I was reading an article in the "Atheist Revolution" blog and I came across this snippet:

When I encounter a parent telling her children about Santa Claus, I may find it unfortunate that someone would lie to one's own child merely for entertainment purposes. The potential for harm here seems trivially small. I cannot say the same for the Muslim parent instructing his son in the virtues of martyrdom or the Christian who tells her daughter that her Jewish friends will go to hell because they have not been "saved."

Could we not add something like the following to the last sentence:

...or the jew who tells his kids that he's "chosen" and has a covenant with god that entitles him and his "people" to the land of Israel, and then uses that as justification for a bloody occupation of Palestine.

The one-year anniversary of Operation Cast Lead is approaching (Dec. 27th) and I think we should take a look at where we've come since then. The Goldstone Report: buried. Settlements: expanding. Palestinian house demolitions: continuing.

As atheists, we should be appalled whenever religion is used to justify actions that result in suffering or death. We do not seem to hesitate to speak out when a child dies because a Christian Scientist eschewed Western medicine in favor of prayer. We do not seem to hesitate to speak out when a Muslim nutjob finds motivation in his religion to grab some firearms and gun down some people. Why are we silent when an ethnic group uses a story about chosen people and covenants in The Big Book of Jewish Fairy Tales (aka, the Old Testament) to justify what is looking more and more like a slow, methodical ethnic cleansing campaign? Why do the Jews need to have Jerusalem all to themselves? Why is it so important to them to have a Jewish majority that they'll turn Gaza into a prison camp and The West Bank into Swiss cheese where the Palestinians are forced to live on smaller and smaller plots of land and endure more and more restrictions on their movement? If this were being done to a Jewish population they'd be screaming about a second holocaust.

The bottom line is that all three major religions are guilty of many modern-day atrocities and have a great deal of blood on their metaphorical hands. Why do we only bewail the actions of two of those three major religions?

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Jaume, demographics change. They didn't have to give land. What they had to do was suck it in and 400,000 would have to live in a Jewish governed state.
Nobody had to move.

Look at Dearborn Michigan. 100 years ago, there were on Arabs, now it is 50% Arab Muslim.

Israel was not a sovereign territory, and thus it was up for grabs regarding government.
Nobody had to move.

Then the Nakba didn't happen.
I ask again, what have they done for peace?

You've stated that Palestinians only tell lies. You've stated that your side, and your side only, is legitimate in making overtures for peace. Are you listening to yourself? You throw around the term "anti-Semitic", knowing how loaded it is, when another opinion is presented. Can you say that you're not anti-Palestinian? You've painted an entire group as dishonest and treacherous. I haven't seen a single accusation of that kind made about the Jewish people here on A|N. I've given nothing but praise for the numerous Jewish voices that have been courageous enough to challenge the status quo.
I gave my perspective elsewhere--I don't recall where as there are two ongoing threads on this subject. There are parties on both sides that don't want to see this problem solved--and the Israeli right wing plays a big part in this. On the contrary, it is in certain interests to make the problem unresolvable and thus to justify exterminism. There is also the economics as well as the politics of the region--i.e. capitalist enterprises fueled by arms profiteering, inter alia. I see no way out, and the Palestinians alone are hardly to blame for all this. I see little hope outside of a fundamental restructuring of priorities of both state and extralegal political entities, and a redirection of economic priorities from war and monopolization of resources to building up a viable infrastructure and social welfare base for all parties concerned. Which is to say, the situation is hopeless.
I gave my perspective elsewhere--I don't recall where as there are two ongoing threads on this subject. There are parties on both sides that don't want to see this problem solved--and the Israeli right wing plays a big part in this. On the contrary, it is in certain interests to make the problem unresolvable and thus to justify exterminism. There is also the economics as well as the politics of the region--i.e. capitalist enterprises fueled by arms profiteering, inter alia. I see no way out, and the Palestinians alone are hardly to blame for all this. I see little hope outside of a fundamental restructuring of priorities of both state and extralegal political entities, and a redirection of economic priorities from war and monopolization of resources to building up a viable infrastructure and social welfare base for all parties concerned. Which is to say, the situation is hopeless.

The Goldstone report: A Jewish view

By Rachel Barenblat(the Velveteen Rabbi)


I recently spent an evening on a conference call with Judge Richard Goldstone, who headed up the United Nations fact finding mission on the Gaza conflict.

His commission authored the Goldstone report, which has been received with controversy in some quarters of the Jewish community.

On the call were 150 American rabbis and rabbinic students who wanted to hear directly from Goldstone about the process of creating the report and about its findings.

There is an old saying that where there are two Jews, there will be three opinions. This is especially true on the subject of Israel and Palestine, where passions run high on all sides.

Shamed and frustrated

Many Jews objected to the Goldstone report from the moment it was released. They argued that the process through which it was created is biased against Israel, and that the report is therefore fatally flawed. But this is not the only opinion in the Jewish community.

No one can speak for the entire Jewish community, but I can speak for myself and on behalf of those who share my views. I honor Goldstone's work toward ending apartheid and his investigations of human rights abuses in Rwanda and in the former Yugoslavia.

I see his work with this UN fact finding mission as cut from that same cloth. And I am deeply saddened by the abuses of power revealed by the Goldstone report and by the unwillingness on the part of some within my community to accept the realities that the report makes plain.

Like many Jews, I want to believe that the one nation which was founded by adherents to my religious tradition will naturally be just and righteous. When the state fails to live up to that ethical mandate, my heart is broken.

That the government of Israel refused to cooperate with the UN fact finding mission frustrates me; that the Goldstone report reveals such abuses of power shames me.

Spiral of hatred

Goldstone spoke to us about his perception that the Israeli government chose to punish the Palestinian population of Gaza collectively in return for the rocket fire which has been raining down on Ashkelon and Sderot.

He cited the destruction of flour factories and egg farms as evidence that the Israeli army acted unethically. He argued that the destruction of 5,000 homes and the attacks on schools and mosques cannot have been accidental.

This is difficult for Jews to hear, but I think it is imperative that we listen and understand.

At the end of the call, he expressed his strong hope that both the Israelis and the Palestinians will engage in a transparent process of criminal investigation to explore who is responsible for the decisions made on both sides.

Israel must explore who made the decisions to enact collective punishment on the Palestinians; Hamas must explore who made the decisions to fire rockets at civilians in Ashkelon and Sderot, creating a climate of terror for those cities' inhabitants.

I join my voice to his in calling for investigation. The spiral of bloodshed and hatred will only continue unless both sides take seriously the obligation of bringing those responsible to justice.

Narrative of victimhood

Though many of my coreligionists do not accept the validity of the report - indeed, there have been strong efforts to quash and discredit it in the Jewish community worldwide - many Jews agree with me.

Some are the clergy who were on that conference call. Others joined me in attending the recent J Street conference in Washington, DC.

We perceive that our holy texts speak with a clear voice on the question of human rights and human dignity.

Torah teaches us that all of humanity is created in the divine image. When human rights abuses are perpetrated, our religious tradition demands that we speak out.

This is true even when those abuses are perpetrated by others who share our faith.

Both sides need to let go of our collective trauma-filled past in order to move forward with the work of creating change.

Both Israelis and Palestinians will need to relinquish some of the narrative of victimhood in order to acknowledge that both sides have suffered and both sides are culpable.

I believe that this acknowledgement is a necessary prerequisite for forward motion and for change.

Transforming the status quo

A few months ago I attended a retreat for emerging Jewish and Muslim religious leaders.

Late in the retreat, once we had built relationships with one another, we entered into some challenging conversations about Israel and Palestine.

I was amazed at the extent to which each of our communities feels that the "other side" has all of the power and also that the "other side" is uninterested in real dialogue or real change.

I believe that both sides want - and need - to transform the broken and damaging status quo; but I also believe we are both going to have to do some stretching to get there.

Part of the stretching I think the Jewish and Israeli communities need to do is coming to terms with the Goldstone report and its implications.

Step toward peace

That stretching is happening in some quarters. The report has been championed by Ta'anit Tzedek - Jewish Fast for Gaza and by The Shalom Center. Rabbis for Human Rights-North America has formally called upon Israel to investigate Operation Cast Lead, and Brit Tzedek v'Shalom (the Jewish Alliance for Justice and Peace) takes the report as a call to redouble their work toward peace in the region.

These organisations are part of the coalition of Jewish voices calling for attention to the report and its findings, and calling for a real and meaningful investigation into both the rocket attacks on southern Israel and the Israeli army attacks on Gaza.

I hope that more of the Jewish community will join us. I hope that leaders in the Palestinian community will call for the same kind of scrutiny.

The Goldstone report, and its strong recommendation that both sides engage in an open and transparent review of the crimes committed by both sides over the course of this engagement, could be a step toward acknowledging the suffering of victims on both sides. This could in turn be the first step toward a lasting peace. May it happen speedily and in our days.
Josh: So the fact that a non-Arab country has a large Jewish population invalidates my generalization that Arab countries have expelled their Jewish populations? How does that work, exactly?

Generalizations like yours invalidate themselves without further help. Claiming accuracy on one hand ("Jews should not be conflated with Israel, etc.") and using the label 'Arab' so lightly and exclusively, as in -

I, as an American, an atheist, a believer in pluralism and secular government, and also as a Jew and a Zionist, would absolutely love to see peaceful coexistence between the Jews and the Arabs in and around Israel. But that's not going to happen so long as the Arabs continue to fire rockets at civilian targets in Israel

- as if Israel had problems with all Arabs and only with Arabs, sounds like you claim that "every Arab is an enemy and every enemy is an Arab". Even if it wasn't your real intent.

If your readers can't figure out what you really mean with 'Arab', they can deduce everything from it (like, e.g., "Iranians are Arabs"), but the blame rests on you for being unclear. That was my point.
Iranians don't fire rockets, but they supply them, and I guess everyone would also love to see them coexist peacefully with Israelis. OK, this is starting to look like a semantic war, and I don't really want one ;-). 'Arab' comes with many connotations, and it's true it's not easy to find a handy replacement, so I'll concede the point.
Timing is everything. Just spent the better part of three days "posting" with Jews and Palestinians and their repective 'supporters' on Amazon discussion threads. Not really believing I had a dog in the fight (other than world peace, BLAH, BLAH,) I tried to play peacemaker/mediator between the two sides. What an eye-opener! Without fail the Jewish posters were hurling the most vitriolic abuse at me, rarely with any factual basis for their vitriol. The other side was fact based and quite friendly, actually, and only one pro-Palestinian poster was upset with me for not taking clear sides. My basic position is that wrongs have been committed by both sides and not much point will be served by looking backward. Pretty straightforward Pollyannaish claptrap to people who hate each other, I admit, but still. Long story short, the Jews essentially demanded that I was either a Israel-loving toadie or a Palestinian terrorist. I chose to pretend to be Palestinian and blasted away. It was fun for a while, but who needs that stress? Anyway, I could not agree more that Israel/"Zionism" more so than Jewry, gets a free pass because of the Holocaust, and it does NOT deserve one. My proposal for peace (can you guess?) involved both sides giving up their ridiculous gods so they would have nothing more to fight about than the price of a rug.
Well, there are other things that are seriously being fought over, not having much to do with religion outside of justifications and rationalizations: territory, political control, economics, water rights, property, carving up land, freedom of movement, bulldozing of property, attacks on civilians, etc. Both sides would have to give up more than gods, because the conflict was never essentially religious on either side.
I've yet to be involved in a discussion where the Palestinians side told truths. You must have found the rare discussion where that happened, or you are a dupe.
Israel does not get a free pass because of the Holocaust btw, so I'm leaning that you are a dupe. And thinking that they'll give up religion (either side) is a pipe dream.
Actually about 40% plus of the Jewish side has. But that group still has legitimate safety concerns.
Why am I not surprised that the first person to call me a name here is a supporter of Israel? Thanks for proving my point. All Palestinians are liars and all Israelis are as pure as the fresh snow. None of us really have much first hand information but war is always ugly and rarely is it ugly only on one side. You have all the Jewish talking points down. "Good boy." Do you have any solutions? Make the Palestinians behave? Well done.
I know history. No, not all Palestinian liars, but internet Palestinian supporters tend to lie, be rhetorical, or spew half truths.
Jewish talking points? You sound like a real winner there dude.
Yes, I have a solution. Gaza becomes an independent state. The West Bank Arabs also get a state and trade some land that is within the 67 borders for major settlement land that is full of Jews in the West Bank.
What do you mean none of us have first hand info. Are you saying they don't get the internet in Israel?
I know your type, you won't win with me.

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