17 thoughts on “What Israel Has to Teach Us – Tikun Olam תיקון עולם إصلاح العالم
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  1. I have always wondered if this trend was purely home grown or if it was imported from the Soviet-union. There is no reason why Jews from there should not have brought the culture of corruption with them which plagues the present states of the former Soviet-union. One only have to look at Ukraine to see how bad it can end up.

    For some practical insight into corruption practices from the Soviet-union.

    1. Poul,

      I wish such actions were imported! Unfortunately, abuse of power and pleasure at degrading others seems to be a worldwide phenomenon. When it targets a specific group, it breeds the hatred and despair that only hopeless impotence can,

  2. Typo: Ghassan Kanafani. Apart from being a militant in the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, Kanafani was the chief-editor of the PFLP newspaper, and known as Palestine’s probably best known author of short stories (his ‘Men in the Sun’ has been translated to dozens of languages, and made into a film, his collection of short stories “All that is left for You” and his “The Little Lanter” that he wrote for his niece Lamis for her 9th birthday. Lamis was killed with Ghassan Kanafani on that morning July 8th 1972 when the Mossad blew up his car in Beirut. His Danish wife Annie, and his two kids, Fayez and Leila, were on the balcony of their appartment. Annie still lives there. God bless his memory.

    I think the photo on Issam Bayan’s Facebook is from the documentary “Check-point” (2003) by Israeli film director Yoav Shamir.
    Everyone should see this at least once, it simply turns your stomach inside out, after seeing I came to think of a new word ‘goyimitude’, I later found out it was already invented 🙂
    The short version (60 min) is available on youtube with French, Spanish and German subtitles, I didn’t find any English version. The long version (90 min) is available on Dailymotion with French subtitles, the x-tra 30 min is worth it, well, it’s just 30 minutes more of daily nonsensical humiliations.

    1. From Gideon Levy’s interview with Sergeant Furer, the autor of Checkpoint Syndrome:

      “Furer is certain that what happened to him is not at all unique. Here he was – a creative, sensitive graduate of the Thelma Yellin High School of the Arts, who became an animal at the checkpoint, a violent sadist who beat up Palestinians because they didn’t show him the proper courtesy, who shot out tires of cars because their owners were playing the radio too loud, who abused a retarded teenage boy lying handcuffed on the floor of the Jeep, just because he had to take his anger out somehow. “Checkpoint Syndrome” (also the title of his book), gradually transforms every soldier into an animal, he maintains, regardless of whatever values he brings with him from home. No one can escape its taint. In a place where nearly everything is permissible and violence is perceived as normative behavior, each soldier tests his own limits of violence impulsiveness on his victims – the Palestinians.”



      And here is an English translation of Sergeant Furer’s book:


      1. Thanks for the links too. I read it and felt rather sick afterwards. Obviously real actions are worse than fantasies, but the fantasies included were very disturbing. Can duty at a checkpoint, and pressure from your surroundings really cause such actions and thoughts? I am horrified by the idea.

  3. When will the GIANT wurm turn?

    “This may be the greatest mystery of all: the relations between Israel and the U.S.A. They are everything but logical. We have a protégé that humiliates its patron power and a power that grovels in front of its protégé; a power that acts against its own interests and a president who acts contrary to his worldview. We have a protégé whose dependence on the power grows with its effrontery and a power’s unbelievable weakness in the face of its protégé’s brazenness. It’s a wild sado-masochistic game, in which it is not clear who is the slave and who is the master, which is the power and which is its protégé.

    Nothing can fully explain this phenomenon, certainly not in its current dimensions. No Israeli government has permitted itself to disregard the American administration with such impudence as the current one. No American administration has received the spitting in its face as submissively as this one. No other ally in the world, including the European powers, has dared to act so explicitly against the United States’ positions. All this is happening with Israel isolated in the world and dependent on the United States’ mercy, while its policy endangers American and global interests.”

    Gideon Levy

  4. “What does Israel have to teach the U.S., except how to be a better national security state?”
    What an absurd generalization! You see nothing about Israel or Israeli society except what you wish to condemn. And it was only a few weeks ago that you accused me of “willful blindness to nuance”.

  5. So, I don’t understand. Why does Israel have elections, a government, a judicial system, a military, a free press (BTW, something the Palestinians don’t have with Abbas in the 12th year of a 4 year term and Hamas will shoot anyone who threatens their regime)

    Why would Israel just not fire everyone and have you or any of it’s critics run the country? I mean you don’t live there, don’t speak the language, don’t know the culture but you seem to think that you know better than all Israelis what they should do.

    You are contemptuous of Boogie, Netanyahu and pretty much anyone in the Israeli government, but these people live there, they have sacrificed their whole life for the country. Can you name ONE positive thing you have done seeing as you claim to be a Zionist and want what’s best for Israel? All I see in reading your column and Twitter for the past few years is negative, negative and more negative.

    You claim to be about Tikun Olam yet you denigrate any publication or person that does not align with your viewpoint. I mean, should the only opinions people read be those you agree with? I don’t agree with most of what you say, but I read your articles and those of Mondoweiss and Counterpunch.

    What kind of credibility do you have with Israelis at all?

    1. @ Ron Temis: A “free press?” One in which reporters are not just threatened with prosecution for reporting, but actually arrested, convicted & imprisoned: for the crime of practicing journalism. Even international NGOs judging press freedom rank Israel much lower than western democracies. As for Abbas, the reason he can’t hold an election is not his own fault. Israel itself prevents an election in Palestine by its siege of Gaza. Palestine cannot govern itself because of Israeli intrusion & meddling.

      So I don’t speak the language? And that’s how I translate Hebrew articles regularly and read the Hebrew press every day?? Don’t be an ass. Don’t know the culture? Again an ass. I lived in Israel two years & have followed Israeli society closely for nearly 50 yrs. I’ll take my knowledge of Israeli culture & match it with yours or any Diaspora Jew in a heartbeat. If you can’t name a single positive thing I’ve done as a progressive Zionist, I won’t be the one to relieve you of your blindness.

      As for “negative, negative, negative:” Israel is in deep shit, my friend. Hosannas & pats on the back are NOT what Israel needs. Did Isaiah, Jeremiah & Amos gives Israel’s high fives? Or did they remonstrate and thunder against injustice??

      In fact I only denigrate publications that are bad. Even I sometimes quote & link to publications whose general editorial slant is at odds with mine. I judge based on quality & not based on prejudice.

      As for Israeli credibility: my blog is ranked 10,000 among Israeli websites. That’s pretty damn good. If you compare that with other lefty blogs you won’t find nearly the same readership in Israel. So wrong again I’m afraid.

      I’m about to moderate you for general nastiness & distemper. So I put you on notice. Another false comment like this will earn you moderation.

      1. Ah, the old, moderated and face banning for criticism. You make me laugh, using Google Translate is not speaking or understanding Hebrew. Living as a tourist in Israel 40 years ago is not knowing the culture one bit. You would not understand even one sentence of a current Israeli TV Show or satire or comedy or documentary, never mind intent or nuance. You have NO CLUE what the IDF is like.what their soldiers think, feel and act. NOTHING.

        Right, Abbas controls the WB by force and brooks no dissent because of Israel and Hamas can’t allow democracy because of Israel.

        Finally, you compare yourself to the prophets.

        The thing is, I spend my time worrying about the fate of the Yazidis and Kurds, who are being butchered by your friends, I don’t give a fuck about you.

        1. @ Ron Temis: Normally, I would simply ban someone publishing such a comment & never approve it before doing so. But because you’re such an utter jackass & used such foul language to boot, I want readers to know you by your poison.

          If you’d bother to read the About pg of this blog you’d know I have an MA in Comparative Literature & my specialization was Hebrew literature. I studied one undergraduate, & one graduate yr at Hebrew University on Givat Ram. All lectures were delivered in Hebrew & my papers were written in Hebrew. I’m a fluent speaker & writer of Hebrew. I’ll put my knowledge of Hebrew against yours any day of the week, haboob.

          I never compared myself to the Prophets. I only noted your lack of knowledge of Jewish sources & traditions.

          As for worrying about the Yazidis, before 3 months ago you wouldn’t have known a Yazidi if one fell on you. You only know Yazidis because you hate Muslims.

          Hence you are banned.

  6. What we can learn from Israel… Yael Shahar has an article on Haaretz entitled “Why the world is catching on to the Jewish emphasis on education.” How incredibly self-centered and obnoxious. Whence comes this narcissism? The Jews didn’t invent education.

    Below are just a few of a plethora of quotes from Plato on education. Countless more are available from other Greek, Roman, Indian, and Chinese writers.

    “Nowhere in the world should education be despised, for when combined with great virtue, it is an asset of incalculable value.” – Plato, Laws
    “Good education and upbringing, when they are preserved, produce good natures, and useful natures, who are in turn well educated, grow up even better than their predecessors, both in their offspring and in other respects….” – Plato, Republic
    “But you meet with the desires that are simple, measured, and directed by calculation in accordance with understanding and correct belief only in the few people who are born with the best natures and receive the best education.” – Plato, Republic
    “Next, I said, compare the effect of education and of the lack of it on our nature to an experience like this: Imagine human beings living in an underground, cavelike dwelling….” – Plato, Republic, Book VII, intro to Analogy of the Cave
    “The good education they have received will make them good men, and being good they will achieve success in other ways, and even conquer their enemies in battle.” – Plato, Laws

  7. Temis’s critique was of course based on absurd premises which are that you have to actually live in a country and speak its language to criticise what is going on there. So one had to speak Russian and live in Siberia to criticise the Gulag; speak Afrikaans and live in Transvaal to criticise apartheid; live in North Korea and speak Korean to criticise its cruel detention camps. Etc.

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