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NY Consul General tells Alice Walker when she may criticize Israel

American author Alice Walker (photo: codepinkhq/CC BY-SA 2.0)

Walker: Hello, I’d like to speak to Mr. Ido Aharoni, the Israeli Consul General in New York.

Aharoni: This is him.

Walker: Mr. Aharoni, I read your op-ed in the New York Post, and was wondering if you could help me out.

Aharoni: Yes, Ms. Walker.

Walker: I understand that according to your logic, I must first criticize countries with more harsh human rights violations before I criticize Israel. Is this true?

Aharoni: Yes, ma’am. You’ve said nothing about Syria or North Korea, ma’am.

Walker: May I ask which countries I must go through first?

Aharoni: Yes, ma’am. You can start with China.

Walker: OK. And then?

Aharoni: North Korea.

Walker: Yes.

Aharoni: Syria.

Walker: Yes.

Aharoni: Russia.

Walker: Yes.

Aharoni: Saudi Arabia.

Walker: Yes.

Aharoni: Afghanistan.

Walker: OK. And then I can criticize Israel?

Aharoni: No. Yemen.

Walker: OK.

Aharoni: Egypt.

Walker: Yes.

Aharoni: Sudan.

Walker: OK. Is this in order of severity?

Aharoni: No, but these are all before Israel.

Walker: OK. So, after all these I can?

Aharoni: No. Chad.

Walker: Yes.

Aharoni: Congo.

Walker: Yes.

Aharoni: Zimbabwe.

Walker: Yes.

Aharoni: Uganda.

Walker: Yes.

Aharoni: Sierra Leone.

Walker: Yes.

Aharoni: Are you writing all this down?

Walker: No, actually, I don’t think —

Aharoni: — you should! Otherwise you’re a hypocrite! An anti-Semite!

Walker: But —

Aharoni: — Cambodia.

Walker: —

Aharoni: Uzbekistan.

Walker: —

Aharoni: Hello? Ms. Walker? Vietnam.

Walker: —click

Aharoni: Libya! Bahrain! Ms. Walker? Are you there?

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      • directrob

        So people of which religions and with which ideas are less qualified to criticise Israel, do you have a list?

        Reply to Comment
    1. Khaled Khalid

      What Trespasser would say:
      Israel’s poop smells sweeter. And you’re an Anti-Semite if you say otherwise…. Hypocrite-Settlements-Price-Tag-Blood-Libel Holocaust holocaust holocaust, blah blah blah.

      Reply to Comment
    2. Jeremy

      Hey, if I have to go through that list first, then Alice Munro should have to as well… AND ANOTHER THING, CONGO… WHERE DO YOU GET OFF?!!

      Reply to Comment
    3. kate

      oh my Alice Walker had the audacity to ask Alicia Keys not to play Israel, the world might stop turning.
      However the the character assassination and back lash for daring to do such a thing should be a lesson for any one who gets uppity in the future, just think what would have happened if Keys had agreed with her.

      Reply to Comment
    4. Khaled Khalid

      More of Trespasser Bilge: And don’t think Israel Chief Ashkenazi Head Honcho Rabbi being investigated for Fraud and Money Laundering is a reason to criticize the Holiness of Israel.

      (The one good thing to come out of this Chief Rabbi rascal is that by investigating even Israeli big beards, Israel is behaving like a normal country with an independent Police and Judicial System.)

      Reply to Comment
    5. Emil

      This logic is known as building a straw man and knocking it down.

      In this case the author put words into the Israeli ambassador’s mouth to conter a particular type of criticism that defenders of Israel make.

      But in reality, the real Israeli ambassador would have responded differently. He would have said that not only Israel should be criticised. There is PLENTY of criticism that can be levelled against the Palestinians. To start off, there is Hamas. Walker could and should criticise Hamas. And there is plenty to criticise Fatah too. Yet the anti Zionists ONLY criticise Israel. Never Hamas or the PLO.
      That is what Zionists object to.

      Reply to Comment
      • This comment above is known as bullshit and hasbara.

        Emil claims I put words in Aharoni’s mouth. If Emil bothered to read the piece, he would have read this from Aharoni’s mouth: “Have you done anything about Syria? Ninety thousand dead, 1.5 million refugees. Full-blown civil war.”

        Emil, other commenters will tell you I have little or no patience for Hasbarists. I suggest you believe them.

        Reply to Comment
        • Nancy

          Funny word that word ‘Hasbarists’ it is derived from the word ‘Hasbarah’.
          It means explanation. Or to put it another way, it means looking at things in context and from more than one perspective.

          + 972 Magazine should try it too sometimes. Nothing wrong with complaining against what Israel does. But by the same token, there would be nothing wrong with + 972 complaining about what some Israeli Arabs do too. Or what Hamas does or what Fatah does.

          For instance, + 972 could report on this too:

          Arab Lynch Mob Attacks Jews in East Jerusalem

          Reply to Comment
          • As if there aren’t enough outlets already that don’t report those things. Gimme a break.

            And Hasbara does not mean what you said. It means to explain. But it’s basically propaganda.

            Reply to Comment
          • JohnW

            “As if there aren’t enough outlets already that don’t report those things. Gimme a break”

            Gimme a break too. Those other outlets also report things that Israel does wrong. Maybe not all the things that + 972 reports on but many such things. Yes, even the Jerusalem Post reports some negative things about Israel.

            Now show me just one article in + 972 magazine that is critical of Palestinians.

            If you can’t then I guess we might agree that + 972 Magazine is guilty of propaganda?

            Reply to Comment
          • Nope! We can’t! Because it isn’t.

            Reply to Comment
          • Benji


            “As opposed to impartially providing information, propaganda, in its most basic sense, presents information primarily to influence an audience. Propaganda often presents facts selectively (thus possibly lying by omission) to encourage a particular synthesis, or uses loaded messages to produce an emotional rather than rational response to the information presented. The desired result is a change of the attitude toward the subject in the target audience to further a political, religious or commercial agenda. Propaganda can be used as a form of ideological or commercial warfare.”

            This describes exactly what + 972 magazine does. Therefore what + 972 magazine does is exactly that: PROPAGANDA!

            Reply to Comment
          • When Alice Walker was active in the Civil Rights movement, defenders of segregation regularly pointed to incidences of black violence against white victims – thefts, killings, rapes – as a way to obfuscate the harm caused by segregation, to make out that it was somehow justified, or at the very least to claim that black people were equally at fault. This is exactly what happens when you demand that incidents of Palestinian violence be reported in exactly the same way as systematic, state-sponsored discrimination in which one community is privileged at the expense of another community. You can point to that attack in Jerusalem in the same way that segregation apologists pointed to black people who committed violent crimes, but this will not change the reality of institutionalised racism and discrimination – a reality that Walker happens to be very familiar with, and that she recognises in action here. This above all else seems to bother proponents of Israeli policy: when people who have been victims of similar regimes start calling out the similarities. A friend’s mother, who lived in South Africa for years and was a close relative of the pathologist at the Steve Biko trial, up to her eyes in the anti-apartheid movement, told me during a visit to me in Bethlehem, “I’ve seen this before.” I will never forget her voice and her expression, the tiredness in both. Walker has also seen it before, and the fact that she has the temerity to say it is what the Israeli ambassador is reacting against.

            The demand that criticism of such policies needs to be ‘balanced out’ by criticism of their victims (and actually, I can think of several 972 articles critical of the Palestinian leadership, which is pretty common in solidarity circles) is just another way of trying to make out that this is somehow a conflict between two equal parties, which it’s not.

            Reply to Comment
          • It’s like you live in my brain.

            Reply to Comment
          • Nancy

            “that this is somehow a conflict between two equal parties, which it’s not.”

            So you demand nothing less than full armament of Palestinians to the same level that Israel is armed, to make the two sides equal.

            Only then will you be prepared to condemn this?

            Arab Lynch Mob Attacks Jews in East Jerusalem


            In the meanwhile, the two 20 year old Israelis who were nearly lynched were not victims?

            Reply to Comment
          • Actually, I think she’s asking for both peoples to be equally free. But hey, why don’t you go the other way.

            Reply to Comment
          • Nancy

            Ok lets do it the other way then.

            Israel should unilaterally disarm and end the occupation and allow 5 million Palestinians to return to within the green line. That will make Israel and the Palestinians equals?

            will you then be prepared to condemn this?

            Arab Lynch Mob Attacks Jews in East Jerusalem


            In the meanwhile, the two 20 year old Israelis who were nearly lynched were not victims?

            By the way, in 1929, the Jews and Arabs were equals. Neither had a state. Yet 69 Jews of Hebron were lynched by Arabs. Are we at least allowed to condemn that?

            Reply to Comment
          • Who said I wasn’t prepared to condemn it? Did I write that anywhere? Do you think I condone violence, from any side? If you read a small number of my posts, I think you’d gather that quite quickly.

            But just to make you happy, here: I condemn that lynch. Now, will you condemn every act of violence by Jews/Israel towards Palestinians? Also, do you know how many Palestinians have been killed, injured, imprisoned compared to Jews in this conflict?

            God, I don’t know why I feed you Hasbara trolls. Same shit different day. Anything to keep millions of people under occupation. “Look what they did to us in Hebron!”


            Reply to Comment
          • Nancy

            Yes, I condemn atrocities by both sides.

            It is good to hear that you too are prepared to condemn atrocities by both sides. But I must say I never saw an article which you wrote specifically to condemn Arab atrocities against Jews. Perhaps you could present a link to one? I may have missed it.

            In answer to your question, many Palestinians were killed and imprisoned by Israel in this conflict. And yes, fewer Israelis were killed. But is that your criteria about who is more responsible for this conflict? And who should be singled out for blame? 100% singled out? Because thats what a boycott is. Singling out one side while letting the other side off the hook.

            As for calling me a hasbarah troll, you don’t consider that an ad hominem attack on me? I guess not.

            Reply to Comment
          • To see the mass armament of Palestinians would be an unusual aspiration for a pacifist, but yes, I suppose I should confess it is my secret dream to see Ramat Aviv under military occupation and thirteen-year-old kids too frightened to go to the grocery store to buy some ice cream because then they would have to pass the army watchtower, just as my landlady’s son is now. He’s had that fear ever since he was pounced on and stuffed into a jeep at the age of twelve. For doing nothing except being in the street. This is life for children in the West Bank, and it’s not just a series of horrific random incidents – violent, but sporadic. This treatment of them is actually embedded in the law – a law drawn up and implemented by the Israeli state. And that is the major difference between the incident you describe and the treatment I’m describing. If these were Palestinian soldiers doing this to Jewish children under occupation, and if it were a Palestinian checkpoint I had passed through on Monday with armed Palestinians humiliating and bullying a Jewish old man, I’d have no problem with BDS against the militarised and oppressive state of Palestine – even if two members of the powerful and privileged ruling Palestinian community had just been viciously attacked by Jews. Those young men were victims of violence, but it doesn’t change the fact that under this system their lives and suffering are worth more, simply because of their ethno-religious heritage. (Do you even know what your chances are of getting justice if you are a Palestinian assaulted or even murdered by Jewish civilians, compared by the likelihood of a prosecution if the situation is reversed?) It’s this system that BDS is challenging, because there cannot possibly be any peace while it exists – one people as a whole subjugated by another.

            If you don’t see this, return to my original example for a minute. During the Jim Crow era, there really were black people who committed violent crimes against white people. Would you have criticised the tactics of the Civil Rights activists for not drawing enough attention to this violence? Would you have told them about the need to focus on ‘both sides’, and responded to their boycott calls by requesting written proof that they had condemned black violence in the past?

            Reply to Comment
          • Of course it’s not an ad hominem attack on you, you moron! You’re anonymous when my whole bio is up on this page! Now get off my channel you freaking hasbara troll. I’ve seen hundreds of you racists, I recognize your venom a mile away.

            Reply to Comment
          • Namcy

            “Look what they did to us in Hebron!”


            No need to bring Jesus into this.

            I brought up the Hebron massacre only to counter Vicki’s assertion that the Israelis and Palestinians are not equals and therefore somehow attacks by “the victims” somehow can be ignored.

            I will explain again. In Hebron in 1929, 69 Jews were lynched by Arabs and at that stage, neither side had a state. So they were equals.

            What I am trying to say is that this conflict goes back a long time. And to suggest that the Palestinians are victims and the Israelis are victimizers, is just a bit simplistic.

            I would however say that both sides are BOTH victims and victimizers. Therefore neither side can act as holier than thou. Instead, both sides have to give up cherished demands in order to reach a peace deal and end the occupation.

            To expect only Israel to do so, will never happen. Not even if the whole world will boycott Israel.

            Reply to Comment
          • Joe

            In the disgusting massacre of 1929, some non-Jewish Hebronites saved their neighbours even whilst everyone else was in a murderous rage.

            After the Goldstein massacre of 1994, the Jews stood as Muslims were massacred and subsequently built a monument to the idiot.

            If you don’t want the other side to use violence, then embrace those who disagree with you non-violently. And stop using violence on them.

            Reply to Comment
          • Ilonj

            “If you don’t want the other side to use violence, then embrace those who disagree with you non-violently. And stop using violence on them”

            You mean become pacifists? Like the Palestinians who simce the 1929 Hebron massacre of 69 Jews did not lift a finger against Jews?

            Are you saying that since 1929, only Jews were violent bit the Palestinians were pacifists?

            Reply to Comment
          • Nancy,

            The points you are making about the 1929 massacre are illogical. Firstly, the fact that neither people had a state in 1929 doesn’t mean they were equal, not by a long chalk. As an essentially European movement, political Zionism drew heavily on the colonialist outlook that was the norm in Europe at the time, which had serious implications for the balance of power in the region. Secondly, even supposing the communities in Palestine (and there weren’t just two) had been on a perfectly equal footing in the 1920s, that wouldn’t automatically make them equal now in terms of either power or responsibility. Reading your comments, I get the sense that you don’t even know what Israeli state policy towards Palestinians has been in theory, let alone what it looks like in action. Comments such as ‘both sides are victims and victimisers’ brush all these things under the carpet – which of course makes it impossible to address them.

            This is not to say that Israelis haven’t suffered. I have in the past done some therapeutic work with ex-soldiers whose experiences in the Territories really hurt them. In a sense, yes, they were victims. I felt for them and I wish them nothing but the best. I would like the young people in Bethlehem to understand what happened to them, to have empathy. But making false equivalencies is no way to achieve this. It’s both untrue and unjust. There is no parity here. Suggesting that there is has no function except as an emotional anaesthetic for those Israelis who feel uncomfortable about looking closely at the consequences of their government policy. That they can choose to avoid looking in the first place is another sign of the fundamentally unequal nature of this conflict. A few days ago, in Tel Aviv, an acquaintance told me that she is ‘apolitical’ and ‘isn’t interested in any of it’. She has that luxury. In this neighbourhood no one has. It’s there as soon as you open the door. You’re involved whether you want to be or not, and no one checks whether you’re interested.

            Reply to Comment
          • Noevil9

            Nancy, I think your blindness is intentional and not genetically imposed. By you repeating the situation of one or more incidents ( which are also wrong)does not qualify the two parties ,Israelis and Palestinians as equals in this conflict. They are not equal in arms,nor are they equal in victim hood,nor responsibilities. You know, that would have been a very fair fight, as then it would demand a fair criticism ,if both were equally equipped with the same equal forces and munition. Then you can ask for both to be criticized each time one does not follow the role of engagement . Bullies have never gained any ones sympathy, and that is what you are asking for Israel. Instead of criticizing +972, you should be commending this group of- I assume – Jewish people whom have the integrity, honesty and honor to say things as they see them and to be blinded by their Zionism/ Jewishness, as much as you and loose their ethical humane values in covering up Israel crimes against the Palestinians and humanity. Racism have done enough damage to all of us already.
            Ms. Walker only reported on what she has witnessed,and what her ethics have mandated of her. The unfortunate thing that Israel and some Zionist defenders want to force silence on all of us to hide these crimes. Where does it say ,we all have to cover up for Israel and love all the Jewish people no matter what they do and hide?

            Reply to Comment
        • Emil

          Comment deleted

          Reply to Comment
          • Your comment was deleted because it had nothing to do with what I said. You will continue to be deleted if it happens again, and if you try another ad hominem.

            Reply to Comment
    6. Richard Witty

      Forms of anti-semitism.

      1. Hatred of Jews for the sin of being born to a Jewish family.

      2. Hatred of Jews for the sin of identifying as a Jew in the present, not as solely a human being, or not solely as a patriot of one’s geographic home.

      3. Hatred of Jews for the sin of seeking to continue the identity as a Jew into the future, for choosing a Jewish spouse, for raising one’s children as Jews, for asking that they do similar.

      4. Hatred of Jews for the sin of desiring to reside in Jewish community, rather than integrate into a host country.

      5. Hatred of those that reside in Jewish community for desiring to self-govern.

      By those criteria most liberal critics of Israel don’t hate Jews, and their criticism of Israeli policies and practices are conditional and morally based.

      By those same criteria, many radical critics of Israel, that have concluded that Zionism is racism, that Jews that continue to self-identify as Jews are reactionary, and that Jews that desire to self-govern in a Jewish majority state institutionalize racism, do engage in a form of anti-semitism.

      During the 70’s, most liberal Jewish whites, when confronted with the accusation that they were racist, sincerely declared “you are projecting”, until confronted with sincere inquiry about attitudes towards blacks that were not known, towards groups of blacks gathering.

      We had to admit that we had at least an internal conflict of attitudes, that we weren’t as sincere as we imagined.

      Is Alice Walker anti-semitic? God is the judge, not us.

      I saw a Jewish speaker argue last week that Israel doesn’t have a right to exist, that no ethnically defined state does ultimately, that no state in fact does.

      Was this Jewish speaker anti-semitic in choosing to only define Israel as having no right to exist, but not Palestine (a prospective ethnocracy), not Egypt, not Greece, not Iran, not Russia, not China, not Cambodia, not Vietnam, not Mongolia, not Spain, not France.


      The argument in fact is over criteria.

      What criteria does one use to evaluate anti-semitism?

      Prejudice against Jews by birth, or prejudice against those that associate as Jews, either religiously and/or politically?

      As distinct from accountability for actions.

      Reply to Comment
      • Ilonj

        “What criteria does one use to evaluate anti-semitism?

        Prejudice against Jews by birth, or prejudice against those that associate as Jews, either religiously and/or politically?

        As distinct from accountability for actions.”

        Very true. But here is another criteria:

        If one disapproves of certain actions for Jews ONLY and not when anyone else does the SAME thing/s, that betrays prejudice.

        There is only a fine line between prejudice and racism.

        Reply to Comment
        • Richard Witty

          Moral people first respond to what they have the opportunity to see. In the case of a democracy with a free press, that is a critical feature to good decision-making, that concerns and potential reasoning get presented from a wide range.

          External or self-censorship becomes a means to make the society less functional, rather than more.

          They then consider, what can I do. In the case of Israel, moral people in the US, Europe, Israel, conclude that they have the potential to effect some policy or behavior, in contrast to North Korea where they have none.

          Its not irrational, and not evil. The worst that it is is innaccurate, or partially accurate.

          In the case of BDS, BDS is only possible if one has regarded the target of boycott as permissable to isolate.

          In that sense, it is not non-violent, when considered as a movement. (As an individual decision that is individuals’ to make always.)

          Reply to Comment
    7. Joe

      This has got to be the dumbest argument going.

      Here in the UK we have many organisations which are critical about many aspects of British life. For example the prisons. Nobody dismisses them on the basis that there exist prisons elsewhere in the world that are worse or even that there have been occasions in history when they were worse.

      This might be true, but irrelevant. The issue is whether these prisons now are good enough. Same with Israel.

      Reply to Comment
    8. mike panzone

      i think the reason israel is criticized more so than those countries on the list mentioned above is because israel so loudly promotes itself as a democratic country. most of those who perceive it as a violator of civil rights are galled by the hypocrisy. the US was similarly criticized for its invasion of iran, and other invasions, which was unfitting for such a vocal sponsor of the rule of justice. so much more is expected from israel and the US than syria, egypt, etc. because these are two very blessed countries with strong democratic traditions. according to the bible, those who have been blessed with enlightenment will be judged more harshly than those who have no such enlightenment. “to whom much has been given, much is required” luke 12:48).

      another reason israel is criticized by many is because it is a country full of people who have experienced racism first hand. to see such a historically persecuted people turn around and do some of the very same things to others is sickening. it gives anti-semites the ammunition it needs to try and prove that jews are sub-human, as evidenced by their inability to empathize with the plight of the palestinians.

      Reply to Comment
    9. Alan

      Coming a little late to this thread, but Vicky’s point is so tendentious that I had to respond:
      “When Alice Walker was active in the Civil Rights movement, defenders of segregation regularly pointed to incidences of black violence against white victims – thefts, killings, rapes – as a way to obfuscate the harm caused by segregation, to make out that it was somehow justified, or at the very least to claim that black people were equally at fault.” First of all, the central argument of defenders of segregation was the superiority of the white race; they were trying to justify a way of life they believed was the natural order of things. The greatest phobia of the white South from the time of slavery to the Jim Crow era was miscegenation. White Southerners appealed to the deeply entrenched fear in the southern psyche of black men sleeping with white women to defend segregation. I doubt even you would argue that Israelis are overly concerned about Palestinian men sleeping with Jewish Israeli women. Sex has very little to do with dynamic of Israeli-Palestinian tensions, but it had everything to do with the history of race in America. Southerners did not “regularly point to incidences of violence against whites.” On the other hand, Israelis do have valid historical reasons for fearing Arab violence. Vicky, your knowledge of American history is clearly limited, and so you draw these analogies that are tendentious and vacuous.

      Reply to Comment
      • My knowledge of segregation and the Civil Rights movement is pretty reasonable. I didn’t say that black violence was the only or even primary justification for segregation policy. It was one of several things that segregation’s defenders invoked in response to the Civil Rights activists, but it was definitely there – you only have to look up some contemporary press coverage on the Black Panthers and other black power groups to see that.

        As for miscegenation, yes, that is a fear in Israel. It was the stated reason behind last year’s infamous Jerusalem lynch, in which a young man very nearly died. When the mob who attacked him stated that his only possible motivation for being in that area could have been to pick up Jewish girls, members of Lehava – an organisation that campaigns agaist ‘mixed’ relationships, to the point of naming and shaming ‘mixed’ couples – distributed posters threatening Palestinian men who date Jewish women with physical violence: “Dear Arab guy: We don’t want you to get hurt! Our daughters are valuable to us, and just as you would not want a Jew to date your sister we unwilling are also unwilling for an Arab to date a girl from among our people…If you are thinking of visiting Jerusalem malls or pedestrian areas with the intention of dating Jewish girls – this isn’t the place for you. You may walk around in your own village freely and find girlfriends there, not here! Last week an Arab who thought he might find Jewish girls got hurt. We don’t wish for you to get hurt, So respect our daughters’ honour, as we mind it dearly!” These posters were distributed openly, as a young man fought for his life in hospital, and there were plenty of people round here who saw no problem with their content.

        On a more official level, in 2009 the municipality of Petah Tikva announced that it was setting up a special service to reach out to Jewish women dating Arab men and support them to exit the relationship. (Interestingly, the municipality was not overly preoccupied with Jewish men dating Arab women.) There have also been vigilante groups patrolling certain neighbourhoods and beaches to ‘defend’ Jewish women from interested Arab men. The Yad b’Yad joint school in East Jerusalem (one of only a handful of schools in the country to be truly mixed, and to have a bilingual curriculum) faced protests at the gate when it opened, with local residents from Pat neighbourhood carrying signs warning against the dangers of intermarriage – never mind that at this stage the school was catering exclusively to primary-aged children, who weren’t displaying any lovestruck symptoms as yet. The list goes on. Do you need more examples? Institutionalised racial discrimination and segregation always has a sexual element to it, to a greater or lesser degree. It’s present here too.

        Reply to Comment
        • Typo. That should be south J’lem, not east.

          Reply to Comment
        • The Trespasser

          One more example – the honour killings of Arab women who would date Jewish men.

          Apparently, you don’t mind that Arabs are controlling their women – but Jews simply can’t have a right to do the same.

          Reply to Comment
          • Sam Ellis

            Are you actually here to fight for you’re right to ‘control your women’? That’s a desperate last resort there. Most Pals would be against inter-marriage, some wouldn’t, but how does that make active anti-miscegenation on the Jewish side right?

            Reply to Comment
          • JohnW

            “but how does that make active anti-miscegenation on the Jewish side right?”

            Wrong question.

            How is it right to pick only on one side when both sides are doing the same misdeed?

            Answer: It is called hypocrisy and bias. That’s what happens when someone has an agenda. Like + 972 Magazine.

            Conclusion: Thinking people see through the agenda. See it for what it is, see it as propaganda. Consequently, the message gets diluted, ignored and dismissed.

            ONLY the non thinking people get persuaded by it.

            The party that gets the wrong end of the criticism gets aggrieved by the bias and has an excuse to ignore the criticism.

            The party that gets exempted from criticism sees no reason to change for the better.

            Net result? Less likelihood of change for the better by either party.

            Reply to Comment
          • There is no municipality in Palestine that has established a special psychological service to ‘rescue’ women in relationships with Jewish men. There are no Palestinian organisations equivalent to Lehava. The term ‘demographic threat’ is used with all seriousness to refer to Palestinian babies, with social welfare organisations like Efrata set up to counter this threat by ‘bringing a Jewish baby to Israel’ (their own words – pregnant Arab citizens in need of help don’t qualify for services). When the Jerusalem lynch took place, the participants argued that the poor guy whom they nearly killed must have been out to get a Jewish girl precisely because they knew that this line would get them some sympathy. There is no equivalency. In every domestic violence refuge in the world, you can find women who have fled ‘honour violence’ at the hands of male partners or relatives who feel that ‘their’ women have disrespected or brought shame on them – the question is the degree to which such misogynistic oppression is facilitated by the state. Here one ‘side’ has been established as inferior and is treated as inferior by the other ‘side’, and no matter how you try to slice it, it’s not possible to cut round that.

            Reply to Comment
          • Benji

            Vicki said –
            “Here one ‘side’ has been established as inferior and is treated as inferior by the other ‘side”

            An utter misrepresentation.

            One side is represented as a security threat to the other side. And this is based on 100 years of violence between the two peoples.

            Whichever way you cut it, that is the reason why there is suspicion, hatred and distrust on BOTH sides not just on the Jewish side.

            But hey, please continue to justify the same misdeeds by one side while condemning the other. It won’t enhance your credibility.

            Reply to Comment
          • “One side is represented as a security threat to the other side.”

            I have described many incidents of out-and-out racism in my recent comments. I could give more. Do you honestly think that protesters carrying placards about intermarriage at a ‘mixed’ school have security as their chief worry? That security is the reason why there are only five integrated schools in all of Israel? Susan Nathan, a British olah who came from a committed Zionist family, opened a English textbook and found that “It was full of picture stories about Jewish kids with names like Gideon, Avner, Daphna, and Anat wanting to be astronauts, actors, and firemen. The book contained a single story of an Arab life: two boys named Mahmoud and Yousef asking their uncle, Sheikh Salem, how to be a good camel-driver.” Do you not see inferiority in that portrayal? It goes on and on. The lack of compulsory Arabic teaching in Israeli schools, for example – it’s the language of just over 20% of the population and an supposedly official language of the state, and apparently there is no special need for any Israeli Jew to speak it. What message does that send to Palestinian children of Israeli citizenship?

            In my experience, people who talk about ‘both sides’ and who want to try and paint the conflict as like a particularly bloody game of sheshbesh between equals usually have a strong interest in keeping their vision of Israel intact. If maintaining ‘credibility’ in the eyes of such people means prioritising their emotional comfort over the realities of life as experienced by people such as the terminally ill Bedouin children (citizens) who were recently turned away from a swimming pool simply for being Bedouin, then I neither need or want to be awarded any credibility by them.

            I have more sympathy with Israelis who make your argument than I do with internationals, as they’re in a hard position, and often they are honestly afraid. I have seen people stumble across things that make them uncomfortable and feel antagonised or trapped by the knowledge, and end up having to choose between shoving the info out of sight or trying to make sense of it, with all the extra problems that this brings. It’s not fun to watch, so I imagine it’s considerably less fun to experience. But no matter how sincere and deep-rooted the fear, it doesn’t change the situation as it stands. It is important to be empathetic and sensitive to people’s concerns while still being resolute and very clear in pointing out the nature of what is happening.

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          • JohnW

            “I have described many incidents of out-and-out racism in my recent comments”

            What you have done is selectively picked on what one side does while wilfully ignoring what the other side does/did.

            I too could do the same the other way around if you want me to. But I agree with Ilonj and others that it’s no use doing that. It is unproductive, it will not lead to solutions and it would be just plain bias. The kind of bias that you are displaying. Excusing one side while blaming theother side for everything that has gone wrong.

            The truth is, that the Palestinians can be attributed plenty of blame too.

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          • JohnW

            On second thought, I will bring up two cases of clear discriminatory practices by Palestinians/Muslims:

            1. Muslim women are not permitted to marry non Muslim men. But there is no such prohibition on Muslim men who may marry non Muslims.

            2. The PA enacted laws which mandate the death penalty against any Palestinian who sells land to Jews. Some such death penalties in fact have been carried out.

            This is not a point scoring exercise. It is to counteract your contention that the Palestinians are blameless, whiter than white shining examples of tolerance while Israelis are not.

            Like a number of us say. No one is blameless. Both need to get rid of baggage, get over old hatreds and find solutions. The onus to do so is on BOTH. Not just on Israel.

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          • The Trespasser

            “Israel” and “Palestine” are mutually exclusive toponyms.

            There can be no “Israeli Palestinians” or “Palestinian Israelis”

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      • Carl

        Miscegenation as a demographic threat to a group? I think you’d have to go no further than something as bland as The Forward to find that the view of intermarriage being a threat to ‘the Jewish people’ is a fairly mainstream view amongst both the religious and secular.

        Given, if you want the racial superiority angle, you’d be best sticking with sections of the orthodox community: Rabbi Ovadia Yosef can oblige you.

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        • mplo


          I take issue with the notion that American Jews, whether they’re religious or secular, as a whole feel threatened by and fear intermarriage. That is not altogether true, because roughly 50% of the Jewish population here in the United States marry non-Jews. Having been raised up in a very secular Jewish family myself, I say this out of awareness.

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    10. Alan

      “My knowledge of segregation and the Civil Rights movement is pretty reasonable.”

      Vicky, your knowledge of the Civil Rights movement and segregation is abysmal if you say “that you only have to look up some contemporary press coverage on the Black Panthers and other black power groups to see that.” The Black Panthers had nothing to do with the movement to end Jim Crow and segregation in the South. The Black Panthers never crossed the Mason Dixon line. Their activities were concentrated mainly in Oakland, California and Chicago, and they didn’t become active until after 1964, when Jim Crow officially ended.

      The Civil Rights movement in America– a movement in which Jews played a prominent role– has virtually nothing in common with the Israel-Palestinian conflict. But ideologues like you usually can’t be bothered by facts, most especially the fact that Martin Luther King was a strong supporter of Israel.

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      • I know when the Black Panthers were founded, and why, just as you know full well that integration and the conclusion of black liberation activism were not magically achieved with the official ending of Jim Crow. I also know that segregation’s supporters pointed to the Panthers as proof of why integration was a mistake, arguments that had previously been advanced over the politics of Malcolm X and other black liberation activists. Arguments about black violence are still being made by white people who state a preference for separate communities today, and who coach their kids to stay away from black neighbourhoods. We can trace this theme back.

        I don’t doubt that Martin Luther King probably was a Christian Zionist, given his general theology (although the infamous quotation attributed to him to prove it is fabricated). But that doesn’t negate one scrap of the point I’m making. He was assassinated in ’68 and he never saw what we’re seeing today, and there is no reason to suppose that his knowledge of the Nakba was any greater than the average person’s in the street. I make my comparison based on concrete events and policies, such as the ones I outlined in my comment above.

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        • Alan

          The central problem with drawing an analogy between the Palestinians’ struggles and the American Civil Rights movement is that you equate the moral authority of the American Civil Rights movement with the plight of the Palestinians. I can see why such a false moral equivalency would appeal to you: in all your posts, you create a narrative in which the Palestinians are completely blameless and innocent. African Americans truly were blameless in the system of segregation that had been created to keep them repressed. The Palestinians are not blameless innocents. By saying this, I don’t excuse for a moment the abuses of the Israeli government, but the situations are in no way comparable, unless one wants to point out that Palestinians probably could have achieved far more if they had adopted the non-violent tactics of the American Civil Rights leaders. The Civil Rights movement was successful because of authentic moral heroes such as Martin Luther King and Medgar Evers, who were committed to co-existence with their oppressors. There are no such moral heroes in the Palestinian struggle against Israel. The plight of the Palestinians would have turned out very differently if there a Palestinian Martin Luther King who was committed to non-violent change and to co-existing with Israel.

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          • Joe

            Look pal: the civil rights movement won in the USA because it was ‘right’ that nobody should be judged on the colour of their skin, not because anyone involved was ‘blameless’.

            Support for Palestinians is based on a moral position, not that anyone is ‘blameless’, because this is a ridiculous thing to expect from anyone.

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          • The Trespasser

            Comparison of (Palestinian) Arabs to US Blacks lacks moral basis.

            Blacks never segregated themselves from Whites, while Arabs had invented a very well functioning institute of segregation, starting with dhimma and ending with honour killings of Arab females who would dare to meet males of wrong origin.

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          • Joe

            Irrelevant. How do you know that there were not racial or religious groups within South Africa that practiced some kind of ‘segregation’ as you describe it?

            The question is and was never that Black and Colored South Africans deserved full rights because they were culturally pure, but because they are human beings.

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          • The Trespasser

            Dude, we were discussing US Blacks, not SA Blacks, unless you had noticed.

            Try and read other’s comments twice and more before posting nonsense.

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          • I’m making these comparisons solely on the basis of the laws and policies that have been implemented by the Israeli state since its birth. There is nothing that can justify the Admissions Committee Law, applicable to the two areas of the country with a very high Arab population, and which enable Jewish communities to reject potential Arab residents. There was never anything that could excuse the twenty-two years of martial law to which Palestinian citizens of Israel were subjected after 1948, while their Jewish fellow citizens enjoyed full civil rights under a different law. When I look at state policies, both current and historic, deliberately engineered segregation and structural inequality emerge as a clear feature. In a strategy inspired by the Civil Rights movement, the Mahameed family asked their Jewish friend Uri Davis to pose as the buyer for their home in Katzir when the cooperative explicitly refused to sell to Arabs. When the deception was uncovered, these Israeli citizens were evicted and had to fight for their right to live where they chose in the Supreme Court. In light of this and other incidents like it, it always strikes me as more than a little ironic when Palestinians are cross-questioned over their willingness to coexist with Israelis, and not the other way round.

            With your statement that ‘there are no such moral heroes in the Palestinian struggle against Israel’, you deny the existence of people like the Gaza doctor Izzeldin Abuelaish, who responded to the army murder of his daughters by setting up a girls’ educational foundation in their name that benefits Israeli Jewish girls as well as Palestinians. Then he wrote about his experience, calling the book, ‘I Shall Not Hate’. Some near neighbours of mine have a similar belief painted on a rock outside the entrance to their farm, ‘We Refuse to Be Enemies’. The Nassar family members are constantly harassed by the army and are fighting a protracted court battle to stop their land being taken. They aren’t allowed to build any new structures. Cultivating the land is an act of resistance now, as that’s banned too. Their water supply is continually disrupted. The army raids the farm in the night to intimidate the family. They’re struggling just to keep their livelihood. Yet during one raid, Daher Nasser told the soldiers to leave the guns outside and come in for tea. They have created a space on the farm when anyone is welcomed. Settlers have been in there. And yet you want to say that there are no ‘moral heroes’ in Palestine, either because you don’t hear about them or because you don’t appreciate the courage it takes to act like this – or both. Non-violent resistance is punished by the army, so it takes a lot of chutzpah for you or me to tell any of these people that they should embrace total pacifism when we aren’t the ones facing its risks. This is a place where all demonstrations are automatically banned by law – and as the IDF gets to define what a demonstration is, it’s only too easy to be arrested. The treatment of prisoners is not renowned for being humane. Pretty much anyone in this neighbourhood would be able to give you the story of someone who has suffered badly because of non-violent resistance, and they might well ask you whether it was all for nothing, when they can see few discernible results and people such as yourself aren’t even aware of the existence of these men and women – never mind the circumstances that gave rise to their activism. They exist, but we have no right to take what they do for granted.

            When I comment here, I draw heavily on this pool of day-to-day experience, as well as the history. It’s not a question of trying to ‘create a narrative’ of some kind of blameless innocence, it’s about pointing to people and stories who are either unheard of or ignored; and emphasising that no matter what criticisms anyone might have of the Palestinian political scene, the prevailing dynamic here is one of state-sponsored segregation/apartheid. This absolutely must be addressed. BDS is a tool for doing so, and a non-violent tool at that, backed by activists with a long pedigree in peace work (i.e. Desmond Tutu). It seems that when certain Israelis and internationals ask for non-violent resistance, what they really mean is a kind of ‘non-violence’ that will leave them comfortable and unchallenged, and this is why testimony from Alice Walker and Desmond Tutu is met with such furious defensiveness – it’s challenging. But if the Nassar family can face masked armed men on the doorstep at midnight, the people who sigh over the lack of a Palestinian MLK can surely bring themselves to hear Walker out without the knee-jerk defensive reflex getting in the way. It’s a whole lot less daunting.

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          • Correction: 18 years of military rule, not 22.

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    11. Mohammad Reza Naqdi

      Kudos to Kaufmann for publishing this powerful article. Actually, Israel has a worse human rights record then any of the countries mentioned above, so Ms Wlaker is absolutely right to call for its replacement by Palestine

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    12. Richard Witty

      Alan’s point is real.

      To make change, change proposed has to be right and possible.

      The history of Palestinian resistance has included much too many instances of random terror for Israelis to simply forgive and forget.

      The prospect of change in relations will always be tempered by that memory.

      If the demand for change in relations is accompanied by a clear intention to establish a good neighbor to good neighbor relation, then Israeli consciousness will have a path to change.

      Until then, resistance adds a layer of cement to the wall.

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      • Joe

        This is a stupid argument. The allies dropped a weapon of mass destruction on Japan, the only ones ever to have been used. Do you see Japanese using that as an excuse to avoid full integration with Europe and the USA?

        Palestinians have done bad things, but Israel – as state policy- is oppressing millions of people.

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        • Joe

          To contine that thought – and therefore the only party with the power and ability to change the situation is the most powerful party – ie the Israeli government. That nothing has changed is entirely due to Israeli policy.

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          • Richard Witty

            Only Israel has the power to cooperate to restore a status of civil rights to disenfranchised Palestinians living under martial law.

            Palestinians and the Palestinian solidarity movement have the power to make their dissent assertive rather than threatening.

            To the extent that threats are the means of dissent, then the people dissented against will rationally respond defensively and in exagerated manner.

            It is very dangerous for Palestinians, Israelis, all of us, for dissent to confuse its basis.

            So long as dissent remains about civil rights, and does not extend to retribution in any form (pretending as “justice”), then the movement will be one that moralists can support.

            To the extent that movements like BDS become punitive (it is already, and threatens to be a world-wide isolation movement – read siege), it is one that sincere moralists can only pursue with significant qualms.

            One memory of modern Jews is the speed in which the European and other fascist movements took hold, and the arbitrariness of the criteria applied.

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          • Joe

            Bull. You seriously telling me that the boycott of South Africa was not threatening? You’re talking out of your hat.

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          • Richard Witty

            The boycott of South Africa occurred because they were foreign, able to be demonized, to be isolated.

            Israel is NOT alien. The prospect of isolation of Israel is evil to my and others’ views.

            If the goal of BDS is to end the post-67 occupation and only that, then there is a prospect that a critical mass of liberal Israelis and other Jews would pressure Israel to do so.

            If the goal of BDS is a single state, then civil war is the nearly certain outcome, and as Israel is overwhelmingly the more powerful force, it is a disaster for Palestinians.

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          • Joe

            I’m not sure what you are talking about. White South Africans were not ‘aliens’. Boer culture is essentially European. Much like the Israelis.

            You are making artificial distinctions with no basis in fact.

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          • Richard Witty

            What I am talking about is the attitude necessary to engage in boycott, isolation.

            It requires dehumanizing the other, which is the oppossite of what I regard as progressive.

            You have some sense of permission to dehumanize Israelis, rather than some sense of permission to respect them, and then work for change from that starting point.

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          • Joe

            Again, you are stating as obvious something which is not obvious. To boycott is not to dehumanise. Quite the reverse, it is an effort to encourage the other to embrace your (and their own) humanity by refusing to co-operate with them. Clearly you know very little about the history and point of non-violent resistance.

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          • Richard Witty

            Look at your own attitudes Joe.

            Do you think of Israel as your family, your own people, people that you love actively?

            Do you even extend sympathy to Israelis as commonly human beings?

            Or, do you think of them only in political terms, not quite sympathized with, not quite peers?

            My definition of progressive is that “there is no other”, that dissent that requires the dehumanization of the other is not exactly dissent, but a means for a different power to assert its dominance, a pendulum swing only.

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          • andrew r

            Richard, if you could go back a hundred years and preach your platitudes to any Zionist who would listen, you would effectively destroy any effort to create Israel, because it relied on dehumanization of the Palestinians and only thinking of them in political terms. What you really want is a get-out-of-jail-free card.

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        • Ilonj

          “Palestinians have done bad things, but Israel – as state policy- is oppressing millions of people.”

          Yes, Palestinians, as a people have done some bad things. And yes, their targets were millions of Israelis.

          Two peoples at war with one another for 100 years. One side turned out to be more successful in that war than the other. But that does not mean that ALL the blame should only fall on them. Don’t make me go through the history of who started what and for what reason. Too many people are doing this endlessly and it is getting us nowhere.

          A more important endeavour would be to convince both sides to come up with practical solutions rather than settling old scores.

          By practical solutions, I don’t mean that the weaker side should have the right to dictate surrender terms to the stronger side.

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          • Joe


            “Palestinians, as a people have done some bad things”

            Rubbish. There is no formal government of Palestinians, hence it is not possible to talk of the actions of Palestinians ‘as a people’. Unlike Israelis, who have a government and an army.

            “Two peoples at war with one another for 100 years. One side turned out to be more successful in that war than the other. But that does not mean that ALL the blame should only fall on them.”

            Not true. One group of settlers came and took another people’s land. There was an oppressive coloniser and a defensive population.

            “By practical solutions, I don’t mean that the weaker side should have the right to dictate surrender terms to the stronger side.”

            There is no sense that Palestinians have EVER, never since the creation of Israel, ever been in a position to dictate anything. Hence the Israeli state has taken more and more and more without surrendering anything significant.

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          • Ilonj

            “Rubbish. There is no formal government of Palestinians, hence it is not possible to talk of the actions of Palestinians ‘as a people’.”

            Rubbish. That is just an excuse. Make up your mind. Either the Palestinians are a distinct people in which case they have to take responsibility for their own actions or they are not.

            If it is the latter, then presumably they are part of the greater Arab nation in which case we have an entirely different discussion on our hand.

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          • Joe

            It seems like you need lessons in logic and comprehension. Palestinians are a group of people who identify themselves as a nation (self determination). They do not have a government, so when idiots do stupid things, they’re not doing it on as an extension of the people.

            In contrast, Israel has self-determination, but also has the structures and responsibilities of a state. Hence the actions of their military are the responsiblity of the state.

            It isn’t that difficult.

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          • Ilonj

            “It seems like you need lessons in logic and comprehension. Palestinians are a group of people who identify themselves as a nation (self determination). They do not have a government, so when idiots do stupid things, they’re not doing it on as an extension of the people.”

            This has to be the lamest bit of excuse making for a people’s actions that I have ever come across.

            So let’s see, who were those “idiots who did stupid things”?

            Could we count the Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin Al Husseini, who was the leader of the Palestinians till 1948 and who in fact incited the Hebron massacre of 1948? The same Mufti who made a pact with Hitler to exterminate the Jews of Palestine?

            Moving on,

            Who was Ahmed Shukeiri? Wasn’t he the first leader of the PLO? Wasn’t he the one who organised the Fedayeen raids which resulted in the murder and maiming of large numbers of Israeli civilians between 1948 – 1967 (before there was occupation)?

            Moving on,

            Who was Yassir Arafat? Wasn’t he the leader of the PLO? Wasn’t he the same leader who planned and coordinated numerous terror attacks, from 1967 onwards, first from bases in Jordan, till he got kicked out from there and then from bases in Lebanon, till he got kicked out from there too? Didn’t he negotiate the so called Oslo peace deal with Rabin? Wasn’t he the same Arafat who initiated the second Intifada after he walked away from Wasn’t he the same Arafat who initiated the second Intifada after he walked away from Barak’s 2000 – 2001 peace offer?

            Moving on,

            What about Hamas? Didn’t the majority of Palestinians vote for Hamas in the 2006 elections?

            C’mon man. You can do better than coming up with such lame excuses for Palestinian misdeeds.

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          • Joe

            Really. We are going to argue about the Mufti of Jerusalem. Nope. Irrelevant.

            The PLO is a better argument. I’d say they certainly engaged in terrorism, but even they did not act on behalf of the Palestinians as the IDF acts on behalf of Israel.

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          • Ilonj

            “The PLO is a better argument. I’d say they certainly engaged in terrorism, but even they did not act on behalf of the Palestinians as the IDF acts on behalf of Israel.”

            Come, come, let’s not forget Hamas either. Like I said, they received a significant support in the 2006 democratic elections. In fact, they received the support of the majority of Palestinians. And surely you are not claiming that Hamas did not engage in significant acts of terrorism against Israeli civilians?

            As for the PLO, if you are right in your claim that they did not act on behalf of Palestinians then who the hell did Israel negotiate with all these years?

            Now here is a bit of reality check: I don’t believe that any of the leaders of the Palestinians that I listed acted against the broad mood of the Palestinian people. They had broad support from most, I admit that not all, but most Palestinians, when it came to the use of terror against Israeli civilians, as a tacttic to achieve their national aims.

            I am actually astounded that you saw fit to argue that point. But hey, we all have our point of view.

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    13. Noevil9

      What is so troubling in these discussions that almost all Zionist/Israel supporters/defenders are coming in from places which are taken for granted.1) Israel has the right for security and to defend it self, its people, the Palestinians don’t.2) Israel can choose who represents it, but the Palestinians, don’t, and if they do, they will be punished. Israel can arrest, kill deport and bomb all the Palestinians in their own homes and they are not to be criticized ,nor called terrorist, but thenPalestinians are always labeled as such. Jews ,that are citizens of places all over the world are intitled to a safe home land and country, the Paelstinians are not and should go some where eles.Jews are and should be granted access to water and other resources, Palestinians, are not. And so on… And so on. The Jews are the chosen people and the Muslims and Christians are not. All can talk about muslims and Christians in a negative way, but if you talk or criticize Jews,you are a racist and an anti semite.When one comes from those places as a start, there is not much you can argue with, as their logic is already deranged ,twisted and racist. If you apply this to all those that defend Israel and Zionists,and anything that a Jewish person does, you will find out, that is exactly or very close to where they are coming from.

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      • huy vam v zopy

        Israel for ever
        idiots are not

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