Why we love Israel

The Devil's Advocate

jason.web

Two weeks ago, I was invited to an event on Facebook hosted by Tikvah: Students for Israel — UC Berkeley’s Zionist student organization — called “Why we love Israel.”

In theory, I should be more equipped than ever to answer that question. Just last month, I got back from a trip to Israel designed to induce me and my fellow travelers to fall in love with the Jewish state. The trip was organized and paid for by Birthright — an organization that sends tens of thousands of American Jews on free 10-day tours of Israel every year.

For many of the other students on the trip (who tended to uncritically accept the information presented to us by speakers and tour guides), Birthright was wildly successful. A few students were even brought to tears by what they said was a powerful emotional and spiritual connection to that narrow strip of land, its culture and its people.

But for me, the most pronounced effect of the trip was to expose the ignorance of the Israeli right and its American backers.

To be clear, I am deeply impressed with many aspects of Israeli society, particularly its spectacular intellectual and economic achievements. Israel has the third-most educated workforce in the world and the second-highest per capita book-publishing rate. As David Brooks wrote, “Israel has more high-tech start-ups per capita than any other nation on earth, by far … It ranks second behind the U.S. in the number of companies listed on the Nasdaq. Israel, with seven million people, attracts as much venture capital as France and Germany combined.”

And I recognize that, for 65 years, that tiny nation, born out of the ashes of the Holocaust and a courageous war for independence, has fought perpetually for its survival.

But the trip made shockingly clear the degree to which Israeli right-wingers are recklessly obstructing the peace process with the Palestinians.

On one of the first nights of the trip, we were shepherded into a room to watch a presentation about modern Islam. I expected this to be an objective and informative presentation, perhaps delivered by a Muslim, in an otherwise heavily biased trip — a type of defense against charges that Birthright has an ideological agenda. I was wrong. The cover slide of the presentation bore the words “Modern Islam” — and a picture of the twin towers collapsing. The presentation was as offensive — and racially charged — as the cover slide suggested. The speaker, an Orthodox Jew, showed us clips of radical Islamic clerics on anti-Semitic diatribes while suggesting that those opinions were held by most Arabs and that Jihad against the West is part of mainstream Islam.

Our guide, a former settler in the Gaza Strip, described himself as farther to the right than Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party. He made a point of never referring to the occupied territories or Jewish settlements; he just mentioned “so-called occupied territories” and “so-called settlements.” He suggested that the idea of land for peace is an ignorant fantasy of the far left.

This treatment of Israeli-Palestinian issues should not surprise readers who know where Birthright gets its funding. At Birthright’s headquarters in Jerusalem, we were reminded to be grateful to Sheldon Adelson, the billionaire casino magnate, for donating $30 million to make our trip possible. Adelson is an inveterate extremist on Israel policy: He has said that “the two-state solution is a stepping stone for the destruction of Israel and the Jewish people” and called the Palestinian prime minister a terrorist.

Not one to shy away from debate, I engaged some speakers, our guide and some other students on the trip who defended Israel’s continued settlement construction in the West Bank. I asked what Israel sees as the resolution to its policy of indefinite settlement expansion. Will it annex the West Bank and make about 2.5 million Arabs Israeli citizens? Will it continue to settle without granting citizenship to the Arabs and create an apartheid society? Or will it perform ethnic cleansing and forcibly drive Arab residents out of the West Bank?

Clearly, none of these solutions is politically or morally plausible (though the latter two might be acceptable for Adelson-types). The only response I heard was that God had given all of the land to the Jews. You can’t argue with that. Except to point out that it’s the exact same argument the other side makes. Go figure.

So did the trip make me love Israel? In some ways, yes. It’s hard to resist the rugged beauty of the desert landscape, the warm beaches of Tel Aviv, the stunning city of Jerusalem and the remarkable accomplishments of Israeli society.

But more than love, the trip filled me with fear. Fear that the far right, driven by intolerance and irrationality, will squander Israel’s achievements by leading it down the path to international disrepute and eternal conflict.

Contact Jason Willick at [email protected]

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  • Jay

    As an African-American alum, I applaud Jason’s courage to raise his concerns. Without reading the other comments, which I suspect are especially critical, I think his stance should be applauded. Obviously, it will take a moderate approach to resolve the conflict and extremists on both sides, will hinder this process. Kudos to you for reflecting on your trip and your experience.

  • Sarah

    It’s about time the world see how racially-charged ISRAEL is. Palestinians die every day and most of them are barred from holding certain jobs. Palestinian villages are being blown up everyday for Israeli settlements. FUCK Isra-hell.

  • Max

    I know I’m late to the party on this one, but I’d like to add a couple of thoughts:

    1. Even though I’m very Zionist and support Israel a lot, I also would’ve been offended by the “Modern Islam” presentation described in the article.

    2. Regarding the notion that “land for peace is an ignorant fantasy of the far left”… Actually, I agree with that notion. “Land for peace” was a complete and utter disaster as a policy approach, from Oslo to South Lebanon to Gaza. I’m not trying to defend the occupation or settlement policy here. I’m just saying that unilaterally pulling out of territories, without nailing down every single imaginable detail with a credible and authoritative counter-party, and without reliable security guarantees from neighboring countries and the West, is NOT a formula for peace–it’s just a formula for more violence, as Israel has learned the hard way 3 times in the last 20 years. In short, “land for peace” is a joke and a failure, and everyone in Israel knows it, which is why the Israeli left is so desperate with its rhetoric right now.

  • H.C.

    Nice article! I enjoyed hearing about your experience and opinion about Birthright. Hopefully you won’t let the comments get you down! I’m an Israeli American who gets a lot of flack from my Jewish friends for being pro-peace and critical towards the IAmerican Jewish Right. I usually find it’s not worth it to fight right-minded Jews — they are akin to the Tea Party in their radical disbelief of rationality.

  • Dan Spitzer

    Here’s the latest news on the Palestinian Islamofascists Willick, Heather and Wolverine care so much about.

    After the murder in Libya of the US Ambassador who helped free that country of their dictator, this was reported:

    Gazans protest anti-Islam movie
    Dozens of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip have burned American flags and chanted “Death to America,” protesting an American film that mocks the Muslim Prophet Muhammad. The protest Wednesday in Gaza City was sponsored by supporters of the Popular Resistance Committees, a militant group aligned with the ruling Hamas movement. (AP)

    • peepsqueek

      When a Danish cartoonist drew a depiction of Mohammed, who took responsibility when Muslims throughout the Middle East declared a boycott of Danish products. Hamshari, the largest newspaper in Iran, called for cartoons mocking the Holocaust. The Iranian government severed its diplomatic relations with Denmark, and security concerns led the Danish government to close its embassy in Pakistan.

      An Italian government minister, Roberto Calderoli, wore a T-shirt displaying the cartoons during a television interview, leading to protests outside Italy’s consulate in Benghazi, Libya. The demonstrators set the building ablaze and police responded with gunfire, killing eleven. Both Calderoli and Libyan Interior Minister Nasr al-Mabrouk lost their jobs as a result.

      The embassies and offices of France, Germany, Norway, the European Union and World Bank were also targeted. In Indonesia, four hundred protesters carrying rocks and sticks tried to storm the U.S. embassy.

      Protests produced bloodshed in Kenya, Iran, India, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, the Philippines, Egypt, Israel, Turkey and Jordan – as well as in England, the United States and Denmark itself.

      Have you seen how flattering the Arab cartoons and films are of the US and Israel?

  • Lisa k

    Jason
    I am not young anymore
    Not full of youth and dreams of peace anymore .
    I have watched Israel return gaza only to be thanked with 10k rockets and terror .
    What peace exists when Palestinians do not accept your right to exist ?
    When you can explain to me how to have a peace process with a group where there is mo peace or process we can go on to discuss the details .

  • Dan Spitzer

    This is the sort of mentality that Willick is tacitly supporting and is manifest in the Palestinian Territories, particularly by the democratically elected Hamas which is an offshoot of the Islamic Brotherhood, the new elected govenment reflecting the stench of Arab Spring in Egypt.

    A few years ago, we saw how a cartoon was used by the likes of the Islamic Brotherhood to threaten the lives of Westerners in Europe as well as the lives of employees of western embassies based in the Muslim world. Yes, a bloody cartoon. And today, the supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood lay seige to the US Embassy in Cairo, charging its doors while blaming America for a film critical of Islam which had snippets of it accessible on YouTube. Again, they threatened lives because of something as trivial as a film!

    Still worse, an employee of the American Embassy in Libya was murdered by some of these Islamofascist barbarians. The employee, of course, had nothing to do with the film but that never stops the mentality of Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood and their co-religionists in Libya. Look for more such savagery to follow during the coming days in response to the film and also remind yourself that it was the Palestinians who danced in the streets when they learned of the collapse of the Twin Towers.
    In sum, Islamofascism be it in Gaza, Egypt, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Libya or anywhere in the Muslim world is the real enemy of human rights and civilized behavior, not the Israel democracy which Willick and others on this site such as Heather and Wolverine One so absurdly malign.

  • Guest

    Israel is a terrorist state

    • Calipenguin

      Israel does not have a policy of targeting innocent civilians and any Israeli who does so is punished by law, so Israel is not a terrorist state.

      • Current student

        Lol, the Israeli police have a “poor record” at apprehending those responsible for vandalizing mosques and churches, to put it gently

  • Tali

    Thank you Jason for your thoughtful comments- many of us who truly love Israel are asking the same questions. Zionists from a left leaning background view the turn to the right in Israel with distress- but we also know that Israel is a vigorous democracy and has the strength to overcome these obstacles. Please let Birthright know of your concerns- the program is still young and evolving.

    • Calipenguin

      There would be no point to a Birthright group tour if it changes its message because there would be no birthright after Arabs take over Israel by sheer numbers. The whole concept of a birthright is that you have a right to something which necessarily excludes non-members. Mecca and Medina are Islamic birthrights and don’t allow non-Muslim immigration. Vatican City is a Catholic birthright. If Israel grants “right of return” to all Palestinian refugees, it would no longer be a safe haven for persecuted Jews. Instead, it would be filled with millions of Muslims who would elect terrorist organizations such as Hamas to power, and roving bands of unemployed Arab youth would attack Jewish settlements with tacit approval from Hamas, and eventually shooting wars between Fatah, Hamas, and Hezbollah would make Israel unsafe for anyone.

      • janbn

        So the young American Jews going on a Birthright trip that is geared to making them want to make aliyah are persecuted? Wow! I’ll bet they didn’t know that.

    • peepsqueek

      To Tali-
      I am not fan of the far right or the far left, however, Israel is dealing with far right Islamic terrorists and far right Islamic clerics and academics. I don’t think the left has any answers for these people.

      Hamas: No Muslim shall rest until the banner of Islam flies over every inch of the land.

      The Brotherhood’s credo was and is, “Allah is our objective; the Quran is our law, the Prophet is our leader; Jihad is our way; and death for the sake of Allah is the highest of our aspirations.

      The Muslim Brotherhood’s goal, as stated by Brotherhood founder Hassan al-Banna was to reclaim Islam’s manifest destiny, an empire, stretching from Spain to Indonesia.

      Iran, Ahmandinejad: The Zionist regime’s establishment was based on numerous deceptions and lies and one of the biggest lies was the Holocaust.

      What kind of answers from the left do these people understand?

      • Stan De San Diego

        Too many people on the left try to fit the Palestinian conflict into their “wars of national liberation” worldview and conveniently ignore that Israel, for all its missteps, has made numerous offers and concessions to allow the Palestinians to have the self-determination they (allegedly) want. What the lefties don’t understand is that groups such as Hamas do NOT want peace or democracy in Gaza or the West Bank, because it doesn’t serve their own agenda. The Palestinian conflict is simply a proxy war against Israel that is supported by the more radical Arab/Muslim states (Iran and Syria in particular). The Arabs do nothing for the alleged “refugees” other than lock them in camps in Jordan and Lebanon, but have no problem supplying weaponry to various and sundry militias and terrorist groups. They are simply trying to achieve what they could not do by conventional warfare in 1948, 1956 and 1967, which is to destroy the state of Israel. The conflict will never be “resolved” until the liberals deal with realities and understand the true intentions of the Muslim world.

  • Dan Spitzer

    While there certainly are some decent Muslims, a remarkable percentage of them are nothing more than barbarians. Witness Pakistani Muslim neighbors threatening to burn the family of an 11 year old Christian girl charge with what is laughingly called “blasphemy.” And the Islamofascists who were democratically elected by the Palestinians would most certainly agree with this. Don’t believe me? They are the self-same scumbags who advocate Jewish genocide.

    From the Associated Press: The family of a young Pakistani Christian girl, known as Rimsha, who faces blasphemy charges, say their Muslim neighbours threatened to burn them alive inside their home.

    And these are the poor, poor people whom Willick is defending…

  • Brown Student (and Jew)

    Excellent column. The ideological us-against-the-world mindset held by many of the folks commenting disparagingly here should have long ago become arcane, given that it has been clear for decades that the policies it engenders are completely unsustainable and counterproductive. To be sure, the Holocaust was a tragedy of unspeakable and unmatched proportions, but a past atrocity committed by people who are all now dead doesn’t justify an outdated worldview that refuses to see those of other faiths or cultures as human beings. The only avenue toward a long-term solution in the Arab-Israeli conflict is peace, and peace cannot be achieved solely by continuing to push into Palestinian-claimed lands and ignoring serious efforts at reconciliation. I, too, have considered taking a Birthright trip, but fear the type of indoctrination that Jason speaks of and is fairly easy to anticipate given where the program’s funding comes from. The purpose of such organizations should be, as Jason suggests, to intelligently educate Jewish young people in such a way that they are enamored with the Israeli state, but not prohibitively so; that is to say, it is in Israel’s best interest to cultivate a generation that loves the country so much that, rather than continue to endanger its entire existence by rashly pushing forward a prejudiced and brash agenda that refuses to acknowledge a Palestinian state, they seek to ensure its permanent prosperity by solving the conflict in a responsible and sustainable way.

    • Calipenguin

      How can you possibly say “should have long ago become arcane” today, of all days, on the anniversary of 9/11? Have you forgotten both of your countries’ struggles with militant Islam? Giving land to Palestinians won’t make the terrorists go away. In your desire to see all people as human beings, you quickly forget the brainwashed monsters who have crossed beyond humanity and would commit mass murder for a seat in Paradise. Of course we all want peace, but a unilateral retreat does not bring about peace. Palestinian Muslims are claiming lands that belonged to Jews long before the creation of Islam, and Iranian Shiites are arming their proxies to rain missiles on Israeli cities when the day comes to attack Israel with Oppenheimer’s deadly toy. The U.N. already offered the Palestinians a state in 1947 and the Arabs rejected it, preferring instead to drive out all Jews so they won’t have to share the land. Israel gave Gaza to the Palestinians, and instead of gratitude Hamas fired thousands of missiles at Israeli towns. Even if Israel gave Palestinians every inch of land they want, including all of Jerusalem, what makes you think the Palestinians or their masters in Iran won’t continue to use terrorism until all Jews leave the land? The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over but expecting a different result.

      • AnOski

        >How can you possibly say “should have long ago become arcane” today, of all days, on the anniversary of 9/11? Have you forgotten both of your countries’ struggles with militant Islam?

        None of those responsible for the 9/11 attacks were from Palestine. You might as well blame the Chinese for Pearl Harbor.

        >Giving land to Palestinians won’t make the terrorists go away.

        You’re right. It has nothing to do with them. Well, they do live in the same hemisphere and have the same religion. You might as well say that all Christians in North America are the same, and that doing something nice for one group will change how all of the others act.

        >In your desire to see all people as human beings, you quickly forget the brainwashed monsters who have crossed beyond humanity and would commit mass murder for a seat in Paradise.

        Which is apparently…all of Palestine? You’re pretty far off there, pal.

        >Of course we all want peace, but a unilateral retreat does not bring about peace.

        Well, it might, but no one’s asking for that. See below.

        >Palestinian Muslims are claiming lands that belonged to Jews long before the creation of Islam, and Iranian Shiites are arming their proxies to rain missiles on Israeli cities when the day comes to attack Israel with Oppenheimer’s deadly toy.

        I took a class on the history of the region. Genetic studies of preserved remains in the region show us that there was no inherent genetic difference between the Arabs and Jews back when both groups inhabited the region some 2,000 years ago. However, what seems to have happened in the ensuing ~1,000 years was the migration to Europe of some portion of the Jewish population and the subsequent assimilation of Jews in the region into Arabic religion/cultures.

        Jewish/Zionist immigration only started to occur around the end of the 19th century, and was aided by the British government, who wished to turn Jewish immigrants away from England to…some place they wouldn’t have to deal with them. Palestine was seen as an empty plot of land, so when the British government acquired the mandate for it in 1922…plans went full steam ahead. There were several indigenous Arab uprisings in this time, largely due to the economic changes taking place at the time. By 1948, it is estimated that the Jews (who had largely immigrated in the past ~50 years) owned approximately 17% of the privately held land within the borders of the region known as Palestine, and some 24% of the arable land.

        Why the protests? Most of the locals had lived on family-leased farms for untold generations. “Under the Balfour Declaration, a homeland for the Jewish people was to be created in Palestine.” Those two ideas…don’t go well together. The indigenous Arabs saw that the political climate was changing such that they would be forced from their ancestral lands to make way for people who no one else wanted to take.

        Ultimately, though, your claim that the lands somehow belonged to the Jews is painfully misinformed. If you want to go that route, the US should be re-appropriated by surviving Native Americans, etc. It’s simply preposterous. The Jews who stayed in Palestine were assimilated, and the Jews who left had no reasonable claim to the land when their religiously-like-minded ?descendants? returned some 2,000 years later.

        >The U.N. already offered the Palestinians a state in 1947 and the Arabs rejected it, preferring instead to drive out all Jews so they won’t have to share the land.

        Some 700,000 Palestinians were killed or violently displaced in 1948, when Zionists claimed the portions of the country allotted to them by the British.

        Long story short, the British gave Israelis half of the country. The trouble is that people (mostly Arabs) already lived there, and had been living there for millennia.

        I’ll assume you live in the US. If some policemen showed up at your house tomorrow and told you that only the Eastern half of the US was to be maintained by the US — and that everything West of the Mississippi must be vacated now to allow for Native American resettlement, would you pack up your things and go? Would you try to fight? Would you concede when soldiers showed up on your doorstep and forced you out? What would you think when some towns or cities simply disappeared, with stories of mass-shootings and mass-graves circulating?

        No, it’s not that the Palestinians rejected a fair 50/50 split. They rejected the idea of giving half of their country away, and were subsequently forced to do it at gunpoint.

        >Israel gave Gaza to the Palestinians, and instead of gratitude Hamas fired thousands of missiles at Israeli towns.

        Israel shoved hundreds of thousands of refugees into a tiny strip of land, where they’ve since multiplied into millions, and you’re somehow surprised that they’re angry? This all happened recently enough that the folks there can still remember being forced from their homes time after time, as Israel tightened the fences (now walls).

        As for the rockets, they’ve killed 28 people. Ever. Thousands are fired, yes, but they’re fired blindly into the air because the Palestinians have no other real way of attacking their prison-keepers. Official death tolls show a much more interesting story:

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Israeli%E2%80%93Palestinian_conflict

        To say nothing of events like this:

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sabra_and_Shatila_massacre

        You…don’t know what you’re talking about. In the least.

        >Even if Israel gave Palestinians every inch of land they want, including all of Jerusalem, what makes you think the Palestinians or their masters in Iran won’t continue to use terrorism until all Jews leave the land?

        At this point, no one knows what would happen if such an event were to occur. However, given the past fifty years of unending imprisonment and torture to which the Israelis have subjected Palestinians, you do make a valid point.

        But, you again rely on the poorly-founded assumption that all/most Palestinian Arabs are against Israel and are being supported by Iran. Only a minute portion of the populous is actively fighting against Israel.

        >The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over but expecting a different result.

        Right. But, to date, all Israel has done is take more and more land away while offering minor concessions as a face offering of peace. If someone has taken half of your country, and has continued to wear away at it until you and everyone you know is dead or confined to urban ghettos, you’re not going to be excited by the offer of 10% of your land back, especially when current agreements don’t provide any reason to believe that the creation of new settlements is ever going to stop, or that Palestinians would ever be treated as first-class citizens in their own homeland.

        You are simply misinformed at a base level. I have nothing else to say.

        • peepsqueek

          To AnOski-

          The banner of Islam flies over 99.9% of the Middle East land mass with all of its gas and oil wealth.

          Israel’s international “birth certificate” was validated by all three ancient Biblical texts; Jewish settlement from the time of Joshua onward; the Balfour Declaration of 1917; the San Remo Resolution of 1920; the League of Nations Mandate, which incorporated the Balfour Declaration; the United Nations partition resolution of 1947; Israel’s admission to the UN in 1949; the recognition of Israel by most other states; and, most of all, the society created by Israel’s people in decades of thriving, dynamic national existence.

          The most successful Muslim operation of the last few hundred years has been the ethnic cleansing and removal of millions of Christians, Jews, Hindus and Buddhists from the Islamic world. There are 57 declared Muslims Countries, all members of the United Nations. What happened to all the indigenous people and their beliefs who “rejected” Islam during the Arab/Islamic invasions? Arabs and Islam come from Arabia.

          The question of statehood was resolved with the 1947 U.N. partition plan (A Jewish State and an “Arab” State living side by side). However, six “Arab” armies invaded the newly formed state of Israel, in an ultimately unsuccessful attempt to destroy it. It is ironic and regrettable that Palestinian “Arabs” seek statehood now via a path they rejected for the tiny Jewish State.

          Coptic News: “Since Christianity came to Egypt in 57 A.D., we, the Christians of Egypt, have not had conflict with the Jewish people. Copts have been a marginal population held in captivity for sixteen centuries. We constitute the largest non-Arab, non-Moslem minority in the Middle East. The Church of Alexandria, is one of the oldest organization in the Middle East. Despite this distinguished history, it is a church that has been under siege since the Islamic invasion.” – Does Israel still have to explain their position for self determination?

          • AnOski

            >Israel’s international “birth certificate” was validated by all three ancient Biblical texts;

            The Bible should not serve as justification for anything in the modern world, other than as an anthropological study into the mind of early humans who were looking to understand the then-incomprehensible world around them.

            Genetic studies have shown us what I stated above. “Genetic studies of preserved remains in the region show us that there was no inherent genetic difference between the Arabs and Jews back when both groups inhabited the region some 2,000 years ago. However, what seems to have happened in the ensuing ~1,000 years was the migration to Europe of some portion of the Jewish population and the subsequent assimilation of Jews in the region into Arabic religion/cultures.”

            So if you want to use the Bible to justify your argument — and lets say I go along with it — you’d be just as right to give the Holy Land to the Arabs living there today, as they would have just as legitimate a claim based on the ownership of the region 2,000 years ago. Not that such archaic claims should matter in today’s world, but since you’re choosing to go by them, you might as well accept the facts while doing so.

            >Jewish settlement from the time of Joshua onward; the Balfour Declaration of 1917; the San Remo Resolution of 1920; the League of Nations Mandate, which incorporated the Balfour Declaration; the United Nations partition resolution of 1947; Israel’s admission to the UN in 1949;

            All of these things happened while the country was a) primarily inhabited by indigenous Arabs, and b) was enacted by foreign bodies without their consent.

            I’m not debating whether those things happened or not. I’m saying that well over a million indigenous Arabs were opposed to giving half of their country away to an estimated ~200,000 Jewish immigrants who were a) forced there by Western European countries who didn’t want them and b) were content to move there in order to pursue a story out of the Bible.

            >the recognition of Israel by most other states; and, most of all, the society created by Israel’s people in decades of thriving, dynamic national existence.

            Which is founded on the ethnic cleansing of the indigenous peoples. Yes, Israel is thriving. It would be hard not to given the fact that its people have been able to slowly strip the Arabs who lived there of the arable land.

            The wall that is still being built in places is strategically placed to wall off individual primarily Arab towns and densely populated areas so that the farmers who live there cannot leave to work their fields and orchards. The same fields are then claimed by Israeli squatters who move in to claim the land that the Palestinians can no longer access.

            They do have a remarkably successful business model based on tourism, foreign aid, and free land stolen from Palestinians.

            >The most successful Muslim operation of the last few hundred years has been the ethnic cleansing and removal of millions of Christians, Jews, Hindus and Buddhists from the Islamic world.

            The fighting seen in the Arab world is no worse than has been seen anywhere else.

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religious_war

            You’re simply demonizing Arabs. I don’t get it.

            >There are 57 declared Muslims Countries, all members of the United Nations. What happened to all the indigenous people and their beliefs who “rejected” Islam during the Arab/Islamic invasions? Arabs and Islam come from Arabia.

            Your point? There are countless primarily Christian and Catholic nations, to say nothing of Buddhism and Hinduism, to which a substantial portion of the world (population) follow.

            >Should the Arabs be entitled to keep Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Egypt, Sudan, Libya, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon and Iraq. If Jews are to be sent to Europe, shouldn’t the Arabs be sent back to Arabia?

            This is ridiculous on too many levels. 1) You incorrectly lump all “Arabs” into one group. Some of the subgroups (e.g. Shiite and Suni) really don’t get along well, much as many Christians didn’t get along too well in the period known as the Reformation. “Arabs” are not collectively a single group of people. Just as “Christians” in the US don’t identify particularly closely with “Christians” in Romania, an “Arab” in Morocco is likely to see an “Arab” in Syria as, culturally speaking, an alien.

            2) The “Arabs” (Palestinians) we’re talking about have lived in Palestine for literally thousands of years. Throwing archaic claims to land aside, I’d like to point out the following.

            3) This isn’t about Jewish folks moving back to Europe, or anything like that. This is about the several million indigenous peoples of Palestine being 1) rounded up 2) predominantly civilian areas being periodically bombed 3) the general population kept in substandard living conditions without adequate international aide due to Israel’s harsh sanctions on items such as cement 4) the fact that these people are still in their homeland, have not been dispersed, cannot leave, and have a legitimate claim to the land and have not yet given it up.

            >The question of statehood was resolved with the 1947 U.N. partition plan (A Jewish State and an “Arab” State living side by side). However, six “Arab” armies invaded the newly formed state of Israel, in an ultimately unsuccessful attempt to destroy it.

            Did you read my last comment? They were, by and large, justified. I’ll quote myself here for your benefit. “Some 700,000 Palestinians were killed or violently displaced in 1948, when Zionists claimed the portions of the country allotted to them by the British.Long story short, the British gave Israelis half of the country. The trouble is that people (mostly Arabs) already lived there, and had been living there for millennia.I’ll assume you live in the US. If some policemen showed up at your house tomorrow and told you that only the Eastern half of the US was to be maintained by the US — and that everything West of the Mississippi must be vacated now to allow for Native American (re)settlement, would you pack up your things and go? Would you try to fight? Would you concede when soldiers showed up on your doorstep and forced you out? What would you think when some towns or cities simply disappeared, with stories of mass-shootings and mass-graves circulating?No, it’s not that the Palestinians rejected a fair 50/50 split. They rejected the idea of giving half of their country away, and were subsequently forced to do it at gunpoint. And you somehow claim that this was done fairly.”

            >It is ironic and regrettable that Palestinian “Arabs” seek statehood now via a path they rejected for the tiny Jewish State.

            They invaded for a number of reasons including but not limited to the resources of the land and access to the Mediterranean. Per my statement directly above this, the Palestinians had every reason to revolt at the time, but you don’t seem to know or care about what was actually going on at the time.

            I’ll end with this.

            Anyone who uses the vaguely stated ownership of lands in the Middle East in the Bible to attempt to justify current land ownership is an idiot. Anyone who uses the Bible to justify anything in the modern world needs to take a critical look at the book and what it says.

            Yes, it contains many good messages. It also contains some suggestions that are downright immoral (if not insane) by today’s standards. The good book states that adulterers be stoned to death. We in Western cultures typically seem to abhor similar treatment of people in Islam when we read about it in the news. Yet, the Bible suggests it. To say nothing of wearing clothing of mixed fibers and working on the sabbath. You use the Bible to suit your own aims, to justify the beliefs you wish to be perpetuated, while playing down the other parts you deem….less important.

            It’s a religion, and the book is supposedly the word of some God. If you believe in it only selectively, you should at least acknowledge that you believe that the word of God is worthy of amendment by modern humans.

            And once you’ve acknowledged that….

          • peepsqueek

            Those are weak arguments at best-

            “The Bible should not serve as justification for anything in the modern world, other than as an anthropological study into the mind of early humans who were looking to understand the then-incomprehensible world around them.” While I agree with that statement, Muslims believe that every word and command in the Qur’an are the verbatim words of God. We are talking about today, right now. That is why Hamas can make statements like: No Muslim shall rest until the banner of Islam flies over every inch of the land”

            You got things a little backwards, Palestine is not a real Country. You cannot even name a Palestinian leader prior to Arafat, and he was an Egyptian Arab. The Jewish people had the Hebrew University in Jerusalem prior to becoming a State. Before 1948, Jews in that area were known as Palestinians. The Jewish newspaper, the Jerusalem Post, was called the Palestine Post. The Jewish-founded electric company was Palestine Electric. The Palestinian Symphony Orchestra was all Jewish. During World War II, the British army had a Palestinian Brigade made up entirely of Palestinian Jewish volunteers. Before 1948, Jews in the geographical area of Palestine were also known as Palestinians. In 1948, Jordan illegally occupied Jerusalem and ethnically cleansed the Old City of every last Jewish person. Jewish people have always lived in Judea and Samaria—the West Bank—since ancient times. The only time Jewish people have been prohibited from living in the territories in recent decades was during Jordan’s rule from 1948 to 1967. After the Jewish people migrated to Palestine in significant numbers in the late 1800s and miraculously transformed desert and swamps into rich, agricultural land, Arabs came in large numbers from Arab countries for jobs from Jewish people. The fact that the overwhelming majority of Arabs resided only briefly in Palestine is attested to by a one-time special UN decree: that any Arab who had resided in Palestine for only two years before 1948, and then left, would be considered a refugee and so would his descendants! Throughout history, people were never regarded as refugees if they had resided in a country for only two years because they were clearly citizens of other countries!
            “Genetic studies have shown us what I stated above. “Genetic studies of preserved remains in the region show us that there was no inherent genetic difference between the Arabs and Jews back when both groups inhabited the region some 2,000 years ago.”
            False argument! 2000 years ago the Romans were busy taking over the Middle East. Two thousand years ago Romans sacked Jerusalem and renamed Judea “Palestina” to humiliate the Jews they had conquered. Within two hundred years, the Arabian Peninsula became a provence of the Roman empire. Arabs are from Arabia, and Jews are from Judea, the land of Israel. Palestina is neither an Arabic name nor a Muslim name. Jerusalem has never been the Capital of any Arab or Muslim entity. The area has changed hands more than a Las Vegas gambler. The whole mediterranean has mixed genes.

            The people of the mediterranean are of very mixed blood because of all the invasions and rapes over the centuries. The Jewish people are also mixed but have maintained a cultural identity, a history, a language, and a religious philosophy. It is a dynamic consciousness that allows them to become disproportionately doctors, lawyers, educators, scientists, inventors, entertainers,and social and civil rights advocates in many Countries. It is the culture, not the genes.

          • AnOski

            >While I agree with that statement, Muslims believe that every word and command in the Qur’an are the verbatim words of God.

            Just as fundamentalist Jews and Christians do here in the US — and especially in Israel.

            >We are talking about today, right now.

            Are you really going to sit there and say that Israel’s not every bit as much of a theocracy as it is a democracy? If so, I call BS.

            >That is why Hamas can make statements like: No Muslim shall rest until the banner of Islam flies over every inch of the land” The Muslim Brotherhood’s credo was and is, “Allah is our objective; the Quran is our law, the Prophet is our leader; Jihad is our way; and death for the sake of Allah is the highest of our aspirations, and the Muslim Brotherhood’s goal, as stated by Brotherhood founder Hassan al-Banna was to reclaim Islam’s manifest destiny, an empire, stretching from Spain to Indonesia.

            Just like some Jews say “Death to the Arabs, let’s wipe them from the face of the Earth.” Just like some fundamentalist Christians go around harassing gay folks, driving them to the point of suicide. You can pick the extremes out of any group, quote their inflammatory words, and cry foul against the whole group, but that’s called racism, bro. Not cool. [Technically if you target an ethnicity like Jews or homosexuals it's not "racism," but that's a semantic difference.]

            >You got things a little backwards, Palestine is not a real Country.

            You’re right. I’d put it in the box with Taiwan, Tibet, and a few others. Countries that may or may not be sovereign depending on who you ask, but generally the folks who deny it have large personal gains at stake.

            >You cannot even name a Palestinian leader prior to Arafat, and he was an Egyptian Arab.

            It’s hard to have a real leader when the entity that is Israel brands them all terrorists and attempts to assassinate them, often successfully.

            >The Jewish people had the Hebrew University in Jerusalem prior to becoming a State.

            So….you can’t have a country before you have a university? Now you’re just being silly.

            >Before 1948, Jews in that area were known as Palestinians.

            Palestinian Jews. They were always big on that latter part.

            >The Jewish newspaper, today called the Jerusalem Post, was called the Palestine Post. The Jewish-founded electric company was Palestine Electric. The Palestinian Symphony Orchestra was all Jewish.

            You’ve got to recognize that you’re talking about a group of relatively metropolitan Europeans (Jews) who moved into a complex, but simple agrarian society. The fact that they wanted a newspaper and electricity more than the locals does not mean that they had the right to kill 3/4 of a million of them and take over the country. When you look at what you’re actually suggesting, it’s practically insane.

            >During World War II, the British army had a Palestinian Brigade made up entirely of Palestinian Jewish volunteers.

            And why do you think that is? How do you think the Jews living in Palestine prior to 1948 enacted the takeover of half of the country (area) against the will of approximately 85% of the population? Military force. That’s just good planning. Zionists had the weapons, training, organization, and plans in place when Britain handed over the keys. All that was left was to sweep the unprepared inhabitants….wherever they wanted.

            Which is what they did. 750,000 died in the process, but making a country is hardly ever clean business. At least they were ‘just Arabs,’ right? Jewish blood is worth so much more.

            >In 1948, Jordan illegally occupied Jerusalem and ethnically cleansed the Old City of every last Jewish person.

            1) It was all-out war.
            2) That’s not even true.

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_for_Jerusalem_(1948)

            Nice try, though.

            >Jewish people have always lived in Judea and Samaria—the West Bank—since ancient times.

            Native Americans have occupied the Americas for some 35,000+ years.

            >The only time Jewish people have been prohibited from living in the territories in recent decades was during Jordan’s rule from 1948 to 1967.

            Right, because the Jordanians had just fought a war with them and could see what was happening to their brethren just across the border. Prior to Ottoman rule and the imposing of district borders, the peoples of Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine, and even Syria to some extent, often traded and intermarried. Those practices were somewhat limited with the advent of more modern borders, but were only truly inhibited when Israel was formed.

            Yes, the Arabs effectively locked them in. Does it surprise you? Look at what Israel did to the Arab population of Palestine in 1947-1948. They murdered nearly a quarter of them in cold blood and herded them into internment camps.

            I wouldn’t treat Israel as my friend after watching Israel do what it did to people like me. And I’m biased towards Israel, my mother’s side of the family being Jewish.

            >After the Jewish people migrated to Palestine in significant numbers in the late 1800s and miraculously transformed desert and swamps into rich, agricultural land, Arabs came in large numbers from Arab countries for jobs from Jewish people.

            This is about as untrue as anything could be. The coastal plains of Palestine (generally West of the West Bank, continuing to some extent North and South) have been arable for thousands of years, and have been farmed as such.

            Much of the disquiet amongst Arabs around the end of the 19th century was because farm and orchard leases that had remained within families for hundreds of years were being purchased outright by immigrating Jews. While not illegal, the idea of this occurring was completely alien within their culture, and resulted in some unrest, largely because successful families were being turned out of their homes and livelihoods with no warning. In many cases, the leaseholders lived in urban centers far from their properties, and the transactions were completed with no knowledge of the holders of the centuries-old leases.

            But, by 1947, Jews controlled approximately 24% of the region’s arable land, so your claim is irrelevant anyway.

            I was able to find one historical reference to swamps being drained after 1948. Lake Hula.

            From Wikipedia:
            “Though initially perceived as a great national achievement for Israel, with time it became evident that the benefits from transforming the “wasteland” of Lake Hula and its swamps were limited. In 1963, a small (3.50 km²) area of recreated papyrus swampland in the southwest of the valley was set aside as the country’s first nature reserve. Concern over the draining of the Hula was the impetus for the creation of the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel.[9]Draining the Hula turned out to be a mixed blessing. Water polluted with chemical fertilizers began flowing into Lake Kinneret, lowering the water quality of its water. The soil, stripped of natural foliage, was blown away by strong winds in the valley, and the peat of the drained swamp ignited spontaneously, causing underground fires that were difficult to extinguish.[10][edit]
            In short, most of the arable land in Palestine is arable due to the presence of water — and the barren land is deemed such due to a lack of it.

            You seem to be claiming that the Zionists can somehow justify the deaths of 750,000 Palestinians (in 1947-48, not counting later deaths) as well as the continued imprisonment of millions of them up to the present day with the fact that they drained a swamp and brought newspapers to a rural society.

            All I see in your statements is this:

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White_man%27s_burden

            >The fact that the overwhelming majority of Arabs resided only briefly in Palestine is attested to by a one-time special UN decree: that any Arab who had resided in Palestine for only two years before 1948, and then left, would be considered a refugee and so would his descendants! Throughout history, people were never regarded as refugees if they had resided in a country for only two years because they were clearly citizens of other countries!

            I don’t really see what your point is here, but I would point out that neighboring countries were not enamored with the idea of accepting hundreds of thousands of Palestinian refugees, so deeming them “refugees” didn’t help their cause as it might today.

            >False argument! 2000 years ago the Romans were busy taking over the Middle East.

            Which means what? The Romans had a unique way of claiming territory for their time. They conquered local armies and governments, installed the facilities necessary to maintain control, and moved on.

            >Two thousand years ago Romans sacked Jerusalem and renamed Judea “Palestina” to humiliate the Jews they had conquered.

            Yep.

            >Within two hundred years, the Arabian Peninsula became a provence of the Roman empire.

            Yep.

            >Arabs are from Arabia, and Jews are from Judea, the Kingdom of Israel.

            That’s where you’re wrong. At the time, borders were not nearly so clean cut, and peoples were not nearly so well defined.

            >Palestina is neither an Arabic name nor a Muslim name. Jerusalem has never been the Capital of any Arab or Muslim entity.

            Well, I can’t speak for the etymology of “Palestine,” but while Palestine was an Ottoman province, Jerusalem was its urban center. It was later the largest city in the ‘region’ until the British Mandate better defined its borders in the 20th century. At which point, while Jerusalem wasn’t a capitol by name, it served that purpose for both the occupying British as well as the Zionists who later took the country over by force.

            Of course, there’s a reason that Jerusalem is not internationally recognized as Israel’s capitol. I wonder why that is….

            >The area has changed hands more than a Las Vegas gambler.

            Well, you just described transactions that happened two thousand years ago. In recent times, the inhabitants (predominantly Arabs) were not molested under Ottoman or British rule. The only group to practice the ethnic cleansing of the country/region within the past 2,000 years is the Zionist movement.

            >The whole mediterranean has mixed genes. Cleopatra was the last Pharaoh of Egypt and she was Macedonian/Greek. Then came the Romans, and then the Arab/Islamic invasions. I did not fabricate this history.

            Well, “Arab/Islamic” invasions is a bit of a misnomer when Judea is believed by most historians to have been a single city-state, and the rest of the region was most likely in the thrall of Islam, but it is generally a messy area. Of course, almost every inch of Europe has a more confused history, and the same goes for much of Asia and South America, but….this is kind of a side issue.

            >The people of the mediterranean are of very mixed blood because of all the invasions and rapes over the centuries. The Jewish people are also mixed but have maintained a cultural identity, a history, a language, and a religious philosophy.

            Unlike the native Palestinians? Seriously, read this:
            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White_man%27s_burden

            Then read this book. I had to for a course here: http://www.ucpress.edu/book.php?isbn=9780520203709

            >It is a dynamic consciousness that allows them to become disproportionately doctors, lawyers, educators, scientists, inventors, entertainers,and social and civil rights advocates in many Countries. It is the culture, not the genes.

            Because they don’t have any of those in other cultures? I don’t see how any of this unjustified information could justify the death of 750,000 native Palestinians.
            >Should the Arabs be entitled to keep Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Egypt, Sudan, Libya, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon and Iraq.

            I guess not. Maybe, just maybe — if they had more lawyers and entertainers — they would be able to walk free from their violent internment and rightly claim their homeland.

            >If Jews are to be sent to Europe, shouldn’t the Arabs be sent back to Arabia?

            Again, I’m going to have to say that no one is calling for the Jews to be shipped anywhere. They should be free to do whatever they want — once they give back these poor peoples’ land. Not only did they violently take it and kill their brethren, but they have kept them under lock and key in abhorrent conditions for decades. The Jews should be free to stay if they choose. However, I don’t think most Palestinians suffer from Stockholm Syndrome.

            >Your response was again false. Those Countries were not Arab before the Islamic invasions.

            How far back are you looking historically? Are you actually trying to justify a modern claim to Israel with a kind of “Jews were here at one point in the past prior to a later influx of Arabs” sort of a claim? I was thinking as far back as Ottoman times.

            Anything further, and you should just leave the US any way you can, because those Native Americans have got one hell of a better claim to this land than you do.

            The difference between the US and Israel is that the native Palestinians make up a significant portion of the current population of the region, and they are violently sequestered in camps, treated as subhumans, and periodically shelled, causing thousands of deaths.

            Even we don’t treat Native American’s *that* poorly.

            Generally speaking, you have some very deep-seated misconceptions about what Palestine was like prior to Zionist immigration. You also seem to think that the Jews were beneficial to the local Arabs. While this was true in some very minor ways, the cumulative deaths of nearly a million native Palestinians over the past fifty years, as well as their continued imprisonment, is simply not justifiable. What is currently taking place in Israel is the continuing ethnic cleansing of the country. If you think that some ridiculous archaic claims to the land justify the current atrocities, I can only assume that you are too blinded by your own personal biases to view the issue rationally.

          • peepsqueek

            You throw a lot of stuff out there hoping some of the partial facts and misinformation will stick, to make your point. There is nothing in Israel’s policy which calls for the obliteration of another state. There is nothing in the Jewish teachings or Israeli police that call for the banner of their people to fly over every inch of the land (Middle East) or to conquer some one else’s land. Under Jordanian Rule, it was against the law to sell and to a Jew in the West Bank. Stop the propaganda!

            In the geographical area of Israel how man homes and businesses did Arabs actually own prior to 1948? There are 1.5 million Arabs living in Israel proper today as citizens. They are living on the same land that you say was taken from Arabs. Think about it. Stop the propaganda!

            When you refer to Palestinian refugees, you are talking about Egyptians (Gaza) and Jordanians (West Bank). Almost 80% of Jordan is historical Palestine, making it virtually a Palestinian Country, granted by the UN. So stop the Propaganda.

            Most Palestinian Arab deaths are caused by other Palestinians Arabs. Palestinians provoke known responses from the Israelis by targeting civilians with rockets, that is how they get themselves killed as well . So stop the propaganda.

    • Dan Spitzer

      Hey Brown Student: it’s the Muslims who regularly call for Jewish ethnic cleansing and the elimination of the infidel. You NEVER hear Israeli Jews calling for that. See the reference I just posted about Pakistani neighbors threatening to burn alive the family of an 11 year old Pakistani Christian girl charged with “blasphemy.” That’s typical of Islamofacistic savagery.

      It’s such bullshit that a pro-Palestinian “brown student” would even consider taking a Birthright trip. Please spare us your fabricated, excreted toilet waste.

      As for reconciliation, who walked away from the offer at Camp David by Bill Clinton and the then Israeli PM Barak of Gaza+ 97% of Palestinian contiguous territory in the W. Bank + a capital in E. Jerusalem (something Palestinians will NEVER be offered again, nor should they be)? Yassir Arafat, a butcher who stole his own people blind (his widow is now one of the richest women in France–wonder where the bitch acquired the money?) and who said he would never reach reconciliation with the Israelis until all the children born to irresponsible non-birth control advocating Palestinians could move into Israel proper, transforming Israel into a state with a Palestinian majority.

      So don’t give us any of your written diarrhea dysentery about who is truly obstructing peace, you ignorant anal passage.

      • Jason Novotny

        Speaking of diarrhea, Dan Spitzer sure is full of it

        • Dan Spitzer

          What an intelligent comment, Mr. Novotny. I sure hope that doesn’t reflect a Cal education. On the other hand, if you went to Cal it appears you majored in either ethnic studies or peace an justice. Those morons will graduate anyone…

          • AnOski

            It’s amusing because you didn’t seem to read the very post you were replying to:

            “The ideological us-against-the-world mindset held by many of the folks commenting disparagingly here should have long ago become arcane…”

            And yet your reply rehashes that very same ideology, which you’ve already posted on here more than a few times.

            Your personal jibes ready for anyone who disagrees with you only further the notion that you have no place here. Shove off.

      • Terry
    • peepsqueek

      To Brown Student-
      There is another side to this story. The question of Statehood was resolved with the 1947 U.N. partition plan (a Jewish State and an Arab State living side by side). However, six Arab armies invaded the newly formed Jewish State, in an ultimately unsuccessful attempt to destroy it. It is ironic that Palestinian Arabs, seek statehood now via a path they have rejected for Israel all these years, while still not recognizing Israel’s right to exist.

      Israel’s international “birth certificate” was validated by all three ancient Biblical texts; Jewish settlement from the time of Joshua onward; the Balfour Declaration of 1917; the San Remo Resolution of 1920; the League of Nations Mandate, which incorporated the Balfour Declaration; the United Nations partition resolution of 1947; Israel’s admission to the UN in 1949; the recognition of Israel by most other states; and, you cannot deny that it is a society created by Israel’s people in decades of thriving, dynamic national existence.
      The last thing I want you to keep in mind is that 99.9% of the Middle East, with its vast oil and gas reserves are controlled by Muslims, where no Jews have a right of self determination.

      Coptic News: “Since Christianity came to Egypt in 57 A.D., we, the Christians of Egypt, have not had conflict with the Jewish people. Copts have been a marginal population held in captivity for sixteen centuries. We constitute the largest non-Arab, non-Moslem minority in the Middle East. The Church of Alexandria, is one of the oldest organization in the Middle East. Despite this distinguished history, it is a church that has been under siege since the Islamic invasion.” – Does Israel still have to explain their position for self determination?

      • AnOski

        See my above reply.

    • H.C.

      well said

  • Dan Spitzer

    This op-ed by Willick is remarkably similar to one which appeared in the Bay Area community’s Jewish magazine, J Weekly, written by a student who also went to Israel on a Birthright tour. There is no question that the hand of pro-Palestinian propagandists such as JVP, SJP and/or Kesher Enoshi is behind this blather, including the disingenuous heading, “Why We Love Israel.”

    Correspondingly, one should look with more than a little skepticism of op-eds such as this.

    And again, on the infamous date of 9/11, remember that the only society in which scores of people danced in the streets following the fall of the Twin Towers was that of the poor, poor put-upon Palestinian people for whom ilk like Willick shill.

  • Dan Spitzer

    Asa down below talks about those who support Israel wanting a “perfect Palestinian society.” No, Asa, the world just wants a society which treats its women, gays and dissidents with some semblance of humanity. The Israelis do all of that.

    Speaking of those poor, poor Palestinians whose alleged deprivations take precedence over America’s sole ally and the only true democracy in the Middle East, Israel, it’s pertinent for readers to note that tomorrow is 9/11. And on that date of Islamofascistic infamy, do please remember that there was one society in the world which danced in the streets just after the World Trade Center buildings toppled, those fine put upon people, the Palestinians. No American or any supporter of civility, humanity, and human rights should ever forget this…

    • Dan Spitzer

      Addendum: Asa wonders if the IDF is truly providing for the security and interests of its own citizens. Only a true retard would think otherwise as w/o the IDF, both the PLA and Hamas who have both pledged to liquidate Israeli Jews would have done so long ago.

  • Guest

    I’ve always been a supporter of Israel but after reading one too many articles like this, this Christian is done with Israel

    http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/world_now/2012/09/christian-monastery-defiled-by-vandals-in-israel.html

    • respectoneanother

      Another Christian will practice what Jesus suggest, “he/she that is without sin among you, let him/her first cast a stone” John 8:7
      Israel like our nation is young, sometimes our young take themselves to seriously and make mistakes of judgement. We can hope that sincere observations like Jason’s may open their minds and their eyes.

      • Calipenguin

        Yet in John 7:24 we see “Judge not according to appearance, but judge righteous judgment”
        Christians are told to judge wisely, not to refrain from all judgment. Christians have no obligation to remain passive just because all mortals have sinned. In fact, Christians are encouraged to use their own intuition to make wise judgments, and not just obey the Pharisees.

  • Sam Greene

    This article couldn’t have come at a better time in my life. I’m glad this can be discussed openly and intelligibly. I only wish that it were written in a slightly more impartially and objectively. The excessive editorializing really deviates away from the point and turns off readers like myself looking for unbiased, fair, and quality reporting. Granted, you are the DailyCal columnist and I admire your courage. Please work on presenting both sides more equitably in your next piece, it will strengthen your take away message. Great piece, Jason.

  • student

    why does the daily cal publish this trash?

    • Another Student

      How is this trash?

    • peepsqueek

      To make you think about what is going on in the world, and hoping there will be some intelligent response.

  • Birthright Israel

    So you’re angered about how “biased” the Birthright speakers were and then write an equally biased, one-sided article slamming the organisation?

    You’re nothing but a sad hypocrite, Jason.

  • Morgan Freeman

    the beauty of rounding.

    I went to the cafe today and bought a coffee gave the barista a five dollar bill the change was 1.74. Tried to hand him a quarter and get two dollars back, but he said sorry and handed me 74 cents in change.

    So i said…

    Wait up, I’m in no rush i’m sure theres a penny in my bag. Why don’t you count out that change on the counter…..

    Little … looked at me an said ok.

    I got my dollar.

    chin chong china man

    sitting on a fence

    tryin’ make a dollar out”a fifteen cents.

    As the song goes….

  • Morgan Freeman

    the beauty of rounding.

    I went to the cafe today and bought a coffee gave the barista a five dollar bill the change was 1.74. Tried to hand him a quarter and get two dollars back, but he said sorry and handed me 74 cents in change.

    So i said…

    Wait up, I’m in no rush i’m sure theres a penny in my bag. Why don’t you count out that change on the counter…..

    Little fucker looked at me an said ok.

    I got my dollar.

    chin chong china man

    sitting on a fence

    tryin’ make a dollar out”a fifteen cents.

    As the song goes….

  • Dan Spitzer

    I did a quick Internet search for other Willick columns and am unsurprised to see that he justified the Black Student Union’s invitation for the anti-Semitic Louis Farrakhan to come to Cal to speak. And, surprise, Willick condemned Tikvah for criticizing the BSU’s invitation to Farrakhan. Yes, Mr. Willick apparently loves those who despises Jews as he does show his contempt for Israeli Jews.

    Mr. Willick, you have been outed. You no more love Israel (despite the disingenuous title of your op-ed) than does David Duke.

    http://www.dailycal.org/2012/03/07/farrakhan-and-uc-berkeleys-free-speech-fallacy/

    • peepsqueek

      I will tell you what a disgrace is: When AIDS was a predominant virus in the gay community, Black Muslim leader Louis Farrakhan said that it was God’s will, but when it became an epidemic in the Black Community, he said that it was invented by Jews. My point is that all religious moralists love their freedom to express what ever is convenient at the moment, without regard to the good people who are damaged by their ignorant tirades.

      • Dan Spitzer

        The BSU and MSU who brought the anti-Semitic ignoramus Louis Fart-His-Can to campus are far more bigoted than those they accuse of discriminating vs them.

  • Arafat

    Jason writes, “He suggested that the idea of land for peace is an ignorant fantasy of the far left.”
    Well, gosh, Jason it is.
    Land for peace. Like in Gaza? Where Israel gave land for rockets? Or what about southern Lebanon where Israel gave land for Hezbollah having more long-range rockets than anyone can possibly count.
    Gee, Jason, do you REALLY trust these rockets in the hands of Hezbollah? For if you do then there is really not a lot of room left for discussion, or, at least, discussion that has any bearing to the real world.

  • Arafat

    Jason apparently is offended by the truth. Not surprising. He goes to Berkeley where pie in the sky is accepted as reality, or at least a real possibility. The Berkeley of the 1960s being a case in point. The students then marched for one ideal after another. Shouting out and FIGHTING over this right or that right, for this economic injustice or that one. And what became of those student idealists? The real world happened.
    Now many of these students are investment bankers living in gated communities, or lawyers or lobbyists or the like. Isn’t time travel fun!

    • Guest

      Jason is one of those self-hating armchairs liberals. Very pathetic.

  • Arafat

    Jason writes, “On one of the first nights of the trip, we were shepherded into a room to watch a presentation about modern Islam. I expected this to be an objective and informative presentation, perhaps delivered by a Muslim, in an otherwise heavily biased trip — a type of defense against charges that Birthright has an ideological agenda. I was wrong. The cover slide of the presentation bore the words “Modern Islam” — and a picture of the twin towers collapsing. The presentation was as offensive — and racially charged — as the cover slide suggested. The speaker, an Orthodox Jew, showed us clips of radical Islamic clerics on anti-Semitic diatribes while suggesting that those opinions were held by most Arabs and that Jihad against the West is part of mainstream Islam.”
    ^^^^^^^^^^^
    Probelm is, Jason, this is true. “Modern” Islam (whatever modern means) is a supremacist, hate-filled movement. Find me ONE modern Muslim country where this is not so. Where people are free to leave Islam without fear of physical harm, where Jews, gays or women are treated as equals, where diversity is increasing instead of declinging rapidly. I gurantee you for every country you can name I can name a dozen+ where the opposite is true.

  • Heather

    Oh, and one more thing. Just because Jason had the *audacity* to start a debate on his birthright trip and to not take what he heard from birthright speakers as Gospel-truth, does not mean that he hates himself or other Jews or disregards the Jewish history of oppression. To call him “self-hating” and “a dishonest asshole” is to dismiss his point of view and invalidate his opinion. Shame on you, commenters.

    • Jason Novotny

      Agreed!!

    • Guest

      He’s “a dishonest asshole [or an obtuse ass]” for his faux outrage about hearing the pro-Israel point of view from a pro-Israel group funding his trip.

      Try to get your facts right, Heather.

      • Heather

        Hoping that–despite the fact that his trip was sponsored by pro-Israel groups–the commentary he would be presented with on his trip would be at least to some degree unbiased and that his hosts would make an effort to include alternative viewpoints (in this case, the viewpoint of the very people they were discussing) does not make Jason a “dishonest asshole.” It makes him an optimistic young student, not a cynical commenter hiding behind the veil of anonymity.

        • Guest

          A very idealistic hope that is, Heather. Unless he’s an idiot, Jason knew what he was getting into when he signed up for this all expenses paid trip from Birthright. To later whine and moan about how Israelis harassed by Palestinians eager to wipe them off the face of the earth are unwilling to put in a good word about Palestinians reflects how Jason is a self-hating partisan hack who went on this trip with the ulterior motive of smearing Birthright.

          That might make him an “optimistic” student in your eyes, but that makes him a “dishonest asshole” or “an obtuse ass” in mine.

        • I_h8_disqus

          Heather, privacy rights are a very important part of this country. Your negative comment about anonymous posters would indicate that you don’t like the idea of a right to privacy. That isn’t very progressive. Especially, when your user ID is just as anonymous.

      • asa_zernik

        There’s a difference between pro-Israel and pro-Gush Katif. To expect the former without the latter is neither dishonest nor obtuse.

    • Calipenguin

      Heather has a good point. It’s hard for members of a group to understand why someone of that group would publicly disagree or criticize that group. That’s why terms like “Uncle Tom” and “self-hating Jew” are used. Historically the Western European Jews who immigrated to America (speaking Yiddish) strove for acceptance among Anglo-Saxon communities and were not crazy about Zionism, unlike Eastern European Jews who strongly advocated for Israel. Jason may truly feel that the path of appeasement and liberalism will win over Palestinian acceptance in the end, despite decades of terrorism against Israelis. Maybe Jason feels little connection to the former Iron Curtain Jews who immigrated to Israel, and thus does not hate himself or his Western European Jewish roots at all. I get all that. However, what I can’t understand is why so many Jews in the peace-at-any-cost camp choose to ignore the very real threat posed by Islamic fundamentalism, Pan-Arabism, and the Shiite resurgence. We know what Gandhi said about an eye for an eye. We also know what Churchill said about appeasement. Jason is searching for answers, he seems to understand Israel’s problems, and about the only thing we know for sure is that Obama didn’t do much during his Presidency to make Israel safer or promote dialogue with the Palestinians.

      • adsadjh

        Exactly. It’s because Jason’s ancestors were lucky enough to get out before they experienced the true capacity of the world to hate Jews–that’s why they never instilled in their piece of shit descendant a unquenchable desire to create and defend a Jewish state, where Jewish life is secured by force of arms.

      • asa_zernik

        My ancestors (some of whom survived to tell me about it) were not so lucky – but while they (and I, and, it seems, Jason) are in favor of the Zionist principle of a Jewish state, we are not all in favor of a permanent occupation and the disenfranchisement of millions of people in the name of a maximalist territorial ideal of ארץ ישראל השלמה.

  • Heather

    Good on you Jason, for publishing this on a campus (my campus) that is far less than welcoming to non Tikvah-centered discourse. My boyfriend (an Israeli citizen) went on a birthright trip last year and had a similar, though less propaganda-laden experience. Luckily, after years of learning Hebrew, reading Israeli newspapers, and educating himself about Israeli political and peace processes, he was in a position to objectively evaluate what he heard. Unfortunately for many of the Jewish-American kids brought on these sponsored trips, this is their first taste of Israel and their closest encounter with the occupation. I’m not surprised that some were brought to tears. That’s what happens with youth meets a well-oiled and well-funded propaganda machine that is not, in the slightest, interested in hearing alternative viewpoints or working toward peaceful conflict resolution. Again, thank you Jason for this fair, necessary, and well-informed op-ed.

    • Dan Spitzer

      “Less welcoming to non Tikvah centered discourse?” Come, come Heather. You know that the loudest and most intrusive voices on campus when it comes to Israel are SJP and their affiliates at Hillel, Kesher Enoshi. And we frequently have stories published by your ilk about your pretend “boyfriends,” etc. which you use to spew your nonsense about Israel.

      BTW, Heather, if you are a woman does it not trouble you in the least the deplorable way the Palestinians treat their females? How about some commentary on Arab misogyny if you wish us to believe you are so honest?

      • asa_zernik

        Aforementioned boyfriend speaking here. My first take-away from the
        article is that Jason had a crazy trip organizer – mine (Israel Outdoors
        – which I highly recommend to anyone considering Birthright) was open
        to nuance and okay with presenting an ambiguous view of the conflict. As
        an example, our guide’s introduction to his talk on the Palestinian
        issue was that taking the West Bank was “Israel’s biggest mistake” – and
        before you start yelling about disconnected Tel Avivis, note that this
        is a moshavnik and a reserve captain in the infantry.

        With your
        regard to your whataboutism about women’s rights in the Arab World –
        what, you think this is somehow a justification for Israeli occupation?
        Did I miss when the IDF started promoting Arab women’s liberation, as
        opposed to the security and interests of its own citizens? Is this a
        problem that will somehow get worse if we pull out of the West Bank, or
        are you just demanding that Palestinian society become perfect before it
        is allowed independence?

        • Calipenguin

          Taking the West Bank may seem like a mistake now because of the administrative headaches. However, during the Six Day War the Israelis had to take the territory because Jerusalem was surrounded by hostile Jordanian forces in what is now the West Bank. In any case, King Hussein of Jordan never had legal right to annex the West Bank. The League of Nations and U.N. never gave him authority over the West Bank. One could argue that Israel had no right to take over the West Bank either, and that Arabs living there had never established a sovereign state so the concept of a Palestinian state is entirely contrived. But that’s a debate for another time.

        • Dan Spitzer

          No, I still say pretend boyfriend. Heather probably dregged Asa zernik, if indeed he really exists, from under one of those rocks inhabited by Kesher Enoshi.

  • Jason Novotny

    The biggest problem Israel faces is demographics. Far and away the largest growing group in Israel are the extremist, fanatical Orthodox Jews. They have no useful skills to offer, they suck up public funds from the government to sit around and read the Torah all day, and have tons of children which over time forces Israel into becoming a more extremist nation. I know from friends and news, that enlightened, secular Jews in Tel Aviv find the setters to be an abomination. They are not unlike our own extremists in the US, the anti-intellectual, god fearing hillbillies in the Southern states, that have not welcomed modernity.

    • adsadjh

      The extremist Orthodox Jews who don’t work are almost entirely non-Zionist or virulently anti-Zionist. Religious Zionists hold jobs, serve in the army, etc.

      You don’t know what you’re talking about.

      • Jason Novotny

        Hahaha, ok this must be a joke…

  • Guest

    I expected this to be an objective and informative presentation, perhaps
    delivered by a Muslim, in an otherwise heavily biased trip — a type of
    defense against charges that Birthright has an ideological agenda.

    Birthright is a pro-Israel group funded by Jews who aren’t self-haters. The expectation that Jason would be spoken to by a Palestinian terrorist on a Birthright-funded trip is laughable.

    Jason is either a dishonest asshole or an obtuse ass.

    • asa_zernik

      Ah, so it’s either “Islam=terror” or the person you’re talking to is a Palestinian terrorist. No such thing as moderation allowed. Good to know.

      • Calipenguin

        OK, so one should not generalize. However, the Gaza Palestinians overwhelmingly voted for Hamas, which our government labels a terrorist organization, so one could say that the Gaza Palestinians are terrorists.

  • Guest

    The Birthright Israel program has been criticized for its pre-trip screening process. According to Salon.com,
    political opinions may be taken into account: “Potential candidates who
    are discovered to have a ‘hidden agenda’ are not allowed onto the
    [Birthright] trips”.

    Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Birthright_Israel#Criticism

    Did Jason lie to get into the Birthright program?

  • Cal Student

    As a Jew whose family donates to the Jewish Federation (the organization that sent you on Birthright), I’m pissed that some of my money went to your trip.

    • guest

      Really? In Jason’s own words, it was Birthright’s discourse itself that turned him away for supporting them. Maybe as a donor you should be worried that the organization is not succeeding at its purported goal.

      • Dan Spitzer

        Guest, most American students who take the Birthright trip are delighted with their experience. These put-up commentaries in the DC and J are the first instances of dismay by anyone who has taken the Birthright tour as hundreds of Jews have. I don’t think the propagandists who spew their unbalanced venom in the DC and J are remotely representative of those who have so valued their trip to Israel via Birthright.

        Just imagine an Arab American taking a trip to the Palestinian territories to Syria, Jordan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, etc. There he/she would see treatment of women, gays, and dissidents which one would never remotely find in truly democratic israel.

        • Wolverine One

          I’m not going to bring up Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians — I don’t have to. Your closing statement is so categorically wrong anyone with an internet connection and a few free seconds can find articles just like this one:

          http://www.smh.com.au/world/when-women-and-girls-are-the-enemy-20111118-1nn4d.html

          You can criticize the poor treatment of women and minorities by other religions, but you best not forget it happens in your land of milk and honey too. And it’s getting worse.

          • Arafat

            Their treatment of Palestinians is FAR better than what is meted out by all Muslim countries where Palestinians are refused citizenship.
            Little known fact: In 1991 Kuwait forcibly expelled 400,000 Palestinians living there on temporary visas. They were expelled because Arafat supported Saddam in his war against Kuwait. These Palestinian refugees ended up in one of the more squalid camps in Lebanon.
            Yet Palestinians who are Israeli citizens often support people and commit actions that would be considered treasonous in most Muslim countries, and these Palestinians are respected for their right to express their opinions.
            Maybe Jason should write an article about the Palestinians who were given one week to get the hell out of Kuwait.

          • Dan Spitzer

            Wolverine One, you are pathetic. The US, Britain, even the Scandinavian countries have certain episodes in which misogyny is manifest. Israel is not perfect either in this regard, but to try to compare Israel to the Palestinians when it comes to treatment of women is the worst bullshit of false equivocation anyone could pull out of their ass.

            The Palestinians treat their women barbarically. They are not denied equal job or educational opportunities and are extremely limited in their social freedom. Honor murder of daughters who supposedly have transgressed the will of their father remains widespread with punishment of the father or brother who murders the teenage female of the family met with a slap on the wrist at best.

            We constantly see false equivocation in this day and age and Israel has become repeated the target of such absurd equivocations. Believe me, if you were an Arab female who was aware of freedom for women in the West in general and Israel in particular, you would change places with an Israeli woman, Jewish or Palestinian, in a heartbeat.

          • Dan Spitzer

            To fix the typo, Palestinian women are regularly denied equal job and educational opportunities, if they even believe them to exist, and are quite constricted in virtually every aspect of social freedoms.

  • student

    this is a straightforward account regarding one student’s birthright trip and his reaction to a particular aspect of it which was troubling to him. i don’t see that any of it is particularly controversial; most of his points are entirely reasonable – peace = good, ethnic cleansing = bad – and some are even part of the U.S. official policy on israel, like the fact that continuing israeli settlements in palestinian territories is one of the policies hindering the peace process.
    as someone who’s considering going on birthright, i view this as one more piece of information that can help me make my decision – so thank you jason. it sounds like it was a great experience overall, but that one has to be prepared for a right-wing bias when politics is discussed.

    • Dan Spitzer

      Anyone who uses “ethnic cleansing” in conjuction with Israel, “student” truly tips his hand. It’s therefore reasonable to conclude that you are just another poser pretending like Willick to have some greatly tempered support for Israel.

      I would be shocked if you ever really intended to take a Birthright trip. You are simply another pro-Palestinian propaganda shill pretending to be fair-minded. But your words give you away.

    • I_h8_disqus

      The only side that I have heard talk about ethnic cleansing is the side against Israel. The Jews don’t talk about killing Muslims, but the Muslims sure do talk about killing Jews all the time.

      • janbn

        I guess that you haven’t been to Hebron or other places in the occupied territories where the vile and illegal settlers scrawl their hateful “Death to Arabs” on mosques and walls. A recent article in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz was entitled A Good Jew Hates Arabs. It is too bad that the Birthright folks aren’t filled with brainwashing their young subjects but that is exactly what they are all about. Financed by far right casino mogul Sheldon Adelson Birthright is designed not to open young minds but to close them. BTW there are several books written by Israeli historians who document the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians in 1948. Read these books by Benny Morris, Ilan Pappe and Avi Shlain if you dare. I’ll bet that these books were not part of the reading list passed out to those who were brainwashed by Birthright.

        I am Jewish but I gave up my so-called “birthright” or “right of return” to a place where none of my family ever lived for as far back as I know while my Palestinian friend, born in Jerusalem, is not allowed to return to the land of her birth. She is the one with the real birthright, not me and not young Jews born in the US.

        • I_h8_disqus

          I can imagine individuals calling for violence just like we have individuals calling for violence against groups in the US. However, you don’t have it as the government’s policy like you do in several Arab countries.

          You should take more time to learn about the three historians you mention. They are just showing that Israel like every government has done some things they shouldn’t, and that some people in the military will do things they shouldn’t do. They want Israel to learn the truth and to not act like barbarians. However, they all point out that they don’t think the Arab leaders want two states. They believe Arabs want the whole thing with Israel gone.

          Sorry your friend is stuck in the situation she is in, but the fault lies with the Arab nations who attacked Israel and caused all this trouble. Without the aggression of the Arab countries, you wouldn’t have Israel acting like a cornered animal.

    • David

      Sounds like this post was posted by the author to back up his own points.

      The bottom line is that this post is narrow-minded, and it highlights one person’s view on a very complicated situation in the Middle East; as if your opinion is holy (no pun intended) in the sense that you are fair, unique, and thought-provoking. In all actuality, you, sir, should be ashamed of yourself for submitting this as “opinion.” It’s slander.

      You make it seem as though Israelis are hateful, thoughtless bigots. Where is your citing that a majority are actually secular? Where are counter arguments or alternative hypothesis? This piece isn’t argumentative, thought provoking, nor responsible. Why don’t you interview one of the patrons in charge of the group and posit a counter argument? Or Rabbis and other leaders on their thoughts. Or interview other students who have gone on the trip and compare it to yours in order to derive who shares your “opinion?” Instead, you paint a horrible picture, meant to boost the attention to your article, using irresponsible journalism.

      Job well done, shock jock. For this temporary boost in ratings, you are now known and discreditable, as well as a bias writer. So enjoy this attention and the heavy cost that came with it. You claim that organizations like Birthright, ethnically charge political issues; but your counter is to write about how wrong these “extremists” are? “Extremists” is such an egocentric, normative, and emotionally-loaded word with no empirical value to define or gauge it. Again, your “opinion” is no longer an opinion when you begin defining entire groups of people as hateful. That is slander, and I hope you see consequences, from your supervisors/editors for your actions; or at the very least, be more responsible in the future.

  • Arafat

    Jason I feel sorry for you when I read your
    so called moderation. With due respect, you have the typical historical Jewish
    minority, “PLEASE LIKE ME” complex and it is so pitiful to read.

    Throughout Jewish History especially in Nazi
    Germany there were those Jews who begged to be accepted and liked by the host
    country’s people. “Like me and I will eat ham for you on Yom Kippur. Like
    me and I will put up a Christmas tree and call it a Hanukah Bush, like me and I
    will only pray one day a week, Sunday if you wish (the early German Reformed
    Jews), etc.” The first Jews to be gassed by Hitler were those Reformers
    (“please like me…”) who were viewed as a major threat by Hitler and
    his Jew hating Nazis.

    Fast forward to today: Here you are
    apologizing for Israel who is expected to live a double standard. Never mind
    the rockets and atrocities implemented by the Palestine people. If you read
    your history parts of Jordan are supposed to include part of Palestine–the
    world has convenient amnesia with this one. In the meantime here you are with
    your “please like me” attitude and no matter what you do they are NOT
    going to like you. You can stand on your head, eat ham and cheese sandwiches and
    they are still going to hate you because you are a Jew, period!

    Look in the mirror and accept that you are a
    Jew. Say it to yourself over and over and perhaps YOU can accept YOURSELF.
    Remember, if Israel disappears (the Jewish Host country) there IS NO place for
    American Jews or the World Jewish community to go in the event of another
    pogrom, anti-Semitic uprising or Holocaust. If there is another anti-Semitic
    uprising you are a Jew to these people no matter how much you apologize or try
    to appease them.

    • adsadjh

      This!

  • Dan Spitzer

    http://www.jweekly.com/article/full/66025/young-american-jews-need-an-informed-introduction-to-isr

    I hope this reference comes out. I didn’t on my two previous posts. If it doesn’t appear in full, go to jweekly.com and reference it under the key word birthright.

  • Dan Spitzer
  • Dan Spitzer

    I noted earlier that another Jewish student had written a similar op-ed for the Bay Area Jewish magazine, “J Weekly.” A student named Rachel Cohen had accompanied fellow Birthright students on a tour of Israel and just last month, wrote similar swill to that of Jason Willick’s op-ed above:
    http://www.jweekly.com/article/full/66025/young-american-jews-need-an-informed-introduction-to-isr

    One can conclude that other than by sheer coincidence, this is all part of a pro-Palestinian effort to promulgate anti-Israeli propaganda. Correspondingly, columns like that of Willick should be read with a jaundiced eye, knowing that the hand of SJP, JVP and or Kesher Enoshi are likely propaganists behind such nonsense.

  • Calipenguin

    Jason went on a free trip paid for by an organization which does not hide its point of view regarding the never-ending war between Israelis and Arabs (and Iranians as well), and he mercilessly criticizes his generous hosts. As an intelligent Cal student did he expect his hosts to bat for the other side? If he was looking for a completely balanced debate on the issues he should have spent his own money to fly to Israel and then spent time in a settlement, then with an Israeli anti-settlement peace group, and finally with a Hamas suicide training school. Only then can he understand the dangers Israelis face every day. Jason sounds disappointed that his attempts at debate fell on deaf ears. Does he expect Muslims on the Hajj to debate the righteousness of Muslim expansionism? There are numerous compelling reasons why Israel has to do what it does, but no one went on that trip for debates. One final thought: If Jason were not a hypocrite, and if he truly wants to see justice, he should withdraw from Cal and give up his apartment to the Native American Indians. After all, Jason is a “settler” who is living on occupied land (Berkeley) that belonged to the Native Americans. He can return to his ancestral homeland of Germany or Wales and complete his Cal degree with an online education program.

    • Cal Student

      Awesome. Couldn’t have said it better myself.

      • Dan Spitzer

        Then, Cal student, you are as intellectually deficient as you have shown yourself to be.

    • Guest

      I think Jason’s point was simply that Birthright presented such a grossly caricatured image of Islam and Palestinians that it does a disservice to its own cause. It’s a valid point even if, ESPECIALLY if you support Israel’s right to defend itself.

      • Calipenguin

        I agree that a caricatured image of anything does a disservice to its own cause. Cal students should be open minded and investigating the skeletons in one’s own ethnic history is a rite of passage for young adults. However, it’s the way Jason accomplished his task that seems contrived. He knew the organizers of the Birthright free trip have a political agenda and yet he tried to goad them anyways to provide fodder for his journalistic hit piece. Would he ever dare to infiltrate a Muslim student group to write an exposé on their unquestioned devotion to Islam? Or maybe he can audit an Asian art class and demand equal time for Renaissance artists. If he wanted a debate he could probably find thousands of Cal students fully equipped to argue either side.

        • Heather

          This was not an “expose” or a “contrived” “hit piece.” Jason went on a birthright trip, as many young Jewish Americans do, and was presented with information from speakers in positions of authority and (supposedly) expertise. He asked them provocative questions. He challenged their assumptions. And he received what he felt was unsatisfactory justification for their beliefs. Asking questions and writing about how authority figures answer those questions is called journalism.

          • Arafat

            Journalism is supposed to include factual information, although we all know journalists rarely make the effort to do so, or are too busy being PC to do so.
            What Jason has done with his article is to completely whitewash Islam and its core tenets and this is the root cause of the problem.
            Jason simply fans the flames of hatred against Israel. That’s not journalism that is propaganda – propaganda along the lines that Goebbels once utilized.
            Tell a big lie often enough…

          • Wolverine One

            I am actually blown away by the extent of your extremism and ignorance. Congratulations Arafat, you have done what few others have ever managed to do. Let me point out everything wrong with what you said:

            1. Journalism: To be clear, this is not journalism it is a column, if you don’t believe me you can scroll to the top of the page. This piece is a well thought out reflection on Jason’s Birthright trip and why he thought it was not very effective.

            2. Whitewashing: Jason is not “whitewashing” islam by saying that a presentation on modern islam that began with a pictures of the twin towers and continued by suggesting that Jihad against the west is a mainstream Islamic belief is as offensive as it is wrong. It is not a core tenet of Islam nor a widely held belief (especially among the millions of muslims already living in America) the west should fall, nor is this backed up by data. http://www2.fiu.edu/~lucasr/II_34_Furia_Lucas.pdf

            3. Propaganda: What? Hatred for Israel? let me quote you part of the article as you clearly didn’t read it, “so did the trip make me love Israel? In some ways, yes. It’s hard to resist the rugged beauty of the desert landscape, the warm beaches of Tel Aviv, the stunning city of Jerusalem and the remarkable accomplishments of Israeli society. But more than love, the trip filled me with fear. Fear that the far right, driven by intolerance and irrationality, will squander Israel’s achievements by leading it down the path to international disrepute and eternal conflict.” There is nothing in there but admiration for what Israel could be and concern for what it may be turning into.

            4. Goebbels: Instead of wasting my time responding to this I’ll leave this hear for you to read and think about what you just wrote.., about a kid Jewish enough to go to Israel on Birthright who almost certainly lost relatives in the holocaust or whose relatives lost friends and loved ones.

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Godwin's_law

            Have a nice day, prick.

          • Heather

            @wolverineone:disqus A hat tip to you, and nothing but love.

          • reztips

            And vomit to you, Heather, you piece of anti-Semitic trash…

          • Arafat

            Wolverine One,
            I do not have time for this today but let me write one thing.
            You’re correct there is nothing in the Qur’an, Hadiths or Sunna which mentions Jihad against the west. These holy books are more generalzied and there was no west back then. These holy books speak of Jihad against all non-Muslims and do not narrow it down to the “west” as you suggest I suggested.
            Pretty clever word games on your part.
            Tell me Wolverine, how do Muslims rationalize the ongoing Jihad in southern Thailand NW China, Southern Russia, Kasmir, Israel, Egypt (against the Copts), Iraq (against the Chaldeans), Syria (against the Christians, Iran (against the Zoroastrians, Sudan (against the black Africans and Animists), Somalia (against the Christians), Nigeria (against the Christians), Pakistan (against the Hindus), Bangladesh (against the Hindus), Afghanistan (against the US -formerly against the Russians), Saudi Arabia (against the Shia), Mali (against non-Islamists), Kenya (against Christians), etc….
            Oh, silly me, this isn’t Jihad against the west, it’s just Jihad as demanded of Muslims by Mohammed and Islam’s holy books.

          • Dan Spitzer

            Explain this, Wolverine One if you believe Palestinians are so badly treated by Israeli Jews. A comprehensive study recently found that Arabs who are Israeli citizens would never leave Israel for the West Bank and feel superior to the Palestinians who live in the territories. Indeed, the study found that 60% of the Palestinians living in Israel wouldn’t even want their daughters to marry Palestinians from the West Bank.
            http://www.jpost.com/MiddleEast/Article.aspx?ID=283849&R=R1

          • Calipenguin

            Wolverine, here are my responses to your points:
            1. Yes this is a column, and Jason had no obligation to research any facts or report truthfully. However, he presented this column as a factual report so the column can still be judged on journalistic standards. Jason was not on a fact-finding mission. He went on the Birthright trip with a bias against the Israeli right wing, so how can it possibly be effective at convincing him to drop his liberalism? Maybe if he met a Uzi-toting Bar Refaeli clone he might have changed his mind, who knows?
            2. Whitewashing: Jason definitely is whitewashing Islam because he refuses to acknowledge the dangers of Arab terrorists against Jews. He only blames right-wing Jews without delving into the root cause of that intolerance. Israelis have a good reason to be intolerant. How long could we Bears tolerate missiles raining down on our dorms and cafes? How many children can we tolerate to see blown up on ACTransit? When a large majority of Gaza Palestinians vote for Hamas, a terrorist organization, shouldn’t that qualify Palestinians as right-wing hatemongers? Yet Jason only blames his own people for the rain of terror (and I do mean rain). He doesn’t understand that giving in to right-wing Arab demands only emboldens those Arabs to make more demands. There is no left-wing equivalent of Jason in Gaza trying to disarm the terrorists or asking questions like “why can’t we just accept the Jews and all get along?”
            3. Propaganda: Since Jason puts the blame squarely on Israel’s right wing without mentioning Palestinian terrorists and Arab right wing dictators how can this column not be labeled propaganda? He also labels Jewish settlement of the West Bank as “ethnic cleansing”, without acknowledging that the Arab King Hussein of Jordan had already ethnically cleansed the West Bank of all Jews in 1948, kicking them all out to create an Arab-only territory. Why would he ignore this act of ethnic cleansing against his own people, which occurred less than four years after the Holocaust? In fact, Jason is as biased as the guide he accuses of intolerance since Jason never once challenged Palestinian terrorism.
            4. Goebbels: On this I agree, we face Godwin’s Law and a more accurate description of Jason’s intent is needed. He holds no malice against his own kind. He simply believes appeasement and weakness would serve his people better in the long run, and history should be forgotten to smooth out the future. He is willing to stake Israel’s survival on the existence of many Palestinian and Iranian liberals who feel as he does.

  • I_h8_disqus

    Jason, next summer you should take the Birthright equivalent trip to Iran or Syria. See how they describe Israel and the Jews.

    • adsadjh

      win

  • Arafat

    Jason is your typical liberal. While Muslims are destroying Mali and killing those who refuse islam, Jason fans the flames of hatred against Israel.
    While Islamists in Egypt and forcibly rape and/or convert the dying Coptics of Alexandria, liberals (like Jason) look the other way and shine the spotlight on Israel instead.
    While Obama’s four-year-old promise to resolve the Sudanese conflict and massive Islamic-induced refugee problem, liberals forget these promises and focus on delgitimizng Israel instead.
    While Islamists and fascist muslim fight each other in Syrai, the liberals of the world close their eyes as to why they are doing this.
    While Muslims are slowly and methodically killing off Buddhists in Southern Thailand, and Hindus in Pakistan, and women most anywhere, and gays wherever they can get their hands on them, and Jews, and atheists and Zoroastrians, ChaldAssyrians, Kurds and Amrneians, people like Jason choose to criticize Israel in their editorials.
    Islam’s prophet was not like Moses, Jason. Mohammed enslaved people, he raped women slaves, he demanded his followers wipe out entire villages and steal anything of value there. It is no wonder that with a prophet like this and holy books that insist followers do much of the same that Israel is less than perfect, but let’s march lock-step with all the other liberals: ignore reality and do what it is that will make people think we’re smart and cool.

  • Arafat

    Jason, Jason, Jason…your relatives are rolling in their graves, be they relaitves in graves in Latvia, Lithuania, Polan, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Libya, Yemen,Egypt, Russia, England, Spain or elsewhere; for these are all places where Jews have been killed.
    I’ve read about how Jews defended the Nazis. The Jews said things like, Hiterl doesn’t really mean what he is saying” or They’re all just blowing off steam” and suchlike. But when Muslim leaders and imams ALL call out for the elimination of Israel, Jason chooses to pretend they’re just kidding. When ALL Palestinians refuse to accept Israel’s right to exist – both Hamas, Fatah among others Jason pretends they’re just kidding. When Iran threatens genocide and the entire Muslim world either applauds or tacitly approves Jason chooses to whitewash it as if it were nothing more than a minor hiccup with no eal baring to the history of Jewish killers and anitSemites.
    Jason, you can choose to live in fantasy-land if that is your wont, but I’m not going to sit on my hands and let you publish your pompous stupidity without rebuttal.

  • Dan Spitzer

    The columnist fails to realize somehow that Israel too has its extremists just as we have in the US with the idiots of Occupy and the Tea Party. Why he should use the examples cited to be representative of the Israeli mainstream seem to reveal his ties to the pro-Palestinian morons SJP and Kesher Enoshi.

    The column simply was not called for given Willick’s lack of understanding and any semblance of looking at the Israeli political perspective as a whole. Indeed, the majority of Israelis are quite critical of the settlements. But since they make up but 1.6% of the West Bank, they are hardly a primary obstacle to peace.

    The principle obstruction to peace is the Palestinian leadership. Arafat conclusively demonstrated at Camp David that only a one state “solution” with Palestinians making up an Arab majority in Israel was acceptable to the PLA and the so-called moderate Abbas, who consistently praises Palestinian terrorists and honors them in innumerable ways and the elected Palestinian leader in Gaza of Hamas call for the genocide of Jews both within Israel in particular and the world in general. These perspectives represent the true feelings of the Palestinians who elected these anti-peace thugs and not the few Israelis of whom Willick speaks who are emphatically not representative of the vast majority of Israeli Jews.

    BTW, a similar column written by another Jew (almost a copy) appeared in J Magazine a couple of weeks ago. Hence such columns appear to demonstrate the hand of SjP, Kesher Enoshi, JVP and other anti-Israel organizations in the writing of this erroneous piece of propaganda.

    • test

      “But since they make up but 1.6% of the West Bank, they are hardly a primary obstacle to peace.” 1.6% of the land or the population? And in any case, how can you have a two-state solution when one of the states’ map looks like gruyere cheese?

      • Calipenguin

        Considering that Hamas and Fatah would kill each other if united, I fail to see how Palestinians can even ask for their own united state with a straight face.

        • Arafat

          Hamas and Fatah kill one another? Quit interjecting facts into this discussion. This discussion is about fairy tales and the usual Berkeley BS.
          Actually this discussion is like the discussion in Europe before Hitler invaded Czechoslovakia. That discussion was similarly deatched from reality. Remember Neville Chamberlain’s proclamation about “Hitler was a man we could trust.”?
          This is the same fantasy thinking Jason buys into.

      • Dan Spitzer

        1.6% of the land currently called the West Bank. In the year 2000 at Camp David, Bill Clinton, the then Israeli PM Barak, and Arafat had agreed on a contiguous West Bank and Gaza, giving the Palestinians all of Gaza and 97% of the current West Bank, allowing for some territorial trade-offs. The problem was not the territorial agreement. The obstruction to peace was Arafat’s demands of a “One State Solution” providing for the millions of Palestinians born outside of Israel since 1948 to move back to Israel-proper. The result of this “Right of Return” would lead to an Arab majority in Israel. Abbas, the so-called moderate who now heads Arafat’s party, believes in this and, of course, Hamas, believes in the liquidation of Jews both in Israel and the entire planet.

        Don’t fool yourself into believing the Palestinian propaganda that the settlements are the real issue. Just ask SJP and JVP members what they think and they will candidly tell you that Israel should be a single state with an Arab majority.

  • guest

    People, when you have the most polarizing issue in recent history, such a column is as ‘balanced’ as it gets. Enjoy it (oh, and good job, Jason).

    Yes, it’s entirely possible for a liberal society with a great knowledge economy to be politically dominated by religious extremists with a colonial/expansionist mindset. You don’t even need to go as far as Israel to see that.

  • adsadjh

    You’re an idiot. When it was becoming clear that Nazism was moving across Europe, many Jews said ‘oh, the Nazis aren’t so bad–after all, the Germans are a civilized people who gave the world Mozart and Kant.’ They perished in the killing fields and the gas chambers just like their more sober-minded brethren. You’re a Jew, Jason, they’re not going to give a shit what kind of goody-goody liberal you are. You’re an infidel to them and they will enslave or kill you as soon as they can. It’s what mainstream Islam teaches.

    If you’re fine with being a slave or a sheep walking to the slaughter, go for it. But there are those of us who are fighting, whether Serbians in Kosovo, Syrian Christians fighting the murderous ‘Arab Spring’ in their country, Jews standing up against the weight of the entire Moslem world in Israel, and even the millions of Europeans waking up to the threat that Islam poses to the West.

    • adsadjh

      But ultimately, the most pathetic thing is that you’re a traitor to your own people. There’s probably nothing sadder than a man who betrays his own kind. At least the Moslem terrorists have the balls to fight for their own people.

      • aweilfw

        since when was it factually accurate to clump all Islamic people as a “they” who want to kill and enslave Jews?

        • Dan Spitzer

          Arab political leaders, and a majority of Palestinians, have expressed this time and again. You are truly ignorant of reality and must not be aware of either history or contemporary news if you don’t realize this.

        • adsadjh

          Nobody did that. But Islam, as it was written and as it is taught most of the time, calls for holy war against the infidel–a war that can only end with the annihilation or enslavement of the infidel population.

      • Wolverine One

        There’s a grand wizard somewhere in Louisiana who’s day you just made. Maybe you two can bond over your dislike of “the brown people.”

        • adsadjh

          Moslems can be, and are, of all races, including whites. There are more and more white converts to Islam. Race-baiting fail.

          • Wolverine One

            “Traitor to your own people,” “betrays his own kind,” “fight for their own people.” Please: as if ones religion is the only thing that defines them. There was a subtext in your comment and you know it.

    • Guest

      Race traitor and ‘self-hating’ are really last resort insults of the extremist.

  • Asdfasd

    As a foreign policy nerd, I was braced for a right-wing circle jerk. How pleasantly I was surprised to be wrong.

    • I_h8_disqus

      You enjoy the left-wing circle jerk more?

      • Asdfasd

        I prefer reality-based discourse.

        • reztips

          This isn’t “reality.” It’s Palestinian propaganda…

          • AnOski

            Read about it. They’re called books. Rather less propaganda than the nearly exclusively pro-Israeli material in American media.

        • I_h8_disqus

          I think to get an idea of reality, Jason should visit some Arab countries next summer. Based on history, Israel is acting just like we would expect a heavily persecuted group to act. The country came into existence after Germany and the USSR gradually took away the rights of Jews and then killed almost as many Jews as live in Israel now. The rest of the world watched as this happened. Then as soon as the country was created, the Arabs invaded, and called for the destruction of the Jews left from the WWII pogrom. Since then, Israel faced more invasions and more calls for the elimination of all Jews. Do you really blame them for not wanting to give Arabs more land or power? The West Bank was only taken as a result of Arabs attacking. Do you really expect Israel to give back something they captured when they were attacked? Maybe if the Arab nations paid Israel for losses from the war, and would stop talking about attacking again. Do you really expect Israel to give anything back when Iran is again talking about attacking?

          • AnOski

            >The country came into existence after Germany and the USSR gradually took away the rights of Jews and then killed almost as many Jews as live in Israel now. The rest of the world watched as this happened. Then as soon as the country was created, the Arabs invaded, and called for the destruction of the Jews left from the WWII pogrom.

            The trouble is that you leave out the details of the rather violent creation of Israel, in which tens of thousands of indigenous Palestinians were murdered, hundreds of thousands were displaced. The surrounding Arab countries invaded because of many reasons; chief among them was a shared sense of injustice at these foreigners who, at the time of the British mandate, owned some 17% of the country legally. By law, these people were somehow deeded roughly half of the country, and immediately started displacing the Arabs who had lived and worked on family farms for generations.

            >Since then, Israel faced more invasions and more calls for the elimination of all Jews. Do you really blame them for not wanting to give Arabs more land or power?

            As a religiously ambiguous person (father = Christian/Catholic parents, mother’s side = Jewish, personally…eh), I think I’ve been raised with a good mix of both sides of the debate. I was raised largely with a pro-Israel viewpoint. But, in high school, I spent some time in Europe, and BBC news showed the strangest things — I’d hear about the conflict, and usually saw footage of youngish Palestinians throwing rocks at tanks and heavily armed soldiers. I wound up writing a report on the conflict summarizing known deaths on both sides, and…as of mid 2008, the ratio of Palestinian civilian deaths to Israeli civilian deaths due to the conflict was just shy of 100:1. It makes sense when you realize that the touted Hezbollah rockets typically kill a few civilians per year (literally 1-2), but the coordinated and well-armed Israeli incursions into the densely populated areas in which the Palestinians are now confined take the lives of hundreds (and sometimes thousands) of people. The largest terrorist attacks usually kill as many innocent people as a single bomb or missile fired into a residential block. The main difference between the two is that the Palestinians don’t have a real military, so when they attack as best they can, it’s deemed terrorism, and when the Israelis do so with their army, it’s called military retaliation.

            >The West Bank was only taken as a result of Arabs attacking. Do you really expect Israel to give back something they captured when they were attacked?

            Well, that’s kind of racist. Jordan attacks, so lets take away the land of the indigenous Arabs, because they’re all the same? Egypt attacks, so….

            As someone who was raised with my grandparents’ stories of Siberian work camps and fleeing for their lives…several times…what I see when I hear and read about the current conflict is people of my own culture committing similar atrocities to those they so recently escaped from. The Israelis have superior technology, organization, and military might, and they are squeezing the indigenous peoples out slowly, with propaganda, racism, and brute military force.

            >Maybe if the Arab nations paid Israel for losses from the war, and would stop talking about attacking again.

            The land that Israel stole from Palestinians each time (to say nothing of land claimed from Jordan and Lebanon) would more than pay for such losses. While you seem to have a basic understanding of how wars work, you seem to be pitifully educated about the history of the region. I would suggest reading up on it before offering solutions to the current deep-seated conflict.

            >Do you really expect Israel to give anything back when Iran is again talking about attacking?

            What does Iran have to do with the indigenous Arab farmers who had lived and worked on their family farms for time immemorial? You don’t seem to get that the generalized Arab hatred of Israel is largely due to how Israel has been a rather bad neighbor to its neighboring countries (e.g. laying down cluster bombs in the final 3 days of the 2006 conflict with Lebanon as a treaty was being worked out http://www.reuters.com/article/2008/11/27/us-clusterbombs-lebanon-idUSTRE4AQ4CC20081127 ).

            FYI, that conflict claimed the lives of some 1,200 Lebanese, and was started when two Israeli soldiers were kidnapped — and Israel decided that the appropriate response would be to invade the country. Some 5,000 Lebanese were seriously wounded, compared with ~100 Israelis. 43 Israeli civilians were killed by Hezbollah actions after Israel invaded.

            Prior wars have been fairly similar. Some ill-equipped nation tries to invade or pisses Israel off by killing a small number of people. They are then driven back into their territory and suffer staggeringly disproportionate civilian losses because…well, Israel has a well-organized military. They could be avoided if desired.
            And then Israel takes more land from its indigenous Arab population as though they were somehow responsible for not having stopped foreign countries from invading.

            What I see when I view Israel now is a new Holocaust perpetuated by a semi-democratic Jewish theocracy, in which Arabs are kept in internment camps to be periodically shelled when some get uppity and try to revolt or get out. I’m not a self-hating Jew, and such terms are meaningless, because they don’t encompass the extent of beliefs, cultural education, or reasoning behind one’s point of view.

            I’m just a person with eyes who’s willing to not be blinded by my ethnic ties to some of the folks living there. What I see is one group with all of the power and weapons keeping the other group behind an ever-tightening wall.