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WATCH: Alternative Jewish interpretations seek to counter settler takeover of Hebron

Within the litmus test that is the “pro-Israel” paradigm, even young devout Jews dedicating their lives to religious study and community are often attacked for being hostile to Israel, as became clear when an American Rabbi living in Israel wrote an essay last summer accusing young rabbis of being “anti-Israel.” A group of Jewish students, professionals, rabbis and activists who have lived in Israel and seen the reality in the West Bank are challenging common (mis)conceptions of Jewish connection to the land.

This Saturday, the week of Parshat Hayei Sarah (weekly Torah portion), thousands of Jews will travel to Hebron to affirm Jewish ownership of the ancient city. Citing the portion’s description of Abraham buying what is considered to be current-day Hebron, the settler movement will use the Torah portion as a proof text for their heavily-armed presence in the middle of a Palestinian city. This week, members of a group called Project Hayei Sarah will stand up in communities around the US and Israel to offer different interpretations of Parshat Hayei Sarah, of Jewish values and of the situation in Hebron.

Project Hayei Sarah is a grassroots initiative, started in 2009 by students studying in Jerusalem who visited Hebron with Breaking the Silence or Encounter. Its nearly 50 members are young Jewish leaders who are struggling to reconcile the Jewish values they have learned through Torah and the grisly reality on the ground in Hebron, in which Palestinian residents are subjected to separation, humiliation and military occupation. As part of their efforts to reclaim the parsha and challenge the political situation, Project Hayei Sarah members and friends have shared thoughts on the Torah portion and the situation in Hebron in a series of video blogs. Here are a just a few. More will be posted in the coming days:


To learn more about Project Hayei Sarah

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    1. Ben Israel

      Yes, if only the Jews would leave Hevron, then everything would be alright in Hevron. If only the Jews would leave Tel Aviv, then the Arab-Israeli conflict would come to an end.
      The reason for the stringent security in Hevron is due to a long history of Arab violence in the city, starting with a massacre of a NON-ZIONIST Jewish population there in 1929 (BTW-I have heard all the excuses…”the ones who did it were Arabs from out of town…..the Arabs highly respected the Sefardim there, it was really only the Ashkenazi immigrants they were gunning for…etc, etc”). The Arabs also resent having Jews pray in a Jewish holy site built by Jews centuries ago that the Arabs took over and drove the Jews out of.
      I am aware that the place attracts some extremist Jews and any unprovoked acts they carry out against the Arab population must be condemned, but driving the Jews out of the city will not bring peace. I have heard it stated by Hevron Arabs “we love Jews and would welcome them if they are not these ‘settler’ types”. Well, you had your chance to prove the claim that “Arabs and Muslims hold Jews and Judaism in the HIGHEST regard, we only have a problem with Zionists” and we saw what happened to the non-Zionists who were there.

      Reply to Comment
    2. Louis

      Judaism is in trouble, Israel (which is not the monolithic voice-place of Judaism) is in trouble… why, because of the Occupation at any cost — the willingness to sell the democratic soul to the Satan of the Occupation… that is why… not to demonize settlers or, right-wingers but to wake up before it is too late.

      Reply to Comment
    3. Mik

      this project makes me really happy. thanks for posting!

      Reply to Comment
    4. RichardNYC

      We shouldn’t even concede that the issue is Judaism. Its about $ and non-mythical humans.

      Reply to Comment
    5. STEVE

      Yes Abraham preached peace and hospitality, but when it was justified and required by either G-d or his own sense of justice, he fought like a hero – he went to war with the kings who kidnapped Lot and indeed was even prepared to sacrifice his son in the name of G-d – even if it flew in the face of what he believed and preached to be moral. Your manipulations and distortions of the meaning of the text to suit your own myopic narrative of ‘evil Israeli soldiers and settlers’, not only undermines and delegitimizes your own people, but is disingenuous and intellectually bankrupt.

      I would be interested to hear what you so-called rabbis and Jewish educators would have done in the times of the Yehoshua, when called upon in the name of G-d to fight and kill the 7 nations living in Canaan. Would you have heeded G-d’s word and gone to war as commanded – even though it betrayed your own sense of morals, and challenged your own egotistical self-proscribed ideals? Would you have been able to overcome your cowardice and commitment to your own agendas to actually defer to a higher belief – a faith in something higher than your limited intellect? If the answer is no, then it proves you do not serve G-d or Judaism with these witch-hunts of settlers and Israeli soldiers but are rather betraying your people and your G-d to serve your own warped sense of right and wrong – which I can only assume has been polluted by years of media bias, and self loathing. If the answer is yes, then you have no reason to blame soldiers and settlers for taking the unfortunate yet necessary steps required to be able live in peace in their own homeland, promised to them by… G-d.

      Poor little Palestinian children couldn’t go the park because their parents and families have a history of trying to kill Israeli Jews you fool. Your depiction of the victimized Palestinians versus the aggressive and oppressive soldiers and settlers is an insult to objectivity and to your presumed intelligence. Do you also sympathize with the poor lion at the zoo who isn’t allowed beyond the bars to where you are standing? You forget that if you let him out he would kill you and eat you without a second thought.

      It is so very painful to watch your misguided assertions provide our enemies with justification for their venomous attacks on our right to be in Israel. I am comforted only by the eventual fate of the Jewish non-believers in Egypt (four fifths of the jews who were so corrupted and whose faith in G-d had so deteriorated that their souls did not allow for or indeed even deserve redemption) who were eliminated and forgotten.

      I hope you are happy with the 80 views your video got. It just goes to show how irrelevant and contemptuous your poisonous messages are.

      Reply to Comment
    6. aristeides

      If only the Jewish supremacists would leave Hebron, things would be a hell of a lot better in Hebron. Zionists sure like to get a lot of mileage out of the dead horse of the 1929 massacre. Any Palestinians who participated in that event are long dead, yet the IDF has to be deployed in the streets to ward off their ghosts.

      But the real issue is why the Israelis are in Hebron in the first place, needing protection from revenants. Israelis have no right to live in Hebron without the permission of the Palestinian authorities. None. The fact that there may be an old tomb there is irrelevant. Every year, a horde of Hasidim descend on some town in the Ukraine so they can worship at the tomb of some dead rabbi. Do they have a right to do this? Only if the Ukraine allows it. If the Ukraine says, nope, no more, this is too much trouble (http://www.jpost.com/JewishWorld/JewishNews/Article.aspx?id=239452), then it’s too bad for the pilgrimage. Israel doesn’t have the right to send the IDF to occupy Uman and drive the residents out of their houses and off their own streets, just so a bunch of Jews can pray there. It’s just the same with Hebron. It’s not yours, Ben I.

      And I’ve heard all the excuses. Jews were living in Hebron for centuries, yadda yadda. But the Israelis now occupying Hebron came more likely from Brooklyn, not Hebron. How many are descended from Hebron’s 19th century Jewish population? If you argue that they should have the right to return to the homes of their ancestors, I’d agree. As long as the exiled Palestinians get to return to their own ancestral homes.

      Reply to Comment
    7. aristeides

      Steve – preaching holy genocide is not likely to get you a favorable hearing among the sane.

      Reply to Comment
    8. RichardNYC

      “Zionists sure like to get a lot of mileage out of the dead horse of the 1929 massacre.”
      –>ah history, the knife that cuts both ways.

      Reply to Comment
    9. Steve

      Aristeides, I don’t usually waste my energy engaging with delusional lefties but just for the record I was only drawing from the Bible – the very same Bible that these phonies are quoting from in this initiative. Either they are true to the source in its entirety or they are picking and choosing what suits them – which is not Judaism, it is worshiping themselves and their own egos and intellects without any humility or deference to holy sages who knew a damn lot more Torah then these clowns.
      To a genuine Jew, the bible is G-d’s word which frankly I value alot more than some pathetic Israel-hating fool like you. You may consider yourself sane by rejecting the Torah, I see you as a cosmic loser. My belief in G-d makes your foolish barking irrelevant.

      Reply to Comment
    10. aristeides

      Steve – if any so-called god showed up and said to rise up and go slaughter seven nations and take what is theirs, I’d say, “I cast you out, Evil One, mt curse be upon you.”

      But it says a lot about the settler movement that they are proud of the genocide perpetrated by their forebears and work to emulate them. May the blood of the innocent rise up from the Earth and pursue you to your graves.

      Reply to Comment
    11. Bosko

      “. May the blood of the innocent rise up from the Earth and pursue you to your graves”
      Careful Aristeides, if curses work, your own curse might work against you to. If not for what you have personally done, then for your obvious hatreds, for what you stand for and for your willingness to support those who would do what you falsely accuse others of doing (for your incitement)

      Reply to Comment
    12. Steve

      Hahaha so you would tell G-d what to do? Arrogant much?
      Land doesn’t belong to someone eternally just because they happen to live there at a given point in time. As this conversation is based on the bible, (something you clearly reject as a heathen), G-d explicitly gave it Abraham and his descendants. I think perhaps the creator of the world might get to decide who gets to live where rather than a small group of rabid antisemitic lefties.
      Yur arrogance is superseded only by your ignorance. I pity you for you believe only in what your small mind can comprehend and no power beyond.
      And for the record, I am not a settler but I know that they have never perpetrated a genocide and do not desire any such thing – your assertion that this is so discredits everything else you say as farcical. I think you are confusing settlers with Palestinian terrorists whose greatest honor it is to kill a Jew. If Palestinians would stop trying to kill Jews, (in frustration at having lost a war they started against us) there would be no more need for roadblocks, fences or curfews in Hebron.
      I’m leaving this conversation now because when a dog barks, it only degrades me to bark back.
      Eventually the truth will prevail.
      Am Yisroel Chai.

      Reply to Comment
    13. aristeides

      Here is a stark contrast between the uses of religion. One group takes from Judaism what is humane and moral, emphasizing universal values that derive from a good and just creator. The other group clings to hate and divisiveness, evoking a bloody-minded tribal god of conquest and slaughter to justify its own evil.

      Reply to Comment
    14. Fred

      Steve: Well said! I hope they go and look at the first Rashi in the entire Chumash to the first posuk in Bereshis, which clearly states that since G-d created the world, therefore G-d can give any piece of land to whomever he wants. Eretz Yisroel is for the Jewish people. Why? G-d said so. Is G-d wrong? Was Rashi wrong? Its right there in black and white.

      (Unless you selectively pick and choose what parts of Judaism you like and what you don’t like and end up with a separate religion based on what social justice campaigns you choose to glom onto: What’s this year’s liberal cause? I don’t know but let’s jump on that bandwagon!)

      A: Occupy Wall Street. Oh wouldn’t you know it, Reform is all over that. Yay Reform!

      Reply to Comment
    15. Borg

      why exactly does Hebron need to be Jew free? If Jews can live in Greeenwich, Connecticut, why cant they live in Hebron

      Reply to Comment
    16. Edithann

      Might ‘EMPATHY’ be the Achilles heel of Judaism? Is that why it’s been negated, denigrated and bred out of Jews for centuries?

      Just asking!


      Reply to Comment
    17. Moriel Rothman

      Are you not embarrassed to speak like this?

      @Steve, your words are so violent, and frightening. Please examine where all of this hatred is coming from. You speak like a Muslim extremist, with a few words changed, or a Christian extremist. Religious sureness is an extraordinarily dangerous thing.

      @Fred, do you not realize how outrageous it sounds to claim “God said it, so it is all there in black and white?” Open a page of Talmud. Nothing it black and white in Judaism.

      @Edithann, you write that”Empathy has been neglected, denigrated and bred out of Jews for centuries.” In other words, “Jews as a whole are incapable of feeling the emotions that others feel.” That is anti-Semitism, word for word.

      The amount of hatred and sureness spilling from this comment section only further convinces me that our project is filling an important space– not because we are sure that we have the right answers, but because it is time that we all start questioning the ways in which religious certainty- like the religious certainty that leads the settler community in Hebron to act in ways that prove that they treat pieces of stone and earth as more holy than God’s non-Jewish children.

      Reply to Comment
    18. Ben Israel

      The title of this thread plus many of the comments made by those appearing in the clips are very misleading.
      The settlers are not “taking over” Hevron. The H2 section of the city is something like 5% of the town. The other 95% is under Palestinian rule and Jews don’t set foot there.
      We keep hearing how the “marketplace” has been “emptied out”. This marketplace is NOT and hasn’t been the central marketplace of the city for decades. It is located at the southern edge of the city and wouldn’t be conveniently located even if there were no Jews in the town. Thus, commerce in the city is not effected at all by the Jewish presence. Yes, those Arabs who do live in H2 do have inconvenience, but they are a very small percentage of the Arab population, but as with the security wall in the West Bank, the security restrictions in H2 are due to violent Arab attempts to drive the Jews out of the city, and in particular, the Tomb of the Patriarchs. If there was no Jewish presence in Hevron, the Tomb of the Patriarchs would have become essentially off-limit to Jews like Joseph’s Tomb in Shechem (Nablus).
      For the record, the “marketplace” and the areas around it that are currently inhabited by Jews were Jewish property before 1929, and any Arabs who inhabited them after then were paid for the property.

      Reply to Comment
    19. AYLA

      This is such a beautiful project; thank you so much to all involved. It’s often easy for people–especially Israelis, understandably–to separate themselves from Jewish violence that’s committed in the name of the Torah by separating themselves from the Torah, and this really saddens me. I’m not personally very observant (somewhat, just in my own way), but i do feel that I’m witnessing the living Tanakh here in the Negev, and that is absolutely part of whatever deep energy called me to live on this land. The ancestors in the Torah include, too, Hagar, Ishmael, Tzipporah, and many others… When I read torah, which I do most weeks, and when I meditate on this land, which I do nearly daily, I don’t feel that I’m living on an exclusively Jewish land, but a land that holds all of our deeply intertwined history. Thank you, Hayei Sarah project, for understanding that we can be good to and on this land through Torah, not despite it, and that THIS is truly what Torah asks of us. I’m very grateful to you all.
      There is also a big awareness problem among Jews around Hebron and much else. I have religious, American friends who do not believe that the Jewish violence in Hebron is anything but self-defense, and these are people living otherwise compassionate lives. I’m not sure how to break through these barriers–they tune me out as a left-winger on Israel who sees through a distorted lens. Maybe we should do some kind of a tour-trade: I’ll go on yours if you go on mine. I do believe that Jews and Palestinians/Arabs on and off the land have this problem of the one-sided history, and we all fall in different places on the spectrum regarding how deeply embedded we are in our own, and how willfully vs. innocently. And when we immerse ourselves in each other’s narratives, we have to remember not to forego our own as well; compassion begins with the self.
      Thank you.

      Reply to Comment
    20. aristeides

      Ben I writes: “If there was no Jewish presence in Hevron, the Tomb of the Patriarchs would have become essentially off-limit to Jews like Joseph’s Tomb in Shechem (Nablus).”

      Well, wouldn’t that just be too bad! There’s got to be some heavy exceptionalism going on when people think that access to some ancient site justifies imprisoning hundreds of people in their own homes.

      During the Jordanian occupation of the WB, Jewish tourists were allowed access to the Heroidian wall. It was only the Israelis who were not. I suppose the Jordanian authorities were well aware that the tourists would leave peacfully but Israelis are not content just to visit, but will insist on moving in and controlling.

      That’s what the current Israeli occupation of Hebron is about. Owning and controlling. The fact that some of these properties may once have been owned by Jews is an excuse. The Israelis who took over those properties are not the Jews who once owned it and who might have a legitimate claim.

      It’s interesting also that Bethlehem once had a thriving religious tourist industry that supported the whole town. The pilgrims came, prayed, and left, all in a spirit of peace. They didn’t come with guns and a spirit of “this is mine, God gave it to me.” They didn’t come to take.

      Reply to Comment
    21. Edithann

      @Moriel Rothman…I see my comment hit a nerve..It was meant to do just that. If you viewed it as classic antisemitism, then how would you counter such a sentiment constructively?
      Seems like it’s a centuries old standoff and ‘getting worse’. Now what do you think has made it even worse today?
      So glad you got the message, now it’s time to work on it..

      @Ben Israel…you just repeat the same old excuses..There is no justification for Jews stealing Palestinian homes and lands, none, never was and never will be.
      Unfortunately your mindless excuses and justifications have no future for a peaceful Israel or Palestine.

      Torah and Talmud have always been a Declaration of War on all non-Jews, which means ’empathy’ for the other doesn’t and cannot exist if Judaism is to survive.
      As I said, it’s always been war.


      Reply to Comment
    22. Bosko

      Aristiedes logic …
      “Ben I writes: “If there was no Jewish presence in Hevron, the Tomb of the Patriarchs would have become essentially off-limit to Jews like Joseph’s Tomb in Shechem (Nablus).”
      Aristeides then concludes …
      “Well, wouldn’t that just be too bad! There’s got to be some heavy exceptionalism going on when people think that access to some ancient site justifies imprisoning hundreds of people in their own homes”
      This “Too bad” logic works both ways Aristeides. If Israeli Jews get barred from visiting holy sites then it SHOULD have consequences. Even if people like you don’t like those consequences.
      Of course it cpuld have been different. And perhaps some day it could still be. Arab leaders and their people might learn a bit more tolerance and should acknowledge Jewish history and connection to the land. The natural outcome of that would then be is them not vandalising Jewish holy sites and if some of those (note the word IF) end up under their control, they should allow freedom of access for all Jews, including Israeli Jews, to those holy sites.
      If that were to happen, then neither side would need to say “too bad”. But right now, I don’t see any of that as a likely outcome because attitudes like yours prevail in the Arab mindset, Aristeides.

      Reply to Comment
    23. aristeides

      Why, Bosko, SHOULD it have consequences if Israeli Jews don’t get to visit some ancient grave in a place that doesn’t belong to them? If I decide I want to come and pray in your living room, do I get to kick in the door with a gun and force you into the bathroom so I can daven without interference? Or maybe do you have the right to say who can and can’t come into your own property, to pray or for any other reason?

      My attitude doesn’t have anything to do with an Arab mindset, it has to do with the right of human beings to be secure in the occupation of their own homes, not to be menaced by armed thugs on the streets.

      Reply to Comment
    24. Bosko

      Nice analogy Aristeides. Unfortunately it has nothing to do with reality. I could respond to it by asking you how you would feel if Israelis would decide to bar access and vandalise holy sites of other religions under their control, but I won’t because I don’t want to even contemplate such things even hypotHetically. But I know that if you’d become aware of such things, you’d be the first one to scream the place down about how eeeeevil and racist Israel is.
      Come to think of it, you are doing exactly that anyway.

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    25. aristeides

      Israel has been doing exactly that all along. Don’t you know ANYTHING?

      Reply to Comment
    26. Bosko

      “Israel has been doing exactly that all along. Don’t you know ANYTHING?”
      Here we go again. A generalised accusation. Come out with it Aristeides, Israel has been doing what all along? Be specific please. Otherwise you come across as dishonest, sleazy and libelous.

      Reply to Comment
    27. aristeides

      Do your own research, Bosko. I’m not your private librarian.

      Reply to Comment
    28. Bosko

      Oh well, I’ll just conclude that you are just spreading propaganda.

      Reply to Comment
    29. AYLA

      I am here on shabbat, which bothers me not because it’s against the law, but because one of the wisest, most prescient laws of Judiam is a day off, especially from technology. Still, this week, I am here, so I may as well show face. I actually do believe it would be a loss to Jews, just as it would to Muslims (and Christians, though they don’t care about this site from a religious standpoint although it is technically theirs as well) and any tourist interested in history, if We were not permitted to visit the Cave of Machpelah. I visited, and was actually not moved there, but was happy to have gone. I only wished I could go to the Muslim side, as my friend with whom I was visiting could. She was able to go to both. I was not, and I did not have Israeli citizenship at the time. It was only because I was Jewish. That rule comes from the Israeli government, supposedly to keep me safe, but there would have been nothing unsafe about me going around to the other side.
      Preserving everyone’s right to go to this site, and others, is one of the many reasons that we (Jews, Israelis) should be there with respect. Abraham approached the site by saying he was a resident alien, and humbly requesting permission to have Sarah buried there. I believe they are all rolling in their graves.
      I wonder if Bosko, and others, have ever been to Hebron? And I don’t mean on the bulletproof bus that take you through Kiryat Arba exactly to and from The Site. (I have done this too). But have any of you actually been to HEBRON? I have to guess no, because it would be very hard for you to espouse such ignorance if you had stepped away from your computer, gotten on an airplane, and visited the residential city itself.
      shabbat shalom.

      Reply to Comment
    30. AYLA

      @Ben Israel is actually Rrrrright (does anyone remember Fonzi’s Wrrrong on Happy Days?) about the Arab Market Place in Hebron. I went there one day with Arab friends. We drove in the South entrance, on the same road one could take to Jerusalem (what is that–60?) and went shopping for vegetables, and from THERE, you don’t see the Jewish residents, or experience any hostility, from anyone. You just enjoy a day at the best shuk I’ve been to in Israel/Palestine–gorgeous, cheap, fruit and vegetables, which I have to assume are organic just because they are. We loaded up and came home.
      There are many different Hebrons. The untainted market. The Site. The settlements and the experience you’d have if you just went to spend, say, shabbat with a jewish family there, and also the Hebron described in these videos. They are ALL TRUE. It is very important to try to step out of our comfort zones, our daily lives, to experience things from different vantage points, which in Israel often means different roads, different entrances and exits, different checkpoints, different locations. That’s what was so wonderful about YUVAL’s travellogue (travellog? travel log? The more Hebrew I learn, the stranger English becomes). And that’s exactly my point. We all need new languages, to see our own as strange.

      Reply to Comment
    31. AYLA

      I would have to add, though, that the people at that untainted market live in residences where they are targets of racism–I’ve been to that part of Hebron, too. The only one of the four types of experiences I described that I have not experienced is that of going to a jewish home for shabbat. I have to admit, I’d rather not, based on what I’ve heard from two of my friends, rabbinical students, who went. Both friends were studying at conservative yeshivas in Jerusalem (orthodox). One was american, one british. Both described experiencing the most blatant, horrifying racism being spewed (on shabbat, no less) by their hosts that they had ever experienced by any people toward any people. They did not go there on some progressive mission to have liberal expectations met; again, they were orthodox rabbinical students at a conservative yeshiva. both would barely look at me in public in Jerusalem since I’m a woman and in case people from their Yeshiva happened to see us talking. Serious yeshiva. Placed students in different homes throughout the region for shabbatot. Both, independent of each other, told me that they’d never heard so much hatred in their lives; they found it to be very painful.
      I do know of a movement in Hebron between Jewish and Arab residents working together to bring people into their homes for dialogue. Those Jews choose to live in Hebron because of their religious connection to the land and insist on doing so peacefully. Maybe some of the videomakers here know who they are? They are among my heroes on this land.

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    32. AYLA

      clarification: politically conservative. religiously orthodox.

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    33. Bosko

      “I wonder if Bosko, and others, have ever been to Hebron?”
      The answer is of course yes. But what has that to do with our discussion? Are you even able to comprehend the point that I made Ayla?

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    34. AYLA

      Bosko–it has everything to do with the discussion. In what way did you go to Hebron? If you didn’t experience the shocking and painful treatment of jews against arabs there, you probably either went to the site and back, or you went with settler residents to their home and out. (as I’m guessing you didn’t go the other way to avoid this: with arab friends to the shuk 🙂 ).
      and no, Bosko–your points are way too sophisticated for me; they go way over my head, just as they apparently go over the head of the highly educated journalists on this site who’ve asked you to play in a different playground. you’re just too smart and nuanced for all of us!

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    35. aristeides

      And has Bosko been to the area just east of Hebron where the IDF and settlers are conducting an ethnic cleansing campaign to expand the Kahanist enclaves? I wonder what excuse he would drag out to deny the reality and label it “propaganda” so he won’t have to confront his shriveled conscience with it.



      Reply to Comment
    36. Mitchell Cohen

      “Torah and Talmud have always been a Declaration of War on all non-Jews, which means ‘empathy’ for the other doesn’t and cannot exist if Judaism is to survive.
      As I said, it’s always been war.” [End of Rant]

      That has to be one of the biggest piece of horse manure I have seen on this site….Where did you get your “knowledge” of Torah and Talmud from? Stormfront….

      Reply to Comment
    37. Edithann

      All this nonsensical palaver over minor details when the main tragedy exists on a daily basis for the victims of the crime of the ages?

      Are you serious? Can thieves ever be comfortable with their stolen property?
      Just the fact that you are still picking over the bones trying to justify what was done shows that ‘crime really doesn’t pay’ and it’s residua lasts for generations!

      Visiting so called religious sites when Jews have never had a history of Pilgrimages throughout history is again piling more lies onto the ‘big’ lie.

      Did you ever think that Zionism might be the end of Judaism as you know it? Technology and the speed of information, only makes it harder for the ‘whole’ to function cohesively without the proverbial outside/other enemy (Iran) and that is now wearing thin.

      My suggestion is to admit your crimes against the Palestinians and ask forgiveness..
      See if you’re able to live with it, or make plans to leave.


      Reply to Comment
    38. AYLA

      @Edithann–that’s a really interesting response, since these six videos, all by Jews, are oozing with empathy. Perhaps you’re the one empathy-challenged? TATA!

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    39. AYLA

      @Edithann–also, you might note, if you actually listen, that these religious jews are citing the torah and talmud in their empathetic responses to what’s happening by Jews to Palestinians in Hebron. The torah is chock-full of empathy. Like the Koran, the Torah can be misused to serve extremists. I appreciate @Mitchell’s response.
      I actually find your comments to be racist on a level that should have you removed from this site. TATA!

      Reply to Comment
    40. Edithann

      Michael Chohen: ‘That has to be one of the biggest piece of horse manure I have seen on this site….Where did you get your “knowledge” of Torah and Talmud from? Stormfront’….

      No it’s from reading Torah/Talmud, reading ‘history’ watching Israel these many years and seeing how Israel has taken over the US so stealthy.
      If you think it’s from Stormfront,then I suggest you open the Talmud up so everyone can understand it the way you do.

      When you’re told, and indoctrinated with being ‘CHOSEN’..that is the bedrock of ‘war’ on all others. Can you understand that concept at least?
      After all, who could possibly be as equal as those ‘CHOSENS’by ‘GOD’, right?

      Why not do some real soul searching to see exactly what you’ve been taught, what you really believe with ‘no excuses or whines’ and how you act.


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    41. Mitchell Cohen


      1) have the decency to learn to spell my name correctly, it’s not SO complicated….

      2) I participate in the Daf Yomi (do you know what that is? doubt it) and study with those who actually UNDERSTAND what the Rabbis in the Talmud are saying/debating in Aramaic (do you know Aramaic), the language of the Talmud.

      3) Don’t tell me about the “Chosen People” concept in Judaism….You don’t know what the Jewish concept of “Chosen People” REALLY means, otherwise you wouldn’t be spouting your drivel.

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    42. AYLA

      @EdithAnn–on a very basic level–and Mitchell Cohen can correct me if I’m wrong and if he decides to waste more energy on you–The Chosen People refers only to the Jews being chosen to keep the Mitzvot and/or to study Torah and take its (empathetic) teachings into the world, which is at least as much a responsibility as it is a privilege, if you are among the relatively small percentage of an already small percentage of Jews who take it on. As a relatively unobservant Jew, I am quite grateful to fellow Jews, such as Mitchell Cohen, who do, and who do so with open hearts, as the Torah intends.

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    43. Moriel Rothman


      I am trying to understand– You stumble upon a progressive blog that features a number of Left Wing religious Jews interpreting the Torah in an effort to bring about more justice for Palestinians living under military Occupation, and to criticize interpretations of the Torah based on religious superiority or hatred of the “other,” and the point you make is that the “Torah teaches war against all non-Jews.” We are students of Torah. We are not proclaiming war against all non-Jews. In fact, we, along with our communities and friends and institutions, are saying that we understand the Torah to be an immensely complicated and rich text that can teach many different lessons. The lessons we choose to highlight are those of peace and justice.

      Please be careful. Collective hatred is what allows the horrors of this region- and this world- to take place. You cannot call yourself a peace activist, or a pursuer of justice, or someone concerned with Human Rights and at the same time speak in such ways about entire peoples and/or religions.

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    44. AYLA

      I read a response like @Moriel Rothman’s, and I think: THAT’S why you keep shabbat; to come out the other side in a place to respond so beautifully. Shavua Tov. I’m shutting down my computer (better late than never).

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    45. Bosko

      First of all. Thank you for taking on this hater EdithAnn. That’s the first time that I have seen you standing up against the haters of Israel/Jews but perhaps that was MY oversight and NOT your doing. Anyway, Kol Hakavod to you.
      As for you misundarstanding the little interchange between me and Aristeides, you really did. All I can suggest is read the four or five posts that me and Aristeides exchanged on this thread and try and see what I was telling him. By the way, he might disguise it a bit better than EdithAnn but our Aristeides is just another hater.

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    46. Bosko

      Start with my post which begins with the words: “Aristeides logic”.
      That should hopefully make it clear the point that I was making. I took on Aristeides who said “too bad” if Jews would not be allowed to visit their holy sites.

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    47. Edithann

      OK Mitchel Cohen: So you are defending what?
      If your Torah answers all your questions, why are you still having problems with the likes of ‘moi’?
      Your comment on: ‘those who actually UNDERSTAND what the Rabbis in the Talmud are saying/debating in Aramaic (do you know Aramaic), the language of the Talmud.’

      Does that Aramaic teach you how to be honest in your dealings with others and not take advantage of a situation? Do those Ancient Rabbis debate how to punish criminals and not make exceptions? Does it allow settlers to destroy Gods gift of Olive Trees? Or is your problem always at the mercy of the translations and the next Rabbis interpretations..come on, you’ll have to do better then that!
      If what you say is so true, then why not ‘SHARE’ it all with the world, let the world enjoy your treasure too, let the world comment and maybe even make updated suggestions and more interpretations..hahaha..What are you hiding? Do you think you have a special ‘in’ with GOD?
      I know you’re supposed to have the burden of ‘healing the world’ or some such nonsense..but don’t you think you’ve done enough harm already to give up that cockamamie notion?
      Is antisemitism and the hatred you’ve engendered over the centuries been worth it?

      Alya: ‘I actually find your comments to be racist on a level that should have you removed from this site.’

      I would call that a racist comment wouldn’t you? To have me removed only proves my point. Don’t so called racists, have the same rights to make their comments heard?

      I know you’re trying to be the humanist in and amongst the rest..but why not start with ‘why Jews are not humanists in the first place?
      How many Palestinian families have you taken into your home for protection during raids?
      No, you’re the religious humanist who is trying to get the Palestinians to eventually accept you living in their homes, not having enough water, and certainly not having their Olive Trees. Get it?

      Moriel R..of course you wouldn’t be preaching ‘war on all non Jews’ that would be too obvious, you could never risk it again.
      But that’s the message one gets from being Chosen! It’s not rocket science!!

      ”’We are not proclaiming war against all non-Jews. In fact, we, along with our communities and friends and institutions, are saying that we understand the Torah to be an immensely complicated and rich text that can teach many different lessons. The lessons we choose to highlight are those of peace and justice.”’

      You would like to think Torah to be complicated but you are deluding yourselves trying to ameliorate the tragedy and guilt directly attributed to it.
      When your ‘GOD’ commands you to take Canaan, kill everything and it’s ‘His’ gift to you, you can look for all the ‘rich’ meanings in the world and it would still come out murder and theft, with your ‘GODS’ blessings.
      No matter how you say it, and the excuses you give it to yourself and others, it’s still not Kosher?
      There is no getting around it Moriel, Judaism has been the cause of more pain in the world, and if you had an ounce of ‘EMPATHY’ for the pain your religion has created..you’d think twice.

      You must all read Gilad Atzmon and his new book, THE WANDERING WHO.
      Take responsibility for what you’ve done and do what you know you must do in making restitution. There are no innocent settlers, there are no innocent occupiers anywhere in Palestine..and there are millions of Palestinians wanting to go home!


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    48. Bosko

      So Hitler was right all along with his final solution to the “Jewish problem”? That seems to be your contention. We Jews are at fault for all the hatred (including yours) that is being directed against us, according to you, right?

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    49. aristeides

      I suggest it would be best to put EdithAnn and Steve together in a sack and tie it shut.

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    50. directrob

      As an atheist I have to tell you better judge what people do not judge them by what holy book they read.
      Anyhow Mitchell and Ayla might be religious they are not the persons you think they are. If your message is the land is stolen, the Palestinians are deprived of human rights and that the Palestinians should be allowed to return they probably both agree. Everyone that writes on this blog at least agrees that the Palestinians deserve a state and many of them do not mind if it is the state under their feet as long as they can stay too.
      If you see Jewish religion as the root of all evil I have to tell you that the Zionists that founded Israel were mostly secular Jews.
      Before you write more you might read some more first.

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