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Saturday, May 20th

Christian anti-Zionists yell "Death to Us"

Several recent articles report that persecution of Christians in Palestine increased dramatically since the election of the Hamas government. In the Jerusalem Newswire, Stan Goodenough writes:

An article by a cleric, Ahmed al-Tamimi, director of the PA government's Religious Judicial Council's "Inter Religion Dialogue Department," was being reported in a number of Christian and Jewish media Tuesday.

In it al-Tamimi attacked Christian Zionists for having "adopted Satan as God." He said it was Satan who "drives their crazy nature."

Apparently oblivious to the incongruity of an Islamic cleric even making such statements when his whole religion rejects Christianity in any form as heresy al-Tamimi called Christian Zionism "a dangerous distortion; a deviation from the true Christian faith."

It was thanks to Christian Zionists that the State of Israel exists today, he railed.



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Ami Isseroff on 05.20.06 @ 06:31 PM CST [link]

Yitzhak Ben Aharon: The giant was dwarfed by midgets

Yitzhak Ben Aharon died May 19, 2006 at the age of 99. His death evoked an effusion of praise. Israeli President Moshe Katzav declared, "Israel has lost one of its builders and shapers of its social character." Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said that "the State of Israel has lost one of its giants, a true Zionist and honest ideologue, who for decades did not hesitate to express his unique and insightful views." Israel's Vice Prime Minister and Minister for the Development for the Negev and Galilee, Shimon Peres, said that: "One of the spiritual fathers of the Israeli labor movement has left us."


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Ami Isseroff on 05.20.06 @ 03:33 PM CST [link]

Thursday, May 18th

A.B. Yehoshua and Jewish Identity - Again

As I wrote, I love a good spat. A.B. Yehoshua apologized for his AJC remarks about Jewish identity which offended so many people:

"Reverberations from the first evening of the conference have made me realize, to my distress, that a not-insignificant portion of the audience was offended by the tone of my remarks, as well as by part of their content....

"I wish, therefore, to express to them my deepest apologies," he writes. "Everything I said about the partial nature of Jewish life in the Diaspora as opposed to the all-inclusive nature of Jewish life in Israel has been said by me over the course of many years in the past, both in print and in addressing numerous Diaspora Jews.

"Never before did this lead to such an angry reaction as it did this time. Presumably, there was something in my tone and imprecise formulation that insulted part of the audience. I say "part," because there were also those who came up afterwards to thank me - which does not, of course, compensate for the feelings of the others.

I for one, find it hard to believe that Yehoshua has voiced precisely those sentiments before without getting a rather strong reaction. It is very easy to pick a fight with American Jews by raising the identity question. Even my very cautious admission that in my view Yehoshua is right, and Sharansky is also right, each in his own way, provoked some thundering criticism from US Jews. I love a good spat, but only as a spectator sport.

I also find that Yehoshua's obsession with identity is a bit strange. I do not worry about my "Jewish Identity" or my "Israeli Identity" or losing it any more than I worry about my ears falling off. It is part of me. I confess that I find it hard to relate to discussions about identity problems, in the same way that I would find it hard to relate to any problem I didn't really experience. Indeed, Yehoshua almost said as much. He said his identity is not like a jacket that you can take off. If it is part of him, why is he so concerned about it?

If anything, identity questions get pushed to the background when you are part of a country where most people have the same identity. In Europe or the USA I think about being Israeli or Jewish, because others around me are not Jewish. In Israel it is just there. There are Israelis who have a Jewish identity crisis I know, and they are the ones who are usually most concerned with this identity question.

Bradley Burston took up the theme from a different angle in Ha'aretz. He wrote:

"Do the Jews of North America need Israel? And if they do, what, exactly, is it that they need?
For one thing, a homeland. "

He is not saying, "come on Aliya." He is saying, that American Jews need Israel as their "old country" on which they can build their ethnic identity, because third generation American Jews can no longer relate to European Jewish communities that do not exist any more.


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Ami Isseroff on 05.18.06 @ 02:16 AM CST [link]

Tuesday, May 16th

The Right to Exist

Critics of Israel regularly explain that the very creation of Israel was in fact immoral, as it was founded on stolen land and its native inhabitants were all expelled. The Jews should have created their state in accordance with their neighbors. "You cannot come to a country where your ancestors lived three thousand years ago and claim it is yours. Would you give up your country if the Celts came and claimed it to be theirs?" I won't go into details about all the wrong assumptions in these statements (the Palestinian refugees were the result of a war that was started by the Arabs; Jews have had a spiritual and physical tie with the land of Israel/Palestine during all the time since their expulsion by the Romans and the creation of modern Israel; the land was not stolen but bought and there was no Arab state in Palestine that was 'taken over' by the Jews, etc. See here for more information about such myths and why they are wrong. If the Jews should have created a state or a homeland only with the approval of the Arab Palestinians, then surely there would have been no Jewish state, as the Arabs rejected any compromise and any form of Jewish self determination. The Arabs opposed Jewish immigration to Palestine even during and after WWII, when it became clear what happened to the Jews in Europe.


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Ratna Pelle on 05.16.06 @ 04:14 PM CST [link]

Defining a Two State Solution

If asked what your position is on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the safest answer you can give is that you support a two state solution. I think there are no political parties in the Netherlands and no serious newspapers or journalists who plainly say that all the land should be either Palestinian or Israeli. Of course there are exceptions, but they are on the far left and also in some Arab circles, advocating that 'Israel should be one secular state for all its inhabitants, from the Jordan river to the Mediterranean Sea'. At the other end of the spectrum there is Christians for Israel and Likud Netherlands, who say that Jordan is already a Palestinian state as it has a majority of Palestinians and was lobbed of from the original British Mandate in 1922.


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Ratna Pelle on 05.16.06 @ 04:01 PM CST [link]

Eddie Butler - An Israeli success story

Eddie Butler is an unlikely name for a famous Israeli perhaps. Butler is an African American whose parents came to Israel 37 years ago with the Black Hebrew group. Butler's musical talents and impressive stage presence have earned him the right to represent Israel in the Eurovision song contest. Perhaps he doesn't have a chance to win against heavily favored Greece, but chosing Butler and his song to represent Israel made an important statement to Europe and to ourselves, about how we view our country and what Zionism is in reality, rather than what it is in the imagination of its foes. The Eurovision contest is mostly tinsel and bad taste, but this year it has done something good, for Butler is not just another Israeli musician. He makes it clear that he has a message about Israel as well:


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Ami Isseroff on 05.16.06 @ 12:22 PM CST [link]

Sunday, May 14th

A.B. Yehoshua and Natan Sharansky- Identity, Zionism and Judaism

I love a good spat, don't you? A.B. Yehoshua riled an American Jewish audience with his Ben-Gurionesque remarks about Jewish identity and living in Israel:

"For me, Avraham Yehoshua, there is no alternative... I cannot keep my identity outside Israel. [Being] Israeli is my skin, not my jacket. You are changing jackets... you are changing countries like changing jackets. I have my skin, the territory...

We all know, and A.B. Yehoshua knows too, that making such remarks to an American audience is like shouting "I like pork chops" in a crowded Orthodox shul. Early in my Zionist career, I learned to be careful about saying the "A" word (Al-ya) to an American Jewish audience. Those of us who may think that American Jews should live in Israel are generally reticent about saying it too often, since saying it will not bring any Jews to live here anyhow, and might just make them hate Israelis. I love a good spat, but only as a spectator sport.


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Ami Isseroff on 05.14.06 @ 01:00 AM CST [link]


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