IDF Recruits Congolese to Enforce Occupation, Do Israel’s Dirty Work
Not to be outdone by Muammar Qaddafi’s mercenary African army, the IDF too recruits Africans to put the screws to West Bank Palestinians. Two Congolese twins enlisted in the IDF and were assigned to the Kfir brigade, whose mission is to patrol the West Bank. Kfir is known as one of the most brutal of IDF units because it operates the checkpoints, performs the late night searches, and generally does the dirtiest work of Occupation.
Yisrael HaYom, Israel’s right-wing daily funded by Sheldon Adelson, proudly profiled the military induction ceremony at the Western Wall for Regis and Jess Mkomo, 21 year-old twins who are Congolese refugees. Their mother of course is extraordinarily proud of them, saying that they were babies of 4 years when they arrived in Israel and that the country had turned them into ‘real men.’ Men with guns that is. Which they will undoubtedly use as all the other members of their brigade do to harass Palestinians under Occupation.
It does me good to see that the nation believes in them and relies on them and gives them a chance. It’s also a great honor to the [Congolese] community as this is the first time anyone has [been allowed to] enlist. This is a good example how the children of foreign workers and refugees can contribute a lot to the nation.
Regis also talks proudly of this opportunity to serve his adopted country:
I am on the way to becoming a soldier and I will fight on behalf of the nation. I don’t feel different either in the army or in terms of my citizenship. Israel is my home. I lived here all my life.
His brother Jess says that he knew almost all his life that he wanted to be a combat solider so he could “defend the nation and defend his mother.” One of the leaders of the Israeli Congolese community notes that:
African refugees generally have a negative connotation within Israel, but that this proves that we have a good side and a desire to contribute to the State of Israel. This is a great honor for us.
I wonder whether after beating a Palestinian boy, or speaking harshly to a Palestinian grandmother any hint of the savage irony of their situation will creep into their consciousness. These boys were plucked from the chaos of the Congo and brought to a different and better life in Israel. All well and good. But what does the State do to them (an enterprise they participate in gratefully)? It turns them into the same sort of brutal soldiers who forced their family into exile in the Congo in the first place. All of which proves that Israel itself, a nation born at least partly out of the suffering of the Holocaust, can lose its bearings and sense of historical irony.
I only hope that the Mkomo twins will remember this verse from Exodus in the course of their military service while policing the West Bank:
Remember the stranger, for you too were strangers in the land of Egypt.
Palestinians are today’s Israelites, the stranger seeking justice and freedom after decades of bondage under Occupation. It is a terrible irony that boys who themselves were refugees less than two decades ago will now be enforcing Israel’s will against another degraded people. What have we done?
115 thoughts on “IDF Recruits Congolese to Enforce Occupation, Do Israel’s Dirty Work – Tikun Olam תיקון עולם إصلاح العالم”
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Wow. Just wow. You think Regis and Jess were recruited as 4-year olds to join the IDF in a way that was similar in any way, shape or form to the way Gaddafi recruited his murderous mercenaries? These boy have lived in Israel all their lives and wanted to give back to the country that gave them refuge. The Congo is a pretty nasty place, probably the most pressing human rights disaster in the world – certainly the Coltan War is the most fatal war since WW2 with over 6 million dead. Regis and Jess thankfully did not have to experience that directly although I’m sure they lost many family members. As IDF soldiers, their monthly salaries are about $150. Comparing these boys to Gadaffi’s murder squads is a bit off. And then you went and compared the soldiers in the Congo to the Kfir Brigade? Say what you will about the occupation but no one is chopping hands off or using rape as a weapon. I think this is one instance where you allowed yourself to get a little carried away.
Here’s what I think: that the Israeli Occupation regime is eager for some good PR and flacked a story to Bibiton (Yisrael HaYom) that would flatter itself. The twins are fodder for the Occupation. They’re cannon fodder if there’s a war and their PR fodder if there isn’t. Either way, they’re being exploited by the State. The fact that these refugees are happy to be exploited doesn’t lessen the insult of what’s being done to them.
So yes, just as mercenaries kill for money, the state is exploiting these boys to kill in return for the refuge the State has given them. It’s a dirty nasty business. First they’re stateless refugess & now the State that offered them a home turns around & siccs them on the Palestinians who also are stateless refugees in a manner of speaking. The fact that you don’t see the cruel irony of this indicates a certain moral obtuseness & blindness on your part.
I have no problem with Congolese refugees in Israel, with their military service, or with their integration into Israeli society (though it would be nice if Israel would stop being so hypocritical by heartlessly deporting other African refugees including mothers who bore children with Israeli husbands).
Richard, whatever you really want to say in this article, the way you said it made it seem like a bold-faced lie.
Ask 20 people (not just friends) and see if they don’t think you said that Israel was going to the Congo to hire soldiers.
You should have had a satire warning. This just makes you look biased
Actually, the headline was suggested to me by an Israeli reader of the blog who provided the link & story as well. Tell me where specifically I said Israel was going to Congo to hire mercenaries. The title says the IDF recruited Congolese to enforce the Occupation which is not the same as Israel going to the Congo to hire mercenaries. I’ll let others determine whether they think it was a lie or you don’t understand nuance.
Don’t be naive. Your opening line insinuates just that. Sometimes slandering insinuations can be just as dangerous as down-right lies.
I guess you read it in a different language than I wrote it. Insinuation is in the mind of the beholder.
It takes a particularly “gifted” mind to transform such a positive story to a story that negatively depicts Israel.
“Not to be outdone by Muammar Qaddafi’s mercenary African army, the IDF too recruits Africans to put the screws to West Bank Palestinians. ”
This is a laughable comparison which hints at racism. The twins are African refugees who likely fled their home due to persecution. They were not “imported” to Israel in order to serve as boy-soldiers, and no one forced them to join the army.
They fled to Israel to find a better life, which they apparently have. They volunteered to serve in the army as a way to express solidarity with the nation that gave them a new home. I find their decision to join the IDF noble. On the other hand, your pre-judgement that the twins will become thugs who brutalize Palestinians is offensive and somewhat racist.
There is not a single positive, constructive bone in you. People of your sort are excellent and destroying and disparaging others, but quite incapable when it comes to building. I am also referring to the Yoav Even case, whose picture and intimate details you’ve decided to publish, and damn the consequences. Whether he’s innocent or not – you don’t care – all you care about is “sticking it” to another Israeli.
No, it takes a mind that has a moral compass, which yours seems to lack at least as far as Israel is concerned.
And as for racism, yr comment is indeed “laughable” since the only racism is that of the IDF & State which places these boys in the donkey brigade to enforce the lowest, meanest, cruelest forms of discipline on occupied Palestinians. Now THAT’S racism.
FIrst, they clearly were allowed to immigrate to Israel as part of a PR campaign by which Israel hoped to score brownie points for absorbing Congolese refugees. In case you hadn’t noticed, Israeli attitudes toward African refugees have hardened considerably in the 18 yrs since they first arrived, and these same refugees would not be allowed into Israel now. At the time the twins were accepted there may’ve been no intent to dragoon them into the IDF & exploit them for PR purposes, but that’s certainly what’s happening now.
Again, through yr obtuseness you missed my point entirely, which was not that just these twins will become brutal enforcers of Occupation, but that they are part of the Kfir brigade known for their especially nasty treatment of the Palestinians in the West Bank. That’s Kfir’s job. Some do it willingly & some do it because they’re told to do it. But do it they do, just as the twins will do it when they begin patrolling. THe fault isn’t so much with individuals (though there certainly are numerous rotten apples), but with the operational mission of the IDF in the West Bank & the Occupation itself.
Just a note refering to these:
“they clearly were allowed to immigrate to Israel ”
“At the time the twins were accepted ”
African immigrants are not allowed or accepted in Israel, but they come all the time anyway. The twins probably arrived in Israel illegally, but were later allowed to stay.
There is a dispute over whether children born and raised in Israel should be allowed to stay, and since we’re talking about cute children in small numbers, some of them are allowed to stay after successful campaigns.
In any case, they most definitely didn’t arrive as part of a PR campaign.
First of all, LOL. No matter what Israel does, you will find a way to present its actions in the most negative light. In your mind, giving refuge to refugees is a “PR stunt” and enabling immigrants to integrate by serving in the army is “ruthless exploitation”. It’s as though you are looking at Israel through a lens that warps reality.
“the only racism is that of the IDF & State which places these boys in the donkey brigade to enforce the lowest, meanest, cruelest forms of discipline on occupied Palestinians. Now THAT’S racism.”
So let me guess this straight… The IDF is now not only exploiting these twins, it is also being RACIST towards them! Richard, what would satisfy you? What position should the twins be given in order to prove that the IDF isn’t racist?
“FIrst, they clearly were allowed to immigrate to Israel as part of a PR campaign by which Israel hoped to score brownie points for absorbing Congolese refugees.”
“clearly”? Really? This is starting to sound like a conspiracy. I had no idea Israel had a “PR campaign” of the sort. Do you have proof, indications that such a campaign existed? I say it’s a lie, a bold lie. Also, you suggested that Israel specifically imported African boys to serve as a mindless “mercenaries” in the IDF, at least that’s how I read it. That’s an absurd allegation, bordering on lunacy.
Israel continues to absorb refugees, PR or no PR. The same refugees are getting shot by Egyptian soldiers on the way here. But in your eyes, Israel will always remain the “little satan”. If it does good – then it must be a conspiracy, and if it does evil, then that’s just the way Israel behaves.
“Kfir brigade known for their especially nasty treatment of the Palestinians in the West Bank. That’s Kfir’s job. ”
While you certainly believe that Kfir’s job is the brutalization of Palestinians, it most certainly isn’t the case. Its job is to patrol, make arrests and make sure that terrorists don’t kill Jews. You make it sound as though Kfir was established to make the lives of Palestinians miserable, that’s nonsense. It was established purely for military reasons, rather than obscure, sinister political reasons.
Seriously. I feel kind of silly writing this post. You are so intensely hateful of Israel that you can take such a small and insignificant story and spin it as “proof” that Israel has an African mercenary army. It’s absolutely nuts!
The only useful thing about comments like yours is that they show how many ways my words can be deliberately misconstrued by someone with as much bad faith as you have. I never said that having immigrants serve in the army was ruthless exploitation (in fact I said just the opposite). I said having Congolese immigrants serving in the Kfir brigade & enforcing the brutalities of Occupation on Palestinians was ruthless exploitation. That’s just a tad diff. than what YOU claim I said.
Um, how ’bout a position in which they don’t have to beat up Palestinians regularly because that’s what their fellow soldiers are doing & they have to keep up with the Joneses??
I have a bright line rule around here. When anyone accuses me of lying they are immediately put on a 24 hour warning that demands that they prove their claim. If they don’t, they’re gone. NO ONE accuses me of lying, EVER. And if they do, they prove it or they’re gone. Your 24 hours are ticking.
I did not say that. Not even close. As you said, that’s how “I read it.” ANd I think we’ve established that you either don’t read or don’t understand or deliberately misconstrue what I DO write, as you did above.
I have NEVER called Israel that. Now, you’re abusing my hospitality. ANother bright line for me is I NEVER allow people like you to put words in my mouth. If I did, it would make me sick. I’m very close to banning you outright. But I’ll try to withstand the urge (for now).
All you have to do is a Google search to find multiple incidents of brutality for which Kfir is responsible. Try this Haaretz story for starters about a grievous hazing incident. Or this incident in which a Lt. Col. ordered a subordinate to shoot a bound & blindfolded Palestinian in the foot point blank with a rubber bullet. We could go on & on, but what’s the point. My readers know I’m right & you, well you are hopeless I’m afraid.
A comment in the Haaretz talkback section by an Israeli who knows the unit quite well also disputes your claim:
“Renowned for its brutality.” Did you get that?
Kfir was established to patrol the West Bank & maintain the Occupation by whatever means necessary including torture, abuse, maimings, killings, etc. Shooting bound & gagged Palestinians doesn’t seem to me to be a valid military action. But I’m sure you can come up w. a defense of it if you try hard enough.
I might’ve used a stronger term myself, but “silly” will do.
Though I’m not a Christian, they say “hate the sin, not the sinner.” It’s injustice I hate & Occupation & Israeli policy that enforces such evil. It is YOU who have confused my intense dislike of injustice with hate for Israel, which is not what I feel at all. In fact, this is a major comment rule violation. So this is your final warning. Read the comment rules–and follow them. If you don’t & continue commenting you may have a short shelf life here.
Nope, didn’t say it. I said it recruited African refugees to do the Occupation’s dirty work. That’s diff. than what you claim I said. You’re right on the edge buddy…
“I have a bright line rule around here. When anyone accuses me of lying they are immediately put on a 24 hour warning that demands that they prove their claim. If they don’t, they’re gone. NO ONE accuses me of lying, EVER. And if they do, they prove it or they’re gone. Your 24 hours are ticking.”
Richard, instead of huffing and puffing, why don’t you just give proof, or even reference, about this alleged “PR campaign” that Israel was engaged in? When you make an outrageous claim that defies common sense, it’s not up to me to disprove it. Rather, it is your responsibility to build a case for it.
You accused me of lying. That places the burden of proof on you. And I say it is up to you to disprove it. You’re my guest here & if you call me a liar, then you damn well better prove it or you won’t be here.
You and I both know that what you wrote about Israel’s so-called “PR campaign” was a slip of a tongue.
If it soothes you, I retract my original claim that your claim is a “lie”. Rather, it is more of a generic “profanity” against Israel, showing your innate bias against the Jewish nation, rather than exposing an actual historical event.
Let us not continue playing this game about you being “pro-Israeli”. I have been following your blog for a while, and all of your posts try to portray Israel in an extremely negative light, regardless of whether they have to do with the occupation or not. You seem to feel that Israel and its people – that is – the Jews of Israel, are corrupt and evil.
Some of your guests here have no qualms about showing their aversion towards a nation of Jews. While I consider those people my enemy, I respect their honesty. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said about you.
Sorry, you don’t know anything that I know & vice versa. Actually, an Israeli friend has told me that only 200 (non-Jewish) refugees have been formally accepted into Israel since 1948. So it’s highly likely the Mkomo came to Israel illegally. So no, there wasn’t even a PR campaign on Israel’s part to accept refugees & Israel doesn’t even deserve any credit for accepting Congolese refugess for PR or any other reason.
I have never uttered a profanity against Israel & again I object to your terms & find them offensive.
I have no bias whatsoever against Israel. And if you continue in this vein, once again, I warn you your stay here will be short. As for the Jewish state, I do have an objection to Israel as a state which give superior rights to Jews over non-Jews.
I’m about to halt your own game smearing my views. I contend that I am more pro Israel than you because my views if adopted would lead to Israel becoming a safe, secure accepted nation in the Middle East & yours will continue with endless war. So yes, I most definitely am pro Israeli. If you even come close to denying this, you’re gone.
NO, not “Israel.” But Israeli POLICY, Israeli Occupation. You can’t distinguish a difference because of your partisan ideology & obtuseness.
That’s it. You’re done. I’m sick & tired of your lies & calumnies. You’ve been warned to read the comment rules, clearly haven’t, & persist in making mendacious statements about my views.
you base your knowledge of Israel on the wrong friends:
One June 10, 1977, an Israeli cargo ship en route to Japan crossed paths with a boat full of 66 Vietnamese. They were out of food and water, were extremely lost and scared, and their boat was leaking. Their SOS signals had gone ignored by passing boats. The Israeli captain and crew immediately offered food and water and decided to bring the passengers on board and transported them to Israel. There, Prime Minister Menachem Begin authorized their Israeli citizenship. Following this rescue, between 1977 and 1979, Israel welcomed over three hundred Vietnamese refugees.
Maybe you should not ban Tzuri afterall.
Wow, isn’t that amazing. Israel ‘welcomed’ OVER 300 Vietnamese refugees. In the same period, Denmark, a country of 5 million inhabitants, ‘welcomed’ 7.000 Vietnamese refugees. “OVER 300”, truly “A Light Upon the Nations”. You should write an chapter on that on your wiki page. I wonder how many Palestinian refugees, Israel made in the same period…
I wrote it to inform Richard he was missinformed (and maybe missled) by his friend that told him Israel has given citizenship to only 200 peope who were not Jew. Since I’m not the interria office and have no records, I just looked up the first thing that came to my mind.
As for “light apone nations” You claim it, I never did. In fact in several places I’ve said that Israel is one small country in a big world. Nothing special.
@ Free man
Okay, if your comment wasn’t to ‘celebrate’ the humanity of the State of Israel, I withdraw the sarcasm from my comment.
“Comparing these boys to Gadaffi’s murder squads is a bit off.”
Probably true — Gadaffi’s murder squads probably get paid more, by Israel Ziv’s CST, the Israeli corporation that hired them. http://www.voltairenet.org/article168736.html
I suppose next you’re going to quote from The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. Do me a favor, and spare us the lame propoganda, will you?
No, but perhaps you’d like to…
you’re right, Rally?; I have no idea how much Israel Ziv’s CST corporation is paying the mercenaries it hired to fight for Gadaffi. It could be CST is paying those mercenaries exactly what Israel is paying the Congolese.
My bad for making an assertion for which I had no evidence.
You’ve all lost your marbles. I wasn’t aware this blog supports baseless conspiracy theories. It’s a good thing your reputed unnamed “Egyptian sources” are reliable. Unnamed sources of that nature were responsible to many other fantastic fabrications: Israel was responsible to 9.11; Israel harvests organs from Palestinian children and sells them on the black market etc. You can’t really argue with someone who’s blind to their own irrationality, so all I can do is feel sorry for you. As for you Richard, though less extreme, I think your hyperbolic assumptions are bordering on conspiracy. I can see your point about the paper using them as some sort of PR. However, African refugees mostly cross Israeli borders illegally. There is no sophisticated PR system which seduces refugees for political gain, that’s simply giving the Israeli government too much credit. The only example for this kind of organization, as far as I know, was during the 70’s, when Israel welcomed a few hundreds of Vietnamese refugee over the course of a decade. You might not agree with what’s done by Kfir soldiers, but they’re nowhere close to the mercenary atrocities in Africa. Moreover, while your opinions are clearly not racist, I find them slightly paternalistic: For all you know they willingly chose to draft. If someone chooses to act a certain way I don’t think we’re allowed to label them as victims of exploitation. Exploitation implies that the victims are either unaware of the repercussions of their actions, or stupid enough to be manipulated by higher powers. The twins are perfectly sane independent adults. Their actions are theirs to decide, who are you to judge?
This comment is WAY OFF TOPIC. Stay on topic. I’m not interested in conspiracy theories of any kind, so if you have nothing on topic to say, don’t say it.
The fact that Kfir is not as deadly & brutal as Congolese militias is cold comfort to me and the Palestinian victims of Kfir. The Congolese have killed over 4-million. Is that the benchmark you want to use to compare yrself to?
And this clearly & precisely true. The Congolese twins are certainly not aware of what they’re getting themselves into. They don’t understand that they will be terrorizing similarly (formerly in their case) oppressed people in their new jobs.
“And this clearly & precisely true. The Congolese twins are certainly not aware of what they’re getting themselves into. They don’t understand that they will be terrorizing similarly (formerly in their case) oppressed people in their new jobs.”
Oh but of course. Because the twins are not exposed to the Israeli media, have no Israeli friends and have been subjected to “brainwashing”. They are obviously incapable of making their own mind.
Perhaps Richard, the white hope, should tell those poor exploited twins what’s what. Their brainwashed minds cannot cope with all the information.
Don’t patronize, Richard. These twins are likely more well informed than you are. At the least, have some humility. You and I both don’t know them, who are we to judge what are they capable or incapable of?
I’m not patronizing. I read their words. Their words show absolutely no clue about what they’re about to get themselves into. They’re 21 yrs old and immigrants to a new country. What do they know of these things? They will shortly find out. You, on the other, hand will remain as dim as ever. At least they have an excuse since they are young & inexperienced. What’s yr excuse?
It seems like every side, whether it is Qaddafi or the rebels, Assad or his opposers – is always blaming Israel for inciting the rioting.
Like the guy before me said – I guess that you believe in the protocols of the learned elders of Zion as well.
This is a good hasbarist sound byte, but I find the historical reference offensive & objectionable. Your future comments will be moderated (& approved by me as long as they don’t violate the comment rules). After you read the comment rules, if you show that you can follow them I will remove you from moderation.
I usually appreciate your selection of news and your take on things, but this post is in very questionable taste.
In Israeli society, one of the few paths to social mobility (perhaps the only one) is the army. The soldiers in the Kfir brigade come from the weakest in society and are given the chance to “prove themselves” through violence to others. Many of them identify with their role as a way to assimilate to Israeli society successfully. It’s ugly, it’s disgusting, and it’s very very sad, but it has nothing to with Congolese specifically.
The only difference of the Mkomo brothers from their Ethiopian, Russian, or Mizrahi peers is that they are from Congo. The article in Israel Hayom is blatantly racist, and this post sounds equally so.
What relation is there between these immigrants to Israel and the Congolese mercenaries in Lybia?
I suppose that the twins are not citizens of Israel (and would in normal circumstances never would be accepted as such, maybe now they will but only for propaganda reasons). Service in a draft based army is and has always been restricted to citizens in normal countries. The ability to recruit non-citizens is common in armies who “buy” the soldiers with salaries or some other benefits. Libya is one of them and Israel seems to become also.
If the immigrant twins are not citizens or “even” not Jews and so have no obligation or even the “right” to serve in IDF, Israel has taken a step towards a ideology based and/or opportunist “professional” paid army. An army like the French Foreign Legion and German Waffen-SS’s foreign divisions.
IDF is not a normal army ready to defend the country with the resources of all its citizens. IDF is purely a religious based army with the mission of keeping up the its core religious group’s (Jew) superior rights and keep their less voluntary “servants” (= non-Jews – citizens, occupied and neighbours) in discipline. So recruiting a few non-Jews (and non citizens) doesn’t change the nature and goals of that army. The equal IDF system in a country with a large Jewish minority would naturally be an army where Jews are not allowed to serve (or have only that opportunity given rarely) and that army would be openly hostile to religious minorities including Jews.
Of course using non-citizens in an Israeli army and non Jews in a clearly Jewish army raises questions. Surely the twins of Congo will be not to trained to act as multicultural human rights advocates in the West Bank. Also how will they be rewarded after the service – are they “transported” to the famous Israeli gemstone “activities” in Africa or will they become real second class citizens?
You suppose wrong. The twins probably are citizens. There are many non-Jews in the IDF (Druzh and Bedouins are regularly drafted).
Richard – I believe your irony was lost on me. Your answer to Pea clarifies it. Sorry for being obtuse, and feel free to delete my comment.
I’m certain the Druze and Bedoins in the IDF will appreciate having these Congolese-Israelis to help them do the IDF’s grunt work. And judging from the expressions on their faces in the photo, the twins are “tickled pink” to be doing the IDF’s ‘dirty work’. But I feel compelled to add that they do not look nearly as happy as the shoeshine “boys” appeared to be back in the Jim Crow (U.S.) South. Or am I missing something?
Druze slam IDF’s ‘racial discrimination’ –http://www.haaretz.com/news/druze-rally-against-state-discrimination-near-netanyahu-office-1.278517
Druze rally against ‘state discrimination’ near Netanyahu office – http://www.haaretz.com/news/druze-rally-against-state-discrimination-near-netanyahu-office-1.278517
Druze protest: Give us water – http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3744201,00.html
Get your facts straight. There are quite a lot non-Jewish citizens in the IDF. The more probable option is that they are citizens. Even if they aren’t, they only way to serve in the IDF (for non citizens and citizens who aren’t obliged to draft, like Arab-Israelis) is to ask (!) to be drafted, and even then most of the applicants are refused. The IDF doesn’t coerce, nor does it seduce residents to enlist. By the way, while serving the residents’ conditions are in no way different than those of the rest of the soldiers. Your almost Nazi view of the IDF (an army of racial classes, its main purpose being maintaining one group superior) testifies to your lack of understanding and acquaintance with this subject, other than through cheap propaganda.
That’s a BIG stretch. There are SOME non-Jewish Israeli citizens in the IDF. “Quite a lot” is a large overstatement.
Yes, like the entirely willing & vastly qualified Israeli woman who was accepted into an elite unit…till they found out she was Israeli Palestinian…upon which she was rejected. I wrote about that story some time ago.
Realy if the twins really are Israeli citizens, which I seriously doubt, there is no problem. Besides that that Israel doesn’t allow all citizens to serve in the army. We in Finland have also people born in Africa, Middle East etc serving the mandatory military service. But every single of them is a Finnish citizen. Immigrants are not taken in the army if they are not citizens. So is it in Finland, Sweden, Germany, Austria etc. In countries where the army training is a national duty.
IDF is clearly a Jewish army of a Jewish country. For example the members of Kfir brigade have openly refused to take orders to evacuate settlers. That alone is an open religious mutiny. It is clear to everybody, besides pro-Israeli fanatics, that IDF is such a religious army the world has not seen for a long time. Of course IDF exists and operates to keep the theocracy it has been creating in life. IDF is not calling for an even modern society where your religion doesn’t decide your position in the society, IDF is the force to hinder such development. Imagine any country with an army with an equal religious agenda and pattern of behaviour. In that country it would be difficult to be a Jew or a member of any other small religion. A few Druze, immigrants (non-Jews) etc in IDF do not make IDF a normal defence force where all citizens have the opportunity and duty to serve.
Though there is some truth in this, I think this statement takes things too far. For sure, the IDF is far more religious with far more settler officers than it was during its heyday around the time of the 67 war. Then it was a kibbutznik army with secular officers. But saying it is a “religious army” I think overstates things.
Well IDF is the Jewish Army of the self-declared Jewish state, that is a fact. IDF is not a secular army in a secular state. Every day when this drama is escalating the religious features of IDF become more obvious to the world and even to Israelis. In the last “operations”, Lebanon war and Cast Lead the religious signs were up in a degree not seen before. And the worse this situation becomes the more religion will be used – on the Jewish side.
The difference with the Palestinian struggle is that they use religion in their defensive struggle in the same style every single nation under attack and occupation has used. Israeli Jews and their supporters use religion to justify the aggression, occupation and theft. Religion is in the end the only excuse to take Palestine. If religion is used to justify a decades long occupation of millions, exploitation and land theft it turns every religion to what we now see happening in Israel. This one fingernail s worth one million untermenschen style thinking becomes a general view. It is simply impossible to avoid the brutalization (and degeneration) of the religion.
Mister Silverstein you yourself wrote how the rabbis of IDF teach the soldiers to show no mercy to Palestinian civilians. If the main bishop of a western army would use equal language and give teachings like Brig. Gen. Rabbi Avichai Ronski, nobody would or could deny that the situation is far, really far from normal. Every alarm bell would be ringing.
Before IDF was careful not to show its religious foundation, but not any more. The Israeli soldier commanders and politicians speak increasingly often of protecting all Jews around the world. The Finnish army for example doesn’t have the “mission” of protecting all people with Finnish origin and or with protestant faith. Defending our country is enough.
Of course IDF can be seen as a secular army which keeps out of politics, is secular and equal without any religious agenda. But people who believe it being so most probably would believe that the world is flat. Israel has had the world record with top politicians having military background. The whole Jewish society is so militarized that one can’t separate IDF to a “secular defensive corner”. Even many of the IDF politicians did and do hide their real level of religiousness, they are Jews and a Jew is not Christian, Muslim or even an atheist. Judaism is defined by the religion, nothing else. I can become a Jew, but only through conversion. You could become a Finn and keep your religion, simply by living here x years. That is a huge difference in the year 2011.
First Finland hasn’t been in a war since WW2 against Soviet Union in which Finland lost Karjala to Soviet Union which Russia still Occupies if you ask from Finns.
You make it sound like Finland is a utopia free off rasism and that is far fetched. 19 % of Finns voted for a populist party which was the biggest winner in last parliamentary elections. Populism is on the rise all over Europe.
If Israel was half as democratic as Finland, she’d be a lot better off. Does Finland have a foreign minister who once belonged to a fascist political party as Avigdor Lieberman did (Kahane Chai)??
As I said, the twins are cannon fodder & PR fodder for the Occupation. Similarly, Qaddafit is exploiting his African mercenaries to prop up his own regime. I think the exploitation parallel is clear in both cases.
Sorry. No. It’s not clear.
Qaddafi is using thousands of highly paid foreign mercenaries to ruthlessly murder his own people.
In your view, the IDF is using these twins as “PR and cannon” fodder for the occupation which may not be very nice towards the Palestinians.
Even if we accept your puzzling interpretation, there is no parallel.
No, not to you. But that’s not unexpected. Most everyone else here except Pea & 1 or 2 others in this thread seems to understand pretty well. So maybe this is your own particular problem. And not one that anyone around here can fix for you.
Qaddafi is “ruthlessly murdering his own people” as you say. But so does the IDF ruthlessly murder Palestinian civilians, sometimes deliberately & sometimes accidentally (but negligently), but murder them it does in their hundreds and even thousands if you go back far enough. I’m afraid there is a parallel. You may not like the parallel, but that doesn’t mean it’s not.
I have to answer here because there was no reply button above.
“Does Finland have a foreign minister who once belonged to a fascist political party as Avigdor Lieberman did (Kahane Chai)??”
don’t know about kahane but fascist definately and they are in the parliament.
Mp Hakkarainen: used the n****r word twice in a interview and said some rasist things about muslims and minarets.
and another chap Mp Halla-Aho known for his anti-Muslim anti immigration comments. He would have become a sitting Minister had the party joined the coalition. now the party is responsible for the country’s immigration policy work group.
Social mobility afforded by the army is an interesting point. There is a peace worker in Bethlehem who is a semi-professional photographer, and a couple of months ago he went to photograph the demo at Sheikh Jarrah. He was approached by two nervous soldiers, who asked him not to take their pictures. “We know what this is and we don’t want to be the face of it.” They explained that they were from poor backgrounds and that their service was their only way of getting to university. The cost of refusal for them would have been simply too high.
Then all of the children of immigrants to Israel are mercenaries just like the children of immigrants to Libya that Kaddaffy is using.
This is a story of two kids who lived in Israel since the age of four. They are kids of an illegal imigrant from a troubled country. Since they lived in the country from childhood they got citizenship.
Now they join the army to defend their country. This is a nice minor story. I don’t see the reason for trying to turn it into an ugly one, nor a big one. Maybe you have a problem with the fact that Israel is giving citizenship to people who are not Jews. Maybe you have a problem with the fact that Israel protect itself. Unfortunatly, without this army my kids life span would be about 2 weeks, so I do like the fact the army is there.
In any case you can expect many more new Isralei citizens from different African countries. The current flow of refugees from Africa into Israel is about 1000 each month. Form troubled pleaces such as Ivory coast, Darfur, …
No, she was a refugee, not an illegal immigrant. I presume that 17 years ago, when Israel was ruled by a more merciful gov’t & its citizens were in a more humane mood they actually accepted Congolese refugees for resettlement in Israel.
And maybe you can’t read. Not only didn’t I say that in the post, I don’t believe it & have NEVER said it. And I detest people who claim I’ve said or believed things I don’t.
Maybe I have a problem with a state which does refugees a good turn & then turns around & exploits them to do the lowest, meanest dirty work the country can offer–oppressing another people.
Well, that almost sounds like a dramatic sound byte…except it isn’t true. Plus, I grant you the right to have an army to defend you. But I don’t grant you the right to have an army which tramples wholesale on the rights of another people & kills and maims their unarmed civilians at will. That’s where I part ways with you.
Not really. Yr Interior Ministry and Border Police are quite ruthless about deporting such undesirables & the rest of Israel seems quite content w. this draconian, cruel policy.
Right now refugees from many African countries come to Israel from Egypt at the rate of 1000 a month. Much much more than 17 years ago. Your comment on “more humane” is generalizing and has no base.
Sorry, in Israel, unlike the US, the best of the best join the army. It is nothing but meanest dirty work. We don’t send the poor to fight in Afganistan or Iraq.
It is simple not your place.
Thank you for granting me that right. The thing is, we Israelis don’t ask anybody to grant us the right to defend uor self. Leason learned from 60 years ago.
My interior Minister is an ignorat bigot. However there are many civilians who oppose him and are able to change the stupid things he trys to do. So your last statement is untrue. There are demonstartions, petitions and lobies that fight this kind of things.
You CAN’T send your soldiers to fight there because no one including the U.S. or the natives would accept you there. If they would have, you & I both know there would be Israeli soldiers in these places. Besides, you don’t need to send them there when you send them to oppress Palestinians.
How does serving in the Occupied Territories contribute to Israel’s defence?
I look at the soldiers here, and I don’t see them defending anything or anybody. I just see them making people’s lives difficult. Often when I pass through the checkpoint, I will find them messing around with their iPhones, reading magazines, or chatting to each other. There will be one turnstile in operation (manned by two soldiers), a massive queue of hot and frustrated people, and eight or nine other soldiers lolling about doing nothing. Last week I actually had to wake one of them up so I could pass through the turnstile. She was so sleepy and disorientated that she waved me through without even checking my passport. Defence of Israel?
The checkpoint is often callous, but at least it has its farcical moments to redeem it. I go to Hebron and things get worse. Now there is nothing to laugh at. The soldiers there are nearly always stressed, tense, and hostile. There is rarely an attempt at kindness or even basic politeness. I was sitting on the roof of a Palestinian family’s home, drinking tea with them, when a soldier in a guardpost decided that he objected to our presence. He didn’t ask us to go back inside; he started screaming – and I mean really screaming. “Get in now or I’m taking you to the police station.” This is a family sitting on the roof of their own home in their own neighbourhood, drinking tea with a guest. What threat did we pose to Israel or anyone?
From that roof you can see ladders running up to people’s back windows. The people have to enter their houses this way because the entrances on Shuhadeh Street have been barricaded and soldered shut. Shuhadeh Street is for settlers only now; the Palestinian businesses there have had to close, and the Palestinian homeowners can’t use their front doors. The IDF put up the barricades and soldered the doors, meaning that residents now clamber up and down ladders and take a route over the rooftops to reach street level. Elderly family members have had to go and live in other parts of the town, as they can’t cope with the acrobatics. This is what the Israeli military is doing in the Territories, and this is the kind of activity that the twins will be expected to participate in. Do you feel that you or other Israelis sleep more soundly at night because the IDF prevents Hebron residents from getting into their houses through the front door? The twins appear to think that by joining in with such initiatives they will be ‘defending their mother’.
As the occupation is a fundamentally racist enterprise, I find it very sad that two young men whose family has known oppression would freely volunteer to oppress others.
I think most if not all the checkpoints need to be removed.
I think that no restriction needs to be applied on people from Halil (Hebron) and that most settlers there are a pain in the ass not only for the Palestinians but for Israel as well. I do think that Jews have a right to pray there.
The fact that some of the time of those brothers will be spend in the west bank, reduces their capacity to perform the job of defending the country.
The thing is, the Israeli army does not exist because of the Palestinians. From the army point of view, being in the west bank is a distruction. The army exist to fight a war if it must, and most of the time to prevent it.
I agree with you completely on this.
Israel taking in and giving citizenship to refugees has become a major point in the Hasbara: ‘look at all the Sudanese etc refugees who come to Israel’. We all know they don’t go specifically for Israel, but for the West and Israel is one of the easiest countries to access.
I particularly have a problem with this, knowing that Israel is responsible for the biggest and most long standing refugee problem in the world, 4,8 million Palestinians are classified as refugees according to UNRWA.
Daniel mentioned ‘it’s good for the PR’ on another file, and that’s how I feel about ALL Israeli humanitarian stories. If you can do what Israel is and has been doing to the native Palestinians for decades, and show humanity to others, that’s simply hypocrisy
And the story of 5M refugee is the bigest propaganda of the Palestinians. How many of them were born in Palestine ?
100K ? Not even so. The thing is, the Arab countries failed to give citizenship to Palestinian children who were born there. Now those children and their children are called refugees.
If you count like this then US is home to 300M refugees and Israel home to 5M refugees.
Why do you – as usual – go off topic ?
“The thing is, the Arab countries failed to give citizensship to Palestinian children who were born there”.
No, the thing is you don’t know what you’re talking about !
1. All Arab countries dont behave the same way to the Palestinian refugees. In Syria, they have the same rights as everone else – also to go to prison. In Lebanon, it’s primarily the Christian-based political parties who refuse to give citizenship to the Palestinians, worried about the ‘communautarian balance’, created by the French, just as they created Lebanon before leaving the region, giving the power to their Maronite-puppets. Remember also, Ben Gourion dreaming of creating a weak, Christian state in Lebanon.
2. Palestinians, even in Syria, are still feeling Palestinians. Look at the young guy, Hassan Hijazi, who managed to go to Jaffa from where his ancestors were expelled.
3. We all know that you don’t give a damn about the Palestinians being integrated in the other Arab countries, if it weren’t for Israel to be exempted from fullfilling her duties. If this had been done back in 1949 when Abba Eban promised with his poker face in front of the UN that the resolution 194 would be respected in order for Israel to integrate the UN, we wouldn’t have been where we are today, but then we also know that Israel has been counting on time, aka Ben Gourion’s “the old will die and the young will forget”.
The facts is that the Palestinians want to live in Palestine, whether that is Akka, Haifa or Lydda, and whether this is now called Israel.
And if you don’t agree with the United Nation’s definition of Palestinian refugees, why don’t you write them, or make a lobby to fight for a redefinition ?
Nothing to say about your Congolese fellow countrymen ? By the way I wonder how they are classified in your ethnic system. Maybe they go for ‘Beduin’ as they’ve been on the road !
First cut the personal insults. There has far too many of those here.
Now to the point you wrote:
2. Sure they do. Also the Irish in US feel Irish.
3. Why do you think I don’t understand that ? I come from a nation that has been dreaming about it’s land for 2000 years, I will be the last one to ignore the fact that the Palestinians feel the same after 60.
4. As for my fellow countryman, they are just Israeli in my book. I don’t care if their mother came from the mars or what god they follow. Actualy the only god I liked so far has been the Bahai god, and maybe that is because I don’t know her too well.
Once again: your comparisons are mostly out of touch, and we both know that you’re only comparing to bring our attention elsewhere. The comparison with the Irish in the States has no value: they didn’t leave under the same circunstances as the Palestinians, all Irish-Americans can freely go back to Ireland on holiday, and it’s pretty easy for an American of Irish descent to settle in Ireland and obtain the Irish citizenship.
If you do understand the Palestinian longing for returning to Palestine, why did YOU bring up the ‘non-integration’ in the other Arab countries ? Trying to drive us around in circles ?
It might be that the twins from Congo are ‘just Israelis’ in your book, but that not how the Israeli authorities look upon people, and you know as well as I do how obsessed Israel is with ORIGINS. Those poor chaps are not ‘just Israeli’ but second class citizens. What did I say ? Fourth class, after the Mizrahim and the Falasha, but probably before the native Palestinians.
Sorry, but you can’t expel a people & prevent them fr. returning to their lands for generations & then insist that only those still alive can return. Israel will have to accept not only living refugees but immediate family as well. If Israel had recitified this injustice after 5, 10 or 20 yrs. it might be reasonable to restrict the Right of Return to direct refugees. But it’s far too late to do that now & would reward Israel for its sin.
To Richard these boys are idiots, yokels, rubes. They don’t understand the middle east or anything that goes on around him. He on the other hand, who lives in Seattle, knows better.
No, I’d say that it’s you who doesn’t understand much. You’re nickname tells us how much you live in the past.
Richard, as I wrote you in an e-mail, your site has become a tabloid. That’s sad because you have been known to dig up good and important stuff and say smart things about it. But I don’t see much of that anymore. Just about all you post is sensationalism. Come to think of it, you’re worse than a tabloid — you’ve stooped to the level of the National Enquirer, and you seem to attract admirers with the same tastes and IQ. What next? “Duchess Kate: I was raped by Mossad agents from Mars”? That’s about the size of it, Richard, and it’s too damn bad.
This is your problem, my friend, not mine. I’m guessing that I put up a mirror & you don’t like what you see.
And you’ve been quite offensive to my other readers who have quite good taste & high IQ. I’d say there are 10 more readers who will come to take your place. And they will have taste & IQ as high or higher than yours, thank you.
Yes, Richard, you are quite the carricature.
In your mind…which seems to be quite in the minority around here–except for those readers who as you claim share my poor taste & low IQ.
In your e mail you said you were “opting out.” That doesn’t seem to be the case. I wonder why?
Lawrence, I am a regular reader of this blog. I may not always agree with Richard’s analysis and his fierce debating style, but I find the stories that he develops to be very important ones. They provide an alternative perspective on Israel and I/P conflict. Richard sides with victims, with the oppressed, with the under-privileged. Take, for example, the case of Dirar Abu Sisi or the recent rape case. Who else will come up for the rights and dignity of these people?
This blog does not provide the whole picture of life in Israel (because it mostly concentrates on negative aspects of Israeli policies and occupation), but it does contribute to a whole picture. I come here for alternative information, for a different and sane Jewish voice who dares to say that the king is naked, while so many of our people lost any ability for self-reflection, self-doubt and compassion, and revel in their nationalistic frenzy and hate.
About this particular story: the point of this story is that there is a grim irony in the fact that two young African children of refugees or illegal immigrants, who fled oppression and war in Congo and who have probably been subject to a lot of racism and discrimination in their new country, are now allowed to enlist into the army’s unit that enforces occupation and oppression of another people. It is very likely that for them, this is the ultimate way to prove their worth, to show that they are true Israelis.
You know, as I was growing up as a Jewish boy in the former Soviet Union, in a neighborhood with very few Jews, I hated to be singled out as a Jew, to be called “жид” (jid), to be teased and bullied because of that. I just wanted to be accepted, to be like everybody else. I dreamed about being a football star, about serving in the army, about becoming a hero for the girls I was in love with. So I understand these Congolese guys.
But there is a different side to this. Again on a personal note, my grandfather Aron Levin came from a family of so called “lishenets”, people who were stripped of their many basic rights and denied many things including higher education by the Soviets, because they used to own a small shop before the revolution. He was drafted into the Soviet Army as a private in 1941 and killed in action in 1942 somewhere between Pskov and Leningrad, aged 34. He left a wife (a Yiddish teacher who after the war couldn’t find a job, because Yiddish schools had been banned) and 3 small kids, the youngest of whom died of typhus during evacuation to the Urals. He did not know that his father, mother, elder brother and sister and their whole families including infants were killed by the Nazis. I don’t know what he was thinking, but I can imagine that he was torn by the dilemma of having to fight for the country that treated him very badly, but also having to fight for his family.
I understand that this is a different story and that the two situations are unique and can hardly be compared. And yet there is a chance that, after having served in the occupation force, Regis and Jess may start asking themselves what the purpose of their service was, questions similar to those asked by American Vietnam veterans or Russian Afghanistan veterans.
Leonid, I know who Silverstein is and what he does, and often appreciate it. What’s aggravating is where he goes with so much of what he writes, and the childish way he often comes across.
I and others here in Israel who are so disappointed with where the country has gone and is still going appreciate people who speak out against the insanity — even harshly, and even if their message is polarizing and they live (gasp!) abroad. But if the talk comes to Silverstein, you should see their eyes roll.
You have a fine style of writing and seem to have a mature and rational delivery — ever thought of doing this yourself?
I just don’t get it. If you don’t like Richard’s style and find his blog of such bad quality, why don’t you go elsewhere ? It’s not that you’re blocked by checkpoints, is it ? ‘If you don’t like the odor in the bakery, buy your bread elsewhere’.
You are right, Deir, although I must give Silverstein credit because he on occasion digs up things that no one else has, meaning there are indeed loaves of tasty and nourishing bread here and there. What bothers me, though, is all the half-baked goods with extra carbs, trans fats and empty calories, and having to pick through all the stock before you get what you need. And then there’s the baker’s attitude. A few threads up he replied to Altalena (no friend of mine, by the way) with the following: “You’re nickname tells us how much you live in the past.” Tell me Deir, has the baker ever said that to you? I didn’t think so.
Oh yeah – he’s also gotta do something about that spelling.
I have to admit that I had no idea what Altalena was. I looked it up, and to be honest: that says a lot about the person choosing such a pen name. Irgoun and their misdeeds is nothing to be proud of. As for my pen name – nothing to be proud about either for the Irgoun lads who perpetrated the massacre -but I don’t think it refers to the past. To paraphrase Mahmoud Darwish, it’s a ‘metaphore of Palestine’, and what I find most disturbing about Deïr Yassin is the fact that the remaining buildings today house a mental hospital, and that it’s visible from the Yad Vashem. There’s really material for a ethnophychiatrist in these two facts…
By saying that Altalena lives in the past, Richard maybe referred to the usual critique here: that he who lives in Seattle doesn’t know what’s going on in Israel, but in the era of internet, these accusations have no validity.
I read recently that David Horowitz has never been to Israel. I’m sure right-wing Zionists such as Altalena wouldn’t blame him on that when he spew his Hasbara.
As I just wrote in another comment here, Rifkin wrote me a private e mail telling me he was “opting out.” I guess he can’t quite manage to squeeze out the door.
You know not every bakery is meant for every taste. There are plenty of people who prefer Wonder Bread to ficelle. You’re clearly among the former. As for the extra carbs, you’re getting that from all that Wonder Bread you’ve ingested. No empty calories here. Everything is served fresh with pure ingredients.
As for living in the past, that is precisely what Deir Yassin does NOT do, despite her nickname, one I have no problem with whatsoever. It’s not peoples’ names that are the problem, it’s what they say in their comments when they’re like Altalena’s.
There are a few minor problems with Rifkin’s comment. First, my blog is rated around 7,000 of all blogs read in Israel. 3-5% of all my blog traffic is from Israel, which amounts to about 40,000 unique visits a yr. Rifkin says the eyes of an unspecified number of Israelis roll when mention of my name is made (who’s he talking to…Shin Bet officers?). If that was even remotely true I assure you that my blog would not be read by as many Israelis as it is.
Shin Bet? Such a sense of humor. Get a grip, Richard.
Lawrence, thanks for your praise. I am not a journalist (I’m actually a computer programmer), nor am I a native English speaker. I maintain a website for my extended family’s history and genealogy, as well as a small personal blog about my life, family, interests, etc. That’s enough. If I ever venture into more writing, that’d be creative writing or songs.
Lawrence, may I ask you something? You characterize Richard’s blog like “worse than a tabloid”, “seem to attract admirers with the same tastes and IQ”, “half-baked goods”, “half the other crap”, “have nothing to offer except hatred and blame”. I would like to invite to be more concrete and constructive in your criticism. If there is something in particular, you don’t like or find objectionable, please say so, and then we can talk about it. Otherwise, discussion is very easily reduced to personal attacks, insults and unsubstantiated claims.
My personal take on this is that Internet fora are not a good medium to discuss things. In a person-to-person conversation, we have a lot more instruments at our disposal apart from words: like facial expressions, intonation, gestures; we can clarify things much more easily by asking questions; we can more easily figure out what the intent of the speaker is. But here we are confined to words. We are easily pinned to what we have said. Words are often taken out of context. Often only a secondary argument is quoted and discussion is driven into a totally different direction, while the primary point is neglected and quickly forgotten.
So, what is it in this story that you find sensationalist or tabloid or crap? Do you object to the story itself or to the way Richard pens it? What is in your opinion the true meaning behind the facts presented here?
I never spent much time here but started to only because of this story. I mean, look at the headline, look at the lead sentence:
IDF Recruits Congolese to Enforce Occupation, Do Israel’s Dirty Work
Not to be outdone by Muammar Qaddafi’s mercenary African army, the IDF too recruits Africans to put the screws to West Bank Palestinians….
Now tell me, which newspaper might you see this in — the New York Times or the New York Post? (Or maybe even the National Enquirer?) This is sensationalism, pure and simple. Someone else can call it spin and be done with it, but it’s spin of the worst type, so bad and off-kilter that it broke out of its moorings and smashed everything around it.
As for “seem to attract admirers with the same tastes and IQ”, “half-baked goods”, “half the other crap”, “have nothing to offer except hatred and blame,” look around. Do I really have to explain? (In case you were offended by the first phrase, I was careful not to write “ONLY admirers….” It seems there are thoughtful, smart people here, but many others who are not.)
But it’s the “have nothing to offer except hatred and blame” part that gets me the most. I was settling into what I thought would be a rational back-and-forth with Deir Yassin, but the minute I asked her for her general thoughts on solutions, she said she didn’t like the way I was talking to Richard and, besides, she had written her thoughts previously. How can I help but believe that she really has nothing constructive to offer?
Note Richard’s reply to Altalena (again, with a moniker like that, no friend of mine) when the latter brings up the Gaza woman who was treated in an Israeli hospital and then, when at the Erez checkpoint, supposedly to return for more treatment, it turns out she was wearing explosives: “Off topic.” That’s all. Not “Despicable, but off topic,” just “off topic.” Someone new to the site, like me, who sees such a sensationalist, off-kilter headline and lead sentence, and then a cold, snappy “Off topic” to something so horrid, can’t help but believe that few people here are driven by anything but hatred and blame.
I’m a left-of center Israeli who hates a lot of what is going on and is not afraid to say so, write so, and show it at demos and the like, but obviously I’m not extreme enough for Richard or some others here. Yes, I’m snarky, as Richard has pointed out, but so is he, and in spades (along with childish, I must say), which is why he has turned out to be such a disappointment.
I agree with you that the title and the lead sentence can be misleading and sound sensationalist. I don’t know much about journalism, but it looks like journalists sometimes emply this kind of exageration to attract attention to their articles, especially in the headlines. Apart from these two sentences, I find this a very intersting and important story for the reasons I outlined in my previous comments.
To be honest, I don’t know why Richard is so hard on people like you in the comment threads. I guess he’s had to put up with a lot of abuse, false accusations, red herrings, etc. by other commenters. Also he probably doesn’t have much time, so his comments are often his first gut reaction. See my previous thoughts on why Internet forums or comment threads are not such a good way to discuss things.
It’ll do all of us much good if we tried to understand what the other is feeling and saying. We should exchange personal stories, understand each other’s suffering and concerns, and thereby get closer and not further apart. On the other hand, people who are here not to look for truth and understanding of the issues in question, but to hijack discussions, argue for the sake of argument, smear the author’s reputation and character, could better go elsewhere.
Anyway, I’ve enjoyed this interaction with you! Hopefully, you can see through Richard’s snark and indignation and still appreciate the work he’s doing. Hopefully, Richard will not be so harsh on people like you! I believe that both of you, as well as Deir Yassin, are decent people. I think the problem lies in how we say things. It’d de wonderful, if we could be less hostile and more polite in our comments!
Actually Leonid is my better half. He’s Mr. Hyde & I’m Dr. Jekyll (that’s a joke btw). Seriously, Leonid I have nothing but admiration for you, yr patience & yr goodness.
Leonid, I can’t help but agree with just about everything you say. But I AM a journalist and have been at it for 30 years. I know blogs are not journalism in a traditional way, yet they are because they tend to go after and report stories the mainstream media often overlook. What sets them apart, though, is the editorializing that pervades everything, and not just the “editorial page.” This is, of course, fine because, well, that’s what blogs usually are.
In real journalism (with all due respect, this excludes tabloids and the like), there is no need for sensationalism (or snark) to draw one in. Nor is there in blogs, hence my comment to Richard about tabloids and even the National Enquirer.
While I never before got involved in talkbacks (which is what I meant when I said I was “new” around here), I often found the material Richard presented was original and interesting – if not always entirely true. This is not to say he lies, but we all overlook things or plain get them wrong. We also misunderstand a lot of things and then go on to present them as if we’re experts. It’s not what you know that’s critical in journalism (and, yes, in blogs) – it’s knowing there are things you don’t know, and then writing accordingly.
Lately I’ve been noticing a decline in the material here – less about the conflict and more about peripheral things. The Yoav Even stuff comes to mind. If what he’s been accused of here is true, then he’s scum. The gag order is questionable, too. But what does this have to do with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? I can’t help but believe that the sole objective in covering the Even story in this blog is to point a finger and say, Look how terrible Israeli society is. And you know what? There’s something to that. But this blog is dedicated to a conflict between TWO sides. It’s clear which side Richard thinks is mostly at fault, but doesn’t he know about all the Yoav Evens on the other side (as they are everywhere)? Doesn’t he know about the people who are even worse? Why is this blog not going after them? Aren’t they scum, too?
As for Richard’s reply to your latest comment, I agree. You are unique in that – as I wrote in my first reply to you about your “mature and rational delivery” – you also seem to be a good soul. I wish there were more blog followers like that.
And Richard, that comment of yours about Leonid being your better half, is this your way of validating what he said about you being hard on people? Your reply to my very first comment, about this blog having become more like a tabloid and even the National Enquirer – “This is your problem, my friend, not mine. I’m guessing that I put up a mirror & you don’t like what you see” – was that necessary? It reminds me of the rejoinder I used to hear as a kid: I know you are but what am I? Is there truth to Leonid’s comment (“I guess he’s had to put up with a lot of abuse, false accusations, red herrings, etc. by other commenters. Also he probably doesn’t have much time, so his comments are often his first gut reaction”)? I’m sure you’re as decent as Leonid is, but you come across (and please notice I’m not saying you ARE but only come across) as an arrogant know-it-all. When I come up against something like that, I switch gears (and often end up sounding no better), but this is your site and you set the tone. Can you set a tone that’s a little more tolerant and less supercilious?
Just how familiar are you with Israeli journalism?? Not very. Or else you’re ignoring all the sensationalism that passes for journalism in Israel’s mainstream press.
Memo to Rifkin. You ain’t my editor. And in case you hadn’t noticed, I didn’t ask for your opinion about this blog. Here’s what your job as a reader or commenter is: to read and comment in a substantive way on the content of my posts. Not to give yr considered opinion about the quality of my writing or choices of subject matter. I could care less, since I don’t respect yr judgment or tone. So if you can do all that, do so. If you can’t, can it.
Only a man who’s never suffered sexual assault could say the Yoav Even rape case is “peripheral.” And in case you hadn’t noticed, the subject of this blog is ISRAEL (and by extention the Israeli-Arab conflict). As such I comment on any and all subjects pertinent to ISRAEL, including sexual violence against women when it pertains to Israeli democracy (gag orders).
You want me to write about Palestinian rapists? When the subject of my blog is Israel?
YOu apparently didn’t notice that YOU were the one who levelled insulting, supercilious criticism against me first. I tend to respond to people in the tone they address me. Look to what you first wrote to me to discover why I replied in the way I did.
“but the minute I asked her for her general thoughts on solutions, she said she didn’t like the way I was talking to Richard, and besides she had written her thoughts previously”
‘First you piss on people, and then you say they stink !’ Statement by one of my favorite politicians to a righ-wing xenophobic, advocating discrimination towards Muslim immigrants all while stating that they don’t want to immigrate.
I’m not comparing you to that guy at all but there’s some link. You’re rude and arrogant on your first comment around, and still you think you can squat Richard’s blog all while dispising him. He’s not running a public library, or any other public funded institution to which you contribute through your taxes, is he ? You thus have no ‘civic rights’ here. He’s got a family and 3 young kids, and he still finds the time to run this blog FREELY.
Maybe you should take the time to read the comment rules: they apply to everyone, I think. They might be strict, but that’s fine.
Richard writes articles – again FREELY – on various topics, and wants people to stay on topic. Is that not fair ?
If you’ve seen the number of commenters posting propaganda that has absolutely nothing to do with the content of the article. You know like the Hamas-charter on a file on Ameer Makhoul, an Islamophobic film on a file on a rape case etc etc.
So you come around, and think people will just obey your personal requests ! I’ve explained previously, on innumerable occasions, what I think is the solution, when it was a natural part of the debate, and not because some guy come around thinking that he’ll set the agenda for the discussion.
People come and go, you’re probably staying two-three days, why should I waste my time explaining my opinions, if YOU don’t take the time to ‘integrate’ the blog.
I read this blog for weeks before commenting, so I knew more or less where people stood, and I at least knew Richard’s positions quite well. That’s the least you can do to someone who spent his private time, writing a blog, don’t you think so ? I’m amazed by Richard’s answers. The number of times he’s answered to exacly the same questions, Fatwas, accusations, Hasbara .. And again, you’re not paying here …
Erratum: “all while stating that they don’t want to INTEGRATE”
Huh? The quoted comment you open with, Deir, was written in a reply to Leonid after you reacted to my question about your stance on the Israeli-Palestinian dispute with a couple of lame excuses for not giving me an answer. That you eventually saw fit to answer my query elicited from me what I thought was a very polite reply, and that is where I believed things remained.
Why this outburst now? What I wrote in my most recent reply to Leonid concerned observations I made about Richard that Leonid agreed with, and others he did not. I ended that reply with some observations addressed to Richard himself that I believe were not only legitimate, but also framed in a polite and business-like manner, and to which I hope he replies. Regarding my own tone in previous comments, I went so far as to explain to Richard that when someone addresses me the way he did, I “often end up sounding no better.”
Can you accept that?
You mean you actually think your condescending, insulting, gratuitous criticism is “polite & business like?” Glad at least you didn’t use words like “constructive, polite, well-intentioned.” You walk like a duck, talk like a duck, and talk like a duck, yet you want us to believe you’re a swan. Hah.
“The quoted comment you open with was written in a reply to Leonid after you blahblahblah …”
On blogs, it’s a good tone that people can intervene on all comments, even if they’re for someone else – that’s the purpose of a blog – and particularly as you mentioned my why-and-why-nots.
If you’d read the rest of my comment -and eventually the comments rules, but why bother – you’d understand why, even if my English is shit.
You don’t think you have a problem that has nothing to do with Richard’s way of conducting his own blog: like narcissim ? You’ve written a doctoral thesis by now, interpreted every exclamation mark and semi-colon in his comments to you. No real big problems in life ? Take a trip to the West Bank then … you’ll get some perspective.
As you once said, Deir, ma’a salâma.
Richard, Lawrence, thanks for your kind words. Like most people, I have my own demons. If we recognize that about ourselves, it’s a lot easier to deal with others.
Lawrence, I agree with a lot of what you say, but I disagree on the rape case. Apart from the fact that Richard sides with the victim, which is honorable and noble, I see it in the context of Richard’s fight against gag orders. It may not be directly relevant to the conflict, but it can be seen in the context of tikun olam. Although I don’t need to know the name of the accused, cases like this should be made public to increase public awareness of female experience.
You’re pointing to the fact that Richard’s reporting is unbalanced: too much negativity about Israel and little positivity. Well, I guess there are many places one can go to to find out the good things about Israel. This blog is dedicated to criticism, investigative reporting, alternative vision for Israel and the Jewish people. It is not easy and takes a lot of courage to criticize one’s own people. This is always interpreted either as an expression of (self-)hate or as an expression of care and concern or as mere foolishness. No doubt, the great ancient prophets have been subject to the same kind of treatment.
You are talking about the conflict between two sides, probably meaning the Israeli and Palestinian people. I see it more as a conflict of elites and ideologies. Most people will be happy to live in peace and friendship with each other. Instead they are taught fear and hate by those who have interest in the continuation of the conflict. We cannot change attitudes of the other side, but we can change our own attitudes, which will inevitably affect the other side too.
I came here with a large chip on my shoulder. I apologize to everyone for my tone.
Well, golly. Jewish tradition requires that you accept any good faith effort at teshuvah (“making amends”) so I’ll accept that gratefully & try to modulate my own tone accordingly. Thanks for that.
Wow, I am very happy that you two could set aside your argument and “shake hands”!
Time will tell whether the argument is set aside. But Lawrence’s comment yesterday was like balm in Gilead to use a Biblical phrase. And thank you if you played any role in brokering a sulha.
A powerful story, for which I thank you.
This story somehow reminded me of the story of a young Ethiopian Israeli Jew who wrote a letter about his doubts about enlisting into the IDF, because he thought that if he were killed in the army, who would then fight for his family’s rights: http://972mag.com/ethrefuse/
Deir, there’s a lot we all have to be ashamed about. Maybe I should take the screen name “Hadassah Convoy” to even it out a bit? Or should we just focus on where we are now and where we can realistically go from here? All this talk of “Congolese” and “mercenaries” and half the other crap Silverstein dredges up is ridiculous and inflammatory, and just distracts us from solving our problems. He’s now no better than some of those right-wing pro-Israel sites that have nothing to offer except hatred and blame. I can’t help but think that this baker is more interested in publicity than he is in producing good and nutritious bread.
Now folks, this is what a liberal Zionist sounds like. They’re a dying breed so you ought to come see them before they die out entirely. I’d say it’s you & your attitudes which distract fr. solving Israel’s problems. If you solved 10% of the problems I point out in my blog, Israel would be a far better place. Instead, you whine & krechs about how I’m so mean to Israel. Gimme a break. If you want to be pampered go to a local spa.
You’re crossing a red line now. There’s really only so much of this I can take. So you decide how much bile you have to spew. When it crosses the line, you’ll find yourself moderated or worse.
I think you’re no better than the members of Rotter who say precisely the same things. But they have a good excuse, they’re right wing extremists. You claim to be a liberal Zionist. I’m beginning to think you’re nothing more than a troll concealing yr true views.
800,000 unique visitors like my bread just fine thank you. If you need to find a liberal Zionist blog to call home, we have a number of suggestions if you can’t particpate here without being overly insulting.
Nowhere did I say you’re mean to Israel. I wonder why that thought popped into your head? And go ahead: Tell everyone what my true views are. You seem to know everything. What you can’t accept is that there is more than just the Richard Silverstein way.
I’m waiting, Richard. Oh, by the way, I did opt out but I continue to receive e-mail updates about new topics. Why is that? Still, I’m finding the interaction with at least one of your followers interesting and quite cordial, and for the time being will continue with these threads.
You didn’t opt out of anything. If you want to stop receiving e mail notices you unsubscribe. Until you do, you continue receiving them.
Snark gets its own reward: now you will be moderated. The next time you violate the comment rules your privileges will be further restricted or ended.
I’m waiting, Richard. Oh, by the way, I did opt out but I continue to receive e-mail updates about new topics. Why is that? Still, I’m finding the interaction with at least one of your followers interesting and quite cordial, and for the time being will continue with these threads.
“Or should we just focus on where we are now and where we can realistically go from here ?”
Coming from an Israeli … It reminds me of an anecdote by the French historian Marc Ferro:
“After the war, a Jew whose family had been deported, and a German who was a soldier in the Wehrmacht during the war were doing business together. One day the German asked: “Why can’t you Jews not just move on and forget what happened during the war ? We, Germans, managed to forgive, why not you ?” ….
Deir, the “where we can realistically go from here” part may include restitution to make a solution more palatable to both sides, although neither side can be expected to forgive or forget past grievances. And you know what? Forget the BOTH sides for now. How can this problem be solved to YOUR satisfaction?
I don’t like the tone in your comments to Richard. You’re playing it arrogant, and still you think you can settle down in his sitting room, take a drink in his private bar and have a chat with his other guests ?
I’ve stated lots of times what’s my personal preference to solve the conflict but as you were leaving …. ma’a salâma.
“I don’t like the tone in your comments to Richard. You’re playing it arrogant, and still you think you can settle down in his sitting room, take a drink in his private bar and have a chat with his other guests? I’ve stated lots of times what’s my personal preference to solve the conflict…”
All it takes is a sentence or two to state in a general way one’s personal preference to someone new to these surroundings. Telling me to spend my time sleuthing in order to figure out where you’re coming from, and bringing up my tone to Richard don’t do much to make me think you’re truly open to dialogue, which is a pity because you deliver no harangues, no sensationalist garbage, and seem open to rational and reasonable give-and-take. Guess I was wrong.
As for your “maa salama,” la moshkela!
I’m for a One State solution: one democratic secular state from the river to the sea with eventually extended autonomy in cultural, religious and maybe social affairs. Sharing the same land without forcebly sharing the same aspirations …
Maybe a federal solution à la Switzerland. I simply can’t come to peace with a two state solution, but it’s for the majority of the Palestinians to decide. The ROR should be applied for everyone who wants to settle down in his ‘home and live in peace with his neighbours’ as the 194 states. After a certain amount of years, the ROR should no longer be valid neither for diaspora Palestinians nor for diaspora Jews, of course.
This needs creativity, tolerance and intelligence, but if I understand some of the Israeli Hasbaristas here, they have plenty of all that.
Deir Yassin, there’s no reply link in your reply to me, so I hope you see this.
I appreciate your taking a few sentences to explain your vision. Your vision sounds wonderful. I might be persuaded, but only if the world were more perfect.
Please don’t take this as my way of avoiding debate. It’s just that I’m a two-stater, and although I even have some pretty liberal views on dividing control over Jerusalem, I’ve never been able to get a useful dialogue going with a one-stater. It all ends up as polemics.
Still, I appreciate your candor and hope that someday, somehow, we can achieve something that is at least minimally amenable to us all.
I get the template. The Jews are the new nazi’s and the palestinians are the oppressed Jews. Which would have slightly more resonance if there hadn’t been a Moslem SS division which did quite a number on the the Jews in the Balkans. If the mufti of Jerusalem hadn’t been Hitlers personal guest during the war. And if the Jews in Iraq hadn’t been subjected to severe pogroms in 1941. Which I believe was eight years before the founding of the state of Israel. I do think Mr Rifkin should start using the screen name “Hadassah Doctors convoy”. Has a certain poetic irony, don’t you think?
Last warning. This blog is not your ideological playground. You don’t get to determine the topic of threads. Major rule #1: comments are ON-TOPIC. In other words, they are directly relevant & pertinent to the subject of the post. Hoary old anti Palestinian themes like the Palestinian SS division are complete red herring diversions. Besides, we’ve already argued about this subject before. I hate it when people bring up hasbara propaganda themes which have already been rebutted here, often many times. Nothing could be more borning.
So read the comment rules & follow them.
See what I said about childish, Richard? Don’t worry, though, everyone knows this is YOUR playground. Now run along and play on the teeter-totter and let the adults get on with their business.
I guess it’s too sophisticated for someone who praise Irgun, but ancdotes are supposed to give a hint or a frame, not to be 100% analogous. And you completely missed the point: it was an answer to someone who said let’s forget the past and move on. I guess you have the same feelings about German financial compensations, haven’t you ?
Not only the Mufti was Hitler’s personal guest during the war, but Hitler was in fact Palestinian ! You’ve never noticed that bizarre accent in his German ? It wasn’t Austrian, but al-Qudsi German. Ever heard of the German Colony in Jerusalem ? We’ve tried to hide it the best we could but in the era of the net it’s getting harder.
The Farhud pogroms of Baghdad were also done by Palestinians, of course. To paraphrase someone that’s hopefully still burning in Hell: “They are everywhere !”
Your man Deir Yassin brought up WW2. Not me. You should be consistent in your rules. And you might consider the racism inherent in the idea that people from the Congo are too stupid to know what is going on around them
The only people who accuse me of racism are Irgunists & their supporters like you. I don’t think you’d recognize racism unless it jumped up & bit you in the face, unless of course it was politically convenient & then you’d shout it till the cows came home.
No, you may not. It’s off topic.
How would you know? Did you read it in Bibiton? I love it when someone who’s never been to Gaza, has no intention of ever going to Gaza, & in fact hates Gaza and Gazans tells us what the reality is in…you guessed it, Gaza.
Well, I could ask you the same question. You hate Israel and Israeli Jews. Yet your pretty sure about the reality in Israel. How would you respond.
If you’re talking to me as I assume you are, you’ve violated yr last comment rule here & are now banned. If you were not addressing me you’ve still violated the comment rules, but I will unban you if you write to me and promise you will read the comment rules and abide by them in future.