Tuesday, July 29, 2014

When Will American Rabbis Go Beyond “Feeling Sympathy” for the Gazans?

As the extent of the brutal and inhuman bombing of Gaza becomes known, it is hard for Jews who consider themselves relatively decent not to speak out.  Some American rabbis are beginning to express sympathy with the innocent victims of the IDF onslaught and to imply, ever so gingerly, that Israel should reconsider what it is doing, from a “Jewish” standpoint.

These expressions of sympathy are inevitably accompanied by expressions of support of Israel, unquestioned faith in the purity of its motives, blind acceptance of the morality of the Israel Defense Forces and the truth of the IDF spokespeople, as well as ritual  condemnation of Hamas.  Even as  we slaughter Gazans and bomb refugee camps into the stone age in ways that the Palestinians never did, and never could do, it is important for our own self-image to imply that we are, deep down,  more moral than they are.  After all, we deliberately and openly arrest Palestinian civilians in reprisals for the murder of our civilians,  whereas the terrorists kidnap soldiers.  We kill civilians and express (occasionally) regret; but when  they fight and kill our soldiers, they aren’t legal combatants of an occupied population under attack but terrorists. We invade; they infiltrate.

I gave up on orthodox rabbis years ago.Their morality is entirely tribal, with the added moral smugness about how we Jews are different from them.  The dean of American modern orthodoxy, Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik, was simply incapable of understanding why Arabs would oppose Zionism,  and he actually raised the halakhic question of whether those who oppose the Jewish state (“the mobs of Nassar and the Mufti”) should have the law of Amalek applied to them, i.e., to wipe out their men, women, and children. And he was considered one of the more liberal of the modern orthodox rabbis!   One can pity and excuse the Rav for these sentiments – I really like to believe that in cooler moments he would have rejected his own inference -- but no decent human being cannot be revulsed by them.  In Israel, the religious Zionist rabbis range from the enlightened colonialists to the Judaeo-fascists. Moral chauvinism is almost part of the “DNA” of modern orthodoxy; expecting orthodox rabbis to rise above it would be like expecting the Pope to endorse abortion.

So when I read a piece by a well-intended conservative rabbi who believes “that our hearts should grieve, that we should not be able to sleep at night, for the hundreds of Gazan non-combatants who died horrible deaths this week, yesterday, today, and are dying right this minute,” I asked myself: Should I be happy, or at least relieved, that finally, American rabbis have broken their silence? After all, unlike Rabbi David Seth-Kirshner, this rabbi doesn’t adopt the terrorist reasoning behind the Hamas suicide bombers and Osama Bin Laden that makes  civilians into combatants if they elect a government hostile to one’s interests.

No, I should not. For if is the best our rabbinate can do, I can only grieve for American Jewry,  whose hearts have become so hardened that only when there is mass slaughter of innocents and wanton destruction is their sleep disturbed. Where was the rabbi when the people of Gaza were put under a long and callous siege, the calories of their food counted, their movements restricted, solely because they had democratically elected representatives that were not to Israel’s liking? Where was the rabbi when the Israeli government rounded up released Hamas prisoners and government officials on the West Bank who had nothing to do with the murder of the three Jewish students? Where was the rabbi when the ongoing occupation led to the deaths of many Palestinians, at a time when Hamas was “relatively quiet”? My God, the rabbi throws in suicide bombing into the mix? How many thousands of Palestinians civilians have been killed by Israelis, since the last suicide bomb went off, well before Hamas became the recognized government in Gaza? 

It seems to me that the good rabbi, like many other good American Jews sleep peacefully through the moral nightmare of Palestinian existence – in refugee camps, the diaspora, under occupation, and even within Israel. It takes the noise of 120 one-tonne bombs to disturb their sleep. 

How have we Jews gotten to a situation where we can “sleep” so soundly? How have we excused ourselves by saying that Israel is existentially threatened, when, on the contrary,  the only existential threat is Israel for the Palestinian people?

I have yet to read a piece written by a rabbi of any denomination that achieves the moral clarity of Haaretz’s Gideon Levy , Amira Hass, former  M.K. Avraham Burg, and others. These are the Jews  that keep me Jewish during this long, long night of hardened hearts --  along with the rabbinical council of Jewish Voice for Peace, God bless them, and the many Jews and non-Jews fighting for justice and human rights.

In the honor/shame culture that is contemporary Judaism, expressing sympathy for the most egregious victims of our post-Holocaust neuroses, ultra-nationalism, moral chauvinism, and lethal weapons, is apparently the best our rabbinical leadership can come up with.

How moral we Jews are for unanimously condemning the pouring of kerosene down the throat of an innocent Arab youth and burning him alive!

And that is one of the most depressing lessons of these terrible times

Thursday, July 24, 2014

When Palestinians Live Up to Israel’s Moral Example

I was sent today a blog post by a self-described “progressive” rabbi entitled, “I’m Done Apologizing for Israel.” After repeating the standard hasbara talking points  the rabbi concludes, “We must do what we can to protect our people. We have that right. We are not less deserving of life and quiet than anyone else.”

The rabbi and I are in fundamental agreement about this conclusion. Israelis have the right to protect their own people and are not less deserving of life and quiet than anyone else. But that “anyone else” includes the Palestinian people, and, as a progressive, he surely doesn’t hold that Israelis are more deserving of life and quiet than they are. So the rabbi must hold that the Palestinians have the same right to protect their people, and the same right to self-defense that Israel does. Like Israel, they have the right to wage war, not with primitive rockets, but with tanks, missiles, and fighter jets. The Palestinians have the right to do whatever it takes to provide themselves with the security and pride that the IDF provides Israelis. Furthermore, the Palestinians, like the Israelis, have the right to determine their own destinies and not depend on others to treat their wounded, or to provide them with building materials, or to ration different products, or to restrict their movement in the name of the other’s security. The Palestinians do not have the right to restrict the importation of materials into Israel, to control where Israelis can fish, to blockade Israeli ports, to restrict Israeli movement – unless, like the Israelis, they consider it vital for their security.

Perhaps the rabbi may reply at this point, “Hang on -- in principle, I grant that Palestinians have these rights, but first they have to prove to Israel and to the world that they can run their state in a civilized manner.” In other words, unlike those Israelis who chant “Death to the Arabs,” who pull up chairs and cheer when the IDF drops bombs on Gaza killing overwhelmingly civilians, who call for revenge and bombing Gaza into the stone age, and who justify holding millions of people indefinitely in an open-air prison, in the name of security, in short, who control not only their own lives and destinies, but the lives and destinies of millions of other in a horrendous occupation – the Palestinians must be held to the same moral standard that Israel was held to before it could have a recognized state, an advanced military, and self-determination.

Fair enough. So here is my proposal for the progressive rabbi. Let Israel unilaterally withdraw from all occupied territories and place them for ten years under a UN trusteeship. At the end of those ten years, during which the Palestinians equip themselves with a powerful army, the Palestinians will unilaterally declare a state, and will continue forcefully expelling from its lands those Israeli settlers, whether peaceful or not, who are a perceived threat to its territorial contiguity.  If Israel wishes, it can attack the Palestinian state, but that state will be justified to retaliate, and  if successful, it will be justified, in the name of its security, to seize additional territory, turn millions of Israelis into refugees, bar their return, expropriate their land, place some of them under occupation, and the rest under military rule. Then, when the Israelis under Palestinian occupation elect a political leadership that has a military wing,  the Palestinians can arrest the politicians and place the Israelis under a siege.

Only when Palestinians achieve this moral bar – and it is not an easy bar to attain -- will the Israelis and their supporters be expected to recognize the State of Palestine.

In fact, their recognition of the Palestinians state will be considered a precondition for the recognition of their own state, a demilitarized state that will be established on a fraction of the historical Land of Israel.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Does the Hamas Response to Israel’s Abrogation of the Cease Fire Violate Just War Principles?

The beginning of the current round of hostilities should be dated from Israeli actions in a Gaza tunnel that resulted in the deaths of six Hamas militants. Although Israel denied responsibility, it admitted that it had carried out operations in the area that plausibly led to the incident. This was Monday night, and Hamas retaliated with rockets. A time line can be found here; thus started the current round of hostilities.

If we assume that Israel had a hand, directly or indirectly, in the deaths of the Hamas militants, that would be a serious breach of the cease fire, and, assuming that no other effective recourse was open to it, it would be permissible for Hamas to retaliate militarily, at least according to just-war theory.  It would be hard to argue that just war theory can only apply to state actors, and that Hamas, a “terrorist organization”, is not a state actor – because Israel considers Hamas to be the governing body of Gaza, and hence accords to it some of the responsibilities of a state actor. (This would be different, for example, were Hamas to be operating in the West Bank in areas under Israel’s direct control.)

The only principle I can think of that would counter this is that the Palestinians do not have a right to self-defense. I can’t think of any convincing argument for this.

So having established that the Palestinians in Gaza have a right to self-defense, and hence, to retaliate (jus ad bellum), the question would then turn to the morality of their conduct of military operations (jus in bello) And here they are on much weaker ground, since their conduct consists solely in indiscriminate rocket firing towards civilian targets.

Yet this is where the question gets interesting:  were the Palestinians to have a serious weapons capability, and were they then to fire indiscriminately then it is clear that their conduct of the operations would violate just war principles. The same would certainly be true if Hamas turned to suicide bombing. But, paradoxically, the primitiveness of the rockets, together with the Iron Dome defense, and Israel’s early warning system, has so far guaranteed few if any civilian casualties. True, there is some damage, and certainly there is the inconvenience of having to go to shelters, and the rockets make people anxious, despite the heavy odds against them being hurt. It may be irrational to buy a lottery ticket, given the odds, but people do all the time. Still, the fact that the odds  that a given person will be actually hurt by a Kassam rocket are extremely low, virtually nil, given early warning systems and Iron Dome, plus the Hamas’ militants knowledge of this fact, suggest that if this method of conduct is not just (and I don’t think it is), it is a lot less unjust than the Israeli response, which has claimed to date over a hundred lives, most of whom are civilians.  It is certainly no exaggeration to say that the Israeli public’s suffering does not compare to that of the Gazan people on any metric; the Israelis have a highly effective defense against primitive weapons, whereas the Gazans have no defense at all against highly sophisticated and deadly weapons.

So both sides are committing war crimes, but those of Hamas pales in comparison to those of Israel. And this, of course, without reference to the fact that Israel broke the cease fire. 

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

The Latest Gaza Op: Groundhog’s Day? Or Frozen?

The nightmare returns. It starts with Israelis killing Palestinians, Palestinians killing Israelis, whomever.  Israel decides that it “has to” kill Hamas militants. Or it “has to” round up the usual suspects. Eventually, Hamas “has” to retaliate by sending rockets that traumatize the heck out of people but rarely injure anybody.  This annoys the hell out of Israel, which “has to” escalate by killing more militants, often senior ones. Then Hamas really sends barrages of rockets. And at the end of the day – and the night is still young – some Israelis are wounded, on very rare occasions there are fatalities,  and tens, maybe hundreds, of Gazans are killed, many of them civilians, most of them non-combatants. And the destruction in Gaza is horrific.

And the world? Well, the world reports two things: the number of rockets fired against Israel, and the number of casualties on both sides. Nobody cares that that the firepower that  hits in Gaza in a few days  is more deadly and horrific than what falls in Israel in a few years.

And, like the movie Groundhog’s Day, we condemn ourselves to repeat this ritual of death and killing periodically.  Some cynics call it “spring cleaning,” the need  to deplete periodically Hamas stockpile of weapons.  And Hamas “has to” play the game, even though they know they are going to lose, because they have to retaliate, right? I mean, they aren’t exactly a peace movement, and they can’t lose face, can they?  We wouldn’t sit still; why would they?

It is 10:30 in Jerusalem. A siren half an hour ago sent our  two grandchildren, who came to us for safety from Tel Aviv, to the reinforced room. Maybe tomorrow we’ll stay with my daughter in the South.

Netanyahu decided that we have to escalate.  I mean, we have to do something, don’t we? We can’t just sit here!

There is nothing inevitable about this. We didn’t have to kill two innocent Palestinians in May at the Beitunia protest, and then suggest that the video which captured the killing  was faked.  We didn’t have to round up Hamas political leaders and imprison prisoners released in the Shavit swap after the murder of three Jewish students, when we had grounds to believe that they were murdered. When we suspected that two members of a rogue Hebron clan were involved, and Hamas did not take responsibility, we could have kept out of Gaza. We were playing with fire when we thought up ways of undermining the Fatah-Hamas unity government.

So, as usual, we are reaping what our leaders have sowed. Sure, Hamas leaders  bear some responsibility.  But while they are safe underground, the Gazans are suffering and dying. Every hour the numbers of their fatalities will go up, until we decide that too many fatalities will just get another Richard Goldstone involved.

Remember how yesterday the whole Jewish world mourned the death of an innocent Palestinian child? Today, how many of those “mourners” give a damn about the deaths of innocent children in Gaza?

Groundhog’s Day? Or Frozen?

Sunday, July 6, 2014

How Mainstream Israelis Cope with Jewish Terrorists

Moral chauvinism is the view that a certain people is morally superior to another. It’s hard to find peoples or nations that aren’t afflicted with it. I believe that we Jews are especially afflicted with it because, traditionally, we have had to compensate for our lack of political power, and we have had to explain to ourselves why we were the chosen people, despite the fact we were living as a minority under a majority religion.  They were stronger; we were more moral.

Moral chauvinism has taken a beating in Israel the last few days, and here are some of the psychological mechanisms that will enable Israelis to cope with the revelation that Jewish terrorists are (still allegedly) responsible for the murder of Mr. Abu Khedir. 

1.  Shock. “Omigod, there are Jewish terrorists?”  This is a particularly bizarre reaction, since there have been Jews killing innocent Palestinian Arabs throughout the history of Zionism, whether in or out of uniform.  In fact, honor/revenge killings, or other criminal activity, is as Jewish as cholent – or as Arab as humus. Jews are people, and people, especially ignorant and barbaric people, take revenge in this way. Why should Jews be any different?  I hear this reaction every time Jews commit crimes of this sort. Nobody remembers the Jewish Underground. Nobody remembers Ami Popper. Nobody remembers Barukh Goldstein. Nobody remembers the Jewish terrorists before the state. And I am not even talking about the ones in uniform. 

2. Emotional over-reaction. Rabbi Daniel Landes of Pardes Institute wrote in my opinion a particularly wrong-headed post in which he said that Jewish terrorists should be punished the way Palestinian terrorists are punished, by blowing up their family houses, etc. This is supposed to be fair? The fact is that justice is served in neither case. If blowing up a house as retribution/deterrence is wrong – and it is wrong, period – then why blow up anybody’s house, Jew or Arab?

3.  Belittling. We are going to see a lot of this in the coming weeks. “Sure, this was a despicable deed, but we have so few terrorists compared to them.” How many people are going to argue, “Considering we have an army, and a border police, who carry out “retaliatory” actions and collectively punish Arabs under the name of deterrence, the fact that this is not good enough for some of us speaks volumes about who better controls their lust for vengeance, Jews or Arabs.”

4. Sympathy for the families of the terrorists.  I remember this from the 1980s and the Jewish Underground.  In the beginning, the perpetrators were condemned, then money was raised for their families (why should they suffer?) and the criminals’ defense (aren’t they entitled to one?) and little by little, they underwent a rehabilitation, without expressing remorse and regret. That, and presidential pardons, did the trick. Those who were collecting money for the families of Jewish terrorists would never think to do that for the families of Arab terrorists.

5. “Should our sister be made a harlot”? Condemn the perpetrators not for taking revenge, but for taking revenge in the way that revenge was taken.  After all, isn’t Jewish honor a supreme value? (Answer: no.)

There is a pattern in these things that repeats itself: shock, condemnation, outrage, vows of punishment, then as time passes, commuted sentences, pardoned perpetrators, and life goes on. This is particularly true of those murderers who have political clout, such as those in the Jewish Underground of the 1980s. There is noise every time there is a price-tag crime, and occasionally suspects are rounded up. But how many trials and how many convictions, and how many people are actually sent to jail? Only the lone wolves,  without any political lobby,like Ami Popper.

And the most prevalent way of coping:

6. Change the channel to the Mondial.

What is Necessary for a Decent Religious Zionism

In the preceding post I spoke about Israeli religious Zionism today. I did not mean to say that all religious Zionists in Israel adopt the morality of the enlightened colonialist or that of the unenlightened tribalist.  That’s not the case. But sadly,  I cannot think of one Israeli-born and educated rabbi whose moral teachings fall outside that spectrum.  (Readers are invited to send me names, and directions where I can send my donation.)

Religious Zionism wasn’t always like this, and it doesn’t have to be. By “religious Zionism” I mean a Zionism that rests on a Jewish religious world-view. Since there are many “Zionisms” and many “Jewish religious world-views” that’s a very broad definition. “Religious Zionism” more narrowly defined is the belief that Jewish self-determination in the Land of Israel has religious significance, that it is a Divine blessing, or at the very least a positive challenge, and not a curse or a punishment, or neutral. Even this is vague, because religious people will disagree over how God works in history, and how fathomable is his plan.  For some, the state of Israel is the beginning of the final redemption; for others it is the actual redemption; for still others, who are more modest in their claims, it is simply a very good thing for the Jewish people; we should see God’s hand in it, and thank Him accordingly.

I never was a statist religious Zionist. States have no religious significance for me, and although I believe that history is not neutral or indifferent, I am inherently skeptical about identifying God’s working in it.  So I was never even remotely attracted to the notion that the State of Israel was athalta de-geulah, the “beginning of redemption,” and I have always shared Yeshayahu Leibowitz’s characterization of the Gush Emunim/settler movement as a perversion of Judaism.

The more I became educated about the Palestinian Catastrophe, the more I became certain that it is as wrong to look for God’s hand in the establishment of the State of Israel just as it is wrong to look for God’s hand in the  Holocaust.  To attribute a religious meaning to either Shoah or Nakba beyond the admittedly deflationary idea that the response to both should be soul-searching and teshuvah/repentance, is inappropriate at best, sacrilegious at worst.  Of course, one can be happy in one’s lot, and one can be grateful for a Jewish home or homeland, and in that sense, the religious person will want to God to thank for that. If a drunk driver is the only survivor of a car crash for which he is responsible, he may thank God that he lives, even though he has caused the death of others.  But to see his survival as God’s“miracle”? Hardly.

Once I was asked whether I thought that the establishment of the State of Israel was a miracle.  Well, my God doesn’t make miracles that cost innocent people their lives, liberty, and land.  I am not interested in any god that has anything to do with causing the suffering of innocents. Worshipping such a god is idolatrous, in my opinion.  

Religious Zionism did not have to go down that route, and indeed, as I have written before, some of it did not. (See also here.) From the  beginning there were a handful of religious Zionists who were sensitive, sometimes more sensitive than the secularists, to what Zionism was doing to the natives of Palestine. They were educated in Europe, and so perhaps some religious Zionists would say today that they had a galut/exilic mentality. In any event,  they refused to have a Jewish state at the expense of the Palestinian Arabs. And when they were unsuccessful in stopping such a state from arising, they protested the injustices committed in its  name.

What are the necessary conditions for a decent religious Zionism? (I say “decent” rather than “ideal,” lest I be accused of positing an unattainable high standard.)   The first condition is hakaret ha-het, the  recognition that we Jews have sinned, and continue to sin, against the Palestinian people. This is the greatest moral challenge facing the Jewish people today. The second condition is teshuva, returning/repenting, making amends for what have done, and what we do.  For a Zionist, that specifically means, in addition to addressing the needs of the Palestinians today, creating a political framework in the Land of Israel/Palestine that is a decent and fair political framework for all its people. Within that framework some measure of Jewish self-determination can be attained, but not at the expense of Palestinian Arab self-determination, and with neither self-determinations at the expense of the life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness of all.  This is the attainable goal to which we can aspire, and insofar as one attributes to that goal religious significance, that is what religious Zionism could become, im yirzeh ha-Shem, insha’Allah, if God wills.

That is, if we will it.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Religious Zionism and Its Moral Defects

[Update: This post, written out of the pain I felt last week, gave the impression that all religious Zionists range from enlightened colonialists to mafia-morality tribalists.  That’s not true. I happen to know personally several religious Zionists  who are moral exemplars, who recognize our guilt has perpetrators of crimes against the  Palestinian people, and who do what they can to achieve peace and justice. Their voices are barely heard in orthodox Jewish circles and almost never amplified in the press. It may be hyperbolic to say so, but when it comes to religious Zionism as a movement, they are the righteous in Sodom.]

[Second update: the translation of Noam Perel’s statement has been changed; h/t to Shunra for pushing me on this, though I still claim there is a double entendre, for which, see Comments.]

It’s time to say this out loud: the most morally distasteful form of Judaism today is Israeli religious Zionism. I am not just referring to the ultra-nationalist religious Zionist rabbis and their minions, who claim religious authority for their mafia morality. These are the  garden-variety racist/bigots  common to all ultra-nationalist religious fundamentalisms. I am not even referring to somebody like Noam Perel, the General Secretary of World Bnei Akiva, the main religious zionist youth group, who wrote on his Facebook status earlier today:

An entire people and thousands of years of history demand vengeance. The government of Israel has convened a meeting of vengeance, which is not a meeting of mourning. The landlord (master of the house) has gone crazy at the sight of his sons’ bodies, a government that will convert its army to an army of vengeance, a soldier that will not be stopped at the “line of 300”  [kav 300] Philistine foreskins, through the blood of the enemy the disgrace will be atoned, not through our tears.

The operative term here is not only “vengeance” but disgrace, the disgrace that the superior  feels when he is successfully wounded by an inferior.   Like the hate-filled whites in the segregated US south, Israelis of this sort feel humiliated and violated by any Palestinians with any power. How dare these pishers murder our boys?

And when the negative reactions came in to Perel’s inflamed rhetoric, and they did, he was quick to clarify that he wanted the government and the army to take vengeance, for the sake of deterrence, as it had done in earlier cases of reprisal raids. In other words, killing and terrorizing civilians in the name of Jewish honor  (a.k.a. ‘establishing deterrence’)  should be left to the state and its army, and not to private initiative.

Whew, now that makes me feel a lot better!

It’s easy to go after somebody crippled by religious Zionist education like Noam Perel, who represents the mainstream.  But my argument is also with “liberals” like Rabbi Benny Lau in his  response to Perel. Let me first say that I agree with Rabbi Benny on many things, and that when it comes to religious Zionist rabbis,  I think that he is the best of the lot. (Full disclosure: I attend his synagogue.)

Lau criticizes Perel for running away with his emotions, for reacting with the anger of a fifteen-year old (By the way, my fifteen year old children never reacted that way). Here are some excerpts of Lau’s response to Perel, interspersed with my comments. After Lau strongly condemns the call for revenge, he  writes,

“We pray that God will take vengeance of our enemies, but do we want the character traits of our enemies?”

Commentary:  Arabs seek vengeance because it is in their nature. 

“We have a state, an army, a defense establishment, and prayer.”

Commentary:  God forbid the other side should have the dignity of having a state, an army and a defense establishment.  After all, they don’t have the same rights to self-defense that we do.

“We tell our students the words of Golda Meir, who said that she will not forgive our enemies  who cause us to raise generation after generation of soldiers. We turn to God with our appeal because we become people who fight not according to our nature.”

Commentary: Jews are by nature peace-loving; it’s only because the Arabs want to drive us into the sea that we have an army. It’s not because of national pride, or because of the peer pressure of eighteen-year olds,  or because a Jewish state should have a Jewish army.  We are most unwilling soldiers.

“Do we want to anoint for ourselves a culture that is completely evil? That is foreign to what we represent.”

Note there is no call for empathy for all victims, not to mention empathy with the natural desire for all people to live a life of dignity, free from humiliation.  Note that by definition, it’s the Other, not the Jew, who has all the negative traits.  If Rabbi Lau was not suggesting that Arab culture is a culture of evil, why doesn’t he take the opportunity to make that clear?

“To call for the authorities not to make concessions when a citizen is harmed is justified, but between this and the call for vengeance there is a deep gap.”

Commentary: What concession is the rabbi referring to? Blowing up the homes of the alleged assailments, collective punishment for the families of the innocent-until-proven-guilty suspects?

In Rabbi Lau’s statements above, substitute “Christian” or “Englishman” for “Jew” or “we”, and substitute “African” or “Indian” for “our enemies”, and you have your garden-variety colonialist morality of the Age of Empire.  To be sure, the practical consequences or Rabbi Benny’s rebuke are much better than those of Perel. The abhorrent theological belief  that God is a vengeful God (Maimonides allegorized the verses away) may help to restrain the passion that all humans qua humans feel. And restraining passions is a good thing in these instances.

But moral chauvinism and feelings of Jewish superiority simply ooze from the rabbi’s words.  And if that’s the best religious Zionism has to offer – and it is – well, no, thanks. I grew up hearing my Christian friends rebuke their fellow Christians by saying, “True Christians don’t do those sorts of things.”

Well, guess what? They do, and did. And so do Jews, who are no different from all other folks, neither better nor worse.

Except that here, in Israel/Palestine, we Jews have virtually all the power.  And we use it, all the time whining about Jewish honor, as if we were cowering before the nobleman and his dog.