30 thoughts on “Interview: Bernie’s Commie Mohel Speaks – Tikun Olam תיקון עולם إصلاح العالم
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    1. @ Barbar: Did you even bother to read the Mondoweiss post? Unfortunately, you made me have to read it. It doesn’t attack Sanders at all. Weiss mentions that the Kibbutz was built on land that it claims was ethnically cleansed. The real story is a bit more complicated than Weiss makes out (as usual). But there were Palestinian tenant farmers who were driven from the land after the Kibbutz supposedly bought the land from absentee Arab landlords. I’m not defending or justifying the Kibbutz, just stating facts that Weiss & others may leave out.

      1. @Richard

        Yes. I read the Mondoweiss post carefully, same as I read the comments.
        Comments like, “I am convinced he abhors the occupation and will eventually speak his truth.”


        “Looks like Bernie may have been one of those people who became disenchanted with the negative side of the whole operation. That could plausibly have been a difference with his first wife… ”

        BTW. If anyone reads the comments , they would see that there was no ‘ethnic cleansing’. The Arab tenants had been legally dispossessed and compensated. Their act of ‘resistance’ was really just an attempt to shakedown the Zionists.

        1. @Barbar: False. The Kibbutz claims it paid absentee owners for the land. Who knows what that means? Did they really own the land? What was paid? By whom, to whom? Were the tenants truly tenants, or were they owners expelled from the land?

          It’s possible the transfer of land was kosher. Possibly not.

          But given that this was a Hashomer kibbutz I’d be willing to give the benefit of the doubt. That’s why claims of ethnic cleansing attributed to the kibbutz are unproven. Not false, just unproven.

          1. @ Richard
            Concerning the purchaisng of land prior to 1948 ( I’m not talking particularly about the land where kibbutz Sha’ar HaAmakim was built): many historians speak about the eviction of Palestinian ‘tenants’ as ethnic cleansing or population transfer because it did not respect local unwritten rules (you buy land but the ‘tenants’ stay).
            The most well-known example is the Jezreel Valley (Marj Ibn Amer) where an American Zionist organization and the JNF bought land in the 1920’s from the Sursock family (a Lebanese family from Beirut who itself bought the land from the Ottoman government in the 1870’s). Thousands of Palestinian families were expelled, and many ended up in Haifa as day laborers (I read a research on that but can’t remember who it was).
            So contrary to what Barbar claims, one can’t just say that the purchasing of the land was legal (Imagine a Chinese company buying a factory in let’s say France, sack all the workers and bring in their own workers from China: it might be custom/legal in China, I don’t know but it’s not so in France).

            Concerning Hashomer Hatzair, I’m sorry to disappoint you but they were really no different. The Kibbutz Sasa was established by Hashomer Hatzair on the ruins of the Palestinian village Sa’Sa’ located on land that was supposed to belong to the Arab state, two massacres took place, the first in Feb 1948 and the next in Oct 1948 by Haganeh, testimonies from expelled Palestinians now living in Lebanon who witnessed the killings in the documentary “My Land” by French film maker Nabil Ayouch (Tunisian Jewish mother, Muslim Moroccan father).
            I once discussed with someone who spent time on kibbutz Sasa in the late sixties, he said many American Jews lived there to escape draft to the war in Vietnam, when I asked if it didn’t bother them to live on a kibbutz where ruins of the original village were still visible, he said they were mostly high :-)) and that an American anthropologist had transformed one of the few remaining buildings, it might have been the mosque according to him, into a ‘left-wing’ library ……

          2. NB. Though I’m getting off topic, I’ll post a link to this very beautiful documentary by Nabil Ayouch. As I said, his mother is a French Jew (of Tunisian origin) and his father a Moroccan Arab Muslim, he exlains how this film is a personal journey, he grew up with this far-away conflict as a daily issue. In the film he goes to Lebanon to interview Palestinian refugees and their descendants in the camps, and then he goes to Israel, and interview people living in kibbutzim on their former land (such as Sasa above-mentioned), and ask them whether they agree to see the interviews from Lebanon, the reactions and the whole film is really worth it.
            This is a version with English and Arabic subtitles:

          3. @ Barbar
            I don’t care about your book by a Zionist author, I don’t care about your Mandate Court lawsuits either, just as I don’t care about the Balfour Declaration !
            The fact is that indigenous populations were driven off the land where they lived to be replaced by European settlers. That’s what I care about.

          4. @Deir Yassin

            “The fact is that indigenous populations were driven off the land where they lived to be replaced by European settlers. ”

            You just said that the tenants were forced to work in Haifa.

          5. @Deir Yassin

            ” I don’t care about the Balfour Declaration ! ”

            Do you care about the McMahon-Hussein Correspondence?

          6. @ Barbar
            [quoting me] “The fact is that indigenous populations were driven off the land where they lived to be replaced by European settlers”.

            “You just said that the tenants were forced to work in Haifa”

            Nope, I didn’t. Here’s what I wrote “Thousands of Palestinian families were expelled, and many ended up in Haifa as day laborers”
            And I don’t seem the link between the part of my comment that you quote and your misreading but I guess there isn’t any. Except if you’re trying to say that internal displacement isn’t population tranfer/ethnic cleansing, but it is.
            And nope, I don’t care about any corrspondence whatsoever , and not about the San Remo-blahblah either. As I said I care about the expulsion of the indigenous population, basta !

          7. @ Richard
            And according to an introduction of the book on the net, Arieh Avneri, the author of “The Claim of Dispossession” states that the Arabs left voluntarily in ’48 ….. and then he’s an advocate of the ‘the-Arab-population-of-Palestine-growth-was-primarily-due-to-immigration’ Hasbara-mantra that has been debunked by many international scolars.

          8. @Deir Yassin

            ” As I said I care about the expulsion of the indigenous population,”

            Like the ethnic cleansing currently happening in Syria and Iraq?

          9. @ Barbaric: WAY off topic. If you are so concerned with these subjects I suggest you find other sites devoted to those subjects. You know the rules. Go off topic like that again & you’ll be moderated.

            Not to mention that we’re deeply touched at your devotion to the cause of all Arab suffering except what is caused by Israel.

      2. @Deir Yassin

        They weren’t my Mandate Court lawsuits. They were lawsuits filed by Arabs.
        You have a problem with Arabs asserting their rights in a courthouse?

  1. According to The Adventures of Rick and Morty, a schmeckle is an amount of currency equal to 1/25th the value of a good breast implant surgery.

  2. Why is the name of the kibbutz such a secret? Isn’t it ridicules Sanders mentions his time there in his resume but doesn’t reveal the kibbutz name? Melman didn’t interpret it just put forward the facts and even the Forward made a good job highlighting the fact the place cooled off the Stalinist attitude prior to Sanders time.

    You ‘break’ Israeli gags for sports claiming you promote transparency. How is that any different? Don’t the American public deserve to know the facts about their presidency candidate?

  3. Does this story (of the mohel — y friend tells me it’s pronounced moil) provide a new and surporising meaning for “red diaper baby” ? Good story BTW.

    Side comment: a lot of boys (not only Jewish boys) were circumcized in 1930-1940s and I expect the MD that did it for me recited no prayers and was not necesarily Jewish: a health thing, my mom told me. Of course, my family was not religious. As to Bernie, the last communist Mohel in the Bronx? why not?

    1. @ pabelmont: Of course, I stretched things a bit. No true Communist would be religious. So I doubt there could ever be a Communist mohel. But I just liked the image & ran with it! In Yiddish or Ashkenazi inflected Hebrew the word would be pronounced MOY-l or MOY-il, but as one syllable.

  4. Since we are dealing in trivia (imo), it is worth mentioning that in the 1960s a member of Sha`ar Ha`amakim , the historian and member of Mapam leadership, Aharon Cohen, was imprisoned in Israel for spying for the then USSR. (Personal knowledge).

  5. I’d like to know what Jewish camp Sanders attended in ’57. It might be the same one I attended. (I was a kid; he would have been either a waiter or counselor.)

  6. More than a century ago the German economic historian and sociologist Werner Sombart published a book with the title Warum gibt es in den Vereinigten Staten keinen Sozialismus (Why is there no socialism in the United States). One can find it here online:

    Sombart states here that capitalism in the US was more developed than anywhere else and that therefore, from a Marxist point of view, one could expect its opposite: a proletarian revolutionary movement, socialism in short.

    Yet, though there had been some small socialist parties, a wider socialist movement, such as found in most Western European countries, could not be seen. Sombart set out to explain this. He first pointed to the entrenched position of the two major political parties, the difficulty to compete with them and the advantages of sharing in their membership.

    But there was something else here. There were many factors in the US economy and society that prevented the development of class consciousness. He pointed out that, through the practice of making most offices of any substance electable, workers too had a vivid awareness of sharing in the governance of the community. Furthermore, there was the egalitarianism in social relations and the fact that workers in the US had a two to three times higher real income than their German peers so that in their dress, their housing, their furniture, their diet they were close to the middle class. “All socialist utopian views must strand on roast beef and apple pie.”

    Sombart believed that, though objectively speaking workers were more exploited by capitalism in the US than anywhere else, yet subjectively they felt far less hostile to the system as such. Though factory owners didn’t invest much in safety equipment they made workers feel, in small ways, by the provision of adequate showers, and toilets, by allowing small pauses for smoking, by having a suggestions and complaint box, and last but not least, by their comparatively respectful attitude to labourers that they were part of the system rather than opposed to it.

    Also there were far greater chances for social mobility than in Germany. Workers could become small shopkeepers, inn keepers etc.

    Finally there was still at that period the possibility to escape from industrial slavery by the homestead movement that offered people 80 acres for a minor charge somewhere in the West. Even those who never made use of it always had, at the back of their head, this awareness of a possible escape.

    Because of all of this one could not expect the development of class consciousnes and class loyalty.

    Yet Sombart ends his treatise by stating: “It is my view that all the factors that have thus far blocked the development of socialism in the US are on the verge of disappearing or turning into their opposites, so that consequently in the next generation socialism in the states will in all likelihood attain its greatest flourishing” (my trsl. A.B.)

    Well this doesn’t seem to have come true. But is Sombart entirely mistaken here?. Are there no circumstances that would provide a politician like Sanders a foothold for his leftist views? I would imagine there are.

  7. Deir Yassin wrote:

    “…. and then he’s an advocate of the ‘the-Arab-population-of-Palestine-growth-was-primarily-due-to-immigration’ Hasbara-mantra that has been debunked by many international scholars.”

    Yes that thesis was most elaborately and fraudulently espoused by Joan Peters in her book From Time Immemorial.
    Norman Finkelstein exposed the fraud at an early stage but no mainstream American Journal was game enough to publish his findings. England took the lead after which a journal like the New York Review of Books got its courage together and invited an Israeli historian, Professor Yoshuah Porath, to highlight the fraud.

    When Peters died recently Netanyahu thanked her for her tremendous services to Israel. Either he never knew about the fraud or he did but thought its hasbara value high enough not to spill the beans.

    I wrote about this last year on this site:


  8. Richard, I am afraid some right-wingers will be too excited to read your last few paragraphs and the story of the Communist mohel will be accepted as gospel truth.

    I am so going to start using “hasbarbarian” as a term!

    1. @ yastreblyansky: I have a little sideline here coming up with neologisms based on the term!

      Hasbuffoon (I haven’t used that one yet)
      Hasbaridiot (that one either)

  9. Richard. During two summer vacations in the 1930’s I spent several weeks in Werkdorp Wieringen in The Netherlands where young Zionists were trained for work on a kibbutz. Even though I was young I knew what Communism and Social Democracy were. Yes these young people were idealists but the great majority of them were either Communists or Social Democrats and they were determined to imprint that on their kibbutzes. Did that change during and after WW2? Did they have the songs but Irgun had the money?

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