ed note–as we point out here continuously, ‘good Jews’ on the left who ‘oppose the occupation’ of the lands Israel stole in 1967 are not ‘good’ Jews at all, just more clever than their right wing counterparts. The two differ only in their methods, but not in their mentality and certainly not in their madness. They are similar to those ‘good abortionists’ who will not perform the infamous ‘partial birth abortion’ of a child who is 9 months along in his/her development, but who nevertheless will perform any and all abortions just shy of that infamous procedure.
Those–right, left or whatever–who identify as ‘Jews’ do so as a statement of fact that they embrace the philosophical energy that is the foundation of their identity, meaning their Judaism, in and of itself a code of religious barbarity and supremacism whose comparison resides only in those bloody, barbaric religions that practiced human sacrifice as a means of appeasing the angry, vindictive gods that those bloody, barbaric religions worshiped. As the piece below makes clear, what has those ‘good Jews’ on the left so vexed is that the occupation and dehumanization of the Gentiles of the Levant lays bare the ugly truth of what being ‘Jewish’ is all about, and it is something that no amount of words or hasbara can explain away. THIS–and not an inherent rejection of the barbarism of Judaism–is what drives the ‘good Jews’ on the left and nothing more.
Please note as well what drives our esteemed ‘good Jew’ to oppose the occupation–his Jewish religious upbringing, which he then expounds upon with various quotes from the Torah, all nice sounding and sugary-sweet, while at the same time, leaving out of the picture the T-Rex in the room, meaning those passages of the Torah that are the foundational energy/justification for everything that Israel has done/is doing, to wit–
‘When the LORD your God brings you into the land you are to possess and casts out the many peoples living there, you shall then slaughter them all and utterly destroy them…You shall save nothing alive that breathes…You shall make no agreements with them nor show them any mercy. You shall destroy their altars, break down their images, cut down their groves and burn their graven images with fire. For you are a holy people unto the LORD thy God and He has chosen you to be a special people above all others upon the face of the earth…’–Book of Deuteronomy
‘Your male and female slaves are to come from the nations around you; from them you may buy slaves. You may also buy some of the temporary residents living among you and members of their clans born in your country, and they will become your property. You can will them to your children as inherited property and can make them slaves for life, but you must not rule over your fellow Israelites ruthlessly…’–Leviticus 25:44-46
“Foreigners will rebuild your walls, and their kings will serve you…Your gates will always stand open, day and night, so that the Gentiles may bring you the wealth of their nations and their kings led in triumphal procession, for the nation or kingdom that will not serve you will perish; it will be utterly destroyed.”–Isaiah 60:10-12
‘On that day the LORD made a covenant with Abraham, saying “To your descendants I give this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river Euphrates”…–Genesis, 15:18
…etc, etc, etc….
After half a century, Israel’s occupation chickens are coming home to roost: creeping isolation, growing challenges to the state’s legitimacy, rising antisemitism, spreading accusations of apartheid, to say nothing of the blossoming of religious zealotry and radical nationalism.
In the wake of the celebrated military victory of 1967, a number of Israeli voices rose above the exultant mood of the time to warn of the perils of triumphalism, hubris and complacency. As an outsider, but a closely-engaged outsider, I remember all this very well. Following an extensive period of research in Israel, the West Bank, Gaza, Jordan and Lebanon in the early 1970’s, a much earlier version of yours truly offered a few observations himself, which in his innocent youth he regarded as self-evident. I hope you will forgive me if I quote the following condensed passage from his/my pamphlet published in January 1977 when there were probably fewer than 5000 Jewish settlers on the West Bank compared to more than 100 times that number today. This was the passage:
While Israel continues to rule over the West Bank, there are bound to be ever more frequent and more intensive acts of resistance by a population that is feeling encroached upon by a spreading pattern of Jewish colonization and whose yearning for independence is no less than was that of the Palestinian Jews in the early months of 1948. As long as Israel continues to govern that territory, she will have little choice but to retaliate in an increasingly oppressive fashion just to keep order. The moral appeal of Israel’s case will consequently suffer and this will further erode her level of international support, although probably not among organized opinion within the Jewish Diaspora. This sharpening polarization is bound to contribute to an upsurge in overt antisemitism.
In response to this passage I was told by an assortment of outraged Jewish and Israeli readers that I simply did not get it.
First it was said that Israel would soon be returning the territory or the bulk of it, to Arab rule. Meaning to Jordan.
Second it was not independence the Palestinians wanted but good governance and that is what they were getting from Israeli rule.
Third, barring the initial period following the 1967 war, there was very little Palestinian resistance, and there was no reason to believe this would change. Indeed, it took another ten years for the first intifada to break out. The population was enjoying a standard of living well above its previous imaginings, which was true. They were it was claimed better off in almost every respect than Arabs living in Arab countries.
Fourth, the expanding Israeli settlements allegedly had little impact on the local Arab population and where they did it was almost entirely beneficial, for example in providing jobs.
Fifth, international support for Israel was rock solid and growing.
Finally, latent anti-Jewish feeling has always resided in some segments of civil society. Lamentably true. And its manifestations have nothing to do with how Israel behaves. Demonstrably false.
Despite my apparently being wrong on every count, the future played out pretty much as mapped out in the pamphlet. For me this was seriously depressing. Particularly because it wasn’t meant as a prediction. I was sure at the time, as was the vast majority of Israelis too, that Israel in its own best interests would be certain to end its occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip in the near future.
I don’t expect to be around to shamelessly quote myself again in another 40 years. But as passions continue to rise, it surely is as plain as can be, that if Israel does not end the occupation sharply, and if organized Jewish opinion in other countries appears openly to back it, there will indeed almost certainly be a further surge in anti-Jewish sentiment, potentially unleashing more sinister impulses.
This is not of course to justify such dismal future developments, but it’s not rocket science to see what lies ahead under these circumstances.
What all this points to I fear is that Israel’s neverending occupation of the land and lives of another people is not just seriously endangering Israel, not to mention deepening the despair of the Palestinians. But it is also making the situation of the Jews around the world increasingly precarious.
That makes it personal…. But there’s an even more profound personal dimension, one that goes to the very heart of what it means to be Jewish. I was asked recently what originally attracted to me to the human rights and peace worlds. I worked, by the way, for many years for Amnesty International. Almost without thinking, I answered, the rabbis of the orthodox Jewish school I attended, to the visible amazement of the guy who asked me the question.
I was not, I confess, the greatest student of Jewish studies. But I was very taken by some of the passages that we were taught from the Hebrew bible, the Torah.
Passages like, “Justice, Justice shall thou pursue.” Deuteronomy. Why, the sages asked, repeat justice? Was it a typo? Did the scribe have a stutter?
Came the answer: Justice must be pursued with justice. It is not enough for justice to be the goal. It must be the means too. Astonishing– for now, let alone then.
“Let my people go.” Exodus. A plea for freedom that inspired generations of oppressed peoples, most notably African-American slaves.
“God created humankind in his own image.” Genesis. An affirmation of the inherent equality of all people.
“Seek peace and pursue it.” Psalms.
“Love thy neighbor as thyself.” Leviticus.
“Love the stranger,” I am told, is commanded 36 times.
The legendary Rabbi Hillel summed up the entire Torah on one leg with these words: “What is hateful to you, do not do to another. Everything else is commentary.” On this, he put his foot down.
These time-honored Jewish ideals– justice, freedom, equality, peace, mutual respect– have made an extraordinary contribution to human civilization. They lie at the very core of Jewish identity and are the glue that binds together Jews of many different persuasions and many different countries.
Jews have proudly espoused these values historically for themselves and for others, which at least in part explains why Jews have disproportionately been active in civil rights causes.
Many Jews and others have uncomfortably coexisted with the Israeli occupation for years by sheltering behind the idea that one day soon there will be a Palestinian state alongside Israel in which Palestinians will be able to exercise their national, political, and civil rights.
But we are entering a new epoch. The current Israeli government has virtually blown the roof off of this sanctuary. We now face the major reality of a state that declares itself loudly and often to be Jewish, and demands of others that it be recognized as Jewish, gearing itself to withholding fundamental human rights from millions of people indefinitely. A standpoint that is in total defiance of quintessential Jewish principles.
Indeed one may ask, Would such a blatantly-inequitable policy be condoned by the self-appointed custodians of Jewish values if enacted by any other country?
If we are not prepared to speak out resolutely, we may be on the cusp of Jewish identity being redefined for us and with it the image and global standing of Jews worldwide. Of course Israel is doing its own reputation huge damage as well. Just as the policies of the current US administration are destructive of the idea of America, so the policies of the current Israeli government are perverting the idea of Israel, as captured in its Declaration of Independence.
So what may be done?
To start with, supporters of Israel could openly clarify that their affection for the country however deep does not extend to supporting the occupation. They could consider adopting a slogan like, “Love Israel, hate occupation.”
And it is vital not to shy away from using the term occupation. Losing the language is the first step toward losing the argument. It is not just the verbal distinctions that matter. In all our practical dealings, we need to distinguish between Israel itself and the occupied territories, including the whole suicidal settlement project.
This was the unequivocal message of UN Security Council Resolution 2334 last December. While explicitly endorsing Israel’s legitimacy in its pre-1967 borders, the resolution repudiated any alterations to or changes made beyond those borders. That its closest allies even after 50 years voted in favor and its principal ally did not exercise a veto was a serious political and psychological blow to the Israel government. It thought it had got away with it, when it plainly hadn’t. Nor will it.
But this is not enough. From the inception of occupation, successive Israeli governments have cherry-picked the Geneva Convention to suit their purpose. When expropriating land and building settlements, they deny their role is in law an occupation and therefore bound by the Geneva Convention. But in not extending equal rights to the West Bank’s Palestinian inhabitants, they shield behind the Convention’s prohibition against altering the political or legal status of an occupied people. This calculated ambiguity is a colossal Israeli bluff that it really is time to call. It either is or is not an occupation. The laws of occupation either apply or they don’t. Israel should no longer be permitted to have it both ways.
To reclaim Jewish values and restore the Jewish reputation we have to impress on our Israeli friends the need for Israel either to end the occupation without further procrastination and pretext and work with the Palestinians to build their own state or, pending a future final settlement, whatever that might be, grant equal rights in the meantime to everyone subject to Israeli jurisdiction.
We can accept either. But whether as Jews or as human right adherents we cannot possibly accept neither. No longer can the inherently unequal, unjust, un-Jewish discriminatory status quo be stomached as the automatic default alternative to an indefinitely-postponed future agreement, it is our right and indeed obligation to insist that equal treatment should replace the status quo as the natural default alternative.