Tag Archives | Israel

How to Criticize Israel Without Being Anti-Semitic

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Peter Vidani writes at This Is Not Jewish:

If you’ve spent any time discussing or reading about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, I guarantee you’ve heard some variation of this statement:

OMG, Jews think any criticism of Israel is anti-Semitic! 

In the interests of this post, I’m going to assume that the people who express such sentiments are acting in good faith and really don’t mean to cause pain to or problems for Diaspora Jewry.  For those good-faith people, I present some guidelines for staying on the good side of that admittedly murky line, along with the reasoning why the actions I list are problematic.  (And bad-faith people, you can no longer plead ignorance if you engage in any of these no-nos.  Consider yourselves warned.)  In no particular order:

  1. Don’t use the terms “bloodthirsty,” “lust for Palestinian blood,” or similar.  Historically, Jews have been massacred in the belief that we use the blood of non-Jews (particularly of children) in our religious rituals.  This belief still persists in large portions of the Arab world (largely because white Europeans deliberately spread the belief among Arabs) and even in parts of the Western world.  Murderous, inhumane, cruel, vicious—fine.  But blood…just don’t go there.  Depicting Israel/Israelis/Israeli leaders eating children is also a no-no, for the same reason.
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In Gaza, Palestinians Turn Destruction into Artistic Protest

Painting by Palestinian artist Tayseer Barakat.

Painting by Palestinian artist Tayseer Barakat.

Mariam Elba writes at Waging Nonviolence:

As the Israeli war against Gaza unfolded last summer, I wrote about a particular artist who has turned pictures of Israeli bombs falling on Gaza into graphic art of people mourning the destruction below them. Now the destruction caused by the bombs is itself being turned into art. Well-known Palestinian artist Raed Issa has been displaying his damaged paintings that were buried in the remains of his home in front of the rubble of his house. He is part of a group of artists called Eltiqa in Gaza that supports artists in producing art that responds to the realities of daily life in the occupied territory.

In addition, groups of young people are practicing difficult parkour moves among the rubble that remains from last summer. While the artistic exercise routine known as parkour is not new in Palestine, what these youth are doing by practicing it among the rubble of destroyed homes and schools is showing not only incredible resilience, but also constructing a narrative of resistance and endurance.

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A Sick Society

Abby Zimet writes at Common Dreams:

In a stunning indictment of the Gaza assault as the act of a savage nation, even its president has proclaimed Israel a “sick society” incapable of dialogue with those around them and in need of treatment. In a speech at the opening of a conference aptly titled, “From Hatred of the Stranger to Acceptance of the Other,” Israeli President Reuven Rivlin – who as head of state has little real power compared to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, with far too much – suggested Israel has become a nation without humanity or empathy that has “forgotten how to be decent human beings.” If you need further evidence of the justice of his claim, here’s video of Israeli soldiers arresting an 11-year-old, mute, developmentally disabled boy near Hebron for the possible crime of throwing a stone as neighboring Israeli settlers cheer. This makes us sick.

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Chomsky: The Crass and Brutal Approach Used to Keep Gaza Mired in Misery

By Andrew Rusk via Flickr. (CC by 2.0)

By Andrew Rusk via Flickr. (CC by 2.0)

via AlterNet:

On Aug. 26, Israel and the Palestinian Authority both accepted a cease-fire agreement after a 50-day Israeli assault on Gaza that left 2,100 Palestinians dead and vast landscapes of destruction behind.

The agreement calls for an end to military action by Israel and Hamas as well as an easing of the Israeli siege that has strangled Gaza for many years.

This is, however, just the most recent of a series of cease-fire agreements reached after each of Israel’s periodic escalations of its unremitting assault on Gaza.

Since November 2005 the terms of these agreements have remained essentially the same. The regular pattern is for Israel to disregard whatever agreement is in place, while Hamas observes it – as Israel has conceded – until a sharp increase in Israeli violence elicits a Hamas response, followed by even fiercer brutality.

These escalations are called “mowing the lawn” in Israeli parlance.

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Jews To Israel: If Not Now, When

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Abby Zimet writes at Common Dreams:

In the wake of ongoing abuses by Israel against the Palestinian people – from the most recent devastation in Gaza to the brute fact of the Occupation itself – a growing number of Israelis and other Jews are renouncing, often with a mix of sorrow and anger, a Zionist project most have grown up supporting. The flood of leave-takings has come from all sides, starting with the rapid growth of Israeli peace organizations, mostly notably If Not Now.
Then came the decision by leading Israeli human rights group B’Tselem to stop cooperating with Israel, which recently banned several independent human rights groups, in its so-called “investigation” of abuses in Gaza. The group cited the IDF’s well-documented  history of “whitewashing,” arguing, “Common sense has it that a body cannot investigate itself…Based on past experience, we can only regretfully say that Israeli law enforcement authorities are unable and unwilling to investigate allegations of breaches of international humanitarian law (in) Gaza.” Around the same time, an even more startling rejection came from a group of Holocaust survivors and their families, who wrote an open letter calling Israeli conduct in Gaza “genocide.”
This week, they were joined, in his fashion, by Pulitzer-Prize-winning author and illustrator Art Spiegelman, who became one of the most acclaimed voices of the Holocaust when he told the story of his father’s survival at Auschwitz with his extraordinary graphic novel Maus.
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The Danger of “Us” VS “Them”

This post was originally published on “Consciousness is Everything.”

To paraphrase Nietzsche, the danger in fighting monsters is that of becoming a monster oneself. Why do we feel the need to fight monsters? First we must perceive “I” as distinct from “an other”. At the heart of the matter, all is resolved into Oneness.  But when we fail to perceive this, the sense of separation prevails. This is the root of all of our troubles. When we perceive some other who is somehow deemed a threat or is sufficiently “bad”, the tendency is to get up in arms. This fuels the psychology of separation even further. There arises a battle between “us” and “them”. In a neat little twist of irony, Reality proves that, ultimately, we are all One…even via the medium of our misguided efforts at preserving the separate self at the expense of the others who threaten it.… Read the rest

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