Wednesday, April 22, 2015

The Reemergence of Anti-Semitism in America: My Remarks at the City of Carmel’s Holocaust Remembrance Ceremony (April 22, 2015)

Several people asked, so I’m posting the remarks that I just gave (on behalf of the Mayor’s Advisory Commission on Human Relations) at the City of Carmel’s Holocaust Remembrance Ceremony. Thanks, once again, to Mayor Brainard for hosting this ceremony each year, to Rabbi Benjamin Sendrow for officiating, and to the other participants. I want to especially commend an old friend, Steven Frankovitz, who spoke about his father’s experiences in Auschwitz as one of the identical twins upon whom horrific experiments were conducted by Dr. Joseph Mengele.

The Reemergence of Anti-Semitism in America in 2015

Delivered at the City of Carmel’s Holocaust Remembrance Ceremony

April 22, 2015

In April 2014, a man walked up to a Jewish community center in Kansas City and opened fire killing 3 people. As he was led away, he was heard to say “Heil Hitler”.

In May 2014, 8th grade students at a Chicago school created a “Clash of Clans” group called “Jews Incinerator” and described themselves as “a friendly group of racists with one goal: put all Jews into an army camp until disposed of”.

In June 2014, swastikas were etched into San Francisco street signs. In Brooklyn, a Jewish boy was attacked when he left his home; his attacker yelling anti-Semitic slogans.

In July 2014, a banner was flown at New York area beaches proclaiming “peace plus swastika equals love”. Elsewhere in New York, gravestones were vandalized with swastikas and an inscription that said “you don’t belong here”. A playground in a Jewish neighborhood was defaced with swastikas and the phrase “kill Jews”. Other incidents of vandalism occurred in Massachusetts, Missouri, Tennessee, and Chicago.

August 2014 saw numerous incidents all across the country, including one in Los Angeles where a Jewish shopkeeper received leaflets bearing swastikas and threats.

In September 2014, in Baltimore, a man drove by a Jewish school on Rosh Hashanah and shot three people while shouting “Jews, Jews, Jews”. That same month, a rabbi was evicted from a Greek restaurant when the owner learned he was Jewish after asking if the rabbi wanted a full size salad or a Jewish sized salad, by which the owner said he meant “cheap and small”.

Leading up to the November 2014 election, candidates in New Hampshire and Kentucky ran on the slogan “with Jews we lose”. Thankfully, they lost.

And throughout the last year, swastikas have been painted or etched onto Jewish fraternities in Oregon, Nashville, Atlanta, and elsewhere. Just a few weeks ago, a synagogue on the east coast had swastikas spray painted on its walls.

In March and April of this year, we’ve seen situations at both UCLA and Stanford in which students seeking election or appointment to student leadership positions were challenged on their ability to serve in those positions because of their involvement in the Jewish community. In the case at Stanford, it was representatives of a minority student coalition that pressed the Jewish student on her ability to be impartial given her membership and involvement in her own minority community.

Need I go on? Or are these examples – and please recognize that I’ve barely scratched the surface – are these examples sufficient to demonstrate that anti-Semitism is alive and well in America?

In fact, according to the most recently published statistics from the FBI, the majority of religious-motivated hate crimes in America target Jews. To be sure, there are hate crimes directed at Muslims, atheists, and others, but Jews remain the primary target of religious-motivated hate.

Sometimes the anti-Semitism is overt, like a physical attack or the painting of a swastika. Sometimes it’s much more subtle. Not too long ago, a cousin posted on Facebook that he was stunned when a business associate used the phrase “Jew him down” and didn’t understand the problem with that phrase. Other times you’ll hear off-hand comments about Jews controlling the media or the government or the money supply. You know, if Jews really had the influence and control that people attribute to us, there would probably be a lot less anti-Semitism in the world as we’d have stamped it out on our own long ago.

A year or two ago, I found myself involved in an extended online discussion about the Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion. Despite the overwhelming evidence that this book was a Czarist forgery (based on an earlier French work), people continue to point to it as depicting Jewish plans for world domination. Go look the book up on Amazon; read the reviews. You may feel a need to shower afterwards. And wait until you see the titles of some of the books that Amazon’s algorithms will suggest if you do look up that book (titles such as Conspiracy of the Six-Pointed Star or The Synagogue of Satan). When you hear people referring to The Protocols or the Rothschilds (often included with the Masons and Illuminati), you know that the speaker has fallen down the anti-Semitism conspiracy rabbit hole.

It’s important to recognize that we’re not immune here in Indiana. Just a few years ago swastikas were painted in the library and elsewhere at Indiana University. That’s the overt form of anti-Semitism. And I was involved with a situation at a middle school in a neighboring community that involved an 8th grade creative writing assignment to try to sell something unpopular. One of the examples was this:

For Sale: Auschwitz. Looking for a place that would make the perfect summer camp? Think about this concentration camp. Poland would like to take the bad reputation of Auschwitz and turn it around! Think of the possibilities! The barracks could be renovated to house thousands of people. We have ovens big enough to bake bread for thousands. The razor wire will prevent students from making a break for it. There is plenty of room for exercise, where role call used to be taken. Railroads can go right through camp, meaning supplies will be at your fingertips at all times.

But I’d also suggest that when state legislators offer legislation to require all public school students to recite a Christian prayer, that is a form of subtle anti-Semitism (and perhaps Islamophobia, too). When public events that would never be held on Christmas or Easter or even Good Friday are scheduled for Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, or Passover, I’d suggest that a subtle form of anti-Semitism is at work: In this case the form that says we simply don’t care to respect those who are different. When teachers schedule tests or give important lectures on those days, knowing that Jewish students will be absent, those teachers are telling their Jewish students that they aren’t as important as the other kids in the class. And, frankly, I’m not sure how to react to public school choir programs that are overtly religious with many songs requiring Jewish students to sing about the divinity of Jesus or include lyrics such as:

They've never heard the story of the Son of God.

And that made Alfie [the Christmas tree] pause.

Did that mean that they'd never know of peace on earth or the brotherhood of man?

Or know how to love, or know how to give?

If they can't, no one can.

You see, life is a very special kind of thing, not just for a chosen few.

That example comes from Carmel High School in December 2014. Nor do I know how to respond as the parent of a child who comes home complaining that the school showed a film that depicted Judaism in such a way that his friends came up to him after class to say “I’m glad I’m not Jewish.”

We thought anti-Semitism was dead and buried – or at least buried such that it wasn’t seen by many anymore. But with the rise of the Internet, we’ve seen a resurgence in anti-Semitism that has mirrored, or even pre-dated, the seeming resurgence in overt racism in all of its many forms. And the expression of anti-Semitism has, at least in some circles, gained a degree of respectability. There are whole online magazines and “news” sites devoted to the cause of anti-Semitism, blaming Jews for virtually every problem known to or experienced by mankind. 9/11? The Jews did it. The Boston Marathon bombing? Jews. Ebola? Jews. Financial meltdown? Jews. You name it, you can find an argument for why we should blame the Jews. And, unfortunately, some of the purveyors of that sort of filth are beginning to be mainstreamed or at least relied upon or cited by those in the mainstream.

And in the midst of all of this, Holocaust denial has become a cottage industry as has the new notion of blaming Jews for the slave trade.

And one of the sickest things that we’ve seen recently, and it’s growing and growing, is the notion that Jews are responsible for anti-Semitism. Usually, though not always, this perverted suggestion invokes Israel, as if Jews around the world are responsible for Israel’s actions. Do we blame individual Catholics for abusive priests? Do we blame individual Christians for those who bomb abortion clinics? Do we blame Cubans for the actions of Fidel and Raul Castro or Russians for the actions of Vladimir Putin? Do we blame any group of Americans for the actions of another country? Do we blame all Americans each time America does something that we disapprove of? Of course not. But Jews are blamed for anything that Israel is accused of doing just as Muslims are blamed for the acts of radical Islamists who claim to act in the name of Islam and African Americans are blamed for … well, all sorts of things. The only one to blame for anti-Semitism is the anti-Semite.

I don’t want this to be a discussion about Israel. Let me just say this: Criticism of Israel is fair. I’m a strong supporter of Israel – and I’m a frequent critic of Israeli policies. So too, at any given time, is about half of the Israeli population. That’s what you get in a vibrant democracy. But when criticism involves the delegitimization of Israel or of the right of Jews to a homeland, when Israel is held to a standard to which no other country is held, and when Israel is demonized, often with false comparisons to the Nazis (so-called “Holocaust inversion”), then most Jews will view those criticisms as a form of anti-Semitism. I’m not here to ask you to support Israel; but I am asking you to consider whether criticism of Israel is fair or if it is simply anti-Semitism disguised under a different moniker.

So what are we, here in Carmel, Indiana, to do about any of this? I doubt many of you who take time from your busy schedules to attend this Holocaust observance are anti-Semites or racists. But all of us need to be constantly vigilant for these sorts of behaviors and attitudes. Just as I hope that most of you would call out a colleague or acquaintance for using a racial slur to describe someone, I hope that you would also be critical of someone using a slur or stereotype to describe Jews.

The Mayor’s Advisory Commission on Human Relations has begun a series of informal educational sessions within the Commission to learn about the specific challenges facing minority communities here in Carmel. But in our homes and schools and businesses, we can do something similar just by talking to our family and friends and co-workers. If you’re a parent, think about the examples and lessons that you’re setting for your children and ask your children what they’ve learned about other kids who might be different from your own family. If you’re a student, think about the lessons from your teachers or the things that you hear from classmates. At work, listen to the things that your co-workers are saying. And in each of these cases, ask yourself if the ideas or thoughts being expressed are inclusive and welcoming or denigrating or perpetuating negative stereotypes. And if it’s the latter, don’t just sit by silently; though it may be difficult, stand up and say something.

When you meet someone who is different, whether Jewish or Muslim, African-American or Latino, gay or transgender, or from any other minority community, take the time to get to know that person as an individual. And then take the time to learn about the issues and concerns that person faces as a member of a minority community. If we can learn to understand each other, to have some degree of empathy, perhaps we can find ways to reduce the subtle forms of bigotry that we may unknowingly express through either stereotypes or ignorance.

We often hear the phrase “never again”. Last year I spoke about ongoing genocides around the world and whether that devalued the phrase “never again”. But we must also consider the phrase “never again” within our own communities and the way we deal with those with whom we live, work, and play. We must diligently work to be sure that there is a respect for diversity and tolerance for those who are different from us.

We’re seeing far too many examples of racism and bigotry in our country, whether it’s anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, or similar hatred or mistrust directed at someone due to their skin color, accent, or any of a host of other traits. I don’t mean to suggest that anti-Semitism is worse than any of these other expressions of hate. But anti-Semitism has been with us, been documented, literally for millennia. And we’ve seen time after time how expressions of anti-Semitism, when left unchecked, develop into things far uglier than words or graffiti. This ancient form of hate may be the tip of the proverbial iceberg. Let’s commit ourselves, our families, our community to stamp out anti-Semitism and all other forms of bigotry. Let’s tell people and organizations when their words or actions are unacceptable. Let’s make sure that everyone is and feels welcome – and safe – within our communities. We may not be able to completely eliminate anti-Semitism or other forms of hatred, but perhaps we can drive them back underground so that the expressions of those sorts of views lose any degree of respectability or credibility. Let’s be sure that when our kids go off to college they aren’t swayed by voices of hate. Let’s be sure that the CNN news vans are never parked in front of a school or synagogue or church in Carmel while a reporter talks about the most recent example of a hate crime.

We can’t do much to influence the world, the country, or even the broader state around us. But we can strive to influence our community so that diversity and tolerance triumph and “never again” has real meaning. Anti-Semitism is re-emerging as a respectable form of bigotry. But we don’t have to be complicit. We can be sure that those sorts of views are never acceptable here in Carmel.

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Friday, March 27, 2015

Compiling Some of My Previous Posts on “Religious Freedom”

Yesterday, Indiana Governor Mike Pence signed into law the so-called Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). For my part, I’m ashamed that my state has passed this sort of license to discriminate. If it’s any sort of consolation (not much…), over the last day or two, I’ve heard quite a few people who are otherwise quite conservative in their politics and worldview express anger and disappointment at the passage of this law.

I hope to take some time in the next week or so to really dive into the text of RFRA, both to address some of the confusion and to discuss why I’m so opposed to the bill. Alas, time doesn’t permit me to write that post now. Nevertheless, for those interested, I thought I’d compile links to some of the posts that I’ve written in recent years on the subject of “religious freedom” and proposed laws similar to RFRA.

Using the Claim of “Religious Freedom” as a Weapon Without Considering What it Really Means

Thought Exercise on the Uses of the Cudgel of “Religious Freedom”

Paul Ryan and the Birth Control Brouhaha

Slippery Slope or Religious Freedom? Mutually Exclusive Arguments

The Birth Control Brouhaha

More on the Birth Control Brouhaha

I’m sure that I’ve addressed the issue one way or another in any of a host of other posts. But that should be a decent sampler.

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Tuesday, December 23, 2014

The “War on Christmas” Returns to Indiana

I hadn’t intended to write another post about the faux (or is that Fox?) “War on Christmas” but two articles about an Indiana state senator who plans to introduce another so-called “Merry Christmas bill” caught my attention … and got my blood boiling. Again.

First, there was yesterday’s front page article in The Indianapolis Star‘Merry Christmas’ bill is back — and bigger than ever” and then last night’s story from local Fox affiliate WXIN (no I didn’t watch the news story; I saw a link to it on Twitter this morning) “Lawmaker’s ‘Merry Christmas bill’ would protect Christmas displays on government property”. Go read them if you want (or, you can even watch video!). Essentially, the bill to be introduced by Sen. Jim Smith (R-Charlestown) would permit municipalities and schools to erect overtly religious holiday displays so long as a display recognizing another holiday is also included. Back in February 2014, I wrote in detail about a similar bill introduced in the Indiana General Assembly: The ‘Merry Christmas’ Bill: Indiana Inches Ever-Closer to Becoming a Theocracy”. That bill actually passed the Senate but the House never took a vote.

Let me first call your attention to some of the things that Sen. Smith said to explain why he apparently believes this sort of legislation is needed:

  • “The Christmas season encompasses so many meaningful traditions, but many times these traditions and the people who participate in them are threatened… This bill is a step toward defending a sacred holiday that is otherwise being stolen from our children and our culture…”
  • “The tactics are certainly threats and intimidation to silence people…”
  • “We are as a nation allowing this to continue… We are certainly stealing Christmas from our children and from our culture.”
  • “We are a Christian nation founded on Christian principles, and Christmas is a national or a federal and state holiday… So if they don’t like the holiday, they should probably lobby members of the General Assembly and those in Congress to remove Christmas as being a federal and state holiday.”

I think those four quotes should give you an idea of the intellectual powerhouse that we’re dealing with in Sen. Smith. I mean, really? Christmas traditions are being threatened? The people who participate in Christmas traditions are being threatened? Really? Um, how? Is Sen. Smith worried that the Atheist police will raid his home, business, or church and stop he and his family from celebrating Christmas? Is he worried that an alliance of local Jewish and Muslim groups will prevent Christians from eating their Christmas ham because it isn’t kosher or halal? Is he worried that Buddhists will try to stop Christians from erecting Christmas trees in their homes or decorating their property with lights? Is he worried that … oh, hell, I don’t know who … is going to try to stop stores from having Christmas sales or advertising all sorts of doodads and widgets to be sure that Christians make the most of the commercialization of their holiday? Because certainly Jesus would have wanted people to save 15% on the cost of a new set of tires!

And does he really think Christmas is “being stolen from our children and our culture”? Really? You know, it was just yesterday that I saw a bunch of Satan worshippers dragging a Santa out of a shopping mall as a horde of children screamed in terror. This weekend, I tried to shop for a last minute Chanukah gift at Toys-R-Us, but before I could buy the gift I had to prove that it wasn’t a Christmas gift because the toy manufacturers are no longer allowing Christian children to receive Christmas presents. And I have it on good authority that pastors who try to hold Christmas worship celebrations on December 25 will be arrested and sent to Glenn Beck’s FEMA reeducation camps. What? None of that is true? But Sen. Smith said that Christmas is being “stolen” from our children!

Just for fun, here is what I wrote on the same subject earlier this year in regard to the prior incarnation of Sen. Smith’s proposed bill:

The “War on Christmas” is once again being fought here in Indiana. After last year’s stunning defeats in which all Christian houses of worship were banned in the State of Indiana and Hoosier children were required to convert to Islam, some Hoosier lawmakers are trying to fight back. Um, what? Christian churches weren’t banned last year? Hoosier children can still invoke the name of Jesus in their prayers? Christmas trees are still permitted on front lawns and in family rooms? The shopping malls still have Santa Claus? Are you sure? Hmm. Oh, I see now. A greeter at Walmart said “Happy Holidays” instead of Merry Christmas and an elementary school teacher didn’t do enough to proselytize to the students in her class.

But I’m sure that Sen. Smith has no trouble whatsoever with Jewish or other non-Christian school children being compelled to sing about the divinity of Jesus in public schools. So query whether Christmas is being “stolen” from children or whether it is being forced down the throats of those who have different beliefs. And query how Sen. Smith would feel if his children were compelled to attend a school function at which Allah was praised, Christian belief belittled, or colanders handed out to help students honor the Flying Spaghetti Monster

Perhaps the tradition that Sen. Smith is really concerned with, the one that has him proposing this legislation, has nothing to do with actually celebrating Christmas or other Christian holidays; rather, it seems that the tradition he is really worried about is the tradition of proselytizing and trying to convert non-Christians. Isn’t that what he’s really worried about? That he can’t convert enough heathens himself, so he needs the local, state, and federal government to help him? The “threats” and “intimidation” that he is concerned with aren’t the threats to minorities within our society but rather that some minority communities — damn them! — would have the gall to suggest that the majority, you know, follow the law as set forth in the Constitution. That some minorities might want to stand up for the themselves or the protections afforded them by the law and ask people like Sen. Smith to stop trying to use the government as a weapon to shove a particular religious viewpoint upon others. As I’m fond of doing, let me again quote Article 1 Section 4 of Indiana’s Constitution: “No preference shall be given, by law, to any creed, religious society, or mode of worship; and no person shall be compelled to attend, erect, or support, any place of worship, or to maintain any ministry, against his consent.” I wonder how many of our state legislators have ever read that provision. Next time you talk to a state legislator, ask them to tell you what Indiana’s Constitution says about religion. I dare you.

Finally, and I don’t want to take too much time on this point as I could go on and on and on and on, but despite the “history” lesson that Sen. Smith probably received from Fox News, Glenn Beck, and David Barton, he is simply wrong: The United States is not a Christian nation and it was not founded on Christian principles. Again, to repeat things I’ve previously written, for those interested in learning how to respond to the repeated arguments that the United States is a Christian nation and the attendant “facts” that many, primarily on the evangelical right, like to toss off as “proof”, then I highly recommend Chris Rodda’s Liars for Jesus: The Religious Right’s Alternate Version of American History. Chris has also posted a series of video takedowns of the right’s favorite “historian” David Barton who never quite manages to let facts get in his way. Oh, and perhaps someone should send Sen. Smith a copy of the Treaty of Tripoli, signed by Founding Father (and President) John Adams and unanimously ratified by the United States Senate in 1797 (you known, when lots of Founding Fathers were still involved in the new United States government), which proclaimed: “As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion…”. That’s right. Just a few years after the adoption of the Constitution and the First Amendment, the Senate unanimously ratified a treaty that specifically stated that the United States was not “founded on the Christian religion”. But, hey, I’m sure that in 2014, Sen. Smith knows better than those Founding Fathers, right? Right?


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Monday, November 24, 2014

Keystone XL Pipeline or Let’s Make a Deal

Republicans want President Obama to authorize construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline. Many (though not all) Democrats and President Obama are opposed to the pipeline. Unfortunately, like most issues, reasonable debate on the merits (or lack thereof) and risks of the project have been largely drowned out by basic talking points, some of which have little or no basis in reality.

The point of this post isn’t to address the issue of whether the pipeline should be given the green light; rather, I’d like to look at an alternate way to address the politics of the issue (and of similar issues): Let’s make a deal.

Supporters of the Keystone XL Pipeline argue that it will create 20,000-40,000 jobs. Some go even further and say permanent jobs (not just construction jobs). They also say that the pipeline will be good for the American economy and that the environmental risks are minimal. Opponents argue that very few jobs will be created (and that few of those will be permanent), that the environmental risks are great, and that the economic impact to the US will be negligible. Who is right? Who cares. Rather than worry about stupid things like facts and risk analysis (which seem to be anathema to some…), let’s just take each side’s views and see what kind of deal we can make.

For example, supporters believe that the pipeline will create jobs. OK. We should all be thrilled if the pipeline were to, indeed, create those jobs. But what if the jobs don’t materialize or don’t materialize to the extent promised by supporters? So here is my idea: Opponents of the pipeline should agree to construction of the pipeline but with caveats. Come up with a standard by which jobs will be measured; if the jobs are created and meet that standard, then things are good. But if not enough jobs are created, then the minimum wage automatically increases by 25%. If supporters of the pipeline are so sure that the jobs will be created, then this should be an easy deal to make, right? And opponents, who are equally sure that the jobs won’t be created, will be getting something that they want when those jobs don’t materialize, right? Win win, no?

Similarly, opponents could suggest that the authorization law include a provision that automatically increases EPA funding or imposes some sort of strict liability and penalty in the event of a spill from the pipeline. Again, if supporters are so sure that the environmental risks of a spill are so low, then they should be willing to jump on this sort of deal, right?

And this sort of model could be applied to all manner of different issues. For example, think about proposed bans on fracking in certain locales. Would supporters of fracking be willing to accept the right to obtain their oil (which they say doesn’t lead to environmental issues) if, in exchange for drilling rights, the CEO and board of directors of the drilling companies had to agree to drink water taken from wells in and around where the fracking is being done? If fracking really is so safe, then there shouldn’t be any harm in drinking water from those wells, right? Similarly, would supporters of fracking be willing to waive being shielded from personal liability by the corporate shield if fracking is demonstrated to be a cause of earthquakes?

What about school vouchers? I suspect that we could devise standards to measure whether students making use of the vouchers are being well-served. If so, then great. But if not, then perhaps more money could be allocated to public schools.

I’m not sure that this model for legislation is really how our system is supposed to work. But right now, our system isn’t working. So maybe a high-risk game of “let’s make a deal” would be a way forward, at least temporarily. And, if one side isn’t willing to make a deal, then that might prompt voters to look at the facts behind that side’s assertions and ask whether the assertions might be unsupported by facts.

Oh, and if you want to know my thoughts about the Keystone XL Pipeline: I’m opposed for several reasons. First, I don’t think it will create that many jobs. The numbers that I’ve seen (sorry, but I don’t have the time to find links right now…) suggest a far lower number of jobs and that few of them will be permanent. When you compare that to the potential risk of building a massive pipeline over wilderness and above aquifers, then I don’t see the gain as being worthwhile. Furthermore, why does the pipeline need to cross the US at all? This is for a Canadian company selling Canadian oil. Why can’t the pipeline go to Vancouver or the Canadian east coast (or even north toward the Arctic Circle)? If the oil was to be used in the US, I might agree, but it’s my understanding that the oil will be refined in the US but be exported for sale abroad. How exactly does that help our economy? And how does that offset the risk of environmental catastrophe (remember that the sort of oil we’re talking about is widely considered to be the “dirtiest” form of oil)? But if supporters wanted to make a deal to get my support in exchange for something that I favor…

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Thursday, September 4, 2014

How Would You Answer This Question?

I know that this post may bring out the trolls and may not produce the sort of feedback and discussion that I’d like, but I’m willing to take that risk. You see, this morning on the way to school, my daughter (who is now a freshman in high school [and a varsity cheerleader, if I can brag for a moment]), asked me a question that she’s asked me several times over the years. The first time that she asked the question, she was probably in 3rd or 4th grade and I was stunned. Since then, the question has been posed numerous times. Each time, as she’s been a bit older, I’ve tried to make my answer more involved, more nuanced, more … complicated. But I can tell by the fact that she keeps asking the question that she remains troubled.

So what is her question?

“Daddy, why do people hate the Jews?”

I’ve posed her query to leading scholars of Jewish history and anti-Semitism. I’ve discussed her concern with rabbis and Jewish educators. But I still don’t feel like I have a satisfactory way to answer her question. And each time she asks me, I find myself troubled by how hard it is to answer her and by how persistent anti-Semitism really is.

There are all sorts of simple answers; most, however, are nothing more than excuses, some based in ancient history, others in conspiracy or theology. But few, if any, of those responses really seem to address the core question and reflect attitudes present today.

So how would you answer my daughter’s question? How would you explain to her why people who have never met her and who know nothing about her, can nevertheless hate her, simply because my daughter would say, if asked, “I’m Jewish”?

Why do people hate the Jews?

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Friday, August 29, 2014

Yes, I Know I’ve Been Quiet

I’m still here. Really. And, yes, I know that I’ve been a bit quiet lately. That doesn’t mean I haven’t been writing; I have. But I’ll also admit that I’ve been a bit down, too, and posting to this blog just hasn’t been at the top of my agenda.

As some of you may know, my dog died a few weeks ago. He was the best dog I’ve ever had and saying goodbye was very difficult. In the days leading up to the fateful day and in the days that followed, I just found my level of interest in … well, most things, lacking. So this blog suffered.

And I must also admit that the lack of response that I get to my posts is disheartening. I know I’ve bemoaned that fact before, but still… On Twitter, I can toss off a quick thought and often generate instant reaction that can turn into extensive conversations (or arguments). Here, where I try to offer much more careful, nuanced thoughts … crickets. I know that some pundits say that blogs are dead. Maybe they’re right.

But, as I said above, I have been writing. Unfortunately, I’ve found that a number of the posts that I’ve started haven’t turned out the way that I want them too. Either I lose interest in the subject or the subject becomes less timely or whatever.

I spent two lunch hours writing about Ferguson and the relationship between police, civilians, suspects, protesters, and the media. Then I spent two more lunch hours revising and rewriting. And I still don’t like what I’ve got.

I’ve also spent some time writing about proposed “hate crimes” legislation following a community discussion several weeks ago. It’s an issue that I struggle with and the act of working through some of my concerns via this blog and “thinking out loud” has been helpful. But the post isn’t in a publishable form … at least not yet. I anticipate having some more discussions on the subject next week, so maybe that will give me the impetus to finish that post. Who knows.

I also started putting together a post collecting some of the most interesting articles, quotations, and images related to the conflict between Israel and Hamas, but that just got a bit unwieldy.

Are there any subjects you’d like to hear me opine on?




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Thursday, July 31, 2014

Peace Between Israel and the Palestinians? Let’s Have a Discussion

Let’s step past the current violence between Israel and Hamas in Gaza. Let’s instead talk about what comes next. That is, how can Israel and the Palestinians find a way to live together in peace? If there is to be an eventual peace agreement, what will it look like?

Over the last few weeks, I’ve had numerous discussions about the conflict with people all across the spectrum in their views towards Israel and the Palestinians. I hear the refrain “we want peace” from all across this spectrum; however, rarely do those who claim to be either pro-Palestinian or anti-Israel (or anti-Zionist) offer much when I ask them to tell me what a peaceful resolution will look like. And I’m not talking wishful thinking. We live in a (hopefully) reality-based world and must therefore premise any sort of peace plan within the realm of reality. Outside the box is fine, but the box still must be based in reality. Thus, if your answer is that Jews should “go back” to wherever they came from, then you’re not talking about a reality-based solution. Similarly, if you support a one-state solution in which a majority Muslim population could simply vote to ban Judaism or expel Jews, then you’re not talking about a reality-based solution. I don’t expect Israel to agree to commit national suicide; nor do I expect Israel’s Jewish population to agree to simply give up their aspirations for a homeland. Thus, the question is: How do we craft a lasting and meaningful peace?

If you were appointed to be the mediator in charge of trying to achieve that lasting and meaningful peace between Israel and the Palestinians (and the Arab and Muslim world, writ large), what would you do? Here are a few of the things that you’ll need to consider:

  • What will the borders between Israel and Palestine be? If you say “the 1967 borders” please remember a few points:
    • The 1967 “borders” are really just the 1949 armistice lines, rather than an agreed upon international border and Israel has always (perhaps correctly) viewed these “borders” as indefensible, especially at the narrowest point, Israel is only about 9 miles wide.
    • Many Israelis live in the West Bank on the “Palestinian” side of the 1967 border (also referred to as the “Green Line”). Some of these Israelis live in “settlements” (see Are Israeli Settlements Really Such a Problem? A Primer for a further discussion of settlements) while others live in large communities that are essentially suburbs of Jerusalem. Are we going to force Israelis to move from their current homes back across the Green Line? Are we going to adjust the borders to conform to where people live now? Some combination of the two? And what happens to Israelis who don’t want to leave the communities that they’ve created in the West Bank? Will they be forcibly removed or can they remain as full citizens of the new Palestinian state with equal rights to others?
    • What, if anything, then becomes of the Arabs (Muslim or otherwise) who are presently Israeli citizens living on the Israeli side of the Green Line? Do they stay in Israel? Must they move to Palestine? Should the borders be adjusted so that Arab communities are part of the new Palestinian state? Some Arabs may want to be a part of Palestine; others may want to remain a part of Israel. How do we address this? And for those who choose to remain in Israel, would there be any kind of “loyalty” requirement? Would they have to publicly renounce any goal of a one state solution or of a Palestine “from the river to the sea”? Should they be required to serve in the Israeli Defense Forces like most other Israeli citizens?
  • With regard to whatever borders we settle upon, must they be open borders? That is, must Israel allow Palestinians to cross the border to work or attend college in Israel? Must Palestine allow Israelis to cross the border to work in Palestine? Can Israelis own land in Palestine? Can Palestinians own land in Israel? How will this cross-border movement work? How will each side protect citizens of the other country? How will each be sure that citizens of the other aren’t entering for nefarious purposes?
  • With regard to movement and travel, how do we “connect” or allow movement and travel between Gaza and the West Bank? If we create some kind of “free passage” corridor, does Israel have a right to inspect people and goods moving through that corridor or close access during times of unrest?
  • How do we make Israelis comfortable that neither Gaza nor the West Bank will become armed encampments or upon which a military is built up for the purpose of destroying Israel? How do we make Israelis comfortable that they won’t face a new wave of rockets fired across the new international border?
  • How do we make Palestinians comfortable that Israel wants to live in peace without expansionist aspirations to the West Bank or Gaza?
  • What do we do about Jerusalem? Israel claims it as its capital. The Palestinians want it as their capital. The holiest place in Judaism is in Jerusalem (on the Palestinian side of the Green Line) while the third holiest place in Islam is also in Jerusalem. Oh, and those two places are either adjacent to each other or one and the same, depending on your particular definition. Remember that from 1949-1967, Jews weren’t allowed at the Western Wall so will likely be reticent to give up any control of that site.
  • Similarly, what do we do about other holy sites on either side of the border? How do we ensure that each religious group has reasonable and safe access to its holy sites but without the ability to use that access to try to harm the other? And how do we ensure that each side treats holy sites of the other with dignity and respect (again, from 1949-1967, numerous synagogues in Jerusalem were destroyed; similarly, at least one Jewish holy site in the West Bank is repeatedly vandalized by Palestinians).
  • What do we do about Palestinian “refugees” and their descendants? (I put “refugees” in quotation marks because the issue of who is and isn’t or who should or shouldn’t be considered a refugee is a very complex issue, way beyond the scope of this post.) While considering this, we should also be sure to consider what to do about Jewish “refugees” (I’ll be consistent…) from Arab and Muslim countries (not to mention Ethiopia and the former Soviet Union). Are these simply population transfers? Are reparations appropriate? Both ways or just one way?
  • What do we do about water resources in the Jordan River Valley?
  • How do we resolve disputes when they arise? If Palestinians launch rockets from Palestine into Israel, what sort of response is “permitted” to Israel? If Israelis commit a “price tag” attack on a Palestinian car in Israel, what sort of response is “permitted” to Palestine?
  • Should a peace deal address incitement? Should the Palestinians have to forego television programs that incite children to become suicide bombers or to hate Jews? Should Palestinian textbooks be required to recognize the existence of Israel and forego defining Palestine as including the portion “occupied” by Israel? Should Israeli textbooks stop referring to Judea and Samaria and instead be required to refer to that area as Palestine?
  • Should any sort of peace deal include recognition and normalization of relations between Israel and the rest of the Arab and Muslim world, or is that a wholly separate issue?
  • Does Iran’s nuclear ambition factor into the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians?
  • Finally, let me ask one following, sort of catch-all series of questions:
    • What concessions should Israel make to achieve peace?
    • What concessions should the Palestinians make to achieve peace?
    • Are the concessions that you’ve suggested reasonably equivalent in value or does one side have to give more (and why)?

I know that there are actually many, many more issues that would need to be on the table. And I know that some of the issues that I’ve included are actually far more nuanced and difficult than I’ve alluded to. But for the point of trying to get a good faith discussion started, these points seemed like a good starting point.

I suspect that some of these questions will draw criticism from one side or the other. Any regular reader of this blog will know that I am a supporter of Israel. Nevertheless, for the point of the discussion that I’d like to have, I hope that other supporters of Israel will try to think through these issues from the Palestinian viewpoint. I’ve tried to write these discussion points to address both sides, though at times that seems a bit ridiculous (how many Jewish suicide bombers have crossed into the West Bank to blow themselves up in Ramallah?). Nevertheless, I really hope that people of good faith, whether pro-Israeli, pro-Palestinian, or simply pro-peace can make at least an effort to think through the issues. Instead of just criticizing and name-calling, let’s have a real discussion about the issues.

Finally, though I’m a huge fan of Twitter, the conversation that I’d like to have really is better handled via comments to this post than at 140 characters at a time (where it is often extremely difficult to make a nuanced point and where it’s often difficult to keep track of who is saying what to whom). I know that there are many of you out there who have thoughts about the current situation. Well, let’s take those concerns, agree to disagree where appropriate, and have a civil discussion about the way forward.

Oh, and one other point that I should make: If you want to make a historical or factual argument, that’s fine. But please, try to provide links to documents or other materials that support your position. And try to be sure that the documents and materials to which you link are from at least somewhat reputable sources.

(If you try to post a comment and have difficulty, please email me and let me know; I re-enabled the CAPTCHA system as I was getting massive amounts of spam, but I understand that some people have difficulty posting comments as a result.)

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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

For Daring to Support Israel, I Was Called an “Apologist for War Crimes” and a “Right Wing Nut Job” and Had the Authenticity of My Judaism Questioned By a British Politician

Sunday was an … interesting day. I woke up, went out to get some bagels, came home, and sat down to read the newspaper, Facebook, and Twitter (not necessarily in that order). Things went downhill from there. Way, way downhill. Go back and read the title to this post and you’ll see why. Explanations to come.

There is a gentleman that I follow on Twitter and with whom I’ve engaged numerous times in the past. He posts primarily on domestic policy issues from a fairly far left perspective and is often quite harsh in his responses to those on the right. Sometimes I wish he’d tone it down and engage in a more deliberative discussion, but he’s chosen the method by which he chooses to express his views. And I’d say that I probably agree with those views, in whole or in part, the vast majority of the time. I don’t always agree with his methods or the way he expresses his views, but generally agree with the core of the viewpoint. He frequently expresses frustration or exasperation at those who won’t engage in discussion.

About 10 days ago he posted a tweet that had an anti-Israel viewpoint. Rather than trying to engage publicly, especially in a platform like Twitter that is highly unsuited for detailed discussions of complicated issues, I sent him a direct message that said, in part, “I’d love the opportunity to discuss the issues with you, but 140 characters at a time with others chiming in isn’t a great way to have such a discussion.”

He didn’t respond.

The next day, he tweeted about Israel again, this time referring to Israel as “bloodthirsty warmongers”. I responded, again privately, to ask why he wouldn’t discuss the issues.

He didn’t respond.

And then Sunday morning, he was back at it. Perhaps foolishly, perhaps because of the excesses that I’d been seeing over the last few days, I decided to try to engage him both publicly and/or privately, though my initial response was, all you’ll see, quite limited and was designed to elicit discussion of a single, particular issue. I sent him a third private message to which he didn’t respond. But my public tweet? Yeah, that got his attention. And things went downhill from there. Fast. After a while, I chose to leave the conversation; it had become clear that people weren’t interested in actually discussing issues, the invective was getting uglier and worse, and I was getting depressed. Plus, I wanted to extricate myself from the situation before I lost my temper or really let fly some of the things that I was thinking. But even after I bid farewell (in an overly snarky way…), the thread continued and continued to get uglier and uglier.

Below is the Twitter thread from Sunday through Monday afternoon. Unfortunately, when I try to embed tweets to show in a nice format, something goes … um … wrong, and they don’t display at all. At first it was just the two of us (Me and Middle Class Warrior), but before too long, others joined in (and the retweets and favorites began to fly and they’re still coming 48 hours later). Unfortunately, the thread can sometimes be difficult to read as tweets were coming fast and furious and aren’t always in response to the immediately preceding tweet. To try to make it a bit more reader-friendly, I’ve omitted the internal links to other Twitter handles, but I’ve largely kept misspellings as they were (and I’m sure I’ve added a few of my own in transcribing this thread). I’ve also decided not to include actual Twitter handles or links. I’ve occasionally added notes (in [brackets]) for a few posts to add necessary context or to provide a bit of information where I felt it appropriate. Finally, I’ve put a few of the most … um … “interesting” tweets in red and the most extreme tweets in bold green.

Middle Class Warrior: “Nightmare in #Gaza: At Least 50 Reportedly Dead, Bodies Strewn In Streets” 75% are civilian. #Israel’s over kill is monstrous

Me: Worth noting that Hamas instructs people to refer to all casualties as being “civilian”.

Middle Class Warrior: fuck em all, barbarians on both sides

Me: So trying to stop indiscriminate rocket fire is barbaric? What should Israel do? Nothing?

Middle Class Warrior: over kill dude, overkill, they are barbaric, disgusting and they SHOULD know better, but no, they dehumanize Palestinians

Me: “Barbaric” & “disgusting”? Listen to yourself. Oh, and this:

Me: To clarify, who should know better? Israel or Hamas? Or do your standards only apply to one side?

Me: How does Israrl [sic] “dehumanize”? By accepting ceasefire a [sic] that Hamas ejects [sic] or violates. [Grr. I hate typos. Why doesn’t Twitter have an Edit button?]

Middle Class Warrior: Yep, Israel’s mass slaughter is barbaric. Kill ratio of over 100 to 1 year after year. and proclaim THEY are the victims.

Me: By treating Palestinians in Israeli hospitals? Or by protecting its people while Hamas used its as human shields?

Middle Class Warrior: by willingly killing civilians by the score, pox on both their houses.

Me: Now it’s a “mass slaughter”? If Hamas stopped firing rockets, Israel would have no need to defend itself.

Middle Class Warrior: Take ppl land, pin them up, take away rights oppress w/military &they will do what? Yeah, fight back, duh. Israel is root cause

Me: If Hamas built infrastructure instead of weapons & tunnels, they could have a functions [sic] state.

Middle Class Warrior: So how many Israelis have been killed by those rockets? Over 50 civilian Palestinians killed LAST NIGHT

Me: Israel left Gaza in 2005. No blockade. Not “pinned up”. Then Hamas took over & created a terror regime.

Middle Class Warrior: Maybe if they weren’t pinned up and treated like animals… but no, gotta have an eye for an eye… well 200 eyes for 1 eye

Me: Oh, and “rights”? Really. Compare rights in any Arab or Muslim nation to rights in Israel.

Me: Does Gaza have free press, free speech, independent judiciary, LGBT rights, freedom of religion? Blame Hamas.

woodswalked: & those rockets have been landing IN GAZA- so Israel’s ‘self-defense’ argument is even more flaccid

Middle Class Warrior: Well u r an Israel apologist, not exactly neutral or see things thru others eyes. I can, both sides are at fault and barbaric

Jet (James E Tramel): Good question and where are the rocket sites, where is the evidence or is just a GOP style bullshit party

Me: Apologist? No. I’m a supporter and I use independent judgment. I criticize where appropriate.

Middle Class Warrior: Play all the pedantic word games u want, Israel has as much culpability as Hamas, they created the backlash by taking their land

Me: Oh, I see. Not enough dead Jews for you. Sorry that Israel protects it’s own while Hamas uses it’s [sic] people as shields.

Middle Class Warrior: Hard right wants war, Bibi is hard right. Israel needs to stop slaughtering civilians if they want peace… but no

Me: You yell & scream at RWNJs who won’t discuss. But when pushed by someone in the left you cry “word games!” [RWNJ is an acronym for “right wing nut job”]

Middle Class Warrior: “Past-president of Indianapolis Jewish Community Relations Council” oh no, no partisanship there at all…

Me: If your daughter had 15 seconds to seek shelter every so often because terrorists where shooting rockets, you’d defend her.

Susan John-Richards: Under International Law Gaza is not a state & still under occupation and siege 4 over 7years, without an army……

[I’ll offer a brief discussion of Susan John-Richards in a footnote to this blog; just keep in mind that she is a former elected official in the UK, claims to be Jewish, half-Jewish, and an atheist, and eventually links to a 9/11 truther website that wants to defeat the “World Criminal Jewish Empire and end[] their dream of the eventual enslavement of the Human Race”. Unfortunately, I didn’t know any of that while I was initial communicating with her.]

Middle Class Warrior: Discuss what? u r Israel apologist and incapable of seeing the Palestinian side, so pound sand .. and pox on both their houses

Me: No, Gaza is not under occupation. Israel left in 2005.

Middle Class Warrior: oh no, Israel is peaceful… well if u excuse all the innocents they slaughter… and ppl they pen up…

Me: That’s funny. You know nothing about me other than that I’m Jewish. You have no idea what I do with regard to Palestinians.

Middle Class Warrior: I sure as hell wouldn’t freak out and kill innocents by the score

Middle Class Warrior: I can read your words, that is what I am reacting to, duh Thought the “You don’t know me” excuse when out in the 90’s

Me: No. You’re reading only a tiny bit & making your own inferences. But that’s fine. I’m just a Jew, so stereotype away.

Susan John-Richards: How could you say Israel left in 2005? when they are sounded from every corner and can’t leave&not allowed 2progress

Middle Class Warrior: yawn, pedantic word game away, apologist

Me: They did leave. It’s fact. But Hamas created a terror infrastructure so Egypt & Israel had to stop weapon flow.

Susan John-Richards: And calling itself the most democratic country in the world.. That is disgraceful….

Roger Rubin: ZG [ZG is “ZeitgestGhost”, the Twitter handle for Middle Class Warrior] ur wrong. Gaza was Egypt. Taken by Isr. Retrnd to Fatah who was kicked out by Hamas. And then rkts start.

Me: You’re a sick piece of work. So go back to your TV and resume cheering for more Jews to die.

Middle Class Warrior: So what would one expect a ppl whose land was stolen to do? Get pinned up and like it?

Joan Evans: Try being a Jew for awhile, living in Israel…

Middle Class Warrior: i’m talking Israel in general, Israel was made out of Palestinian land

Susan John-Richards: R you mocking Michael? When the zionist & Mubarak decided 2 put the siege they even calculated their foodcalories

Middle Class Warrior: go make excuses for slaughtering penned up ppl somewhere else

Middle Class Warrior: Try being a Palestinian living in terror of Israel’s over kill

Susan John-Richards: that’s what they expect… just lay down and die my friend…..

Middle Class Warrior: I’m 100% disgusted by the Israel Palestinian situation. Both are barbaric, but Israel IS the root cause

Maggy: Incorrect… [in response to my tweet that Israel left Gaza in 2005]

Me: Israel left new greenhouses for farming. Palestinians smashed them. No need for blockade if no weapon smuggling.

Susan John-Richards: I agree with you. But if you put a kitten in a corner and terrorise it eventually it will scratch you….

Me: So Jews should do what exactly? Go back to Auschwitz? Maybe drown themselves in the sea? You’d like that, huh?

Joan Evans: You better read your history before mouthing off! You’re just wrong & biased

Middle Class Warrior: I don’t condone Palestinian violence, but i sure do understand it. The kill ratio is disgustingly lopsided

Susan John-Richards: Oh give me a break Michael,the siege & the metal wall built around Gaza,by Egypt funded by US b4 any smuggling !

Middle Class Warrior: stop mass slaughtering ppl while claiming to be the victim would be a start

Middle Class Warrior: he’s completely blinded by his loyalty to Israel

Me: Anti-Israel folk don’t care about historical accuracy. More & more they only care about seeing more dead Jews.

Me: Oops. Forgot the need to prevent suicide bombers from blowing up pizza parlors & Passover Seders. My bad.

Aaron Fisher: Imagine how Texans would react if Mexico occupied Texas for 47 years

Middle Class Warrior: I’m not anti-Semitic, i do find Israel’s one-sided wars barbaric and their existence IS the root cause of violence

Susan John-Richards: NoNo Michael don’t mix Jews with Zionist. Jews always lived in harmony in Arab Countries. why not 2state solution

Roger Rubin: Tell me where I’m wrong.

Me: Again, you know nothing about the full scope of my views. But supporting Israel is evil enough for you.

woodswalked: also… Palestinians are Semitic…

Susan John-Richards: Crying wolf that there are victims because they are poor nation sounded by Arabs… Arab countries r on fire, thx2US

Middle Class Warrior: in your mind maybe… face it Israel is the root cause of it’s own problems

Aaron Fisher: Typical RWNJ response. Any criticism of Israeli policy is anti-Semitism.

Susan John-Richards: True… It is just education and brain wash from being little….Sad

Me: So Israel shouldn’t exist? Got it. I’ll call Bibi & tell him a non anti-Semite thinks Jews should just leave.

Me: Fo [sic] you really believe that? Really funny. Ah, but who cares about history. [In response to Susan John-Richards’ claim that “Jews always lived in harmony in Arab Countries”]

Middle Class Warrior: I said that where? Oh wait, i disagree so I’m anti-Semitic… yawn

Susan John-Richards: I think Michael you watch too much MSM try to watch independent media and investigative journalism….

Susan John-Richards: I am the same, I love all nations and respect all religions without any difference, apart from the truth…

Me: Dumbest argument ever. The term “anti-Semite” was coined to mean “Jew hater”.

Roger Rubin: Since thr was no response read this

Middle Class Warrior: If u look at the history of Palestinian, u would feel empathy for them, they had land stolen and pinned up

Middle Class Warrior: by either definition i’m not one

Susan John-Richards: Michael you are entitled to your opinions but don’t let it blind uof seeing the truth and suffering of other side

Me: Not at all. I’m often critical. But some criticism cross a kind [sic]. Oh, and calling me a RWNJ is rich. [I had to laugh at this given that Rush Limbaugh has called me a “Democrat fundraiser, operative, hack, or what have you” and a “wacko”; and yes, that’s me Limbaugh is talking about]

Roger Rubin: Having a point of view is not bias

Susan John-Richards: Sadly they are cousins…… [in response to the tweet that Palestinians are Semitic]

Scone_Mason: anytime you start a sentence with “I’m not anti …” You should probably stop there

Susan John-Richards: It wouldn’t of killed Israel if they choose 2 state solution and live in peace together????

Susan John-Richards: :))))) [in response to Middle Class Warrior’s tweet where he argues that I said that disagreement meant he was anti-Semitic]

Aaron Fisher: You response to “both sides are barbaric” was should Jews “go back to Auschwitz.” That’s a RWNJ.

Me: Now I’m brainwashed? Excellent. Glad you’ve helped diagnose. Thanks.

Susan John-Richards: So Michael you believe in the distorted history???

Me: You said Israel’s existence is the root of the problem.

woodswalked: glad you realize your argument is dumb, but that still doesn’t excuse it. Genocide is wrong

Me: Again, you have no clue what I watch or read.

Middle Class Warrior: Yes, the existence of Israel is what is causing the tension, that says they shouldn’t exist where?

Susan John-Richards: I yet to meet anybody who ever said they hate Jews.. people dislike Zionism = expansionist

Susan John-Richards: Jews out of the all people in the world should feel compassion with palatines, for the horrible tragedy happened

Middle Class Warrior: that’s what i can;t wrap my head around, how can Jews oppress ppl and pen them up in ghettos ?

Misspell: Imma leave this here…

woodswalked: I live in a red state, sadly there are people who hate Jews. NOT THE ISSUE HERE. genocide is wrong

Susan John-Richards: How did you arrive at this conclusion and what does it mean exactly [in response to the tweet from Scone_Mason saying: “anytime you start a sentence with ‘I’m not anti …’ You should probably stop there”]

Me: Clarification: Gaza part of 1947 land for Palestinians. Captured by Egypt in ‘48 as West Bank taken by Jordan.

Jet (James E Tramel): In evangelical churches you were taught to stand with Israel, fine but is there a point to not aprove

woodswalked: if you are killing innocent children on land you invaded… using the excuse that someone somewhere..

Just me: religion, land, superiority… earliest disputes in history of man…ALL with bad outcomes..

Susan John-Richards: Michael, Better than brainwashing is intelligent thinking and objectivity….

Awesome: how can Blacks discriminate against gays or others when they are still discriminated against

Me: And how do you know I have no sympathy? Is that a “fact” you know? [I was linking to my recent blog posts, one of which notes that “I have enormous sympathy for innocent civilians killed, whether in Gaza or Israel (or Syria, Congo, Myanmar, or the ever-more bloody streets of Indianapolis), whether Jewish, Muslim, Christian, Druze, or any other religious or ethnic group[;] I yearn for a peaceful resolution to conflicts that have taken far too many lives and caused far too much devastation all across the world” and another of which includes two items wherein I condemned the reprisal attack on the Palestinian boy following the kidnap and murder of the three Israeli boys]

Awesome: folks brains are fucked up!

Susan John-Richards: Auschwitz happened and will never ever happen again… so all is safe.

Jet (James E Tramel): there should be room to disapprove of an action and not hate a Nation,

woodswalked: hates you is is both insincere and self-fulfilling dishonesty

Me: They’ve tried. Palestinians keep walking away from deals. Ask Clinton.

Me: Is saying Israel shouldn’t exist anti-Semitic? I’d say yes.

Susan John-Richards: Israel existence is the root of the problem and you need to thank GB. Jews, Christians & Muslims lived together

Me: You’re funny [in response to Aaron Fisher saying that my querying whether Jews should go back to Auschwitz makes me a RWNJ]

Jet (James E Tramel): We have seen Israel & Hamas thwart Peace talks, New settlement killing efforts of peace

Middle Class Warrior: and who said that? maybe if u didn’t make shit u…

Me: I believe in accurate history.

BrazenlyLiberal: Giving Jews thr own state after WWII ws good. BUT that particular land wasn’t ours to give. SHB Texas

Me: Genocide? Really? Do you even know what that even means?

Middle Class Warrior: You’re funny [in response to my statement that I believe in accurate history]

Susan John-Richards: Jet why are u taught to stand with Israel? What about humanity? don’t they teach you that?

Middle Class Warrior: stealing a ppls land and pinning them up is what?

Scone_Mason: it just reminded me of a phrase you hear often in the south—I’m not prejudiced, but…

Susan John-Richards: You are right “just me” well said

woodswalked: Yep. Ever read Daniel Jonah Goldhagen?

Susan John-Richards: I take ur point, again not really the blacks, its their corrupt governments…

Just me: War in the middle east? Where’s GORT when you need him [picture omitted]

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Me: No, we Jews are taught to oppress & murder. Haven’t you read the Protocols, yet. </sarcasm>

Susan John-Richards: I hope Michael ur heart is on the right side & I am sure u can be objective enough to see truth even if it hurts

Middle Class Warrior: may not have been taught, but u do describe what they do… [in response to my sarcastic comment about Jews being taught to oppress & murder; and that is when I decided it was time to extricate myself from the “conversation”]

Susan John-Richards: Jet n our world there should be no place for hat or discrimination at all… only peace & Love

Me: Right. Not anti-Semitic to agree that Jews oppress & murder. Noted.

CyraH: It has nothing to do with WWII, but everything with WWI !

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Susan John-Richards: Michael the 1st basis of negotiation is equivalent powers, How a powerful negotiate with a broken nation?

CyraH: Check the Balfour declaration –>

Middle Class Warrior: deny what Israel do all u want, makes no difference. they have sooo much blood on their hands

Susan John-Richards: Michael can you give me an academic definition of your conclusion re-Israel existence????

Middle Class Warrior: UK drawing lines is behind much of today’s tensions (dismantling Brit & Ottoman empire)

Susan John-Richards: Jet how can you have justice in peace negotiation, when one military might & other starving

Susan John-Richards: If i only know what is your accurate history???

Me: It’s been fun, but I have to take the kids to the World Oppression & Murder Committee meeting. </sarcasm>

Susan John-Richards: Brazenly, THANK YOU, you summed it up…

CyraH: You’re right.

Middle Class Warrior: facts are facts. If u think Palestinians haven’t been oppressed or murdered, u r part of the problem

Susan John-Richards: Very easy, Michael, log in ICJ website and check the Convention of War Crimes…

Susan John-Richards: Arab countries hate each other even since, and now the whole region on fire….

Susan John-Richards: Michael Ah no if you were a real Jew, you spread peace and love and help as we were asked to do so…..

Middle Class Warrior: Consensus Israel committing war crimes [this tweet included a link to an article at Mondoweiss, an extreme anti-Israel (and often anti-Semitic) website that I won’t link to here]

Susan John-Richards: True the first Zionist meeting took place in 1897 where they made the first plan…

Susan John-Richards: Balfour declaration was the first cheat in Palestine’s history…

Middle Class Warrior: Israel committing war crimes shelling civilians 

Susan John-Richards: How true is that Warrior…

Middle Class Warrior: Israel committing war crimes willfully killing children

CyraH: Right. And the McMahon-Hussein correspondence is dated in 1915/1916 … 1/2

BrazenlyLiberal: There hd bn talk of creating a state even before that but not enough political will till 48

Middle Class Warrior: Being against War Crimes is NOT anti-Semitic, it’s being against #WarCrimes

CyraH: 2/2 And the Sykes-Picot Agreement is dated in 1916.

Susan John-Richards: Warrior, in reality that Palesteniens are observer state at UN, they quality to take Israel to Int’Criminal Court

CyraH: the plans were all already elaborated before 1948. a.o.

Susan John-Richards: I can’t understand they can’t take arguments,immediately say we are anti-semitic to shut us up. It Doesn’t work

Me: Walking out the door, but saw this tweet [the one that said “if you were a real Jew, you spread peace and love”]. If I was a “real Jew”? Really? [check out this link; it’s worth reading]

Me: And I’m sure you’re the person to decide if my Judaism is authentic or how “real Jews” should behave,

Middle Class Warrior: list of 12 “Massacres committed by Israel” [Wikipedia article; for those who follow the conflict, they’ll recognize that Wikipedia has been the source of an enormous amount of controversy as articles regarding the Israel, Judaism, and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict have been subject to editing wars with each side endeavoring to make it’s own narrative the “truth”. Also worth noting that of the 12 “massacres” listed, 5 were during the 1948 War of Independence, 1 is from 1953, 3 are from 1956, and 1 is from 1970; the most recent “massacre” is 1996]

Jet (James E Tramel): I really don’t know, I know we are experts at creating freedom fighters/terrorist

Middle Class Warrior: well we know u r an apologist for war crimes [in response to my tweet to Susan John-Richards that said “I’m sure you’re the person to decide if my Judaism is authentic…”]

Susan John-Richards: Yes, really Michael if you were a real jew ….

Susan John-Richards: Bless you Jet, you do have a great heart that I am sure of ….

Estheramma: blame Palestinians who voted for Hamas majority after Israel withdrew from Gaza.

Me: When you question the authenticity of my Jewishness, only one adequate reply: Fuck you.

Jet (James E. Tramel): every attempt to solve this issue has failed, we now have the net Photos pull heart strg

Middle Class Warrior: don’t u have a bunch of war crimes to apologize for? [in response to my saying “fuck you” to Susan John-Richards].

BrazenlyLiberal: S-P didn’t actually estab a state. IAE, then when of it is irrelevant to right or wrong of it

Susan John-Richards: That is a rude reply, & being higher educated than you… I forgive you but u just insulted another Jew [in response to my saying “fuck you”]

zkstv: “Antisemitic” is a bunch of BS. Anti-zionist is more accurate. Jews are not the only Semitic people&Jews are not united…

Susan John-Richards: SO true Jet…

Susan John-Richards: Warrior, I guess not… too arrogant to admit forget apologising!!!!!!!

zksvt: … in the genocide of the Palestinians. Israel must be disarmed. Zionists are immoral, sociopathic killers.


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Middle Class Warrior: Sure Israel can protect themselves, but all the #WarCrimes are bullshit

Susan John-Richards: :))))

Estheramma: who is pro war crimes? Who is pro terrorism & genicide?

Middle Class Warrior: Israel commits war crimes and ppl who deny support war crimes. #Logic

Middle Class Warrior: I’d say shelling innocent civilians is terrorism. As far as genocide, no, just land thiefs & oppressors

Susan John-Richards: As for me all I want of this world is PEACE, JUSTICE&LOVE. NO war crimes,no genocide. HUMANS r EQUAL

Middle Class Warrior: Israel minister on Israel killing innocent Palestinians claims its “self-genocide” on Palestinians part


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[As you can see, I’d already left the thread by the time this picture was posted. When I saw it later, I wanted to respond, but elected not to re-engage as it seemed largely pointless given the way the dialogue had gone (and was still going). Nevertheless, I think it is critically important to understand why this “disappearing Palestine” series of maps, which has turned up all over the place in recent years, is completely bogus. It’s worth reading the post The maps of disappearing Palestine by Yaakov Lozowick, Israel’s State Archivist and author of (in my opinion) the best book on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Right to Exist: A Moral Defense of Israel's Wars.]

Estheramma: so ur saying Israel can defend itself but can’t retaliate or invade. Nice logic.

Susan John-Richards: Yes Warrior, that is exactly the situation now….

Tuxie’s Mom: Senate voted UNANIMOUSLY in favor of Israel. No, of course I didn’t bookmark link, rats.

..: its similar to what european settles did to native americans.

Estheramma: too bad most Palestinians don’t [in response to Susan John-Richard’s tweet about peace, justice & love]

Middle Class Warrior: So u r an apologist for war crimes… u vote for W too? [in response to Estheramma’s query regarding Israel’s ability to defend itself]

Robert McGrath: Time to make the connection between Zionist’s, Born Again Christians, Tea Partiers.


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Susan John-Richards: I have never seen a country & a nation goes on a hunger strike till near diminishing

Middle Class Warrior: So refuse to give Palestinians their land back and blame them… jeezus…

Susan John-Richards: Now Worrier :Self-genocide” it is a unique expression I’ve never heard before????

Estheramma: no & no. Saying nobody is in favor of war crimes or terrorism except Hamas & their supporters.

Middle Class Warrior: Israel minister coined new term, self-genocide … as they kill scores of innocents

oriboricua: Are we surprised here? That’s usually what they do.

Estheramma: right, because supporting the only democracy in the region is just wacky…

Susan John-Richards: Not True all Palestinians, Arabs, Muslims, Christians, Jews & whole world want PEACE…

Middle Class Warrior: Well u better be telling Isreal, cuz THEY are committing war crimes as we tweet

CyraH: This kind of pics just gets tweeted by scum [in response to Estheramma’s tweet of the original Palestine Mandate and Transjordan]

oriboricua: And as far as that ridiculous bigoted meme about another state..hmmm..cheez whiz

Middle Class Warrior: clearly part of the problem and against THE solution.

Robert McGrath: Right and because we only look through the Judeo-Christian Lens it’s the only Democracy.

Susan John-Richards: where you got such a false map for God’s sake How sad

Middle Class Warrior: I’ve had it w/Israel proclaiming to be the victim, when they are the root cause

Estheramma: that is the fundamental question. Israel is damned if they do & if they don’t…

Susan John-Richards: oh pls give me a break about the Hamas & terrorism, U & all of us know how are the real terrorists

oriboricua: Neither am I. Have them duke it out instead of nuking it out…

Middle Class Warrior: No, Israel damns itself when it commits war crimes against children

oriboricua: That’s how riDONCulous it is.

woodswalked: wow! that is absolutely sickening.


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Susan John-Richards: Are you sure you understand the term Democracy well????


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Middle Class Warrior: Well remember to kill the women and children FIRST? How many Israelis have been killed my those missiles?

oriboricua: OOH SNAP!

Robert McGrath: Certainly as well as your opinion on it’s interpretation.

Susan John-Richards: Democracy for me is not linked to religion or nation, it a natural human development

oriboricua: Seriously a number? Let’s just run a tally and even eliminate more dignity for their families.

Estheramma: Hamas is a terrorist org.?

Susan John-Richards: I join you Warrior, I’ve had enough. I call it Crying Wolf… Kill & complain

woodswalked: [posted a link to Jewish Voice for Peace, which I refuse to link to; instead, please read this description of JVP from the Anti-Defamation League]

Middle Class Warrior: Israel killed 60 LAST NIGHT, vs how many Israelis in the last decade? 

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oriboricua: Oooh, touche, Mdme.

Stop Gun Insanity: its an endless cycle with both sides to blame maybe someone will wise up and say we aint playing anym

Susan John-Richards: YES, I am not a rubbot what ever Israel and US declare somebody a terrorist I have to believe

Robert McGrath: Explain why Democracy is so important, when it’s become such a Farce in this Country?

Estheramma: so when Germany attacked Russia & Russia suffered more casualties but won, they were the problem?

Middle Class Warrior: If Israel were what it claims(civilized 1st word) it would stop the cycle, but they are barbaric

LunaticFringer: Great graph. Sobering, too.

Annie: Israel should stay the hell in Israel Stop taking Palestinian homes,land,freedom,livelihoods and lives.

Middle Class Warrior: No, i’m saying Israel goes for horrendous overkill and escalates the problem

Estheramma: do u? Why don’t u ask minorities, LGBT in Muslim countries.

Susan John-Richards: Democracey for me is a continuous matter,not only election. It’s justice to all

Susan John-Richards: Yeh right now u hiding behind minorities, all lived in harmony until western interest

oriboricua: Well wait a moment, I’m sorry that dates to WW2. And the US has been in how many conflicts since?

Estheramma: as I have show, Israel has tried numerous times to stop the cycle. Other side not interested.

RegimeChangeVictoria: we do the same thing, what do you think ‘droning’ weddings earns us? Manufacturing enemies?

Stop Gun Insanity: hell we in the US aren’t civilized enough to keep from starting wars

Robert McGrath: Until about 2 yrs. ago LGBT equality was only fantasy here, how about the way Africans are treated there ?

oriboricua: Dude, you are cool and collected.

Estheramma: have u been to the Middle East?

oriboricua: How is relevant to Palestine exactly? Our gov’t sides with Israel.

Middle Class Warrior: Defend this #Overkill is terrorism

Susan John-Richards: I said it before humans generally have no prejudice Sadly it is the corrupt Government. LGBT are like any human

Middle Class Warrior: :-) pisses em off ;-)

Robert McGrath: Do I have to know what Insulins made from to know it works?

RegimeChangeVictoria: u can war monger if you like, i think its the top of Ignorance to drop bombs on ppl

oriborica: You are a scholar and a gentleman.

Susan John-Richards: I lived 26 years in the Middle East

oriboruca: Considering you don’t where I stand, I’m laughing.

Middle Class Warrior: so u defend Israel doing so?

RegimeChangeVictoria: good to hear, this world has enough war mongers already

RegimeChangeVictoria: not one bit

Middle Class Warrior: i’ll cop to the 1st part,but not 2nd ;-)

oriboricua: Dude, let’s read the headlines first before you throw those stones

Estheramma: u obviously live in la la land. Enjoy ur delusional fantasies. Cheers.

oriboricua: Better than Mr. holier than thou British Columbia

John Aiken: Israel should start moving its borders back into Israel and out of Palestine, that would be a start

Robert McGrath: Lived here 54 years and know it’s far from what it could be except for greed of the 1%

Susan John-Richards: exactly the greed of the 1%

Estheramma: r u referring to the Ethiopians in Israel?

DSP: Israel has the technology.

John Aiken: True, it would get back to land grabbing instead

Middle Class Warrior: And how many Israelis killed by those rockets ZERO

Robert McGrath: Democracy based on the Greek model, not Born Again Tea Party.

Estheramma: what –> [Susan John-Richards & Middle Class Warrior] expect from Israel: “that’s what they expect… just lay down and die my friend…..”

Middle Class Warrior: they bitch about Rockets that ave killed NO ONE & use for excuse to slaughter innocents then proclaims victim-hood

Robert McGrath: All African immigrants, Ethiopians consider themselves Jews.

Susan John-Richards: The hoffiyinig fact that Israelies count one death as 1000 Palestineies

Estheramma: –> [Susan John Richards & Middle Class Warrior] prefer to ignore this fact & instead define terrorism on body count [responding to my tweet about blockage being imposed to prevent influx of weapons]

Todd Selle: May this dream, above all others, come true. It is my vision as well.

Middle Class Warrior: So being anti #WarCrimes means i think Israel shouldn’t defend itself???? U r damaging your cause

Susan John-Richards: We all originate from Africa Scientifically… therefore we are the same people.. born, hurt, & die same way…

Middle Class Warrior: No, i’m anti #WarCrimes. Israel needs to stop committing them.

Susan John-Richards: I wish so Sir, We desperate need to embrace our humanity…

Middle Class Warrior: then expect to be treated like they are civilized…

Estheramma: Palestinians never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity for peace.

Middle Class Warrior: Plenty enough blame to go around on both sides for the cycle of violence. BUT Israel IS root cause

Larry K: They may have after leaving Gaza if only Gaza hadnt become a storage & staging ground for missiles.

Slim Mirokujin: Should probably check out @This_Is_Israel [a parody account with a bio that uses a false quote from David Ben Gurion to help smear Israel] if he/she thinks IDF is blameless.

CyraH: They have created an open air prison of Gaza, and the civilians (!) are trapped.

Ivan G. Goldman: If you believe a people’s existence can be root cause of conflict apparently you think solution is mass suicide in Israel.

Annie: Which is shrinking as Israeli ‘settlers’ come in, mow down Palestinian homes &replace them w/Israeli settlements

Middle Class Warrior: It’s not the ppls existence it’s a hostile militaristic land-grab and oppression by the gov’t

Estheramma: –> both sides are barbaric but Israel deserves blame cuz they’re winning.

TodaysComments: Western gov’ts ignoring the overwhelming force on one side. Hell They supplied it!

Middle Class Warrior: No, both sides deserve blame for the cycle of violence, but Israel IS root cause.

Estheramma: so u’ve never been to the region but confident u know better than someone who has…

Bi-polar bear: Germany was one of the world’s most powerful states at the time, Palestinians don’t even have a state. How can you equate the 2? [in response to the tweet featuring the Bill Maher image]

Middle Class Warrior: lady u ask had been there decades. and views line u with mine just fine. facts r facts

Ivan G. Goldman: Poland expelled Germans, Russians expelled Poles, Arab countries expelled Jews. You seem fixated on one group. Why?

Middle Class Warrior: cuz that is a current topic, duh

Middle Class Warrior: We all know Jews have had a terrible history, but that does not give Israel the right to now treat Palestinians like they were

Robert McGrath: I’ve lived here for 54 years and still can’t make any sense, please,+ ur expert after 24?

GET REAL TWEETS: Israel is wrong for their actions. No peace with no RELIGIOUS FREEDOM!!! Period.

Estheramma: A. Most “Palestinians” were exiled from Jordan. B. perhaps they would if they didn’t elect terrorists & stop killing Israelis.

GET REAL TWEETS: The root of these sick wars is based on religion and sub root is land. We can’t fix that, only they can.

Susan John-Richards: I would say it is been over 65 years of suffering &the tragedy for Palistine goes on.

Middle Class Warrior: Root cause is Israel being created out of Palestinian land… and effing them over

Ivan G. Goldman: 1949 saw violent exchange of populations. Hundreds of thousands of Jews expelled by Arab countries. Check it out.

GET REAL TWEETS: That too. Using religion as a tool for the reasons of land entitlement. So much wrong.

Susan John-Richards: One side has a mighty military power providing the world with drones,£1.26b only 2 UK

Middle Class Warrior: Israel is a land grab and of course the previous residents are PISSED, and rightly so

GET REAL TWEETS: I say we need to stop funding and aiding the blood bath. The best help we can give is to stop helping ISRAEL.

Estheramma: try speaking English please. [directed at Middle Class Warrior in response to his tweet that began “lady u ask…”]

Jeff Kreisberg: Better read up on your Old Testament my friend.

Estheramma: where NJ?

Middle Class Warrior: HEAR HEAR!!! Part of what makes me so disgusted is we help them slaughter innocents. Enough killing Muslims

Susan John-Roberts: Do u main u lived 54 yrs in ME or Africa? I lived over 26 in ME

amer husain: It’s neither mere religion nor land. It’s about strategic locationing by an imperial force.

Middle Class Warrior: That’s like saying the Aztecs can reclaim Texas. Jews were gone 2k years.

GET REAL TWEETS: We help them all the time. Damn shame, our tax $ used for blood baths of kids. #HYPOCRISY

GET REAL TWEETS: What are you implying Jeff? Break it down for me.

Robert McGrath: Have u been to the Ukraine,Africa,China? Being there and being 1 of them, little diff.

Bart Stewart: What did that land amount to before the Jews came in and made something of it?

Middle Class Warrior: It was THEIR land to do with as they please and they were booted off of it.

Robert McGrath: Next to NY.

Robert McGrath: Are you Israeli living in NY?

Jeff Kreisberg: For fucks sake! You talk out of both sides of your mouth. eatshotanddie

amer husain: That is the crux of the problem. The original sin if I might borrow a phrase.

Robert McGrath: What are you an Expert with the Wilson Institute?

Bi-polar bear: So you’re saying: don’t vote for such and such in a democratic election or else! I see Israel is a beacon of democracy in ME

Jeff Kreisberg: You’ve heard of the Isrealites? #twelvetribes

Susan John-Richards: if it is for me then its Chatham …

Bart Stewart: It was mostly desert before. Not it is a major economy. And this is a TINY patch of land!


Middle Class Warrior: so what? its also the cause of ME hatred of the west… and it was THEIR LAND

GET REAL TWEETS: You can’t bring the 12 tribes into this. We free to believe what we want but war and religion =

GET REAL TWEETS: hell on Earth.

amer husain: Your conclusion and analysis captures it all. It is where the solution begins.

Robyn Koerschner: Unfortunately, these land wars remind me of US history. I wish there was a Peaceful solution.

GET REAL TWEETS: The only solution is for them to make religious freedom a rule and for us to stop aiding them.

GET REAL TWEETS: We can wish but action is better.

Bart Stewart: Modern Israel is a fact of life. It’s not going away. It need not expand.

Bart Stewart: Religious nuts risk global conflagration over a strip of land the size of NJ.

amer husain: And yet it has been expanding by building on occupied lands. And will continue.

amer husain: It’s where the natural gas resources are. You think Zionism is about Judaism?

Jumpalong Jayne: If the army came & rousted you from your home would you not fight back with whatever you have?

Jumpalong Jayne: How about rebuilding in the country they already lived in instead of giving them someone else’s land.

Susan John-Richards: Gaza people entitled to defend themselves… legitimately.

Susan John-Richards: The land belongs to the Palestine and no one else. GB had no right to give land it never owned

Bart Stewart: You think it’s all about natural gas? With the oceans of oil the Arabs have?

Robyn Koerschner: I like the idea of religious freedom.

amer husain: the Israelis don’t [in response to Robyn Koerschner’s liking the idea of religious freedom].

amer husain: They want that strip and they will eventually kill every Palestinian for it.

GET REAL TWEETS: It will help.

GET REAL TWEETS: They are wrong as ever.

Ivan G. Goldman: Vast majority of Palestinian families showed up after Jewish immigration created an economy.


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Have a GREEN YEAR!: #Israel has SUCKED $1 TRILLION+ from USA teat. Time 2 WEAN the #MOOCHERS.

Have a GREEN YEAR!: #Israel #Palestine

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Estheramma: They voted for Hamas who fire rockets at Israel from hospitals, schools etc but in ur head they’re victims

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Estheramma: not Israeli, but Jewish.

Robert McGrath: Many Israelis non-Jewish?

Estheramma: 25%

Jet (James E Tramel): Use to watch BB on the News Hour back in the 80’s liked the guy, he is smart, like many others he gotten extreme

Middle Class Warrior: Israel is the WWIII pilot light.

Middle Class Warrior: I can understand a penned in ppl fighting back, but I can NOT understand penning ppl in

Middle Class Warrior: I like the idea of freedom from religion

Cyndee Guerraa: Me too, also Republicans from Vaginas

Middle Class Warrior: Palestinians ‘left’ cuz Israel took their land and kicked them out of it

CyraH: UN Report on Palestine Military Occupation, APARTHEID, Torture: [this report was prepared by Richard Falk, who has claimed American complicity in 9/11, who has been criticized by the UN Secretary General, and who has posted vicious anti-Semitic cartoons on his personal blog; the linked report was condemned by the United States]

TodaysComments: Total agreement. Well put.

Andre: UN: Palestinian children tortured, used as shields by Israel. [Here are 8 of the 18 members of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child: Ghana, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Russia, Tunisia, Egypt, Ethiopia, Malaysia]

Middle Class Warrior: Too true!! If u don’t kiss israel’s ass and excuse their #WarCrimes u must be anti-Semitic…

Semaj: one wonders if they can just coexist after all the land isn’t going anywhere

Scone_Mason: Putin wants in on it too

amer husain: Could be set off anytime.

Jumpalong Jayne: Exactly. Exactly. I was “trying” to be rhetorical.

oriboricua: Well Slim, that’s assuming she won’t be in denial.

Estheramma: <—trust a parody account instead of facts reality [responding to Slim Mirokujin’s suggestion to view the This_Is_Israel offensive parody account]

Embedded image permalinkEstheramma: some are more blameless than others and some are just clueless.

Slim Mirokujin: U understand what’s being parodied, right? Chart is red herring/irrelevant to topic.

Slim Mirokujin: We found your cartoon was clueless indeed as IDF has done the same.

Estheramma: Less than 14 Million Jews & 1.6 Billion Muslims in the world.

Slim Mirokujin: Relevance to the discussion? Topic is Palestinians & Israelis.

Estheramma: u said [link to “We found your cartoon was clueless indeed as IDF has done the same] but now irrelevant huh?

Slim Mirokujin: Ur point abt MuslimvsJewish world population was irrelevant. Keep up

oriboricua: ‘ur sardonic comments illustrate that the veracity of your sources is questionable [directed at Estheramma]

oriboricua: Is ignorance blissful for you? שקרים #shalom [the Hebrew word included in this tweet translates to “lies”]


Estheramma: Sunni, Shia, Kurds kill each other but only relevant when killed by Jews. Got it

Slim Mirokujin: Nope. Your continued strawman & smoke screen tactics are boring, however. #Yawn

Estheramma: yes, uve made it clear u prefer parody to facts. Sorry u to bore u w/truth.

Slim Mirokujin: Did no such thing. When u can stay on topic,join the rest of the adults @ the table.

Estheramma: aww is the little gamer getting cranky? Maybe u should play Donkey Kong instead

Sliim Mirokujin: Nah. Just tired of ppl being obtuse w/ red herrings & pettiness. But hey, troll on.

Middle Class Warrior: “All we are saying is give #WarCrimes a chance” [in response to Estheramma]

Estheramma: Support Hamas terrorists –> [linking to Middle Class Warrior’s “give #WarCrimes a chance” tweet]

And finally that primary thread ended (at least for now). Sadly, numerous side threads developed as the main conversation progressed, and the tone in those was about the same, if not worse. And often it was much, much worse. I frequently wanted to re-join the “conversation” — especially when I saw various lies or misstatements of fact or history, when links to certain documents were posted, or when outrageous statements or claims were made and went essentially unchallenged — but I realized that nothing of value would come from doing so. So I read my book instead.

Before leaving this (ridiculously long post), I do, however, want to call attention to a few other tweets in some of those other threads. For example, over the next day or so, Middle Class Warrior tweeted the following (or variations) numerous times:

Middle Class Warrior: Hamas rockets have killed ZERO and Israel kills the women and children 1st

In other words, Israel is wrong to defend itself because Israel’s defensive precautions have prevented Hamas rockets from killing Israeli civilians and despite the evidence to the contrary, Middle Class Warrior claims that Israel is intentionally targeting Palestinian women and children. He also ignores that the rockets have killed Israelis (and ironically and tragically, one of those killed was a Bedouin).

Even worse than that, though was this tweet:

Middle Class Warrior: Ben-Gurion: We must use terror, assassination, intimidation, land confiscation… cutting of all social services 2 rid…its Arab population

“Wow!” I hear you say, “that’s awful!” And it is. Except for one small little thing: It’s a fabricated quote that can’t be traced to Ben Gurion’s writings. David Ben Gurion never said it. However, you’ll find that quote used on many anti-Israel and anti-Semitic websites and used by “revisionist” historians who desire to tear down Israel and Zionism.

There was one additional tweet that I really wanted to share, but I can’t seem to find it (perhaps it was deleted). Anyway, the author of that tweet claimed (and I’m paraphrasing), that the fighting in Gaza was just a continuation of the Jewish quest for money described and ordered in the Bible. Or something like that. Seriously.

And there is more. Much, much more. But I’ll spare you.

The whole experience left me both exhausted and frustrated.It depressed me that so many people were so willing to jump on the bandwagon and accuse Israel of war crimes and use the sort of language that I encountered. And all of that with virtually no criticism of Hamas or terrorists. It also depressed me that no one was really willing to engage in discussion (and I suppose, after a bit, I wasn’t either, though I tried). And to be called an apologist for war crimes when nothing that I said came even close… One of the current strategies by the anti-Israel crown (and anti-Semites) is to claim that Jews, Israelis, and Zionists try to “shut down” conversation by claiming that any criticism of Israel is inherently anti-Semitic. You can see that dynamic at work here.

I will readily acknowledge that I wasn’t at the top of my game. Unfortunately, it’s difficult to work through many of the issues (especially complex ones) in this sort of forum. First, a complex issue or detailed point is difficult to make in 140 characters. Add to that the difficulty of keeping separate different discussion threads and points. Moreover, when there are numerous people tweeting from the “other side” it can be difficult just to keep up. Thus, certain points that perhaps I should have responded to were allowed to go unanswered. Other points, I was probably not as eloquent as I’d have liked (especially in 140 characters).

Moreover, having a discussion with someone who is willing to engage and dialogue is one thing; but trying to have an intelligent discussion about complex and emotional issues with people who are not interested in the discussion and who would rather simply hurl invectives is … well, I guess pointless. Just as the Israelis have no real partner with whom to discuss peace, I found that I had nobody really interested in a good faith discussion of issues.

Anyway, let’s play a little game: See if you can identify all of the historical inaccuracies, bigoted statements, and places where criticism of Israel crosses over into anti-Semitism. See if you can spot the logical fallacies from Middle Class Warrior and his minions. See if you can spot any place where I defended or apologized for war crimes or where I said anything critical about the Palestinian people as opposed to Hamas or terrorists. See if you can spot any time when any of Israel’s critics called out war crimes by Hamas or did anything more than “not condone” Hamas’ actions or call them “barbaric”. See if you can spot examples of the anti-Israel crowd doing what they accuse Israel’s supporters of doing by defending Hamas’ war crimes. See if you can spot the times that the cry of “don’t play the anti-Semitism card” was used to try to silence support for Israel.

There is one more component (yeah, I know…) of the all of this that I do want to note. As I mentioned, after these exchanges, I was exhausted and depressed. And as I read other posts on Twitter, and other articles posted around the Internet, my depression deepened. War in Israel, the death of Israelis, and the death of innocent Palestinians bothers me. But so does anti-Semitism. So do vicious, unfair attacks on Israel and/or the Jewish people. On Monday morning, I sent the following tweets to Yaakov Lozowick (who, as I mentioned above, is the author of a terrific book on the conflict):

Me: Serious query: How do you handle the horrific anti-Semitism that has become so prevalent? Long thread on Twitter this…

Me: … morning was really depressing?

But before Lozowick could respond, Middle Class Warrior jumped in, and the “discussion” is somewhat enlightening (I’ve omitted extraneous tweets):

Middle Class Warrior: Antisemitism???? You mean anti- #WarCrimes, that is what ppl are pissd about. The escalation and slaughtering

Middle Class Warrior: So unless one supports #WarCrimes one is anti-Semitic? [again, this is the report by Richard Falk that I discussed above]

Middle Class Warrior: Defend this [the report from the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child that I discussed above]

LightSnowOvernight: old trick . Glad you didn’t fall for it. War crimes.

yaacov lozowick: the determination to single out Isr as a war criminal in context of this decade is itself antisemitism.

Middle Class Warrior: Take the time to read UN report on #Israel Occupation, Apartheid, Torture [again, the report from Richard Falk]

Middle Class Warrior: ??? u sound confused, read this [same report] and u will see y the focus on Israel

yaacov lozowick: I assure you I’m vastly better informed than U on this. I’m mostly offline next few hours. Can talk later.

Middle Class Warrior: No thanks

yaacov lozowick: I understand. You wouldn’t want to be confused with facts. Have a good day.

Middle Class Warrior: no, just don’t want smoke blow up my ass by a war crimes apologist

yaacov lozowick: invective is a sign of insecurity or fuddled thinking or both.

Middle Class Warrior: Debunk UN: Occupation, Apartheid, Torture, Violations “Deliberate, Organised,&Instituionalized” [same Falk report]

Middle Class Warrior: as is your arrogance

yaacov lozowick: nah. Just confident of my facts. Going offline now.

Middle Class Warrior: NO facts justify human rights abuses and war crimes, you must mean ‘facts’.

So Israel’s State Archivist offers to discuss issues with Middle Class Warrior and is met with rejection, allegations of being a “war crimes apologist”, and the claim that any facts that Lozowick might bring to the discussion aren’t worthy of consideration because they wouldn’t be true. To me, the views that Middle Class Warrior expresses in this discussion demonstrate just how little regard for learning, understanding, and dialoguing some people really have. Minds are made up, based on fact or fiction, and no rational discussion is worthwhile. Oddly enough, that sounds a lot like the accusations that Middle Class Warrior tends to level at those on the right when discussing domestic issues. But his own hatred, and yes, I’m going to call it hatred, has blinded him to the false reality that he’s created for himself. He bristles and claims that failure to agree with Israel apparently renders one an anti-Semite, yet he sees no contradiction or hypocrisy in claiming that someone who supports Israel is an apologist for war crimes.


Here is my takeaway: First, I probably shouldn’t have engaged. I should have known that there was no point in trying to have a rational discussion. Second, it was probably a poor decision to be snarky or sarcastic in some of my responses. That doesn’t necessarily translate well on Twitter. Most importantly, I may have — repeat may have — jumped the gun a bit with my “go back to Auschwitz” comment; but at the time and with everything that I was reading, statements like Israel’s “existence is the root cause of the violence” sounded an awful like like denying Israel’s right to exist. And that is an anti-Semitic (or Jew hating) argument.

My other takeaway is that my allies on virtually all social and most economic issues have, in many cases, completely lost it on the subject of Israel. Once again, criticism of Israel is fine. I do it all the time (boy you should hear some of the private discussions that I engage in…). But the scope and nature of the criticism, especially without any real corresponding criticism of anyone else (and here, I don’t just mean Hamas or Palestinians!), really … well, I’m not sure of the word I’m looking for. Some sort of mix of depression and anger, I guess.

But then late last night I read this: I’m Done Apologizing for Israel by Rabbi Menachem Creditor:

So, when it comes to Israel, many of those with whom I engage in social reform expect me to react to Israel’s military actions in Gaza with scorn and criticism. To be fair, there are times when I do. My Zionism demands I speak out on behalf of the Israel that remains, in my world-view, the most ambitious project-in-process of the Jewish People. Whereas Israel’s 66 short years have witnessed strength and resilience that have redefined Jewish identity in profound ways, the global Jewish family remains interwoven with Israel.

My response has changed these last few weeks, in which three Jewish teens were murdered by Arab terrorists and Palestinians celebrated by distributing sweets to children and an Arab teen was murdered by Jewish terrorists and the Jewish world condemned the hatred. I am done trying to apologetically explain Jewish morality. I am done apologizing for my own Jewish existence.

Some will call this needless hyperbole. But, having watched in this last week anti-Semitic “die-ins” in Boston, violent assaults against Jews in Los Angeles and Antwerp, and an almost pogrom at a synagogue in Paris, I’m done mincing my own words.

We will do what we must to protect our people. We have that right. We are not less deserving of life and quiet than anyone else.

No more apologies.

And I felt much better. (Please go read Rabbi Creditor’s whole post.)

*I said above that I’d discuss Susan John-Richards in a bit more detail. Apparently, she is a former elected councilor in the United Kingdom (according to a friend, that’s a local office of some sort). She was a member of the conservative party. Apparently, she was passed over for promotion within the party and so quit. She alleged that she was passed over because she was a woman. However, in one of the side Twitter threads that developed along with that posted above, she told Estheramma that she was really passed over because she was half-Jewish (and that members of the UK’s conservative party don’t like Jews when behind the shelter of closed doors). John-Richards also said that she was a conservative until she learned what conservatism meant at which point she became a socialist. She also states in that other thread that she is an atheist, yet she took it upon herself to question the authenticity of my Jewishness when she stated, essentially, that by supporting Israel, I must not be a “real Jew”. And when I gave her a chance to walk that back, she doubled down on her prior accusation.

John-Richards and Estheramma continued to … um … discuss things further in another thread. Let’s just say that it got heated. But one post from John-Richards put everything into perspective.

Susan John-Richards: The Genocide Of The People Of Gaza:Is THIS Not A War Crime?Israel Targeting Hospitals In Gaza! [with a link to be discussed below]

The link included with John-Richards’ tweet is to a blog called Northerntruthseeker. I won’t include a link to that blog. Why not? And why do I think that it puts the views of John-Richards into perspective? Here are a few excerpts from the profile of the author of Northerntruthseeker:

Interests: Defeating the World Criminal Jewish Empire and ending their dream of the eventual enslavement of the Human Race…

Favorite Books: The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion, The Thirteenth Tribe (Koestler), The Synagogue of Satan (Andrew Carrington Hitchcock), We Never Went To The Moon (Bill Kaysing), NASA Mooned America (Ralph Rene) …

[For those who are unaware, The Thirteenth Tribe is a book often used by anti-Semites to try to demonstrate that modern Jews have no historical ties to the land of Israel.]

The blog also includes a listing of the “best sites” for exposing the truth about Israel’s involvement with 9/11 and that the moon landings were a hoax. You get the picture.

Anyway, one has to wonder why John-Richards would be linking to that sort of blog. For that matter, why would she even be aware of that sort of blog?

So, when reading and thinking about John-Richards’ views about Israeli “war crimes” or history, it might be worth noting that she may be getting some of her information from a 9/11 “truther” who wants to defeat the “World Criminal Jewish Empire”. I can only imagine what her other sources of information might be.

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