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« Hate Speech in the Cape Argus | Main | Tzipi Livni Caught Demonstrating New Dreadful Zionist Weapon »

September 05, 2006


Immanuel Suttner

Instead of spending our energy trying to plug the ever leaking dyke (dam) overflowing with criticism of Israel, perhaps we could spend more of it on increasing the number of Jews in the world.

Many of the manifestations of anti-Semitism and anti-Israel rhetoric arise because we are a minority - known in the abstract but rarely encountered in the flesh. Many gentiles only know of us what they read - they've never encountered a living breathing Jew. Instead of all the vast amounts of energy trying to control how people percieve us / think of us/ make them like us, it would be - in my opinion - more productive to work to increase the number of Jews in the world. Do the chinese give a fuck about anti-chinese sentiment? No, because there a 1000 million of them.

During the Roman Empire (in pre-Christian times) Jews actively it needn't be just about religion...many people in the west feel deracinated and detribalised and are hungry for something other than the unsatisfactory mindless consumerism proffered....Jewish culture/tribalism/way of life can offer some of those people a specific identity and tradition which fills the hunger left by Macdonalds

Progressive and Conservative Judaismn are already moving in this direction, but if we could get Orthodox rabbis to embrace the spouses of intermarried couples, and welcome them a little more warmly (and their children) as Jews, and share with them the riches of Jewish culture...there might be many more identifying Jews today. Imagine if there were 25 or 30 million Jews in the world now ...instead of just 13 million.....there might even be a second Jewish state somewhere else in the world, which could support Israeli morally and economically

Why, in this country, for example, did we not embrace the BaLemba, the Black Jews of Venda, when they wanted to publicly identify with us? True our welfare institutions would have temporarily collapsed, but ten years later they would have reemerged, and we would have a multi-racial Jewish community in SA, some 200 000 strong, that would be more intergrated than ever into the fabric of this nation, with nothing and no-one to apologise for, instead of being a conspiciously tiny (and white) minority.

We could lobby to

a)liberalise the conversion laws
b) embrace the spouses of mixed marriages
c) offer financial support to Jewish families who have more than three children
d) work on increasing the understanding that there are multiple Jewish identities, from gay Jewish to homophobic Jewish to Zionist Jewish to "next year in Sydney" Jewish, and trying to find the most inclusive and supple criteria for including all of these in some over arching Jewishness which remains true to, and evolves from, Jewish historical and cultural experience

e) set a target of 25 million Jews worldwide by the year 2025
f) acknowledge that neither Jews nor Israel have automatic immunity from doing stupid, harmful the late great Israeli poet Yehuda Amichai wrote:

From the place where we are right
flowers will never grow

Just a thought



Several things Israel could do in the face of the Iranian threat

Decentralise, especially in terms of the greater Tel Aviv area, which is the primary target

Increase West Bank settlements, especially around major Palestinian population centres. If Iran wants to murder and ethnically cleanse the area of Israelis, it will end up doing the same to Palestinians. Of course the down-side of this option is that it makes a two state solution even more remote, and no solution is a recipe for ongoing conflict and ongoing suffering.

Place strategic industries in the heart of Palestinian populations

Encourage intergration of housing in Haifa, Beer Sheva, Jerusalem, Yafo-Tel Aviv, Karmiel, etc etc so that there are many mixed neighbourhods where Jews and Moslems live in physical proximity. Iranian PR won't be able to explain why it is bombing fellow Moslems (even if they are Sunnis, and not Shiites!)

Seek to reach a settlement with the Palestinians as rapidly as posible, so that a Israel, Palestine, Saudi Egypt Gulf States axis can emerge to confront Iran

The steps it takes should be, if possible, beneficial to the Israeli economy even if the anticipated Iranian attack never comes. And obviously, no one knows if, and when, there ever will be an Iranian attack. But it seems to make sense to plan for a worst case scenario.


I don’t understand...the ANC castigates Israel in parliament, pours out this incredible vitriol, on a small country fighting the ethnic cleansing that Iran and its proxies are planning for it, and then in a display of the most cynical Bismarkian realpolitik, the ANC welcomes Putin, that paragon of human rights, because he says he will invest in South Africa. During the Lebanes war some 1000 Lebanese died, with an undisclosed number of these being Hizballah terrorists. COSATU and the SACC then calls for sanctions against Israel. Enter Putin.

Following the Chechen defeat in Dagestan, Moscow and other Russian cities suffered bomb blasts killing more than 300 people. Chechens were blamed for the attacks, though it was never proven. This has also led to a rise in racist sentiments against people mainly from the Caucasus regions. The response by the new Russian President, Vladimir Putin was brutal. Some analysts believe that Putin had calculated this response would help his 2000 election.
Russia' full scale war with Chechnya led to many bombing raids by Russian forces. Some one third to half of the 1.3 million Chechen people are said to have fled from Chechnya. Slowly Grozny and other parts of Chechnya were being pounded and destroyed, while civilian population were caught in the middle of the conflict. Civilian casualties were high and there was an international outcry at the brutal Russian crackdown and indiscriminate bombing and targeting of civilians.
Human Rights groups raised concern at the rampage that the Russian forces were on after having issued what appeared to be an ultimatum for citizens in Grozny to evacuate. (The previous link is to a report that admits that the Russian government tried to give an opportunity for citizens to leave but criticized how Russia would assume that those left behind would be considered terrorists.) The Russian troops were accused of looting and burning homes and buildings, even executing those who resisted. The rest of the G8 and the European Union had even threatened to isolate Moscow if they continued their campaign.
On April 20, 2000 there was an offer of a cease-fire by the Chechen President, Ashlan Mashkadov. But it was not clear at the time if it could have been maintained. Russian demands were stern and it was not certain if all factions would abide given the increasing number of criminal gangs and factions of warlords. And by June 2000, there was more rebel fighting, suicide attacks and increased guerilla warfare by Chechen combatants, indicating that the conflict was far from over.
As Human Rights Watch further reported, in April 2001, “the U.N. Commission on Human Rights adopted a resolution on Chechnya that condemned serious human rights violations by Russia's forces, and raised concern about forced disappearances, torture, and summary executions. Sponsored by the E.U., and with strong U.S. backing, the resolution called for U.N. special rapporteurs to investigate these abuses in the war-torn republic and for credible criminal investigations by domestic agencies into all human rights and humanitarian law violations. Russia rejected a similar resolution adopted by the commission last year, and refused to comply with its requirements. It has vowed to do the same this year.”
In May 2001, they also reported that Russian authorities covered up evidence of extra-judicial executions. At least 100 000 Chechhans have been killed in the Russian onslaught. The outcry from the SACC, COSATU?
None whatsoever. The raising of human rights issues by the ANC? Not a peep (not surprising really when you think of Zim next door, or Darfur on our continent). So can anyone fair or rational explain the disparity between the ANC condemnation of Israel (soft easy target) and its psychophantic arse licking with Russia, other than fashion, greed and amorality???


Immanuel, you made many great points some I agree with some I don’t. I don’t have time to address everything you wrote now. But hopefully of the course of the next few days we can thrash some of you ideas out.

I am extremely interested in the Lemba. I do understand that they are a controversial halachic issue. I think it is important that they understand that if they wish to ‘rejoin’ the mainstream Jewish fold, they will need to convert. I am certainly no expert on how that could be achieved. Do you have any contact with them? How do they feel about Israel and Judaism? It would be a great topic for a post.


Hi, I did have contact with them - I wrote an article on them for the Jerusalem Report about ten years ago and went up to Venda to meet with Professor Mathiva, Samuel Moethi, Ephraim Selamolela and other community leaders. They were incredibly positive and pro-Israel then (Samuel Moeti, aka Shmuayl had a map of Israel on his wall) but perhaps having been rebuffed by the board and organised community there ardour has cooled off a little - I don't know. Judaism is a religion and culture - it shouldn't be about ethnicity. South African Jews tend to believe that all other Jews are made in our own image - white, Ashkenazi, Lithuanian, middle class - but of course it isn't so. For Judaism to be a world religion it must let go of the lesser to make room for the greater. Organisations like Amishav could be doing far more.

We should also be forming alliances with other minorities fighting to attain or keep national self-determination -the Kurds, the Basques, etc etc, and with groups who have been ruthlessly persecuted by Islamists, such as the Bahai and Hindus.

Are you the person who runs this site? If so we should meet up at some time.

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