Call It What It Is: Murder

I am not usually inclined to use this space for what others might call a “rant.” But this day, I feel there are some points that need to be made.

Today, Hamas claimed responsibility for the murders of four Israeli settlers along a West Bank road. One good friend of mine questioned why I use the term “murder” rather than killing. Another good friend spoke of the need to put the killings in “context” of occupation and the ongoing crimes attached thereto.

The car that was shot up in the West Bank today

And so, I was motivated to write, because when I hear these things from good people I start to wonder about our moral compass.

Why is this murder? Well, it seems to me when gunmen ambush a car full of civilians (yes, even if the civilians are criminals) and shoot them to death in cold blood, outside of anything that could remotely be called a combat situation, that’s murder.

Settlements are criminal; they are impediments to peace and encroachments on land that does not belong to Israel. They cause enormous human rights violations to Palestinians. But those who live in them have not thereby forfeited or in any way diminished their right to keep their lives.

I don’t see, quite frankly, what is so complicated about this. Hamas’ diabolical act today was not an act of desperation. It was not a cry from an oppressed and occupied people. It was a calculated act of murder, intended to further Hamas’ political goals. Was their goal, as many assume, to derail the direct peace talks before they even got started? Was it, as Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum “…meant to highlight the failure of the security cooperation between the Palestinian Authority and Israel?” Whichever it was, the tool Hamas chose to further their goal was murder.

If an Israeli soldier or settler willfully kills a Palestinian outside of a combat situation and without immediate provocation, we rightly show zero tolerance for that. And we rightly call it murder. This is no different.

And some may argue that we in the peace movement should contextualize this so people can understand the need to end the occupation.

Nonsense. Sure, this act wouldn’t have happened if the Israelis weren’t there, but the occupation is simply wrong, and must end. Let’s not send Hamas the message that the way to convince Israel of that is to kill civilians. It’s just what they want to hear, and they will no doubt happily comply.

I suspect for some on the left – those who have been bending over backwards to make the case that Hamas is reasonable and really not the right-wing, reactionary sort of group that most in the West believe – there will be scrambling to criticize the act while at the same time saying it is understandable and to be expected because of the occupation.

That is wrong-headed and shows just how far some of us have wandered off the path. An act like this is never understandable, it is never justifiable and there is no context in which it is anything less than cold-blooded murder.

An attack such as this one leveled at soldiers is also illegal and unjustifiable. But in this case, along the roads in the South Hebron Hills, it is not hard to find Israeli soldiers. This attack was therefore directed quite intentionally at civilians, despite the fact that it need not have been.

On every level, this was a heinous act. Anyone who fancies him or herself a progressive should have no trouble condemning it unequivocally, just as he or she would if an Israeli soldier knowingly and intentionally shoots a Palestinian in Gaza carrying a white flag. There is no moral difference between the two.

And yet, too many on the left will downplay the horrific nature of this act and somehow continue to make excuses for Hamas.

We’ll also know that we’ve made progress when it is politically feasible for the Palestinian Authority to condemn such acts for being wrong, not just because they are against Palestinian interests (which they most certainly are) but simply because they are wrong.

I have said (and am even currently working an article to reiterate) that it is necessary to talk to Hamas, to bring them into a unified Palestinian government. That is a practical necessity. But today’s act reminds us that we in the US and our fellows in Israel may have to do that, but we should never forget who it is we’re dealing with. And we who work for peace and justice must keep in mind that these principles apply to all, and we should stop romanticizing those, like Hamas, who would commit such acts as the one that they committed today.

38 thoughts on “Call It What It Is: Murder

  1. Mitchell — I have no problem with the term “murder” or “terrorism” provided that you use it to describe all acts of intentional killing of civilians. And such actions should be condemned. So I condemn the murder of the 4 settlers. And not just because of its adverse consequences. Duh.

    But what does any of this have to do with the macro, which is that a) Hamas is a major representative of the Palestinians, and not some fringe group; and b) peace, if possible, is made between representative groups?

    Hamas must be brought into the picture, and when it is, then there will be other factions on both sides (there always are other groups) that will continue to destroy lives . The significant question is what legitimacy will they have.

    And speaking of the macro, it is arguable (the right always argues it) that Israel came about partly through the efforts of Jewish terrorists like the Stern Gang and Lehi, and with, in effect, terrorist actions by the Haganah. I myself think that the argument is exaggerated. But if national liberation becomes your goal, exactly where do you draw my line? Certainly not at civilians, according to most Zionists I know.

    As a Jew, I would rather Jews act morally and die then have a Jewish state in Palestine that necessitates throwing Arabs off their land, and destroying lives. That is why I thought that the Jewish march to statehood was a mistake. But how many Jews are there like me?

    And, finally, though I admire your expectations of the Palestinian leadership (condemning an act because it is wrong), may I suggest that as leaders their first responsibility is towards their people and not to some Kantian morality. So practical considerations should prevail. No Israeli leader ever condemned something simply because it was wrong, and when Ben Gurion condemned Deir Yasin and Qibya, his moral outrage (even assuming it was real) had political calculations. Qibya is particularly instructive; what began with moral outrage ended with a slap on the wrist. Ditto for the Jewish underground. And although that bothers me as an individual human being, I expect leaders to concern themselves with what is good for their people and not just with what is good — though the two are often inextricably linked.

    • Jerry, I don’t think we disagree. Indeed, many of the acts Lehi and Irgun undertook (as well as some that have been committed by Israeli military more recently–I was intentional in using the comparison of firing on a white flag in the piece) would also be classified as murder.

      Does this change the macro? No, not really, but there’s a difference between recognizing that Hamas has worked its way into a position where it must be taken seriously and dealt with and being an apologist for it. In the piece, i say Hamas must be part of the process, something I said as well right after they win the election in 2006 (as far as I know, my article for JVP saying that was the first to appear back then) and have said all along. But we as progressives do not advance our cause nor that specific point by defending or papering over Hamas’ crimes, as some are wont to do. That was the point of the piece.

      I don’t have particularly moralistic expectations of political and military leaders. They should do what they need to do and what is in their people’s interests. Sometimes that is cold, and I did not criticize the PA for condemning acts such as this only on practical grounds, but rather stated that a we will know we have made progress when politics dictates that they can make the more powerful statement of saying this is wrong, which Israeli leaders, for instance, can do from time to time (and should far more often).

  2. Jerry,

    If peace is made between representative groups and Hamas, a major representative of the Palestinians, sends a death squad to gun down four innocent Israelis, then I would say this bears on the macro rather closely indeed. It is in fact a perfect vignette for illustrating everything that is wrong with the macro picture right now, wouldn’t you say?

  3. Mitchell,

    (I just posted this on Didi’s FB, but wasn’t sure you would see to respond and am very interested in your take.)

    You do touch on that fact that the victims were ‘civilians’, but you don’t specifically mention that these killings were wrong or should be condemned not just on morals or the politics behind the attack, but because it is wrong under international law.

    Although all people have the right under international law to take up arms when resisting an occupation or when seeking self determination they MUST STILL observe rules of war which include not targeting civilians.

    And I’m not sure I agree with your statement that, “An attack such as this one leveled at soldiers is also illegal and unjustifiable.” although I respect and trust your analysis usually.

    People do have the right to armed resistance and when soldiers are actively participating in an active military occupation and suppression of others’ national rights and human rights they are legitimate targets.

    If these gunmen had targeted members of the IDF, armed security found through-out the OT or perhaps if the victims had even been armed settlers (trickier) – which we know exist in good number, this might have been justifiable as legitimate resistance, but the targets WERE four civilians – period.

    You don’t target civilians.

    And on THAT basis the attack should be condemned regardless of the politics behind it or position on violence vs non-violence.

    • Hi, Edith,
      Good you came here since I felt the FB discussion was just going in circles.

      As to why I didn’t raise Int’l law, I don’t think it’s that relevant on the ground. Int’l law simply doesn’t come into play in day to day reality on the ground, whether in Israel-Palestine or anywhere else, and it is certainly not a factor for groups like Hamas, non-governmental actors that int’l law polices only in theory, not in practice. So I don’t see it as particularly important in this case.

      On the question you raise about targeting soldiers, this is certainly more of a grey area. A soldier does not simply lose all his/her human rights when s/he puts on a uniform. Even in a combat zone or in the field as an occupier, their lives are not worthless. They are legitimate targets IF there is a military objective. But they can’t be killed just for the sake of killing them.

      In this case, Hamas had no military objective. It was not even an act of resistance and the political target wasn’t even the occupying power, Israel. Rather, it was a violent political act directed at another Palestinian group. Under those circumstances, even killing a soldier is not sanctioned and it’s not right.

      That said, if this were an attack against armed soldiers, it would not have rung my moral bell to such an extent. That these were unarmed civilians, the illegality of their presence in the West Bank notwithstanding, is what makes it unquestionably and blatantly criminal (the crime being murder) and so appalling.

      • “They are legitimate targets IF there is a military objective. But they can’t be killed just for the sake of killing them.”

        I agree with your post here (civilians should never be targeted), but as for soldiers–well, you’re right, but does anybody actually follow this law? I don’t think the US or Israel even come close to it and while I abhor the argument that oppressed people have the right to resist “by any means necessary”, a phrase beloved by armchair revolutionaries online when they justify killing civilians, it does seem a bit much to expect Palestinians to be more scrupulous than any Western military force. I’d criticize the shooting of soldiers under such conditions as stupid and immoral on other grounds (it would bring down Israeli violence on innocent Palestinians), but I just don’t think it is reasonable to expect resistance fighters to fight “fairly” with a military that outguns them 1000 to 1 and doesn’t follow the same strict rules. They can be sure that if the Israeli military knew that one of them is sleeping in a house, they’d kill him without compunction if it would spare any risk to themselves and they don’t need to take him alive.

        As for military objectives, the objective would be to make an illegal occupation painful to the Israelis by killing the people who enforce it. The aim is to win the war and if killing soldiers would do this, then that’s a military objective. Conventional armies sometimes employ this tactic–it’s called attrition, where you simply try to bleed the other side until they quit. The argument against doing this and the one I would use is simply that this won’t work for the Palestinians and it’s just going to increase suffering on all sides.

        Meanwhile, back in reality, the armed portion of Hamas is a fairly typical armed “resistance movement”. Ruthless killers with no moral sense.

      • I agree with you completely, Donald, and I thank you for your comment. Had this attack been launched at soldiers, I would not have said what I did. It was the fact that the victims were civilians (however criminal they may have been) that prompted my response.

        Indeed, I grappled with the very questions you raise when I was writing. I concluded that I was tired of people talking about soldiers’ (or, indeed, militants/terrorists’) lives as if they were fair game for anyone to take and did not wish to contribute to that atmosphere.

        In the real world, I do not expect an occupied people to make these fine distinctions. But I believe we, who are not occupied or in combat, ought not be looking for those killings that are permissible. Killing, ANY killing, ought to be a terribly distasteful act that we strive to avoid justifying unless there is absolutely no other choice.

        A soldier is still a person. So is a terrorist. Being someone who passionately opposes the death penalty, I do not believe that any act automatically means one’s life is forfeit.

        On the other hand, being someone who lives in the real world and has seen too much violence and oppression up close and personal (stories I feel no need to share here), I also understand that violence is part of the world we live in.

        So, let’s say the victims in this case were soldiers. They do not have the legal protection civilians enjoy and are legitimate targets for militias striving to resist occupation. Because of the tangled web between Israel and the PA, I would not have raised an alarm bell for their being killed as part of Hamas’ attempt to thwart the PA’s tactic of negotiating with Israel. But soldiers are still people and are only legitimate targets for acts of resistance to occupation. In my view, the dispute between rival factions of the occupied people does not cover that. So, it would be, in my judgment, an illegitimate and illegal act, but one which, in practice, given the reality of the world we live in, no, I could not call it murder or oppose it in the same way I did this one.

  4. The term is wrong. It is not an occupation any more, it is an institutionalized regime of discrimination. Different framing different solutions – rather than land re-allocation civil rights re-allocation.

  5. Yariv, you might be right, but you assert here the victory of the settlements. I do not concede that fight yet. Until then, הכיבוש הורג את כולנו is still where I choose to focus.

  6. Having visited the H2 area near Hebron, toured the Jewish community, having seen the damage and violence they wreak on Palestinians, and considering that they are in violation of even Israeli laws — I would dispute your characterization of these settlers as “civilians.” These are the friends of Baruch Goldstein who killed dozens of praying Palestinians and these “civilians” have plenty of Arab blood on their own hands.

    • Having been there many times myself, having Palestinian friends and colleagues who have to live there, as well as having some familiarity with the settler communities…
      Bottom line, many settlers are criminals, many are not. You and I have no idea (unless you happen to know those four people who were killed) what they did or didn’t do. And, in any case, criminals are still civilians.

      • I’m not condoning murder, but I still disagree with you.

        “A person following the pursuits of civil life, especially one who is not an active member of the military, the police, or a belligerent group; A person who does not belong to a particular group or engage in a particular activity.”

        These people are not civilians! Furthermore, if you consider them such, then civilians of what society? Not the one amid which they live.

        I would consider them a belligerent force unleashed in a land they don’t even belong in by Israeli law.

  7. mitchell…..of course you are right..it was cold blooded murder…..i cant help thinking that there is no way on earth anyone can get the hammas killers to join in any peace agreement,short of israels suicide….i think the liberal jews who so want israel to capitulate to every demand, …do not realize the vicious intentions of the islamist forces uinleashed in the world

  8. Several of you have fairly rigid notions of warfare, civilians, and morality. I hate to burst your bubbles, but our own Revolutionary war was not always fought in neat little battles with one group of tin soldiers in blue shooting muskets at another group of tin soldiers in red. We had militias and irregular troops targeting not only British troops but loyalists. They conducted not only military but economic and psychological warfare and — yes — a number of them used terrorist methods, including torture, arson, and assassinations.

    Speaking of irregular troops, these are defined as people whose status is neither soldier nor civilian. The settlers who inhabit H2 can without any stretch of the imagination be termed irregular troops — that is, for those who are not already in the IDF reserves.

    I don’t condone murder or terrorism — and I think the nonviolent methods used in Bil’in and on the flotillas, for example, have been more effective in advancing the Palestinian cause. Perhaps that’s why Israel has cracked down on them so violently. And perhaps that, in turn, is why some Palestinians have concluded that non-violence isn’t everything.

    I am disgusted by the contortions some of you have exerted to spill tears for a bunch of Jewish jihadis who regularly shoot at Palestinians, burn their orchards, who chant “Death to the Arabs” as readily as the Shema, and who are anything but civilians. As long as Hamas continues to target the most extreme West Bank settlers and not average people in Israel proper, I’m not going to shed any crocodile tears.

  9. david …you canyt have it both ways… cry ,vicumhood when palistinian and turkish activists civilians are killed…..and call israeli civilians…active terrorists when they are murdered….if thats the case..then lets have it all out now……israel could decimate gaza,the west bank towns.lebanon.syria and iran …who by the way could not even beat iraq…..all in one week…..if she were pushed hard enough……..you know thats a really good idea,better now….

    • This discussion is rather Orwellian. Armed militias with a history of violence living illegally (even by Israeli law) in Hebron are not considered combatants, but you consider the flotilla activists to be? You live in either a fantasy world or Israel.

  10. david……the turkish activists were running a blocade…they were looking for trouble…the four were murdered by ambush, minding their own business….you sir, are the one deludeing himself…..you have bought in the israel bashing propagandists…..oh oh..what poor and helpless those starveing and wretched palestinians are….like what would happen to you ,if you should mistakenly drive into a arab controlled town with israeli plates…your friends are with very few exceptions ,trained from early childhood to hate..and kill..all jews ….by stone..club gun or suicide vest

    • I’m not going to get in a convoluted debate with you over the merits of civil disobedience by the flotilla people, but these people were civilians who were murdered by state terror. In the mainstream media there was a thundering silence about the injustice of their murders.

      I’ve been in Hebron and, frankly, the settlers scare me more than the Palestinians. There’s plenty of hate to go around in Hebron — on both sides. But my original point was that your buddies, the Baruch Goldsteins, are anything but peaceful civilians. They should all be removed, forcibly if need be, like the Gush Katif crazies. Then, maybe, they can just piss off fellow Israelis in their own homeland.

      And, sorry, “Judea” and “Samaria” are fantasy kingdoms, not part of Israel.

  11. david…ok you got goldstein…now what about the 9.11 killers…2700 souls…and the 1500 israelis killed by suicicde attacks …and the poor austraiians burned alive in bali…and the countless thousands of muslims killed by othe crazy muslims in iraq..afgan. and pakistan..and those muslim killers who murdered those folks in mumbai….and the palestinians killed by other palestinians in gaza..arab.muslims killing poor defenseless black muslims in the sudan…..thats if they are lucky……you sir are a blind and deaf jew hater..who cant get israel out of his craw…so go choke on it

    • Mr. Benson, I can see your gripe is with all Muslims, not just Palestinians. Even though your Islamophobic rants are not the caliber of a fully rational, informed individual, I still can’t believe that even YOU think that Palestinians were involved in 9/11. As you are most certainly aware, Israel declared war on Gaza in 2007, if not before. If it’s a war, expect more casualties.

      http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2007/sep/19/usa.israel1

      Even though I believe that non-violent strategies are more likely to produce international support and be more effective in the long run, if Palestinians who practice non-violence like Abdallah Abu Rahmah are given lengthy prison terms on trumped-up charges, you should expect violence to fill the void.

  12. david…….thank you for your calm response , to my ill tempered posting…i had no business calling you names…i do believe, and i think with good reason that there is a islamist war going on against civilivation as we know it….the fact is that there are islamic terror wars going on in 30 places in the world as of today…israel is just in the middle of it all…do you really believe if that by some miracle israel gave in to all ..every one of the palestinian demands….complete withdral from the west bank….rule of east jerusalem…67 borders…return of refugees..peace then would rein….the islam terror movement would cease..and everybody would live happily together????

  13. Eventually, yes, I do. I don’t think you realize how much the injustice of Israel’s Occupation — coupled with unquestioning US support and cover — manages to inflame not only righteously indignant people but provides recruiting fodder for the less righteous and more violent. When this injustice is resolved, it will go a long way toward bringing peace in the whole region.

    As far as an Islamist war is concerned, if there *is* a war it is not much of one. Presently dog bites account for more deaths in the United States than jihadi-related killings, and according to DOJ figures Latin American and even Jewish extremism is slightly more of a problem than Islamist attacks in the US. And let’s be serious — whereas Hamas and Hezbollah are national liberation movements cloaked in religion, they participate in governments. Terror is a tactic, not a defining characteristic of any political entity — Israel included.

    Al Qaeda, on the other hand, is simply a strange group of anarcho-terrorist crackpots who can recruit only as long as repression and corruption exists in their own nations — often courtesy of the US and Israel. Stop supporting the Mubaraks and Karzais and Chalabis of the world and I suspect you’d see a reduction in Islamic rhetoric and recruitment to terror. It works the other way too — anger at the US for our endless wars is often directed at our pet proxy, Israel.

  14. david…you say eventully…..now if you led israel would you ,right now ,with iran,syria led by madmen…hammas..no better..and hezbollah..sitting there with 50000 rockets..open your self up to possible extinction?……..as far as islam..just when did islam ever live in peace since its founding..it has been on the march from day one…read your history books…..just what are they teaching in those madroses the saudis have opened up all over the world are teaching ?….not love ,fellowship.the four freedoms..just terror and hate for all non muslims…it sure would be nice if you were right…..i guess one can dream,but it wont change reality

    • It is convenient to characterize one’s enemies as madmen — or Amalek, Hitler, Nazis, and so forth. But none of these people or these movements are mad — they are simply opposed to Israel. You ask just when did Islam ever live in peace since its founding? If you are an American or an Israeli, you might as well answer the very same question, my friend, because the history of Europe and America is even more violent. How many millions did the US kill in Viet Nam, Iraq, and Afghanistan? How many people were killed in the Cold War, by Contras, or other US-sponsored terrorism? Was this the work of madmen or cool, calculating, evil men?

      You speak of madrassas and the terror of Islam. Much of the world, including Americans, now knows that Israel is capable of state terror. The flotilla was a good example of that. But so was the Gaza war, Lebanon. Instead of hitting back at terror centers Israel always chooses to hit civilians. And if we’re looking at religious texts, the Torah can be an equally bloodthirsty document. It records numerous genocides and massacres of civilians. We have rabbi Yitzhak Shapira issuing a “fatwa” that killing the goyim, even children, is sanctioned in the Torah. We have yeshivot where no science, math, or history is taught and students are as ignorant and hate-filled as any Pakistani madrassa. We have the Shas rabbi Ovadio Josef calling for genocide against the Palestinians. Let’s not believe for a second these aberrent Jews are any more representative of Judaism than certain terrorists are of Islam.

      Forget the Muslims for a minute. You want to know what the ultimate culture clash is?

      It’s the fact that the world no longer believes in race-based hyper-nationalism. Europe and America have moved on, but Israel still represents an anachronistic 19th century worldview. Zionism is not only immoral, it’s well past its expiration date and starting to really stink.

  15. david……you are very good at turning a point of argument around to fit your position…and we can go on forever back and forth..i see white you see black…what i do see is your last sentence…..about zionisim and it and israel stinking……at the end of all this back and forth ,you cant abide or live with a jewish state….that is your right…..and i hope you will grant the jews to live out their rights also….your muslim friends have hounded the jewish people for the last thousand years..of course along with the christians..they 2000 years…and you know what ..with one hand tied behind their backs..running for their lives the whole time..they have contibuted to the world more…ten folds more then the billions of muslims who have been on this earth…..they have been plundered murdered raped robbed gassed be-headed converted and villified as you are doing..but they will survive and israel will defeat her enemys tho they be billions foaming froth of hatred

  16. You are right that we could go back and forth. But I have both Jewish and Muslim friends whose lives I am concerned about. As a Jew I am also concerned with an ideology that has perverted Judaism.

    Your understanding of history is pretty shortsighted. Much of the animosity between Jews and Palestinians began in the early 1900’s as Europeans began coming in greater numbers and disrupted a way of life that had existed for centuries. Mizrachim lived in Arab lands right up to 1948 when many came to Israel after the war.

    Yes, Jews lived under dhimmitude in these lands, but their occasional persecution paled before that in Europe. And I don’t see you harboring a grudge against Christians for their pogroms, the Inquisition, or the Church’s attacks on Jews.

    I don’t see you generalizing about Christianity as you are doing about Muslims. There were even times where Muslims brought Jews under their protection, or when Jews were allied with Muslims financially and militarily — such as during the conquest of Spain in 711. At that time they had a common enemy — Catholicism.

    So trade your “Protocols of the Elders of Medina” or answeringmuslims.org talking points in for some real history. The current mess has nothing to do with religion and everything to do with land, water, and nationhood.

  17. The comment prior to Mr. Benson’s ending of his conversation was deleted.

    Let me be very clear that personal attacks are not tolerated on this site. The conversation between Mr. Benson and David veered close at one point to my having to step in, but I was gratified to see that both participants pulled back quickly.

    Mr. Benson’s penultimate comment crossed the line.

    There will be no hate speech, name-calling or personal attacks of any kind in these discussions. Such comments will be deleted. And if they happen too often I will be forced to moderate comments on this blog, which I would rather not do. So please be clear on this point.

    Thanks.

  18. mitchell…..i fully understand why you deleted my personal attack on david…you need to keep your blog from regressing into a mess of hate speech….i let my temper get the best of me……but let me ask this one question…i think i know why the world wide liberal progressive political movement is virulantely attacking israel and jews in general….but what i cant understand is why highly educated jewish mainly college professors and many reform and reconstructioist rabbis…supposedly intelligent people join in the disgracefull effort to delegitimize israel….

    • Johnny,
      First, thank you for understanding the step I took. Rest assured it is not and would never be taken lightly.

      As to your question, both it and many of your prior comments are based in part on two things that render it impossible to answer you in any way that you would find meaningful.

      One is a world view that is very different from mine. That is simply a place where people must agree to disagree because there just isn’t common ground for a discussion and there’s nothing to be done about that.

      The second is that I can say with some authority that the question and some of your comments are rooted in misinformation. I base that not only on my 30 years of both academic and independent study of this conflict, 10 years of working on it professionally and numerous trips to Israel and the Occupied Territories.

      I base it also on having been raised and educated in precisely the community that, at least in the Jewish world, has willfully produced much of this misinformation. A few points:

      One of the leading de-legitimizers of the State of Israel are some settler groups who attack fellow Israeli Jews as well as Palestinians on a regular basis, including attacks on police and soldiers. They do not recognize Israeli law (note: Israeli law, not international law is what I speak of here), nor the government’s authority because it conflicts with their beliefs.

      Many so-called de-legitimizers are Israeli patriots trying to correct what they see as bad behavior by their government and help bring an end to this conflict. Just one example of a person who has been accused of de-legitimizing: my friend Rabbi Arik Ascherman, who is a passionate Zionist and gets arrested for trying to stop the demolition of Palestinian homes.

      I do not hesitate to criticize the left for their own ignorance of history, international law and political realities, and I’ve seen a good number of examples of such in this and other conversations about my article here.

      There are legions of such examples. And there are indeed those (a distinct minority) who latch on to the Palestine Solidarity Movement out of bigotry against Jews. I have personally encountered this on numerous occasions.

      But I suggest if you want to find the answer to your question, you begin by examining some of the assumptions underlying it. If you do so seriously, I believe you will find a great deal out you did not know before. And there is no reason that one cannot find such information, incorporate it into understanding that Israel has done plenty of things wrong and still be supportive of Israel.

  19. mitchell……i hear you ,and you are correct in much of what you say.there is no question ,it is perfectly legitimate amd indeed proper to be critical of israels policys,when one finds them wrong in their view…..but what i find abhorent is the active co-operation and the offensive actions against israel itself..ie..visiting churchs lectuering on israels abuse of the palestinians…raiseing money and in a certain rabbi rosens case..a fast for gaza.and visiting iran kissing the mullahs…some professors helping the local muslim students turning their campuses turn into hell for jewish students..aparthid ?…finklestein and braverman and chomsky…makeing their crusade against israel a money makeing endeaver…it is one thing to be critical of israel….but to try to destroy it..?….lastly i also have spent time in israel..not doing studies not observing…working…and liveing day to day..with the average israelis and palestinians….i have seen the good lives that the israeli arabs have especially in the north….and the misery of gaza and some parts of the west bank…i know what i know and i know what i saw…and maybe it you who should examine some of your assumptions..and they might some furthur study….i guess our buddy david said it all..when he said ..its about land water and nationhood….and does israel prevail or do the arabs….and what i decry, are jews who want israel to lose

    • Johnny, you wrote:
      “its about land water and nationhood….and does israel prevail or do the arabs….and what i decry, are jews who want israel to lose”

      That is what it’s about, but to paint it in these zero-sum terms is precisely the problem. If indeed one believes only one side or the other can “win” then one should back his or her “side” to the hilt.

      But, as history makes abundantly clear, there is no winning for either side without the other side winning as well. Israel must remain a Jewish homeland and, as recent events make abundantly clear, must re-examine what that means in the context of the Zionist ideal of creating such a homeland where all its citizens enjoy FULL equality in civil, legal and political matters.

      Palestine must be created as a viable, secure and contiguous state that is home for its refugees, economically sustainable and free from Israeli domination while not just co-existing but cooperating with Israel.

      That’s not one side or the other winning, but both. Without that approach, there is no hope.

  20. the problem here is , that the arabs and lately iran,turkey and all the rest of the muslim world,consider wining is when israel is gone…….done for..kaput…..those are their options….what you are talking about is not an option they even consider…that is what they are talking about in arabic and pharsie…when they talk to their people the talk is the destruction of the zionist enity…there is no mention of a peacefull out come……it could be ,that the exsistance of so much presure for a two state soulution, from the jewish peace at most any price contingent in israel and america…makes it even harder to come by…why? because it enboldens the arabs to press harder and harder..thinking israsel is loseing support within and without….this i know first hand…from conversations i have had with israeli arabs and palestinians…they can not comprehend how so many jews especially in israel can be on their side….without thinking the zionist cause is going and they will prevail over time…and who knows maybe ,with the help of jews like david around ?….so sad

  21. i feel i need to clarify the difference between the folks like you ,and the others i refer to, as peace at any price crowd…..i have no complaint that people look for israel to make a two state peace with the palestinians….and lobby vigorously for just that….thats fair and honest….its the jews who fight for work with and support the forces want only to destroy israel with blood libel propaganda …makeing it their lifes work …those are the ones i can not suffer

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