pageok
pageok
pageok
Leftist Jews Who Hate Israel:

The New York Times has a story today about the buzz over an AJC study attacking leftist Jews who hate Israel; and I do mean hate, not simply "criticize," as the quotations collected in the piece show quite clearly (The author, however, at times goes overboard, as when he puts someone like Richard Cohen, who has doubts about whether it was wise to establish a Jewish state in hostile territory, in the same camp as the likes of Adam Shapiro of the International Solidarity Movement, and others who welcome terrorist violence against Israelis or call for the (inevitably violent) destruction of Israel).

It so happens that I corresponded with a VC on related issues over the weekend. I noted that one first has to separate sincere Jewish critics of Israel, who criticize Israel harshly and disproportionately because they would like to see Israel improve itself (from their perspective), and because as Jews they feel a special responsibility to see that Israel be a "light to the nations," from those who attack Israel from motives that reflect an underlying hostility to the very concept of a Jewish nation.

Why would a non-religious Jew be hostile to the concept of a Jewish nation-state(beyond, like Cohen (and me on some days) worrying about whether the establishment of Israel in its particular time and place will turn out, in retrospect, to have been a wise decision?), in others word, be anti-Zionist, in disproportion to their expressed hostility to any other form of nationalism?

There are those who have an internationalist, leftist perspective that hates all Western (but, oddly, not non-Western) nationalism. Israel is seen as a uniquely vulnerable example of such nationalism, one that is particularly dangerous because of its alliance with the United States, and one that is in the unique position of potentially being turned over in the near future to a Third World liberation movement. Today Israel, tomorrow all Western nation-states! Jewish leftists in particular volunteer for anti-Israel duty because they know they get they can get extra mileage out of attacking Israel precisely because they rightly believe that being Jewish inoculates them to some extent from criticism (how many times do we have to hear that Norman Finkelstein's mother is a Holocaust survivor, and why is it relevant? Torquemada's mother was a Jew coerced to convert to Catholocism, and that hardly made him a Boy Scout.)

Moreover, there's nothing new about ethnically Jewish leftists being on the forefront of attacks on established Jewish institutions. In Lenin's day in the Soviet Union, it was ethnically Jewish Communists who led the attack on Jewish cultural and religious institutions, which were decimated relative to, say, the Russian Orthodox Church. Beyond that, attacking other Jews has always been a way for Jews who wish to be accepted by groups hostile to Jewish corporate existence to prove their bona fides. A significant percentage of auto de faes in Europe during the Inquisition were instituted by Jewish apostates, the better to dissipate any suspicions of lingering loyalties to the Jewish community. Is it possible these days for a Jew to be accepted into radical left circles without going through the initiation rite of attacking Israel? As long ago as 1986, editors at the Village Voice made it clear that they wouldn't hire a Brandeis acquaintance of mine unless he was willing to denounce Israel (according to his version of events, he then walked out of the interview).

Other Jewish Israel-haters have what I consider a more innocent, but still seriously misguided, perspective: they actually associate their Jewish identity with victimhood, and would much rather Jews continue to be the victims than ever be perpetrators. At least in modern times in the Western world, perpetual victimhood has its advantages and thus attractions--it allows one to claim the moral high ground, and to claim special insight into the woes of the world. (I still remember a bizarre scene at Yale Law School during a "student strike for diversity" in which Yale Law students--overall a rather privileged lot--one by one strode to a speaker's podium to explain their personal victim status, including such gripping tales as being a first generation professional who wasn't sure how to dress for an interview at an elite New York firm. The horror of being on the cusp of a six figure job, but needing to ask the sales clerk at Brooks Brothers for advice!)

The problem such Jews have with Zionism is that having a nation-state for the Jews necessarily implies that the nation-state will sometimes misbehave (as all nation-states do). This in turn implies that to maintain Jewish victimhood, the sense that Jews are to play their assigned role as the Jiminy Cricket speaking to the world's conscience, that Jews, uniquely, may never have a nation-state. Unlike more generic leftist universalistic anti-Western nationalism, this is a specifically Jewish reason to be hostile to Zionism, and one that's quite foreign to my own thinking; given the choice, I'd rather not be a perpetual victim thank you, and I believe that's why the vast majority of other Jews also support Israel. But it's not at all uncommon to hear this particular version of anti-Zionism espoused by Jews.

Put another way, there is a segment of the American Jewish community, if asked to describe one of the great events of post-Holocaust Jewish history, would describe the murder of Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwermer while working for the cause of civil rights in Mississippi. This incident combines Jewish powerlessness and victimhood with a sense of innate Jewish goodness in a way that has a certain masochistic appeal to some Jews; the image of an Israeli soldier, which makes most Jews proud, revolts at least part of this segment of the community. This is actually a peculiar form of Jewish particularism, and one that I found far more chauvinistic in its own way than most versions of Zionism.

Elliot Reed:
the likes of Adam Shapiro of the International Solidarity Movement, and others who welcome terrorist violence against Israelis or call for the (inevitably violent) destruction of Israel
Cites or quotes, please? I've never heard of Shapiro or the ISM, but my ten seconds of "research" turns up instances of them purporting to endorse nonviolence and no instances of them calling for the violent destruction of Israel. A search for Shapiro does turn up some attacks but the same source makes racist attacks on his "bug-eyed Palestinian" wife so I don't regard the source as credible.

As I said, I've never heard of Shapiro or the ISM before (I don't follow this issue) so I don't express any opinion on whether you're right but I'd like to see your quotes.
2.1.2007 1:43pm
alkali (mail) (www):
If there's one thing that's guaranteed to end well, it's a discussion of whether certain unspecified Jewish people might be harboring secret motives in support of a secret agenda.
2.1.2007 1:51pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
Al, nothing "secret" about it. The summary: (1) Some leftist Jews hate Israel for the same reasons other leftists hate Israel, but it's politically better for be a Jew out front denouncing Israel than for a Gentile to be doing it. (2) Some Jews hate Israel because they are essentially pacifists and revel in victimhood, but see this as confirming, not denying, their Jewish identity.
2.1.2007 1:57pm
AF:
I do mean hate, not simply "criticize," as the quotations collected in the piece show quite clearly . . . .

This is unfair, even based on the (presumably selective) quotations in the AJC piece.

Some examples from the AJC essay:


“Israel today,” [Tony] Judt avers, “is bad for the Jews,”13 and it would do them and everyone else a service by going out of business. “The time has come to think the unthinkable,” he writes, and that is to replace the Jewish state with “a single, integrated, binational state of Jews and Arabs.”14

“I’m not against Israel,” writes Douglas Rushkoff, a New York-based author who writes on media and new culture. His objection rather is to the version of Israel which he sees as “this nationalized refugee camp,” which is “a compromise of Jewish ideals, and not their realization....
We get a claim on some land, but we lose our religion in the process”.

“Far from being protected by Israel, I feel exposed
to danger by the actions of the Israeli state,” writes Melanie Kaye/Kantrowitz. “I am declaring another way to be Jewish.... I renounce my right to return”.


This is not "hatred" for Israel, much less for the Jewish people. It is principled anti-Zionism. They are not the same thing.
2.1.2007 2:16pm
AF:
To clarify, the essay does contain some quotations that can arguable be characterized as hateful. For example:


Journalist Esther Kaplan, commenting on the charge by a young Rutgers University activist that “Israel is a racist state, an imperialist state—it is and should be a pariah state,” remarks: “[I]f that’s what it takes to bring down the occupation..., Israel should absolutely become a pariah state.... The time has come when Israel must be totally isolated by world opinion and forced, simply forced, to concede”


But these are a minority of the quotes in the essay. The essay doesn't just "at times go[] overboard," it completely conflates anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism.
2.1.2007 2:25pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
Eliot, ISM is often described as "nonviolent" in the MSM cliche-generator, but they explicitly endorse Palestinian terrorism. (Which they often delightfully call "resistance.") E.g., their mission statement says, in part:
“As enshrined in international law and UN resolutions , we recognize the Palestinian right to resist Israeli violence and occupation via legitimate armed struggle.
2.1.2007 2:28pm
Vovan:

Moreover, there's nothing new about ethnically Jewish leftists being on the forefront of attacks on established Jewish institutions. In Lenin's day in the Soviet Union, it was ethnically Jewish Communists who led the attack on Jewish cultural and religious institutions, which were decimated relative to, say, the Russian Orthodox Church


Bernstein, you do know that until 1953 all of the major monasteries in the USSR were converted to the labor camps right? You do know that most of Pale of Settlement remained in Poland, and not in USSR. You do know that "Jewish Communists" led attack on every religion since - religion is an opiate of the masses?

All religions were "decimated" equally (except for Islam - which was allowed to remain to control the "uncivilized"). SO Why, Why would you put this sentence in?
2.1.2007 2:31pm
frankcross (mail):
The psychoanalyzing loses me.
I think Goodman and Schwerner are secular heroes and I don't get the reference to their powerlessness. JFK and RFK were assassinated but that didn't make them powerless. They showed courage but not powerlessness.

And I don't get the oppressor/victim dichotomy. Most people would prefer to be neither. However, a fair number of people, including nonJews such as myself, would pick victim over oppressor, if forced to choose between the two. I happen to think that is a moral choice, that you accept risks on yourself before you advantage yourself by imposing them on others. But I've never had to make this choice in a serious way, I seem able to avoid being both a victim and an oppressor.
2.1.2007 2:35pm
Gumby:
I think far-leftists often are self-hating. To advocate against one's own interests or against the interests of one's group demonstrates (to the far-left mind) one's moral superiority.

There are American leftists who hate America, European leftists who hate Europe, etc...
2.1.2007 2:37pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
Vovan, I'm really not sure what you're getting at, but though I'm no historian of the Russian Revolution, I think it's pretty well established that ethnically Jewish Communists within the Soviet government were especially aggressive about wiping out Jewish corporate and religious life in the Soviet Union. What the Pale of Settlement has to do without I have no idea, unless you are implying the completely nutty theory that Jews controlled the Soviet Union, purposely left the Pale of Settlement out of its borders so as not to affect most Jews, and proceeded to wipe out all other religions, wiping out Judaism too, but just for show. I hope that too merely repeat the inference is to discredit it.
2.1.2007 2:39pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
Frank, for many, by being an American citizen who is not in some way at war with his government you are indeed a perpetrator. The interesting thing about Schwermer and Goodman is that to a certain segment of Jews they are specifically Jewish heroes, even though, if I'm remembering correctly, neither was motivated by specifically Jewish concerns, either practical, religious, or ideological.
As far as powerlessness, dead is about as powerless as you can get. And note, this is not psychoanalyzing, unless one considers all investigations of underlying IDEOLOGY psychoanalyzing. I'm saying that some Jews have an ideology that suggests that the essence of Judaism is victimhood, and thus Jews, specifically, must never be perpetrators and must always be on the side of "victims" (implicitly, regardless of whether the victims were in the right or in the wrong). This ideology logicaly leads to anti-Zionismm.
2.1.2007 2:45pm
Elliot Reed:
David, the FAQ on the ISM webpage seems to contradict that claim. That claims they believe there can be legitimate armed resistance, but suicide bombing isn't it. It's quite possible they're lying; implying something without explicitly saying it so you can later claim it's not what you said is a depressingly common tactic (see, e.g., intelligent design, Holocaust denial). But I want some better evidence that it's what they actually endorse.
2.1.2007 2:47pm
hopster:
For info on Shapiro and the ISM, see http://ismcentral.blogspot.com or do a search at LGF.
2.1.2007 2:59pm
Vovan:

Vovan, I'm really not sure what you're getting at, but though I'm no historian of the Russian Revolution, I think it's pretty well established that ethnically Jewish Communists within the Soviet government were especially aggressive about wiping out Jewish corporate and religious life in the Soviet Union. What the Pale of Settlement has to do without I have no idea, unless you are implying the completely nutty theory that Jews controlled the Soviet Union, purposely left the Pale of Settlement out of its borders so as not to affect most Jews, and proceeded to wipe out all other religions, wiping out Judaism too, but just for show. I hope that too merely repeat the inference is to discredit it.


No, what I am saying is that the heart of the European Jewish Cultural and Reilgious thought was located in the Pale of Settlement - controlled by Poland, and the Baltic States. However, in the mainland Russia (Not Ukraine) - already before the revolution - the majority of the Jews were secular, and not at all in touch with their Jewish Identity - since the tsars prohibited jews from living in major cities.

You are saying that ethnically Jewish Bolsheviks wiped out Jewish Thought at a greater rate than for example Russain Orthodoxy. However, since the Jewish tradition in mainland Russia, was already exterminated by the tsars, while Orthodoxy thrived - the subsequnet destruction of the Orthodoxy (with examples listed above) as compared to Non-revivement (rather than destruction) of the jewish culture - shows that your assertion is factually incorrect.
2.1.2007 3:00pm
Ilya Somin:
Bernstein, you do know that until 1953 all of the major monasteries in the USSR were converted to the labor camps right? You do know that most of Pale of Settlement remained in Poland, and not in USSR. You do know that "Jewish Communists" led attack on every religion since - religion is an opiate of the masses?

There is no question that other religions were also repressed by the communists. However, the Russian Orthodox Church retained many properties (including some of its monasteries) throughout. By contrast, all but a handful of synagogues were shut down, as were all other Jewish communal instutitions not under the control of the state. Some other minority religions (e.g. - Pentecostals) suffered comparably severe repression, but it is fair to say that the Jews were targeted more severely than most (though not all) other religious groups in the USSR and that ethnically Jewish communists at first took the lead in this effort.

As for the Pale of Settlement, it was abolished by the Provisional Government before the Bolsheviks seized power, so it has no relevance here. However, as a matter of historical fact, most of the former Pale went to the Soviet Union in 1918, and the Soviets took even more of it in 1940 when they annexed much of what had been eastern Poland.
2.1.2007 3:14pm
Ilya Somin:
However, in the mainland Russia (Not Ukraine) - already before the revolution - the majority of the Jews were secular, and not at all in touch with their Jewish Identity - since the tsars prohibited jews from living in major cities.

This is simply false. Only a tiny percentage of Russian Jews were secular before the revolution. Orthodox and Hasidic Judaism probably accounted for over 90% of the Russian Jewish population pre-1917.


However, since the Jewish tradition in mainland Russia, was already exterminated by the tsars, while Orthodoxy thrived - the subsequnet destruction of the Orthodoxy (with examples listed above) as compared to Non-revivement (rather than destruction) of the jewish culture - shows that your assertion is factually incorrect.


Again, false. The czars repressed the Jews in many ways, but they did not "destroy" the Jewish religious tradition, and made no effort to turn the Jews "secular." There were occasional efforts to get them to convert to Russian Orthodoxy, but nearly all those Jews who did not convert were still religious (and in a highly traditional way) as of 1917. It was the communist government in the 1920s which shut down nearly all synagogues and also virtually other Jewish religious and cultural institutions that had been independent of the government.
2.1.2007 3:21pm
J. F. Thomas (mail):
So what is your point? That these Jews are traitors to their ethnicity? That they are dirty, money-grubbing bankers and financiers who control the reigns of government? Maybe they are so dangerous we should pass laws to limit their economic power and seize their assets. I guess the next post will be "Zionists who hate Left Wing Jews".
2.1.2007 3:53pm
dearieme:
One would surely have to be remarkably unreflective not to wonder "whether it was wise to establish a Jewish state in hostile territory"?
2.1.2007 3:59pm
Dan Simon (mail) (www):
David, I think I've pointed this out to you before, but you've omitted another very important element of modern Jewish anti-Zionism: secularism.

Before the creation of Israel, and for about a quarter of a century afterwards, Zionism was primarily a leftist, secularist alternative to traditional Orthodox Judaism. Orthodox (and for that matter, much of Reform and Conservative) Jewry, on the other hand, was largely indifferent to, and often actively hostile to, the Zionist movement.

For various reasons, though, religious Jews began flocking to Zionism after Israel's creation, and a sort of tipping point was reached in the 1970's, with the decline of the Israeli Labor party, the rise of the settlement movement and the infusion of traditionalist Sephardic Jews into the country's mainstream Zionist factions. Thereafter, Zionism became increasingly associated with religious traditionalism and Orthodoxy--deeply alienating leftist secularists both in Israel and abroad.

Today, if you ask most anti-Zionist leftists how they see Zionists, they will typically describe them in religious terms, as fanatical zealots slaughtering Arabs in the name of their Messianic vision of a third temple. They may also add political, cultural and even economic elements to this characterization, of course, but the religious element is central, and shouldn't be ignored.
2.1.2007 4:16pm
liberty (mail) (www):
Cites or quotes, please? I've never heard of Shapiro or the ISM, but my ten seconds of "research" turns up instances of them purporting to endorse nonviolence

Well, 10 seconds is clearly not enough. This source and this source are not unbiased but are still worth reading. Stop the ISM recently infiltrated the ISM, and got lots of photos posing with machine guns among known terrorists.

Here is a nice quote from Mark Turner of the ISM:

we're also trying to protect
the last of the homes of the balata martyrs. these
houses were once the homes of young men who went into
israel or to settlements to bomb.


Protecting martyrs, thats all, quite peaceful.
2.1.2007 4:16pm
Vovan:

There is no question that other religions were also repressed by the communists. However, the Russian Orthodox Church retained many properties (including some of its monasteries) throughout. By contrast, all but a handful of synagogues were shut down, as were all other Jewish communal instutitions not under the control of the state.


Somin, religion is not private property (tiazhelo poverit da?) - Soviets activly destroyed "participation" in teh church activities - they made a country that was overwhelmingly relgious - secular in a matter of three decades - Until the Purges, for starters, you could be an "ethnic jew" and be in the communist party - you could not be a practicing Russian orthodox and be in the communist party.


This is simply false. Only a tiny percentage of Russian Jews were secular before the revolution. Orthodox and Hasidic Judaism probably accounted for over 90% of the Russian Jewish population pre-1917.


In the Pale, not in Russia Proper, you are deliberately conflating the two. Jewish intelligencia that remained in the cities due to special education and skills became highly "westernized" - thus such a high percentage of them in the Bolshevik party.


Again, false. The czars repressed the Jews in many ways, but they did not "destroy" the Jewish religious tradition, and made no effort to turn the Jews "secular." There were occasional efforts to get them to convert to Russian Orthodoxy, but nearly all those Jews who did not convert were still religious (and in a highly traditional way) as of 1917.


The procurator-general of the Holy Synod and the tsar's mentor, friend, and adviser Konstantin Pobedonostsev was reported as saying that one-third of Russia's Jews was expected to emigrate, one-third to accept baptism, and one-third to starve. - thank you wikipedia
2.1.2007 4:18pm
frankcross (mail):
Well, I'm going to have to disagree about death being as powerless as you get. In fact, I think your own position indicates that Goodman and Schwerner are quite powerful in their death. The Christian martyrs, by being martyrs, gained influence.

But I think there is a very defensible position that if one is forced to choose between victim and oppressor, between unjustifiable killing and being killed, that morality argues for victimhood.

And I don't feel bad about being an American.
2.1.2007 4:31pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
Dan, it's a fair point, and relatedly, there are a many Jewish ex-Zionists out there bitterly disappointed that Israel didn't become anything like the Socialist utopia they worked to create. But on the religious point, given that Israel is in fact a largely secular society, one still needs to explain why that fact, obvious to anyone who has spent any time in Tel Aviv, escapes some of its bitterest Jewish critics.
2.1.2007 4:39pm
Elliot123 (mail):
OK. Can someone define a Jew in twenty-five words or less? What are the minimum requirements for a person to be a Jew? I'm serious about this. Multiple definitions are welcome.
2.1.2007 4:40pm
Ilya Somin:
The procurator-general of the Holy Synod and the tsar's mentor, friend, and adviser Konstantin Pobedonostsev was reported as saying that one-third of Russia's Jews was expected to emigrate, one-third to accept baptism, and one-third to starve. - thank you wikipedia

Yes, Pobedonostsev (an adviser to Czar Alexander III) did say that. But the czar never came close to carrying out this plan. And note that none of these three options involved turning the Jews "secular" (which is what our debate was about).

This is simply false. Only a tiny percentage of Russian Jews were secular before the revolution. Orthodox and Hasidic Judaism probably accounted for over 90% of the Russian Jewish population pre-1917.



In the Pale, not in Russia Proper, you are deliberately conflating the two. Jewish intelligencia that remained in the cities due to special education and skills became highly "westernized" - thus such a high percentage of them in the Bolshevik party.


The Pale was a part of the Russian Empire. It was the part where Jews where permitted to live without special permission from the czarist authorities, but was not otherwise a separate entity from "Russia proper." Yes, there was a small relatively secular Jewish intelligentsia in the cities, some of whom joined the Bolshevik Party. But the vast majority of Russian Jews (probably over 90%) lived in the Pale (in part because they were forbidden to live elsewhere in Russia) and did NOT become secular until after the communists took power.
2.1.2007 4:51pm
Elliot Reed:
liberty - point well taken. Looking up the quotes in the sources you quote got me to this op-ed coauthored by Shapiro, in which he makes it quite clear that suicide bombings are A-OK with him.
2.1.2007 5:00pm
JSinger (mail):

Other Jewish Israel-haters have what I consider a more innocent, but still seriously misguided, perspective: they actually associate their Jewish identity with victimhood, and would much rather Jews continue to be the victims than ever be perpetrators.


I think that's the majority of it, but it doesn't necessarily involve victimhood (although it often does). Most of the people were talking about enjoy being thought of as Jewish, for reasons you or I might or might not find appealing, and it's distressing to them to feel that Israel is turning it into a negative for them. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but the way it's played out is sometimes ... dyfunctional.

As for socialism: honestly, at this point, barely anyone remembers that pre-1967, leftist, French-backed Israel existed. I doubt if that's still a factor in many minds.
2.1.2007 5:03pm
Vovan:

Yes, Pobedonostsev (an adviser to Czar Alexander III) did say that. But the czar never came close to carrying out this plan. And note that none of these three options involved turning the Jews "secular" (which is what our debate was about).


What about immigration to the US of over 2 million due to pogroms and awful discrimination? The May laws? That's coming damn close to the desired effect.


But the vast majority of Russian Jews (probably over 90%) lived in the Pale (in part because they were forbidden to live elsewhere in Russia) and did NOT become secular until after the communists took power.


Most of the Leaders of the Hisdarut, and even Vova Jabotinsky came from the pale. In fact secular, socialist Israel was build by the Pale emigrants - and then you are going to say that Pale was overwhelmingly religious? Apparently not religious enough stifle the development of the Zionist and Socialist movements.
2.1.2007 5:09pm
Roger Sachar (mail):
Tough challenge. A Jew is a descendant of Abraham and Sarah, either through genetics, or through belief. Thats about the best I can do without ticking someone off.

Roger Sachar
2.1.2007 5:13pm
crane (mail):
...But on the religious point, given that Israel is in fact a largely secular society, one still needs to explain why that fact, obvious to anyone who has spent any time in Tel Aviv, escapes some of its bitterest Jewish critics.


Aren't the religious extremists the driving force behind the settlements, which are one of the major obstacles to peace on the Israeli side? From what I've read, they're also the segment of the Israeli population most opposed to coexistence with the Palestinians, because they believe God gave the entire territory of Israel to the Jewish people and they see no reason why they should have to share it with anyone else. Since the Israeli government has generally been reluctant to prevent settlement in the Palestinian territories, and at some times even quietly encouraged it, one might be forgiven for thinking that religious Zionism has significant influence over Israeli government policy.
2.1.2007 5:14pm
Ilya Somin:
Most of the Leaders of the Hisdarut, and even Vova Jabotinsky came from the pale. In fact secular, socialist Israel was build by the Pale emigrants - and then you are going to say that Pale was overwhelmingly religious? Apparently not religious enough stifle the development of the Zionist and Socialist movements.

Jabotinsky, of course, was religious and came from Poland, not Russia (though parts of Poland were included in the Pale). Many of the secular socialists who built the early Zionist movement did indeed come from the Pale, but they were a small minority within the Jewish population of that region, whose views should not be taken as representative.
Yes, Pobedonostsev (an adviser to Czar Alexander III) did say that. But the czar never came close to carrying out this plan. And note that none of these three options involved turning the Jews "secular" (which is what our debate was about).



What about immigration to the US of over 2 million due to pogroms and awful discrimination? The May laws? That's coming damn close to the desired effect.


Pogroms and discrimination are not the same thing as secularizing the Jews. Ditto for emigration to the US. Many Jews did leave, but those who stayed remained overwhelming religious and not secular. And the czarist government did not try to make them secular.
2.1.2007 5:16pm
Ilya Somin:
A small correction:

I was wrong to say that Jabotinsky came from Poland, not Russia. He was, in fact, from Odessa. On the other hand, it is indeed the case that he was religious, not secular.
2.1.2007 5:23pm
VFBVFB (mail):
Tough challenge. A Jew is a descendant of Abraham and Sarah, either through genetics, or through belief. Thats about the best I can do without ticking someone off.

While you didn’t tick me off, I have to take issue with your statement. There is zero evidence for the existence of Abraham and Sarah, so how can the definition of a Jew have anything to do with who descended from them.
2.1.2007 5:43pm
Respondent (mail):
I can now finally understand the reason why so many Jews (at least as it appears to me) define (unconciously) their religious identity primarily by refering to the holocaust.
Ilya,
While I agree with you about the Russian goal of converting Jews (as opposed to secularizing them), one shouldn't forget that in late Czarist times secular Jews (playing on the regime's fear of any cultural movement not western or Russian) convinced the government to ban all religious Jewish schools that didn't meet a whole host of requirements, including severely limiting the hours of instruction and teaching Russian and math (hopefully and invariably with non-religious Jewish or anti-Semitic instructors). All communal Rabbis had to have a college diploma, and Jewish dress was banned along with any dress not western or Russian. There were other regulations as well, many promulgated by a coalition of anti-Semitic government forces strongly urged by secular Jews who had government influences. Their motives were different, but the secular Jewish influence on many of these government decrees is well documented.
2.1.2007 5:45pm
Dan Simon (mail) (www):
David, I didn't claim that anti-Zionist leftist Jews' association of Israel with militant religiosity is particularly accurate--only that the association is a big part of their self-identification as anti-Zionist. Partisan political identity is all about alliances and enmities, and if religious Jews--the enemy, to secular leftists--have predominantly chosen to ally themselves with Zionists, then we shouldn't be surprised to find secular leftists lumping their enemy's chosen allies together with their enemy. (Again, it was the same fifty years ago, when secular leftists proudly embraced the Zionist movement, in no small part because religious Jews shunned it as too secular.)
2.1.2007 5:57pm
AF:
I believe a Jew is someone who either (1) has a Jewish mother (or parent, for Reform Jews) and has not converted to another religion, or (2) has converted to Judaism.

There are debates (scholarly and otherwise) about precisely what a someone who is born Jewish needs to do to cease being a Jew and what someone who is not born Jewish needs to do to become a Jew.
2.1.2007 6:52pm
Ilya Somin:
While I agree with you about the Russian goal of converting Jews (as opposed to secularizing them), one shouldn't forget that in late Czarist times secular Jews (playing on the regime's fear of any cultural movement not western or Russian) convinced the government to ban all religious Jewish schools that didn't meet a whole host of requirements

I highly doubt that, during czarist times, "secular Jews" had the power to get the czarist government to do anything, much less enact an entire new policy on the regulation of Jewish schools. Secular Jews were a tiny fraction of the Jewish population, and they were even more disliked by the government (because a disproportionate percentage of them were involved in various anti-government movements) than the religious Jews were.
2.1.2007 6:56pm
Ilya Somin:
All communal Rabbis had to have a college diploma, and Jewish dress was banned along with any dress not western or Russian. There were other regulations as well, many promulgated by a coalition of anti-Semitic government forces strongly urged by secular Jews who had government influences. Their motives were different, but the secular Jewish influence on many of these government decrees is well documented.

None of this is even remotely close to being true, particularly the claim that "secular Jews" had any influence over the czarist govenment. I think you must have fallen for bogus info on some anti-Semitic or otherwise crackpot website.
2.1.2007 6:58pm
AF:
On second thought, traditionally anyone with a Jewish mother is considered a Jew, even if he or she converts to another religion.
2.1.2007 6:59pm
J. F. Thomas (mail):
Rather than worry about the leftist Jews who hate Israel, you should spend more time worrying about the rightist Christians who love it. A good number of them only love Israel because they look forward to the day when a third of the Jews convert to Christianity and the rest are cast into a fiery pit of eternal damnation as Jesus returns shooting lasers out of his eyes and punishing all those Jews who dissed him the first time around and still <b>just don't get it</b>.
2.1.2007 7:53pm
whimsy:
One of the problems with Tony Judt is that he doesn't seem to apply his philosophy to any other country that came into existence about the same time or later. I don't claim to be an expert on his writings, but to what extent has he suggested that India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh combine into one nation? Does he believe that the breakup of the Soviet Union should not have occurred or that the Ukraine which had effectively been a part of Russia for centuries, ought not to have split away? There are far less cultural differences between Ukrainians and Russians than between Jewish Israelis and Palestinians.

The criticisms of many of the "anti-Zionist" Jews would hold more weight if they were Jews at other times than criticizing the concept of Israel or essentially calling for its destruction which would be the effect of Judt's policy. I am not talking about Jews in Israel for whom living there represents a dedication even if they aren't observant, but how many Diaspora Jews who say they have only the best interests of the Jewish people in mind when they want Israel to cease to exist as a primarily Jewish country or who question its legitimacy attend Shabbat services regularly?
2.1.2007 8:05pm
Steve:
This in turn implies that to maintain Jewish victimhood, the sense that Jews are to play their assigned role as the Jiminy Cricket speaking to the world's conscience, that Jews, uniquely, may never have a nation-state.

I don't understand the meaning of the word "uniquely" in this sense. Lots of ethnic groups don't have a nation-state.
2.1.2007 8:20pm
Vovan:

None of this is even remotely close to being true, particularly the claim that "secular Jews" had any influence over the czarist govenment. I think you must have fallen for bogus info on some anti-Semitic or otherwise crackpot website.


Taken from an antisemic website of Государственной Еврейской Академии

Образование еврейских детей и юношества носило действительно национально-религиозную окраску. Такое положение вещей побудило в к. 30-х гг. 19 в. министра народного просвещения Уварова возложить на правительство деятельную заботу о еврейском образовании. Уварова поддержало значительная часть представителей еврейской интеллигенции, исповедующая принципы Гаскалы.

Одним из таких деятелей был директор рижского еврейского училища Менахем Лилиенталь, которого Уваров практически пригласил возглавить еврейскую образовательную реформу.

Лилиенталь с большим рвением взялся за эту работу. Где уговорами, где терпеливыми убеждениями, а где и прямыми угрозами “слова и дела государева” ему удалось склонить значительную часть еврейского населения черты оседлости к принятию его плана.

Между тем Уварову также удалось убедить в необходимости реформы императора, который, однако, видел в этих реформах только способ разрушить устои еврейского быта, тесно связанного с религиозными устоями. В конечном итоге, именно это и привело к краху всей идеи “казенных школ”. Если ортодоксы и хасиды с самого начала с тревогой наблюдали за деятельностью реформаторов, усматривая в ней стремление власти отвлечь еврейскую молодежь от религии, то уже к сер. 40-х гг. даже представители просвещенных еврейских кругов заняли отрицательную позицию. Сам Лилиенталь, участвовавший в создании и работе специальной высочайше утвержденной для образования евреев комиссии в 1843 г., уже в 1844 г. был вынужден тайно оставить Россию и эмигрировать в США. Это произошло ввиду того, что он понял истинное стремление царских властей упразднить Талмуд из системы просвещения евреев, а во-вторых, как гласят некоторые источники, ему самому было настоятельно предложено принять православие.

Link

There is lots of info there, you might want to read it, or might want to. Up to you really. Heh, I wish Bernstein could read it, but maybe someone will translate
2.1.2007 8:24pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
Steve, not "don't" but "may never."

J.F., you need to read the following book http://tinyurl.com/25hhzl
2.1.2007 8:28pm
Respondent (mail):
Professor Somin,
I'm sorry to tell you that you need to do your research. Secular Jews in Russia, particularly in the late 1800's, had influence on the government way out of proportion to their religious counterparts due to their wealth and greater cultural integration, and also held a vastly disproportionate amount of community positions. While they were always in the minority pre WWI, they had very large numbers by the late 19th century. What I wrote about the college diploma requirement for Rabbis and ban on non western or Russian dress is entirely accurate, and I know for a fact that at least the latter decree extended even into "Congress Poland" (The Czarist motive for that ban, by the way, was to quash all forms of nationalism after a failed Polish attempt at more autonomy.) The coalition of secular Jews and Czarist government officials is absolute historical fact, and one need only read a thorough account of Max Lilienthal's work in Russia to gain a sense of the facts of the time. The secular Jewish influence on requiring communal Rabbis to get college diplomas and on the government's strict regulation of Jewish religious schools is written about extensively in many sources- e.g. Meir Bar-Ilan's "From Volozhin to Jerusalem", and any history book with a focus on the situation of Russian Jews at the time will confirm everything that I wrote.
2.1.2007 8:28pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
From what I dimly recall from Russian Jewish history, Jewish secularists during some czarist administrations had some influence on the Russian government's Jewish policies, e.g., with regard to "modernizing" Jewish education, but that is not at all the same as saying that secular Jews, in general, had a lot of influence on the Czarist government.
2.1.2007 8:40pm
Respondent (mail):
Prof. Bernstein,
That's correct. Secular Jews with influence were consulted for advice on drawing up Jewish policies. Maybe some anti-Semitic websites claim that they had influence on the Russian government in general, but I would be as surprised as Professor Somin if there is any truth to it.
2.1.2007 8:51pm
Vovan:
With regard to Culture

Таким образом, весь т.н. расцвет еврейской культуры в 20-е гг. был строго идеологизирован и подчинен единой цели – проникновению коммунистической идеологии в еврейские массы.Однако деятельность Евсекции, формировавшей еврейскую политику советской власти в этот период, нельзя считать полностью негативной: была дана зеленая улица идишистской культуре, еврейскому изобразительному и музыкальному искусству, активно развивалось еврейское поселенческое движение, в результате чего многие еврейские семьи смогли выжить, активно формировалась новая социальная структура еврейского населения СССР, были заложены основы компактного еврейского расселения на Украине и Белоруссии, была сделана попытка создания еврейского национального очага на Дальнем Востоке.

Link

Summary:
Commies come - Hebrew is rooted out - Yiddish culture is at its height.
2.1.2007 8:53pm
Steve:
Fair enough, Prof. B. I agree that it makes no sense unless, of course, one believes it for religious reasons.
2.1.2007 8:53pm
jb (mail):

Rather than worry about the leftist Jews who hate Israel, you should spend more time worrying about the rightist Christians who love it. A good number of them only love Israel because they look forward to the day when a third of the Jews convert to Christianity and the rest are cast into a fiery pit of eternal damnation as Jesus returns shooting lasers out of his eyes and punishing all those Jews who dissed him the first time around and still just don't get it


Israel is not in a position to question the motives of its most fervent supporters. The Christians who love and support Israel are either right or wrong. If they are wrong, we get their help and they have wasted their time and money. If they are right, may God help us.
2.1.2007 9:25pm
DG:
J. F. Thomas (mail):
Rather than worry about the leftist Jews who hate Israel, you should spend more time worrying about the rightist Christians who love it. A good number of them only love Israel because they look forward to the day when a third of the Jews convert to Christianity and the rest are cast into a fiery pit of eternal damnation as Jesus returns shooting lasers out of his eyes and punishing all those Jews who dissed him the first time around and still just don't get it.

I'm shocked you don't get it. I'm a Jew. I do not believe that Jesus will return with laser's shooting ou of anywhere. Thats the wonderful thing about this. Evangelicals absolutely believe this end-times stuff. I don't. I know they do, they know I don't. Why should it bother anyone? Everyone is being honest. I don't have to agree with their reasons for supporting Israel. Please don't tell me they are more crazy than the people who irrationally hate Israel because their Imam told them to. Irrational love or irrational hate? Gee, which one do I choose...
2.1.2007 10:04pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
“Rather than worry about the leftist Jews who hate Israel, you should spend more time worrying about the rightist Christians who love it. A good number of them only love Israel because they look forward to the day when a third of the Jews convert to Christianity …”

How many “rightist Christians” do you know that subscribe to such a belief? How many do you think exist, and why should Jews worry so much about them? I think you underestimate the harm some Jews do to Israel with their public statements.
2.1.2007 11:03pm
Ilya Somin:
Unfortunately, I don't have time to fully translate the Russian language passages quoted by Vovan. However, they do not in any way show that the czarist Russian government tried to secularize Russia's Jews.

All they show is that a Jewish educational Reformer in the 1830s and 40s (Menahem Lilienthal) tried to modernize the Jewish education system (which is not the same thing as eliminating religious influence), that his proposals were briefly supported by the government, and that the reforms soon fell apart for lack of support in both the government and the Jewish community, and that Lilienthal himself was forced to leave Russia by 1844.

They do say that the government tried to use the reforms to get Jews to abandon Judaism and convert to Orthodoxy, but that is not the same as trying to secularize them.
2.1.2007 11:19pm
Ilya Somin:
Here, from the Jewish Encyclopedia, is some additional information on Max Lilienthal, cited by several commenters as an example of an alliance between secular Jews and the czarist government to "secularize" the Jews of the Russian Empire. Not only was he not a secularist, he was actually an Orthodox rabbi. He did try to reform Jewish education, and did work with the Russian government for a time, but none of that proves that either he or the government were trying to secularize the Jews.
2.1.2007 11:27pm
Ilya Somin:
Commies come - Hebrew is rooted out - Yiddish culture is at its height.

In the 1920s, the Soviets did indeed promote secular Yiddish culture - though only to the extent that it could be kept under the control of the state. But they also suppressed most manifestations of the Jewish religion - more thoroughly than in the case of Russian Orthodoxy. And even the promotion of the secular Yiddishkeit largely ended under Stalin - with many of the Yiddish language writers and intellectuals ending up in Gulags or worse.
2.1.2007 11:30pm
Ilya Somin:
Secular Jews in Russia, particularly in the late 1800's, had influence on the government way out of proportion to their religious counterparts due to their wealth and greater cultural integration, and also held a vastly disproportionate amount of community positions.

Much depends on what one means by "secular." It is true that a small number of Jews who were permitted to live outside the Pale (e.g. - financiers, merchants, etc.) were on average less religious than those who lived within it and also, on average, had greater influence over the government (though still very little power in absolute terms). It is not true, however, that they (at least the ones who had any influence) were "secular" in the sense of not believing in the Jewish religion or that they cooperated with the czarist government in efforts to secularize the Jews of the Pale.

There were, of course, some truly secular Jews who did reject religion, many of whom were members of anti-government socialist or other radical organizations. But they, of course, didn't have any influence over czarist policy (except to the extent that they pushed it towards stronger police state measures to suppress them).

As for the regulations on Rabbis and clothing, it is possible that I dismissed these points too hastily, relying on hazy memory rather than real knowledge, for which I apologize. I will have to look at the relevant sources when time permits.
2.1.2007 11:39pm
Respondent (mail):
"Lilienthal...was actually an Orthodox Rabbi." However he identified himself at the time, he certainly ended up Reform. As the article Prof. Somin linked to notes, he became Rabbi of "Congregation Bene Israel" one of the first Reform temples in the US. The article also notes his professorship at the (Reform) Hebrew Union College. See also this biographical article about him, demonstrating his Reform affiliation.
2.2.2007 12:33am
Ilya Somin:
"Lilienthal...was actually an Orthodox Rabbi." However he identified himself at the time, he certainly ended up Reform. As the article Prof. Somin linked to notes, he became Rabbi of "Congregation Bene Israel" one of the first Reform temples in the US. The article also notes his professorship at the (Reform) Hebrew Union College. See also this biographical article about him, demonstrating his Reform affiliation.

He may have become Reform after coming to the US. But in Russia, he had been an Orthodox rabbi (there was, of course, no non-Orthodox rabbinate in Russia at the time).
2.2.2007 1:39am
Vovan:


In Lenin's day in the Soviet Union, it was ethnically Jewish Communists who led the attack on Jewish cultural and religious institutions, which were decimated relative to, say, the Russian Orthodox Church.



In the 1920s, the Soviets did indeed promote secular Yiddish culture - though only to the extent that it could be kept under the control of the state. But they also suppressed most manifestations of the Jewish religion - more thoroughly than in the case of Russian Orthodoxy.


Heh, the original quote involved both culture and religion - I demonstrated that Jewish culture (in the form that you might not recognize) not only existed and developed. You apparently concede it with regard to Yiddish culture, but now argue that that Jewish religion was suppressed more so than Orthodoxy, citing property ownership in support.

This document shows that Orthodox Church was expropriated as were other churches

12. Никакие церковные и религиозные общества не имеют права владеть собственностью. Прав юридического лица они не имеют.

13. Все имущества существующих в России церковных и религиозных обществ объявляются народным достоянием.

On what basis then would you claim the higher decimation of the Jewish faith with regard to the orthodoxy during the period of Lenin's life (as stipulated in the original quotation?)
2.2.2007 1:45am
Vovan:
This website details the destruction of the church

Highlights:

К началу войны 1941 г. легальная церковная жизнь сохранилась по существу только в западных епархиях. На территории РСФСР к этому времени осталось только 100 действующих приходов[31] и ни одного монастыря.

Thus, in 1941, in the whole area of preseнt Russian Federation - over 1/8 of the total earth's landmass there were only 100 chapels left, and not a single functioning monastery - thus, in less than 20 years of Soviet control of territory - Orthodox faith was almost entirely eradicated.
2.2.2007 2:00am
Just a Nut (mail):
AF said:

I believe a Jew is someone who either (1) has a Jewish mother (or parent, for Reform Jews) and has not converted to another religion, or (2) has converted to Judaism.

There are debates (scholarly and otherwise) about precisely what a someone who is born Jewish needs to do to cease being a Jew and what someone who is not born Jewish needs to do to become a Jew.


This is not a sensible definition because it excludes the worst affected victims- those who converted under the sword to survive. Instead of nursing them back to their own free will, it leaves them out in the wilderness. Why would the victims and their descendents be excluded? Because many of them were Jewish women, girls and small boys sold into slavery with their progeny raised to be Muslims of today. The first example of this is one of Jewish tribes of Medina, who were decimated for their resistance to the Muslim interpretation. The men were executed. This is also the event when Muslims started praying towards Mecca instead of Jerusalem.

I have always wondered what happens to a Jew in Israel who converts to another religion? Do they lose their citizenship or are barred from serving in the army etc.? if a settler (only approved Jews are allowed as no Arab ciitzens of Israel have the right) converts, what happens to their subsidies? do they get charged for past services by the state? Maybe the cost is sufficiently great that such souls do not exist or merely emigrate away of their own 'free will.'

One would imagine that DNA would be a more reliable measure of figuring out who is a Jew. This has the problem that there are many with the right DNA but the wrong thoughts. Indeed, by Biblical standards, even secular Jews in Israel of today have wrong thoughts-- the kinds of thoughts that got the Jewish nation pulverized in the past by no less than GOD.

Another measure of Jewishness may be to treat as Jews descendents of the kin of those who perished at or were interned in the concentration camps during the holocaust. This is also too inclusive (and exclusive of marginally affected middle eastern Jews) for the present political reality because the people who really got hammered in the holocaust and afterwards include the likes of Gypsies. They took proportionally bigger losses. There is no place for them in Israel or anywhere else. Even the Jews pick on them along with Romanians, Czechs, Russians, -- it is a long list.

I do not see any historical or present concern for the victims of the holocaust and other similar injustices unless the definition of who is a Jew is in harmony with addressing those known to be targeted in these events. But that would bring in company Zionists do not like such as Jews who converted to Christianity, homosexuals, Gypsies, rebels and the like.

And another Jew already punished for hating Israel that is not mentioned in the article (probably because he has already been punished) is General Rabin, who was mowed down by an inspired Zionist.
2.2.2007 4:13am
Ilya Somin:
Heh, the original quote involved both culture and religion - I demonstrated that Jewish culture (in the form that you might not recognize) not only existed and developed. You apparently concede it with regard to Yiddish culture, but now argue that that Jewish religion was suppressed more so than Orthodoxy, citing property ownership in support.

Taking over Jewish cultural institutions and putting them under the control of the government is certainly certainly counts as an "assault" on Jewish culture, just as the post suggested. The fact that the regime subsidized its puppet Jewish cultural institutions doesn't change that.

This document shows that Orthodox Church was expropriated as were other churches

I don't deny that the Orthodox Church lost a lot of its land to expropriation. But minority religions (including Judaism) were far more thoroughly suppressed. Moreover, the document linked to explains that the Communist government started treating the Church somewhat better during World War II - a privilege denied to Jewish religious institutions (and those of most other religious minorities).
2.2.2007 4:45am
J. F. Thomas (mail):
How many “rightist Christians” do you know that subscribe to such a belief? How many do you think exist, and why should Jews worry so much about them?

Considering that the "Left Behind" series has sold nearly 60 million copies worldwide and it describes the extermination of the the Jews in Israel (by Jesus) who refuse to convert in lurid and gory detail, I would say a good number. I daresay they don't discuss the real reason for their "love" of Israel when their Jewish "friends" are around.

And end-times belief is hardly limited to the extreme fringes of hardcore evangelical Christians. I went to what was considered a "liberal" Southern Baptist church in Atlanta in the late '80s with a congregation made up entirely of upper-middle class professionals. I was amazed how many people started discussing the end-times implications of the invasion of Kuwait and started paging through Revelations to determine if Saddam was indeed the anti-Christ.

Not long after that I convinced my wife to become a Presbyterian (I only went to the Baptist Church because that was how she was raised).
2.2.2007 9:29am
J. F. Thomas (mail):
Moreover, the document linked to explains that the Communist government started treating the Church somewhat better during World War II - a privilege denied to Jewish religious institutions (and those of most other religious minorities).

Seriously, do you really think that Stalin rediscovered his religion (after all he was headed to seminary as a youth) during World War II and realized the error of his ways vis a vis the Orthodox Church? Of course not, any loosening of restrictions on the Church was nothing more than a cynical ploy to give the people hope during the war. If religion is the opiate of the masses, well they needed some opium during the Great Patriotic Struggle. If he thought that the Jews needed religion during the war to make them fight harder or build T-34s faster he would have given it to them.
2.2.2007 9:47am
David M. Nieporent (www):
Rather than worry about the leftist Jews who hate Israel, you should spend more time worrying about the rightist Christians who love it. A good number of them only love Israel because they look forward to the day when a third of the Jews convert to Christianity and the rest are cast into a fiery pit of eternal damnation as Jesus returns shooting lasers out of his eyes and punishing all those Jews who dissed him the first time around and still just don't get it.
I've never understood why this is supposed to bother me, JF. Either those people's religious beliefs are right -- in which case I think that I ought to worry more about Jesus's lasers than about the fact that Christians believe these things -- or they're wrong, in which case these events won't happen, and so what the hell do I care what they think?

(In any case, of course, this (and not just the "lasers" part) is a left-wing caricature of Christian views, not a representation of actual Christian views.)
2.2.2007 9:52am
ed o:
all this quibbling about the right words to use but one can't get around the simple fact that, basically, one country on the planet is regarded by substantial numbers of people, including alleged intellectuals posting here, as unworthy of existence and worthy of destruction. further, no matter how attempts are made to honey up the reason, the bottom line is that the country is made up of jews. as a practical matter, how is one to obtain this goal of eliminating Israel-will those that object be rounded up?
2.2.2007 10:32am
Seamus (mail):
What David M. Nieporent said.
2.2.2007 10:42am
J. F. Thomas (mail):
I've never understood why this is supposed to bother me, JF.

You don't? Let me spell it out for you. The Pat Robertson, James Dobson, Tim LaHaye, Jerry Falwell, professed love of Israel and Jews is dishonest, cynical, and condescending. It grows out of a belief that for Jesus to return to earth, Israel must be reestablished and the Temple rebuilt. Once those prophecies have been fulfilled the Jews will either convert to Christianity or perish. The Jews are nothing but a tool to fulfill the prophecies of the Bible. And although the Jews may be God's chosen people, that only makes their denial of the divinity of Jesus that much worse, and their conversion that much more important.

If you live in the south, find a conservative evangelical church that is teaching a Sunday School class on Revelations. Don't tell them you are Jewish and sit in on it. You will be shocked.
2.2.2007 10:54am
J. F. Thomas (mail):
In any case, of course, this (and not just the "lasers" part) is a left-wing caricature of Christian views, not a representation of actual Christian views.)

Have you read any of the "Left Behind" books? My description is not a "caricature" of a certain portion of Christian views. The authors revel in Christian soldiers and Jesus himself slaughtering non-believers, including Jews. It is pretty damn accurate and apparently quite a significant and popular view considering the sales numbers of the books.

BTW, I am a Christian and am offended that you imply that because I am left-wing I can not be a Christian or that Christian views are monolithic.
2.2.2007 11:08am
Seamus (mail):
One of the problems with Tony Judt is that he doesn't seem to apply his philosophy to any other country that came into existence about the same time or later. I don't claim to be an expert on his writings, but to what extent has he suggested that India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh combine into one nation? Does he believe that the breakup of the Soviet Union should not have occurred or that the Ukraine which had effectively been a part of Russia for centuries, ought not to have split away? There are far less cultural differences between Ukrainians and Russians than between Jewish Israelis and Palestinians.

In Judt's defense, the situation of nations formed by secession by regions populated by ethnic or religious groups distinct from those of the country as a whole is different from that of nations formed by people immigrating to an already inhabited country and setting up their own state there against the wishes of the people who were there first. About the only example I can think of in the past 150 years would be South Africa and Rhodesia. And as far as I know, Judt is being consistent, in that he doesn't support partition of either South Africa or Zimbabwe to permit the establishment of a state for the white settlers.

There are a few other examples, but they either happened a long time ago, or they haven't resulted in the establishment of a state by the people making the influx.

England in the 17th century facilitated the immigration of Scotch-Irish into Ulster, against the will of the native Irish. While Ireland has been partitioned, Northern Ireland isn't actually an independent state. Even if one were established (and I can see lots of reason why that would be a bad idea), there's a big difference for establishing a state to accommodate people who have been there 300 years and establishing one for people who have been there for less than 100 years. (I mean in numbers that make a difference demographically; I know there have always been *some* Jews in Palestine.)

I understand that Albanians didn't displace Serbs as the majority population of Kosovo until the late 19th century. While there is talk of making Kosovo an independent Albanian state (or of partitioning it so the Serbs who haven't yet been ethnically cleansed might be able to stay there), the international community has for good reason not jumped to adopt that "solution."

When the French withdrew from Algeria in 1962, there was no thought that the pied-noirs ought to be allowed to establish their own state.

So if Judt comes out and supports the establishment of a separate Albanian state in Kosovo, a separate Protestant state in Northern Ireland, or if he says a state should have been established for the pied-noirs in North Africa, then I think you may have grounds for taxing him with inconsistency. (The latter two are not likely. I'd be interested to hear if he supports a Kosovar state, though.))
2.2.2007 11:19am
DavidBernstein (mail):
It's obvious from both historical accounts the many hues of the Arab population of former Mandatory Palestine that many "Palestinians" immigrated there from elsewhere in the Middle East and North Africa during the economic boom that attended British occupation, with none of the historical ties to the land the Jews had and have. Any word on this from Judt?
2.2.2007 11:37am
David M. Nieporent (www):
You don't? Let me spell it out for you. The Pat Robertson, James Dobson, Tim LaHaye, Jerry Falwell, professed love of Israel and Jews is dishonest, cynical, and condescending. It grows out of a belief that for Jesus to return to earth, Israel must be reestablished and the Temple rebuilt. Once those prophecies have been fulfilled the Jews will either convert to Christianity or perish. The Jews are nothing but a tool to fulfill the prophecies of the Bible. And although the Jews may be God's chosen people, that only makes their denial of the divinity of Jesus that much worse, and their conversion that much more important.
And assuming all that's true, so what? Heck, assume they actually despise Jews. Even if they do, so what? If my supervisor gives me a glowing letter of recommendation because he's looking to get rid of me, rather than because he really believes it, what do I care? What I want is the letter of recommendation.

In your next post, you say you're a Christian, and you get faux-offended at my language. So how about if I return the favor, and get offended at you trying to tell Jews how we should feel about people supporting us?
2.2.2007 12:33pm
J. F. Thomas (mail):
So how about if I return the favor, and get offended at you trying to tell Jews how we should feel about people supporting us?

I'm not telling you how to feel, just warning you that some of the people you think are your allies probably harbor a lot more ill will to the Jews of Israel (at least those who will not eventually convert to Christianity) than any "left wing Jews who hate Israel."
2.2.2007 1:23pm
Seamus (mail):
It's obvious from both historical accounts the many hues of the Arab population of former Mandatory Palestine that many "Palestinians" immigrated there from elsewhere in the Middle East and North Africa during the economic boom that attended British occupation, with none of the historical ties to the land the Jews had and have.

According to Paul Johnson's Modern Times, many Arabs came to Algeria from elsewhere in the Arab world because the pied-noirs had created a prosperous economy that offered them more of a chance at the good life than in the stagnant backwaters they lived in. When time came to grant Algeria its independence, that was considered of no account, and certainly no reason to partition Algeria to give the pied-noirs their own state. Pied-noirs who had come, or whose ancestors had come, there from Spain, Italy, and Malta, as well as from France, over the previous 100-odd years almost all chose to leave behind everything and evacuate to France. If Judt says they should have been allowed to create their own state in North Africa rather than be swallowed up in a unitary Algeria, then I'll concede that he's being inconsistent.
2.2.2007 1:33pm
ed o:
yet none of the creators of this hysterical cartoon image of christians seem to be able to find this hostile species of christian anywhere but on far left websites-on the other hand, it sure is easy to find people who want to have the State of Israel (along with its citizens regardless of conversion, quite often on that same far left web site) gone in the here and now. which would you choose?
2.2.2007 1:40pm
AnotherDavid:
Why would a non-religious Jew be hostile to the concept of a Jewish nation-state(beyond, like Cohen (and me on some days) worrying about whether the establishment of Israel in its particular time and place will turn out, in retrospect, to have been a wise decision?)

Speaking as a non-religious Jew who generally (but not violently) opposes Israel, it's the "not in our name" factor. Lots of bad stuff goes on in the name of nationalism, but most of it doesn't associate itself with my nation.
2.2.2007 1:45pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
Yes, but there was an Algerian ethnic/national group before the French colonization, but there was no such thing as a "Palestinian" until there was Zionism. There was also a Jewish national/ethnic group before Zionism, but there was no such pied-noirs grop. Zionism (inadvertantly) created Palestinian nationalism as much as it channeled Jewish nationalism, but Jewish nationalism was over 2,000 years old. The U.N. tried to deal with two emerging nationalisms claiming the same land via partition, just like in other parts of the world. To buy the Palestinian narrative that the Jews colonized and stole "Palestinian" land ignores the uncomfortable historical facts that there was no such georgraphic entity as Palestine, or people such as, Palestinians, before there was Zionism, that Arabs migrated to the land in the 20th century just like Jews, and that before partition and War in 1947, all land owned by Jews was purchased, not "conquered" as with the French and Algeria.
2.2.2007 1:57pm
Swede:
As a Lutheran (We invented fruit suspended in Jell-O. You're welcome), I'm very excited to learn that when Jesus returns, he'll have the lazer thing going for Him.

My team's chances in the Super Bowl are looking pretty darn good, don'tcha think?
2.2.2007 3:13pm
Seamus (mail):
Yes, but there was an Algerian ethnic/national group before the French colonization, but there was no such thing as a "Palestinian" until there was Zionism.

With all respect, I think this is plain wrong. There were Arabs and there were Berbers (ethnic groups) in Algeria before 1830, and there were subjects of the bey of Algiers, but there was no more an distinct "Algerian" ethnicity before 1830 than there was a distinct "Palestinian" ethnicity before 1918. (In fact, even today, there is no distinct Algerian or Palestinian ethnicity.) To the extent there was any "Algerian" identity at all (call it ethnic, national, or just political), it was a product of the French colonial experience. (An aside: I am amused when Irishmen talk about how outrageous it was to partition Ireland in 1922, or when Indians bewail the destruction of Indian unity by partition in 1947, when it was the British who created whatever unity Ireland or India had at the time of independence.)

There was also a Jewish national/ethnic group before Zionism, but there was no such pied-noirs grop.

Again, I'm not sure this proves anything. If anything, it could be argued that the pied-noirs were a new ethnic group that emerged as a result of French colonialism, but weren't really French (given that their ethnic roots were Spanish, Italian, and Maltese as much as French). (The same could be said of the Afrikaaners, who by the end of the 19th century weren't really Dutch any more, but were a new ethnic group.) If anything, that would be an argument for why they deserved their own state, since they really didn't have a homeland they could go "back" to.

To buy the Palestinian narrative that the Jews colonized and stole "Palestinian" land ignores the uncomfortable historical facts that there was no such georgraphic entity as Palestine, or people such as, Palestinians, before there was Zionism, that Arabs migrated to the land in the 20th century just like Jews, and that before partition and War in 1947, all land owned by Jews was purchased, not "conquered" as with the French and Algeria.

I'm not sure how much you want to push that "the Arabs came there during the 20th century just like the Jews" line. A lot of Anglos migrated to the American Southwest in the late 20th century, just like the Mexicans, but I wouldn't count that as a reason to dismiss American arguments against establishment of Aztlan. Palestine (or that part of southern Syria we now call Palestine) was part of the Arab world just like the Southwest was part of the United States. The fact that Mexicans were there before 1848 (and been there continuously since) is no more impressive to most Americans than the fact that Jews were in Palestine before the Moslem conquest (and have been there continuously since) is to most Arabs.

Also, while there were some Bantu in the Cape Province of South Africa before the Europeans arrived, for the most part the Bantu weren't encountered in large numbers until the Europeans started migrating to the lands to the interior of the Cape in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. (The Khoikoi who were indigenous to the Cape suffered the fate of the American Indians; they were militarily and then demographically overwhelmed.) That isn't seen as a reason for permitting the Boers a state of their own in the Cape Province (or anywhere else).

Finally, when you compare the purchase of Arab land by Jews in Palestine with the "conquest" of Algeria by the French, you are comparing apples with oranges: the sovereignty over a territory is not the same thing as ownership of real property within the territory. Do we know for a fact that the pied-noirs *didn't* purchase their land from the Arab natives? Even if they did, does anyone seriously maintain that that would entitle them to establish their own state in that territory?

Of course, you might respond by pointing to factors distinguishing Israel from these and all other situations I might point to. But to the extent that do that, the more inescapable becomes the conclusion that Israel is sui generis. And the extent to which that is true is the extent to which it is impossible to convict Judt of inconsistency when he arrives at different conclusions regarding Israel and whatever examples you prefer to cite.
2.2.2007 7:05pm
J. F. Thomas (mail):
yet none of the creators of this hysterical cartoon image of christians seem to be able to find this hostile species of christian anywhere but on far left websites-on the other hand,

None are so blind as those who will not see. I told you exactly where to find them--in any Sunday School class at any moderately conservative (even so called "mainstream") evangelical church studying Revelations. Almost any suburban mega-Church will do. Just don't mention you are Jewish.

If you are too lazy to get out of bed on Sunday morning, try googling "Christian Identity", you'll be amazed by some of the stuff you'll find.
2.2.2007 7:32pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
Well, I may have spoken without sufficient knowledge of Algeria's history. And to get beyond the argument of Judt, as such, the point is that many of the arguments that are made on the Left about Israel's "legitimacy" depend on the notion that because Arabs were a majority in the Land of Israel/Palestine/South Syria as of 1900, this somehow entitled them, in a blood and soil type of way, to be a majority there forever, and keep out millions of Jews who wished to settle there. Fine, except that make the same argument regarding immigration to the U.S., France, Germany, etc.--that, e.g., the French have the "right" to violently suppress current and future North African residents to keep their country "white and French", and you'd be likely to be stoned by the same people. (And, e.g., the French have a longer and more significant claim to "sovereignty" than the Palestinians do, and the North Africans have no claim to continued historical residence in their new country, as the Jews of Israel do). "Free immigration unless you are Jewish" is hardly a resounding Progressive slogan.
2.2.2007 8:28pm
Seamus (mail):
Fine, except that make the same argument regarding immigration to the U.S., France, Germany, etc.--that, e.g., the French have the "right" to violently suppress current and future North African residents to keep their country "white and French", and you'd be likely to be stoned by the same people.

If they are "current and future North African residents," then what occasion do the French have "to violently suppress" them, given that France withdrew from that part of the world in 1962? Or maybe you meant "North Africans currently and in the future residing in France"? If so, I'm happy to "make that same argument." I fully understand, even support, efforts to limit immigration of North Africans to levels that France can readily assimilate. (I'm not sure what "violently suppress" has to do with it, though. I never said, nor did Judt, to the best of my recollection, that Arabs were justified in "violently suppressing" the Jewish population now in Palestine.) And I believe much the same about the United States (I have no interest in seeing Aztlan established in the American Southwest). I suspect, too, that the American Indians wish they had been able to apply a much more restrictive immigration policy.

Even Israel isn't about to let in immigrants that would overwhelm that country's current demographics, even if the prospective immigrants are people who actually lived there as recently as 1948, or their descendents. So I fully understand why Arabs might react similarly to the prospect of massive immigration by an unassimilable group whose chief claim to the land was that their ancestors lived there several thousand years ago.

And, e.g., the French have a longer and more significant claim to "sovereignty" than the Palestinians do, and the North Africans have no claim to continued historical residence in their new country, as the Jews of Israel do.

I agree. So while I wouldn't forcibly expel the North Africans who have been admitted to France already, I might encourage them to return home, and I wouldn't encourage a lot more to come in any time soon, and certainly would reject the idea that those who are there now are entitled to establish their own state. Nor would my opinion on that score change even after the North Africans have been in France for the roughly 120 years since the first aliya. (My hope is that by then they'd have become Frenchmen. Yeah, I know, that will happen when pigs fly around and land on the Kaaba. Yet another reason not to exacerbate the problem.)
2.2.2007 10:17pm
Randy R. (mail):
I'm not jewish (although when I went to a reception recently with my homemade apple strudel, and elderly jewish woman proclaimed me an honorary jew), and I don't always agree with Israel on many things.

However, what I don't understand is how any gay jewish person could criticize Israel. Israel allows gays to serve openly in their military, recognizes gay marriages in certain circumstances, and is generally a very gay friendly country. One can be out and be comfortable there.

Not so with any Islamic country in the middle east. On this point, Israel is a true beacon of hope and liberty, and it should be encouraged as such, not condemned. The alternative is far worse.
2.2.2007 10:57pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
None are so blind as those who will not see. I told you exactly where to find them--in any Sunday School class at any moderately conservative (even so called "mainstream") evangelical church studying Revelations. Almost any suburban mega-Church will do. Just don't mention you are Jewish.
Is Revelations in any way related to the Biblical book of Revelation?
If you are too lazy to get out of bed on Sunday morning, try googling "Christian Identity", you'll be amazed by some of the stuff you'll find.
Christian Identity is a neo-Nazi cult of (probably) a few thousand followers. Other than the word "Christian," it doesn't have anything to do with Christianity.


2.3.2007 1:32am
J. F. Thomas (mail):
Christian Identity is a neo-Nazi cult of (probably) a few thousand followers. Other than the word "Christian," it doesn't have anything to do with Christianity.

It has as much to do with Christianity as Al Qaeda has to do with Islam. To dismiss it as a neo-Nazi cult and say it has nothing to do with Christianity is to ignore the true danger of the Christian Identity movement. My best friend's brother (raised as a good mainstream moderate, republican Lutheran in an upper middle class Chicago suburb) is heavily involved in the Christian Identity movement. Everything they believe in they can find a passage in the bible to justify their belief. They follow some of the Mosaic laws as to dietary restrictions (yet ignore others) and refuse to have their children vaccinated based on some biblical basis (or maybe vaccination is a Jewish/government plot, I get so confused when he goes on a rant). They are certainly more Christian than the Mormons, who base most of their beliefs on a completely made-up book that is supposedly a "second testament" of Jesus Christ.

The point is that you claim that my (I assume I am one of the creators of "hysterical creators of cartoon images of christians") characterizations of some evangelical Christians' support for Israel is for suspect motives that is not in the best interest of the Jewish People (that they see the Jewish People as a means to an end--builders of the temple leading to the second coming and the mass conversion of 1/3 and the horrible death and damnation of the rest of the Jewish people) is simply not true. I told you where to look and pointed out that the "Left Behind" series of books--which has sold tens of millions of copies--describes these fantasies in great detail (the books are not very kind to liberal Christians like me either).
2.3.2007 9:51am
ed o:
none so blind as those that do not see-well, I see a country with conservative religious believers being the strongest supporters of Israel. on the other hand, I see a boogeyman(the Christian Identity Movement, a non-christian cult) as the prime example offered in response. I also see an apocalyptic vision of christianity offered by the left versus the real deal in Iran wanting to nuke right now, not at some unknown time in the future. let's see-what should concern me more?
2.3.2007 11:47am
J. F. Thomas (mail):
the Christian Identity Movement, a non-christian cult

I'm curious, why is the Christian Identity Movement a "non-christian" cult? What makes them non-christian? That their views on race are distasteful to the majority of Americans? It was not so long ago (say fifty years ago) that the vast majority of their beliefs were downright mainstream in this country and were the prevailing theology in a good chunk of the country (certainly in that states that were formerly part of the Confederacy). Passing them off as a neo-nazi cult is dangerous. Most neo-nazis (and indeed most real Nazis), as well as the KKK, considered and consider themselves very good Christians even during those days when they were regularly lynching people.
2.3.2007 4:02pm
Randy R. (mail):
"Other than the word "Christian," it doesn't have anything to do with Christianity. "

I suggest, then, that you write them to inform them of their mistake. I'm sure they would be delighted to hear your correction.
2.3.2007 4:59pm
Tony D'Amato (www):
VFBVFB says, "I have to take issue with your statement. There is zero evidence for the existence of Abraham and Sarah, so how can the definition of a Jew have anything to do with who descended from them."

However, there is an interdisciplinary way of solving this problem, using the combined methodologies of social science, anthropology, law, and biology. Simply start with a large random sample of Jews, and trace their lineage BACKWARDS. Keep going. Stick with it. You will eventually end up with the biological children of Abraham and Sarah. At that point, the question whether their parents existed becomes unimportant. You hsve solved nearly all of your problem, and it is an accepted fact that social science is not an exact science.
2.4.2007 11:23am