Jeffrey Salkin: Martini Judaism Opinion

Let’s talk about the nation-state

Arab lawmakers stand in protest during a Knesset session in Jerusalem on July 19, 2018. Israel's parliament approved controversial legislation on Thursday that defines the country as the nation-state of the Jewish people but which critics warn sidelines minorities. (AP Photo/Olivier Fitoussi)

A few days ago, I was speaking to a salesman at a clothing store, and I happened to mention that I had just returned from Israel.

“I would love to visit Israel,” he said. “But, I can’t. I’m not Jewish. Don’t you have to be Jewish to visit Israel?”

“Of course not!” I said. “Israel is not a club with restricted membership! Anyone can visit – and anyone can live there.”

He was grateful to get that news.

But, still, I wondered: where had he gotten such an idea?

Ah — it happened on the day that the Knesset passed the Nation State Law, which defined Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people.

So, let’s talk.

What is a nation-state, anyway?

Let’s go to the dictionary definition, as quoted by Daniel Gordis: “a form of political organization under which a relatively homogeneous people inhabits a sovereign state … a state containing one as opposed to several nationalities.” It is a country created around a shared cultural heritage.

So, you’re saying that a nation-state is a country that has a “default” nationality or ethnicity?

That’s right. Take France, for example. France is a country that enshrines the French nationality. Its official language is French. It tells a particular story about itself that is French. Its flag is French; its currency is French; its national anthem is French. That is true about almost every other country in Europe. (Yes, I am being Euro-centric here, because that is the history that I know the best.)

Can a nation-state contain more than one nationality?

Yes — except that one nationality shapes the identity of the country. Or, to use the current buzz word: one ethnic group dominates the narrative.

By the way, this is why many Americans — and American Jews — don’t really understand Israel. The concept of a nation-state is foreign to them.

By the way, this is why many Europeans don’t really like Israel. The concept of a nation-state is all too real to them. They didn’t like it. During World War Two, in the hands of the Germans, it was lethal. Hence, the Euro. And, for pushback, Brexit.

So, is the United States of America a nation-state?        

No. Neither is Canada – with Quebec being the exception that proves the rule. True – America’s national holidays celebrate our common history. But, there is no one American ethnicity, and attempts to force that inevitably result in bigotry.

Is there anything inherently wrong with nation-states?

No, if it is done “right.” The only challenge (only!) in a nation-state is this: how does that state treat and accommodate and include those who are Other to its national identity? And, how do those who are Other perceive themselves in relationship to the state?

Meaning what?

Take the Jews, for example.

A paragraph summary of modern Jewish history, starting in the nineteenth century.

  • Jews thought that they could be citizens of the emerging western and central European nation-states.
  • That worked for a while – if the Jews were willing to shed some of their particular identities and try to fit in.
  • Except, at a certain point, those nation-state identities became nasty and exclusive – and anti-Semitic. The Jews could never become “real” Frenchmen, for example — or Germans, or Englishmen. (As for eastern Europe, pervasive anti-Semitism made it both impossible, and unattractive, for Jews to want to become, say, Poles).
  • That leads to the Dreyfus trial in Paris.
  • And that leads Theodor Herzl to realize that there is no future for the Jews in Europe. Forty years later – the Shoah.

European history shows that the nation-state “thing” did not work for the Jews.

So, that’s where Zionism comes from?

Basically, yes – though not entirely. Zionism, in its political and cultural form, basically says: We need a state that is as ethnically and culturally Jewish as France is French.

Is there anything wrong with that?

Speaking as a Zionist – no. The only glitch becomes the way that Israel treats the Other, and how the Others perceive themselves within Israeli society.

Which is why you are angry about the demotion of Arabic as an official language of Israel?

Yes. Arabic is on most street signs in Israel. It is the language of a huge number of Israeli citizens – not to mention Palestinians in the territories. It is the default name of many neighborhoods in Jerusalem that were largely Arab before 1948.

What harm was there in having Arabic as an official language of the state?

Or, to be more precise: is it really worth the hurt, pain, and anger in saying that it is not an official language of the state?

So, how is Israel the nation-state of the Jewish people?

  • Israel functions according to the Jewish calendar.
  • On the recent fast day of Tisha B’Av, most restaurants were closed.
  • You’re not going to find bread in the Jewish areas of the state during Pesach.
  • Everything basically shuts down on Shabbat.
  • On Purim, people dress in costume on the streets.
  • The national anthem speaks of nefesh Yehudi – the Jewish soul. (And yes, I know that Israeli Arabs choke on those words?)
  • The boys’ clothing department in stores advertises jackets and suits that are appropriate for bar mitzvah.
  • Israeli rock music blasts forth Jewish poetry and other texts.
  • Jewish values — ideally, and not always — inform public life in Israel.

So, what about a nation-state for the Palestinians?

Without going into the security issues, and ideally, the Palestinians “deserve” a state that will enshrine their national identity. In a perfect world, all peoples would have their own states that will allow them to celebrate their cultures – as long as those who are not part of the official story have the opportunity to find themselves in that story, and/or have their own stories honored.

So, those who want a Palestinian state …


You can’t love the idea of a Palestinian state and disdain the idea of a Jewish state.

Is there a word for that?

Yes. It’s called hypocrisy. But, we Jews are used to that.

The world is confused.

On the one hand, you have those, like the author Michael Chabon, or John Lennon in “Imagine,” who want a world without national boundaries.

On the other hand, you have those who are so invested in their own identities that they want to exclude or harm everyone else.

And, on the third hand, you have those who believe in national-identities — but only some national identities. The Jews have as much right to a nation as, say, Tibet — and, say, the Palestinians.

But, I will say it again: you can proclaim your identity as loudly and as vociferously as you want.

Just watch how you do it. Watch your words.

And, keep your hands to yourself.

About the author

Jeffrey Salkin

Rabbi Jeffrey K. Salkin is the spiritual leader of Temple Solel in Hollywood, Fla., and the author of numerous books on Jewish spirituality and ethics, published by Jewish Lights Publishing and Jewish Publication Society.

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    “The ratification of the United Nations Charter in 1945 at the end of World War II placed the right of self-determination into the framework of international law and diplomacy.”

    “Chapter 1, Article 1, part 2 states that purpose of the UN Charter is: ‘To develop friendly relations among nations based on respect for the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples, and to take other appropriate measures to strengthen universal peace.’”

    “Article 1 in both the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR)[26] and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR)[27] reads: ‘All peoples have the right of self-determination. By virtue of that right they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development.’”


    “Criteria for the definition of ‘people having the right of self-determination’ was proposed during 2010 Kosovo case decision of the International Court of Justice: 1. traditions and culture 2. ethnicity 3. historical ties and heritage 4. language 5. religion 6. sense of identity or kinship 7. the will to constitute a people 8. common suffering.”

  • Perhaps Israel should rename their land. The Written Word does not support a geopolitical nation state of Israel.


    “In short, Zeid’s own country has a constitution enshrining Islam as the official state religion, a Nationality Law that explicitly barred Jews from becoming Jordanian nationals, and a system that has taken away rights of citizenship from Palestinians. Yet Zeid has chosen to condemn Israel for a law that does not approach the non-democratic restrictions built into Jordan’s legal system and practices. He is applying a double standard. He is also de-legitimizing the right of Israel to proclaim the Jewish people’s right of self-determination in a secure homeland of their own.”

  • For some the idea of their “nation state” is simply one other, though minor part of their identity, who they are as a human being.

    For others it is the most important part of who they are. It is this second group of people that create the fear and hate of the “other”, the “outsider”, the one who isn’t just like them.

    Beauty, “nation-state” identity, the clothes you wear or don’t wear, the church you attend are all only skin deep, it is what is inside, the health and well being of your soul, your spirit, who you are as a human being that matters.

    Some folks show us that they are pretty ugly on the inside.

  • Israel was never a nation-state by the definition used here.

    It has always been a polyglot of religions, ethinicites, and cultures. Religiously from its founding it was a state of Jews, Christians and Muslims. Ethnically it comprised of people from the Middle East, Europe, Africa, Central Asia, and in some cases, the Americas.

    Your examples of “how is Israel the nation-state of the Jewish people?” is more like a list of a dominant culture imposing itself. Not unlike how cultural exclusion in popular culture is a long running issue in the US.

  • Salkin has skipped over the point that establishing a national religion is also known as theocracy.

  • Prior to Israels creation by agreement of the Western powers, this was the homeland of the Palestinians. Jewish settlers displaced the Arabs, took their land, their government, and exiled them. Where did the Western powers or the Jews get the right to displace the Arabs and settle on their land.

    Should the descendants of any ethnic group be given, on demand, territory inhabited by others for their exclusive use? In spite of the collusion by Western powers, it is the Jews who took away the nation state of the Palestinians. They have no moral right to that land.

  • Even if it did, that would not justify the occupation of Israel by the Jewish People.

  • How can this be applied to Israel, since that state, although eventually allowed membership, has since refused to comply with UN Resolutions? It ignores international law. It discriminates against non-Jewish citizens and treats Palestinians as the Germans treated them. Nelson Mandela upon visiting said that conditions for non-Jews was worse than those for Africans during South African apartheid.

  • “Where did the Western powers or the Jews get the right to displace the Arabs and settle on their land.”

    The Sykes Picot Treaty of 1918 which gave them control of the territory after the breakup of the Ottoman Empire which had controlled all lands in the Middle East, west of Iran and east of Egypt. The same treaty which drew up the arbitrary borders of the Arab states causing trouble for the next century thereafter for everyone living there.

    We are about 70 years too late to be debating the existence of the state of Israel. It exists by both political fiat of the United Nations and force of arms from 1947 to 1973. No debate is going to roll that one back.

    That being said, the real question is what do we do now?

    The best answer I can think of is a 3 state solution. Remove the settlements on the West Bank and let the Palestinian Authority declare independence. Gaza is already a de facto state (hostile to the Palestinian Authority). The only reason they don’t declare independence is because Hamas’s foreign backers won’t like it.

  • Susan,
    Very interesting comment in two regards:
    1) I read an article recently that talked about tribalism; and that all people at their most basic level need to belong to a tribe. It may be based upon faith, language, race, etc. The article said that the largest “tribe” that is stable is a country. The United States is unique in the fact that our form of government is what bonds us more so than any other factor. And yet, it seems that we are becoming more tribalistic each day.
    2) I agree that what is on the inside matters more. But even on these pages it is very easy to show one’s true inside as we constantly divide into sides and attack one another depending on the subject matter.

  • There ain’t a thing wrong with a theocracy under international law.

    Most Islamic countries are theocracies, and Russia is close.

  • Bzzzt! Try again.

    “Criteria for the definition of ‘people having the right of self-determination’ was proposed during 2010 Kosovo case decision of the International Court of Justice: 1. traditions and culture 2. ethnicity 3. historical ties and heritage 4. language 5. religion 6. sense of identity or kinship 7. the will to constitute a people 8. common suffering.”

  • Once you live in Israel, have a vote, and your existence depends on a good choice, you can give us your best answer.

  • “Criteria for the definition of ‘people having the right of self-determination’ was proposed during 2010 Kosovo case decision of the International Court of Justice: 1. traditions and culture 2. ethnicity 3. historical ties and heritage 4. language 5. religion 6. sense of identity or kinship 7. the will to constitute a people 8. common suffering.”

  • Actually, if the Bible did justify it that would settle the issue. My point is that the Bible does not justify it. God’s will be done, not mine or yours. It’s just a small patch of dirt just like any other.

  • It might settle it for those with the Christian Judaeo faith. For others you would need other reasons.

  • Yes I agree. We are social animals and need to feel as though we belong somewhere, to a family, or gang, or church, or social movement. We also have a strong need to feel that we matter, that we are important, here for a purpose. You can combine the two needs and come up with people really doing great and good things or you can come up with people that do terrible things. Both doing what they do to fulfill the same needs!

  • If the French can do it, and the Jews in Israel can do it, why can’t America return to being White, Christian state? White Christians can use the law to ensure that they will always be the majority population by a significant margin. Of course, such a guarantee involves legal favoritism for White Christians. We can offer White Christians from other nations almost guaranteed citizenship. We can take additional legal measures to control the percentage of the population who are not White Christians. We can guarantee that the leaders of our nation and most of its legislators are White Christians.

    In addition, we can spend more per capita on education, housing, and infrastructure that serves White Christians than on what serves those who aren’t. We can more easily segregate White Christians from others in housing and education. We can discriminate against those who are not White Christians in terms of military service and thus discriminate against non White Christians in terms of government benefits that follow that service.

    We can allow White Christians to take the land and houses of those who aren’t White Christians when it comes to where White Christians want to live and we can arrange the utilities, such as water and electricity to benefit White Christians over those who aren’t White Christians for no reason or for when there are shortages

    And with the persecution that Christians, especially White Christians, are receiving throughout the world and with the demographic changes both in race and religion which are occuring in Europe, White Christians need a refuge in the world to continue their identity and legacy. And if we do that now, we can prevent any possible holocaust of our own people

    We can do all ot that in America where White Christians have found their own promised land, so why shouldn’t we? We should not because IT IS IMMORAL AND WRONG!. And yet, some White Christians are promoting such a cause today. What do we think ‘MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN’ means to some of those who support Trump?

    What Salkin misses with his analogy to France being predominantly for the French is that today’s Israel started with European emigration including from France. The reasons for the emigration were certainly legitimate. The European Christian anti-Semitism with all of its atrocities, even before the Holocaust, was very brutal and thus justified the emigration. Then, when we add the Holocaust, matters became worse and the legitimate need for refuge elsewhere even more urgent than it was before. Here we could say that the legitimate need for Jewish emigration to a place of refuge was born out of the same nation-state efforts that Israel is now taking for itself. And so Jews rightfully emigrated both morally speaking and, pre-emptively, in accordance with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. But to exclusively take control of a then foreign land where there were not only indigenous Jews but other indigenous groups as well, is as wrong as making America a White Christian nation either with the founding of our nation or now.

    Suppose, in the name of Make America Great Again, we Americans take measures to make America into a White Christian nation again, what could go wrong? The answer to that question is found in our past. And Israel becoming a nation-state points to the need for Israel to seriously consider that answer. Then again, Israel could just look at their own past to see what they might end up doing to others in the name of nation-state

  • Beauty, “nation-state” identity, the clothes you wear or don’t wear, the church you attend are all only skin deep, it is what is inside, the health and well being of your soul, your spirit, who you are as a human being that matters.

    Being Jewish is part of my being and my soul. It is not superficial or trivial. That doesn’t mean I hate people of other religions. I also meditate with Buddhists. Part of that Jewish identity is a longing for Zion. It’s in every prayer book, even the most liberal it is there and it is said weekly for daily depending how often you pray.

  • There is no such thing as a Christian Judeo faith. There isn’t anything such as Judeo-Christian faith either.

  • The Arab countries didn’t comply with UN resolutions either. Israel certainly does not treat Palestinians the way Germans treated them. That trivializes the Holocaust and is tantamount to Holocaust denial. If Israelis treated the Palestinians the way Germans treated them, there wouldn’t be any Palestinians alive by now, but the Palestinian population grows every year. Israeli Arabs vote and can be Knesset members. They can attend universities. You can’t even tell the difference between a Jew and a Palestinian just by looking if they are both wearing Western clothes. A member of a prominent Palestinian family was murdered by terrorists while he was jogging by Palestinian terrorists who thought he was Jewish.

  • I’m sorry, I meant to say the latter, Judeo-Christian faith. I thought this meant those with faith in the pre-Christian scriptures and also those who also accept the New Testement. I have heard this term used by Christian Nationalists. Since I am not a Christian Nationalist and am a non-believer in religion, I could be wrong. Is there another term I could use instead?

  • I am not a Holocaust Denier. My father-in-law escaped, his mother was gassed. I would not trivialize this evil event. My concern is that it was based on the de-humanization of the Jewish People. There is this slogan “Never Again”. And yet the Israelis are de-humanizing the Arabian people and discriminating against those who don’t qualify as Jewish.

  • It doesn’t matter. I was trying to say that there really isn’t a Judeo-Christian tradition. I’ve never heard anyone talking about the Judeo-Christian tradition quote Midrash or Talmud. Judeo-Christian is really just Christian.

  • Whether you mean to or not, you are trivializing the Holocaust. I never said that Israel was perfect, but Nazi comparisons are not criticism. it is demonization.

  • I am nor trivializing the Holocaust. That was one of the worst evils ever perpetuated on humans. I would have expected a humane society that had endured this would have realized why Nazi Ideology caused the Germans to do this. That they would be determined to prevent such an evil ideology arising in their own society.

    In the 1970’s in Washington D.C, my wife and I were members of a collective. We met a group of Israeli exiles in their twenties. They had been raised in a kibbutz, and left because, due to their humanistic training in their youth, they could not tolerate the de-humanization of the Arab population even by members of their own kibbutz.

    They formed a collective Jewish Restaurant in D.C. and when we occasionally worked with them, they taught us how to make kosher falafels under the watchful eyes of a Rabbi.

    Your correct, Israel is not perfect. Neither is this country or the Sunni Gulf States that are allied with Israel in a religious war against Shiites. De-humanizations of the “others”, which is a prelude to Fascism is rising here and in Europe, as it has in Israel.

    Here are some sources that explain part of why I consider Israel, not the Jewish People, a threat to humanity:

  • “Calling Israel racist because it exists primarily for Jews is like calling a home for battered women sexist because it was set up for women.” Giles Fraser

  • Yes, that’s why we need nation states.

    This is what happened to Jews who returned to Poland after the Holocaust:

    The Kielce Pogrom was an outbreak of violence toward the Jewish community centre’s gathering of refugees in the city of Kielce, Poland on 4 July 1946 by Polish soldiers, police officers, and civilians[1] during which 42 Jews were killed and more than 40 were wounded.[1][2] Polish courts later sentenced nine of the attackers to death in connection with the crimes.[1] Some sources claim the massacre was instigated by the Soviet-backed Communist security corps, for propaganda purposes, attempting to discredit Poland’s anti-Communist stance and to maintain totalitarian control over the country. As the top-secret case files were destroyed, the academic inquiry is ongoing with regard to possible secret coordination with the NKVD by the Moscow-Communist-controlled ‘Polish’ authorities.[2][3]

    As the deadliest pogrom against Polish Jews after the Second World War, the incident was a significant point in the post-war history of Jews in Poland. It took place only a year after the end of the Second World War and the Holocaust, shocking Jews in Poland, Poles, and the international community. It has been recognized as a catalyst for the flight from Poland of most remaining Polish Jews who had survived the Holocaust.[4]

  • Susan,
    I used the word ‘ethnocracy.’ And your analogy doesn fit at all. Rather it shows your penchant for mnanipulation. IF you note in my own comment,, I compared Israel with another country that would do something similar, not a person.

    Your penchant for manipulation is why I really don’t like discussions with you.

  • Dehumanization is not in our DNA. It is a characteristic of most religions and fascist politics. These ideologies tend to divide people into “us and them”. In these cultures people are indoctrinated with it. I don’t consider any people perfect, but all are capable of empathy and compassion. It takes indoctrination, oppression or fear, to overcome these humanistic characteristics.

    That the Jews deserved to take the territory of Palestine without at least compensated agreement by the Arab inhabitants is wrong.That they were there in the distant past is not a valid reason. That right has not been extended to other ethnic cultures from whom past invasion has taken their former lands. If this were made a general right. it would be necessary for many people to be to be expelled from their homes to accommodate those whose ancestors lived there in the past. The fact that this right has been given to the Jews by their interpretation of their Gods desire, is only meaningful to those who believe in their God and most Evangelical Christians. The Native Americans of both continents have equal claims for both reasons. The same is true of the Native Australians, many Europeans, and most Africans.

    Just like many American White Supremacists are racist because they consider themselves superior to other people, many Zionist Jews are racist for the same reason. Evangelicals, Zionists, radical Muslims and Hindu Nationalists also consciously divide humans into “us and them”.

  • Does this justify killing and incarcerating Palestinians including women and children? Do you think the descendants of those Poles are punished by the horrid incarceration of Palestinians in Gaza?
    We are all responsible for what was done to the Jews in Europe. This and other Western Countries should have come to their aid. This does not justify having the Palestinians pay for it.

  • That solution gives in to imperialism and religious oppression. That may be a settlement for immediate peace. I doubt that it will be permanent because it will perpetuate hate. If and when those who have been unjustly harmed gain the power, I would predict more conflict.

  • You asked for the authority, that’s where it came from. 100 years of mayhem ensued from there.

    The chances of the Israel/Palestinian conflict ending are pretty high. With the Arab world more concerned with fighting each other, they lost interest in blood money and weapons to Fatah and Hamas. Israel has no existential threats. The fight is pretty much leaving both parties there.

  • The Palestinian conflict may come to an unjust conclusion. Israel will continue to claim existential threats. It will most likely concentrate on the Israeli, Sunni, and U.S. conspiracy against the Shiites.

  • Israel isn’t going away. So any resolution involves a 2-3 State situation. There is no reason why the Palestinians can’t claim the West Bank and Gaza as states of their own. The settlements need to go. If the West Bank doesn’t want to be a landlocked version of North Korea, they need to play nice with Israel and Jordan.

    You realize the Palestinian leadership is split on Suuni/Shia lines right?

  • Yes. There is a split between the Sunni’s and Shiite’s in Palestine.
    The government of Netanyahu needs to maintain the appearance of existential threats. Like all totalitarians he must maintain the danger and fear of the “others”. He has been in Europe to try to convince nations to support sanctions on Iran. He also wants them to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Like Trump and Putin he is trying to end European integration by supporting right wing governments and political parties. He has aligned himself with the neo-fascist governments of Poland and Hungary in spite of their massacre of Jews and a denial of that history. Peace with Palestine will not bring peace to Israel.

  • Your support for Israel, whic is a Jewish Supremacist Apartheid State exposes you as a racist Zionist extremist.
    Israeli Law Declares the Country the ‘Nation-State of the Jewish People’
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel has long demanded that the Palestinians acknowledge his country’s existence as the “nation-state of the Jewish people.” On Thursday, his governing coalition stopped waiting around and pushed through a law that made it a fact. In an incendiary move hailed as historic by Mr. Netanyahu’s right-wing coalition but denounced by centrists and leftists as racist and anti-democratic, Israel’s Parliament enacted a law that enshrines the right of national self-determination as “unique to the Jewish people” — not all citizens. The legislation, a “basic law” — giving it the weight of a constitutional amendment — omits any mention of democracy or the principle of equality.

  • It is possible to oppose this law and to be a Zionist. Claiming all Zionists ae racist is to declare the vast majorirty of Jews who are Zionists are racists.

  • No, I never said it did. That has nothing to do with supporting a Jewish state. Jewish state. It does follow that a Jewish state has to include any of those thing you mention. Would you call Hadassah racist? They have emergency rooms where even suicide terrorists who fail are given the best care possible, where a Palestinian boy from East Jerusalem is given therapy and instruction in Sign Languaage and Lip Reading, whre Arab doctors treat Jews and Jewsih doctors treat Arabs. Are the Israeli members of Women Wage Peace, an organization of Jewish & Palestinian women promote peace racists? I don’t think so. Yet, they are all Zionists.

    No one has yet given me an answer to the question where Jews should have gone instead.

  • It existed before Fascism. It existed before written languages. It existed before people understood they could create fire for themselves. It may not be DNA, but it goes back to the very beginning of human culture.

  • Thank you for proving my point on the issue. It was a bonehead piece of legislation

    But then again, being a neo nazi, you support repressive segregated states. So really you are congratulating them for stooping to your level. How droll.

  • Netanyahu is not a totalitarian. He is a democratically elected leader holding on to a thin coalition government in a country known for rather high turnover rates for leaders.

    As for the rest, no dispute or argument there.

  • Yes evolutionary distrust and fear of strangers was helpful for individual or group survival. Humans are capable of great evil as we saw in Europe in the 30’s early 40’s. Nature is amoral and DNA is only concerned about survival. We have attempted to build larger groups even civilizations by developing moral values. Many, but not all cultures, have developed the consciousness of respect, empathy and compassion toward all humans. I know Jewish friends that have such values. What happened to Israeli society?

    Netanyahu has been in Europe creating relationships with right wing fascist party’s and governments. He even helped the Polish and Hungarian governments excuse there treatment of Jews in and after WWII.

  • You completely ignored my examples of Zionists who want to live in peace with Palestinians and would never dehumanize anyone. You ignore the best of Israeli society and you want to know what happened to Israeli society. I could give you endless examples of similar organizations and individuals. You ignore the good in Israeli society. You are not helping the Palestinians. You are just making Israeli society worse. Israeli society won’t take seriusly criticism from people who don’t think israel should exiist and I dont’ either. You also ignore the justified fear in Israeli societty. It was the endless suicide bombing and terrorist attacksw that turned parts of Israeli society to the right. The left didn’t address the real concerns of israelis. Right now there are Drusze demonstrated against the nation-state law with large support from Israelis. They are there and they are a large community worldwide. Nenayahu is just a politician who wants to stay in power. You only see the worst of Zionism and you will not see the good that exists, To give you an American example, what about JSreet? They are Zionists.

  • Susan,
    Again, you are manipulating. SInce most Jews are Zionists, you conclude what you did. A substantial number of Jews, depending on location, are not Zionists of the kind running Israel. In addition, you forget the main issue: a state that revolves asround and gives preference to a particular ethnic group. It matters not the race, psoes human rights problems not just for itself, but fo those around the world who, live3 in states that imitate that first state.

    Quit the manipulation on readers and the demonizing of those who challenge the form of Zionism that runs Israel. For if America was to try to be a nation that revolved around Christianity again, it would be just as wrong as what Israel is doing. In fact, America once did that an it did that for centuries to varying degrees. Your current challenges to those who challenge the form of Zionism that runs Israel only show that you are qualified to have a successful career in marketing.

  • This is not just a personal quirk of mine. It is the opinion of people who are a great deal more knowledgeable than me. I not the kind of Zionist running Israel right now either. You should know that. That is precisely what I have been saying. There is a difference between criticizing Israel’s government and denying Israel’s right to exist.
    No it would not be remotely the same thing. Christianity is a religion, but Jews are a people and a nation as well as a religion. When you convert to Judaism, you become part of the Jewish people and the Jewish nation. You can be an atheist Jew. It is more like France being a French nation. I challenge the form of Zionism that runs Israel right now. You’re not reading my comments correctly. You’re not criticizing Israel’s current government, You’re criticizing all forms of Zionism.

  • Susan,
    I understand that you monopolize the art of manipulation and that you are not the only one who should be in marketing. But manipulation and marketing is the art of all who fall into the tribalism trap over Israel and Palestine regardless of which side they take.

    What is wrong with saying Israel should not exist as a Jewish state in a land where there were other ethnicities? THe implications of Israel being such a state include denying the equality of people from the other indigenous ethnicities. And it is an indicator, of ethnic cleansing.

    Should the Jews have a safe haven and can the land that we call Israel serve as that? Most certainly But there is a difference between having a safe haven and a state that revolves the rights, privileges, and pleasures of one ethnic group.

  • A safe haven has to be a state. You are living in a dream world if you think it doesn’t. A Jewish state can have equal rights for all it’s citizens. Do you think France or German shouldn’t exist? I’m not trying to be manipulative and I don’t know anything about marketing, but I guess I have been more effective than I thought.

  • You can see how parts of the far-right and far-left both think Israel and Zionists are evil.

  • But a safe haven doesn’t have to be a Jewish state. That is especially true when to get a Jewish state, you make enemies and you deny others their equality. And that is what Israel has done.

    Be real, Isreal has never given equal rights to all of its citizens. And the current move to make Israel a Jewish state makes matters worse. Why? Because no state that revolves around a specific ethnicity will ever offer equality for all of its citizens. Such would put at risk the majority status of the ethnic group that the state revolves around.

    And don’t forget, there have a variety of Zionists, not just the kind that run Israel. And though I agree that a majority of Jews are Zionists, the pecentage of those who hold to the same kind of Zion that runs Israel is uncelar.

  • Susan,
    No it doesn’t. And I don’t care if you don’t change. I just want you to be honest with others and yourself. In particular, you have a penchant for manipulation regarding your defense of Israel.

  • You are saying that Jews have a right to a state exclusive for themselves. You also seem to justify confiscating the lands and homes of those who previously lived there. How does this differ from Hitlers demand that Germany was for Aryans and they had the right to Lebensraum. Israel can exist, but it must treat all people equally. It should also compensate the Palestinians who it has oppressed for decades and give them equal status and rights. Palestinian refugees should be allowed to return with full citizenship. In this way you could eventually devise a way to tolerate each other and eventually to act humanely as Israelis.

    I believe your position is that those of the Jewish culture have a right to create a state controlled only by members of their culture. Is this a definition of Zionism? This would be a special right for the Jewish people. It would not be in any way practical for all ethnic groups to have this right. We have a white supremacist movement now in the United States that has a similar goal. Such a movement was also popular in this country in the late 20’s and 30’s. This was one cause of the refusal to immigrate Jews during the Nazi and Fascist era in Europe.

    If this exclusive non-tolerance of other humans as equals is a component of Zionism, then yes, I am against Zionism and I don’t think such a nation should exist.

  • Being Jewish is being part of an ethnic group, a people and religion. IF you convert you join all of these things. You can be a Jewish atheist.

  • I am being honest and I don’t manipulate. You never reply to my comments unless you think you can correct me.

  • Do you even know what Midrsah or Talmud is. Have you ever read a Midrash or a page of Talmud?

  • The Narutei Karta and some other Ultra-Orthodox Jews are anti-Zionist because they don’t think there should be a Jewish state until the Messiah comes. If you think that God is going to resetablish a Jewish state, then you must think it’s a good thing to happen. The vast majority of non Ultra-Orthodox Jews are Zionists. I’ve seen the polls. You’re also equating Zionist with agreeing with the current government of Israel, but that’s not Zionism.

  • You’re trying to remind me that there are variety of Zionists, not just the kind that run Israel? You haven’t been reading what I have been saying all along, because that’s just what I have been saying. Yes, I know Israel has never given equal rights to all it’s citiaens, but that is a correctable problem. Israel has been at war with Arabs since it’s creation. How soon after Pearl Harbour did we put Japanese Americans in prison camps. I’m just saying that I don’t think it’san inevitable result of a Jewish state.

  • I never said that Jews have a right to a state exclusive to themselves in the sense others don’t have ewual rights. Read what I just posted above.

    “I believe your position is that those of the Jewish culture have a right to create a state controlled only by members of their culture. Is this a definition of Zionism?”

    No it isn’t that at all. You haven’t read what I said. I have always supported equal rights for everyone. Right now Arabs vote and participate in the K”nesset. When the Jewish government voted on who should be considred a Jew there were Druze and Arab members who voted too. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. Just because I crtiticize the state of Israel does not mean that I equate it with Naziism the way you are doing. That doesn’t mean I don’t support equal rights for everyone. I’ve never said I didn’t. I admit that I don’t criticize Israel here very much, because I’m surrounded by people who don’t think it should exist or are equating Zionism with the worst of Zionism, not the best of Zionism like Hadassah. Go to JStreet’s web site. That’s exactly what I support.

  • Susan,
    How would you regard America if it defined itself as a white Christian nation? Could you have confidence that it would guarantee equal rights for all? If you could, history would debate you.

    Calling Israel an ethnocracy is a technical definition that is well-defined and pertains to the exclusive self identity of the Jewish people there and their dominant control over the government. THat is an objective assessment that cannot debated. To call such an assesment racist is to try to discredit that objective assessment. That is manipulation. Let alone, the person who made that call is Jewish and a citizen of Israel. So call him ‘self’-hating,’ the objective of such name calling is the same. It is to discredit an objective assessment of Israel rather than to challenge the assessment using facts and logic.

    Be honest all you want, you are honestly manipulating when you try to discredfit an objective assessment so people discard it. That is manipulation. And that isn’t the first time you have tried to manipulate things in discussions on Israel

  • Susan,
    The Ultra-Orthodox make up what percentage of Jews in the world?

    BTW, the current government of Israel is an expression of a kind of Zionism. I have been explicit in stating, both here and in other threads, that there are multiplle forms of Zionism. You speka as if Zionism is a monolith.

    BTW, today’s Zionist state cannot be equated with the OT state. Today’s Zionist state is the result of a secular European venture because of the brutal anti-Semitism that existed in Europe and that started well before Nazi Germany. The European Jews assessment of the brutal anti-Semitism was correct and their need for a homeland is valid. Their making that homeland into a Jewish state rather than a binational state to include the indigenous non-Jewish people living there at the time is the gross, but understandable, error made.

  • Susan,
    But you write as if Zionists are a monolith. And no, it isn’t a correctable problem. No state that defines itself by an ethnic or religious group, regardless of the ethnic or religious group, can correct the error of not providing equal rights to all. THe internment of the Japanese shows the problem. Inequality is inevitable when the gov’t guarantees that the vast majority of people in Israel will always be Jewish.

    Israel and the Palestinians as well as other Arabs have been at war with each other. In fact, before Israel became a nation, Israeli terrorists attacked the British. THe Israeli war with the Palestinians and Arabs has never been a one-sided affair.

  • You left out the half of the Jewish population of Israel who are refugees from Arab countries. There are an equal number of total Jewish refugees from Arab countries and Palestinian refugees from Israel.

    I never said I equated Israel to the Tanach, Hebrew Bible state. I don’t. My point was that’s what the groups like Naturei Karta think God will magically create a new Jewish kingdom and everything will be perfect. The Temple will be rebuilt and sacrifices will resume. I once said to a Hasidic Jew that I didn’t think sacrifices should be reestablished. He replied You will be so blissed out you’ll think everything is wonderful. Btw, Jews never call their Bible the “OT.” I always put “Old Testament” and “New Testament” in quotes.

    I don’t talk as if Zionism is monolith. I’ve made it clear, or at least I thought I did that there are multiple kinds of Zionism. You haven’t understood what I wrote, because I’ve never thought Zionism was a monolith. You’re the one who equated Zionism with Netanyahu’s government.

    I still think that a bi-national state would not have worked. That’s why a Jewish state was created.

  • Yes, I know. What does that have to do with Israel setting itself up as a theocracy where Jews receive favored treatment and everyone else is second-class?

  • The word ethnocracy is not in the dictionary. It is not a real word so it can’t be a technical term. I reject the idea that all Israeli citizens can’t have equal rights. When the K’nesset debated who is a Jew, there were Druze and Arabs in the K’nesset who voted. They changed the outcome of the debate.

  • I think he would like to be, but Israeli governments are nearly always fragile coalitions. There are laws that prevent him becoming a totalitarian.

  • I never said Zionists were a monolith. I’ve spent a lot of time trying to show otherwise. I pointed out examples such as Hadassah and even B’tselem which is a Zionist organization, but when I do no one responds.

  • No I haven’t read them. I have heard that they are Jewish Scriptures. How is that relevant?

  • Thank you for the reference to J Street. I am much closer to their philosophy than that of AIPAC. Both there policy and seemingly yours is to support a two state solution using the Green Line as a source of determining a just division of the land. I applaud their intention to struggle against the rise of the fascism of the present government of Israel. Their support of democratic principles and human rights is commendable even for Palestinians in the new Israel. However, they don’t seem to advocate for equal rights for Palestinians that don’t end up in the new Israel.

    I think that justice could only be served by creating a single state of Israel that guaranteed the return of exiled Palestinians. (The same right that the Jews demand for themselves). This new Israel should create a constitution or other social contract that guaranteed human rights for everyone. It would need to be a secular nation that guaranteed freedom of conscious for all. This need not prevent the Jewish people from considering it their shared home.

    I understand that the Palestinians are considering such a solution. I would support them on this.

  • Susan,
    Again there is your manipulation. I haven’t forgotten anyone.

    As for whether you equated modern Israel with the OT Israel, this is what you wrote:

    If you think that God is going to resetablish a Jewish state, then you must think it’s a good thing to happen.

    I don’t think God is going re-establish a Jewish state. But note the conclusion you force on me though I disagree with the premise.

    You wrote that I am equating Zionism with the current government. Nothing could be further from the truth. For I wrote:

    A substantial number of Jews, depending on location, are not Zionists of the kind running Israel.

    The bi-national state was never given a chance and both sides are to blame for that. And unless Jewish people are morally superior to all other ethnic groups, then a nation that consists of a Jewish ethnocracy will never achieve equality for all of it non-Jewish citizens. Such equality is still not Isreael’s current direction and it is 70 years old.

    Explicitly stated in my statement is that there are multiple forms of Zionism. In addition, I have written elsewhere that there are multiple forms of Zionism. Misrepresenting people can be made from a simple mistake or from trying to manipulate.

    And yes, there are times when you do talk as if Zionism is a monolith. Note the following comment of yours to Bob Harrison when he distinguished between considering Israel to be a threat from saying that Jewish people are a threat::

    Since most Jews are Zionists, you are calling Jews a threat to humanity.

  • Susan,
    The word ‘ethnocracy’ is not in the dictionary? How much research did you put into searching for this word?

    Ethnocracy is not a real word and thus can be a technical term? That assumes that technical terms are instantly added to the dictionary. BTW, if ethnocracy is not a real word, what is the Haaretz article below referring to?

    Or I will quote Jeff Halper from ICAHD who defined the term on page 74 of his book An Israeli In Palestine

    An ethnocracy is the opposite of a democracy, although it might incorporate some elements of democracy such as universal citizenship and elections. It arises when one particular group–the Jews in Israel, the Russians in Russia (and, more evidently, in the former Soviet Union), the Protestants in pre-1972 Northern Ireland, the whites in apartheid South Africa, Shi’ite Muslims of Iran, the Malay in Malaysia and, if they had their way, the white Christian fundamentalists in the US–seizes control of the government and armed forces in order to enforce a regime of exclusive privilege over other groups in what is in fact a multi-ethnic or multi-religious society. Ethnocracy, or ethno-nationalism, privileges ethnos over demos whereby one’s ethnic affiliation, be it defined by race, descent, religion, language, or national origin, takes precedence over citizenship in determining to whom a country actually “belongs.” Israel is referred toexplicitly by its political leaders as a “Jewish democracy.”

    Should I mention other reference that seem to be able to recognize this “non-existent” term.

    Again, trying manipulate only here it is by neglecting research that is readily available to you. And you can reject the idea of non-Jews not being able to achieve equality in Israel you want. That rejection does not fit the facts on the ground.

  • Susan,
    Again, that is how you have written, that Zionists are a monolith. True or false, not all Zionists defined themselves by the presence of a Jewish nation?

    And, btw, your mentioning of Hadassah comes later on in talking with Bob Harrison and this is the first reference in the discussion I see you made to B’Tselem. And one must look at Hadassah as a whole to determine what form of Zionism they follow.

  • The attacks that cause fear are at least partially due to Israeli oppression of Palestinians. We also lost the World Trade center and thousands of lives here in the U.S. partially due to the same reasons.

  • The US and many other states have committed evil deeds. You are using “what about arguments”. None of these arguments of others evil deeds justifies Israel.

  • OK, I did look up the word on two sites, but I was on lunch break and didn’t have time to check moe places. I should have waited to do some more checking to post this. It was not an attempt to manipulate. I don’t think I’ve posted anything manipulative here. We just disagree.

  • They’re Jewish texts, not Jewish scriptures. You don’t “read” them. The Talmud is massive. That is a very Christian way of looking at it You study them and discus and argue about them, usually with a partner. My rabbi says that if you are reading the Hebrew Bible by yourself you should be arguing with yourself. It is relevant because it shows your ignorance of Judaism and Jewish history. Yet, you comment on both from a “Christian” viewpoint of Judaism. A good start might be to read Back to the Sources: Reading the Jewish Classic Texts, edited by Barry Holtz which will explain what these classic Jewish texts are and how to read them.

  • Susan,
    I understand not being able to find the word right away. That is not the problem. The problem is the haste in which you came to a conclusin

  • It takes more than laws to prevent totalitarian fascism. The Weimar Republic had such laws. So did the Russian Federation until Putin’s recent takeover. Poland and Hungary have already fallen. They, and the fascist and Nazi political parties in Europe are encouraged by, Netanyahu, Trump, and Putin. Countries which are actually controlled by business oligarchs can become fascist when they have a leader that at least 40% of the population willingly follow. Fascism can protect the wealthy from the poor.

  • Wherever they went it should have been with the agreement of those already living there. Land should not have been expropriated, but acquired with agreed compensation. I realize that the British imperialists “gave Palestinian land to the Jews”. They had no right to do that and the Jews had no right to accept that. The most just solution would have been that the Allied Forces should have required that Germany finance the purchase of a Jewish homeland and furnish funds for transportation.