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Can liberal American Jews still support Modern Israel? - the country has changed and is not what you think it is anymore.


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Showing 1-25 of 1000 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Nov 13, 2011 3:48:21 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 13, 2011 4:27:55 PM PST
DarthRad says:
Over the last twenty years, Israel has changed dramatically. The fall of the Soviet Union led to a massive immigration of Soviet Jews to Israel. Today, a full one-eighth of the population of Israel are former Soviets, including the radical right wing foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman.

Whatever you might think of the Soviets, clearly one big difference from the original European Jews who settled in Israel is that Soviet Jews did not grow up in a society with liberal humanistic values and a democratic rule of law.

Meanwhile, the very high birthrates of the ultra-Orthodox Jews of Israel (6.5 live births per female, down from 9 births per female a decade ago) has led to their numbers rising to 15% of the population of Israel. By way of comparison, that is about the percentage of Hispanics in the U.S. (16%) and is higher than the current percentage of blacks in the U.S.(13%).

The Haredim are now a major political force in Israel, and have used their political clout to gain and maintain benefits not available to secular Jews - specifically, the right to not be drafted into the Army, and the right to be on permanent state welfare, all as long as they are engaged in "religious studies".

Moreover, the Haredim are moving to enforce halacha, sometimes referred to as the Jewish equivalent of Muslim sharia law, throughout Israel. Here is one recent article from the LA Times about the increasing restrictions on Jewish women in Israel:

http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-israel-women-20111113,0,7356238.story

We read constantly about how horrible the radical Muslims are for their backwards views and awful treatment of women. Let's be blunt here - I don't see that the ultra-Orthodox Jews are any better.

Israelis know all this and have taken note, and over the last decade, some 750,000 have emigrated out of Israel, voting with their feet essentially. I knew some of these ex-Israelis in the community I used to live in.

In reading all these posts on Amazon about Israel, the most passionate defenders of Israel seem to be from Jews of the Disapora, i.e., non-Israelis.

Question, do all of you non-Israelis understand what the real modern Israel of today has become?

And, for those of you who are American Jews, especially those of you who come from liberal ideologies, can you continue to support a country that has changed so much, and become so different from its original founding principles as a Jewish state that was nevertheless grounded in liberal Western democratic secular concepts of personal freedom and religious tolerance?

Please note that this thread is not about the Palestinians. Nor should this thread become a comparative study between Israel and its Arab neighbors. It is only about what modern Israel has turned into.

Posted on Nov 13, 2011 9:22:04 AM PST
L. King says:
As someone who has visited Israel quite recently I'd say that Americans, Canadians and people of all persuasions can support modern Israel. It's a vibrant country, not only in technology and political debate, but also in culture. Realize that the intent of the OP is simply propaganda. American Jews continue to see Israeli Jews as a fellow Jewish community, and one that is constantly attacked and demonized by its neighbours and Americans see in Israeli democratic values a willingness to examine itself a model of strength, not weakness.

Here's a general rule of thumb - for any criticism that you hear about Israel you can bet that the Arabs have already done worse to their own.

Here's Simon Deng, a former slave of Arabs from the new country of South Sudan:

"When I was nine years old, my village was raided by Arab troops in the pay of Khartoum. As we ran into the bush to escape I watched as childhood friends were shot dead and the old and the weak who were unable to run were burned alive in their huts. I was abducted and given to an Arab family as a "gift".

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IMYIezagDUU&feature=player_embedded#!

Posted on Nov 13, 2011 2:19:13 PM PST
B. A. Dilger says:
As a kid of high school age I read Bruno Bettelheim's books on psychology and especially "Children of the Dream," where Israeli Kibbutzim were raising a new generation from the ashes of Europe. Those were heady days, where somewhere on the planet citizens were reclaiming the desert for agricultural wealth, and Israeli society was reaching for full equality for their people.

And then the realization of occupation set in.

Whatever happened to that dream?

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 13, 2011 5:00:14 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 14, 2012 11:06:27 AM PST
Rachel says:
B. A Dilger:

I hope all is well with you.

First of all, the dream meant socialism and Israel changed to a mixed economy.

Second Israel has not been allowed, unlike the USA, to work as a sovereignty with its own arguments. USA is not pushed to sign or not sign x, w, or z. While Israel is attacked all ways !
Must she compromise and compromise itself our of existence?

Frankly no.

The Kibbutzim continue to thrive as capitalistic enterprises of all type including computers.

As long as we were the " underdog, " that is a new country young and striving all were in favor. The 1967, unprovoked war changed issues because Israel was now seen as a "power, " and then there must be another "underdog.

This was possible via Arafat when he invented the Palestinian issue. These group was kicked out of Jordan, of Lebanon, is now in Gaza. Actually Aza in the Bible.

Neither Arafat nor Said were Palestinians. And is not a Palestinian issue, it is an Arab issue.
In reality, No Arab country wants fights Israel directly, it is costly!
But letting Hamas do it ,and support it quietly why not?
There are a lot of lies on the other side sadly so.

I will never argue that all what Israel has done is correct, but I will say that as long as the Arabs continue fighting Israel -like Hamas does with a Charter taken out of the Protocols with identical clauses intended to wipe out Jews, Israel has to not be the idyllic dream Bettleheim and you think it should be.

Yet, I invite you to come to Israel with me in January, let me show around and see the wonders that the country has. Maybe you can grasp how little it is- no bigger than New Jersey.

You will see people like you working and thriving and wanting a peaceful life. Problem is, there are NO peace treaties on the other side, and in addition the "cold treaty" with Egypt just got destroyed, see the pictures of the embassy destroyed, see that just two days ago they bomb the gas pipeline to Israel AND Jordan. This way the are destroying their own economy, while Jordan is thriving.

We live a harsh reality. Liberal Jews have a right to see Israel as the prefer, but since they don't live there and don't feel the dangers everywhere like they do. It is easy to dictate what Israel should or should not do.

We left in Gaza,when we left, lots good housing and factories were left behind. What did the do with them? OK , they destroyed the synagogue, we should have done that ourselves, but they destroyed what it would help them economically even more so.

In addition, quietly but surely there is an economy in Gaza, which now has a mall and nice houses, and honestly I don't see anybody starving, but just see the hatred of the released prisoners and you tell me if we should just sit like ducks again. All of the were extremely proud of their deeds.

MY dad used to say, that as you grow older you understand that being too liberal is a dream, not for this world, not for human nature as it is. Sadly, that dream is gone. We have realpolitik due to the trying circumstances that Israel has been put to work with since it was born, and actually before.

Do you accept my invitation?

Do you understand what I am trying to convey?

Israel can't be discussed in a vacuum, just what happens in Israel. It is tied to what is happening about and around it. Haredim or no Haredim. Liberal American must have for human Rights and that includes Jews, I say. The Hamas Charter is NOT human Rights in any way shape or form.

Israel inside is Israel inside, and to discuss this here for all the Left to destroy Israel in one more forum that is extremely intrusive.

And yes, we do that, we do complain about Mexico, not so much Canada per se.

Rachel

Posted on Nov 13, 2011 5:14:01 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 13, 2011 6:02:35 PM PST
DarthRad says:
L. King,

I added a line to my original post - the last paragraph now reads:

"Please note that this thread is not about the Palestinians. Nor should this thread become a comparative study between Israel and its Arab neighbors. It is only about what modern Israel has turned into. "

The Palestinians and Arabs have nothing to do with Israel becoming such a haven for ex-Soviet mafia that it now has its own Wikipedia entry, having deeply penetrated into the Israeli government and society.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Israeli_mafia#Ex-Soviet_organized_crime

I would note the many Israeli government high officials who are now in jail or about to go to jail.

The Palestinians and Arabs have nothing to do with the Haredim birthing themselves into such vast numbers that they will soon dominate Israeli society.

The Palestinians and Arabs have nothing to do with the desire of the Haredim to not serve in the Israeli army and instead to live off the sweat of Israeli taxpayers. What will happen when they become 30%, then 50%, of the Jewish population of Israel? With such enormous birthrates, it won't take long. Who is going to be left to serve in the Israel Defense Forces? Who is going to pay for their welfare?

The Palestinians and Arabs have nothing to do with the steady implementation of halacha, the Jewish equivalent of Muslim sharia law, in Israel. Halacha (or halakha) is simply not compatible with modern secular Western ideas of personal freedom and equality of the sexes. American Jews, especially the women, would be horrified if they found out that they had to live in a society that followed halacha to its fullest extent, much as they would be horrified if they had to live under Muslim sharia law.

Every country has its problems. America certainly does. One of the best things about being an American is that we do not believe in solving our problems by pointing out how much worse other countries are, especially our neighbors. Oh my goodness, look at those poor dumb awful Canadians and Mexicans! Look how much better we are compared to them! Right, you see how stupid that sounds?

The great thing about America is that we openly admit our flaws, and however tortuous of a process it takes, eventually figure out a way through major problems. It took the Civil War to solve the problem of slavery, the turmoil and deaths of the Civil Rights movement to solve the problem of American Apartheid, the Vietnam War for America to realize the limits of its military power. We are in a big economic mess right now, but I am optimistic that eventually it will get fixed.

The weird and disturbing thing about Israel is that everything I have said about the problems of Israel are widely known and discussed in Israel, but not abroad.

Israel's many supporters outside the country do not want to engage in an open discussion about the country's internal problems. And yet, these are not minor problems. They have to do with the fairly rapid transformation of Israel into a society that is no longer compatible with American ideals of democracy, the rule of law, and personal and religious freedom.

Instead, everything gets blamed on the Palestinians and the Arabs.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 13, 2011 6:22:13 PM PST
B. A. Dilger says:
Rachel----Thanks for the offer but after I served overseas I determined to never leave the US again.

Much of what DarthRad has said I've watched on the external service of Israel TV called IBA, and have access to other unofficial sources. There s a great income disparity in Israeli society, and an economy that receives constant disruptions by workers, doctors, and the general population. There is a substantial class of poor that have to depend on the mercy of aid agencie to survive. In all, Israel seems to be a microcosm of the United States.

We do share the threat of attack from sources known and unknown, though our borders are porous and not well-guarded. Israel has to pay a large self-defense force, and keep watch on it's borders for instant threats.

But how can Israel allow universal conscription to be subverted by legalistic technicalities?

Posted on Nov 13, 2011 6:34:12 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 13, 2011 6:38:55 PM PST
DarthRad says:
B. A. Dilger,

Agree with your points about the Israel that once was. Recently rented "Exodus", having not seen it since childhood. The original post-WWII settlers of Israel were mostly European Jews, most of them filled with liberal, socialist, and secular ideals. Thus the kibbutz. Thus the fundamentally different values of the Israel of the 1950s and 1960s.

In the last scenes of "Exodus", there is an idealized portrayal of an Israeli Arab who remains a friend of the Jews, and is thus killed by his fellow Arabs as a collaborator. He gets buried side by side with Karen, the beautiful Jewish girl who is also killed in the conflict.

Wow, things sure were different back then. After years of bitter conflict, I doubt that most of the Israelis who remain in the country today could watch the ending of this movie without howling in disbelief and/or disgust. Especially the Haredim.

Most of the peace loving we-can-get-along-with-the-Arabs idealists seem to have moved out of the country, as Israel has tacked hard to the right and towards more religiosity and the concept of a Greater Israel with room only for Jews.

Posted on Nov 13, 2011 6:51:10 PM PST
B. A. Dilger says:
DarthRad----Another poster on a different thread brought up the fact that if Iran would get atomic missiles that there would only be a 15-minute window for Israel to respond in kind. The Israelis don't have the 'leisure' to relax their vigil on the shores of a land that doesn't want them. And theirs is a thin land that doesn't allow much mercy in mistakes.

I remember "Exodus" from long ago and was outraged when the blonde woman was murdered by the Arabs. Think I'll watch it again to see what buttons it pushed on me as a kid.

Israel serves a strategic position in the eastern Mediterranean, which in older times was infested with pirates.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 13, 2011 7:23:28 PM PST
DarthRad,

Different cultures; different values. Your post is written from a western perspective, in which you assume that western values are what all people should live by.

The values of Orthodox Jews are different. And it is up to them, to decide what the values of a Jewish nation should be. Your assertion, that 'ultra' Orthodox Jews are no better than Muslims, should be of no concern to anyone. Muslims can shape their own society any way that they choose to. It's not your concern. Jews can shape their society, any way that they want to. It's none of your concern.

Sure, many western Jews have western values. That may make you favor the western Jew, over the Israeli Jew, but you have no right to expect Israeli Jews to comply with the values of 'some' western Jews. Ultimately, western Jews must support their brothers and sisters of Israel, and acknowledge the right of Israeli Jews to choose whether, or not, to make their society a religious society.

It's interesting that you would feel that 750,000 Jews voted with their feet. I mean, I don't know if that's why they emigrated from Israel, or not. You are speculating. But if a liberal Jew wants to vote on the form of Israeli society, then emigrating from Israel would be a poor means of voting. If a western, liberal Jew wants to vote on the shape of Israeli society, then they should immigrate to Israel, right?

In fact, that's what I'm going to tell the next liberal Jew, who whines about the power of the orthodox, in Israel. I'll tell them to make aliyah, and make a difference.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 13, 2011 7:33:33 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 13, 2011 7:50:12 PM PST
Moderate1 says:
Beautiful! I agree totally with the first thread. I've gone to Orthodox Jewish and had a Bar Mitzvah and the rest. But I can't support Israel. When they give Palestinians their human rights and stop the crazy soldiers and settlers, only then can I respect them.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 13, 2011 7:39:53 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 13, 2011 7:51:13 PM PST
Moderate1 says:
L King's Boring. Same old fake "new anti-semitism'", zionist and racist talk. The Israeli's are civilized, Arabs arent. And look over there, someone else is oppressing too, so y cant we?There's no such a thing as Palestine or Palestinians, they just made it up to keep Jews out... Kick rocks with the Dershowitz Joan Peters Propaganda and lies. Check out this Doc. It's excellent!!
Defamation

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 13, 2011 7:41:53 PM PST
Moderate1 says:
That was quite poetic. :)

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 13, 2011 7:57:36 PM PST
L. King says:
Which human rights are you referring to? The right to become citizens in Arab countries? You can direct your complaints elsewhere. The right to vote in free elections? This January Mahmoud Abbas will have reached his 3rd year beyond his legal term of office. Complain to him. The right to bear arms? The PA has more guns than can be found in most American cities. The right to expel Jews from the West Bank and create an apartheid state? If they return to the bargaining table they can probably get that as well, but they'd do much better is they would look on the Jewish communities in the West Bank as an asset rather than as a liability.

Which "crazy" Israeli soldiers are you referring to?

Let me relate story, and see what you think:

"The other day, Shmulik and I were driving to Jerusalem (read here that he was driving and I was enjoying being driven). I mentioned how few stories I had and he explained, as I have above, why that is so. I don't remember how the conversation talked to propaganda and lies, but it did. I told him the recent story (Liars, Just Liars).

And that's when I got his story. Shmulik and S. got a call. A Bedouin filed a complaint that "settlers" burned his sheep. They were duly disgusted. Torturing the innocent - whether human or animal, is not the Jewish way, not the Israeli way - despite what the Palestinians will tell you. They took the complaint seriously and went to investigate...and investigate they did.

It turns out - the Bedouin set a field of thorns on fire. It is an amazingly common way to clear a field and I've seen it many times here. The first time I saw it, I went running into an office telling them a field was on fire. The people inside got up to look, saw the hilltop on fire, said "it's okay" and went back to work.

Sure enough, the fields burn themselves clear and then are replanted or whatever is required. In this case, the Bedouin miscalculated and the fire was driven with winds to surround his sheep and began burning them. Nearby settlers - yes, those people that have been maligned as evil occupiers by Arabs and the media, came to help. They put out the fire, were thanked, and left.

Then the Bedouin realized - Israel compensates for many violent acts. If your car is damaged by rock throwers - you'll get it fixed at the State's expense. If your house is damaged by a rocket. The State will come in and fix it. There's an investigation to make sure you aren't trying to steal from the State, and then it is fixed. So the Bedouin hoped Israel would pay for the sheep he had accidentally killed. The story of the settlers murdering his poor sheep was widely reported; the truth was not."

http://israelisoldiersmother.blogspot.com/2011/11/shmulik-sheep-and-stories.html

So read what the "crazy" settlers did, and then compare it to how it gets reported. The lie gets shouted in the MSM because it's more newsworthy than the truth. And the truth, when it becomes known, is only whispered.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 13, 2011 8:02:29 PM PST
OK. You're first. You want a say in the shape of Israeli society? Make aliyah! I mean, since you had a bar mitzvah, and all, why not? Did the dayanim know that you didn't support Israel, when they confirmed you?

Posted on Nov 13, 2011 8:11:44 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 14, 2011 12:02:41 AM PST
DarthRad says:
B.A. Dilger,

Let's be clear about this - Israel has over the years made up many reasons to justify continued massive U.S. support for the country. As the political dynamics of the Middle East have changed over the years, the discarding of each reason and their replacement with a new reason makes one realize that the whole rationale behind U.S. support for Israel boils down simply to Harry Truman's very blunt statement to the Arab ambassadors in 1945 as to why he was supporting the creation of the state of Israel (going against the advice of Gen. George Marshall):

"I am sorry, gentlemen, but I have to answer to hundreds of thousands who are anxious for the success of Zionism: I do not have hundreds of thousands of Arabs among my constituents."

Yes, Harry Truman was one of the best at cutting through the B.S. and getting to the heart of any political decision.

During the Cold War, Israel was considered as another important ally against the Soviet Union. However, until the 1973 Yom Kippur War, Israel did not receive much in the way of any military aid from the U.S. The French and British were by far the biggest arms suppliers to Israel (remember, from the other thread, how England and France used to be major allies of Israel in the 1950s and 1960s, more important militarily than the U.S. - see Suez Canal crisis of 1956)

In order to get the Camp David accords between Egypt and Israel, Carter bought both countries off by putting them both on the U.S. taxpayer dole for massive amounts of foreign aid - ironically this included US funds to help Israel build some of its new settlements in the Occupied Territories. So that's how the massive foreign aid to Israel and Egypt got started.

How the heck did the Soviet Union and the Cold War figure into all of that? Israel was always a THEORETICAL bulwark against the Evil Empire. The U.S. may have had listening posts and shared other intelligence with Israel, but it has never ever based any troops in the country. This actually goes back to Truman's original doctrines about Israel at the time of its formation - that in return for supporting the UN resolution forming Israel, the US would seek stability in the Middle East and NOT put troops on the ground in Israel.

Well, the Soviet Union collapsed and now, ironically, about one million of the former Evil Soviet People live in Israel, making up about one-eighth of the population of Israel. Right, so these people are our allies now?

Strategic position? To fight the Barbary Pirates? C'mon, you gotta be kidding. What about Turkey, Crete, Greece, Italy, who are all in the Mediterranean, who are part of NATO, and where the U.S. actually has usable BASES with real troops and aircraft of its own to use for any conflict?

During both Iraq Wars, Israel sat on the sidelines, serving mainly as a target for Saddam's Scuds during Iraq War I. Saudi Arabia was the staging base for Iraq War I and the eternally grateful Kuwaitis hosted the start of Iraq War II. The U.S. now has massive quantities of stored weaponry and many bases in Kuwait. After their near-death experience, the Kuwaitis do everything and anything for the US in the region.

Your point about Iran possibly nuking Israel raises a Big Question. One of the original rationales for Israel expanding its settlements into the West Bank, and essentially permanently annexing the Occupied Territories as part of Greater Israel, was for security as the country was only 9.3 miles wide at its narrowest point. Well, now that the US has helped arm Israel to the teeth and none of its Arab neighbors have the military wherewithal to conquer Israel by land, the greatest existential threat to Israel is nuclear weapons, for which that extra bit of territory of the West Bank will make no difference.

So that excuse is also out the window. The true rationale for Israel to build settlements in the Occupied Territories has always been the goal of building a Greater Israel, of regaining Judea and Samaria, as Menachem Begin, who was the champion and progenitor of these settlements, always insisted on calling this territory.

Finally, we come to one of the often cited and few remaining reasons left - that Israel is one of the only democracies in the region, that Israel shares many cultural bonds with the U.S., and that therefore the U.S. should morally support such a country.

Well, let me remind everybody here that Americans come from all parts of the world and that American Jews make up only 1.7% of the total population of the U.S. As counter-examples, Steve Jobs was half-Syrian, Barack Obama is half-Kenyan, and Andre Agassi is half-Iranian. America should not be in the business of picking its allies based on genetic heritage.

Support democracy in the Middle East? Ironic how that is turning out too, as the Arab Spring makes it likely that perhaps some Arab countries will become more democratic at the same time that Israel turns into more of a theocracy under the political pressure of the Haredim.

And that is the whole point of this thread - one of the last remaining bonds between Israel and the United States, the shared cultural values, the democracy, the respect for personal and religious freedom and minority rights, that is increasingly becoming not true today in Israel. It's not the same country anymore.

How would Israel defend itself against a nuclear attack from Iran? There really isn't a way, as Americans all understood during the years of the Cold War and the "duck and cover" drills. The principle of Mutually Assured Destruction works only if your enemy is worried about being destroyed and doesn't want to be destroyed. Since at least some of the Iranian leadership seem to believe in the coming of the End of Days, I'm not sure that even a policy of MAD will work.

If you remember, the US had at least some of its nuclear bombers constantly in the air during the years of the Cold War, in order to make sure that a retaliatory strike could for sure be carried out (this was before the nuclear ICBM submarines ensured the same capability). So it wouldn't be that hard for Israel to ensure a retaliatory strike against Iran in a similar fashion.

But again, it's not clear that MAD would work with the Iranian leadership.

Posted on Nov 13, 2011 11:39:36 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Jul 30, 2015 8:32:23 AM PDT
DarthRad says:
Icsah,

Yes, my perspective is from a Western perspective, specifically of someone who is not Jewish, but has carefully followed and read many, many books and articles about the founding of Israel, about America's long term relationship with Israel, and about the current situation in that country

First and foremost, I consider America to be my country, my only country. Like many Americans, I have roots and ethnic ties outside of this country. I do not put those ethnic roots ahead of my views as to what is best for America. Unfortunately, this cannot be said to be the case for many intensely pro-Israeli American Jews.

I have had ex-Israelis as my neighbors. They were highly educated and very nice people. They were not interested in politics, only in the business of making it in this country, like most Americans. And that is the sense that I got from the Israelis who left Israel for America -they had the talent and the ambition to get out and try to make it in the American meritocracy, and they were no longer interested in being unwitting participants in the geopolitical and theocratic drama of modern life in Israel.

You see, in the early 1990s, after the Oslo Accords were signed, it seemed that peace was at hand in Israel. The Peace Now organization was huge in Israel, holding massive rallies. Yitzhak Rabin, Shimon Peres, and Yasser Arafat shared the 1994 Nobel Peace Prize. I remember the wonderful feeling of that moment in time.

The Israeli right wing ultra-nationalists, most of them ultra-Orthodox Jews, despised the idea of peace with the Palestinians, despised the concept of a two-state solution. They have wanted and continue to want a Greater Israel, i.e., all of the Occupied Territories permanently incorporated into Israel, and if at all possible, expulsion of the Palestinians from this land. That is the plain and simple truth. All Israelis know this is a fact.

In 1995, Rabin was assassinated by one such ultra-Orthodox Israeli. Over the next five years, Israel resumed building settlements in the Occupied Territories again. Further progress towards negotiating a final settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict stalled in 2000. Ariel Sharon made his provocative visit to the Al Aqsa Mosque. The Second Intifada exploded. Arafat had a stroke and died. Sharon had his stroke and died.

To control the violence of the Second Intifada, Israel imposed the massive series of walls, checkpoints, and severe prison-like travel restrictions upon the Palestinians. In 2006, ex-President Carter finally dared to called this severe Israeli system of controls by its true name - Apartheid.

Through all of that, the hopes of the pro-peace Israelis died. The Peace Now organization faded away. I suspect many of them were among those who emigrated from Israel.

The Ultra-Orthodox, the political force that assassinated Rabin and helped to kill the peace process, continued to breed in large numbers and grow in political clout. The numbers of Israeli settlers also grew and in and of themselves became another political power within Israel that has made the removal of the Israeli settlements politically impossible within Israel. Thus the political process in Israel made a hard turn to the right wing, and has stayed there ever since.

In 2000, George W. Bush became U.S. president. He saw how his father Bush Sr. had been heavily criticized for pushing through the Oslo accords and for insisting that Israel stop building settlements. He watched his father lose the 1992 Presidential election. Bush Jr. resolved to never once in his entire 8-year presidency say a single word that could be construed as critical of the Israeli government, thus converting the once powerful post of the US Presidency into a lapdog of the American Israel lobby.

The Republican Party soon saw the rewards flowing in the form of large campaign contributions from hard right wing intensely pro-Israeli American Jews, such as Jack Abramoff (later convicted of stealing from the Indian gaming casinos he was supposed to be lobbying for). The Republicans continue to see Israel as a wedge issue with which to pound the Democratic Party, hoping to pry the traditionally liberal American Jews away from their long term association with the Democratic Party, much as they had used racial politics to pry Southern whites away from the Democratic Party after LBJ had rammed through the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Voting Rights Act of 1965.

In 2007, Mearsheimer and Walt published their seminal work "The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy", which described the detrimental affect of the Israel Lobby. They were both immediately smeared as anti-Semites, which has since become the standard smear tactic to be used against any non-Jew who dares criticize Israel.

I look back on all of this with great sorrow. I still remember where I was when I heard that Anwar Sadat had been assassinated. Sadat started the Middle East peace process with his visit to Jerusalem. I remember hearing that Rabin had been assassinated and feeling shocked to my core. I voted for "Bush" four times for President, although I deeply regret the last two votes.

So Icsah, you are absolutely right, I don't particularly care about what the Haredim think and do in Israel, not anymore, for I know that they are only driving that country to ruin, and nobody can do anything about it.

But I am an American, and only that - I do not have a dual allegiance, and I do not like to see our Presidency, our entire political process, become subverted to the service of a foreign country that no longer shares any of my ideals as an American, and has never truly contributed one tiny bit to the national security of my country.

Israel has become a country increasingly controlled by ex-Soviet mafia and ultra-Orthodox Jews wishing to impose halacha - Jewish sharia law.

It is not an Israel that the American Jews who I know were raised to hold liberal humanistic values, to be tolerant of other cultures, and to value personal and religious freedom, would find to be worthy of their continuing support.

The large numbers of Israelis who have fled already from Israel, most of them relatively apolitical people wishing only for peace, indicates that only those American Jews who relish political, theocratic, and possibly physical combat would want to make aliyah and go to Israel to see if they can make a difference. To me, it is clear, it's a hopeless cause - the ultra-Orthodox and ex-Soviets have won already, and taken over the country. People worldwide just haven't discovered that yet.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 14, 2011 8:01:40 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 14, 2011 8:04:12 AM PST
DarthRad,

Thanks for the lengthy regurgitation of things that you read in books, which advocate a particular, western, anti-Jewish agenda.

Again, I don't really care about your fondness for Jews who embrace western values, and your disdain for Jews who favor a religious Jewish nation. Your opinion, about these things, shouldn't matter to anyone.

Halacha is halacha. It is not Islamic sharia law. That you use such rhetorical devices, is indicative of your desire to paint religious Jews with the same brush that you know that the western public paints Muslims with. I am not especially antagonistic toward sharia. If Muslims, in their own lands, want to live in accordance with sharia, then I don't really care. I won't form my political opinions, based on my disdain for sharia. If Jews, in a Jewish land, want to live in accordance with halacha, then it is wrong of you, to form your political opinions, based on your disdain for halacha.

I'm really expressing a very American point of view, Darth. I don't believe, that I, as an American, have the right to tell another nation, that they must forsake their religious values, and live in accordance with my values. You, on the other hand, want to make acceptance of American values a requirement, for all nations who are allied with America. That's not an American value; it's simply bigotry.

I'm not at war with Islam, Darth. I am only at war with those who threaten the survival, and well being, of the millions of Jews who live in Israel. I am also at war with those who threaten the survival, and well being, of millions of Jews, who live in the diaspora. The Jews who share your western values, believe that America will respect their rights, forever. I'm not so sure.

Mostly, I think that Jews, in America, are respected because the Christian Right currently wants war with Islam, and they see Jews as the vanguard, for this war. In other words, they see Jews as cannon fodder. I don't think that the Christian Right intends for Jews to survive their alliance.

With that in mind, I believe that Jews will be seen as having out-lived their purpose, without a modern nation of Israel. Hatred of Jews, in western culture, will enjoy a revival. So we are sort of between a rock, and a hard place. It is only the conflict with Islam, that causes westerners to have esteem for Jews.

So, for now, I see the best course of action to be not backing down, but never giving the Christian Right their precious war, which arouses them so much. I, personally, am hesitant to go to total war, until we have allies who can counter the Christian Right, should they choose to betray Israel, and Jews in general.

I think that you are probably an irreligious guy. I don't really have a problem with that. But you believe that it is religion 'that starts all of the wars'. Religion has certainly fanned the flames, for many wars. But this is a relatively new phenomenon, in human history. Religion didn't fan the flames of war, until religious folk started proselytizing. Your enemies are those who practice proselytizing, Darth. In stead of antagonizing Jews, who want to live in accordance with Jewish law, in a Jewish land, why not antagonize proselytizers-- who are really the ones who fan the flames of war.

After all, the only real reason that Palestinians are attacking Israelis, is because of the misguided notion, that anyone who doesn't accept their prophet, is an enemy; and that once a land is ruled by Muslims, it must always be ruled by Muslims. Jews only want their one land, Darth. In that one land, they should be able to choose to live in accordance with Jewish law, if they want to. A person who has been indoctrinated with western concepts of civics, should accept that this is right.

Posted on Nov 14, 2011 8:31:47 AM PST
IGS says:
Darth & BA,

Don't waste your time, it is only a matter of time before you are called an idiot and an anti-semite and ganged up upon by a pile of people who are unwilling to look beyond a ridiculously narrow point of view. They, sadly, remind me ever so much like the George Wallace Democrats of the 60's. They don't understand that their Malcolm X's, have a point of view that deserves to be heard and should be honestly considered. It may be the wrong messenger ... but the message is still valid. What will they ever do when the MLK's start showing up at their door? But any point of discussion you raise will be met with derision, close-minded resolve and will fall upon deaf ears. I wish it was not so, but you were warned.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 14, 2011 8:41:55 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 14, 2011 8:50:56 AM PST
Smallchief says:
Agree.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 14, 2011 8:52:53 AM PST
anne says:
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In reply to an earlier post on Nov 14, 2011 8:55:25 AM PST
You puzzle me, Smallchief. Here's the part of my post, that I think should be especially meaningful, to you:

"If Muslims, in their own lands, want to live in accordance with sharia, then I don't really care. I won't form my political opinions, based on my disdain for sharia. If Jews, in a Jewish land, want to live in accordance with halacha, then it is wrong of you, to form your political opinions, based on your disdain for halacha."

Further:

"Jews only want their one land, Darth. In that one land, they should be able to choose to live in accordance with Jewish law, if they want to. A person who has been indoctrinated with western concepts of civics, should accept that this is right. "

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 14, 2011 9:19:31 AM PST
QUESTER says:
DarthRad,

The great thing about America is that we openly admit our flaws, and however tortuous of a process it takes, eventually figure out a way through major problems. It took the Civil War to solve the problem of slavery, the turmoil and deaths of the Civil Rights movement to solve the problem of American Apartheid, the Vietnam War for America to realize the limits of its military power. We are in a big economic mess right now, but I am optimistic that eventually it will get fixed.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
It took America more than 200 years to get to where it is today. Israel has been a modern nation less than 50 years.

Israel will work out her own issues, just like every other nation does.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 14, 2011 9:29:28 AM PST
I love your article. Thank you for sharing.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 14, 2011 9:35:43 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 14, 2011 9:38:23 AM PST
Smallchief says:
I basically agree with both your points -- with the qualifier that Israeli Jews do not have a right to impose their religious law and customs on the 25 percent of the Israeli population that is not Jewish. I certainly do not believe that the imposition of religious law is the ideal for any country -- be it Muslim, Christian, or Jewish -- but, if the majority of Israeli Jews wish to observe religious law, so be it.

But I have the right to criticize Israel for what is going on within Israel -- just as I have the right to speak out about what is happening within any other country. And I have the right to speak out on behalf of those people who I believe Israel is mistreating. Especially since Israel has been getting a gift of $3 billion per year for the last 30 or 40 years from the American taxpayer.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 14, 2011 9:40:06 AM PST
QUESTER,

While I appreciate your conclusion, I'm a little skeptical of some of your claims. I am skeptical about us openly admitting our flaws, or even that we recognize them. In my opinion, it took America less that 200 years, to become a self-absorbed, nihilistic, consumption-driven culture, where worshipping the self, and vanity are our primary values. I hope for something different, for Israel.
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Discussion in:  History forum
Participants:  63
Total posts:  1054
Initial post:  Nov 13, 2011
Latest post:  7 days ago

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