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Allan C. Brownfeld
Winter 2022

Widespread attention is being focused on the decline of Zionism within the  
American Jewish community. An article in The New York Times Magazine (Nov. 7,  
2021) by Marc Tracy, appropriately entitled, “Inside The Unraveling of American  
Zionism,” has stimulated much discussion. This came shortly after the Israeli  
human rights organization B’Tselem used the term “apartheid” to characterize  
Israel’s treatment of Palestinians, as did Human Rights Watch.  
Increasingly, the term “apartheid” is being used to identify Israeli policy. The  
death of Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the South African advocate of non-violence and  
racial justice, and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, focused attention upon his  
characterization of Israel’s treatment of Palestinians. In a speech in Boston on  
April 28, 2002, he declared: “In our struggle against apartheid, the great  
supporters were Jewish people. They almost instinctively had to be on the side of  
the disenfranchised, of the voiceless ones, fighting oppression and evil. I have  
continued to feel strongly with the Jews. I am patron of a Holocaust center in  
South Africa. I believe Israel has a right to secure borders.”  
What Tutu found “not so understandable, not justified” was what Israel “did to  
another people to justify its existence. I’ve been very deeply distressed in my  
visit to the Holy Land; it reminded me so much of what happened to us black  
people in South Africa. I have seen the humiliation of the Palestinians at  
checkpoints and roadblocks, suffering like us when young police officers  
prevented us from moving about…I have experienced Palestinians pointing to what  
were their homes, now occupied by Jewish Israelis….My heart aches. I say why are  
our memories so short. Have our Jewish sisters and brothers forgotten their  
humiliation? Have they forgotten the collective punishment, the home demolitions,  
in their own history, so soon? Have they turned their backs on their profound and  
noble religious traditions? Have they forgotten that God cares deeply about the  
Many Israelis Agree With Archbishop Tutu  
In recent days, many prominent Israelis agree with Archbishop Tutu’s assessment.  
In December, Amos Schocken, publisher of the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, declared  
that, “The product of Zionism, the state of Israel, is not a Jewish and  
democratic state, but instead has become an apartheid state, plain and simple.”  
Schocken is the third generation of his family to run Haaretz. A decade ago, he  
argued that Hatikvah, Israel’s national anthem, should be changed because its  
lyrics are only about Jewish aspirations: “How can an Arab citizen identify with  
such an anthem? Hasn’t the time come to recognize that the establishment of  
Israel is not just the story of the Jewish people, of Zionism, of the heroism of  
the Israel Defense Forces and of bereavement? That it is also the story of the  
reflection of Zionism and the heroism of the IDF soldiers in the lives of the  
Arabs: the Nakba—-the Palestinian ‘catastrophe,’ as the Arabs call the events of  
1948—-the loss, the families that were split up, the disruption of lives, the  
property that was taken away, the life under military government and other  
elements of the history shared by Jews and Arabs, which are presented on  
Independence Day, and now only on that day, in an entirely one-sided way.”  
The fact that so many Jewish Americans are turning against Zionism and are  
increasingly disillusioned with Israel’s treatment of Palestinians, has produced  
a backlash among those who defend Israel’s behavior, whatever it may be. Consider  
Rabbi Wendi Geffen of North Shore Congregation Israel in Glencoe, Illinois. After  
Israel’s assault on Gaza, she gave a sermon about what she called “the new anti-  
Semitism” in which she declared that, “Anti-Zionist Jews are Jews in name only,”  
who must be kept “out of the Jewish tent.” (Mondoweiss, Nov. 26, 2021)  
Rabbi Geffen told her congregation: “There are boundaries to that tent. And those  
begin when a person engages in words or action that seeks to destroy Israel or  
the Jewish people,or enables or condones violence in support of extremist  
ideology. There is no place for any of that in the big tent.”  
Jews Who Oppose Zionism Are “Dangerous”  
In Rabbi Geffen’s view, “The vast majority” of Jews support Israel and Jews who  
oppose Zionism and say that Zionism and progressive values are a contradiction  
“are more dangerous” to the Jewish people than the right-wing anti-Semites who  
attack synagogues. Mondoweiss noted that, “The rabbi had nothing to say about a  
matter that has caused great disaffection among Jews: the lopsided conflict that  
ended a week earlier in which Israeli missiles leveled office buildings and  
killed 256 people in blockaded Gaza, while Palestinian militants killed 13 in  
Israel…That onslaught helped fuel a survey …showing that 38% of young Jews  
believe that Israel practices apartheid and 20% say Israel has no right to exist  
as a Jewish state. Those are Geffen’s ‘Jews in name only.'"  
Rabbi Geffen opened her sermon by quoting Israeli political leader Natan  
Scharansky saying that while classic anti-Semitism targeted Jewish people or the  
Jewish religion, the “new anti-Semitism” is aimed at the Jewish state and this  
hatred “is advanced in the name of values most of us would consider  
unimpeachable, such as human rights.”  
In May, 2021, a letter was signed by 93 rabbinical students during the Israeli  
onslaught on Gaza which declared that Israel maintains “apartheid” in the  
occupied territories and called on American Jews who have taken on structural  
racism in the United States to oppose “racist violence in Israel.” This produced  
an extreme response from many in the Jewish establishment. Rabbi Ammiel Hirsch of  
Stephen Wise Free Synagogue in New York and previously executive director of the  
Association of Reform Zionists in America, wrote an article in The Times of  
Israel (Dec. 2, 2021) with the headline, “For the love of Israel, we need to say  
the Reform movement is Zionist.”  
What Does Reform Movement Believe?  
He wrote: “How could future Jewish leaders write an open letter in the middle of  
a war, missiles raining down over people, without mentioning Hamas. We have a  
communal responsibility to clarify what it is that the Reform movement believes.  
What are our values and principles…For the record, the Reform movement is a  
Zionist movement. Every single branch of our movement…are Zionist and committed  
ideologically and theologically to Israel. We are theologically committed to the  
centrality of the Jewish people and the Jewish state…What higher responsibility  
does a Jewish leader have than to love and protect fellow Jews…Some American  
Jews…provide Jewish cover to forces that seek not coexistence with Israel, but  
Israel’s destruction.”  
Rabbi Hirsch seems to have embraced a form of idolatry, making the state of  
Israel and the Jewish people “central” to Judaism, rather than God and the Jewish  
moral and ethical tradition. This, of course, is nothing new. Long ago, Harvard  
Professor Ruth Wisse, a militant Zionist, declared, “I would sooner pray among  
Jews who did not love God than I would among Jews who did not love Israel.”  
Rabbi Hirsch ignores, as well, the fact that Reform Judaism opposed Zionism until  
the advent of European anti-Semitism in the 20th century, which led to the  
For Reform Jews, the idea of Zionism contradicted almost completely their belief  
in a universal prophetic Judaism. The first Reform prayerbook eliminated all  
references to a return to Zion. In 1897, the Central Conference of American  
Rabbis adopted a resolution which declared that, “Zion was a precious possession  
of the past…but it is not our hope of the future. America is our Zion.” The 19th  
century Reform leader Rabbi Isaac Mayer Wise criticized the idea of Jewish  
nationalism and ethno-centric religion in these terms: “The false Messiahs who  
appeared from time to time among the dispersed and suffering remnants of Judah,  
had no religious purpose in view; all of them were political demagogues or  
patriotic fantasists with as much religion as was deemed requisite to agitate the  
Jewish mind and to win the goodwill of the masses and its leaders for the  
proposed political end, which was the restoration of Jewish nationality and the  
conquest of Palestine. All of them failed miserably and left behind them plenty  
of misery…and yet with that warning of history before them, the party of men  
called Zionists and the admirers of Dr. Herzl… propose to do the same thing over  
in our days.”  
Young People Returning To Reform’s Prophetic Tradition  
What is agitating Rabbi Hirsch and others is that young Jewish Americans, as the  
letter from the rabbinical students indicates, are returning to Reform Judaism’s  
prophetic tradition.  
Using the term “anti-Semitism” to characterize criticism of Israel is a tactic  
long used by Israeli advocates to silence criticism. Discussing this phenomenon,  
Peter Beinart, editor-at-large at Jewish Currents, notes that, “The problem is  
that their definition of anti-Semitism rests on a distinction between criticism  
of Israel, which they consider legitimate, and opposition to the country’s  
existence as a Jewish state, which they deem bigoted. But the validity of that  
distinction rests on what Jewish statehood actually means for the Palestinians  
under Israeli control—-the very subject that its highest-profile defenders evade.  
It’s a sleight of hand. The trick is to enforce a set of boundaries around  
criticism of Israel without investigating whether those boundaries bear any  
relationship to reality on the ground.”  
In her 2019 book, “Anti-Semitism: Here and Now,”. Deborah Lipstadt, who President  
Biden has nominated to be his special envoy to monitor and combat anti-Semitism,  
insists that, “We must carefully differentiate between campaigns that disagree  
with Israeli policy and those that essentially call for the elimination of the  
Jewish state. There is a vast difference between being opposed to the policies of  
the Israeli government and being an anti-Semite.”  
Government Policies Discriminate Against Palestinians  
The question, Peter Beinart believes, is more complicated. Writing in Jewish  
Currents (Dec. 20, 2021) he provides this assessment: “…what if the policies with  
which you disagree—-because they discriminate against Palestinians—-are inherent  
in Israel being a Jewish state? As Human Rights Watch details in its April  
report, the Israel Land Administration (ILA) oversees 93% of the land inside  
Israel. Almost half of ILA’s seats go to representatives of the Jewish National  
Fund (JNF) which has described its mandate this way: ‘The loyalty of JNF is given  
to the Jewish people and only to them is the JNF obligated.’ As a result, the  
body that controls almost all of the land inside pre-1967 Israel allocates and  
develops it almost exclusively for the benefit of Jews, not Palestinians. As  
B’Tselem notes in its January report, ‘Palestinian local councils and communities  
now have access to less than 3% of the country’s total area,’ even though  
Palestinians make up more than 20% of Israel’s citizens.”  
In Beinart’s view, “Reality on the ground doesn’t respect Lipstadt’s distinction…  
In 2018 when three Palestinian members of the Knesset proposed making Israel ‘a  
state for all its citizens’—-without a favoritism based on ethnicity, religion,  
or race—-the Knesset speaker ruled that the legislation could not even be debated  
because ‘it denies the existence of the state as the state of the Jewish people.’  
By Lipstadt’s standards those three Palestinian Knesset members crossed the line  
into anti-Semitism by proposing that Israel become a country based on non-  
discrimination and equality under the law. That’s absurd, but its absurdity only  
becomes clear if you look at how Jewish statehood actually functions for  
Palestinians which is what Lipstadt and her allies rarely do.”  
According to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), it is “offensive” to accuse Israel  
of practicing apartheid. The reason, according to the ADL’s Jonathan Greenblatt,  
is that, “Deriding Israel as an apartheid state is not a just critique but part  
of a broader effort to delegitimize and demonize the Jewish state.” Deborah  
Lipstadt used the same logic against the BDS movement. She said: “If you look at  
the founding documents of the BDS movement, you see an effort to destroy the  
state of Israel. That I find anti-Semitic.”  
Calling Critics Of Israel “Anti-Semitic”  
Jewish critics of Israel who use the term “apartheid” to characterize its  
treatment of Palestinians are growing in number and calling them “anti-Semitic”  
only seems to be increasing their voices. Consider Ronnie Kasrils, a leading  
South African Jewish anti-apartheid activist who served as a Minister in Nelson  
Mandela’s government. He wrote an article in The Guardian (April 3, 2019) with  
the headline, “I fought South African apartheid, I see the same brutal policies  
in Israel.” He noted that, “Israel’s repression of Palestinian citizens, African  
refugees and Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and Gaza has become more  
brutal over time. Ethnic cleansing, land seizure, home demolitions, military  
occupation” remind Kasrils of the years of apartheid in South Africa.  
He declares that, “I’m also deeply disturbed that critics of Israel’s brutal  
policies are frequently threatened with repression of their freedom of speech, a  
reality I’ve now experienced at first hand, last week, a public meeting in Vienna  
where I was scheduled to speak in support of Palestinian freedom, as part of the  
global Israel Apartheid Week, was canceled by the museum hosting the event, under  
pressure from Vienna’s City Council, which opposes the international BDS movement  
from Israel.”  
Kasrils recalls that, “South Africa’s apartheid government banned me for life  
from attending meetings. Nothing I said could be published because I stood up  
against apartheid. How disgraceful that despite the lessons of our struggle  
against racism, such intolerance continues to this day, stifling free speech on  
Palestine. During the South Africa struggle, we were accused of following a  
Communist agenda, but smears didn’t deflect us. Today, Israel’s propaganda  
follows a similar route, repeated by its supporters—-conflating opposition to  
Israel with anti-Semitism. This must be resisted… A growing number of Jews  
worldwide are taking positions opposing Israel’s policies..”  
Dershowitz Calls Tutu “Anti-Semitic”  
The more extreme Israel’s actions, the more virulent and irrational the charges  
of “anti-Semitism” on the part of Israel’s defenders has become. Consider Alan  
Dershowitz, a long time defender of Israel’s right-wing, now embroiled in the  
Jeffrey Epstein sex trafficking affair. Dershowitz was Epstein’s attorney and is  
currently being charged with rape by Virginia Giuffre. Still, after the death of  
Archbishop Desmond Tutu, he found time to launch a bitter attack. He posted a  
statement on Dec. 30, 2021 with the headline, “A long history of anti-Jewish  
bigotry.” He wrote: “Tutu has a long history of ugly hatred toward the Jewish  
people, the Jewish religion, and the Jewish state. He not only believes in anti-  
Semitism, he actively promoted and legitimated Jew-hatred among his many  
followers and admirers around the world.” Dershowitz’s examples of alleged “anti-  
Semitism” on Tutu’s part include nothing more than quotes from him such as,  
“Zionism has very many parallels with racism.” There is no evidence that  
Dershowitz’s assault on Tutu met any resistance on the part of Israel’s  
Even British actress Emma Watson, best known for playing Hermione Granger in the  
Harry Potter films, came under bitter attack from prominent Israeli officials.  
What did she do to provoke this attack? She posted an image on Instagram showing  
a picture of a protest in behalf of Palestinian rights with a banner “Solidarity  
is a verb” written across it. It was accompanied with a quote about the meaning  
of solidarity from the feminist scholar. Sara Ahmed. The Israeli response was  
almost immediate and the charge against Watson was the familiar one of “anti-  
Semitism.” Danny Danon, formerly Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations,  
shared Watson’s post on Twitter and said, “10 points from Gryffinder for being an  
anti-Semite.” Israel’s current ambassador to the U.N., Gilad Erdan, was also  
critical. “Fiction may work in Harry Potter, but it does not work in reality,” he  
wrote. “If it did, the magic used in the wizarding world could eliminate the  
evils of Hamas…and the PA (Palestinian Authority)…I would be in favor of that.”  
These comments were met with a backlash, including from Leah Greenberg, co-  
executive director of the Indivisible Project, a nonprofit founded in 2016. She  
said that the attacks upon Emma Watson were “A perfect demonstration of the  
utterly cynical and bad faith weaponization of anti-Semitism to shut down basic  
expressions of solidarity with the Palestinian people.” A Conservative member of  
the British Parliament, Sayeeda Warsi, called Danon’s comments “appalling” and  
noted that, “These constant attempts to stifle any and all support for  
Palestinians must be called out.”  
Emma Watson, U.N. Goodwill Ambassador  
Watson, 31, is an outspoken feminist who has used her platform to support a  
number of high-profile causes, earning her a spot-on Time Magazine’s list of the  
most influential people in the world. In 2014 she was appointed a U.N. Women’s  
goodwill ambassador and delivered an address at U.N. headquarters to launch  
HeForShe, a campaign that urges men to advocate for women’s equality. She was  
also appointed to an advisory board for women’s rights in 2019. Watson’s post  
about Palestinian rights has been viewed by more than a million people and has  
received more than 100,000 comments. Miriam Margolyse, a Jewish actor who  
appeared in the Harry Potter movies, declared that, “The Israeli treatment of  
Palestinians is disgraceful. Anti-Semitism is not at issue. What matters is  
opposing cruelty, speaking for compassion. Criticizing Israel is not in itself  
anti-Semitism. Conflating the two is a form of disguised censorship.”  
In January 2022, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, named for the famed Nazi hunter who  
died in 2005, and defines itself as “a Jewish global human rights organization  
researching the Holocaust and hate in a historic contemporary context,”  
proclaimed its “Global Anti-Semitic Top Ten List.” (Jewish Telegraphic Agency,  
Jan. 11, 2022). After listing Iran and Hamas, third on the list was BBC, which  
has been criticized for a disputed report on a London anti-Semitic incident.  
Number five on the list was Jewish Voice for Peace, the Jewish group which  
opposes Zionism. Number 7 is the entire country of Germany, which the Wiesenthal  
Center claims, “has failed to curb anti-Semitic attacks.”  
The entry on Germany singled out Michael Blume, a commissioner against anti-  
Semitism in the state of Baden-Wurttemburg for allegedly “liking” a post that the  
Wiesenthal Center found objectionable. Blume did not recall ever having done so  
and expressed his complete support for Zionism and Israel. Catherine von  
Schnorbein, the European Union’s coordinator for fighting anti-Semitism said that  
including Blume on the list “discredits the invaluable legacy of Simon  
Wiesenthal.” She said that the Wiesenthal Center was guilty of “harming the fight  
against anti-Semitism with this list.” The Jewish community of Baden-Wurttemburg  
supported Blume and condemned the Wiesenthal list.  
Are Jewish Critics of Israel “Anti-Semites?”  
The idea that criticism of Israel’s treatment of Palestinians is “anti-Semitic”  
would have to include increasing numbers of American Jews as well as an  
increasing number of Israelis. Former Israeli Attorney General Michael Benyair  
recently declared, “Calling it apartheid in the West Bank only is a mistake. The  
apartheid regime is in all areas controlled by Israel, between the Sea and the  
Jordan River. The distinction between democratic Israel and the West Bank it  
controls is wrong…The solution to this is one of two things: granting equal  
rights to the disenfranchised in the entire controlled area and the loss of the  
Jewish majority, or ending the control of the disenfranchisers…and granting self-  
determination to each community in its own territory. The passage of years does  
not help to resolve the dilemma, but to exacerbate it.”  
More and more prominent Jewish Americans are speaking out. In a statement for  
Jewish Voice for Peace (Dec. 24, 2021), Wallace Shawn, actor, playwright and  
essayist, whose father, William Shawn, was longtime editor of The New Yorker,  
declared: “Jews have suffered so much over the centuries and have felt the  
cruelty of which humans are capable. Although I’ve had good luck so far in my own  
life, I feel that what has happened to my relatives and ancestors has affected me  
and given me an opportunity, as a person with Jewish heritage, to be a few  
minutes quicker than others to identify with those who are persecuted and  
oppressed. Conversely, I am particularly horrified ——and Yes, I take it  
personally—-when Jews draw the wrong lesson from the history of Jewish suffering,  
and instead of feeling, ‘We understand what it is to be hunted down and  
tormented, and so we need to stand up for those who are hunted down and  
tormented,’ they concluded instead, ‘We know what can happen to Jews, so in  
fighting on behalf of Jews, no tactics should be considered impermissible or  
Shawn laments that he when he pays his taxes to the Internal Revenue Service, “…  
the state of Israel gets to buy weapons that are used to subjugate, terrorize and  
kill Palestinians. I’m involved in this struggle, and I’m involved on the wrong  
side….At this particular moment, the Palestinian people need our support more  
than ever before, because it seems that an increasing number of Jews in Israel  
have made the choice, impossible as this may seem, to simply accept the hideous  
status quo as a normal condition that may never change.”  
Israel Does Not Share American Jewish Values  
What is becoming clear to increasing numbers of Jewish Americans is that Israel  
does not share their values. This is true on many levels. American Jews believe  
in religious freedom and separation of church and state. Israel, quite to the  
contrary, is a theocracy with state appointed and paid chief rabbis who control  
Jewish religious practices from an ultra-Orthodox perspective. There is no  
religious freedom for Reform Jews. Reform rabbis cannot preside over weddings or  
funerals and their conversions are not recognized. Indeed, there is less freedom  
for non-Orthodox Jews——the overwhelming majority in the U.S.—-in Israel than  
anyplace in the Western world. Israel has no civil marriage. If a Jewish Israeli  
wishes to marry a Christian or Muslim, he or she must leave the country to do so.  
Large numbers of Jewish Israelis, particularly among immigrants from Russia, are  
not considered “Jewish” by the ultra-Orthodox rabbinate because they may not have  
a Jewish mother. They are forbidden by law to marry in Israel.  
Israeli law bears no relationship to laws regulating marriage in Western  
democracies. When Palestine was part of the Ottoman Empire, each religious  
community was overseen by its own authorities. And so it is today, Muslims in  
Israel wed under Muslim authority; Christians under Christian authority; Druze  
under Druze authority. Jewish marriages fall under the authority of the ultra-  
orthodox rabbinate, an official part of the Israeli government. There are no  
sanctioned intermarriages and there are no civil marriages. Same sex marriages  
are against the law.  
In recent days, Christianity in Israel has come under increasing attack by far-  
right ultra-Orthodox groups. Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem Theopholis  
III, in an article published in the British newspaper Orthodox Times (Jan. 8,  
2020) wrote: “Our churches are threatened by Israeli radical fringe groups. At  
the hands of these Zionist extremists, the Christian community in Jerusalem is  
suffering greatly. Our brothers and sisters are the victims of hate crimes.” He  
charged that a rising number of assaults against Christians and church buildings  
are an attempt to drive the Christian community out of Jerusalem’s Old City, home  
to Christians, Jews and Muslims, and their holy sites.  
Christians Under Attack In Israel  
On December 13, 2021, a statement was issued by 13 Christian leaders and Heads of  
Churches in Jerusalem which expressed their “grave concern” that the Israeli  
government’s commitment to provide a safe home for Christians in the Holy Land  
“is betrayed by the failure of local politicians, officials and law enforcement  
agencies to curb the activities of the radical groups who regularly intimidate  
local Christians, assault priests and clergy and desecrate holy sites and church  
The population of Christians has steadily declined over the years. In 1922,  
Christians made up about 10 per cent of the population of the Holy Land. By 2019,  
that had declined to about 2 per cent. Justin Welby, the Archbishop of  
Canterbury, the principal leader of the Church of England, and Hosam Naoum, the  
Anglican Archbishop of Jerusalem, report that, “Someone lit a fire in the Church  
of all Nations in the Garden of Gethsemane, the place where Jesus prayed the  
night before he was crucified.”  
Archbishop Naoum warned that radical Zionist groups are using systematic attacks  
to drive the Christian community out of the country: “Throughout the Holy Land,  
Christians have become the target of frequent , and sustained attacks by fringe  
radical groups since 2012. There have been countless incidents of physical and  
verbal assaults against priests and other clergy, attacks on Christian churches,  
with holy sites regularly vandalized and desecrated and ongoing intimidation of  
local Christians who simply seek to worship freely and go about their daily  
lives. Local officials…are not curbing the activities of radical groups.”  
Non-Jews Are Second-Class Citizens  
Beyond this, American Jews believe in equal rights for all, regardless of race,  
religion or ethnicity. In Israel, those who are not considered Jewish by law are  
second class citizens. Those who live in the occupied territories have almost no  
legal rights at all. As the illegal occupation grows, the indigenous Palestinian  
population is subject to violence and dispossession. The Jewish Telegraphic  
Agency (Dec. 15, 2021) published a report with the headline, “Violent attacks by  
settlers against Palestinians in the West Bank up nearly 50% from last year.”  
According to the JTA, “Violent attacks against Palestinians in the West Bank are  
nothing new. But the phenomenon has reached alarming new levels of frequency this  
year. Violent attacks perpetrated by settlers against Palestinians on the West  
Bank exceeded last year’s attacks by nearly 50%, according to a report by the  
Times of Israel. In 2021, there have been 397 attacks so far, compared to 272 in  
2020…based on data from the Shin Bet, Israel’s domestic security.”  
The Israeli newspaper Haaretz reports that the violence was particularly evident  
during the annual Fall olive harvest, often a time of violent attacks on  
Palestinians, who spend their days harvesting from trees located outside their  
villages, which are often close to Jewish settlements. Dozens of videos of  
violent attacks and photos of bloodied farmers and shepherds and the Israeli  
activists who sometimes accompany them have been shared with social media.  
B’Tselem, the Israeli human rights organization, reports that settler farms have  
taken over nearly 7,000 acres in the last five years.  
Settlers Attack Palestinians  
B’Tselem issued a report in December highlighting the attacks originating from  
settler farms and reported that settler ranchers are actively assaulting  
Palestinians whose land they have stolen. Palestinian journalist Basil al-Adraa  
writes: “They organize very big attacks on us, especially on Saturdays and on the  
Jewish holidays. They use these holidays to collect dozens of settlers. They come  
armed with slingshots, sticks and hammers.”  
According to B’Tselem, “Since occupying the West Bank in 1967, Israel has  
misappropriated more than 2 million Dunhams of land there for its purposes,  
including building and expanding settlements and paving roads for settlers  
(only). Some areas have officially been taken over by the state, others through  
daily acts of settler violence. These two seemingly unrelated tracks are both  
forms of state violence: the Israeli…regime and its representatives actively aid  
and abet the settlers’ violence as part of a strategy to foment the takeover of  
Palestinian land. The state fully supports and assists these acts of violence and  
its agents sometimes participate in them directly. As such, settler violence is a  
form of government policy.”  
In a single year, 2021, Israel has leveled a Bedouin village 14 times. According  
to Middle East Monitor (Dec. 21, 2021), “Israeli authorities yesterday demolished  
the homes of the Palestinian Bedouin village of Al-Araqeeb in the southern Negev  
region for the 196th time since the year 2000. The demolition of the tents  
sheltering Al-Araqeeb’s residents during the winter storm came less than a month  
after the village was last levelled on 24 November. This is the 14th time that  
the Israeli authorities have demolished the tents …since the start of the year.  
The village was first levelled in July 2010 and every time the residents rebuild  
their tents and small homes…The village is one of 51 ‘unrecognized’ Arab villages  
in the area and is constantly targeted for demolition ahead of plans to Judaize  
the Negev by building homes for new Jewish communities.”  
Bulldozers Demolish Everything  
Israeli bulldozers, it is reported, “…which Bedouins are charged for, demolish  
everything, from the trees to the water tanks, but Bedouin residents have tried  
to rebuild every time. Bedouin in the Negev must abide by the same laws as Jewish  
Israelis. They pay taxes but do not enjoy the same rights and services as Jews in  
Israel and the state has repeatedly refused to connect the towns to the national  
grid, water supplies and other amenities.”  
Israel’s treatment of Palestinians has become so extreme that even members of the  
Israeli government have spoken out in recent days. Yair Golan, a former deputy  
military chief now serving as deputy economy minister, said that Jewish settlers  
residing in an illegal outpost in the northern West Bank were “subhuman.” A  
member of the liberal Meretz party, Golan declared that, “People who settle in an  
area that was legally evacuated, nobody should be there. When I was commander of  
the Judea and Samaria division, I didn’t let anyone return to settle there.” He  
was referring to the outpost of Homesh, which was evacuated in 2005, then was  
partially resettled and in December 2021 became a flashpoint for violence.  
Golan declared that, “These people who come to settle there, riot in the adjacent  
Palestinian village of Borja, smash gravestones, they are carrying out a pogrom.  
We, the Jewish people, who suffered pogroms throughout history, are now carrying  
out pogroms on others. These aren’t people. They are subhuman, despicable people.  
They should not get any support and they should be removed by force from there.”  
(The Times of Israel, (Jan. 6, 2022)  
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett called Golan’s statement, “Shocking…  
bordering on blood libel.” Former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu defended the  
settlers: “The settlers are pioneering Zionists who settle the land of our  
ancestors. After this shameful statement, taken directly from Nazi terminology  
against the Jewish people, Bennett must fire Yair Golan today.”  
“This Is Not Our Judaism”  
Golan doubled down. He declared, “In my remarks, I referred to the destroyers of  
(Muslim) graves, attackers of innocents, destroyers of property. How should one  
treat such people? How should one call such people? It is time to tell the truth.  
This is not our Judaism.” A former deputy chief of staff of the IDF, Golan, in a  
2016 speech for Holocaust Remembrance Day, said he discerned “processes” in  
Israel reminiscent of those that preceded the Holocaust in Europe.  
Israel’s mistreatment of Palestinians goes back to the very beginning of the  
state. The Israeli newspaper Haaretz (Dec. 9, 2021) published an article with the  
headline “Classified Documents Reveal Massacres of Palestinians in ‘48—and what  
Israeli officials Knew.” It reported that, in the village of Al-Dawayima, troops  
of the 8th Brigade massacred about 100 people, although the number of Palestinian  
victims later grew to 120. One of the soldiers who witnessed the event testified  
before a government committee in November 1948: ‘There was no battle and no  
resistance. The first conquerors killed 80 to 100 Arab men, women and children.  
The children were killed by smashing their skulls with sticks. There wasn’t a  
house without people killed in it.”  
The Haaretz report of nearly 5,000 words is filled with stories of Palestinian  
elders who were lined up against various walls and massacred. Haaretz reported in  
2013 on how Israel’s founding father and first Prime Minister had fabricated  
history to protect Israel’s image. Document #GL-18/17028, which was found in the  
Israeli military archive, demonstrated how the story of Palestinians who “fled,  
supposedly at the behest of Arab governments, was invented by the Israelis  
themselves.” As the latest revelations in Haaretz show, Palestinians who remained  
due to their disability, age or illness were massacred “in the most horrific way  
imaginable.” other massacres reported by Haaretz included those at Reineh, Meron  
and Al-Bur.  
Moral Foundations Are Undermined  
Haim Moshe Shapira, the Minister of Immigration and Health, was quoted as saying,  
during a meeting of the government committee, that, “In my opinion, all our moral  
foundations have been undermined and we need to look for ways to curb these  
David Ben-Gurion advocated for "compulsory transfer” of Palestinians. In 1937, he  
established a Committee for Population Transfer within the Jewish Agency.  
“Transfer,” of course, is a euphemism for ethnic cleansing, and was carried out  
at a mass level in 1948 and again in 1967. One of its perpetrators, Joseph Weitz,  
director of the Jewish National Fund’s Land Settlement Department, wrote, “It  
must be clear that there is no room in the country for both peoples…The only  
solution is a Land of Israel without Arabs…There is no way but to transfer the  
Arabs from here…”  
Israeli historian Tom Segev notes that, “Disappearing the Arabs lay at  
the heart of the Zionist dream and was also a necessary condition of its  
realization…With few exceptions, none of the Zionists disputed the desirability  
of forced transfer—-or its morality.”  
Violating Traditional Jewish Values  
Throughout the world, more and more Jewish voices are being heard in criticism of  
the manner in which Israel’s treatment of Palestinians is violating traditional  
Jewish values. A French Jewish Journalist, a former committed Zionist who lived  
and studied in Israel, has written a much-discussed book entitled “The State of  
Israel Vs. The Jews.” Sylvan Cypel, once a senior editor at Le Monde, is the son  
of a Ukrainian-born father who fled to France in 1938 before the Nazis wiped out  
his entire family. He later led the French Labor Zionist movement. Cypel grew up  
in that movement. He went to Israel after high school and was drafted and served  
as an IDF paratrooper. He returned to France a committed Zionist.  
Later, he returned to Israel to attend university in 1969. He found that his  
fellow students spoke about Palestinians “exactly the same way” French settlers  
talked about Algerian Arabs before Algeria’s war of independence. He was  
increasingly alienated from the ethno-nationalist sentiments which surrounded  
him. He recalls that, “As I became an increasingly active anti-Zionist, my life  
in Israel got harder. My wife and I were ostracized because of our beliefs.” He  
writes that, “the yawning gap between the promise and the reality of Zionism”  
drove him away from Israel. He saw it was becoming a society no idealist could  
bear, “a racist, bullying little superpower.”  
What he discovered was “total contempt for international law, the belief that  
might makes right…and a colonial mentality of domination…making war crimes  
committed against civilian populations part of Israel’s official strategy.” He  
laments Israel’s “congenital nativism” and “its ability to deny basic rights to  
an entire people, without seeming to suffer any political consequences.”  
Abandoning A Genuinely Jewish Worldview  
Beyond this, he saw a state which proclaimed itself “Jewish” abandoning “a  
worldview that characterized Judaism in the modern era, one primarily rooted in a  
progressive conception of humanity and society, with only a small, determined  
minority fighting it all.” He emphasizes the factors which make Israel’s  
occupation particularly oppressive: the forcible expulsions of Palestinians from  
their lands, the occupation which followed and the policy of making Palestinian  
lives unbearable, “making them feel sick of life, in hopes they will eventually  
leave.” He noted that, “Palestinians are shot dead every week by soldiers, who  
are never prosecuted, even when there is no dispute about the facts.”  
Israel, Cypel argues, has gone from denying its expulsion of Palestine’s  
indigenous Arab population, because of an understanding that such a policy  
violated Jewish moral and ethical values, to a growing acceptance of it as  
desirable and legitimate. He states that, “To Jews any ideology that prizes the  
preeminence of blood should bring back terrible memories.” And the idea of  
annexing Palestinian territory enjoys growing popular support. A 2019 poll found  
that 72% of Israeli Jews favor annexation, in whole or in part. Cypel writes  
that, “There is a widespread inability to see Palestinians and black Africans as  
human beings…Israel sets the Jews accompanying its destiny on the path to  
abandoning that which made Judaism’s culture and glory in the modern age: the  
multifaceted engagement in progress and a rejection of racism in all its forms.”  
Israel Is “Bad For The Jews”  
Israel, Cypel concludes, “is bad for the Jews, a belligerently intolerant, faith-  
driven ethno-state at odds with the pluralistic democracies it originally sought  
to join.  
As Zionism unravels in the American Jewish community—-and in Jewish communities  
around the world——-the idea that AIPAC and other establishment organizations  
speak for large numbers of Jewish Americans becomes increasingly difficult to  
promote. The older moral and ethical Jewish tradition is reasserting itself.  
Calling it “anti-Semitic” shows us how much Zionism has distorted the very nature  
of Jewish Identity.

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© 2010 The American Council For Judaism.