In blood and fire Judea fell; in blood and fire shall Judea rise.
–early Zionist anthem
The enemies of the Jews had hoped to overpower the Jews that day, but the plot was overturned, and the Jews overpowered their enemies…The Jews struck at all their opponents with the sword, killing and destroying them, and they defeated all their enemies. In Shushan Capital the Jews killed and destroyed five hundred men.
Haman…persecutor of the Jews, had planned to destroy the Jews…But when Esther came to the king, the king ordered decrees that the evil plans he had plotted against the Jews be visited upon him instead, and he and his sons were hanged on the gallows.
–Book of Esther
Last week marked the Jewish festival of Purim commemorating the salvation of the Jews of Persia from extermination at the hands of the evil Haman. Like many religious holidays, this one has taken on political meaning in the present day. Haman has become the Jewish equivalent of the anti-Christ, the quintessential Jew hater. In the midrash, Haman is equated with Amalek, the tribe which ambushed the Children of Israel in their desert wanderings and was repaid with extermination.
Religious Jewish extremists today note the gallows on which Haman and his sons hung and reserve a similar fate for latter day enemies of the Jewish people. Among those they liken to Haman is the Palestinian who attacked Jerusalem’s Merkaz HaRav yeshiva, his family and his entire village. Shockingly, some extremist religious Jews even include the prime minister and cabinet members among those who should be taken to the gallows for betraying the Jewish people through the Gaza withdrawal.
Jerusalem resident Gershom Gorenberg notes that before Purim, posters dripping with blood red lettering showed up all over the city announcing a rally at the East Jerusalem village where the Palestinian terrorist had lived. Demonstrators planned to destroy the family’s home since the government had delayed doing so in order to follow legal protocol. Gorenberg notes that the language used in the poster made clear that a Jewish pogrom was planned. On the day of the demonstration 200 extremists showed up. They were faced by Israeli police attempting to keep the peace and prevent them from entering the village. But the police were easily outflanked and a howling mob descended on the outskirts of the Arab neighborhood. Luckily residents decided to stay indoors or there might have been serious bloodshed. But the demonstrators, bent on avenging Jewish blood rampaged through the village smashing windows, destroying property and attempting to terrorize the local residents.
A Haaretz editorial called it a pogrom and said the police betrayed amazing incompetence. So much so that it made one wonder whether their heart was in it. Maybe they wanted the demonstrators to teach the Arabs a lesson and deliberately allowed themselves to be outmanned.
I bring up this incident because Israel’s supporters are only too quick to note Arab incitement against Israel: the Palestinian textbooks which allegedly bray for Jewish blood; the Hamas charter calling for liquidation of the Jewish entity; the Hamas TV mouse supposedly calling for children to dedicate themselves to martyrdom in the struggle to liberate Jerusalem.
All of which is supposed to proof Arab perfidy; that Palestinians nurse a hatred that can never be overcome by reason or compromise; that Hamas is a movement of Islamic extremists dedicated to throwing Israelis into the sea; that peace is a hopeless proposition; that the only thing an Arab understands is raw power; that compromise betrays weakness.
This is an enduringly popular theme both in political and media discourse. Hillary Clinton has built her presidential campaign at least partly on the claim that Palestinian school textbooks scream hatred against Jews and Israel. Prominent American Jewish leaders parrot the questionable charges in order to portray Israel as a victim of Arab incitement. A series of anti-Arab groups like MEMRI, CAMERA, Palestine Media Watch Debka Files, Campus Watch, the Israel Project, and the David Project have made a cottage industry out of cataloguing so-called anti-Israel incitement.
Those who adhere to such views rarely look in the mirror to examine whether Jews hold similar views: whether Jews incite hatred against Arabs that is as vehement as any incited by Arabs against Jews. If they did look in the mirror they might not like what they saw. They might see a Yigal Amir, stirred to a frenzy of hatred against Yitzhak Rabin by rabbinic sermons calling the latter an enemy of the Jewish people. They might see Baruch Goldstein, ardent follower of racist Rabbi Meir Kahane, firing an automatic weapon and killing 29 Palestinians at the Cave of the Patriarchs. In fact, Goldstein chose Purim as the day on which to mount his attack and each year on Purim, his devoted followers dance in a park built around his grave. They might see Eden Natan-Zada, a young IDF deserter who found refuge in the extremist settlement of Tapuah and was there inspired to take his army weapon, board a bus filled with israeli Arabs, and spray them with fire, killing indiscriminately before he himself was murdered by the enraged mob.
More recently, the dean of the Yeshiva University rabbinical school told students in Jerusalem that if Ehud Olmert “gave away” Jerusalem in a future negotiation that they should “shoot” him and desert the IDF. Subsequently, the rabbi and University president released statements feebly claiming the former didn’t believe what he said. Since the audience laughed at his remark, it must mean that the speaker was really in jest and not in earnest. No one has satisfactorily explained how imagining the assassination of a prime minister can be said to be a jest. Instead of being investigated and cautioned by the Israeli police for his behavior, the rabbi cancelled his stay and returned hastily to New York.
A Portland Chabad rabbi recently wrote in a blog that Israeli government ministers should be sent to the gallows for betraying the nation. The problem is that when Jews incite they are excused (in fact my blog was the only media source which denounced the rabbi’s remarks). But when Arabs incite it’s plastered all over the media. I don’t excuse incitement on either side. But if Jews expect Arabs to restrain their side then they will have to do a better job of restraining their own. Incitement is a two-way street. As Gorenberg so cogently writes about recent events:
The terrorist and the would-be lynch mob exist in a strange symbiosis. Hate feeds on hate and conjures up more hate.
Another problem with the extreme Israeli religious right is that it rejects Israeli democracy in favor of a political theocracy. That is why it could take matters into its own hands at Jabel Mukaber in a frenzy of vigilante justice. In effect, the extreme settler movement is a cancer within the body politic. It is a movement that has spawned past assassins and may spawn future ones.
Many may have thought that Ariel Sharon excised the cancer when he evacuated Gaza settlements with minimal bloodshed thereby proving that the settlers were a distinct and weakened minority. But they retreated to fight another day. And whenever Ehud Olmert or a future prime minister decides to enter into final status negotiations they will have to face the angry lynch mob that attacked Jabel Mukaber. Will Israel have the strength to do so? Events last week in East Jerusalem were deeply discouraging if they are a sign of what is to come.
Some may argue that these extremists are a small minority within Israeli society; that they do not command the respect of the majority. To this, I would respond that the extreme views of this minority are echoed in many of the attitudes held by mainstream Israelis. If you look at any number of opinion surveys you’ll find that many Israelis hold starkly racist views of not just Palestinians, but their fellow Arab citizens. While it is possible that such views are held out of ignorance rather than out of malice, the truth is that Israeli Jews know next to nothing about their Arab fellow citizens. And in such a vacuum, the hateful views of a determined minority can take root and flourish.
This is why I applaud the efforts of liberal Orthodox Israelis like Gorenberg and those who founded 12th of Heshvan, a group dedicated to commemorating both the assassination and legacy of tolerance represented by Yitzhak Rabin. When right-wing rabbis call for Yigal Amir to be allowed to marry, father a child and hold its bar mitzvah in prison, the 12th of Heshvan stands as moral witness against such coddling of enemies of the State. They represent a version of Judaism that rejects hatred and incitement and embraces instead tolerance and mutual respect.
Convenient that you dont mention that the demonstration by the extremist jews was in fact a reaction for the murders of their own jewish children at school, by this mans son. The father had set up a mourning tent with Hamass flag flying and had posters everywhere showing his son as a shahid. Who is inciting who? Wouldnt you do the same if it was your son?
Trying to compare Israels hatred to the Arabs hatred is laughable. One only has to come to Israel and see how the Arabs work and live to prove you are wrong. I myself work with a number of Arabs and like most here, have no hatred to the ones that respect Israels right to exist.The few examples of hatred you pointed out, that was perpetrated by the evil Extremist jews, is not a common denominator in the Israeli populace. Your comparisons of the hatred is insubstantial, as Arab hatred and acts of violence pre date the State of Israels creation.
Am Yisrael Chai
Many topics are covered in this post. Why calls for Prime Minister Olmert to be killed are occurring at this time is what I wish to comment on – not the manner in which his death is demanded, but the fact that these demands are occurring now. Calls for his resignation are easily understandable: among other things, he has been accused of several criminal acts and he claimed to have a mandate when he had less than a five percent approval rating (which rating would have resulted in the automatic resignation of any upright politician in the world). But why are there now demands for his death?
I’m pretty sure it is because his government is believed to be involved in negotiations which will result in the giving up of parts of Jerusalem, in portions of Israel generally. You see, it is against the law in Israel to give up territory:
A person who, with intent that any area be withdrawn from the sovereignty of the State or placed under the sovereignty of a foreign state, commits an act calculated to bring this about, is liable to life imprisonment or the death penalty.
Israeli Penal Code – 1977, Section 97(b)
You may not like this law, but it is the law of the land. In times of war, the penalty for such a traitorous act is death. Look at Sderot: Israel is undeniably under attack. Israelis at war. Ergo, If Mr. Olmert is negotiating the withdrawal of territory from under Israeli sovereignty, then he is liable to the death penalty. Those who call for his execution are merely premature – and, in terms of public relations, imprudent – there should be a trial…
On the other hand, if he and his representatives have no intention of giving up any Israeli territory, Mr. Olmert need not fear for his life at the hands of officers of the court or followers of angry rabbis or right-wing extremists. Condaleeza Rice and Palestinian negotiators and sympathizers may be upset, but at least Mr. Olmert will be abiding by the basic laws of Israel, and for this, at least, he is to be commended.
Yerushalimey – calling for death and calling for someone to be indicted for treason are not things that should be done lightly. I understand very well why people are saying such things. The frustrations they are experiencing are terrible. Nevertheless, it is not a sober, rational thing to call for someones death or to demand a politician be indicted for treason. It is a terrible embarrasment to have a leader be indicted for treason, regardless of whether or not he deserves it. It is a social disaster to have people murdered, even assuming they deserve it. Just look at the nightmare existance of the palestinians. Once that door is opened it is almost impossible to close it. And even if you say that this person deserves it, what makes you think that the next guy will show the same judgement in this matter that you show?
You know something, Richard, at first, as a Jewish nationalist, I always, like all nationalists everywhere looking at their own people, liked to look at the Jewish people as something special, as something better. However, in your posts, you say two things that are actually contradictory, but in the end, amount to the same thing. On the one hand, you say the Jews AND the Palestinians are both hate-filled people filled with violent rage killing each other. But, on the other hand, you point out that the Jews are actually WORSE, since you are always pointing out that criticism of the Palestinians for violence or incitement to violence are exaggerated , whereas you feel you have the duty to trumpet to the whole world how despicable the Jews really are, in the name of fairness and honesty, feeling that Jewish terror, rage and hatred are unfairly underreported. (I would suggest that you stop sounding like a broken record repeating the names “Goldstein, Zada, Amir” over and over as you have been doing in the last few threads. I think mentioning names of the other myriads of Jewish terrorists and assassins would give more variety to your postings and would make your point much clearer about how vile we Jews really are.) At first, I bridled at this, but now, I find it strangely liberating. I will give an example. Recently, a court in Jerusalem ruled that restaurants and stores can openly sell hametz on Pesach. This is offensive to religous Jews and has been against the law, but this is one of what Shulamit Aloni called “a stupid law” that should not be enforced. Fine. What should the response of us religious Jews (who, as you have pointed out are THE MOST violent, rage-filled despicable Jews of all, unlike the “progressives”)? We can look to our brothers-in- rage and poisonous hatred, the Muslims. What do they do when their religious feelings are offended? They put out death sentences on Salman Rushdie and Ayan Hirsi Ali, murdered Theo Van Gogh for his film, and organized violent riots and lynchings of Christians in the Middle East in the wake of the Danish Muhammed cartoons (those poor Christians who were lynched probably didn’t even know why it was happening). In any event, the Europeans have generally absorbed the lesson and generally avoid offending the Muslims today, in spite of theoretical beliefs in things like “freedom of speech”.
Now, back to the Hametz in Israel. What should we religious Jews do about it?….well, Richard, you have provided the answer. We should burn down all the stores that sell Hametz and string up a couple of those who are doing it. I am sure that will have a chilling effect on those who would try it in the future. Who can complain about “freedom”? Why should these hametz sellers have more freedom than Rushdie and the cartoon drawers in Denmark? As you have pointed out, religious Jews are violent, hate-filled people no better than those Muslim extremists, and I have shown that this has really paid off for the Muslims, so I think we Jews can learn a lot from the Muslims about how we too can get our own way, in spite of laws and “rights” of others. I thank you for showing us the way.
In blood and fire the USA was created and in blood and fire were the slaves liberated. Holland was thus liberated from Spain and Europe was thus liberated from Nazi Germany. Libraries were written on this blood and fire thing. Why are you picking on the Jews ? Racism is defined by some as the assigning the failing of humanity, because it is humanity, to one single group: Colored men love blond women ! who does not?. Jews like money ! who does not? Arabs are terrorists ! only they? and Irish ad Vietnamese and Jews? . Jews have bloody legends. true but so so many others! have you ever heard about the Vikings? Have you ever heard the Muslim slogn “Din Muhamaed Bil Saif”. =The law of Muhamad is by the sword. By picking on the Jews and by blaiming them for things that are common to all humanity you are acting like a racist.
Bill Pearlman says
the truth is that Israeli Jews know next to nothing about their Arab fellow citizens.
Let’s look at this from another angle. It’s possible that Israeli Jews know exactly what their fellow Arab citizens are about. Not to mention the Palestinians on the other side of the fence. They just might know something more about what’s going on than a “progressive Jew” living in Seattle.
Richard Silverstein says
Before you make accusations you ought to do a little reading here. I’ve written several posts before this one talking about precisely the terror attack which you claim I haven’t mentioned. The only reason I didn’t specifically mention it here was that I HAVE mentioned it before & assumed readers would know this.
The community where I live, Seattle, endured a terror attack & the victims & parents of the victims reacted diametrically opposite to the way you appear to think human being would react. They understood immediately that the shooter was mentally disturbed. They understood that he didn’t represent all Muslims. They did not blame all Muslism. They did not use the attack as justification for going on the rampage against Arabs. So no, I wouldn’t do the same & I’m proud to say that my fellow local Jews didn’t either.
There is a very high level of racism inherent within Israeli Jews as proven by public opinion surveys. Terrorist violence against Palestinians is fueled by these underlying discriminatory views which you’ve only reinforced in yr condescending statement above. Jewish acts of violence against Palestinians also pre-date the State of Israel’s creation. So what does it prove?
@Yerushalimey: It is outrageous that you claim that Olmert’s life is being threatened because he is a criminal under Israeli law. Second, the law that you quote doesn’t apply to this situation because the Occupied Territories are not part of Israel’s sovereign territory. Until Israel annexes them & calls them its own this law is irrelevant.
I have banned you once & lifted the ban. But I warn you once again that justifying in any way the death of the elected Israeli prime minister (or Palestinian president for that matter) is grounds for banning here. I don’t mess around with incitement. If you want to play with fire you’ll have to publish your views elsewhere.
@ Bar Kochba: More misquotations & misapprehensions of my pt of view. Jews are NOT worse and they are not better. They are human & therefore roughly equivalent in their behavior. The diff. is that Jews have more firepower & can do more damage than Palestinians can do. Believe me, if the Palestinians could kill 130 Jews in a week, most of them civilians while the Jews had no recourse to resist, then I’d be railing against the Palestinians.
No, I only feel I have a duty to point out to the Israel First crowd that Israelis (NOT “Jews” as you write above–an important distinction which you’ve attemptd to erase) are not white as driven snow. In their propaganda Israeli nationalists like you & them attempt to paint the Palestinians as the devil personified & Israelis as blameless.
Another lie. There were no “lychings” of Christians in the Middle East in the aftermath of the cartoons. You’ve been reading too much Little Green Footballs. As I recall, a priest was murdered in Turkey but this was a crime committed by extreme Turkish nationalists, not Islamic extremists; & the crime took place in the context of internal Turkish politics & had nothing to do w. the cartoons.
Howso? The cartoons have been reprinted numerous times including most recently a month ago or so & prominently republished. Geert Wilders distributed an atrocious piece of anti-Muslim film propaganda in Fitna. Guess what? No Islamic riots. No lychings. What happened to yr picture of evil Islam? Why didn’t they riot? Why didn’t they kill? How inconvenient for yr argument.
The Danish cartoons insulted the Prophet. Are you claiming that hametz is a concept of equivalent importance to the image of the founder of the Muslim religion?? And btw, there has been plenty of Haredi violence against those who do not share their religious views. Are you forgetting the gay marcher who was stabbed last year? And that’s but one incident. And if you think Haredi thugs (not all are but there are certainly a good number among them) need my encouragement or example to foment violence you’re really losing it.
@ Bill Pearlman: How would they? Would they work with them? Play with them? Go to school with them? Pray with them? Shop with them? Study with them? Would they study their literature? Read their newspapers? No, to all those questions w. the possible exception of the last at University. So how would they know anything at all about the “alien other?”
Richard Silverstein says
Because I am one and because this blog deals with Jews, Judaism and Jewish history. And because it disturbs me that anyone should build a nation on the blood of others, especially the innocent. Just because this has happened in the past doesn’t mean that I have to go along with it when it’s my own people doing it.
Mazel tov–you’ve come up w. a new concept: self-racism. It will enter the halls of useless, nonsensical rhetoric along with “Jewish self-hatred.”
“[T]he law that you quote doesn’t apply to this situation because the Occupied Territories are not part of Israel’s sovereign territory. Until Israel annexes them & calls them its own this law is irrelevant.”
In my comment I specified that parts of Jerusalem were suspected of being negotiated away. I thought Israel annexed Jerusalem in July 1980. Other people seem to think so too.
http://www.jstor.org/pss/2536188 I daresay that, despite your protestation, the law is very relevant indeed.
“I don’t mess around with incitement.”
I’m still having difficulty understanding how you define incitement. I pointed out why I thought others were demanding Olmert’s life. I observed that their demands were premature (I admit I am one of those Israeli citizens who believe he is indeed traitorously attempting to negotiate away parts of Jerusalem – which has been annexed), that there should be a trial. I was demanding that the law of the land be followed. I don’t see that as incitement.
I, on the contrary, would suggest that your literary style could fairly described as inciting. Take, for example, the following line from the post from which this thread dangles:
“posters dripping with blood red lettering”
Why do you invoke the image of blood dripping if not to incite against the people responsible for the posters? If the color of the lettering on the posters is relevant at all, why couldn’t you be content with describing the ink as red, or bright red, or scarlet, or fiery red?
I recognize that it is your blog and you have the right to write what you want the way you want, but if you set the tone of your piece by using such inflammatory language isn’t it reasonable to allow opposing voices to follow suit? Not that I think my style was inflammatory; snide, cynical, maybe even supercilious – but not inflammatory or inciting.
Someone can’t be a racist towards his own? What about an “Uncle Tom”? This is a well known phenomenon.
Richard Silverstein says
Uncle Tom wasn’t ‘racist toward his own.’ He was obsequeious before white folk & therefore an embarrassment to Black folk. Besides, any way you look at it I’m neither racist nor an Uncle Tomashevsky.
Richard Silverstein says
Frankly, I have no interest in WHY you wrote what you wrote or whether you feel it’s justified to explain someone else’s view. I’m only interested in WHAT you wrote & it is simply ASUR here to explain or advocate the execution, assassination or whatever of any elected leader in Israel or Palestine. PERIOD. Do it again & I’ll ban you again. Don’t even try to explain or justify why someone else has advocated this position. I simply won’t have it.
I have uploaded the actual poster into this post for you & all readers to review. I’ll let everyone decide for themselves whether there was blood on the minds of those who created this poster & this pogrom. If you were fair & honest you’d agree w. me, but I don’t care whether you do or not. This poster is an incitement to a pogrom–plain & simple. I merely point out what I think is obvious. Call it whatever the hell you want, I don’t care.
First off, I didn’t call you an Uncle Tom, but I can see how what I wrote can be perceived in that fashion. Rather I was taking issue with the concept that one can’t be racist towards ones own. I disagree with much of what you write, but believe me, if I wanted to insult you, I would show you enough respect to be open about it.
Secondly, I didn’t say “What about Uncle Tom”, I said “What about an Uncle Tom”. That is, the concept of Uncle Tom as opposed to the character from “Uncle Toms cabin”.
While you would be correct that an Uncle Tom is not the same thing as someone racist towards his own, as per the wiki entry, nevertheless, in common usage it is clear that it has those implications as well.
Richard Silverstein says
Thanks for clarifying your intent.
Not sure I fully agree with yr definition of “Uncle Tom.” Selling out to the white man isn’t the same as being racist toward one’s own.
But at any rate, I have a problem with the idea that one can hate oneself or one’s own flesh & blood. Yes, it happens. There are such examples. But the term is so often misused that it almost has no meaning through abuse. And if you want to see such abuse in spades just keep yr eye on the threads here where it happens so regularly I could set my watch by it.