Monday, May 30, 2022

Weaponizing Crocodiles Against Israel

Just when I thought I'd seen it all, here's something that took me completely by surprise - and what was subsequently revealed totally floored me.

How dangerous are crocodiles? The other day I was researching them and I received a nasty surprise. I didn't think that crocodiles were especially harmful unless you're actually encountering them in the flesh (unlike alligators, which even in the flesh are much more manageable). Little did I realize that I was about to discover how crocodiles are being used as a weapon against the Jewish People.

The Nile crocodile actually lived wild in the Land of Israel until the beginning of the 20th century. They were found in an area near Caesarea, which in antiquity was called Crocodilopolis by Strabus and Crocodilion by Pliny. The Roman settlement was subsequently destroyed in the Muslim Arab invasion of the 7th century, and when there were last crocodiles at the turn of the 20th century it was known as Zor al-Zarqa. Today, it is known as Nachal Taninim, the "Crocodile River." It's not entirely clear, though, whether the crocodiles that lived there were originally native to this country, or whether they were brought here by the Romans for entertainment and subsequently escaped into the wild. 

While researching the answer to this puzzle, I came across an article titled "Between Extinction and Dispossession: A Rhetorical Historiography of the Last Palestinian Crocodile (1870–1935)." It was written by Elizabeth Bentley, currently a postdoctoral fellow in social and cultural analysis at NYU, and it appeared in the Jerusalem Quarterly, an academic journal based in Ramallah and published by the Institute for Palestine Studies. Bentley is currently developing her article into a full-length book, titled "The Last Crocodile in Palestine: Envisioning Extinction in the Ruins of Empire.”

Bentley's article is about much more than just zoology. The author explains that through her "analysis of extinction rhetoric, this article attenuates pernicious forms of “slow violence” against Palestinian life and land that are not easily captured in news headlines." She argues that "the Palestinian crocodile extinction story is intertwined with violent histories of colonial resource extraction, racialized labor exploitation, and indigenous human dispossession." That's quite an extraordinary charge, so let's see how Bentley backs it up.

I. The Last of the Crocodiles

The article begins by describing how at the Jerusalem Zoo, the sign at the crocodile enclosure states that “In 1905, the last crocodile was hunted in Israel by residents of Jisar-A-Zarka.” It's obviously not an accurate sign, since Israel did not exist in 1905 (and neither did the town of Jisar-A-Zarka, which was built to rehouse the Ghawarna Bedouin tribe that had formerly lived in the crocodiles' habitat). But according to Bentley, there's something much more sinister going on: a Zionist plot to delegitimize the Palestinians.

"The Biblical Zoo’s account erases the web of historical relations that led to this extinction beginning with one crucial fact: the market for late Ottoman Palestine’s small and dwindling crocodile population was overwhelmingly driven by colonialists rather than the indigenous population. By invoking and isolating the Palestinian identity of the hunters who allegedly killed the last crocodile, the Israeli zoo poster implies that Palestinians were responsible for Nile crocodiles’ regional extinction."

Amazing. A single poorly-written sentence in a sign (which doesn't even appear in the Hebrew text) is now evidence of a "slow violence" campaign to slander Palestinians. Talk about making a mountain out of a molehill!

But let's see how inaccurate the zoo's sign really is. Bentley is correct that, although the Ghawarna Bedouin were the ones who actually hunted the last crocodiles, the market for the last of the small and dwindling crocodile population was overwhelmingly driven by (European non-Jewish!) colonialists. But the reason why the crocodile population was dwindling was because of the Bedouin!

There's a reason why the Germans and French and British used Bedouin hunters. It's because the Bedouin already had a long tradition of hunting wild animals in general and crocodiles in particular. The Europeans didn't recruit hunters from the Old Yishuv! There has never been a tradition of hunting wild animals in Judaism, unlike in Arab and Bedouin culture, where it plays a very significant role. 

As Bentley herself notes, the Ghawarna were renowned as hunters. And the crocodiles were eating their goats and sometimes even their people, which gave them very good reasons for hunting them. Unlike mammalian predators such as lions, crocodiles never learn to fear humans. To this day, many hundreds of people are killed by crocodiles in Africa every year. Crocodiles and humans simply cannot coexist peacefully. That is why the crocodile population in Zor al-Zarqa was dwindling.

Thus, the Jerusalem Zoo's sign is not distorting anything. Yes, it was Europeans who paid for the last few crocodiles and accelerated their end, but it was the Bedouin who were both originally and ultimately responsible for their decline and extinction.

And it's not just crocodiles. The reason why the Syrian ostrich was driven to extinction across the entire region is because of the Bedouin (who believed that the bird's fat has medicinal powers). The reason why the Asiatic cheetah was driven to near-extinction across the entire region is because of the Bedouin (who became even more efficient hunters once they acquired guns). The reason why the Arabian oryx was driven to near-extinction across the entire region is because of the Arabs. The reason why the Syrian brown bear was driven to near-extinction across the entire region is because of the Arabs.

That's not to say that Zionism played no role in ecological destruction. Inevitably, when large numbers of people come to live in an area, this takes a toll on the environment. And in the early 20th century, as around the world, a lot of mistakes were made in environmental management. But Jews in the Land of Israel never targeted wild animals. They never stoned hyenas to death, as many Palestinians like to do, or stole birds of prey from the nest, as is common in Arab countries. And it was the Jews who pioneered wildlife and nature conservation in Israel, which is vastly superior to that in any Arab country.

II. The Distortion of History

Bentley is very concerned about the erasure of Palestinian (by which she means Palestinian Arab) history. "The crocodile served as a reptilian conduit for rewriting – and claiming ownership over – Palestine’s past, thereby de-Arabizing the history of the coastal marshlands. The more scholarly, research-based colonial literatures often included uneven literary historiographies of references to local geography and the crocodiles; these jumped from Greco-Roman to medieval Crusader to nineteenth century European-authored texts, omitting or glossing over periods in Palestine’s history characterized by Arab rule."

It's fair to criticize distortions of history. But it is extraordinarily hypocritical coming from Elizabeth Bentley.

The word "colonial" appears in the article a remarkable 103 times. Bentley does not apply it to the Muslim-Arab invasion of Palestine in the seventh century. But she does apply this highly-charged term equally to both European (British and German) colonialists and to Zionists. She makes no distinction whatsoever between Europeans who were extending their reach to foreign lands, and Jews who were fleeing persecution and returning to their ancestral homeland! (See this article by the ADL which details why the term "colonialism" is utterly misleading and wrong when used with regard to Zionism.)

In fact, Bentley does not even make any mention whatsoever of Jewish historical roots in Israel. Her only reference to the Bible is bizarre: "Palestine’s crocodiles are perpetually entangled in “naturecultures” – real or imagined – that do not readily lend themselves to fantasies of a pristine, empty land or an original biblical past." But in which way is the Biblical past a "fantasy"? There really was a Biblical history of Israel - in which Jews lived there! While there it's not clear if Biblical Israel had crocodiles, there is no doubt whatsoever that it had Jews. Bentley is critical of how Europeans de-Arabized history - and yet she equally de-Judaizes it!

III. The Zionist Crocodile Plot

The colonialists who paid the Bedouin to hunt the last of the crocodiles were British and German. But Bentley then smoothly transitions to Zionist colonialists. Bentley notes that a Zionist zoologist, Fredric Bodenheimer, observed in 1935 that no more crocodiles would ever be found, due to the swamps having been drained. According to Bentley, "because of Bodenheimer’s subject-position as a Zionist zoologist and the connection that he forms between Palestinian crocodile’s extinction status and the drainage project, Bodenheimer’s text reflects the continuation and evolution of the colonial zoological project in Palestine, which until this point was primarily executed by European Christians... The story of Palestinian crocodile extinction also continued on the ground through the environmental politics and policies of the Zionist settler-colonial project as it gained a stronghold over British Mandate Palestine." And so now the "colonialists" responsible for the extinction of the Palestinian crocodiles include the Jews.

Now, first let us note that no Jew was ever involved in any crocodile hunting. And the last crocodiles were killed before the swamps were drained in the 1920s. Furthermore, while part of the reason for draining the swamps was to reclaim land for development, the primary reason, for both the British and the Jews, was to eradicate malaria. And while the Ghawarna did not care to lose their land for the sake of eradicating malaria (since they apparently had a certain immunity), the other Arab residents of Palestine were certainly very much benefiting from its eradication. In some Arab villages, one of every six children would succumb to the illness within their first few months.

Yes, the Ghawarna received the raw end of the deal - as did many people around the world during the global population development of the early twentieth century (and the Ghawarna received a much better deal than did most Jews in Arab lands!). But the story of how they left is much more complicated than Bentley makes it appear. And the Zionists had absolutely nothing to do with the extinction of crocodiles.

IV. The Schmitz Transfer

In a 2020 workshop in Palestinian Studies at Brown University, Bentley invokes another aspect of the "Palestinian" crocodiles to slander Israel. This is with regard to one of the last crocodiles, whose hunting was commissioned by Father Ernst Schmitz, a German naturalist and priest. Along with many other taxidermy specimens that he had collected, it was housed in St. Paulus hostel’s basement museum, and was used for science education at the adjacent Schmidt School for Palestinian children. In 2017, the collection was transferred (or, as Bentley writes in quotation marks, "transferred," apparently to delegitimize it) to the Steinhardt Museum of Natural History and Center for Biodiversity in Tel Aviv. Bentley presents this as another example of Zionists acting unjustly and effectively stealing from Palestinians. According to Bentley, "the German Association of the Holy Land (DVHL) invoked property laws to defend their decision to permanently loan the taxidermy to the Israeli museum." 

But you can check the statement from the DVHL online, and you can see for yourself how she is distorting things again. Bentley has completely omitted the real reason for the transfer. The DVHL explains that the reason why they transferred the collection is that it had been severely neglected in the basement of the hostel and was falling apart. It was the Steinhart museum that offered to both restore the specimens, and also to put them on display for the general public and give them much greater exposure:

At that time, the Association’s main concern was to protect such a valuable and unique scientific collection showing species that are extinct nowadays. Due to the fact that the Association lacked the means for the necessary restorations, and to avoid moving the collection outside the Holy Land, it arranged with the museum to have the collection maintained and restored at the expense of the museum. DVHL gave its consent that the animals are temporarily exhibited to the general public, so as to shed a spotlight on the fauna and historical species found in the Holy Land.

As I can attest from running the Biblical Museum of Natural History, taxidermy collections require specific conditions and care. Maintaining the appropriate temperature and humidity, protection from humans and most of all protection from insects are all of crucial importance. The transfer of the Schmitz collection was desired by its owners for the benefit of the collection, not part of a nefarious Zionist plot against Palestinians.

V. Conclusion: An Anti-Zionism revealed as Israelopathy

Among all the distortions in Bentley's scholarship about crocodilian settler-colonial violence against Palestinians, one stands above the rest. Muslim Arabs invaded Palestine in the 7th century. And the Ghawarna, as Bentley observes, were actually a quasi-Maroon community, largely descended from refugees who had fled oppression in Africa and elsewhere within the last few centuries. Yet she classifies the Ghawarna as indigenous Palestinians, whereas Jews fleeing oppression in Europe and returning to their ancestral homeland are "settler-colonialists"!

Such double-standards are close to the IHRA working definition of antisemitism. But personally, I dislike the misleading term "antisemitism," which was itself created to justify it. I prefer to use the more accurate term "Judeopathy," or, in this case, "Israelopathy" - a pathological obsession with delegitimizing and demonizing Israel using irrational and hypocritical arguments.

It seems that zoology is the latest (and perhaps most bizarre) expression of this obsession. I already published an article, "Is Zionism guilty of zoological extermination?" against such accusations by others. The urge to vilify the world's only Jewish state is always seeking new tactics, and even animals are brought in for this hateful task.

VI. Postscript: The Shocking Revelation

Of course, dishonest academic scholarship used for anti-Israel and antisemitic agendas are nothing new. And I was not at all surprised to learn that Elizabeth Bentley is also co-editor of Religion, Secularism, and Political Belonging (Duke University Press 2021), in which her introduction notes that secular Zionism has "steadily made it impossible to imagine an Israel that is both Jewish and democratic," whereas an Islamist framework may be "critical to achieving a fully inclusive Palestinian political project or perhaps even an eventual one-state solution to the conflict." 

In this vein, she describes a chapter in which the authors sympathetically explain how the religious beliefs of the Islamic Jihad movement have contributed to the "anticolonial heart of Palestinian nationalist activism" and its "sacral politics of liberation." Palestinian nationalist activism, which cares negligibly about Palestinians who suffer in other countries or from the brutal regime of Hamas, and which is part of a larger Arab (and global) antisemitism that has persecuted Jews worldwide for millennia, is, we are told, actually about anticolonialism and liberation. It is not surprising that a person who makes effort to interpret everything about Zionism in the worst possible light simultaneously judges everything anti-Zionist in the best possible light. (Note that this article also describes the activities of both the PLO and Islamic Jihad, which included numerous targeted killings of civilians and children, as "military action against Israel.")

But then I learned something truly shocking.

Before writing this response, I decided to reach out to Elizabeth Bentley with some of my criticisms. She wrote a warm and friendly but unhelpful response in which she said that her article was limited in scope and she'd be happy to discuss the topic if we ever meet, but that meanwhile she does not have time to respond. But she prefaced this with a shocking revelation - that she is Jewish. And Orthodox. And a fan of my work! I was floored. (UPDATE: I subsequently discovered that she went to YU!)

Elizabeth Bentley is clearly someone who deeply cares about social justice. She's been involved with art projects for Israeli and Palestinian youth aimed at building peace across differences. And it's very hard for me to be harsh on someone who wrote so warmly to me. But it's heartbreaking that even a Jew who is connected to her Jewish identity can become so enmeshed in an Israelopathic worldview. It's tragic that such a person empowers haters of the Jewish People to legitimize Israelopathy by dressing it up as anti-colonialism. I will be sending her a link to this post, and I hope that she will reconsider her approach.


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72 comments:

  1. At least her article opened the window to a fascinating topic. I vote we reintroduce crocodiles to Israel :-)

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  2. Well, they are extremely dangerous, as rabbi Slifkin says.

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  3. Excellent plot twist, I certainly did not see this coming!
    Did the author care to explain how she thinks demonizing the behavior of early jewish settlements may help reaching the goal of ''achieving a fully inclusive Palestinian political project or perhaps even an eventual one-state solution to the conflict''?

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  4. "And it's very hard for me to be harsh on someone who wrote so warmly to me."

    At times true leadership requires it. Imagine if you got a nice warm letter from Abbas. YA

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  5. I cannot ally myself with conspiratorial rantings about crocodiles, for which I blame modern academic sociology: the hollow empire of grievance Olympics and checked privileges. Increasingly fantastical suspicion "theory" is accepted, in lieu of empirical evidence, as scholarship. That goes for feminism, critical race theory, gender studies, queerness studies , and the various other competing grievance subcultures who spend all day blocking each other on Twitter after accusing the other side of "actual violence" for their tweets.

    That doesn't mean that there is in reality no misogyny, no racism, or other societal prejudices, or that there is no actual violence which it is worth protesting against. Of course there is.

    It's a shame so much energy gets sucked out of the fight for issues that really matter to poor and marginalised people rich, egotistical, privileged people who grandiosely claim to represent them.

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  6. I hope it does not go unnoticed that she uses "Zionist" over and over again when the proper word would actually be "Jewish." It is to me one of the more troubling aspects of the piece. By bending over backwards to try not to make her piece anti-Semitic, she ends up drawing attention to the fact that it pretty much is.

    It would be more troubling if she wasn't Jewish, but then the fact that she is raises a lot of other red flags. Put simply, while we all know that less affiliated Jews have been getting less and less connected to (and, probably at least partly as a result, a not insignificant number have become increasingly critical of) Israel, there's a troubling trend of people who *are* connected moving in the same direction. We see it among people in these very comment threads, casually buying into the usual anti-Israel tropes; a very prominent Jewish scholar who has joined the Biden Administration just gave a speech in which she started moving that way. Maybe for some it has to do with their natural political leanings; as their "side" becomes more anti-Israel, they move along with it. Maybe for some it's a matter of social acceptance: "Oh, I'm not one of *those* Jews, the ones who like Israel!" And maybe to an extent it's a natural result of living in the Golah, especially at a time when there is a real Jewish State beckoning. But whatever the reason, it's troubling- and sad.

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    1. I would agree with you if I didn't know that you call ''usual anti-Israel tropes'' any criticism of Israeli policies towards arabs or of right-wing youth's innumerable provocations.

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    2. It's really my point you're proving

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    3. Constant exposure to woke/atheist/socialist/antisemitic nonsense in today's academic settings, in and out of class, has consequences. Not everyone can or wants to stand up to the barrage. And then our media reinforce every bit of it. On LinkedIn lately, its now a time for large corporations to salute the alleged "pride month". They do this because the very best institutions have messed with their minds.

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  7. Elizabeth Bentley was a Communist spy in the US, who died in 1963.
    She was also an alcoholic and a teacher in a school for punished girls, whatever that might mean.

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  8. I'm old enough to remember reporting about this back in 2014: "The usually sleepy Jordan Valley is waking up to a real B-movie nightmare as some 1,000 crocodiles are slowly overrunning a closed-down local farm, frightening neighboring Israelis and Palestinians alike," https://www.algemeiner.com/2014/12/31/growing-jordan-valley-crocodile-threat-worries-israelis-palestinians/

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  9. This is not a shocking revelation at all. The rampant corruption of the Israeli regime is such that growing numbers of young Orthodox Jews are disenchanted by Israel. Most within the MO community are silent because any criticism of Israel is shouted down and those who raise it are turned into pariahs. You would be surprised at how many students at YU hold a disfavorable view of Israel. Not a majority, but a silent and growing minority.

    It appears that the woman took the next step and is openly advocating for our enemies, but I can't say I'm shocked.

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    1. Yeah, "rampant corruption." If that makes you feel better.

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    2. R' Slifkin, I would be more than happy if you would enforce your rule that no one should comment as "anonymous"

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    3. Alternatively, most within the MO/YU community have their heads screwed on straight.

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  10. If you could counter her thesis, saving the reputation of your people it would show your blood boils more for the fate of your people than for yourself. Perhaps you don't have that kind of influence. YA

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    1. A better response would be an intel operation to find out how the Cult of Occupation grows. It would start with being respectful to Ms. Bentley and asking questions like what sources inform her view of who is the colonizer or any of her other claims.

      As she is "busy," it all be moot. But, if you do get the chance to discuss it with her, such an approach could gather information that could be used to thwart those who would recruit more like her to the Cult of Occupation.

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    2. A useful rule of thumb is that the colonisers are the ones pointing the weapon at the colonised. Russia is currently colonising Mariupol, Kherson and Melitopol using its monopoly on violence. Similarly, Boruch Marzel is a coloniser because he is stalks around with weapons flipping over stalls of Arabs in the Chevron cassba, supported by the IDF with weapons. I can send you the videos in YouTube if it is helpful.

      I know this won't help you in your search for moral clarity because what you are searching for in reality is moral obfuscation.

      To be fair to you, George Orwell pointed out that to see what is in front of your nose is a constant struggle.

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    3. "A useful rule of thumb is that the colonisers are the ones pointing the weapon at the colonised."

      And who was pointing the weapons throughout the 1920's and '30s?

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    4. "A useful rule of thumb is that the colonisers are the ones pointing the weapon at the colonised."

      Yes, if you're an abject moral idiot incapable of rational thought. (You even used the trendy, meaningless buzzword "colonize". Wow! You're so sophisticated!)

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    5. Would you prefer the word tyranny? It means the same thing as "colonise*" (British spelling).. It means a small minority using brute force to control a mass population without consent.

      It's a story as old as stories. With differing levels of violence and without drawings strict moral equivalencies, it's what the FSB is doing to Kherson. It is what the Cheka did to Ukraine. It's what that dotard Lukashenko is doing to Belarus. Both Assads did it to Syria. It is what the British did in Derry and what the Americans did in 'Nam and Afghanistan. It is what the Belgians did to Congo. It is what the British did to Amritsar, and in US civil war mythology, to the Americas. The Romans did it to the Jews. The Egyptians to the Canaanites.

      It is what COGAT is doing in Chevron.

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    6. And the Arabs who went around hacking Jews to pieces.

      So, by your reasoning, the Arabs were colonizing the Jews in the 20s who subsequently became the ones who colonized the Arabs. Care to explain how that can happen?

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    7. The Hat has clearly never set foot in Israel, a country with security guards and locked gates at every school and kindergarten; with guards in every restaurant and metal detectors at every shopping center and train station, with warnings of bombs on buses and memorial plaques on every corner; with air raid sirens and people looking over their shoulders, not knowing if they'll make it home from their commutes alive. He'd much rather use Marxist terms like "colonise" [sic] and leftist catchphrases like "Marzel" and "COGAT".

      Good for you, buddy! You've thrown your lot in with your people's enemies. It only stings for a bit, and then you've got yourself admission to fashionable genteel anti-Semitic British society, which is what matters, eh?

      Until you don't.

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    8. Sat Shalom, you didn't like my answer but it's self evidently the truth. The British, not the Arabs, were the small minority in charge of both the Arabs and the Jews in them 1930s. It is British colonial laws and attitudes now which are still being used: to steal Arab land for 'training sites'; to stop Jews praying with freedom of religion on their holiest sites.

      It is such a painfully obvious fact that I must again refer to Orwell to explain why you cannot see it.

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    9. By the way, I don't want my response to be construed as implying that I accept Hat's premises at all. I do not. This land is ours, and so we can't be "colonisers" (except obviously in the Marxist sense, in which "imperialist" means "something we don't like") and those others who are here are on *our* land. Oh, you don't like that idea? Boo-hoo, stay in England. Furthermore, after having been persecuted- including, viciously, by Arabs- for thousands of years, Jews have, thankfully, reached the stage where, as the kids say, we are fresh out of ****s to give. Oh, that offends you? I don't care, so long as we survive. We make a big mistake when we start thinking that "Never Again" applies to every nation in the world but ourselves, which is the exact opposite of what it actually means.

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    10. This discussion demonstrates, as if necessary, the sad truth in the words of Paulo Freires:
      “The oppressed want at any cost to resemble the oppressors.”

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    11. Hat, what do you call the 1929 Hebron massacre?

      Since you brought in Afghanistan, do you consider the Taliban to be colonizers? They enforce their view of sharia law at the point of a gun on the whole population of Afghanistan, your diagnostic for colonization.

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    12. The main problem with your reasoning is that it deems that the weaker party is always right and the stronger one always wrong with everything else being facts shmacts. Does the pasuk לא תעשו עול במשפט לא תשא פני דל ולא תהדר פני גדול בצדק תשפט עמיתך mean anything to you?

      Actual assessment of colonizer and colonized requires going back through history. The historical truth is that the Arabs have no connection to the Levant prior to their 7th century conquest. Since that conquest, they have enjoyed privilege in Palestine, except during the Crusades, through the 19th century. With the advent of Zionism, they lost their privilege.

      That is the extent of what the facts show. They do not show whether the conflict is from the Palestinians trying to restore their lost privilege or from the Zionists going overboard in correcting the past privilege. Baruch Marzel is an example of the latter. How representative is he?

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    13. And what's so wrong with that, Jew Well? I'd rather be an oppressor than oppressed.

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    14. Of course anyone sensible prefers being the oppressor than the oppressed. But that's not a solution to anything.
      There are many problems with this, I'll mention just a few of them.
      -The cycle of violence has no natural ending.
      -No one ever actually gets real liberty, because being an oppressor is not being free.
      -Every oppressor is unable to see his own wrongdoing, because they're to busy victimizing themselves.
      -And, of course, as Sar Shalom pointed out, we're religiously required to be just for everyone (if you can't see in justice an ideal per se). I would advise you to learn the story of king David and the Givonites in יבמות עט. to get an idea of the importance Chazal (and the Torah) gave to this ideal.

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    15. I kinda prefer words to mean what they actually mean rather than what people forcefully change them to mean. So colonizing does not mean "perform violence upon." The 1929 Chevron massacre was not perpetrated by colonizers. One can make the argument that the Jews, newer to the area, were colonizers. But it's also fine to say that in that case, neither group was the colonizing one.

      I don't think that in today's Israel, either the Israelis or the non-Jewish-mostly-Arab-other-people would be considered colonizers. Colonizing, to me, using what the word actually means, implies controlling a territory that is not yours, often far away. Israeli police managing a marketplace in an Israeli city is not an act of colonization. I do not know the incident that Mr, Hat refers to, but it is not an act of colonization for a government of a country 70 years old run by people who have lived in the country for 2 or even 3 generations to manage its own residents, even if some of those residents hail from a different pedigree.

      Police brutality is its own issue, and if it is relevant, it should be discussed. But that is a different - possibly smaller and less guilt oriented - issue.

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    16. Nachum can only identify one moral failure by Hitler: that he never finished the job. He never got around to gassing all the Jews. Hitler was insufficiently brutal, too sentimental, too afflicted by decadent notions of right and wrong to promote the self interest of the Deutscher Volk. Ultimately, he failed them. And if that characterisation offends our own little Hitler, I am fresh out of asterixes to provide him with.

      -

      The millions of residents of the West Bank who aren't Jews don't get to vote for their military occupation governors. They do not broadly support that government, even when it tries ineffectually to deliver public services. That, my friends, is tyranny, and Nachum revels in it.

      -

      I appreciate Nachum 's refreshing immorality. Not for him the earnest regrets, the self conscious handwringing, at why, after 70 years, there is unfortunately absolutely no viable alternative to leaving things exactly the same way as they already are.

      Nachum is the unmasked face of the Israel of 2032. If you don't like that future, an occupation red in tooth and claw, if it offends your genteel sensibilities, time is running out.

      Soon it will be too late for even the most wilfully blind amongst my friends to deny that you ever knew.

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    17. If it wasn't for Europeans "colonizing" Africa, it would still be a land of jungles and mud huts, an entire waste of a continent. If not for the British, America would be nothing but teepees and buffalo. And if not for the Jews and the Zionist aliyah, the land of Israel would still be the pile of rocks Mark Twain described it as. Colonization is a good thing, and has always been so regarded by man until the current age, and you better believe the wheel will turn again soon.

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    18. @Unknown
      ואמאי קרו ליה ראש המדברים בכל מקום דיתבי רבי יהודה ורבי יוסי ורבי שמעון ויתיב יהודה בן גרים גבייהו פתח רבי יהודה ואמר כמה נאים מעשיהן של אומה זו תקנו שווקים תקנו גשרים תקנו מרחצאות רבי יוסי שתק נענה רבי שמעון בן יוחאי ואמר כל מה שתקנו לא תקנו אלא לצורך עצמן תקנו שווקין להושיב בהן זונות מרחצאות לעדן בהן עצמן גשרים ליטול מהן מכס הלך יהודה בן גרים וסיפר דבריהם ונשמעו למלכות אמרו יהודה שעילה יתעלה יוסי ששתק יגלה לציפורי שמעון שגינה יהרג.

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  11. Welcome to the modern academic idiocracy . . .

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  12. Anonymous,whomever you are,you are an anti- Israel, anti- semite. You have revealed your wide brush unsubstantiated statements.Maybe you are Elizabeth Bentley!
    You belong with each other!




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    1. I agree with Sedgewick. Please enforce your policy of not allowing commenting by "Anonymous".

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    2. @Dov & @Sedgwick, lately I commented a lot as "anonymous" cause I thought it wasn't as upsetting as before. Are you against all anonymous as opposed to pseudonymous comments, even moderate ones, and how would you describe your reasons? Then maybe I should cease and desist. Or is it only when it contains abominable content?

      (I didn't and wouldn't submit the anonymous comment from 5/30 at 4:06 PM.)

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    3. The problem with "Anonymous" comments is that it makes it hard to have a back and forth, as it is difficult to keep track of who one is responding to. If each person has their own unique screen name, even if it is not their real name, this problem is ameliorated.

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    4. The commenting platform changed here (likely through no action of the professor) making it harder to post with a proper handle. That's why you'll see lots of comments that at the top say "anonymous", but are properly signed at the bottom. Like mine, which, as you can see, is signed

      Gersh P.

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  13. Anonymous, you talk about Israeli corruption.There is nothing more corrupt than your
    mouth!

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  14. "It's tragic that such a person empowers haters of the Jewish People to legitimize Israelopathy by dressing it up as anti-colonialism. I will be sending her a link to this post, and I hope that she will reconsider her approach."

    If she would be inclined to reconsider her approach she probably wouldn't have come up with it to begin with. She has a prejudice and that's not going away with mention of facts. YA

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  15. This truly is a tragic story. I understand that there have always been anti-Zionist Jews, and I concede they're entitled to their error, but that entitlement does not also give them the right falsify history or otherwise lie about Israel and the Jewish people. Misguided Jews who volunteer to be “useful idiots” for our enemies need to be reminded that having to lie to make your argument is strong evidence that your position itself is false in the first place. It will be interesting to see how Ms. Bentley responds to the effective demolition of her case in your post.

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  16. Her published output testifies to the pernicious effect of today's academic world, not only on content but on style---impenetrable, buzzword-laced, as if paid by the word. Jewish parents of college age students, beware.

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  17. "Zarka" is Arabic for "Crocodile", but the Seforim see it as a reference to a "Serpent", and hence the ta'am by the same name is a sideways letter S, a snake-like shape. The ignorant may laugh, but consider that on top of the words describing the pit into which Joseph was flung, we find "ומים אין בו. וישבו" and on top of the last word we find a Zarka. In other words, an allusion to the well known statement of chazal that there was no water in the pit, but there was (ויש-בו) snakes.

    Of course, this also touches on the well-known question of whether the תנין of the Bible is a serpent or a crocodile. This is just another example of the ambiguity of the words, and the difficulty of Identifying the flora and fauna of the Bible.

    G. Pckls.

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    Replies
    1. The "ignorant" know of the concept of "false friends" in linguistics. They know that "the Seforim" is a meaningless term, and that the authors of "the Seforim" are not always etymologists. The "ignorant" know that ta'amei hamikra usually if not always flow from the structure of the pasuk.

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    2. Nachum - I understand the structure of the trop quite well, thank you. I've read the Bachur and Hidenheim, as well as probably the guy you know, Mordechai Breuer, and guys perhaps you dont, like Shmuel Winefeld. I can tell you three different shittos of how to divide the mafsikim (Cesars, Kings, Dukes, etc), let alone the mesharsim. So dont be so presumptuous as to what your interlocutors know or don't know. My point is that the Ballei Mesorah who wrote the trop were familiar with the derasha in Shabbos I referenced, and likely used it because of the shape. Dont think the shape is entirely insignificant, even though the shapes differ in different systems and locations. If you understand trop then you know that for every rule of when to use what, there are a dozen exceptions. "The Seforim" is certainly not a meaningless term, and I make no claim that authors of Seforim are necessarily etymologists. Anyway, it's just a drash, man, take it easy.

      GP

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    3. The drasha is cute, but it involves the Baalei Mesora creating a visual note design for a trop that shows up hundreds of times in the text based on a drasha that is relevant to a phrase preceding just a single use of this note; a phrase, we should recall, which is in a completely different pasuk. (I have never heard the "vayesh bo" interpretation though, that is also cute.)

      The Vilna Gaon's vort in the first pasuk of Vayigash works better as he utilizes the names of the notes and does not imply that they were selected expressly to fit the pasuk. Over there, he interprets the Zarka as meaning zorek, throw, as he says that Yehuda (the "revi'i") claims that he promised Yaakov that he would "zarka his segol," or throw away his treasure (meaning Olam Haba) if he did not return Binyamin.

      (for those unfamiliar with this vort, it begins with kadma v'azla revi'i, the notes that are on the opening word in the parsha: Vayigash Eilav Yehuda. The "fourth" [= Yehuda] got up [kadam] and went [azal] to Yosef to argue about Binyamin. The next three words have the zarka-segol combo.)

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    4. Yosef R - yes, you are right, but again, its just a drash. These types of interpretations are to the system of trop what aggada is to the halacha. There are others that interpret the names of of the trop too, as well as the shapes. They are vertlach בעלמא, that's all. Hopefully we don't hear now from someone justifying his lapsed religion upon the discovery that the vort about kadma vi'azla he heard in seventh grade isn't actually the true pshat.

      Pickles, G.

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    5. To add to GP's point about Zara and snakes, the symbol that the Tiberian masoretes wrote for zarqa is not what is printed today. The hand written form of the taam was a vertical line with something like a fishhook going to the left from the top. Such a symbol has more similarity to the top of a snakehead staff than the printed version of the taam.

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  18. She's not alone. In the U.S. you have leftwing Orthodox who identify with ProPalestinan AntiIsrael groups. YA

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    1. Orthodox in what sense?

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    2. RAM
      "Orthodox in what sense?"
      If they are just saying whatever the world says at any moment it's no longer a matter of Orthodox or not. It's a matter of not having anything to say on behalf of Judaism and thus no relevance for Judaism. It's unworkable. YA

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  19. No parents would send their kids into a meat grinder or sawmill but many will rejoice at their admission to universities that shred their minds and morals.

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  20. What does "orthodox" mean? Peter Beinart calls himself orthodox. This woman calls herself orthodox. The term is used by some of the extreme left because they believe it cloaks them with authenticity. One has to either be a fool or non-orthodox himself to believe it. It's like the old joke about the guy walking around in a sailor's cap calling himself a "captain." His mother tells him: "By you you're a captain and by me you'll always be my captain; but by captains are you a captain???"

    Gn Ps.

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    1. Equating being Orthodox with being Zionist is bizarre. Were all the Gedolim who vehemently opposed Zionism Orthodox? Is Neturei Karat Orthodox? Is Satmar?
      BC

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    2. To BC - if she produces her membership card in a bona fide orthodox organization (Agudath Israel preferred; also acceptable בדיעבד, the OU) plus a signed affidavit attesting to her participation in at least one orthodox event (e.g, mussaf, Shwekey concert) per week for 12 consecutive months, we will allow her back into the club.

      GP

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    3. One can create a reasonable, if debatable, set of criteria for being Orthodox starting with the Rambam's 13 ikkarim. My point is that being a Zionist (or even pro-Israel) could not reasonably be included in this list.

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    4. That was BC

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    5. BC - I agree with you. To give a more serious response (that above was obviously tongue in cheek), orthodox is what orthodox does. That means you basically have to do and act like other orthodox Jews. If you differ on a single item of thought - such as Zionism - but otherwise conduct yourself in accordance with orthodox norms, then yes, you are orthodox. There is room in the big tent of O for diversity of thought. So if this woman Bentley actually conducts herself according to דת יהודית, and this is the only area she exhibits such points of view, then yes, she is orthodox, notwithstanding her abhorrent views on Israel. But if she has such outlier views on other areas as well - like a Peter Beinart, for example - then she can say Tehillim all day long and keep an Amshinover Shabbos, and orthodox she would not be.

      GP

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    6. Are the majority of Orthodox Jews Zionist? I think that’s highly debatable.
      BC

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    7. I think they are, and don't think its much of a debate. Almost all orthodox Jews are Zionist these days, very much including the Agudah/Yeshivah world. So are most Chassidim, with the exception of official Samar. (And I say "official", because part of my family is Satmar, and even plenty of them privately support Israel and think R' Yoel was extreme.) It doesn't mean they make Israel the absolute center of their life and religion like perhaps the Mizrachi/DL world, but they are still Zionist in every material way.

      GP

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  21. As a matter of interest, the only place in the world where one can find both alligators and crocodiles is South Florida, The alligators are, of course, American Alligators (there also is a Chinese variety). The crocs are Caribbean (sometimes called Cuban) crocodiles and are found in salt and brackish waters from northern South America throughout the Caribbean basin. They are about the same size as the alligators, growing to a maximum of about 15 feet in length.

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  22. Not surprised. It happens quite often that anti-Israel activists in left-wing "anti-Zionist" groups are Jewish (usually Ashkenazic)

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    Replies
    1. Mordechai Vanunu and Udi Adiv were Sephardi….

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  23. We used to have a word for people like her: Traitors. Who's side is she on? The side of terrorist.

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  24. If you deny יישוב ארץ ישראל as a
    Mitzvah than you have denied the obligation of the Torah.Don't play games as if ארץ ישראל was a foreign concept to Torah.

    ReplyDelete

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