False Dichotomies


Is the Law of Return Unjust?

“Occasionally, one sees a picture of an anti-Zionist Jewish and Palestinian protester side by side. With a smug look on their faces, as if they’ve discovered the secret that will solve the Arab-Israeli conflict, they hold two signs. In the picture accompanying Sam Bahour’s piece on the Law of Return, the Jew’s sign reads, “I’m from Austin TX. Israel would pay me to move to his land because I’m Jewish.” Next to her is a Palestinian whose sign reads, “I’m from Palestine. I cannot return to my land because I’m not Jewish.”

Without context, this may seem convincing. Once one understands the logic behind the Law of Return, though, the picture becomes much more blurred. The Law of Return was promulgated in 1951 to grant automatic Israeli citizenship to every Jew. There were two main reasons for this piece of legislation. First, it was an attempt to rectify the injustice whereby, since the Roman conquest of Jerusalem in 70 CE, Jews have never been guaranteed the right to visit (let alone live in) their ancestral homeland. Second, it was designed to provide a safe haven for Jews, based on the reality that majority non-Jewish states have consistently failed to guarantee the safety of their Jews.” Read on at Open Zion.


“State for all its Citizens” = Palestinian-Arab State Instead of Jewish One (2)

A response to Joseph Finlay’s critique of my critique of Ben White. 

1) You say that ‘his prognosis is to replace the Jewish state with a Palestinian-Arab one’. But of course that is the very opposite to what he is proposing – his piece is calling for a state for all its citizens – ‘a state where all have equal rights’. You are a making an a priori assumption that the nature of a state is dependent on which group is in the majority – when Jews are in the majority it is a Jewish state, when Arabs are in the majority it is an Arab state. But this is not necessarily so. In Britain, white Anglo-Saxons are in the majority, but it is not a white Anglo-Saxon state.  A clearer example is Northern Ireland – since its foundation it has had a Protestant majority, and for years was run as a Protestant state, where Protestants held all the power and ran the state for Protestant benefit. Since the Good Friday agreement and power sharing, Northern Ireland has become a state of all its citizens, where both communities share power, where the police force is mixed etc, despite there still being a Protestant majority. The nature of a state is defined by its constitutional setup and legal practices, not purely by the ethnic balance of his citizenship. So I reject the claim that White is calling for a Palestinian-Arab state.”

First of all, this is not just a theoretical exercise. Clearly you are right in saying that ‘a state where all have equal rights’ could mean just that. To understand whether this is what the author is advocating, we have to examine his writings a bit more deeply in order to see what his motivations are. That’s why I wrote, “Why can’t the second part of White’s vague vision not be fulfilled in a two-state, or a federal model? Why the insistence on one state in which Palestinians are guaranteed to outnumber Jews? More importantly, given Jewish history (which White never acknowledges), and the justifiable fear of surrendering the sovereignty that was regained 2000 years after it was lost, why does he not offer some comfort,  some qualification beyond the usual slogans? Why is he not interested in gaining the trust of those who – if he is to believed – will be at the heart of this wonderful new state?” Read more


Awarding Good Jewish Teachers

This is a Guest-Post

The Jewish community has always recognized that transmitting the Jewish “mesorah” — tradition — is facilitated through the family and through high quality education. The percentage of uneducated Jews has always been extremely low and even today, a recent study by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) points to Israel as the second most educated country in the world.

The Jewish educational system is dependent on outstanding Jewish educators whose vision, efforts and creativity are responsible for guiding and inspiring a new generation to take their place in the Jewish community and in society as a whole. Read more


Why Unilateral Withdrawal Isn’t the Answer

“Perhaps inevitably, it took satire to get to the heart of the matter. With two Bibis before him, Eretz Nehederet’s Eyal Kitzis asked the real one if he was serious about the two-state solution. The prime minister insisted that he was. Unconvinced, Kitzis asked Bibi what he would do if Abu Mazen agreed to all his demands. “Bring it and we’ll see,” Bibi replied, prompting a knowing smile from the show’s host. “Are you worried about a bi-national state?” was his next question. “Yes, but I’m more worried about this state remaining secure forever.”

While there is talk about a one-state solution on the fringes of the right and the left, a strong majority of the Israeli public supports a two-state solution, even if there is no agreement on the details. And yet, since the failure of Camp David in 1999, and barring one or two diplomatic initiatives since, every Israeli government has been content with the status quo, despite the fact that every passing year and every new home built in the settlements makes it harder for Israel to separate itself from the Palestinians and risks making the country an international pariah. Why do successive Israeli governments not show more urgency on this issue?” Read the rest at Times of Israel.


“State for all its citizens” = Palestinian-Arab State Instead of Jewish One (I)

In his article ‘Israel’s definition as a ‘Jewish state’, Ben White belatedly addresses the main criticism of anti-anti-Zionism and BDS; namely, that through BDS anti-Zionists seek to replace a Jewish state with a Palestinian-Arab one, rather than the so-called “state where all have equal rights”, which White claims to be the movement’s goal. Read more


The Growing Popularity of Tzfat for Birthright Groups

This is a Guest Post

When Birthright started in 1999 Tzfat was allotted a two-hour visit. Tzfat’s importance was recognized by Birthright which mandated that a visit to Tzfat be built into each Birthright group’s schedule, but other than a short tour of the synagogues and a chance to shop in a safe enclosed lane little additional attention was given to the mountaintop town.

Today, the situation has changed. Tzfat proved to be one of the most popular attractions for Birthrighters and today many tour organizers ensure that their Birthright groups spend at least a half a day in Tzfat.

In addition to the obligatory visits to Tzfat’s synagogues and shopping time on the art street, there are many other opportunities for Birthright groups in Tzfat and, depending on the tour organizer, program staff and guide, the participants can see and experience elements of Tzfat that most tourists rarely see. Read more

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Public Service Announcement

To those who still have falsedi on their Google Readers or RSS Feeds or whatever else it is you use to keep up with the blogosphere, I’m sorry, but I’ve been busy with other projects. This is just a quick announcement to let everybody know that I’ll be back very shortly, and – inshallah – better than ever. There is much to talk about.

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My Favourite Reads of 2012

1.      Broken April (Ismail Kadare) – For its evocation of the bleak and yet principled of world of the Kanun, and its descriptions of the landscapes of northern Albania.

“Just as he had done many times before, Gjorg brought the rifle to his shoulder and took aim at the man’s head. For a moment the head seemed to resist him, trying to elude his sights, and at the last instant he even thought he saw an ironic smile on the man’s face. Six months before, the same thing had happened, and so as not to disfigure that face (who can say whence that touch of pity came at the last moment?) he had lowered the front sight of his weapon and wounded his enemy in the neck.

The man came closer. Please not a wound this time, Gjorg said to himself in a kind of prayer. His family had had great trouble paying the fine for the first wound, and a second fine would ruin them. But there was no penalty for death.” Read more


Fall 2012

Whatcha Gonna Do – Shyne

Cheesesteaks – Vinnie Paz

All Time Greats feat Party Arty – Showbiz/AG

Maad City feat MC Eiht – Kendrick Lamar

Choices – Apollo Brown

Looking for Astronauts – The National

Starting Over feat Ben Bridgewell – Macklemore & Ryan Lewis

What a Day – Josephine

From the Woods!! – James Vincent McMorrow

Bridge Through Time – Apollo Brown

I Forgot To Be Your Lover – The Revelations

The Chorus in the Underground – Great Lake Swimmers

Octopus – Bloc Party

Only Love – Ben Howard

Guest of the Government – Admiral Fallow

Make the Sound feat Rhymefest – M.A.S.K.

Get Together feat Rapsody – MURS/9th Wonder

What I Do – Jon Connor

BFK – Freddie Gibbs

Cold feat Kanye West – DJ Khaled

Truth Be Told – Apollo Brown/Guilty Simpson

The 11th Hour – Apollo Brown

Pulling On A Line – Great Lake Swimmers

Everything – Ben Howard

How To Make It Through Hysteria – Skyzoo

HVN4AGNGSTA feat Master P – Game

The Red Carpet feat Raekwon & Ras Kass – Evidence

Hip Hop feat Scarface, Nas & DJ Premier – DJ Khaled

I Want You – Cee Lo Green

Work Everyday – Brother Ali

Need a Knot feat Bun B – Brother Ali

My God – Bombay Bicycle Club

The Wolves – Ben Howard

Lose You – Apollo Brown/Guilty Simpson

Never In A Million Years – Apollo Brown

Dudu – Haim Hefer

Ink Blotches – Apollo Brown/Guilty Simpson

All I Really Want feat The Dream – Rick Ross

Diamonds – Ben Howard

Wildflower – Cee Lo Green

Lit Up – The National

Can’t Hold Us feat Ray Dalton – Macklemore & Ryan Lewis

They Ready feat J. Cole, Big K.R.I.T. & Kendrick Lamar – DJ Khaled

Still – Great Lake Swimmers

Moscow Evenings – Sunset – The Alchemist


The Best Hip-Hop of 2012

1.    R.A.P. Music – Killer Mike/El-P – For being the most unexpected and fruitful collaboration of the year.

2.    Kolexxion – DJ Premier/Bumpy Knuckles – For demonstrating that Preemo’s rejected beats are better than most producers’ efforts, and for showing that – without Guru – Bumpy Knuckles knows how to handle them best.

3.    Dice Game – Guilty Simpson/Apollo Brown – For knowing it would be dope just from the press release.

4.    A Dream Deferred – Skyzoo – For Skyzoo’s voice and maturing vision.

5.    Ill Manors – Plan B – For being a UK rap album with true soul and depth.

6.    Baby Face Killa – Freddie Gibbs – For its sonic cohesion and Gibbs’ Tupac-like presence.

7.    Good Kid Mad City – Kendrick Lamar – For being the past, the present, and the future of West Coast hip-hop.

8.    Control Systems – Ab-Soul – For being the brightest young star in the new West Coast firmament.

9.    Mourning in America and Dreaming in Colour – Brother Ali – For proving that I should have listened to Brother Ali earlier.

10.    Trophies – O.C./Apollo Brown – For Apollo Brown being the new A-list producer in the underground.

11.    The Heist – Macklemore/Ryan Lewis – For being pop, real, and epic.

12.    God Forgives, I Don’t – Rick Ross – For Ross’s unique flow and his epic, cinematic beats.

13.    Ohnomite – Oh No – For being yet another solid Stones Throw release.

14.    Jesus Piece – Game – For marking Game’s graduation to OG.

15.    Interludes after Midnight – Blockhead – For being an inheritor to DJ Shadow’s tradition.

16.    Reloaded – Roc Marciano – For its grimy beats and gruff flow.

17.    Napalm – Xzibit – For surprising us by not falling off.

18.    Professor@Large – Large Professor – For its old-skool/nu-skool balance.

19.    Mugshot Music – Showbiz/AG – For reppin’ the Bronx section.

20.    Life is Good – Nas – For showing how rappers might manage the transition to adulthood.


1.    They Ready – J.Cole/Big K.R.I.T./Kendrick Lamar
2.    M.A.A.D City feat MC Eiht – Kendrick Lamar
3.    Hip Hop – Nas/Scarface
4.    What I Do – Jon Connor
5.    South Bronx Shit – Showbiz/AG
6.    Ink Blotches – Guilty Simpson/Apollo Brown
7.    Pirates – Rick Ross
8.    Can’t Hold Us feat Ray Dalton – Macklemore/Ryan Lewis
9.    Need a Knot feat Bun B – Brother Ali
10.  Cold feat DJ Khaled – Kanye West
11.    Deepest Shame – Plan B
12.    Cheesesteaks – Vinnie Pax
13.    Make the Sound feat Rhymefest – M.A.S.K.
14.    Big Beast feat Bun B, T.I. & Trouble – Killer Mike/El-P
15.    The Don – Nas
16.    I Know This Game – Sadat X
17.    Blasphemy (Blast 4 Me) – M.O.P.
18.    HVN 4 A Gangsta feat Master P
19.    B.A.P. – DJ Premier/Bumpy Knuckles
20.    MARS – Large Professor
21.    Anotha One – O.C./Apollo Brown
22.    BFK – Freddie Gibbs
23.    Give it Up – Skyzoo
24.    Jingalin – Ludacris
25.    Food – Masta Killer


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