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Explaining the Occupation

I’ve taught my children to love Israel. This summer, I tried to start a more complicated conversation.

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I employed all sorts of exaggerated metaphors. I told them to conjure up the image of their elementary-school principal’s office. I then “occupied” that office, pushing Mr. Denny Boger and his Christmas ties and his messy desk into the corner, disconnecting his phone line, hauling in my own sleek gunmetal-gray desk, with my electronics and their 3G capabilities, and instead of his snarky secretary, I installed three sullen college students guarding the door and the hallway and checking everyone’s backpacks as they walked to the cafeteria.

They didn’t know if they should like this story. They giggled at the image of me in the principal’s office, with him shoved into the corner, and laughed when I took the fish tank off his desk and put it on my own. There, I said. These are my fish now. I will even rename them. And if they become a bother, I will dispose of them. The 6-year-old stopped laughing.

Our 9-year-old demanded to know if people are angry. “Yes,” said his younger sister, the one who prefers to suck her thumb and tuck behind my leg and quietly observe the world. “They’re mad. But they’re also sad.” She paused and looked up at me. “Right, Mama?”

We walked by their favorite smoothie shop on Dizengoff, but they didn’t even seem to notice because my son was making big sweeping statements about the injustice of people being moved around from place to place without their consent: Aren’t there Palestinians and Israelis who want to make their own decisions? And go where they want to go? And work where they want to work? Doesn’t this wall keep people from moving around? In his world, people go where they want to go. Those checkpoints with their long lines—well, he said, they should be dismantled. He tried that new word out several times. Dismantled. There. Wouldn’t that be better? He asked to see this separation wall with his own eyes, and I promised him that he would. Maybe next year.

If the kids were older, they might have pushed back at me with questions from the Israelis’ perspective, trying to see the other side of the issue, but for now, the injustices I laid out are the injustices they wanted to right. People sometimes ask me: If you’re going to talk about the occupation, why start with the Palestinians? You should be starting with us.

I want my kids to grow up believing that they can dismantle that damn separation wall.

This is my biggest problem. Us. Them. Us. Them. I don’t want my kids starting their Jewish lives with Us and Them. Or worse, not even knowing about the existence of them. Believing that the land of Israel is our sole birthright and nobody else has ever laid claim to these sacred spaces. Am I crazy for thinking that the key to all of this is how we raise the next generation of Jews? And Palestinians? But since I’m not raising two Palestinian kids, I’m raising Jewish kids, I can only hope to do my part. I want my kids to grow up believing that they can dismantle that damn separation wall. I want my kids to believe that it will be in their lifetime that Jerusalem becomes a city of shared pleasure instead of shared conflict. I want them to have the language now—yes, as a 6-year-old and a 9-year-old—to fight this fight that isn’t getting any easier and will likely last well into their adulthood.

The evening after we discussed the occupation, they asked to take one of their favorite nighttime walks, down Ibn G’virol to Rabin Square, to say hello to the fish in the new pond; they’re so docile that the 9-year-old can catch them in his hands. His sister bent over him and laughed as he’d catch and release, catch and release. Last year, each time we came here, my son would stop in front of the Rabin memorial and ask about the square with the jagged rocks and the tiny tea lights and why people are always clustered there taking pictures. Intimidated by the effort it would take to explain, I ignored his questions until he stopped asking.

That was last year. This year, our walk that night took us by the Rabin memorial once again, and this time I paused there and thought that with all this new language—occupation, suicide bombings, annexation—maybe next summer, there’ll be a way to start to tell this story, too, if not all the others.

***

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julis123 says:

Two comments
1) Did you also explain to your kids that the land that you are living on in Ohio was seized from native Americans after they were ethnically cleansed and that the Southwest of the US was taken from Mexico following a trumped up war.
2) Did you explain to your kids that the wall has succeeded in preventing terrorists from blowing up innocent families?
As for the wall coming down, it’s not going to happen until the Palestinians decide that it is more important to have a state than to kill Jews.

rabbierin says:

This is a tour de force Danielle! I have struggled for years with explaining the responsibility and challenges of teaching my students about the realities of the Palestinians in the Occupied Territories. I just managed to complicate my 7 year old’s love of Israel by teaching her what happened last week to Anat Hoffman and Women of the Wall . . . I hope to teach her about the Occupation with this much integrity some day soon. THANK YOU.

Lauren says:

I get what you’re trying to do, but I think your execution is off the mark and a little unfair. It puts all the blame on the Israeli’s until “next year” when maybe you’ll tell them the rest? A bit of Jewish guilt?

Listen, there are certainly injustices that the Palestinians have to live with and for those who are peace loving, my heart really bleeds for them. But that wall wasn’t always there. It was put up in order to save lives. It’s a very real necessity– and I’m sure it makes you feel more secure when you’re on your 5 week trips to Tel Aviv, knowing that you’re not as likely to be blown up while you’re enjoying your smoothie on Dizengoff.

I honestly don’t know where you’re getting the fish tank reference from or what you’re trying to say there. I never heard of Israelis stealing things and then killing them for no reason. I do remember them leaving infrastructure for the Palestinians after the Gaza disengagement, such as greenhouses, with the Palestinians promptly trashed.

The fact of the matter is that there were 600,000 Jews living in that area of the Ottoman empire before it was declared the state of Israel by the UN. If you’ll remember, the Jews got the smaller portion of land, and the Palestinians got the larger plot. They are the ones that rejected it– not the Israelis. They are the ones who attacked and waged war–not the Israelis. Israel won and with that won more land. This is not a phenomenon relegated only to Israel–that’s how most of the world’s countries came to exist.

I get wanting to teach both sides, but then teach both sides. You talk about the injustices of the Palestinians, but you flat out ignore your child’s questions about the assassination of Rabin? You teach that the Jews are keeping the Palestinians captive, but you neglect to mention that Jews have died trying to secure peace? You neglect to mention the mass murder and terrorism that prompted the wall in the first place?

You say you have a problem with an “us” and “them” mentality, but the way you’ve chosen to explain this to your children only furthers that ideology– it exacerbates it.

You’ve still told them the story with “us” and “them” — only in your version there are not two sides, with “us” being the aggressors and “them” being the innocent victims. And your answer is that you’ll explain more “next year”, but the reality is that at those formative stages of childhood a year is an eternity. So for a year your children will walk around blaming Israel for the troubles of the region.

I get wanting to give a fair perspective, but this isn’t fair. Fair is telling both sides and allowing them to formulate their own perspectives, ask their own questions. It’s not giving one side and then ignoring questions that you don’t feel like answering at the time. It feels self deprecating to me. And I’d feel the same way if this story was written from the perspective of a Palestinian mother giving only the Israeli’s side. It just feels wrong.

I feel sorry for the authors kids – a parent who doesn’t tell the truth. Sad. Occupation? Are you talking about land that once belonged to a country that attacked Israel and lost the war? At worst this land can be called contested territory, but Occupied? What a horrible message to give your kids. Shame on you!

Danielle, Good for you for trying and for writing about it. Like all things parenting, there will be differences of opinion. BTW — I’ve got some nice snaps from the beach last summer, email me off line! Barbara

“Director of the campus Hillel” – at Ohio University. That’s good for parents of prospective college students to know. I’m sure she has already made sure to inform the college students – whose Judaism she is supposed to nurture – all about the “Occupation.” No wonder Jewish college students are unable to speak out on behalf of Israel.

Ruth Horowitz says:

Thank you for this. And for the way you are raising your children.

Alon Raab says:

Thank you Rabbi Danielle for refusing to ignore important issues.
There are many excellent resources, applicable also for children, that could help in the task, and films such as Promises http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Ryzl0CE5fc (The film is also availableonline) which show, via the lives of several Israeli and Palestinian children the conflicting attitudes and also dialogue are helpful. The new book Side by Side- Parallel Histories of Israel-Palestine by scholars of both groups is also a good place to start.
http://thenewpress.com/index.php?option=com_title&task=view_title&metaproductid=1838
As are the many writings and actions by people seeking justice and peace.

Just wanted to comment on a factual inaccuracy in your statement: “If you’ll remember, the Jews got the smaller portion of land, and the Palestinians got the larger plot.” I can only assume you’re referencing the UN Partition Plan, and this is not true–the UN Partition Plan allocated ~56% of the land to the Jews and ~43% to the Palestinians. See here: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/in_depth/middle_east/israel_and_the_palestinians/key_documents/1681322.stm

opensoc says:

Calling Judea and Samaria ” occupied territories” is NOT teaching at all. It is merely adopting the mendacious arab version of what in fact are disputed territories. Teach your kids about the San Remo conference, and how the land was equitably partitioned into a Palestinian part, today called Jordan , and a cisjordanean Jewish State, before British interests decided to grant the arabs the opportunity to dislodge by force of war the Jews from the sliver of land they resignedly accepted, Teach them also about the many states that were created out of transfered populations, such as Bangladesh…
How abhorrent that being a Rabbi, you are teaching self hate not only to your own kids, but to your Ohio Community, and on top, that you pride yourself of that !!!

That’s true only if you discard the 70% of the mandate already given illegally to Arabs. It’s called Jordon. Jews definitely got the smaller portion of the land – no question.

The only hope is that these children will grow up and be able to educate themselves, before they become self-hating Jews. You know, the ones that stand up at Hamas rallies and say they are ashamed that Arabs have to wait in line to enter Israel without any explanation why. Thank goodness you only have two kids to screw up.

Phillip Cohen says:

Rabbi Leshaw you are doing a great job educating YOUR children the way you think works best for you. My 8 year old son attends a secular Jewish program. I don’t agree with everything they teach but I do like the alternative exposure to a number of issues that impact our lives.

Paula B says:

“The Occupation” is what Palestinian Muslims call the Jewish presence in all of Israel. Geez, lady, before you can teach it you need to learn what it is you’re talking about.
Next we’ll have them taking lessons from Hamas. Won’t be much different than what you’re teaching them!

Actually that would be completely different. All the author is stating is that she doesn’t want her children to be raised in an us vs. them paradigm. Loving Israel and teaching our children about both sides of an issue doesn’t have to be mutually exclusive.

George says:

The author is probably a well meaning person.
But she for sure is not an Yiddishe Mama.
And this is very sad.
Kids unfortunately are affected in such situations.

Good point, Sarah. So shouldn’t “they” also be doing the same thing with their kids? Open any Arab school book and you will see that’s not even a possibility. So should “we” just go first because we’re at a military advantage? Been there before. Didn’t work. It’s so much easier to put the onus on “us” because “we’re” open to self-criticism and reform. “They” are not. The author’s well-written words have good intentions, but stem from the same ignorance and self-righteousness that plagues much of the American Jewish community. I do talk to my kids about the conflict and base my discourse on facts. I do not use the word “occupation” because I don’t see it as an occupation. As a matter of fact, the majority in Israel’s population and government believe that the long-term solution will be a two-state solution anyway and there will eventually be a full separation of sovereign territory. So in this long and seemingly almost unending process, how many lives will have to be paid by “us” and “them” before that happens? The author needs a reality check, not a pulpit.

Poupic says:

We need these so called Jews like bunkess on a dead man. Judea, Samaria including the part of Jerusalem that were cleansed of any Jews for the Transjordanian land grab by John Glubb, a British operative were LIBERATED in 1967, not occupied. “The wall that is mostly a fence except where a wall is needed to stop sniper fire from killing Israeli’s is build to end terror. In fact “The wall did that exceeding well up to now. Only “Jews that have lost any trace of what it means to be a Jew can be against “The Wall.” By the way you live in Ohio, in fact, not in imagination, it is occupied territory and the native population cleansed out so that you can have a good life there. When are you leaving Ohio? Judea, Samaria are the heartland of the Jewish nation and Jerusalem our eternal capital, never some other nation’s capital. Look it up! Before it was hacked by John Glubb, Jerusalem was one city with a Jewish majority. Look it up!

Poupic says:

We need these so called Jews like bunkess on a dead man. Judea, Samaria including the part of Jerusalem that were cleansed of any Jews for the Transjordanian land grab by John Glubb, a British operative were LIBERATED in 1967, not occupied. “The wall that is mostly a fence except where a wall is needed to stop sniper fire from killing Israeli’s is build to end terror. In fact “The wall did that exceeding well up to now. Only “Jews that have lost any trace of what it means to be a Jew can be against “The Wall.” By the way you live in Ohio, in fact, not in imagination, it is occupied territory and the native population cleansed out so that you can have a good life there. When are you leaving Ohio? Judea, Samaria are the heartland of the Jewish nation and Jerusalem our eternal capital, never some other nation’s capital. Look it up! Before it was hacked by John Glubb, Jerusalem was one city with a Jewish majority. Look it up!

I’m with Lauren on this, Danielle. I get and admire what you’re trying to do; I will have to have difficult conversations about Israel issues with my own kids, some sooner than others, but I think your execution was off.

That said, hey, this is you and your kids. I would never insult you or call into question your love for Israel or your children, but I would encourage you to truly and seriously examine your actions and think about how to continue this conversation and home-based education BEFORE next year. For starters, there’s really no excuse, in the 21st century, with the tools you have at your disposal, not to follow up with your son IMMEDIATELY about the Rabin Memorial and the murder that brought it into existence. He’s now seen it in person enough that the lesson doesn’t have to happen literally in front of it.

The anti-Israel folks over here call the fence an Apartheid Wall, something we know is nonsense. I’m glad you don’t use that terminology, but separation wall is only marginally better for a variety of reasons: One, it’s an inaccurate description of the whole, only a small portion of which is wall – the vast majority is chain link fencing. Further, while “separation” describes part of the fence’s consequences, it doesn’t even obliquely refer to the barrier’s raison d’etre, as has been noted in a couple of previous comments: the Security Barrier was established for one reason only: to minimize the ability of murderous terrorists and their accomplices to enter Israel and kill innocent people. It has saved countless lives, and any conversation about the barrier that doesn’t mention this part of the story is insulting and dishonest.

Your occupation and dislocation metaphor/story about the principal was also off the mark, as noted. Israel is not occupying Palestinian land; there are Israelis living, and IDF soldiers serving, in disputed territories, all of which Jews have a historical connection to. Again, it’s insensitive and incongruous to talk about these areas as if Jews stomped in there out of nowhere, with no historical or political context, and no mention of the decades of Arab (not just Palestinian) intransigence and outright rejection of substantive peace offers that could have brought an end to a great deal of suffering on both sides.

I hope you are able to accept my input (and that of the other respectful commenters here) with the same sense of achva in which it’s offered.

Beatrix17 says:

The West Bank, the land
Israel occupies, belonged to Jordan. Gaza, which belonged to Egypt,
is no longer occupied because Israel voluntarily left. Only Israel
has offered these territories to Palestine for a nation. Jordan and
Egypt never did. In fact, Jordan exiled the Palestinians to these
areas because Arafat tried to overthrow the Jordanian king.

Israel with 7 million
people is surrounded by 676 million hostile neighbors if you include
Pakistan. The Palestinians have never agreed to peace—as far as
they’re concerned they are still at war, a war that they expect to
win.

If Mexico had continued
fighting us since 1856 because she still wanted Texas, how do you
think America would be acting

genelevit says:

In order to teach about BOTH sides you need to know about the other side, why and how it is different from us. The author of the article does not know it. It seems to me she doesn’t know even this side. If she would ask Israelis on the street: do you like the occupation, do you like the fence, do you want to have checkpoints – 9 out of 10 would answer “no”: we don’t want to occupy, we don’t want fence and checkpoints. So, if the vast majority of population is against occupation – why Israel is still occupying West Bank? Why Israel gives J-street and neo-nazis the opportunity to present majority of Jews as warmongers and racists, promoters of “apartheid” and occupation? When she could explain to her children this “paradox” plus the fact that unlike her Israeli mothers must send their children to a war – maybe then her children will start understand something their mother could not.

Jeff, saying “well they aren’t doing it either,” doesn’t make us not educating our children right. You won’t find any of this in Jewish school books either. I think the issue is that by saying “us” and “them” we are also making it seem like everyone in a particular group, whether it be Jew, Israeli, Muslim, Palestinian, feel a particular way. We know that this isn’t the case. There are varied viewpoints in every group, and I think we should teach that to kids.

What proof do you have of “varied” viewpoints among Muslims? Every poll taken of the Palestinian Arab population is overwhelming in support of destroying Israel. Do you mean by varied that they differ as to time frame?

Nat Ben Zimri says:

Some myths die hard. “Occupation” is one of them. It’s time to set the record straight:
http://shomroncentral.blogspot.co.il/p/6-myth-and-lies-occupation-palestinians.html

Actually, the West Bank only belonged to Jordon because they got it in the land grab called the “War of Independence.” No Arab country wanted another one ruled by Haj Husseni and were dead set against him creating another Arab state as leader. Jordon took only the West Bank, and must to the chagrin of the Egyptians, Lebanese and Syrians, cut their own deal with the Jews. No doubt if the Jordanians cared about their Pali brothers and had engaged the Israelis for more of the land, things might have turned out differently.

Nat Ben Zimri says:

How can Israel occupy land that, by international law, is theirs?
http://shomroncentral.blogspot.co.il/p/5-legal-rights-to-samaria.html

Bravo. It’s a wall appreciated by Israeli Arabs as well.

The paranoid responses here (Baba Wawa, in particular) are quite telling about the state of this community. I am an American and live in Israel and have explored both sides and have friends on both sides. I even lived in the West Bank for some time. I think this is a touching story of a mother being real with her children. They are the next generation, you know, and I hope they replace that of those who seem obsessed with denying reality. kol hakavod Danielle

Look at the talkbacks chiding the author:
“The only hope is that these children will grow up and be able to educate themselves, before they become self-hating Jews. You know, the ones that stand up at Hamas rallies and say they are ashamed that Arabs have to wait in line to enter Israel without any explanation why.”

I know self-hating Jews and, let me tell you, they’re not at such rallies, let alone standing up – forget about the fact that they would certainly give an explanation if in fact they did magically show up to a Hamas rally in your nightmare. Get a grip. Israel invaded a land, Israel settled that land, Israel’s military runs that land, Israel assassinates and imprisons dissenters on that land, but Israel cannot just take that land and the Palestinians’ cause is just in its principle. Reality is about complicated situations, whereas memory is always straightforward. Stop living in the past folks. The next generations that have to deal with the consequences of your history need to be given the chance to build a new future.

Beatrix17 says:

What are you saying—that
nations should give up land they won in war? Or just land that
nations won after being attacked by the Palestinians? Israelis have
been in the Mideast for 4,000 years, and Jordan originally belonged
to Israel. You’re right—Israel should demand it back.

Good on you! Awesome to see someone facing these issues honestly, bravely and with compassion.

Sad to see so many small minded comments; If we cannot look at ourselves and distinguish the good from the bad -we don’t evolve. The rush to blindly challenge this articles honesty as if to somehow defend Isreal is absurd and sheds light only on the cowardice of its authors. Grow-up, be brave, and take responsibility for your humanity.

Thanks again Danielle!

Palestinian Arabs aren’t necessarily Muslims and Muslims don’t have a monolithic attitude toward Jews or Israel. To be sure, you’re correct that polls of the Palestianian Arab population prove hostility toward Israel’s right to exist (and this is a serious problem for any “solution”), but there are plenty of American Muslims who do not support the destruction of Israel or espouse Jew-hatred (see the recent dialogue between Muslim leaders and Chancellor Arnold Eisen of the Jewish Theological Seminary, for example). I’m not dismissing your point, but I am urging more care in labeling.

Your first point is well-taken, Julis123, but does that mean you think the morally compromised history of US expansion is something we Jews should use as a template? Surely not.

I’m not challenging your point, by the way; I often bemoan the fact that, had the founding of the state of Israel occurred just 100 years earlier (even with the exact same demographic realities), Israel wouldn’t be the lightning rod it is today.

As an American then you know that there we have 0 % claim to this entire continent.It was stolen from Native Americans and Mexicans. Should we feel guilty and teach our children we don’t belong here? Israels history is the polar opposite.Israel was the home of Jews, they lived there,were chased away and the name of Israel changed to Palestine.That’s something everyone seems to ignore.The descendants physical and spiritual returned and now those who came running when the natives turned a wasteland into a land of opportunity claim they are the occupiers? The truth usually makes”complicated” issues much easier to understand.

B.A. Newmark says:

Wow. I live in Ohio too and this clinched it. Ohio University is not on our list for colleges, nor will it be on many other parents list after I forward a copy of this. Seriously, the entire narrow mindedness. “I lived a fairly standard 1970s Jewish childhood: equal parts assimilation and apathy, equal parts fear and tribalism. My interest in rabbinical school stemmed from my desire to make sense of the complexities of my own upbringing and to foster Jewish growth in my own life.” That is not “standard” maybe in your little suburb it was but many parents made great sacrifices to provide their children Jewish educations. That you are ignorant of that does not mean that it did not go on, or that you are representative of a whole. Your interest in Rabbinical school stemmed from you desire . . . . Yes, you seem to be the little kernel at the center of everything. Look you spend a couple of weeks a year as a tourist–no need to explain a thing. The fact that Jews are killed and die really does not matter–not where you are coming from or where you are going with this deeply offensive line of reasoning, Occupy–really?

As a student, I don’t care to attend classes with your narrow,ignorant minded children either. Move along.

Mansour says:

“I don’t want my kids starting their Jewish lives with Us and Them.” Though an ordained rabbi is saying this, it kinda misses a key point of Judaism, doesn’t it? There is a separation between “us” and “them”. It’s part of who we are and why we are. If she doesn’t like it, she can always look forward to her grandkids’ christenings in Ohio when the time comes. Why? Because at some point, they’ll ask the hard questions, “If Jews don’t belong in Hebron because it’s ‘stolen’, then how did Tel Aviv come about? If we don’t belong in Shechem because we stole it from the Palestinians, why do we belong in Haifa?”.

When I was growing up, I was told of another Arab-Jewish relations story. It was of my grandfather’s imprisonment for being a Jew in an Arab country. It was of my mother forced to recite Arabic poems in school about killing Jews. It was about uncles being rounded up and tortured for being “Zionists”. And, it was about massacres in Hebron that wiped out its Jewish population.

I, too, will tell my children of the wall. When I do, I hope they’ll ask why it doesn’t run further east because I’ll also tell them of Mufti Husseini convincing Hitler to exterminate the Jews. I’ll tell them the land was paid for the day the Arab Revolt started and the deed was signed over to us and our descendants the day the Palestinians called for our deaths.

herbcaen says:

Perhaps in a few years, your kids will be on flotillas accompanied by European anti-semites determined to liberate Palestine from the Jewish infidels. Or perhaps they will serve as human shields in Tehran to protect the innocent mullahs from rapacious zionists. Why not vacation in Beirut instead of Tel Aviv? I here the night life there is more interesting

David Epstein says:

It’s not the same because Jordan is not still fighting Israel and does not want the West bank back. But to continue with your analogy, the US immediately offered citizenship to every resident of Texas, regardless of race. You’d better believe there would be international outrage if Indians and people of Mexican decent (ie, the people who were in Texas first) were denied basic civil rights the way that Palesinians are, told they couldn’t drive on highways or farm on land they’ve lived on for generations, etc. Danielle, thank you for your article, as these comments suggest we need more moms like you in the world.

herbcaen says:

Even among the Nazis there was nuance. In early 1945, Himmler stopped the deportation of Jews. Eichmann continued the deportation in defiance of Himmlers orders. Palestinian Arabs have a similar degree of nuance when it comes to the destruction of Israel. Perhaps a visit to the Park Hotel in Netanya during Passover might offer some clarity, when an Arab provided Jews with an explosively exciting Seder

John Smith says:

Rabbi Leshaw,

I admire your desire to give your children a balanced view.

But I don’t believe this is an issue that you can do justice with small children, without making it too simplistic. Your children first need to clearly understand that we believe that this a land given to us by God, as a special place for the Jewish people. It is a land that we have prayed to return for over 2,000 years, it is a land that everywhere you go, you can find evidence of past Jewish life. They should spend every summer exploring the rich past that is buried beneath its soil, visit Tsipori, and learn the Mishna associated with it, visit Ir David with a Tanach in hand, go to Emek Haayalon and read about David and Goliath etc.

During adolescence, they can begin reading Mark Twain’s account of the land during his visit in the 1860s, when Palestine was barren and occupied by small Arab clans, and a small Jewish community. They can watch Lawrence of Arabia and learn how the British, in their attempt to dislodge the Ottoman Empire, encouraged the nomadic clans to become “Arabs.” They can learn how the Hashemite tribe was rewarded with land on the Eastern bank of the Jordan. They can learn how European Jews who came over in the late 19th century, brought prosperity to barren Palestine. They can learn how Jews and non Jews joined together in the early 1900s to come to the land because of new jobs. They can learn about the British Mandate and tension caused beginning with the massacre of Jews in 1929, before there was even a Jewish state in Israel.

After learning all of that, they can learn about how the founding of the State of Israel impacted the displacement of those who were living in the new state. They can learn that some stayed, and became citizens, and some left voluntary, and some were forced to leave, and landed up in refugee camps. They can compare the plight of the Palestinians to the plight of Native Americans, who were force off their land, either shot in mass killings, or put on “reservations,” and given plenty of alcohol to rot away, or the plight of South African who were shunned and suffered apartheid. They can compare that to the treatment of the Palestinians displaced by Israel. As educated young adults learning with a clear understanding of how compassionate, and wonderful Israel has been, compared to other countries, including their own country, they will gain a greater appreciation of the complexity of the situation, and a pride in Israel and its people. And most importantly, they will be armed with facts, to change the situation on the ground.

But I believe starting at this age, as your children are forming their own identities is misguided, and harmful. They must first understand who we are, who Israel is, and then they can understand its impact on the other occupants of the land.

Beatrix17 says:

Jordan and Egypt controlled that land for 20 years and never offered the Palestinians a home. Israel has. All she asks in return is a peace agreement. Neither Arafat nor Abbas has been willing to do that.

David Epstein says:

Read a bit of the history of ’48. Neither the Jews nor the Arabs were happy with the partition and each fought for the land of the other. The Jewish forces displaced far more people and committed far more atrocities in ’48 than the Arabs did, regardless of who fired the first shot. The vast majority of Jewish Israelis have no verifiable ancestral connection to the land earlier than 1900, just a religious one. And basing any claims on sketchy 2,000-year-old versions of borders is insane. Should England go claim Normandy from France because of some connection to the land that 1000 years of history have made obsolete?

Beatrix17 says:

American Muslims aren’t Palestinians any more than American Jews are israeli. When Mideastern Muslims stand up for peace with Israel, then we’ll have peace.

David Epstein says:

If Israel had given the West Bank back to Jordan after the war, it would be Jordan’s problem. Jordan would have had to figure out whether to better integrate Palestinians into Jordanian society or help them achieve their own state. But Israel occupied the West Bank and now it’s Israel’s problem. Citizenship or independence – those are the only two options the modern world will accept for any people, and the only two options any parent should teach their children are acceptable.

genelevit says:

You are not SELF-hating Jew, you are a Jew who hates other Jews; in other words: you are an antisemite.

Beatrix17 says:

I have read the history
and even the bible. Palestine was the name that the Romans gave to
Israel 2,000 years ago. There were no Arab Palestinians until that
time. That Israel belonged to the Jews and the Jews belonged to the
Mideast for 4,000 years before that is verified historically,
archaeologically, and biblically.

In 1948, the UN
established two nations, one for the Palestinian Jews and one for the
Palestinian Arabs. The Palestinian Jews created a nation, which they
again called Israel. The Palestinian Arabs went to war 3 times
against Israel, lost each time, and then they tried to overthrow the
Jordanian monarchy, which got the Palestinians exiled to the West
Bank by Jordan.

Beatrix17 says:

Did people notice you came up with your ideas after getting involved with J Street?

David Epstein says:

@Beatrix17:disqus – you’re free to feel entitled to all the land in the world if you want. Whatever. Just answer this: there are real, live human beings living in the West Bank and Gaza that love their families and their communities just as much as you do. However you want to interpret the wars and displacement and conquest and killing and terrorism and everything that’s happened since 1948, these are still people. We do not permit slavery, or Jim Crow, or apartheid, or dhimma, or anything like that in this modern world. Even Tibetans in China or Kurds in Turkey are (often against their will) full citizens under the law.

There are three options for how to resolve the status of the stateless Arab people now living in Israel/Palestine. Israeli citizenship, independence, or expulsion. Israel is the one in control, Israel will make the final decision. It has the power to make any of those three happen. Which do you want to see? That’s the only question that really matters for the future and the one that will really reveal what kind of a people we are.

emunadate says:

D. Prager explains the wall really welll. It is a must see…
http://www.emunadate.net/2012/07/prager-university-is-israel-apartheid.html I know your intention is to educate your children, which is great. Unfortunately, you are getting most of your info from J-street, which is Pro-Arab and Anti-Israel. Remember, Israel wants to live in peace in Israel. The Palestinians want to remove all the Jews from Israel. That is their mantra.

Sam Katz says:

I was a student and active participant of the Hillel at Ohio Univeristy and I can assure you that my Jewish identity was only nurtured by the director, Rabbi Danielle Leshaw. Rabbi Leshaw is an incredible Hillel Director who constantly goes out of her way to meet the wants and needs of the Jewish students at Ohio University. She embraces all students regardless of their opinions on Israeli politics and Jewish practices. She makes a space for all Jews. I learned an incredible amount from Rabbi Leshaw and her husband and they are personally responsible for the career path I have chosen. I currently work at a Jewish high school and will continue my career as passionate Jewish Educator. If you and your child rule out Ohio University as a college option because of one opinion article you read, you are missing out on a unique, closely knit, and truly amazing Jewish community. Your loss.

Many Jewish college students at Ohio University do speak out on behalf of Israel because Rabbi Leshaw created an Israel Advocacy group on campus. If your child or any prospective college student chose Ohio University, they would definitely have many opportunities to support Israel.

imforisrael says:

This is an awful article and I feel very bad for the things that your children have to hear on a daily basis. My hope is that you let them explore issues on their own so that they can develop their own conclusions and not just blindly believe your one sided propaganda. Clearly you don’t have a true knowledge of the history of the area. It’s a shame too that you also influence college students who don’t really know about the situation and base what they believe off of your BS.

Also, what kind of standard Jewish upbringing leads you to barely know that Israel existed until you entered college? That doesn’t sound very standard to me.

baltasar almudárriz says:

If you guys prefer to shut yourselves away and dwell alone- then why do you get so riled up over the fact that Europeans (and others) wanted to exclude you from maintstream society? Why would that matter?

baltasar almudárriz says:

Has it occured to you that “anti-semitism” might be a reaction to the “anti-goyism” of many of your scriptures?

baltasar almudárriz says:

“Ethnic cleansing” is probably more accurate.

mouskatel says:

This article is a perfect example of the way liberal American Jews fool and deceive themselves. An American rabbi brings her kids to Israel for a few weeks every summer and proudly thinks of herself as showing them “the real Israel” because they rent the same apartment and go to the same beaches every summer. Then, she’s going to show them more of the “real Israel” by “explaining” what the occupation is.

Here’s a clue: the “real Israel” is not the Tel Aviv bubble of beaches, cute supermarkets and cafes. Did you take them to Sderot and Ashkelon for the sirens? Did you show the the bomb shelters children need to sleep in? Did you introduce them to a “settler family” so they would at least know that the “occupiers” are perfectly normal people like themselves? Did they meet an Arab family in Jaffa (right next door to you!) who believes the beaches you’re frolicking on are in fact also occupied? Did you take them to the Argazim neighborhood so they can see how the poor live here?

You talk about “understanding the complexities” but you’re not even willing to confront them yourself, let alone engage your kids with them.

julis123 says:

As to the first point-not, at all. What I’m saying is that if “oppression” bothers her so much it is logical that she should start at home with these very clear cut situations. I think many “liberal” American Jews comment on things without having a complete understanding of the background. If the author had lived here during the 2nd intifada when you weren’t sure if your kids would return alive when they went out in the morning, she might feel a little different about the barrier. If she lived in Sderot she may not be enthusiastic about the land for peace thing.

mouskatel says:

Yes. This

I so enjoyed this wonderful article. I’m really starting to like this website.

You poor sad thing, believing that we must continue with past Arab-Jewish relations as if it were some holy tradition. Why would your parent’s lives dictate how any of us live today? Why can’t Jews be a part of one “US”?? Focusing on our differences is what’s wrong with this world and the source of most human problems. And you preach it’s continuation? I’m sick of hearing all of that We We We We We We We! You sound like a pig.

If she and her family had been shell-shocked during the 2nd intifada they would be just as hate-filled, paranoid and neurotic as you. Is that what you’re trying to say??

Gazans can’t fart without a permit from Tel aviv, and you think they’re not occupied??

Are you saying that It would be better if they could remain blind to the truth and blindly pledge allegiance to the criminal Likuds with their insane plans that will serve only to grow,unite and motivate Israel’s enemies. Every bully I’ve ever known has either changed or faced ruin.

Mansour says:

“Why would your parent’s lives dictate how any of us live today? Why can’t Jews be a part of one “US”??”

This
is the cry of every anti-Semite. It’s a version of “Why must they have
their own traditions and culture? Why must they remember their past? Why
must they be so ‘exclusive’? Why won’t they just assimilate and be done with this ‘Jew’ thing? Why can’t we be rid of them and their culture?”

I’m sick of hearing all of that. You sound like a pig.

What about the other 90% called Saudi Arabia?? Why didn’t Israel include that too, or was it all a matter of adjacency?

What about the other 90% called Saudi Arabia and Iran?? The U.N. should have included them too if it was all a simple matter of adjacency or contiquity? Early Jews lived everywhere in that region. lol!

julis123 says:

Gee Tim, a little aggressive. Did we take our medication this morning?

ezraproductions says:

Absolutely brilliant. You have so much courage. I’m sorry for all of the negative postings.

Lynne T says:

Of course conditions in Gaza have nothing to do with any of Hamas’s policies both toward Israel and Arabs who don’t share the MB’s enthusiasm for Sharia or the activities of “militant groups” like the Aqsa martyrs.

Acually, I think you sound like an arrogant, self-righteous, know-it-all, who, unfortunately, is indoctrinating her children with misinformation. And, I have children too, who live in Israel, and your version of “us and them” puts my children’s lives at risk. You’re a “rabbi” who does not know the Torah and a mother who does not care about other mother’s children- Arab or Israeli for that matter. I hope your children, like mine, grow up with the ability to think for themselves….maybe then they can walk to the beach in Tel Aviv and teach you. Of course, following your version they will not have the ability to walk to the beach in Tel Aviv, unless you want them to convert to be Moslem too. Keep your version in Ohio, so the rest of us can live safely in Israel.

DSarna says:

It is sad to see Jewish money spent perpetuating lies, half-truths and self-hatred. This is not hard at all. There is a group who for more than a thousand years are bent on the destruction of Israel. They bank on well-meaning, naive an downright silly leftists of jewish ancestry aiding and abetting the destruction of the Jewish state. In a democracy, that can’t be helped. But no organization funded by Jewish money should aid and abet this self-flagellation and self-destruction. A referral to a psychiatrist would be more appropriate.

genelevit says:

I wonder how you explained to the kids why Israel occupies that territory: because most of Israelis have sadistic desire to oppress Palestinians (islamist-socialist -anarchist version) or because it is necessary for the safety of Israeli citizens, both Jews and Arabs (zionist version)? Did you explain to your kids that less than 5% of Palestinians live under Israeli occupation? (the rest 95% lives under the dictatorship of Hamas and Palestinian Authority). Did you also explain to the kids that the checkpoints were made to provide safety not only to Israeli settlers but to Palestinians as well and that they are not different from the checkpoints inside Israel (in shopping malls, theatres , bus stations, etc) or at airports? Did you explain to your kids that the establishment of the checkpoints at airports in your native state of Ohio contradicts the fourth amendment of the USA Constitution? And if for the safety of the USA citizens you can disregard even your Constitution then Israel also can restrict movements of foreigners to provide safety to her own citizens as well as to those foreigners. Did you explain all of these to your kids?

One thing you are right, Israel was never meant to be a “Jewish Disneyland”. As for the rest, I’m afraid that nothing can be accomplished through this fantasyland explanation of “us” and “them” unless the Arab world starts educationg their children for Peace and not Death.

No need for insults in this or any civilized forums Tim!

No need for insults in this or any civilized forums Tim!

surfer_dad says:

Jeez, this isn’t that hard.

War is hell.
Was .. is .. HELL.

Bad things happen. Good people get punished. Collective punishment occurs. People die. Fences are built. Walls are built.
This isn’t some postcard of la la kumbaya-crap. This is the reality of war. It’s ugly.

The FACTS are .. F A C T S .. that Jewish Israel was shoe-horned into it’s 1948 footprint. Land was bought, natives kicked out.
They attacked. Israel won some of their land.
They attacked again. Israel won more of their land.
They attacked AGAIN. Israel won MORE of their land.

Many PALs, (most? majority?) can’t accept they lost so they keep fighting. They pick at the scabs of war, they fire rockets, they refuse to give up to those JEWS, the pets of the the Ottoman Empire who have the audacity to have their own country and — amazingly — thrive while they suffer.

ABSOLUTELY Israel has made mistakes, in the fog of war and in the cynical backrooms Israel has failed on occasion. Many occasions. And we shouldn’t white-wash those. That’s war. It sucks, it’s evil and it needs to end.

But you make it sound like it’s Israel’s fault somehow. The wall WORKED. End of story. That justifies it, justifies separating a populace that wants war from one that wants peace without just killing them all.

I bet you don’t play the same games with American politics. We have walls too, come to San Diego, go through the border in Buffalo. Abu Ghraib? Dresden? Is it somehow an “issue” that needs discussing? Weird analogies made to understand “it’s wrong?”

War happens, and the sooner we stop making excuses for the PALs, the sooner they will get off their butts and start smuggling hammers into Gaza with the same zeal as rockets and find peaceful solutions to their issues.

Are you another American Jew living in fantasyland?

joetarzan says:

Gee Welshie, Welsh,
Are you have fun approaching an argument from supposedly “on high” like every piece of left wing white trash? There has been no more aggressive continent towards others than Europe and it has been a source of World Wars and genocide but the world is expected to look upon your white european or european wanna-be ideas as somehow intellectual and idealist.
Truly multi-cultural societies will come to reject the fascism and communism promulgated by Europe and the supposed white, european supremacy that underpins them. Then you can be laid to rest like the rest of the dinosaurs.

latenight20009 says:

There are mantras and there are mantras…. and you have yours.
Others might report that J Street supports a two-state solution, which it sees as vital to the future of Israel if the State is to be both Jewish and democratic, and supports active US efforts toward that end. The boundaries of the “Israel” in which Israel wants to live in peace are part of what must be resolved, but can’t be such as to make the possibility of a viable, continguous state for the Palestineans possible. “The Palestineans” include many who also want to live in peace, and surprise — one can be pro-peace, pro-Palestinean AND pro-Israel all at once.

Rob Davide says:

I’m am very happy to see this article. Well done Danielle. The article was well written, well-thought and fair. Along with the tradition and the wonders of Tel Aviv and Israel proper, the Occupation is a thorn in our side and most people recognize this.
Don’t let the vocal bullies make you re-think or re-word your article. Friends in Tel Aviv and abroad share your sentiment. Many do.
Your children are very lucky to have you guide them. I wish you luck and well.

I think that you have right intentions Yiftach, and there is certainly validity in much of what you say. The semantics of what to call the wall/fence/ don’t seem to be terribly important to me, though perhaps good for a Talmudic type of discussion. However, I think that it is wrong to deny that the barrier is about “separation.” What it *is*, is not just about its raison d’etre. (What is the raison d’etre of a hen? Matzah ball soup?) If the barrier were truly *just* about keeping terrorists out, then it could have been built on the Israeli side of the Green Line, and it certainly could have avoided separating Palestinian farmers from their fields/orchards/city centers. Had the reverse occurred, and a wall separated a kibbutz from its fields, or a suburb from it’s municipality the out-cry would have reverberated from the Western Wall to Washington.

These are challenging topics to broach with our children, and I think that anyone who tries to do so with a sense of compassion for both sides, however they do it, are at least teaching their children compassion; of which the world needs more.

Beatrix17 says:

We didn’t offer
citizenship to the Japanese or the Germans the two people we
occupied, nor did they want it. The Palestinians do not want Israeli
citizenship. (Texans wanted to be part of America).

If Israel was a great
power like America, she could confer independence on the Palestinians
and have no further worries. But Israel is a tiny country of 7
million among enemies who total almost 700 million. It’s the
Palestinians who belong to a people that equals 350 million who have
the power. And she choses to use that power to play the victim,
waiting for her compatriots to destroy Israel.

Israel can not let the
Palestinians form a country without a peace agreement, which the
Palestinians refuse to agree to. Israel has been under constant
rocket attack from Gaza since she walked away from there with no
peace agreement. She had planned to do the same with the West Bank.

mouskatel says:

Because that wasn’t part of British Mandatory Palestine. Any other questions? lol!

joetarzan says:

Yeah poor Welshie Welsh is so cranky. A Jew put on Tefillin today somewhere in his neighborhood and now he’s so upset he won’t sleep for weeks.

B.A. Newmark says:

Ignorant narrow minded why because I pointed out the the writer is belly button gazing and not much more. Don’t worry my kids will be in Boston. Like I said this clinched it and showed that there is not a very sophisticated or deep Jewish life going on at Ohio University.

genelevit says:

I doubt that more than a dosen of Arab terrorists, “human rights activists” or nazis actually read “our scriptures”

Sorry, this isn’t like cutting off the phone line in the principal’s office. It’s more like Columbine — coming in and shooting kids at school. THAT’S why the security barrier is there.
Are you also discussing with your kids the 80 missiles that were lobbed at Ashkelon and other southern cities these past few days? Did you tell them how these missiles came from Gaza, an area that used to be inhabited by Jews who were forcibly evicted so that we could live in peace?
Did you tell them about Hamas, who is dedicated to the destruction of Israel and Jews?
If you’re not doing so, then you’re simply feeding them propaganda.

mouskatel says:

It mystifies me how J Street, Peace Now and other leftist orgs and leftists work so hard to forget or obliterate this simple fact.

The main article and the talkbacks only highlight the void of any intellectual rigor in assessing Zionism. Mostly it devolves into the Arabs did this and the Jews did that. There needs to be a serious look at the institutions that eventually built the state of Israel: How the moshavim, the kibbutzim, the Histadrut, the JNF and the Jewish Agency conducted themselves. What policies they followed, what their original aims were, how they went about achieving them…

And when you learn for example how Yemeni Jews were treated when they migrated to work in the first aliyah plantations, it’s hard to argue that Zionism did not have racism built in, that its basic aims were not segregationist and that it’s compatible with a liberal worldview.
http://books.google.com/books?id=OBzoJJGUAvUC&pg=105

Israel’s defenders explain every measure as a reaction to terrorism, but left to their own devices, Zionists have shown apartheid is the only possible result.

I’m an american israeli living in the Negev, and like the author of this piece, writing a novel. In fact, I bought land here, and am building a home. From reading this essay and skimming the comments, I’m left where I’m usually left when I dare to read comment sections regarding the occupation: amazed by how disconnected the entire American dialogue has become–or perhaps always was–and how *this* is the biggest threat to Israel we have. This author’s mere mention of “occupation” is what is upsetting most readers who are upset, and the author doesn’t even touch on the true horrors of the effects of the occupation. And maybe she, too, isn’t truly aware of them, since it is true that the beaches of Tel Aviv are also a bubble. The next time you come to Israel, take a one day tour of Hebron with Breaking the Silence: an ever-increasing number of IDF soldiers who dare to speak their truth, from their heart (there are so many more soldiers who have told me their stories privately–it takes great courage to speak out publicly, here, so the public stories are representative of something much bigger). Or just talk to a handful of Palestinians–it doesn’t matter who, and ask them about their actual experiences growing up under Israel’s occupation over the past 40 years; that’s what opened my eyes more than anything. Or don’t leave home: just listen to some Breaking the Silence testimonies online. If you disregard every group, even IDF soldiers, who speak out against the occupation (not the idea of it; the actual daily effect of one people growing up under the military occupation of another), you’re choosing blindness. We have become a nation that so blatantly belies our own truest values, it is heartbreaking. You want to save Israel? Listen. You don’t have to listen to the over-the-top internationals; listen to people living here who dare to talk despite the Nationalistic pressures not to; pressures many readers here are perpetuating.

the wall didn’t work, surfer dad. palestinians organized and decided to try non-violent protest; protests that go on weekly here without media coverage. I wonder how long they’ll last. you know how I know the wall isn’t responsible for decreased violence? Because at least hundreds of Palestinians from the territories enter israel illegally every day to work; the borders are highly penetrable, both ways. the wall simply makes more and more out of sight, and out of mind.

genelevit says:

Don’t you know that In WWII Americans killed more Japanese and Germans than they killed Americans regardless of who fired the first shot? And if the Holy Land is not Holy for you (“im eshkachech Yerushalaim”) – take care of your right hand and don’t speak for others

Binyamin says:

If Israel is going to be saved from itself, it will be done by people like you, Ayla. The peace process starts with the truth process.

surfer_dad says:

Sorry, but you’re factually incorrect about the effectiveness of the wall.
“Israeli officers (including the head of the Shin Bet) quoted in the newspaper Maariv have said that in the areas where the barrier was complete, the number of hostile infiltrations has decreased to almost zero. Maariv also stated that Palestinian militants, including a senior member of Islamic Jihad, had confirmed that the barrier made it much harder to conduct attacks inside Israel. Since the completion of the fence in the area of Tulkarm and Qalqilyah in June 2003, there have been no successful attacks from those areas. All attacks were intercepted or the suicide bombers detonated prematurely.[18] In a March 23, 2008 interview, Palestinian Islamic Jihad leader Ramadan Abdallah Shalah complained to the Qatarinewspaper Al-Sharq that the separation barrier “limits the ability of the resistance to arrive deep within [Israeli territory] to carry out suicide bombing attacks, but the resistance has not surrendered or become helpless, and is looking for other ways to cope with the requirements of every stage” of the intifada.[37]”
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Israeli_Wall

You are being disingenuous. Yes, many workers come in “illegally,” but it’s almost always in vans with other workers. It’s a self policing system. If another bomb gets through then they ALL will be cut-off from work.

And don’t you think that the reason there has been a rise in non-violent protests is because they can’t attack so easily anymore? It is almost 8 years old and the non-violent protests have been going on for what, 3?It’s a step in the right direction that I would applaud if I knew they were protesting their own people who have failed the average PAL for decades now with the same effort as the big, bad Israelis.
They need to understand the war is over, they lost and they need to take their lumps and live their life on what’s left of their own land.

I look forward to that time.

surfer_dad says:

Sorry, but you’re factually incorrect about the effectiveness of the wall.
“Israeli officers (including the head of the Shin Bet) quoted in the newspaper Maariv have said that in the areas where the barrier was complete, the number of hostile infiltrations has decreased to almost zero. Maariv also stated that Palestinian militants, including a senior member of Islamic Jihad, had confirmed that the barrier made it much harder to conduct attacks inside Israel. Since the completion of the fence in the area of Tulkarm and Qalqilyah in June 2003, there have been no successful attacks from those areas. All attacks were intercepted or the suicide bombers detonated prematurely.[18] In a March 23, 2008 interview, Palestinian Islamic Jihad leader Ramadan Abdallah Shalah complained to the Qatarinewspaper Al-Sharq that the separation barrier “limits the ability of the resistance to arrive deep within [Israeli territory] to carry out suicide bombing attacks, but the resistance has not surrendered or become helpless, and is looking for other ways to cope with the requirements of every stage” of the intifada.[37]”
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Israeli_Wall

You are being disingenuous. Yes, many workers come in “illegally,” but it’s almost always in vans with other workers. It’s a self policing system. If another bomb gets through then they ALL will be cut-off from work.

And don’t you think that the reason there has been a rise in non-violent protests is because they can’t attack so easily anymore? It is almost 8 years old and the non-violent protests have been going on for what, 3?It’s a step in the right direction that I would applaud if I knew they were protesting their own people who have failed the average PAL for decades now with the same effort as the big, bad Israelis.
They need to understand the war is over, they lost and they need to take their lumps and live their life on what’s left of their own land.

I look forward to that time.

surfer_dad says:

Yeah, war is hell! Literally. The sooner they realize they lost the war, the sooner they can understand they need to negotiate terms of surrender.

THEN, and only then, will they take charge of their own lives in positive ways. Living in state of perpetual limbo has done irreparable harm to the PALs and is awful for the occupiers too. (I have my own stories from my cousin who had more problems with the fellow Jews in Hebron than he ever did with PALs.)

I look forward to the time when we can all move on. But any way you slice it, the ball is in the PALs court.

Binyamin says:

The fevered, hateful tone of the negative comments here should be a bright warning light to any sane Zionist on this site. This woman’s commentary (very similar to Beinart’s book) is a harbinger of what’s to come. Eventually, the U.S. electorate is going to wake up and ask why we should continue to arm a regime that is consolidating an apartheid grip over 4 million Palestinians.

None other than Ehud Barak has posed the problem most starkly:
“If, and as long as between the Jordan and the sea, there is only one political entity, named Israel, it will end up being either non-Jewish or non-democratic… If the Palestinians vote in [Knesset] elections, it is a binational state, and if they don’t, it is an apartheid state.”
http://www.economist.com/blogs/democracyinamerica/2010/02/israel_demography_democracy_or_apartheid

The utter absurdity of the Pali-haters’ arguments here is evident in many ways but two of their persistent tropes stand out.

1. The Apartheid Wall: Of course, the wall is not there to stop suicide bombers. It is there to crush the Palestinian will to resist. Thousands of young, male Palestinians hop the wall every day to labor in Israel’s dirtiest and lowest paying jobs because the occupation has strangled the West Bank economy. If 1% of these men decided to exchange the knapsack with a change of clothes for suicide bombs, Israel’s cities would be awash in blood. The reason there are no suicide bombers is because the Palestinians have decided to adopt civil disobedience as their chief tactic.

2. “America did it to the Indians, so we can do it to the Palis.” Really? This is now the moral foundation for Zionism? Why not add this: between 1939 and 1945 the Germans carried out one of the most effective ethnic cleansings in history. So why can’t Israel do the same?
(Yes, Julis 123, very definitely the writer should explain America’s ignoble history to her children. She should also explain that Native Americans have equal rights in our democracy as well as special protections for their culture under treaty law.)

SurferDad–you seem very locked in your perspective, so there’s probably no point in our going on about things. My perspective changes constantly, the more I talk to people here and listen to them. Regarding your comments below, if Palestinians wanted to be suicide bombing, they’d be suicide bombing, wall or no wall. And, your cousin’s experience is, sadly, far from unique, but it doesn’t have to be this way. Overall, your assessment that the ball is in the Palestinians’ court is based on a lot of propaganda, is an easy out, and is the kind of thinking which exists on both sides that keeps us stuck. I would recommend talking to some real live Palestinians. And I’d give that same advice to plenty of people who live here; I’m not holding the I Live Here card over you. Plenty of people live behind a wall right here and did long before a physical wall was built. It’s harder and harder for people to reach across lines to know each other here, but listening to each other is the only way to get beyond these talking points and into something human that makes everyone want to take responsibility for themselves and stop.

Thank you, Beinyamin, for making me feel like maybe online commenting isn’t a waste of energy. Take care.

thank you.

I respectfully disagree, Sarah. Many Jewish school books do offer varying viewpoints. However, none promote destruction of the Palestinian population.

Would you agree with a simple litmus test between “us” and “them”:

Following the death of Palestinians by Jewish hands (whether it be intentional or accidental), you will find somewhere an outpouring of outrage and condemnation from portions of “us”, i.e., Jewish groups somewhere in the world — Israel, the U.S., Europe. True, this may not happen as strongly when a Palestinian terrorist is killed by the IDF, but it does still happen.

Following the death of a Jew by Palestinian hands, whether it be an IDF soldier or a baby sleeping in his crib, where is “their” outrage? Where is the condemnation anywhere? I have yet to see one word of protest that is not qualified by a justification of the murderous action due to the “occupation”.

Sarah, “we” and “them” can never be viewed in the same humanistic context as that promoted by the author of this article until both nations reject killing bilaterally. The word “occupation”, whether you espouse the term or not seems to absolve Palestinians of some blame whenever they commit a murderous act. “We” consider killing abhorrent.

Remember what Golda said: “Peace will come when the Arabs will love their children more than they hate us.”

“They” need to learn this, embrace this, and practice it devoutly.

surfer_dad says:

I don’t disagree with anything you’ve said except this … the ball IS in the PALs court.

It does NOT mean that Israel and Israelis don’t have responsibilities and “more” effort needs to be made, I harp on that all the time both on these boards and in my personal life. In the US and Israel (הו אתה יודע שאני לא גרתי שם?) And I’m encouraged by the movement towards peaceful protest – BUT the fundamental fact of war is that there is a loser and a winner (beyond the existential fact that there are no winners in war).
They BOTH need humility but if this fact is left out of the discussion, realistic expectations will never be met.

Hey genius, the war didn’t take place in America; More civilians were definitely killed by Germany than Germans were killed by the Allies. The highest body count usually goes to the aggressor.

genelevit says:

“the war didn’t take place in America;”. All right, do you know that in WWII Britain killed more German civilians than Germany killed in UK regardless of who fired the first shot? Do you know that during civil war Union army killed more civilians than Confederate? Not enough, want more? Not the agressor but the one on whose territory the sides fight suffers most of the casualties, “genius”

Beatrix17 says:

Land I want? I’m American.

Beatrix17 says:

Ayla, maintaining good relationships with the Palestinian people is great, but it’s their leaders who have to make peace and who refuse to accept or even discuss agreements offered by Israel and who now refuse to sit down
with Netanyahu.
One third of the Palestinian people do want peace, but they have no power over the leaders. Most Palestinians didn’t even bother to vote in the last election.
Fayyad seems as though he would be a good leader, and is acceptable to Abbas but the Palestinian people don’t like him and Hamas won’t accept him because the Americans like him.
You’re not going to get peace unless you can handle the complexities of Palestinian politics. That’s what Israeli politicians have to deal with.
And the wall has prevented suicide bombings. Are you over there or over here?

Beatrix–I live in Israel with citizenship. I am steeped in the complexities of Israeli and Palestinian politics, thankyouverymuch. The Palestinian leaders are powerless; we cannot turn to them, and neither can their people–our last chance for that was last September. I have friends on both sides (including both sides of both sides). I agree with David Woody, who also lives here, and with Binyamin who probably lives here and who made the points I’ve been making about the wall with more factual evidence than I tend to use in arguments, so please refer to his comment. Your argument and that of SurferDad’s keep us stuck. Don’t get me wrong: there are plenty of Palestinian arguments that keep us stuck, too. It’s boring, if not depressing. It’s up to the people, not the politicians. This is a new era of citizen revolution, citizen journalism. We need to work together–Israelis and Palestinians together. That means no extreme anti-norm on the Palestinian side, obviously no violence on either side (we’re responsible for a lot more of it lately; our government is in bed with extremist settler violence), no “ball’s in their court” on either side, no Our Hands Are Tied, and it means a lot of opening our eyes and looking at the effects of the occupation and saying that no matter what, this is not okay. If this is what sustains a Jewish State, then we need to re-think the whole thing entirely, because this is *not* a *Jewish* State.

… she said… on shabbat ;). turning off my computer for the rest of a peaceful day. peace begins at home…

Binyamin says:

I admire your candor, Surfer Dad, if not your opinions. For you “peace” means surrender (by those nasty Pali Arabs, not by us). Hasn’t 100 years of the conflict taught you they are not going to surrender? How many years was it that the Jews refused to accept their own subjugation? Was it 1000? Or 1500? I can never keep that straight.

A “self-policing system”? That’s inventive. Yes, right now there is a strong Palestinian consensus that violence is not effective. But if Bibi continues to expand the settlements and strips the Arabs of what’s left of their dignity, we definitely will get another intifada.

Israel has the best conditions for peace in over 20 years. Have you ever looked at the Arab Peace Plan? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arab_Peace_Initiative

For an excellent article revealing how Israel squandered decent peace proposals from Hamas (and Iran), read this:

http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2012/al-monitor/israelsecurityiran.html

What are Bibi and Yvette doing to foster the opportunity for a just and lasting resolution?

Call me a pathetic, hippie-headed leftist, but I think the Two-State Solution can still work. But if Israel carries out a de facto annexation of the West Bank, under cover of giving the Palestinians the right to elect their own dog catchers, it is doomed. If it dies, you knudnicks asked for a bi-national state, and now you are going to get it.

herbcaen says:

Sorry, its really hard to sympathize with people who want to kill you. I guess we should feel guilty because of the economic problems in Ukraine are due to the loss of Jews who could have contributed to Ukrainian economic development but were killed by Ukrainians and Germans.

herbcaen says:

Sorry, its really hard to sympathize with people who want to kill you. I guess we should feel guilty because of the economic problems in Ukraine are due to the loss of Jews who could have contributed to Ukrainian economic development but were killed by Ukrainians and Germans.

Nat Ben Zimri says:

The tagline at the bottom of this article says:
“Danielle Leshaw…is a recent recipient of a 2012 Ohio Arts Council Award for fiction…”

Indeed she is. It’s obvious from this article how proficient she is in fiction. Rather than researching the facts and realizing the truth that under international law THERE IS NO “OCCUPATION”, she swallows hook, line and sinker all the lies and half-truths about Israel’s presence in Judea and Samaria and then regurgitates it back on all of us with her writings. I won’t get into the whole explanation why she’s dead wrong, but I’ll give you two links which may provide some food for thought:

http://shomroncentral.blogspot.co.il/p/5-legal-rights-to-samaria.html

http://shomroncentral.blogspot.co.il/p/6-myth-and-lies-occupation-palestinians.html

emunadate says:

We all want peace well that is what the Palestinean leadership and people say but when it comes down to it, the offer has been on the table since 1948 and they have continously rejected it. So why give them more land without peace? So they can take better aim at killing Israel’s men, women and children. I wish it was just a mantra and not a fact that the wall is only thing that is offering us peace of mind. If you can figure out a way for Israel to exist and have peace with the Palestineans, I’ll help you promote it. Two states without peace is not a solution. http://www.emunadate.net/2010/11/blog-post.html

Beatrix17 says:

Talking, opening a dialogue, understanding both sides and writing about your observations are a wonderful way to try to work toward peace. You love Israel, and as an outsider, you might come up with answers that the people there can’t see. Good luck!

surfer_dad says:

You have me confused with someone else. I implore that a real two-state solution (TSS) needs to be found.
Peace BEGINS with an understanding they they lost. (Sorry, Israel didn’t lose.)

The PALs will never be truly happy unless they have autonomy over themselves. Plus, just from a justice POV, I believe it is EVERY “tribes” right to control their own destiny.
AND Israel simply can not exist as a Jewish state with a 45% (or 40 or 48 or 55) PAL population.

It is imperative they find a solution, but the status quo is not working.

What I’m saying is that the narrative that supposedly anyone on the TSS side has to have to really “be on that side” doesn’t work. Hasn’t worked and won’t work.

The myth of PALs as being bullied and powerless is BS. They “owned” the land after 47, they lost more and more each decade as they lost war after war.

Such is war.

Life is tough in the WB but not impossible. They are willing to die fighting Israel but not fighting the extremists in their mist who want to start a new war? They want to protest checkpoints and other REAL indignities by the Israelis but not their own leaders? They want dialogue and tours for us Westerners to “see, SEE what they do to us” but when you ask what you do for yourselves you get a screaming woman in a hijab tell you that “too bad Hitler didn’t finish you all off.” (Happened to me.)

I’ve done the BS coddling tour already. I’ve sat in “interfaith dialogues” on the issues. I’ve been on “tours” to the WB to “see for myself” what the big bad Israelis are doing to them. And the truth I’ve realized is they have become professional complainers and all this coddling and buying into their narrative does nothing but prolong their pain, prolong their suffering.

I for one do not buy the narrative anymore. It hasn’t worked for 40 years, what makes anyone think it will start working tomorrow?

Dialogue? GREAT! Wonderful! Getting real people together will never hurt. A big reason I’ve always felt this was an issue worth fighting for is because of the old “arab” that owned the corner market near my safta’s near Haifa. They had a wonderful, almost 40 year relationship. I was his “American friend” when I came in most summers and he treated me with warmth and great kindness. The fact that I heard he was at my safta’s funeral, in the back, quiet, but there, only solidifies my feeling that it is ABSOLUTELY possible that the 2 sides can get along.

I went out of my way to say Israel has made mistakes too. They have, all the time. But I can’t fault them for not going to go out of their way to give up more, not after Gaza.
A beaten people (and let’s not kid ourselves, they ARE beaten) have to decide for themselves to get up with dignity, control their own people and destiny and THEN can face their victor without hate and with the proper ideas to move forward.

The current narrative destroys that possibility.

Ezikiel says:

The worse self-deception in this piece is the pacifist conceit that in order to fight evil all we have to do is to fight it within ourselves (and our children). The truth is that this is not enough. The writer’s freedom and security – and that of her family – is bought daily through the grim efforts of those who, unlike her, are willing to engage in the use of violence and risk their own lives for the sake of protecting that which they hold dear. The problem for the writer, the dissonance that she describes, is that Israel was founded on the realization that just being good is not enough for survival. Jews in 15th century Spain, or in 20th century Germany and Europe, felt just as secure as the writer feels in life in the US. But then the axe fell. Thus, the very existence of the state of Israel is predicated on a decision that we – Jews – will be the masters of our own fate. And that takes a willingness that the writer lacks.

Teaching your kids humanity is simply not enough. As long as the other side is not showing itself willing or able to curb its aggressive and violent attitude against Israel, against the Jews, and also within itself (as plainly evident in their never ending, awful bloody civil wars) – Israel’s duty is to protect the lives of its own people.
Lo yanum ve’lo yishan shomer Israel.

Go pay rent, to the Native American nation, whose home you are squatting on, there in Ohio.

Go pay rent, to the Native American nation, whose home you are squatting on, there in Ohio.

David Dunn Bauer says:

Danielle,

Your writing reflects the maturity that we, the adult Jewish community in the USA, need to own in order to teach our children well, about justice and not about enmity as the essence of Jewish thought and our hopes for Medinat Yisrael. Yishar ko’ach! Thank you for standing tall with such humility and strength.

Kol ha-kavod – well done to the author for this thoughtful and courageous, honest piece.

I had also a difficult converstion with my kids explaining the merits of Reform Judaism and the general lack of understanding from left wing Jews in the USA. No, not all Jews use their heads properly , I explain. SOme just get side tracked by makicious lies spread by some not very innocent people (funded by the EU usually). Still it is important to look for the more postive aspects of most Reform Jews and hope that one day they will make a real effort to see the positive side of those Orthodox Jews who insist in living in all of the Land of Israel.
Now the it is clear that both of us can be condenscending, I fervertly pray that you take a bit more effort to learn about the immense sufferring that Arab terrorism has caused and the different Israeli responses to it. I wouuld also advise that you leave the beeches and head in-land to see who and why Jews decide to live in places like Beit El, Shilo and Hevron. Could be a real eye opener.

freespeechlover says:

But if the wall was built to minimize terrorism (of course it’s okay for the IDF to kill mostly women and children in Gaza in 2008, no terrorism there!), why does it not follow the Green Line? What is the wall doing dividing Palestinians from other Palestinians?

freespeechlover says:

“that we believe that this a land given to us by God, as a special place for the Jewish people.” Who’s the “we”?

freespeechlover says:

Nonsense. Not everyone who questions that our parents’ lives should set the terms for our’s is an anti-Semite.

freespeechlover says:

The reason it’s called “occupied,” is that because in international law it is. There is nothing that contradictions being Jewish in supporting international law and abiding by it.

freespeechlover says:

Thanks Tim. Appreciate your courage and willingness to challenge dogma or party-lines.

freespeechlover says:

Thank you.

freespeechlover says:

Well it does depend on the “home” on offer. If it’s a swiss cheese, where Palestinians are cut off from E. Jerusalem, that’s probably not going to fly–nor should it. Israel does need to take its colonies and go back home to Israel. Why does Israel keep settling and expanding if it’s serious about a peace agreement?

freespeechlover says:

No, what she’s saying is that to be a Jew means to be interested in more than just the fact that Jews are killed and die; it means to be interested in the “other.” And there’s nothing that isn’t Jewish about that.

freespeechlover says:

They are occupied, you just want to pretend that the Bible is a land deed.

Beatrix17 says:

East Jerusalem is a separate negotiation although both Olmert and Barak offered E Jerusalem to the Palestinians, and were turned down.
Israeli building is in established Jewish towns. Anyone who starts to build a new settlement is evicted as soon as is legally possible. Israel has offered the Palestinians land equal to the two largest “settlements” that Israel wants to keep.
You can’t undo the past, all you can try to do is to be fair is your future dealings.
Abbas is 77 and has no successor. If he doesn’t create something soon, however imperfect, when he dies, retires or is assassinated, his people will go over to Hamas.

freespeechlover says:

Not all of the American dialogue is as disconnected as it is here. And some of us have been warning for a while that if Israel doesn’t take its colonies and colonists home to Israel, then those who broach no criticism of the occupation should not be surprised when a Palestinian leadership emerges that is younger and smarter and demands equality rather than freedom. Israel’s own leadership has warned about this, but in some part of the American Jewish community, where threats, temper tantrums, and historical mythology, long overturned by Israeli historians, substitute for any analysis based in reality, you can’t be heard. It’s easier to kill the messenger rather than face reality.

freespeechlover says:

This kind of hostile, ill informed bullying is why so many of us who are younger are alienated from sectors of our own community in America. Wake up before you push us all away.

That’s good to hear, freespeechlover. I’m aware that there’s an anti-Israel voice out there, of course, but we need a voice (and I think much stronger than JStreet’s, though I’m grateful for their existence) from people who are willing to face the truth because they care. Being for one people doesn’t mean being against another; the opposite is true. In order to be for one people, you have to be for everyone. It’s the secret code to being on this land. And if the religious right were reading the Torah directly, they’d agree. Thank you for your response. You’ve given me some hope today, and so has Beatrix in her response, below, which was a really good surprise.

This is the story that so many American Jews — some whom I personally love and respect — tell themselves. But most of what goes on in West Bank checkpoints (and I live in Israel) is intimidation and humiliation. There are many IDF soldiers speaking out about this now, as it is traumatizing, later, for them as well. The occupation is also much deeper than checkpoints. Most people born in the West Bank in the past 40 years carry trauma from their childhood experiences under occupation. If you really see what’s happening, in detail, you can’t accept it, even if–and I don’t believe this to be true–but even if it is true that we need this level and kind of security to survive as a State. If maintaining a Jewish State actually does require the constant intimidation, abuse (yes, abuse, often physical), and humiliation of another people–which of course it does not–then how can that possibly be justified?

Ezikiel–there are organized, peaceful demonstrations by Palestinians in the West Bank weekly here (where I live, in Israel). They are demonstrating for justice, and against the occupation. They have made a choice to demonstrate peacefully, tactically. No one is paying attention to them. Including you.

The Torah actually states that if we are to be on this land, we must take care of the stranger (i.e. not ourselves). It is a stated stipulation to being on the land. Has anyone noticed that in the Five Books, no Jews actually enter the land? The entire Torah is about *how* to earn the right. Even Moses’ permission is not granted in the end.

Jeff and Sarah–I live in Israel, and my Israeli friends tell me about how systematically brainwashed they were from the time they were born until the army with a dangerously one-sided story. I say dangerously because some stories are so one-sided, they can hardly be called truth. I say systematically because I’m referring to text books and teachings by teachers. When these same Israelis later met Palestinians and heard another side of the story, or when some of them went on to study in University and read other historical narratives, they felt like their whole lives were a lie in a sense, which is just as much a shame as the brainwashing itself, because there’s truth in all of it. Jeff, yes, there is generally (not across the board at all , but generally) more willingness on the part of *some* Jews to be self-critical than among Palestinians. But right now, while one people occupies and controls another, and while the occupied and controlled are not the least bit heard, it is difficult to ask for a more level listening field.

I replied to you and Jeff together, below.

freespeechlover says:

Thanks Ayla. I agree completely that the occupation is not about two equal sides but about one side with its boot on the other. What some American Jews do not want to grasp is that Israeli security and Palestinian freedom are inextricable.

freespeechlover says:

Nonsense. You literally don’t know what you’re saying.

freespeechlover says:

And there are Israelis and Americans Jews who hold racist attitudes toward Palestinians, Christian and Muslim.

The conversation about where the fence/wall should be vis-a-vis the Green Line is an ongoing one (and is being had in Israel, including in the courts, and parts of the fence have been moved in response to some of the complaints).

But freespeechlover, really? You want to call the civilian casualties in Gaza in 2008 “terrorism” committed by Israel? Because, to use your phrasing, of course it’s OK for Hamas to fire rockets into Israeli civilian communities, aimed at women, children, schools, homes, etc., no terrorism there.

What, exactly, are those rockets from Gaza about, would you say?

Bill, I appreciate your respect (see my Green Line reference below). These are, indeed, challenging topics, requiring utmost care and compassion when discussing not just with our children, but among ourselves as well.

sharonjb says:

try bringing your groups on tours by http://mejdi.net/ who bring tour guides who work together to show both Palestinian and Jewish narratives on all the places – it is a complex place, but we all become more thoughtful and open our minds to more complex solutions when we meet the people and see the reality on the ground – not the slogans. Not the slogans from any group. There are one day tours – or MEJDI can tailor plan a tour for any group. After a day of touring, there is a facilitated conversation to help participants make sense of what they have seen. It sounds like if you do take your kids to see the wall – it would be important to hear both sides of the story of why the wall is there – and what impact it has on the people living near it. Kol Hakavod for making Israel a big part of your family life – and not taking it as a perfect place with no troubles.

Ra'anan says:

Oh, those would be people w/solid, classic Jewish education, starting w/chumash, adding misha, progressing to gemara & meforashim as well as shootim. I’ll bet that excludes you, doesn’t it?

Ra'anan says:

Gazans can’t, but I see that hasn’t stopped you!

Ayla,

First of all, although I now live in the U.S., I’m also an Israeli citizen and I have tremendous respect for your opinions because you’re still living in Israel and likely have a clearer view from the inside. That is in contrast to the view of the original author of this article.

Nevertheless, I think yours may be a narrow view when you say that the Israeli narrative is one-sided. The cynical use of the term “systematic brainwashing” suggests that the Israeli side is to be held suspect and that the playing field isn’t level. I disagree. I was also in the army. The playing field has never been more level than it is today. It has been “their” choice to refuse to modify “their” narrative beyond that of the three “nos”. But rather than argue back and forth, may I please refer you to some interesting research on the state of the pedagogical narrative within Israeli educational system? (That is, if you’re willing to believe these academics who may just be trying to “brainwash” everybody as well): http://www.impact-se.org/docs/reports/Israel/Israel2012-en.pdf

Ohio U Jewish Alumni says:

As a former Ohio U student involved in a Hillel run by Rabbi Danielle, this is frankly UPSETTING and EMBARASSING (and I know other former and current students that are equally as upset). I’ve been wanting to write this since the day this article came out, but it is now, when Israel is on the precipice of war, that I feel the need to speak up and stand with my country Israel.

Believe it or not Rabbi Danielle, you are in quite a leadership position as the head Rabbi of a Hillel, especially considering all the Jewish OU students who didn’t grow up with strong Jewish and Zionistic backgrounds as myself. These students innocently listen to your every word and trust you as a spiritual guide and leader. Being very involved in Hillel during my four years as an undergrad, I know how clueless most of the Jewish students were when it came to Israel.

It’s sad YES, and I wish they’d make an effort to know more, but the fact is ultimately these same students look up to you for that guidance. Whether you have a Hillel event stating your strong opinions on the Israeli-Palestinian situation or not (which I’m sure you haven’t), I believe it was very wrong of you to write this article while representing not only Ohio U, but the OU Jewish students of the present and past that have called Hillel a home away from home on campus.

If you feel this way on such a controversial topic, and one that’s been so central to the Jewish plight, I honestly believe that you should not be a Hillel Rabbi. I know how malleable these students are, how much they’re searching for themselves and the things they care about. You are not helping these kids. You are probably just confusing them.

As for your own kids, you can raise them however the hell you want, but if it’s so important to tell them the truth about the Israel situation, then I don’t see why you wouldn’t tell them about both sides. Do you assume just because they spend their summers frolicking around the beaches of Israel, eating falafel and being tourists, that they need not know the Israeli side of the conflict? That is absolutely absurd.

I’m not sure how long you’ve been exposed to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but do you just completely forget about all the endless weeks, months, and years of suicide bombings, killing ONLY innocent civilians every time???? What is a country to do? What the hell would you do if that was going on during one of your seemingly perfect Israeli summer vacations??

Well, do you remember when the madness, the chaos of never knowing what bus or restaurant would be hit today stopped?? Once the security FENCE was put up. You think they wanted to do that? You think they liked the bullshit comparison to apartheid?? You said you want your kids themselves “dismantling that damn separation wall”? Well that is just absolutely backwards. You want your kids to be the very first two opening up that gate so Israel can experience the HELL all over again? I’m not even sure you realize what you’re saying in this article, but publishing such strong opinions that in NO WAY support Israel is far from the right thing to do.

Remember Rabbi Danielle, you’re representing more than just yourself and your family here. You’re representing the Jewish students, present and past, of Ohio University and let’s just say those of us that do care and that do know what’s going on in Israel think you’re doing a pretty bad job. We all have our opinions, but you took the role of a Hillel Rabbi. That comes with obligations and by misinforming your students and throwing our OU Hillel in an anti-Israel light, I don’t believe you’re doing the job justice. Tell me, if we don’t stand up for Israel, then who will…..???

Ohio U Jewish Alumni says:

As a former Ohio U student involved in a Hillel run by Rabbi Danielle, this is frankly UPSETTING and EMBARASSING (and I know other former and current students that are equally as upset). I’ve been wanting to write this since the day this article came out, but it is now, when Israel is on the precipice of war, that I feel the need to speak up and stand with my country Israel.

Believe it or not Rabbi Danielle, you are in quite a leadership position as the head Rabbi of a Hillel, especially considering all the Jewish OU students who didn’t grow up with strong Jewish and Zionistic backgrounds as myself. These students innocently listen to your every word and trust you as a spiritual guide and leader. Being very involved in Hillel during my four years as an undergrad, I know how clueless most of the Jewish students were when it came to Israel.

It’s sad YES, and I wish they’d make an effort to know more, but the fact is ultimately these same students look up to you for that guidance. Whether you have a Hillel event stating your strong opinions on the Israeli-Palestinian situation or not (which I’m sure you haven’t), I believe it was very wrong of you to write this article while representing not only Ohio U, but the OU Jewish students of the present and past that have called Hillel a home away from home on campus.

If you feel this way on such a controversial topic, and one that’s been so central to the Jewish plight, I honestly believe that you should not be a Hillel Rabbi. I know how malleable these students are, how much they’re searching for themselves and the things they care about. You are not helping these kids. You are probably just confusing them.

As for your own kids, you can raise them however the hell you want, but if it’s so important to tell them the truth about the Israel situation, then I don’t see why you wouldn’t tell them about both sides. Do you assume just because they spend their summers frolicking around the beaches of Israel, eating falafel and being tourists, that they need not know the Israeli side of the conflict? That is absolutely absurd.

I’m not sure how long you’ve been exposed to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but do you just completely forget about all the endless weeks, months, and years of suicide bombings, killing ONLY innocent civilians every time???? What is a country to do? What the hell would you do if that was going on during one of your seemingly perfect Israeli summer vacations??

Well, do you remember when the madness, the chaos of never knowing what bus or restaurant would be hit today stopped?? Once the security FENCE was put up. You think they wanted to do that? You think they liked the bullshit comparison to apartheid?? You said you want your kids themselves “dismantling that damn separation wall”? Well that is just absolutely backwards. You want your kids to be the very first two opening up that gate so Israel can experience the HELL all over again? I’m not even sure you realize what you’re saying in this article, but publishing such strong opinions that in NO WAY support Israel is far from the right thing to do.

Remember Rabbi Danielle, you’re representing more than just yourself and your family here. You’re representing the Jewish students, present and past, of Ohio University and let’s just say those of us that do care and that do know what’s going on in Israel think you’re doing a pretty bad job. We all have our opinions, but you took the role of a Hillel Rabbi. That comes with obligations and by misinforming your students and throwing our OU Hillel in an anti-Israel light, I don’t believe you’re doing the job justice. Tell me, if we don’t stand up for Israel, then who will…..???

abebird says:

You didn’t know that Israel exists…… You yet don’t know that Arab hate for Israel and Jews existing too. I’m sure you don’t know that the Arabs living next to Israel are dedicating their spirit to destroy Israel. The same Arabs you feel sorrow for them, their grandfathers joined Haj Amin el-Housseini in WWII and fight with the Nazis against the Serbs and of course the Jews. Those Arabs helped the Muslim Bosnians the search and catch Jews and pass them to the Nazis! Rockets were shot from Lebanon by Hizbullah, as the Arabs from Gaza and Judea & Samaria keep terrorize the Jews. Do you mean that Jews shouldn’t defend themselves? J Street and “Gisha” are well known leftist tiny but loudly organizations that put the Arabs first and the Jews second, just because the Arabs are considered to be the poor, miserable and weak. But where is justice and truth? Why the fact that Israelis know and can defend themselves against daily Islamic aggression makes them the bad side? Why the fact that Arabs are the weak side makes them righteous?
Why do you so pity for Arabs in Gaza that used to shoot rockets at Israelis at daily basis, and yet you blame the Jews for the poverty in Gaza? Why do you blame the Jews twice? Do you think that Arabs are inferior to Jews and therefore they cannot be responsible for their actions, their opinions, and their terror? Do Jews to be blamed again for their enemies behave? Israel only defends herself. Before the Intifadas there were no fences and checkpoints!!!!!
The land of Israel is our sole birthright and nobody else has ever laid claim to that land but the Jews. The invention of the “Palestinian people” was an act of fight of the Arab states against Israel existence. Arabs can live in Israel as Jews can live in the US. Can Jews claim Ohio or part of it to be their national state in America?
The myth of Arab nations fell and discovered as the “Syrian people”, “Libyan people”, “Jordanian people”, “Iraqi people” got into the “Arab spring” that revealed that all these Arab nations are fake. There is no “Jordanian people” but Jordanians, Jordanian citizens of different tribes and Hammullahs (Large families) are differentiated by religions, sects, origin and spiritual leaderships. The same goes with the “Palestinian people”. They are Arabs who live in Israel land, there had never been a separate Palestinian Arab people but Arab citizens of the British mandate, who were called Palestinian Arabs as the Jews living in British Palestine were called Palestinian Jews. Those Arabs who lived in Palestine, aka the land of Israel, considered themselves as Southern Syrian citizens (except the Arabs of Gaza who considere3d themselves to be Egyptians).

Palestinian Ambassador to Lebanon Abbas Zaki: “Two-State Solution Will Lead to the Collapse of Israel…. “. Abbas Zaki is a close friend of Abu Abbass and sat next to him in last UN meeting.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ol8FCf-wq_o

Lebanese Salafi Imam Ahmad Al-Assir: “Hizbullah Peddles in the Palestinian Cause. Israel treats the Muslims better than Syria”
Al-Arabiya TV (Dubai/Saudi Arabia), LBC TV (Lebanon) – March 15, 2012
http://www.memritv.org/clip/en/3410.htm

Hamas Leader Khaled Mash’al: “We Will Not Relinquish an Inch of Palestine, from the River to the Sea”
Al-Aqsa TV (Hamas/Gaza) – December 7, 2012
http://www.memritv.org/clip/en/3671.htm

Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal: “Palestine is ours, from the river to the sea and from the south to the north. There will be no concession on an inch of the land,” he told the crowd on his first visit to Gaza. “We will never recognise the legitimacy of the Israeli occupation and therefore there is no legitimacy for Israel, no matter how long it will take.”
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/dec/08/hamas-gaza-palestine-khaled-meshaal-israel

Mahmoud Zahar, a Hamas founder and the movement’s foreign minister: “Our land is not just the West Bank and Gaza, and that is important. It is all of Palestine”.
http://dawn.com/2012/12/02/gazans-take-hamas-victory-claims-with-a-grain-of-salt/

Hamas TV to Israelis: “We “love death more than you love life”
http://palwatch.org/main.aspx?fi=157&doc_id=8022

abebird says:

Jews always lived in Palestine through the last 4000 years. First Arabs invaded 1300 years ago. Few of them left. The now days Arabs of Palestine came after the first Zionist Jews arrived to Palestine. So, even if you don’t count on God, you have to accept the right of the Jews to their land although through the last 2000 years they were minority in their land.

UryV says:

Rabbi Danielle, during the Second Intifada my (now adult) daughter was a teenager who liked to hang out with her friends at some mall in Tel Aviv. During those three years I never knew if she was going to come home in a new T-shirt or in a body bag. Try that on for size, and *then* talk to your children. And to Tablet’s audience.

Floonberg says:

There is no “Israel”. There is only Palestine and it belongs to Muslims.

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Explaining the Occupation

I’ve taught my children to love Israel. This summer, I tried to start a more complicated conversation.

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Seattle’s Sephardi Jews Brought Us Starbucks: Now They’re Trying To Bring Back Ladino

By Emily K. Alhadeff — Seven decades ago, the Jews of Rhodes were sent to Auschwitz. Now some descendants are preserving a culture nearly lost.