Battered By Boycotts

It’s increasingly difficult to escape
the Israel debate here. When buying hummus becomes a political act.

10/13/10
Associate Editor
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Back in May, when my 7-year-old daughter suggested we host an Israel-themed birthday party, my immediate reaction was, “Fabulous!”

We were walking home from ballet class, where she’d received an invitation to a friend’s Greek Gods and Goddesses party, and she was eager to top that with her own theme. Since I’d been teaching her a little Hebrew and taking her on occasional shopping trips to Kew Gardens Hills’ “Little Jerusalem,” Israel seemed like a natural and easy choice. Having lived in Israel for a year and a half and having recently refreshed my Hebrew in an ulpan, I actually know quite a bit about the state. And Ellie, who is usually the only Jewish kid in her class at public school, feels an affinity for this mythical faraway land (she’s not yet visited) in which Jews are the majority.

My second reaction, sparked no doubt by our passing a Palestinian-American neighbor (with whom I carefully avoid discussing politics) and her children on the sidewalk, was: uh oh.

And sure enough, despite our upbeat invitation promising to teach both the Arabic and Hebrew words for “peace,” despite my carefully worded note to parents explaining that the party would not be political or a propaganda stunt (all crafted amid great feelings of ambivalence in which I indignantly wondered if it was really necessary to apologize for having an Israel party), our August event was boycotted.

OK, boycott is way too strong a word. There were no demonstrations outside our home, no flyers distributed, no effort to publicly shame us for celebrating the Jewish state.

Nonetheless, after some e-mail back-and-forth on the topic (knowing his politics, I’d sent him a heads up before the invitation went out), one neighbor, a professor of Arabic, concluded he could not send his daughter “to a party that implicitly celebrates the Israel that I know.”

Another couple in the nabe (their daughter is one of a handful of Jewish kids in Ellie’s public school, but they display a borderless Arabic map of “Palestine” in their apartment hallway) also avoided the party; although they gave no explanation, I suspected it had to do with the Israel theme.

While Israel has long been a hot-button issue, at least since the first Lebanon war, lately, it seems like it has gotten worse. Outside the boundaries of suburban shtetls, most synagogues and pro-Israel advocacy groups, it’s becoming increasingly difficult even to mention Israel in mixed company without alienating somebody or setting off a heated debate.

I’m not talking about the hotbed of college campuses, where Israel’s ambassador to the U.S. is shouted down, Israel Apartheid Week is becoming an annual fixture and faculty members attempt to block exchanges with Israel’s (infamously left-leaning) academics. Even in my college days, at early ‘90s Oberlin, anti-Zionist speakers were a frequent event and Yom Ha’Atzmaut parties routinely protested.

No, I’m talking about the streets of New York City, where, as efforts to boycott the products of Israel (and the settlements) intensify, a simple trip to a dance performance in Chelsea (Batsheva Dance Troupe), a café in Soho (Aroma), a Ricky’s cosmetics shop in Brooklyn (Ahava skin products) — or, in my case, to a 7-year-old’s birthday party in Queens — can quickly turn into a political act.

There seem to be an endless variety of competing Israel-related boycotts and counter-boycotts (known as “buycotts,” they’ve actually helped boost sales of boycott targets like Ahava) out there. Some, like the international Boycott Divestment Sanctions (BDS) movement target everything in any way connected to the Israel Defense Forces (in short, almost everything Israeli), while others focus on the settlements (www.gushshalom.org). Not to mention the ever-growing array of efforts to promote purchases, investments or loans (www.lendforpeace.org) that benefit everything from the entire Israeli economy (buycottisrael.ca) to Fair Trade Palestinian-made olive oil (www.canaanfairtrade.com) to organic, sustainably-raised honey, fruits and spices produced by Jews and Bedouins in the Negev (www.negevnectars.com).

With the panoply of choices, being a “responsible” consumer starts to feel almost as stressful as being an IDF soldier manning a roadblock. Or, depending on your perspective, as harrowing as being a Palestinian waiting in line all day to go through that same roadblock.

The recent movement by Israeli performers to boycott the new arts complex in the settlement of Ariel (one many American performers signed on to), an act that is different from, yet reminiscent of, decisions by international performers like Elvis Costello and Meg Ryan to avoid gigs even within pre-‘67 Israel borders, adds to the dizzying tapestry of boycotts. Even right-wingers have gotten in on the boycott act, with Im Tirtzu, a group that has lashed out at the New Israel Fund, pressing for a boycott of Ben Gurion University over alleged “anti-Zionist bias” among some faculty.

Of course with so many different campaigns out there and only so many people who care deeply about these issues, let alone have any disposable income, it’s questionable whether the power of the purse, diffuse as it is, is even worth considering.

Overshadowing all these boycotts are the ghosts of boycotts past — the Arab Boycott of Israel, the divestment campaign against apartheid South Africa, Nazi boycotts of Jewish businesses, the Montgomery bus boycott of the civil rights movement, and so on. While historians have roundly condemned some of these boycotts, like the Nazi one of course, and celebrated others, the very word “boycott” carries an El Al jumbo jet-sized cargo load of emotional baggage both for the boycotter and the boycotted.

For those of us caught in the middle, albeit closer to the Israel Right or Wrong side than the Throw All Jews to the Sea side, this boycott landscape is particularly messy and stomach-ache inducing.

If you’re convinced that Israel’s only shortcoming is its unsuccessful public relations, then you can demonize all boycotters and devote yourself to buying out Ricky’s inventory of Ahava products (which are manufactured on a kibbutz that is in the West Bank, yet near the Green Line and on previously uninhabited land).

And if you think the world would be a better place if Israel declared an end to the Jewish state project and handed over the keys to those advocating a “binational” state, then it’s fairly easy to avoid a problematic birthday party and keep your refrigerator free of Sabra hummus (owned by Strauss, which supports Friends of the IDF and, according to the pro-Palestinian Adalah-NY website, has the gall to produce “traditional Arab salads”).

But for those of us who love Israel yet also worry that right-wing intransigence, settlement building and problematic treatment of Palestinians are major (albeit hardly the only) obstacles to peace, it’s hard to know exactly where to stand.

Not to mention that it’s exhausting and frustrating to feel like one has to take a stand every time one sees a blue-and-white flag, let alone goes to the grocery store. It’s dispiriting and depressing to feel as if one can never just relax and celebrate the many positive aspects of Israeli culture, without being constantly reminded of the suffering Palestinians (or, for that matter, the suffering of Gilad Shalit or the embattled residents of Sderot).

After all, we don’t think about Abu Ghraib or My Lai or tortured terror suspects, or even the countless ethically questionable things the CIA has done over the decades every time we look at an American flag or hear the national anthem or celebrate the Fourth of July. Nor are we accosted by Free Tibet activists or reminders of Tiananmen Square every time we go to a Chinese restaurant or, more frequently, buy a Made in China product.

But turning the tables, would I feel comfortable sending my daughter to a Palestine-themed birthday party? I’m not sure.

The BDS movement (with which Adalah-NY is aligned), with its singling out Israel among all the nations of the world — not to mention a confrontational approach that demonizes Israelis and puts them on the defensive — deeply disturbs me.

On the other hand, the very real power and economic inequalities between Palestinians and Israelis are hard to ignore.

Plus, if Israel misses the window of opportunity for a two-state solution, its citizens risk not just the oft-repeated choice between a state that is Jewish and non-democratic versus democratic and not Jewish, but, if Hamas prevails, could one day find themselves living in a nightmarish, but hardly impossible, scenario: a state that is neither Jewish nor democratic.

So what’s a progressive Zionist to do? Should we, as Leonard Fein suggested recently in the Forward, support the Ariel boycott, while opposing BDS? Does the answer lie with the weakened and disgraced (thanks to recent revelations that it lied about receiving funds from George Soros) J Street, which opposes BDS tactics yet lobbies U.S. politicians to intensify pressure on Israel? Should we follow the lead of the New Israel Fund (full disclosure: I am a former employee and a longtime donor), whose executive director recently wrote in its newsletter: “In the end, we believe that ‘Israel Right or Wrong’ and ‘Israel Is Always Wrong’ are both wrong. There is a third way, and that is to work for an Israel that is right”?

And for those of us with young kids, how do we explain the situation in an age-appropriate way, so that they’ll bond with Israel but not see it through Magen David-shaped, blue-and-white-colored glasses?

Which is to say, let’s return to the subject of my daughter’s birthday party.

Despite the “boycott,” about eight children showed up (we would have had more had it not been summer vacation). Dafna Israel-Kotok, the Israeli musician I’d hired to teach songs and folk dances (“No pioneer-settling-the-land ones, no Hatikvah,” I’d clarified ahead of time. “Make sure they’re all nonpolitical and pro-peace!”), turned out to be a big hit. We ate hummus, borekas, Israeli puddings and chocolate spread. We decorated nameplates I’d made spelling out each child’s name in Hebrew letters. We assiduously avoided Musical Chairs, with its echoes of fights over land. I gave out goodie bags filled with mini-Israeli flags, Israeli candy, colorful children’s alef-bets and the Arabic abjad.

All in all, a great party. But next year, I think maybe we’ll hire a clown or a magician.

Email: julie.inthemix@gmail.com

Last Update:

05/13/2013 - 14:50

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The Palestinian Arabs are the occupiers of Jewish land Tell the World they are delusional in thinking that Arabs belong in Israel - There will never be an Arab/Palestinian State together or adjacent to Eretz Israel. There has never been such a nation as the Palestinian/Arab People. The Arab/Moslem Koran specifically states in The Qur'an 17:104 - states the land belongs to the Jewish people If the historic documents, comments written by eyewitnesses and declarations by the most authoritative Arab scholars are still not enough, let us quote the most important source for Muslim Arabs: "And thereafter we [Allah] said to the Children of Israel: 'Dwell securely in the Promised Land. And when the last warning will come to pass, we will gather you together in a mingled crowd'.". Any sincere Muslim must recognize the Land they call "Palestine" as the Jewish Homeland, according to the book considered by Muslims to be the most sacred word and Allah's ultimate revelation. Any building of housing in The Greater Israel is the right and duty of the Israeli government. There is no such a thing as occupied territory. It is the land of Israel for over 4,000 years. Sequence of historical events, agreements and a non-broken series of treaties and resolutions, as laid out by the San Remo Resolution, the League of Nations and the United Nations, gives the Jewish People title to the city of Jerusalem and the rest of Israel. Let the Arab nation take the Palestinian Arabs and settle the in the Million plus Jewish home that they evicted from their countries and allow the Jewish nation to live in peace. A true peace in the Middle East will be an economic phenomenon that the world has never seen. But this can only be accomplished when there is a real peace. The Arabs must stop preaching and teaching hate. Any liberal Israeli that is delusional about Arab intention and wants to give any land in Israel to the Arabs should live Israel; he does not belong in Israel. YJ Draiman, Northridge, CA
to Christopher Stone: "If she had invited me to a party celebrating the US I suspect my response would have been the same." says a lot with so few words... not that you will get the deep meaning. "I could go on and on", but not once do you mention the aggressive wars seeking to destroy Israel or the ongoing terrorism directed at military targets and civilians alike. Do you support these genocidal attacks or are you just unaware? Can you at least acknowledge that there will be no peace until the palestinians give up their dream of destroying Israel and the Israelis. Now, here was an instance when a CHILD asked for a specific themed party, and big man that you are, you insert your political issues into the birthday party and keep your child away from her friend's party. Thanks, daddy, for teaching your daughter how to demonize neighbors over (your perception of) history and politics.
Having an Israeli themed birthday party in itself is a political message that you are supporting the state of Israel and thus everything it stands for. What did you think was going to happen? That people who strongly believe that Israel is a military state would jump for joy at the opportunity to send their children to your brainwashing party? It seems like you are part of the "rebrand" Israel campaign to make its atrocities seem like gifts of cookies and cake. Ridiculous. Having an Israeli themed party you should have used barbed wire to separate several sections of the party space: those that are White Jews, those that are non-White Jews, those that are Arabs with second class citizenship, and those who are Palestinian and live in settlements. The White Jews get to eat cake, soda, cookies and get party favors (a tank shaped cake and party favors in the shapes of bombs and bullets). The non-White Jews get to eat some snacks but not the cake. The Arab citizens get the leftover soggy crackers. The Palestinians get to be the pinata and can't move as the rest of the party beat the living daylights out of them.
I am the Arabic professor that Julie Wiener mentions in her article. I disagree with her about much, but admire her courage for addressing her ambivalence about her relationship to Israel publicly. I also disagree when she says that, "After all, we don’t think about Abu Ghraib or My Lai or tortured terror suspects, or even the countless ethically questionable things the CIA has done over the decades every time we look at an American flag or hear the national anthem or celebrate the Fourth of July." I do actually think about these things - all the time. If she had invited me to a party celebrating the US I suspect my response would have been the same. This is not ONLY because of the odious behavior of the US and Israeli governments, but also because of the destruction wrought in the name of nationalism in general. As most New Yorkers know, Jackson Heights Queens is a dizzyingly diverse neighborhood. My daughter has been invited to birthday parties by kids whose parents are originally from every corner of the globe. I don't remember a single party -- aside from the one discussed in this article -- having a nationalistic theme. I am a devout atheist but would have been much more comfortable sending my daughter to a Judaism-themed party. You can't -- as others here have pointed out -- have a non-political celebration of a nation. Here is my full email to Julie Wiener: Thanks so much for this very thoughtful invitation and email. It's funny, apart from this issue, we feel that we probably have more in common with you and your family than we do with most of the people in the neighborhood. Before this email I could only guess your politics toward Israel. As you know, there are many Jewish Americans on the left who support Israel in a way that is not consistent with their views on other issues. The New Israel Fund looks like a good organization. I think the Israeli Labor Party of the past was admirable too. Not so sure about its current incarnation. I agree that for certain people Israel must be a wonderful country. For many who live there, however, I do not think that that is currently the case. The 20% of 48 Israel's population that is Palestinian, for example, is discriminated against in all kinds of direct (pay equal taxes without getting equal services) and indirect (don't serve in the army so do not have access to benefits that those in the army get) ways. Then there are the non-western Jews in Israel. I read Haaretz English regularly and see reports about Ethiopian Jews not being allowed into this school or that neighborhood. Then there is the population of Palestinians in East Jerusalem, the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and the Golan Heights. You do not include these in your 20% but under international law they are the responsibility of the occupying power. Here is a news item, for example, about an East Jerusalem Palestinian being convicted of rape because, though the sex was consensual, he told his partner that he was Jewish: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/jul/21/arab-guilty-rape-consensual-sex-jew This is insane Julie. This is something right out of Apartheid South Africa or pre-civil rights US south. And those who live outside of East Jerusalem in the West Bank have been completely dehumanized. Look, for example, at this video of Palestinians trying to get though the checkpoint at Qalendia to pray at al-Aqsa mosque, just a few miles from where they are being humiliated: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BdjSb8UW_Ns I could go on and on talking about the separation barrier which is stealing Palestinian land and resources, the illegal settlements making the prospects for a 2-state solution virtually impossible, the few hundred settlers in Hebron keeping a once vibrant Palestinian city hostage, etc. After thinking more about it I do not think I can send my daughter to a party that implicitly celebrates the Israel that I know. What I would be very enthusiastic about doing is having a dialogue. We could keep it small or invite other people from the neighborhood as well. We could rotate readings that support one side or the other and get together to discuss them. Is this something that you might be interested in pursuing? Thanks again for the invitation Julie. The last thing I want is our decision not to have our daughter attend close off communication between us, so please know that this decision was not made lightly.

You know what's insane? Your ability to focus only on those 'news' items that support your narrative, while avoiding or missing completely any possible explanation that might contradict your narrative. And you raise your daughter to think in the same biased way. You call yourself an academic? Shame on you. Isolating the Jews, blaming Israel for all wrong, and doing your part to undermine and destroy the very existence of the besieged jewish state. You are a disgrace. You are what's wrong in this world. And though you think you are operating from a superior moral plane, you're actually down in the same dirt as the rest of the human race, polarized, bigoted, and driven to punish someone for all the wrongs in the world, instead of contributing to improving it. SHAME ON YOU! Any dialog with you would go nowhere, as you have clearly arrived at the end of the road of thought and have only your feelings to guide you. Pitiful. But hey, I guess the Islamists will treat you right, right? Or are you the professor stabbed in the neck in Egypt by a Muslim Brotherhood goon for the crime of being an American?

I found this desperate justification of something clearly illegal funny ....'manufactured.... in the West Bank,...near the Green Line and on previously uninhabited land" haha. Israel can do no wrong. even when they have a build outside their border its 'near the green line' 'its on uninhabited land' insane. I can picture a german housewife going on about none of the kids want to come to my nazi themed birthday party. people are starting to say mean things about germans! the horror. there was a country and a people living where israel is today...reconize that. reconize that israel has done nothing to make ammends for the crimes its committed in the past 60 years. nothing. you should be ashamed to fly an israeli flag.
I don't know if there's a long lag between when posts show up or whether it was "screened out" but in replying to Esther who said, "Israeli soldiers don't routinely go into Palestinians' homes in the middle of the night and pull children out of their beds...", I included links to the stories of 10 year old Amir al-Mohtaseb of Hebron (who had to be hospitalized and was left mute for several days due to the brutal treatment he received while in Israeli custody) and the 8 year old son of Mofeed Mansour of Silwan. Both of these boys were seized from their homes in the middle of the night by Israeli soldiers. While these stories due to seem uncommon they are in fact routine when it comes to children 12 and up. B'Tselem has sent numerous letters to authorities in silwan reminding them of the standards set by the international human rights of the child - the right to have a guardian present during questioning being one of these. These children are just two of the reasons why it's becoming so hard to escape the boycot.
Coming to New York soon? . . . Right now there are high-profile advertisements on Chicago's public transportation -- including large platform signs -- for the campaign "Be on our side. End U.S. military aid to Israel." The campaign website: www.TwoPeoplesOneFuture.org
Israel didn't take land from anyone. They were a nation legally established by the UN in 1948. Rome beat Israel in battle and changed its name to Palestine. Many Jews left after this, but many stayed. Jews have been in Israel and other areas of the Mideast for thousands of years. The Ottoman Empire took this area, then after WW1, lost this land to England, who divided Israel into two parts in the 1920s, one part of which became Arab, and is called Jordan, and the other that was supposed to be Jewish. England reneged on her promise to reestablish a Jewish nation until after WW2, when the UN established the nation of Israel, and Israel threw England out. This 2nd part of Israel was further divided between Arabs and Jews. The Jewish part was again Israel, and the Arab part went to Jordan, a nation that is predominately Palestinian, but run by the Hasemite kingdom. The King eventually threw Arafat and many of the Palestinians out of Jordan, but gave the West Bank, which it lost in war to Israel, to the Palestinians. The Palestinians then had to negotiate peace with Israel to attain it. The Palestinians also wanted East Jerusalem that had belonged to Jordan and that also was won by Israel in the same war that the Arabs had started, but lost. This is another negotiable item. If Israel had someone to negotiate with.
These comments are just another example of the outrageous lies against Israel spewed by the anti-semitic Islamofacist Arab terror apologists. THERE HAS NEVER BEEN A PALESTINIAN COUNTRY, PEOPLE, LANGUAGE OR SOCIETY! The so-called Palestinians are Arab occupiers who immigrated to Israel thousands of years after the first Jews walked in their Jewish homeland. JEWS ARE THE INDIGENOUS PEOPLE OF ISRAEL. ARABS ARE INDIGENOUS TO ARABIA! Ancient Israel was re-named Palestine thousands of years ago by the Romans and has no connection to the Arabs. Jews were the first to be called "Palestinians" because Jews have always lived in Israel/Palestine. Palestinians were created by the KGB and Arab countries to steal the Jewish homeland from the Jews. ARABS ARE THE SETTLERS AND OCCUPIERS! Julie is just another liberal appeasing idiot, who isn't even Jewish. She was raised Christian and married a Christian man. Then in her adulthood Julie figured out she would "become" a Jew because she had Jewish parent. Please go back to church with your gentile family and leave us alone!
Apparantly, some people beleive that Jews are not allowed to celebrate their culture or history until every Arab in the world is happy. Tell them that Israel may be the new South Africa, but Iraq will soon be the new Cambodia.
Ms. Weiner: Ala Pace Picante Sauce - New York City! Try coming to Texas. Here neighbors call after a terrorist attack in Israel to express their support. Israel is widely admired, sometimes loved. My kids wear Jewish and Israel themed t-shirts to middle- and high-school almost daily. A surprising number of non-Jews have visited the Jewish state. Certainly not as diverse as NY, hard to come by a good shwarma, but a pretty nice environment for someone who loves Israel.
Actually, most of the Arabs came after the Jews drained the swamps, built the first hospitals in the region, built industry, etc. Read Mark Twain's description of the Holy Land on his visit, and then tell me that about "Palestinian" rights. They loved the land so much that the few Arabs there destroyed it and created nothing but erosion!
I would also like to ask why none of these liberal Jews worry about the over 800,000 Jews that were kicked out of Arab countries from 1948-1978? They lost $170 billion in property, and over 100,000 square acres of land. Israel took them in. No one, not even our fellow Jews, seem to care about these refugees.
This reminds me of the story of the pig who came upon a canary crying bitterly. Why are you crying little canary? asked the pig. Because they said that have no voice for singing. Who said that? asked the pig. The canary answered, the frog said that. When will Jews stop feeling guilty for the lack of peace between Israel and the Palestinians living in the disputed territories and Gaza? On November 29th the world will observe the 63rd annual anniversary of 2 events (A) the passing of the U.N. General Assembly's 2 state plan - "United Nations Partition Plan for Palestine" and (B) the 1st of many utter rejections of peace with the State of Israel by the Palestinians. Israeli leaders have been pursuing peace with their Arab neighbors since the establishment of the State of Israeli (continuing the efforts of the pre-State Jewish leadership). All to no avail. Even in the last 10 years the Palestinian people's leadership have rejected peace 3 more times. It seems to me that Jews need to be standing tall, taking pride in their Israeli brothers many attempts to no avail, to settle the now 100 year war with the Palestinians - and in the Israeli's willingness to keep trying. It's the blue and white flag of Israel that is a symbol of peace. Let's pray that the green, black and red of Israel's neighbor's flag joins the blue and white in peace. Meanwhile wave the blue and white proudly and often. And if your kids' school situation is uncomfortable to you you might consider whether you live in the wrong neighborhood, or send your kids to the wrong school.
david not goliath keeps missing the point about double standards. how are jews treated in the middle east assuming they are actually allowed to stay wherever they are (versus being tossed out like a million of them in the 2nd half of the 20th century)? no matter how many glib" facts" he keeps conjuring, there is one that he keeps ignoring. the palestinians have been offered a state more than once and their answer is always rejection and violence. next.
The lesson I hope you earned is the foolishness of appeasement. These aren't simply good folks with a different viewpoint. They want to conquer our Homeland. That makes them our enemy like it or not. Take a moment and consider whether political identity is more important than nationhood at a time where the war against Israel is one of lies, propaganda and lawfare - rather one of armies. Stand firm and don't apologize. Ask yourself if a real friend would support the destruction of your people and Homeland. Remember there is a strong community behind you that will support you unconditionally - partucularly in New York City. Good luck!
"David not Goliath" does not know his history. Jews lived in Hebron for thousands of years. In 1929, under the direction of the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem (yes, the same one who allied with Hitler and led Muslims and Croats to slaughter hundreds of thousands of Jews), an Arab riot tortured and slaughtered the Jews of Hebron. Bakers had their heads cut off and stuffed in ovens. Jews who sold goods to Arabs on credit were sliced open, and the ious were burned inside their bodies while they were still alive. Males were castrated, females had their breasts cut off, and most had fingers, ears, and noses cut off, all before death. Your moniker and tone suggests you would rather be a victim, like the 6,000,000 in WWII, or like the 350,000 who died in the pogroms at the turn of the last century. Maybe you would rather have been one of the victims of the Grand Mufti. Not me. Incidentally, have you given the land you live on back to the Indians yet? I am publishing my real name, and business, because I am proud to stand up and be a Jew. You, on the other hand, still have the mindset of those who died in the Shtetl.
That is an utterly disgraceful comment. Jews died in the shtetl because they were ashamed to be Jews? The Black Hundreds and the Nazis were really trying to encourage Jewish pride? I cannot recall a more disgusting example of blaming the victims, and I cannot believe you are really a "proud Jew". You are ashamed of the Jewish victims of racism and genocide, yet presume to lecture others on how they should express their Jewish identity. Disgusting!
Well done and well said, and bravo to you for making your identity public. I can't belive all this garbage - I never participate in comment boards and internet articles of this tenor, and I'm going to end my foray into this one now - but this has been an eye-opener about the community that some modern, secular Jews live in. I'm so sorry for them, and doubly sorry for their children, who will likely grow up with very self-critical identities, a lack of self esteem, and certainly no love for their fellow Jews. And from now on I think I'll increase my donations to kiruv organizations that work with the marginally-affiliated; now I know what they're up against!
It is lucky that you found out about your daughters classmates under these circumstances. In the years before the Holocaust, many friends of Jewish children suddenly became unfriendly when anti-Jewish edicts were passed in Poland, Hungary, Ukraine, etc. I think that some of your neighbors may be even worse than these classic anti-semites because they hate what you stand for even in the absence of outside pressure. You should enroll your daughter in a Jewish school and let her classmates family fester in the swamp of anti-semitism. By the way, if your daughter went to public school in Dallas, Houston, Atlanta, Charlotte, Memphis, or other Southern cities, you wouldnt have this problem
Clearly, having a "bi-national," politically correct Israel-themed party was a reflection of the author's own ambivalence about Israel and, it i to be inferred, about her Jewish identity, an ambivalence she admits does not exist in her attachment to the U.S. I am sick of Jews who can't say: "Israel, right or wrong." It doesn't have to mean that, as in our own country (and in our own families), there isn't room for improvement. But it means we have an indelible bond with the land of our people -- that we don't merely offer occasional and conditional approval based on what we last read in the New York Times.
How can I answer anonymous when you're all called that? :-} Anyway, nobody ever said Jews can't live in Hebron. They just can't be part of a colonial takeover/destruction of Palestine. Or throw garbage down on their Palestinian neighbors - go there and take a look at the gratings erected over the street to prevent that. Suppression? Farmers can't get to their land for 6 months, then have to go with armed guards, then find their trees poisoned or uprooted. They can't get a permit to fix or expand their house. You can't observe the Nakba. A Palestinian in Israel who marries someone from the West Bank can't bring their spouse to Israel. I could go on. I met a Jew who lost his house in Hebron in '48, because he was also a Palestinian. Yes Jews have been there all along. So have Palestinians, Arabs, Muslims. They're being evicted, demolished, checkpointed, surrounded, etc. None of this needs quotes. Time to get along with one's neighbors, not take their stuff.
"After all, we don’t think about Abu Ghraib or My Lai or tortured terror suspects, or even the countless ethically questionable things the CIA has done over the decades every time we look at an American flag or hear the national anthem or celebrate the Fourth of July." Some of us do think about US imperialism whenever we see the flag! Until the US stops their wars of aggression and supporting countries that displace people, to me the flag stands for cruel brutality.
I just can't believe the tone of these comments. Israeli soldiers don't routinely go into Palestinians' homes in the middle of the night and pull children out of their beds, then - when those children's parents engage in nonviolent protest - put them before military tribunals. Is this what most people really think happens in Israel? Then no wonder they hate Israel so much. If you know any Israelis, please speak to them about their experiences in the IDF. I don't mean to say that every Israeli soldier is a tzaddik all the time, but the characterization I reproduced above (from a comment on this article) is inaccurate in the extreme. If you really do want to know about Israel, then you can also start reading Israeli newspaper websites - including left-leaning ones. Try www.haaretz.com, www.maariv.com, and www.jerusalempost.com. Also www.worldjewishnews.com. Finally, I do expect that people who engage in such vociferous political dialogue at least make a good-faith effort to know what they're talking about. That doesn't seem to be the case here at all!
Esther, I am curious if you have read Nora Barrows-Friedman's piece entitled: "Amir, ten years old, abducted by Israeli soldiers from his bed." -- http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article11120.shtml. This boy had to be hospitalized and was mute for several days after coming home as a result of the brutality he experienced. In cases in Silwan of minors being seized B'Tselem has said, in urgent letters to authorities,"If any child from the neighborhood is suspected of having committed a criminal offense, he can be summoned for questioning in the presence of an adult on his behalf. Also, the questioning must be conducted by youth interrogators." This has happened to minors as young as 12 but this ten year old and more recently an 8 year old have been seized in these middle of the night raids. The 8 year old Silwan child who taken by force from his parent's home is the son of Mofeed Mansour, if you would like to research the matter. There is not a lot of news about this incident from mid October so I include it as a story that would need further research. http://desertpeace.wordpress.com/2010/10/12/israeli-terror-continues-to-target-children-in-east-jerusalem/ Don't you agree, Esther, that ALL children deserve the protection afforded them under the international rights of the child, all children, including supposedly stone throwing Palestianian children? I say supposedly because some of these kids say they weren't throwing stones and have no idea why they are suddently targeted. How many Israeli soldiers are killed by stone throwing children each year in Israel? Zero. Do abductions of aged 12 and under children from their parents' homes seem appropriate and proportionate to you? Did you do any research on these children to determine if there stories could be true, before you instructing everyone: "There's nothing to see here, they don't exist!" But they do exist. Don't you care at all about that? And I say "under twelve" not because 13 year olds are any less worthy of protection but because it's long been the tradition there to treat those 13 years olds as adults, while for under 12s, previously, there were some small protections that have apparently now been lost. On the deepest level the question becomes do you care at all about the plight of children unrelated to you and yours.
Jordan=Palestine. The majority of residents of Jordan are Palestinians. The King of Jordan is not a Palestinian.
No, but his wife is "Palestinian" and he recently has been supporting the Arabs in their efforts to demolish Israel. From a historical standpoint, the lands some people are calling "occupied" were taken over by Jordanian troops, led by a British officer John Glubb who was knighted for his efforts at killing Jews living in Judea, Samaria and especially Jerusalem. His forces also created latrines against the Western Wall, demolished Jewish schools and synagogues, as well as used the gravestones from the Mount of Olibes for paving roads. He is honored in Britain for his work against Jews.
Ms. Weiner- send your kids to a Jewish Day School- where all Jewish children belong , if you care about Jewish continuity. Guarantee you- you will not every have a problem of an Israeli themed party.
Dear Julie Wiener, You got one important fact quite wrong. You state that: "...decisions by international performers like Elton John...to avoid gigs even within pre-‘67 Israel borders, adds to the dizzying tapestry of boycotts." ACTUALLY, Elton was one of the artists who refused to cancel his Tel Aviv show! Here's a clip from an article: Elton John Slams Boycotting Artists at Israel Concert http://brucesmideastsoundbites.blogspot.com/2010/06/elton-john-takes-tel-aviv_20.html [T]he British icon performed in Tel Aviv, despite pressure from pro-Palestinian activists and fellow artists to boycott Israel following the flotilla debacle off the coast of Gaza. "Shalom, we are very happy to be here. Ain't gonna stop me [from] coming here, baby!" John said. The piano man then took a swipe at those artists, including Elvis Costello, Santana, the Pixies and Devendra Banhart, who have bailed on concerts in recent weeks. "Musicians spread love and peace, and bring people together. That's what we do," he said. "We don't cherry-pick our conscience." [That was a swipe at] Costello [who] specifically called his decision to cancel a show a "matter of instinct and conscience." As for the concert, the Jerusalem Post said John "turned into a human jukebox for two-and-a-half hours," mixing old and new favorites spanning his four decade career. Songs played included 'Levon,' Rocket Man' and more obscure hits like 'Mona Lisa and Mad Hatters' and 'Captain Fantastic.' An estimated 50,000 fans crammed into Ramat Gan stadium in Tel Aviv. [PopEater]

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