solution idea, some respondents appeared willing to consider it. Once this solution was explained to them, 22 percent preferred it and around 6 percent did not object to it. Finally, when we asked Jewish Israelis to choose between the Jewish character of the state and the democratic character, 36 percent opted for the latter. All of these results must be taken with a grain of salt.
We can report anecdotally that many of the people who refused to be interviewed told us that they wouldn’t participate, because they felt that we were part of the “leftist media.” For these reasons, we feel that it is likely, if anything, that our data underestimates the actual amount of anti-Arab sentiment in Israel.
Eli Ungar-Sargon is a documentary filmmaker based in Los Angeles. He and his wife Pennie are currently looking for translators to facilitate the data analysis on the Palestinian side of this survey. Anyone interested should email withoutaland A T gmail D O T com. To learn more about the film and see a visual representation of the data discussed in this article, please visit www.withoutaland.com
Following anti-Democratic Arrests and Intimidation Attempts: Israeli Citizens in Solidarity with Australian BDS Activists!
As Israeli citizens, we are angered by the outrageous attempts to exploit the horrors committed by the Nazi regime, through a comparison of the Palestinian led BDS campaign to the 1933 Nazi boycott campaign, in order to try and silence the Palestinian non-violent popular struggle for freedom and justice. The deplorable and racist Nazi boycott campaign targeted all Jews, without exception, and only for being Jewish. The Australian BDS campaign does NOT target Jewish businesses, as argued by demagogues in Australia! The lesson from the Jewish Holocaust should be, in our view, the need to oppose all forms of discrimination and violence committed against different ethnic groups in the name of nationalist or supremacist ideologies. The state of Israel has failed to learn that lesson.
To reiterate, we are concerned that some politicians in Australia have accused the activists involved in BDS of being anti-Semitic. We reject those accusations. The BDS campaign is a legitimate form of non-violent political action, whereby people and organizations are required not to participate in or support violations of international law. We take a clear stand against all forms of racism, including antisemitism and Islamophobia. Not only does the BDS campaign oppose anti-Semitism, it is also a responsible call that targets only complicit institutions rather than individuals. BDS is neither anti-Jewish nor anti-Israeli, since it does not oppose all that is Israeli because it is Israeli: the campaign simply insists that Israel abide by its obligations under international law. Furthermore, by attempting to lump together all Jews around the world as a monolithic block that is expected to support its criminal policies, the state of Israel is denying the fact that many Jews, including in Israel, oppose the occupation and apartheid policies inflicted on the Palestinian people.
The current debate within Israeli society shows us that the boycott campaign is extremely effective. The latest attempt by the Israeli government to silence its own citizens, the new anti-boycott legislation, in addition to other explicitly racist laws, is yet another indication of the need for this Palestinian-led non-violent global movement, in order to insure the rights of all people in this region.
The recent Australian BDS actions have been a great inspiration. We are encouraged to know that as far-away as Down Under there are individuals and groups active in the BDS campaign, promoting the Palestinian people’s unassailable rights. The BDS movement needs your help and support. We call upon all Australians to join and support the struggle for freedom and equality in Palestine.
With the deepest gratitude and all our support,
The Endless Parroting of the Zionist Narrative
When Russian defectors left the former Soviet Union and told stories to western media of oppression and injustice going on under the Communist regime in the Soviet Union, our media outlets joyfully lapped up every word. Regardless of whether what they were being told was accurate or not,our media parroted every single allegation that was made as if it were undeniable fact. So is the case when any dissenter from the countries we are allowed to vilify comes out. That’s what happens when our media is given information that it wants to hear. In the case of Israeli dissidents like Illan Pappe, Miko Peled, Uri Avnery, Amira Hass and Tanya Reinhardt their voices are utterly ignored. Only the official Zionist narrative has any real chance of getting reasonable amounts of space in our media. The voices of Greg Sheridan, Andrew Bolt and Christopher Pyne will always be available to sprout the official Israeli line as indisputable fact. It is indisputable because our media will not allow it to be disputed.
For every ten stories that unquestioningly detail the Zionist line, perhaps one contrary letter to the editor will be published. And so the coverage of the BDS here in Australia by our media is following the script to the letter. In The Advertiser, 6/7/11 Andrew bolt stuns us with his insightful analysis of the a particular BDS protest as “people picketing shops because their owners were Jews”. Bolt plays the race card in defense of a regime which both Desmond Tutu and Nelson Mandela regards as apartheid. No doubt Bolt, just like the Israeli regime at the time, had no problem being buddies with the South African apartheid regime. The likes of Sheridan and Bolt want us to swallow the line that criticism of Israel is just anti-Semitism in disguise. They don’t seem to realize that such a lame and tired excuse will not hold for ever. I’m sure Bolt would not tolerate such an excuse for the indigenous inhabitants of Australia. Allowing Aboriginals to play the race card and portray themselves as eternal victims is inexcusable, but to make such demands on Israel is pure anti-Semitism. His double standards are clearly on display for anyone who uses their brain.
Racism in the media towards Arabs is far more acceptable. At Sydney’s festival of Dangerous Ideas, Peter Hartcher, a journalist for the Sydney Morning Herald, spoke about the aberration that occurred in the Arab world with respect to its unique position of 40 years without democracy while democratic nations bobbed up everywhere else in the world:
“It seemed such an aberration that people started to come up with explanations for why it wasn’t an aberration but was in fact the normal condition and came up with what is an outrageous theory that Arabs are somehow genetically or ethnically disposed to enjoy autocracy and loving those who oppress them.” June 2011
These “explanations” of Arab inferiority have been given air by Zionist Israel and our media for years.
The true motivation for the BDS campaign is entirely based in the same struggle for human rights that motivated the campaign against apartheid South Africa. Just as the campaign for justice in South Africa was neither trying to achieve, nor did it achieve, the destruction of South Africa neither is the BDS campaign against Israel seeking its destruction in any sense or manner. Nor was it based in racist attitudes towards people of Dutch origin. Israel can exist without its version of apartheid. It can exist as a truly democratic state with true equality for all its citizens, Jew and gentile. It does not have to be a “Jewish State”. Biblically speaking, Israel was never a land that somehow belonged to Jewish people. Non-Jews were to be treated and loved as though they were Jews. Such a model for a one state solution would get my vote.
When we hear our media outlets crying injustice and racism as part of their criticism of the BDS campaign against Israel, we need to remember that it really was these same voices that cried foul when a grass roots movement started the BDS campaign to end apartheid in South Africa. The end of apartheid in Israel will be the beginning of the true fight against anti-Semitism not only in the Middle East but the rest of the world.
ACTION FOR PALESTINE
Would the real anti-Semites please stand up?
I define anti-Semitism as the belief that Jewish people are innately evil, inferior, corrupt or immoral in comparison to other people groups . Anti-Semitism is therefore one type of racist belief amongst many racist beliefs. This definition may not satisfy everyone, but is a good enough place to start.
Anti-Semitism is no lesser and no greater an evil than any other type of racism. To believe anything else would be racist in itself. To repudiate racism requires one to first accept that all forms of racism are equally abhorrent. Religious anti-Semitism is virtually always based in racial anti-Semitism. The whole question of whether or not being Jewish is a racial or religious identity has been dealt with elsewhere in this blog.There is absolutely no doubt that anti-Semitism has had a long history in the world and the fight against it must be continued and ever vigilant just as the fight against all forms of racism must be continued and ever vigilant.
Given this definition, I think the following questions are worth asking:
1) Can a Jewish person be anti-Semitic?
I guess it is possible for a Jewish person to be an anti-Semite, but such a person would be a very emotionally sick individual indeed! I would expect such a person to be generally quite disturbed and dysfunctional. Quite like the victims of childhood sexual abuse who are tormented by feelings of inadequacy and self loathing. Some gay friends of mine have been accused of being self hating homosexuals because of their strident criticism of the gay community. This is a very hurtful allegation and should not be thrown around arbitrarily.
The term, self hating Jew, is used very often by Zionists when describing Jewish people who advocate for the Palestinian people or who are overly critical of the Zionist state of Israel. Interestingly, I have never personally heard the term used by the Jewish opponents of Zionism when describing their critics. Zionists are described as oppressors, colonialists or racists, but seldom if ever referred to as self hating Jews or anti-Semites. While I think it quite possible that a Jewish person could be an anti-Semite, I feel that this tag has often been used as a convenient way to vilify Jewish people who do not accept the Zionist narrative of the Israel-Palestine conflict. It helps to perpetuates the myth of the virtual identical nature of Zionism and being Jewish.
2) Can a Zionist be anti-Semitic?
I think that most Zionists would tell you that it is virtually impossible for a Zionist to be an anti-Semite. This comes from what I see as their belief that they are the real Jews: the true spokespersons for the Jewish peoples true interests and survival. How else could they claim that Jews who do not subscribe to their ideology are anti-Semites and self hating Jews with such confidence?
I think that it is just as likely for a Zionist Jew to be a self hating Jew (if indeed such people exist) as it is for a non-Zionist or an anti-Zionist Jew. Sometimes I have heard extremely racist comments by Orthodox religious Jews (mostly by religious Zionists) regarding gentiles, but rarely have I heard them making comments that I would construe to be anti-Semitic. Zionist ideology is very much built upon the idea that Jewish integration or assimilation into the gentile world is impossible, hence the need for their own state. The reasons given for this inability to live amongst gentiles without persecution varies. Some may say it is because gentiles are by nature anti-Semitic. This belief seems to be racist in itself. It seems to imply that gentiles are basically inferior or less civilised than Jewish people. Some Jews may say that the inability of Jews to live safely with gentiles is a simple fact of history and read no more into it than that.
Zionisms rejection of Orthodox Torah Judaism, especially in its early years, is considered by many Orthodox religious Jews today to be fundamentally anti-Semitic.
3) Can a Christian Zionist be anti-Semitic?
Over the past few years I have definitely come to believe that Christian Zionists consider the state of Israel to be more important to them than it is for the Jewish people themselves. Having said that, you would think that their unconditional support of the Israeli state would put them on the least likely list of suspects for anti-Semitism. But you would be wrong. I have heard many Zionist and anti-Zionist Jews claim that Christian Zionist anti-Semitism is revealed in their theology, particularly their eschatology which is really the driving force for their understanding of the whole Israel-Palestine conflict.
Added to this is the whole notion of unconditional support for the Zionist state. I do not think that any one who would unconditionally support me in reality is acting as a true friend to me. Even my own parents never unconditionally supported me in life, and neither they should have. Unconditional love and unconditional support are clearly two different things. Would a parent be truly a good and loving parent if they were to support their child in their endeavors to rob, murder and steal if their son or daughter choice to go down those roads as many do? Of course not.
The so called unconditional support of Christian Zionists towards the state of Israel is loaded with self interest to say the least. Their support is entirely related to the convergence of their end goals with that of the Zionists i.e, for all Jews to live in Eretz Israel. If the Zionists had chosen to create a state any where else but Palestine, these Christians would probably revert back to the same type of religious anti-Semitism that has been common in Christian history for the past two thousand years. Even now many Christian Zionists believe that the Anti-Christ will be a Jew and that the vast majority of Jews will be hurled into the lake of fire upon Christ’s return to be tormented for all eternity.
Whereas Orthodox Judaism has understood the final return of the Jewish people to the land of Israel to be the ushering in of a great age of peace and Godly service of all humanity, Christian Zionists see it as bad news indeed for most of humanity and especially for the adherents of Torah Judaism.
4) Are Palestine solidarity activists anti-Semitic?
There is no doubt as well that there are Arabs, and non-Arabs, who oppose the state of Israel not so much because they are concerned for Palestinian rights to justice and self determination, but because they are anti-Semites. However, I must say that I personally have never met one Palestine solidarity activist that would fall into that category. Such people are quite easy to spot within the ranks of the solidarity movement when they do occur. This is simply because their criticism of the Israeli state is completely based on racial grounds and their contempt for Jewish people still remains even in the case of Jewish people who resist the Zionist narrative and stand up for Palestinian rights. They usually indulge in ridiculous conspiracy theories about Jewish world domination or even pseudo religious theories of demonic or satanic connections to the Talmud and Torah Judaism. The mere existence of the lunatic fringe in any movement (including Zionism) does not refute the basic validity of that movement.
I can say emphatically that the overwhelming majority of the Palestine solidarity movement abhors anti-Semitism and is motivated by the concern for the suffering and injustices that they see have been committed on the Palestinian people by the Zionist state of Israel. Anti-Zionists are no more anti-Semitic than anti-Communists are anti-Slavic or anti-apartheid activists are anti-Dutch. The ethnic cleansing of Palestine will not be stopped or justice be done by the ethnic cleansing of Israel. Justice in the Middle East will be justice for both people groups living together in equality and peace just as they did for centuries before the European colonialist ideology of Zionism took hold in the minds of many vulnerable Jewish people.
5) Does the Zionist understanding of how to fight against , or protect Jews from anti-Semitism cause and/or justify racism against those whom the Zionists perceive as being threats to Zionism?
A Jewish friend of mine, who grew up in Israel, once told me that she was taught as a child while she was in Israel that the Holocaust must never happen again…to us! (i.e. the Jewish people). It seems that the consensus was that the Jewish people must do whatever they must do to ensure their safety. Damage done to others in the process was of secondary importance at best. This destructive entitlement, is common in peoples who have been the victims of grave abuse and injustice (some Palestinians feel this way too) and is an attitude I have picked up in the language of many Zionists that I know. Being victims of the Holocaust simply does not give the Jewish people, or any people, a license to oppress and dispossess others. It may be argued that any security that is gained at the expense of others will indeed be temporary. It will not end anti-Semitism but probably only give more ammunition to the anti-Semites already in existence.
6) Do anti-Zionist Jews unwittingly help promote the cause of anti-Semitism?
Rather than promote anti-Semitism, I have found anti-Zionist Jews to be at the forefront of the fight against anti-Semitism. Many times have I heard of people who felt that they did not like Jewish people because of the oppression of the Israeli state towards the Palestinian people, change their minds about Jews when they discovered Jewish people who stood up for Palestinian rights in the face of a barrage of abuse by Zionist Jews. Zionism is a political ideology, not a racial or religious identity. To be anti-Zionist and Jewish takes immense courage and in my opinion reveals the real essence of being Jewish. To me, being Jewish is not really about ones lineage, but is about ones ethics and beliefs about human value.
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Why are Christian Zionists more Zionist than Christian?
You might think that Christians would tend to stick up for each other when the crunch comes, but in the case of Christian Zionists, they abandon any sense of solidarity with their Christian brothers and sisters for their allegiance to the Zionist state of Israel. Western Christian supporters of Israel pretend that Palestinian Christians (along with their resistance to the State of Israel) do not exist. I can’t think of any other time when Christians do this sort of thing on such a grand scale and with such zeal. In general, if you ask conservative Christians to betray their Christian brethren for the sake of an ideology that is secular, and more resistant to the preaching of the Gospel than any number of socialist countries, you would likely have more luck if you asked the family cat to explain Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity.
They unconditionally support a state whose secular ideology they do not even remotely understand. Even Noam Chomsky has noted that the vast majority of Zionists are not even Jewish. How often do you come across an ideology with the majority of its supporters not only not understanding its fundamental concepts, but actually holding to beliefs that are contradicted by that ideology? Christian Zionists are clearly more Zionist than they are Christian even though they don’t know what Zionism really is.
The Christian Zionist “love” of Israel is completely self serving. Many Jews, regardless of whether they support Israel or not, consider the Christian Zionists to be anti-Semites. Politically useful anti-Semites, in the eyes of Zionist Jews, but still anti-Semites nonetheless . It would not be the first time that Zionists have enlisted the help of anti-Semites to further their political goals in Palestine and it probably wont be the last.
The Israeli state is a Zionist state and the Jewish supporters of Israel tell us that Israel can only exist if it is a Zionist state. If Zionism fails, then Israel as a nation will collapse. Zionist ideology has always demanded that a Zionist state must be a state with a permanent Jewish majority. This follows from the racist notion that Jews and non-Jews can not live together.
Israel must be a state for all the Jews of the world, not of its citizens. Israel is not a state for Arabs in the same way that it is for Jews, even Jews that don’t live in Israel. Any Jewish person in the world has rights to nationality and citizenship in Israel, while Arabs, regardless of how long they have lived in Israel-Palestine, can only have rights of citizenship. Israel has a two tiered concept of citizenship. At least 20 laws discriminate in favour of Jews against non-Jews. Extensive benefits are conferred to any person who has served in the I.D.F. and since very few Arabs ever serve in the I.D.F., this means that enormous benefits end up with Jewish people exclusively in Israel.
What is it about a democratic Israel, that exists for all its citizens equally, that Christian Zionists do not like? What part of Christian Zionist theology would be compromised if Israel granted full citizenship and nationality to its Arab citizens in a manner identical to how it now treats its Jewish citizens? Which part of the Schofield Bible would be contradicted if Zionism was renounced in Israel and the Palestinian refugees were allowed to return or given compensation? Why would Christian Zionists be disappointed if Arabs (Muslim, Christian or secular) returned to the same peaceful and respectful relationship with Jews that they enjoyed in the Middle East in centuries past?
For Christian Zionists, a two or one state solution is an abomination before God. What they want is no solution. The only solution they desire is an Apartheid Jewish State with an Arab population firmly under the oppressive thumb of extremist right wing Zionists. Arabs in Israel are not people, they are an obstacle.
There is not one scripture in the Bible that demands that Israel never be a state equally for all its citizens. The Zionist doctrine has come from the twisted ideology of a group of European Jews who rejected the Torah and it’s values of compassion toward gentiles. As such it can not last, so why not save everyone from a lot of suffering and back the winner…that is …God’s justice for all His people, Jew and Gentile.
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The ideological basis of Israel’s Ethnic Cleansing of Arabs in Palestine.
The root cause of the Israel-Palestine conflict lays squarely at the feet of Zionist colonialism and those European and western powers who have empowered and enabled the Zionist State of Israel to oppress the Arabs of Palestine. This oppression has provoked a people (previously enjoying good relations with Jews throughout the Arab world) to violence against the tyranny of the Zionist State of Israel. Unfortunately some Arabs have (in their despair and sense of powerlessness) resorted to acts of terrorism, just as the Zionists had done during the British Mandate period when they felt overwhelmed by those more powerful than them. However, the vast majority of Palestinian Arabs have resisted the Zionist State in a dignified and peaceful manner.
Though there were and still are many strains of Zionist thought, the one that has dominated in Israel has always been one that sought to dispossess the indigenous Arab population of Palestine in order for a Zionist (majority Jewish) state to exist in a land were Jews were not in the majority and had not been in the majority for some 1800 years. Zionism’s reaction to gentiles was based on their unshakable belief that integration or assimilation of Jews into a hostile gentile world was impossible. Just as the anti-Semites had believed, Zionists also espoused that Jews and non-Jews can not live together. Before 1945, the crime of ethnic cleansing was nowhere acknowledged as a crime and hence statements made by Zionist thinkers concerning Arabs were much more candid than any made by Zionists today. A list of just a few of the many statements made by Zionist thinkers (and European politicians complicit with them) regarding the ethnic cleansing of Palestine are given below.
1. Pamphlet by founder of socialist Zionism, Nahman Syrkin, says Palestine “must be evacuated for the Jews”. (1897)
2. The diaries of Theodore Herzl reveal Zionism’s intent towards the indigenous population of Palestine…
“We shall try to spirit the penniless population across the borders by procuring employment for them in the transit countries while denying any employment in our country. “(The Complete Diaries of Theodore Herzl, New York 1961, p. 88)
3. Israel Zangwill states Jews must drive out the Arabs or “grapple with the problem of a large alien population…” (1905)
4. One of Zionism’s most liberal thinkers, Leo Motzkin, said
“Our thought is that the colonization of Palestine has to go in two directions. Jewish settlement in Eretz Israel and the resettlement of the Arabs of Eretz Israel in areas outside the country. The transfer of so many Arabs may seem at first unacceptable economically, but is nonetheless practical. It does not require too much money to resettle a Palestinian village on another land” (1917)
5. Zionist Commission members at the Paris Peace Conference say “as many Arabs as possible should be persuaded to emigrate”. (1919)
6. Winston Churchill wrote “There are Jews, whom we are pledged to introduce into Palestine, and who take it for granted that the local population will be cleared out to suit their convenience.” (1919)
7. Stephen Sizer reports a disturbing letter, written in 1919 by Lord Balfour to Lord Curzon, showing the racism inherent in British attitudes towards Arabs:
“For in Palestine we do not propose even to go through the form of consulting the wishes of the present inhabitants of the country…the Four Great Powers are committed to Zionism. And Zionism, be it right or wrong, good or bad, is rooted in age-long traditions, in present needs, in future hopes, of far profounder import than the desires or prejudices of the 700,000 Arabs who now inhabit that ancient land… “(cited in Sizer, 2004, p. 60, 61).
8. Zionist leader Jabotinsky writes “…the Arabs must make room for the Jews in Eretz Israel. If it was possible to transfer the Baltic peoples, it is also possible to move the Palestinian Arabs.” (1939)
9. David Ben Gurion’s diaries show clearly Zionism’s desire for a Greater Israel with as little Arab presence as possible and how that might be obtained.
“The Jewish State now being offered to us is not the Zionist objective. Within this area it is not possible to solve the Jewish question. But it can serve as a decisive stage along the path to greater Zionist implementation. It will consolidate in Palestine, within the shortest possible time, the real Jewish force which will lead us to our historic goal.”
10. In private correspondence, Ben Gurion pushed the point even further.
“I have no doubt that our army will be among the world’s outstanding – and so I am certain that we won’t be constrained from settling in the rest of the country, whether out of accord and mutual understanding with the Arab neighbours or otherwise.”
11. Aharon Zisling, one time Minister of Agriculture in David Ben Gurion’s provisional government and member of the Haganah and participant in the founding of the Palmach, said:
“I do not deny our moral right to propose population transfer. There is no moral flaw to a proposal aimed at concentrating the development of national life;” (Finkelstein, 2003, p. 16).
12. On 17 November 1948 he told the Provisional State Council (the forerunner to the Knesset);
“I couldn’t sleep all night. I felt that things that were going on were hurting my soul, the soul of my family and all of us here (…) Now Jews too have behaved like Nazis and my entire being has been shaken.”
(The expulsion of the Palestinians re-examined Le Monde Diplomatique, December 1997)
13. Moshe Dayan, Israeli General
“What cause have we to complain about their fierce hatred to us? For eight years now, they sit in their refugee camps in Gaza, and before their eyes we turn into our homestead the land and villages in which they and their forefathers have lived.” (Moshe Dayan, Israeli General, 1956)
Many more statements could be added. In 1919, at the Paris Peace Conference, the World Zionist Organisation put forth a map showing the land that they wanted for a Zionist state. Anyone looking at this map can see that no room has been made for an Arab state. The Zionists had no intention of sharing the land of Palestine with the Arabs and their continued illegal occupation and colonization of the West Bank and the siege of Gaza are indisputable legacies of this Zionist attitude towards non-Jews in the land of Palestine.
Sizer, S. (2004). Christian Zionism: Road-Map to Armageddon?
Intervarsity Press: Downers Grove, Illinois.
Finkelstein. N. (2003). Image and Reality of the Israel-Palestine Conflict. (second edition) Verso
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Israel or Genocide?
Many Zionists and supporters of Israel tell us that the State of Israel is the only real guarantee for the survival of the Jewish people. I remember once hearing how Jewish people who did not support the Zionist State were referred to as “Jews for Genocide” by some Zionists. A Jewish friend of mine, having renounced her Israeli citizenship, told me that as a child growing up in Israel she was constantly taught that another Holocaust was just around the corner. It was not a matter of if, but when. Zionism teaches that assimilation or integration for Jews outside of Israel is a dangerous day dream since anti-Semitism is like an incurable illness in all gentiles, even the nice ones.
It seems, from my observation, that Zionism promotes the idea in Jewish people that their abuse (the Holocaust) plays a very large part in their identity as Jews. This is the very opposite of what counselors encourage their clients, who have been abused as children, to believe about themselves. I guess in the end how Jewish people choose to identify themselves with regard to this issue is their choice. It is finally up to the Jewish people themselves to come up with an interpretation of the meaning of the Holocaust that they can live with.
Having said that, I find the notion that the survival of the Jewish people is critically dependent on the existence of the Zionist State of Israel, to be hard to fathom. Zionists are happy to affirm that from 130AD, to the beginning of the Zionist era in Palestine, Jewish people survived without the State of Israel being in existence in any form. Even the survival of the Holocaust itself by the Jews of Europe also occurred without the existence of Israel. Only about 250,000 Jews migrated to Palestine in the years of Nazi Germany. Only after the Holocaust did Jews move in large numbers to Palestine. Historically, one of the main ways that Jews avoided anti-Semitism, was to spread out in communities all over the world. This meant that if anti-Semitism sprung up in one place, that Jews would have multiple escape routes to safety. Bunching up made Jews more vulnerable. One could argue that the current situation in Israel is a testimony to the common sense of this approach for Jews today. The majority of Jews freely choose to live outside of Israel while seeing the Zionist state as a sort of insurance policy against another Holocaust.
From a Christian point of view, I see that the survival of the Jewish people (where ever they live) is due to the merciful hand of the Almighty, as it is for all the peoples of the earth. The nation of Israel, however, was never created by God as a place for Jews to “hide” from anti-Semitism. The Divine mandate for Jews in Israel was far more positive and inspiring than anything Zionist ideology can come up with. The biblical teaching regarding God’s protection of Israel in ancient times is very instructive when compared to today’s Israel. In biblical times, when Israel went to war, God commanded Israel to enter battle with inferior troops so that when the battle was won, it would be unambiguously due to the gracious hand of God and not the military strength of the Israelites. How different to the situation with the current state of Israel!
Israel today is one of the most militarised nations in the world. The armed forces are held in very high regard by the majority of Israelis. Virtually all political leaders in Israel have been military leaders sometime in their careers as well. Israel boasts one of the most well trained and well equipped fighting forces in the world and certainly the best in the region. Thanks to billions of dollars in aid from the U.S. it has access to the most high-tech armaments in the world. Though not officially recognised, its nuclear arsenal gives it regional super-power status. Without doubt the I.D.F. takes full credit for Israels military successes, due to the I.D.F.’s courage and proficiency in the profession of arms rather than telling the world of its own incompetence and giving witness to the hand of the Almighty who protects Israel. For the I.D.F. to proclaim that Israel’s military victories were not due to its own fighting ability but rather due to the hand of God acting despite Israel’s military frailty would be unthinkable.
One might imagine that if the hand of God were protecting Israel today,as He did in ancient times, Israel would hardly be in need of 200 nuclear missiles and the best military hardware money can buy. Remember that in scripture, the protecting hand of God, with regards to the wars that Israel fought, had to be plainly and unambiguously shown to be the real reason for Israel’s victory, so that Israel would know that victory had come about by God’s faithfulness to Israel rather than Israel’s own might. This factor was critical as the Old Testament clearly reveals.
Thanks for Israels continued existence in the Middle East is directed towards the I.D.F. far more that it is to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob by Israelis today. If God were protecting Israel, in a fashion as depicted in scripture, to give thanks to the I.D.F. would seem paradoxical in light of the realities of war waged and won by God on Israel’s behalf. When David slew Goliath, he didn’t need the best military equipment and 200 nuclear weapons backing him up to do it. A sling shot in the hands of an untrained boy was enough to do the job. When God was on Israels side in war, He wanted this fact to be testified to by the way in which battle was actually carried out by the Israelites so that Israel could not have even the remotest grounds to boast and glory in their own strength.
The Christian Zionist claim that Israel exists today by God’s protection in a manner analogous to that displayed in Old Testament times lacks any credibility. While God sustains humanity by His providential care, to claim biblical legitimacy for the Zionist State of Israel based on claims that it is God who fights for the Israelis just as He did in ancient times as revealed in scripture, is invalid. Orthodox anti-Zionist Jews remember that it is the Torah that sustains them, the very word of God, not Zionist nationalism.
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Zionism and Racism
It would be a mistake to assume that Zionism is encompassed fully by the teachings of the likes of Ben Gurion, Jabotinsky or Benjamin Netanyahu. I have discovered, over the years, a number of Zionist thinkers that proclaim a type of Zionism that I find far more reasonable than the Zionism that is evident in Israel today. The version of Zionism put forth by Brit Shalom, a political movement created in Palestine in 1925, sought a peaceful coexistence between Arabs and Jews, to be achieved by renunciation of the Zionist aim of creating a Jewish state. This alternative vision of Zionism was to create a centre for Jewish cultural life in Palestine placing great emphasis on the ethical and cultural traditions of Judaism while remaining secular in outlook as a whole. Brit Shalom, literally meaning “covenant of peace”, advocated the concept of a Jewish Homeland rather than a Zionist State, the latter explicitly requiring a Jewish majority in Israel. Martin Buber was an advocate of the ideology of Brit Shalom and Albert Einstein was known to be highly sympathetic to those same values.
Unfortunately the voices of Brit Shalom advocates were few in number and became drowned out by the cries for Israeli nationalism. Professor Yakov Rabkin tells us that:
“Among the many tendencies within Zionism, the one that has triumphed set out to reach four principle objectives: 1) to transform the transnational Jewish identity centred on the Torah into a national identity, like the ones then common in Europe; 2) to develop a new national vernacular based on biblical and rabbinical Hebrew; 3) to transfer the Jews from their counties of origin to Palestine; and 4) to establish political and economic control over the “new old land” if need be by force” (Rabkin, 2006, p. 5).
Uriel Zimmer, an Orthodox Jew and former United Nations reporter for several newspapers, states the ultimate goal of Zionism:
“The real aim of Zionism is the one stated innumerable times by the various Zionist thinkers and ideologists from its earliest conception until this day. From the essays of Achad Haam to the speeches of Ben Gurion, we can hear definitions of one goal, in various versions and phrases but with never-changing content:
TO CHANGE THE IDENTITY OF THE JEWISH PEOPLE!” (Zimmer, 1961, p. 14)
Zimmer’s words echo the criticisms of Orthodox Jews against Zionism that are articulated by anti-Zionist religious Jews like those found at Neturei Karta. Jewish Orthodox intellectual, Yesayahu Leibowitz, has this to say about the historical concept of Jewish identity.
“The historical Jewish people was defined neither as a race, nor as a people of this country or that, or of this political system or that, nor as a people that speaks the same language, but as a people of Torah Judaism and of its commandments, as the people of a specific way of life, both on the spiritual and the practical plane, a way of life that expresses the acceptance of the yoke of the Torah and of its commandments. This consciousness exercised its effect from within the people. It formed its national essence; it maintained itself down through the generations and was able to preserve its identity irrespective of times or circumstances. The words spoken by Saadia Gaon more than 1,000 years ago, “Our nation exists only in the Torah” had not only a normative but an empirical meaning. They testified to an historical fact whose power could be felt up until the nineteenth century. It was then that the fracture, which has not ceased to widen with time, first occurred: the break between Jewishness and Judaism. The human group recognised today as the Jewish people is no longer defined, from the factual viewpoint, as the people of historical Judaism, whether in the consciousness of the majority off its members, or in that of the non-Jews. There indeed exists within this people a substantial number of persons who strive, individually or collectively, to live the Judaic way of life. But the majority of Jews – while sincerely conscious of their Jewishness – not only does not accept Judaism, but abhors it” (cited in Rabkin, 2006, p.35).
Zionism’s attempt to change Jewish identity struck fear in the hearts of the Orthodox for many reasons. Its seeming agreement with ideas about Jewish identity held to by anti-Semites was a major one. Rabkin says:
“Zionists and the anti-Semites saw eye to eye on three key issues: 1) the Jews were not a religious group but a distinct nation; 2) the Jews could never integrate in to the country in which they lived; and 3) the sole solution to the Jewish problem was for them to leave” (2006, p. 82).
The concept of a Jewish race is not taught in scripture and has not been the reality for Jews over the last 2,000 years. Being Jewish was fundamentally a religious, not racial, identity. Zionism sought to change that. Jews are now not defined so much by their acceptance of the Torah, but far more by their adherence to Zionism and Israeli nationalism. Being Jewish is not primarily about one’s religion, but about one’s support for secular nationalism in Israel.
Zionism is, in a sense, a capitulation to anti-Semitism. It recognises the ultimate separateness of Jews and non-Jews, just as the Nazis had believed.
For Zionists, anti-Semitism is an evil, but an evil that is absolute in its reality and can never be eradicated from the mentality of gentiles. As such, Jews must find a place to live that is separate and safe from the inevitable tide of anti-Semitism. Anti-Semitism has no ultimate cure according to the ideology of Zionism: integration or assimilation are impossible. Hence many have claimed that Zionism itself is deeply racist.
United Nations General Assembly Resolution 3379, adopted on November 10, 1975 by a vote of 72 to 35 (with 32 abstentions), “determined that Zionism is a form of racism and racial discrimination”. The resolution is often referenced in debates of Zionism and racism. Resolution 46/86 revoked the resolution on December 16, 1991. In the history of the UN, this is the only resolution that has ever been revoked. It was revoked as part of a deal to coax the Israelis back to the peace negotiations table.
Judaism as a faith embraces all peoples. The racist tag that Jewish people have had to wear over the past 60 years finds its origins far more in the ideology of Zionism than in the faith of Judaism which clearly reveals the Almighty’s concern for all peoples of the earth.
Rabkin, Y. (2006). A Threat from Within: A Century of Jewish Opposition
to Zionism. Fernwood Publishing: Canada, Zed Books: London.
Zimmer, U. (1961). Torah-Judaism and the State of Israel. Jewish Post
Publications, London, England.
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