Tormenting Gaza

15 Jul

(Prefatory Note: the Israeli military operation, code name Operation Protective Edge by Israel, being carried out in the Gaza Strip continues, and seems poised to mount a ground attack that will further intensify the suffering of the Palestinian people, and lend additional credibility to the accusation of ‘collective punishment,’ both a grave breach of international humanitarian law and a crime against humanity. The post below is a somewhat edited republication of an opinion piece published in AlJazeera English several days ago at the start of Operation Protective Edge.]


For the third time in the last six years Israel has cruelly unleashed the full fury of its military machine against the defenseless 1.7 million people of Gaza, inflicting heavy civilian casualties and further devastation on the long besieged and impoverished Gaza Strip. With cynical disregard of the realities of this latest one-sided confrontation between Israel and Palestine, instead of condemning such recourse to massive violence as ‘aggression’ that violates the UN Charter and fundamental international law principles, the reaction of Western diplomats and mainstream media has so far perversely sided with Israel, citing the bland rationalization repeatedly stressed by Netanyahu that ‘every nation has the right to defend itself.’ And so it does, but not by way of aggression! From the UN Secretary General to the President of the United States, the main insistence has been that Hamas stop must all rocket attacks while Israel is requested ever so politely to show “maximum restraint.”


Up to now, the Israeli attacks have caused some two hundred deaths (more than half of whom are women and children; 80% civilians) and more than a thousand physical injuries (plus countless more injuries to mental health). In this period hundreds of rockets have been fired into Israel from Gaza, but have yet to cause a single death. The only reported serious injury to Israelis has been suffered by a person on his way to a shelter, making one aware that there are no shelters for Gazans subjected to much more lethal forms of firepower. Granted that such rocket attacks, indiscriminate in nature, are unlawful forms of resistance, to single out this lesser type of violence out and overlook the greater violence distorts the context in biased and unacceptable ways, and helps explain the distorted discourse in Western diplomacy. Surely, the greater occasion of terror is that being inflicted on the hapless Gazans as disclosed by comparing the casualty disparity, and surely the political condemnation by responsible governments and even more so by the UN should be directed at the aggressor, who also happens to be the only political actor with the means to end the escalating violence, yet defiantly lacks the will. This international reaction to this latest crisis confirms for all with eyes to see that geopolitical alignments, not law or justice, dominates the diplomacy of leading Western states and the UN, when it comes to the Middle East, and especially if it concerns Israel-Palestine, and never more so than in relation to Gaza.


After several days of the Israel attack, self-servingly code-named Protective Edge by Israel, President Obama made a low profile offer to mediate a return to the 2012 ceasefire that had been arranged through the good offices of Egypt after this earlier onslaught on Gaza. Whether the U.S. Government, the undisguised patron and unconditional supporter of Israel, has the credibility to play such a mediating role rather doubtful, but in any event, Israel showed no interest. It is possible that Hamas, weakened by developments in Egypt and elsewhere in the region, and facing the desperation of a terrorized and totally vulnerable people entrapped in the Gaza Strip, with a health system on the verge of collapse, might accept such a move even if excluded from participating directly in the negotiations, which would mean depending on the Palestinian Authority to represent Gaza’s interests. After all, Hamas, although prevailing in fair elections back in 2006, remains ‘a terrorist organization’ according to the Western diplomatic establishment, even though it has been in recent years mostly on the receiving end of Israeli state terrorism, and should be allowed to act diplomatically on behalf of Gaza and enhance its credentials as a political actor. At present, the issue may be moot as Netanyahu belligerently insists that no amount of international pressure will lead Israel to stop its attack until the ambitious political goals of the military operation have been attained. These goals include as a priority the elimination of Hamas influence in the West Bank, which is the prize that the current Israeli leadership covets in its quest to complete the Likud maximalist version of the Zionist Project.


An aspect of the distorted approach to responsibility for the violence in Gaza is the refusal of the West to take note of the connection between Protective Edge and the June 12th kidnapping and killing of the three Israeli settler teenage children and the surge of public and private sector revenge violence culminating in the grisly murder of Mohammed Abu Khdeir, a 17 year old Arab boy a few days later in the Shuafat neighborhood of Jerusalem. Without ever disclosing evidence linking Hamas to such an atrocious crime the Netanyahu government and Israeli media reacted hysterically, immediately inciting a vicious campaign against suspected Hamas militants throughout the West Bank and East Jerusalem, including air strikes in Gaza. In this atmosphere many Israeli officials and media stalwarts were provocatively calling upon the Israeli citizenry to strike back at the Palestinians. It was in this inflamed atmosphere that the Israeli government undertook a massive campaign of collective punishment, itself a war crime: hundreds of Palestinians thought to be associated with Hamas were arrested and detained; house demolitions of the homes of suspects; killings of at least six Palestinians; lockdowns of entire cities; air strikes against Gaza.


All this was done despite the mounting belief of independent observers that the crime against the Israeli youths was carried out by two Palestinians unaffiliated with Hamas, perhaps with an initial plan to bargain for the release of Palestinian prisoners in an exchange. Never has it been asserted in high profile diplomatic circles of the West that the horrible crime provided Netanyahu with a pretext for unleashing an anti-Hamas campaign to complete the process of de facto annexation of most of the West Bank. This campaign seems far less motivated by a response to the kidnapping/murder than by the political objective of punishing the Palestinians leadership for defying the Netanyahu government for recently achieving a measure of reconciliation as between the Palestinian Authority and Hamas. Further in the background, but part of the context, is the Israeli interest in shifting responsibility away from themselves for the failure of the Kerry direct negotiations that collapsed at the end of April. And in the foreground, are the settlers and the settlements with their avowed intention of incorporating Samaria and Judea into the state of Israel once and for all, whatever the consequences.


So far, Israel has met calls for restraint and a ceasefire with contempt. Rumors of Hamas’s receptivity to a ceasefire have not been tested. Israel’s leaders have responded defiantly, suggesting that Protective Edge will not cease until the Hamas’ infrastructure is destroyed, whatever it takes, supposedly to ensure that no rockets will ever again be fired from Gaza, which would imply that Gaza was totally subjugated and completely helpless. When Palestinian civilians are killed and terrorized in the process of pursuing such an elusive goal, this is rationalized by Israeli officials as a regrettable side effect of what Israeli leaders are claiming to be a legitimate military undertaking. In a characteristic warped statement Netanyahu declared: “We are not eager for battle, but the security of our citizens and children takes precedence over all else.” Some Israeli top officials were clearer about Israel’s objectives than was the prime minister. The Defense Minister, Moshe Yalon, called for the total destruction of Hamas, which is tantamount to seeking a genocidal hunting license in relation to the entrapped people of Gaza and the oppressed population of the West Bank and East Jerusalem. The Deputy Minister of Defense, Danny Dayon, publically urged Israel to cut off fuel and electricity to Gaza. If such a policy is implemented it would virtually guaranty a grotesque humanitarian crisis; he was later dismissed by Netanyahu for publicly declaring that Israel was humiliated because it allowed Hamas to set the terms for a ceasefire, an allegation that is obviously false as Hamas, so far as we know was excluded from the negotiations that led to the announcement that Israel had accepted a ceasefire. As it turned out, this unilateral ceasefire, rejected by Hamas, only lasted for six hours, and has been followed by intensified Israeli attacks on Gaza, especially targeting the residences of Hamas leaders. 


While Gaza burns, the fiddlers at the UN content themselves by worrying about the text of a proposed Security Council resolution, which never materialized. Israel and the United States were reported to be using all the leverage at their disposal to avoid condemnations of the Israeli air strikes on civilian targets in Gaza and even hoping that the final text of a resolution, if any, will include their preferred language about every sovereign state having a right to protect itself. It now seems that there will be no resolution as the United States is refusing to accept the language of the drafters, and only a rather innocuous non-binding Security Council ‘statement.’


On the basis of this disillusioning global response to Israeli aggression, it should become clear that the Palestinian struggle for self-determination and justice needs to be waged worldwide primarily at the grassroots level. It has never seemed more reasonable and morally necessary for persons of good will to lend maximum support to the BDS (boycott, divestment, and sanctions) campaign that has been in any event growing rapidly. It is also time to demand that governments adopt sanctions seeking Israeli withdrawal from the occupation of Palestine. An appropriate furtheresponse would be for the UN General Assembly to recommend imposing an arms embargo on Israel, as well as a boycott on Israel’s arms exports. This would be, at first, a largely symbolic gesture as Israel has become a major weapons maker, exporting arms to many countries with a tasteless sales pitch that stress the benefits of Israeli weaponry because it is ‘field-tested.’ There is a special challenge to American governmental institutions and its taxpaying citizenry that have been providing more than $3 billion of military assistance aid, coupled with special arrangements beneficial to Israel, for many years.


It is painfully evident that state-to-state diplomacy and the UN have failed to produce a just peace despite decades of fruitless talks. It is time acknowledge that these talks have been carried on in bad faith: while the diplomats sat around the table, Israeli settlements relentlessly expanded, apartheid structures deepened their hold on the West Bank and Jerusalem, and Gaza was cordoned off as a hostage enclave to be attacked by Israel at will whenever a bloody sacrifice seemed useful from the perspective of national interests.


At least, the Secretary General of the Arab League, Nabil ElAraby, condemned the “dangerous Israeli escalation,” urged the Security Council to “adopt measures to stop Israeli aggression against the Gaza Strip,” and warned of the humanitarian consequences. Turkish and Iranian issued official statements along similar lines. There is so much regional turbulence at present that it is unlikely to hope for anything more than scattered verbal denunciations from authorities in the region preoccupied with other concerns, but given the gravity of the situation, attention needs to be refocused on the Palestinian ordeal. Pressure on Israel is urgently needed to protect the Palestinian people from further tragedy, and the Arab neighbors of Israel and the European states that long held sway in the region, are challenged as never before to do the right thing, but it is doubtful that any constructive action will be taken unless regional and global public opinion becomes sufficiently enraged to exert real pressure on these governments, and hence on Israel itself. To pursue this goal now should be made a top priority of the Palestinian global solidarity movement.


53 Responses to “Tormenting Gaza”

  1. QCPal July 15, 2014 at 12:32 am #

    As always Pr Falk you are right on the money on this:
    I beg people JOIN #BDS to Stop the NAZIonist Madness and make your voice for PEACE and SANITY be heard: Protest, op-ed, blog, tweet, post … MAKE NOISE !

    For the first time this morning I saw a MSNBC video underlineing the tragedy lived by Gazan: AT LAST ! FINALLY the media take notice of what people say on the Streets !!!

  2. Fred Skolnik July 15, 2014 at 1:55 am #

    Are you seriously going to remove all remarks that don’t go along with your one-sided assessment of the criminal Hamas attacks?

    • Richard Falk July 15, 2014 at 2:24 am #

      The removal is based on your insistence on personalizing your comment by insulting
      my effort to express views that you disapprove of. I refrain from doing so to others,
      and expect like treatment.

      • Fred Skolnik July 15, 2014 at 2:41 am #

        Anything that challenges your views may be construed as personal. Is this any better:

        This is an incredible response to Israel’s natural and legitimate right to defend itself against an attack on its civilian population.

      • Richard Falk July 15, 2014 at 3:02 am #

        Not true. It is the mention of my name in connection with odious views or intentions. Disagreement is
        expected, but the same good faith that I accord you, I expect in return, and believe necessary to achieve
        and sustain a civil tone on this website.

      • pete smolan August 1, 2014 at 8:47 am #

        leftist bastards like you and your wife should be removed from “my country”. just what have America haters like you and Obama done to
        build this great country, yet you and your brethren want to tear it down and create a society like that of where ever the hell you came from! likely, it is from a third world country that everyone hates each

      • Kata Fisher August 2, 2014 at 12:17 pm #

        pete smolan

        you are a hateful person — where did you came from in that hate- hate; it is so anti-Spirit?

  3. Anders July 15, 2014 at 2:49 am #

    See this article, with a strong critique of Human Rights Watch’s highly legalistic responses to slaughters in Gaza:

    • Richard Falk July 15, 2014 at 3:33 am #

      I cannot open this link. Can it be pasted and sent to me at Thanks.

    • ray032 July 15, 2014 at 9:21 pm #

      Thank you so very much for the link, Anders. The writer is so gifted in the Word, it makes my writing seem so very amateurish.

      There is so much in the article that stands out, but I recognize this as Truth;

      “This reflects an immense disparity in technological power. Israel is armed with one of the largest, most advanced military capacities in the world. It could defend most of its citizens without firing a retaliatory shot. (Israel developed the Iron Dome missile interception system with a $205 million gift from the US government; now European countries, India, Singapore, and even the US itself may be lining up to buy back the finished product, making it not only protective but profitable.) When it does shoot, the impulse is political and the damage is overwhelming. Israel’s defenders talk a great deal about the its pinpoint attempts to target specific “terrorist” sites, while Hamas just fires rockets into the air. But the random rockets haven’t killed so far,

  4. imleif July 15, 2014 at 3:53 am #

    Dear Mr Falk,

    I agree with you except that it seems stupid and irresponsible of Hamas to fire rockets into Israel, thus making the entire population glutton for punishment. I’m of course not in any way sympathetic to any of the collective punishments or terrorism Israel has done in response to the kidnappings (such as bombing the private home of the Gaza Police Chief), but I wish Hamas did not play into Israeli propaganda like this.

    • Richard Falk July 15, 2014 at 4:05 am #

      Hamas and some Gaza militias that are acting independently rely on the rockets as both a way of exhibiting resistance,
      even if only symbolically and for the sake of their own morale, and possibly as a warning that more accurate rockets in
      the future could challenge Israel’s military supremacy. Having said this, I would agree that as with ‘suicide bombing,’
      abandoned as a tactic, the rockets have inflicted little tangible damage and provided Israel with a powerful trump card
      in the propaganda war.

      • Fred Skolnik July 15, 2014 at 4:18 am #

        You are saying in effect that if the rocket fire, like the suicide bombings, had inflicted more “tangible damage” it would be justifiable. You are also saying that firing 1,000 rockets at a civilian population is only “symbolic.” I will limit myself to saying, again, that your response is incredible.

        Beyond this you are also saying that committing war crimes, as Hamas is doing by intentionally attacking a civilian population and using its own population as a human shield,, is only worthy of note because it gives the other side a “trump card,” for the purpose of propaganda. That too strike me as an incredible response.

      • Richard Falk July 15, 2014 at 6:13 am #

        You are again addressing the author of the comments, making an indirect personal attack, rather than
        expressing substantive disagreement with the views of the post. Hamas as of now means to attack a civilian
        population as the casualty disparities make clear; Israel has virtually an infinite capacity to do so; I am
        also saying that an oppressed people enjoy a right of resistance, and after 47 years of oppressive occupation,
        de facto annexation, and no signs of withdrawal to the previously established 1967 baseline, the case for
        resistance is strong, although not unlimited. In my view both suicide bombing and indiscriminate rocket fire
        violate international law, but more consequentially because disparities in power, so does collective punishment,
        population transfer, purported annexations of territory acquired in 1967, settlements, etc..

      • Fred Skolnik July 15, 2014 at 6:54 am #

        Certainly I am disagreeing with the views of your post and clarifying what I take them to mean without any disparaging reference to you yourself, other than to say that I am astounded that such a view and what it implies should be expressed.

        Substantively, I will say as I have said many times before that all occupations are oppressive to the inhabitants of an occupied country but the conditions of this occupation have been exacerbated by the acts of terror emanating from the occupied territories and the unwillingness of the Arabs even to pronounce Israel’s name for nearly 30 years, let alone end the conflict.

        You are also saying that the greater fire power of Israel and the higher losses of the Palestinians makes Israel the culprit and the Palestinians the victims. The illogic resides in the fact that this way of thinking can be applied in any war, however just, in which there is a winner and a loser, like the Second World War. The enormous losses of the Germans and the enormous fire power of the Allies as the tide turned and the Third Reich collapsed does not make the Germans the victims and the Allies the criminal aggressors. You understand that, I hope. The Germans were the criminals and the Allies were defending themselves and making sure that German aggression would not repeat itself by destroying their military capability. Though Hamas is storing and launching rockets in residential areas, civilian casualties are at a level rarely seen in this kind of war and has in fact been noted by foreign military observers who have actually studied Israel’s measures to learn how to keep civilian casualties dpwn to such a level. War is what it is, and if you don’t want the casualties, don’t make it, though Hamas, as we all know, does want the casualties, on both sides, and does everything it can to make sure that there will be as many as possible.

        It is too easy represent the conflict as a war against innocent civilians when it is a war against terrorist organizations who consciously involve civilians and make civilian casualties unavoidable.

        All damage to life and limb inflicted by Hamas on Israel’s civilian population, from the suicide bombings on down, are intentional. All damage inflicted by Israel on the civilian population of Gaza is unintentional, a direct and tragic result of the actions of Hamas.

        Returning fire emanating from a built-up area is recognized in international law as legal, with the proviso that every effort be made to avoid civilian casualties. This is exactly what Israel is doing by announcing in advance which Hamas installations are going to be attacked and giving civilians time to evacuate the area.

        Rocket attacks intentionally directed against a civilian population such as Hamas is engaged in carrying out is a war crime.

        Using civilians as human shields, by storing and firing rockets in proximity to schools, hospitals, mosques and residential buildings such as Hamas is doing, is a war crime.

      • Kata Fisher July 15, 2014 at 9:11 am #

        Dear Fred,

        Existence of Israel’s state democracy is not legit when compared to a state democracy, and it is not legit form of existence of governing in Holy Land. It has nothing do with “unwillingness of the Jew-Arabs even to pronounce Israel’s name for nearly 30 years, let alone end the conflict” as you said.

        Israel’s state is an apartheid form of government that has its ways rooted in racism and separatism – that same force cannot be attributed to the mainstream Arab-Jews population in Gaza and Palestine – which colonizing force is occupying. For sure there is significant resistance and resentment by local population in Gaza and Palestine.

        Again, I have to reflect on generational issues that are legally binding Gaza and Palestine to the bondage of Israel’s state and her ill-treatment of the local population as they are colonizing /setting. “Ancestral sins are upon us” – Palestinian and Gaza’s Arab-Jew as people should say…

        In order for Israel to break that vicious cycle of theirs as a state – they have to be radically transforming and correcting their evil ways –they should not be acting as Arab-Jews did centuries ago when they were oppressing and settling in Holy Land; it is 21st century. They/Israel as a “Jewish state” so to speak should be more tolerant and civilized. “Jewish state” term is just abnormal.

        They/Israel have to start referring to some valid interpretation and applications of the International Laws. However, wait! – They cannot do that because that would mess up their Zionism-way, right?
        In general, religious obnoxiousness is quite foolish and hilarious but no one can laugh, and it totally misses way of God, and providence’s of God.

        I know that this is difficult to grasp.

  5. Rabbi Ira Youdovin July 15, 2014 at 10:14 am #

    Prof. Falk:

    Yesterday, just before posting “Tormenting Gaza”, you posted a comment reiterating your allegation that I misconstrue or misrepresent your views, and slander you with false accusations of harboring “dark ulterior motives, thus questioning my integrity.

    Several days ago, I posted my reasons for leaving the blog, but am drawn back by your tenacity in pressing your case but questioning my integrity.

    Sir, If you’re determined to win this point, please cite evidence to substantiate your accusation.

    To be sure, I’ve noted that you advocate (or “prefer”, as you currently phrase it) dismantling Israel as it has existed since May 15, 1948. You deny this. But how do you reconcile your denial with your denouncing Israel’s continued existence as a “Zombie Idea” that has been “thoroughly discredited by evidence and the realities of the situation, but somehow still affirmed because it serves useful political purposes?” This is a direct quote taken verbatim and in context from your post of June 21. 2014.

    You say that I don’t understand what you mean. But I do understand what you wrote.

    Please note that I make no suggestions regarding what motivates you, which would be entirely speculative on my part and therefore inadmissible. To the contrary, as the most common criticism of your views in both the Jewish and non-Jewish communities is that they’re motivated by self-hating anti-Semitism, In your defense, I’ve repeatedly stated on your blog and elsewhere that criticism of Israel, even harsh criticism, is not necessarily driven by anti-Semitism.

    Regarding your claimed toleration of dissenting views, I refer you to your post of July 11, 2014 in which you unambiguously urge readers to “find another blog if they believe that (1) the Israelis are basically right, have sought a fair peace in the past, are victims of Palestinian terrorism, and do what any sovereign state will do to uphold its security; (2) both Israelis and Palestinians have prevented the end of the conflict, and are both essentially and more or less equally responsible for the present terrible circumstances.”

    As the old saying goes, “I’ve been kicked out of better bars;” certainly enough to know when the “Not Welcome” sign has been posted.

    Prof. Falk, I derive no pleasure from noting these obvious discrepancies and wonder why you continue to make allegations that are demonstrably false. Several days ago, I posted my reasons for leaving your blog, but your persistence in attacking my character draws me back. I’ll continue to do so for so long as you persist. But I’d rather not have to.

    Rabbi Ira Youdovin

  6. Joshua Gottlieb July 16, 2014 at 8:32 am #

    Prof Falk,

    I am an old student of yours, graduated from UCSB Global Studies 10 years ago. At that time, your lectures and general viewpoint on global justice were so admirably neutral that I was overjoyed at having a professor who actually understood the larger historical and cultural contexts of all these global hot spots and kept them in the proper context.

    It is painfully obvious to me from reading your more recent posts and your vitriolic responses to reasonable comments left by other very smart and knowledgable people here in this comments section that you’ve decided to abandon your overall historical perspective to serve some current political purpose of the moment.

    This is very distressing and troubling to me, because you know better than most the history of the Jewish Diaspora, the history or Jewish persecution world-wide, the foundation of the Zionist movement at the end of the 19th century and the continues logic behind maintaining Israel as a secular nation with majority Jewish population. Being Jewish isn’t a choice, it is a genetic and cultural lineage which has been handed down for thousands of years, ever since we were kicked out of Israel originally.

    To deny the historical legitimacy of the idea of the state of Israel is to deny history itself. I also believe that Palestinians have their own legitimate claims, and such a belief is the only basis upon which true and lasting peace will be based, you and I both agreed on this point many times when I was your student…what happened to your logic, perspective and sanity?

    • Richard Falk July 16, 2014 at 10:06 am #

      Dear Joshua: Thanks for your thoughtful and sensitive message. I can only assure you that I have not changed my outlook, although
      affected by six years as UN Special Rapporteur for Occupied Palestine, especially the structure of Israeli domination and exploitation of
      the West Bank and its utter refusal to live within the 1967 borders, which it should be remembered was double the territory allocated for
      a Jewish homeland in the UN Partition Plan of 1947 (GA Res. 181). Beyond this the cruel policies and practices of prolonged occupation
      that was victimizing the Palestinian people, the overwhelming majority of whom yearned for a fair and sustainable peace, even conceding
      78% of historic Palestine to Israel.

      Of course, I share your sensitivity to the Jewish experience, but for me this adds a moral burden on Jews not to reproduce such victimization
      for another people. I also have troubles with an ethnic state in which a large Palestinian minority is consigned to a very poor version of
      second class citizenship; the Zionist project of a Jewish homeland is different than the claim to have an expansive Jewish state that disperses
      and oppresses the long resident indigenous population.

      I know these are difficult issues, that facts and claims are interpreted differently, but I continue to hope for dialogue and discourse that can
      achieve some sort of understanding of what peace and justice means for both peoples. You end by asking about my ‘logic, perspective’ even my ‘sanity’;
      my only response to such an inquiry is to acknowledge that I am trying to express the results of my ‘experience and conscience,’ nothing more, nothing

      Again, thanks for sharing your views, and I hope your life has unfolded in satisfying ways.

    • Gene Schulman July 16, 2014 at 10:32 am #

      I was reading your comment about Prof. Falk with interest, until I came to the part where you say that being Jewish is not a choice. It very much is a choice, and many people have chosen it as a religion (think conversion), and many have chosen to leave it behind, as I have. I agree about the cultural lineage (tradition), but if you knew your science you would understand that there are no Jewish genes that are handed down. Anyhow, the people who have returned to Israel after two thousand years are not of the same, even cultural, lineage as those who were “kicked out originally”. The Palestinians and mizrahis (who are treated not much better than the Palestinian Israelis) have more historical rights to the land than those Northern European (Ashkenasis) who colonized Palestine.

      Mr. Gottlieb, you cross a red line when you question Prof. Falk’s “logic, perspective and sanity”:

      • Kata Fisher July 16, 2014 at 2:09 pm #

        Dear Gene,

        Perhaps, Joshua is youth…
        When you stick to the truth you will find yourself in sound conscience and/ or rejecting confusion of civil religion/s, all together.

        You simply can’t stay sane in no other way.

        “Isaiah 53.1” — so Isaiah 53. 1 its just what we got for our reference in order to stay sane, in a way when in a valid Faith.

      • Fred Skolnik July 16, 2014 at 7:30 pm #

        Well, Gene, unfortunately you don’t know your science, or your history, nor do you have a living sense of what Jewish life is and how and why Jews feel bound together, with the exception of people like yourself.

      • Fred Skolnik July 16, 2014 at 8:06 pm #

        So I will explain it to you, one more time.

        The Israelite haplotypes falls into Y-DNA haplogroups J and E and characterizes Ashkenazim (German and Eastern European Jews), Sephardim (Spanish and Portuguese Jews), Mizrachim (Middle Eastern Jews), Juhurim (Mountain Jews of the Caucasus), Italkim (Italian Jews), etc. But no one needs genetic studies to affirm the historical connection between Jews. The movement of the Jews from the Land of Israel into Southern Europe is fully documented (Tacitus, Josephus) as is the movement of the Jews from Southern Europe into Northern and Eastern Europe. The central fact of Jewish history is its continuity. The entire Jewish world has always been interconnected, from region to region and country to country. American Jews are therefore connected to European Jews, European Jews are connected to Middle Eastern Jews, and all Jews are connected to the Land of Israel. If two thousand years is too big a piece of time for you to comprehend, you are only revealing that you lack a sense of history.

      • Gene Schulman July 16, 2014 at 11:19 pm #

        I know I’m breaking my word to not respond again to your nonsense, Fred. But this cannot go unchallenged. Your Jewish migration odyssey may satisfy your cultural wishes, but they are not based on genetics. All those people may have carried their culture with them, and even that is questionable, but “it ain’t all in our genes”, as Richard Lewontin was prone to say. I’m afraid neither you nor I can claim genetic cousin-ship with all those classes of Jews you name, nor do we have anything in common except that you call yourself Jews and follow the same religious traditions.

        There have been a lot of books about this, namely by Jews – Harry Ostrer’s “Legacy” – being the latest, that try to prove your point, but they can’t. All the are is self-serving just-so stories trying to prove Jewish superiority.

      • Fred Skolnik July 17, 2014 at 12:32 am #

        Dear Gene

        Forgive me for quoting Wikipedia but like you I am not a geneticist and therefore cannot pretend to understand the data or have any way of evaluating or verifying it:

        “Recent studies have been conducted on a large number of genes homologous chromosomes or autosomes (all chromosomes except chromosomes X and Y). A 2009 study was able to genetically identify individuals with full or partial Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry.[3] In August 2012, Dr. Harry Ostrer in his book Legacy: A Genetic History of the Jewish People, summarized his and other work in genetics of the last 20 years, and concluded that all major Jewish groups share a common Middle Eastern origin. Ostrer also claimed to have refuted any large-scale genetic contribution from the Turkic Khazars.[4][unreliable source?] Citing Autosomal DNA studies, Nicholas Wade estimates that “Ashkenazic and Sephardic Jews have roughly 30 percent European ancestry, with most of the rest from the Middle East.” He further noticed that “The two communities seem very similar to each other genetically, which is unexpected because they have been separated for so long.” Concerning this relationship he points to Atzmon conclusions that “the shared genetic elements suggest that members of any Jewish community are related to one another as closely as are fourth or fifth cousins in a large population, which is about 10 times higher than the relationship between two people chosen at random off the streets of New York City”[5] Concerning North African Jews, Autosomal genetic analysis in 2012 revealed that North African Jews are genetically close to European Jews. This findings “shows that North African Jews date to biblical-era Israel, and are not largely the descendants of natives who converted to Judaism,”[6] Y DNA studies examine various paternal lineages of modern Jewish populations. Such studies tend to imply a small number of founders in an old population whose members parted and followed different migration paths.[2] In most Jewish populations, these male line ancestors appear to have been mainly Middle Eastern. For example, Ashkenazi Jews share more common paternal lineages with other Jewish and Middle Eastern groups than with non-Jewish populations in areas where Jews lived in Eastern Europe, Germany and the French Rhine Valley. This is consistent with Jewish traditions in placing most Jewish paternal origins in the region of the Middle East.[7][8]

        “A study conducted in 2013 refutes any indication of Khazar origin and suggests that ” Ashkenazi Jews share the greatest genetic ancestry with other Jewish populations, and among non-Jewish populations, with groups from Europe and the Middle East. No particular similarity of Ashkenazi Jews with populations from the Caucasus is evident, particularly with the populations that most closely represent the Khazar region. Thus, analysis of Ashkenazi Jews together with a large sample from the region of the Khazar Khaganate corroborates the earlier results that Ashkenazi Jews derive their ancestry primarily from populations of the Middle East and Europe, that they possess considerable shared ancestry with other Jewish populations, and that there is no indication of a significant genetic contribution either from within or from north of the Caucasus region.”[9]

        A Jew coming across Jewish-gene studies will only find them mildly interesting since they only confirm what he already knows historically, namely that all Jews are related. Someone like you coming across a revisionist study jumps for joy, thinking he finally has scientific evidence that diminishes the nationhood of the Jewish people.

        As for Jewish population movement, maybe it’s better for you not to know Jewish history, because if you did, documented down to the precise year that the Jews arrived in thousands of communities and where they came from and how and why they remained one people, you would realize that it isn’t good enough to read a few books that share your biases.

      • Gene Schulman July 17, 2014 at 12:47 am #

        Yep, I read that, too. I even read Orstrer’s book. Just because Wikipedia cites it doesn’t mean it is accurate or true. Judaism is a social, cultural construct, not a biological phenomenon. Judaism travels because people like you want to believe it, not because it’s in our genes. I’ve studied this question for a long time, but it is not worth discussing my findings with someone like you who has been indoctrinated by the religious fathers to believe otherwise. You will never be objective.

        Subject closed.

      • Fred Skolnik July 17, 2014 at 1:09 am #

        That’s a little lame, Gene. Findings? Who are you trying to kid?

        Yes, subject closed. You aren’t saying anything of substance. You’re just stamping your feet. You sound like the people offering up David Irving as proof that there was no Holocaust.

      • Gene Schulman July 17, 2014 at 1:20 am #

        Your concluding sentence proves my point. Changing the subject to such a controversial one shows you cannot be objective.

      • Richard Falk July 17, 2014 at 3:46 am #

        Although not having explored the idea of being ‘a people’ to the same degree that you & Fred have, and especially
        not what it means to be ‘the Jewish people,’ and whether such a claim implies certain entitlements, including territory
        and sovereignty, I reach more tentative conclusions. For one thing, the idea of being a people has different significations
        in law, in politics, and in morality, and further differences when viewed globally, nationally, and sub-nationally. These
        signifiers change through time as normative ideas reflect evolving values and changing power structures. The Balfour Declaration
        seemed to have one meaning in 1917, another through the mandate period, another for the UN in decreeing partition, another in
        the aftermath of colonialism, and on and on. The idea of the entitlements of a people is partly a mystical notion of national
        destiny, and it collides with the modern secular consensus that the notion of state and people should be separated, as the
        state is premised on the juridical idea of UNITY and the people is a plural psycho-political idea that reflects ethnic heterogeneity.

      • Gene Schulman July 17, 2014 at 7:55 am #

        Hi Richard,

        Thanks for your contemporary, but hesitant, explanation of what it means to be a “Jewish People”. I’m not sure I know either, I certainly do not accept Fred’s definition, unless it is the old cliché of being a “member of the tribe”! Fred is so filled with his pride in being such a member that he would try to indoctrinate everyone to his beliefs, which are just that, his personal beliefs. His beliefs would justify every war crime committed by Israel. I’m afraid he would never be objective, and therefor I refuse to pay any more heed to his posts. I will leave this discussion with just one more statement: I for one do call Israel’s legitimacy into question. I don’t care how many hackles that raises on Fred’s head.

      • Richard Falk July 17, 2014 at 12:45 pm #

        The UN spent ten years trying to figure out a definition for ‘indigenous people’ and finally settled on the idea of a subjective
        self-definition: if you think you are a people and act as if a people, then it is sufficient. There is no way to get a definition
        of ‘Jewish people’ that will be accepted by all, and there is no need for such agreement. The trouble arises when the asserted identity
        as a people comes laden with ‘entitlements,’ whether sacredly conferred or mandated by the will of the international community at some
        point in history (as was the case with the idea of a homeland for the Jewish people, which over time morphed into the expectation that
        homeland implied a state.

      • Gene Schulman July 17, 2014 at 12:54 pm #

        Richard, I’m reduced to one word: Touché!

      • Fred Skolnik July 17, 2014 at 2:26 am #

        At least try to be logical, Gene. Changing a subject does not prove that someone is not objective. But to put your mind at ease, I am using Holocaust denial in the way of an analogy. The analogy is with whatever you wish to call your denial of what it means to be Jewish. But I’ve already explained all this to you, and specifically how even the Orthodox look at Jewishness in the Halakhah.

      • Fred Skolnik July 17, 2014 at 4:42 am #

        If you don’t know, Professor Falk, what it means for the Jews to be a people or nation, then you also don’t know what it means for the Americans, the French, the Turks and the Arabs to be a people or nation. The issue of Israeli statehood is a separate one, which has been decided by the international community. States and nations are synonymous, though in certain cases there are national minorities living in national states, as in the case of Israel and Turkey, for example. Calling Israel’s legitimacy into question with what I can only call a bit of rhetorical sleight of hand is simply unacceptable and will serve no other purpose that to antagonize a great many people without being of the slightest benefit to the Palestinians.

      • Kata Fisher July 17, 2014 at 2:49 pm #

        Dear Fred,

        This is what I understand:

        Jews were always a Hebrew people/the nation of Hebrews – Hebrew-Jews who became a Kingdom.

        Other peoples (from different nations) were integrated into the Hebrew-Jewish tribes by conversion to Faith (not mixed marriages).

        With that, only conversion to Faith did make other nations integrated with Hebrew people / Hebrew Jews. By the generation # 4 they were Jews, in all by Faith. (Specifically, male conversions as I understood). By generation # 4 they would have holy and Jewish offspring.

        The conversion to authentic Faith, in fact, is then automatically sufficient to belong to Hebrew peoples/nation of Jews. This was the pattern in Old Testament (when Old Testament was obeyed and God of Abraham).

        The Nation of Jews/Hebrews is of Faith, and in itself it is Kingdom, and in essence it is the Kingdom of a Faith/ perpetual priesthood.

      • Fred Skolnik July 17, 2014 at 8:07 pm #

        Take a good look, Professor Falk, at the last note you wrote to Mr. Schulman: “The trouble arises when the asserted identity as a people comes laden with ‘entitlements’ … morphed into the expectation that homeland implied a state.”

        Now apply it to the Palestinians. You won’t, will you? You see what happens when you get tangled up in tortured rhetoric.

      • Richard Falk July 17, 2014 at 10:50 pm #

        With all respect, Mr. Skolnik, you seem to ignore the distinction between the sense of entitlement created
        by Balfour, and later the UN, and the existence of inalienable rights inhering in a people inhabiting the land
        of Palestine. Those acting on behalf of Zionism acted on their assumption of entitlements to promote their vision
        of a Jewish Homeland, and actually violated the Balfour Declaration by not respecting the rights of those resident
        non-Jews in Palestine, while the Palestinians were deprived of the right of self-determination from 1917 until
        this very day. Mine is not ‘tortured rhetoric’ but making a crucial distinction with deep roots in international
        law and global ethics.

      • Fred Skolnik July 17, 2014 at 11:53 pm #

        You are continuing in the same rhetorical vein and making the wrong distinction. You are promoting the right to self-determination of a people who did not recognize themselves as such until the State of Israel was established and Nasser invented the term “Palestinian entity,” a community that had previously insisted they were part of the Arab nation and inhabitants of Greater or Southern Syria, and you are calling into question the right of self-determinaton of a people that has recognized itself as a nation for over 3,000 years and has been rooted in the Land of Israel even longer. What you are arguing makes very little sense and seems to me designed to get around the double standard you employ to any subject that involves Israel.

      • Gene Schulman July 18, 2014 at 12:05 am #

        The Lobby propaganda agency has Fred working overtime. I don’t know why he bothers. His diatribes only end up in the shredder. Maybe he gets paid by the word.

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  8. August 1, 2014 at 6:01 am #

    I am glad Israel is attacking Hamas, They do what they feel they must and ask no one for “permission” to defend themselves. I wish America would do the same and they can start by kicking the UN out of our country, let France host the UN and pay the bill. Israel is doing our work for us and any aid we can give them is a boon. Hamas are terrorists, PLO are terrorists, And since they hate and vow to kill Christians/westerners no matter how well or poorly we treat them, then in my opinion, the only good Muslim is a dead one. There as always been a war between the two “religions” and there always will be.

    • Kata Fisher August 1, 2014 at 10:22 am #


      If Bobby who was and is my neighbor would read this; he would totally curse you out. You are not an American, and he is in US Army, and is Special Forces—he would strip you off.You are worse then a jihadist who is anti-Islam Faith. Your opinion is just rotten.

  9. Mike Roulette August 1, 2014 at 7:31 am #

    What happened to common sense in this world? Hamas STARTED this fight, and they dont stop. These are the same people who simply will not accept a jewish state since it was established in 1948 when they attacked. There was no arab ‘nation’ of palestine there then or ever. The place was mostly uninhabited. It was the obstination of the arabs who would not accept a jewish state there when there was no other. They have attacked Israel first ever since.
    These are people who deny the existence of ancient Israel, deny that the jews were there before the muslims, and deny that the holocaust occurred. These are people who invented the term ‘palestinians’ to decieve the world that they are the indiginous people of the land that the Israelis ‘stole’. Why do you people support such a lie?
    Does your common sense simply unravel when you see the dead palestinian children and then you blame Israel? Yes you do because you deny that the Hamas intentionally places those children in harms way so that they can show the pictures of their victims to the emotionally driven left of the world, and you fall for it every single time.
    Israel left Gaza, included infrastructure and the incurably intolerant hamas fanatics continue to refuse acceptance of Israel and you continue to sympathize with them?
    The lack of common sense and ignorance/denial of the truth by the emotionally driven terrorist sympathizers in this world is far beyond belief of any reasonable thinking people.
    And it is a tragedy that truth deniers such as Mr Falk achieved positions of influence where they continue to play into the hands of the evil ones.

    • Kata Fisher August 1, 2014 at 11:20 am #

      Mike: You have that Bee-wiz of harlotry—that is your problem. Your mind is like in spirit of a woman. Yes, it is. I read, and reflected about its –and that is what it is.Your thinking is irrational.

      • Kata Fisher August 1, 2014 at 7:23 pm #


        “You are lay-people, and you should mind your own business.
        Why are you not?”

        Mike: You are lay-people, and you should mind your own business. Why are you not?

        You are mixing everything up – why are you doing that?

        It is sloppy to be mixing everything up…in your appointed area and that what is not in your not appointed area…

        Church Charismatic applies no “common sense” –we just can’t.

  10. Jerk August 1, 2014 at 8:58 am #

    All that I can think of in my anger is here is another asshole that wants to change the US and the world for the worse!! You and your supporters should move to Iran or Afghanistan.

  11. Mike August 1, 2014 at 9:41 am #

    What the hell are you saying ?.Israel is to be blamed for this war ?. are you kidding?. Hamas and the other terror groups in Gaza aim to destroy Israel. The treaty of Hamas call for the destruction of Israel and call for the Jihad war and murder of all none Muslims. Lets learn some history before we get to the current situation in Gaza.
    1. The Arab’s source in Gaza (and for this meter the Arabs in all Israel including the west bank) is Egypt. Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Syria. Most of them came about 100 years ago after Britain took control of the land in WW1. some of the earlier Arab immigrants came to this area when Egypt controlled the land as work force for train rails the Egyptian ruler was building from Cairo to Beirut and stayed here when the railroad construction finished.
    2. In all history there was NEVER EVER any land called “Palestine”, the term “Palestine” was 1st used by the Roman empire who destroyed the Jewish temple in Jerusalem 2,000 years ago and that was in order to lose the connection between the Jews to their land which was called Judea (which is today Israel – Judea and Sumeria area).
    3. Israel was established in 1948 and 7 Arab nations tried to destroyed it (and lost), the rulers of those 7 nations told the Arabs which were living in the area to leave their homes while promising them that they will return shortly after the Arabs will win the war….Guess what, they lost and the refugees stayed in Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and few camps in Gaza and near Hebron, Ramalla and Nebulous).
    4. After the 1948 war 99% of the jews who were living in Arab nations fled or were forces to leave to Israel. the Jewish refugees build Israel while the Arabs who fled Israel in the war are still considered refugees in the Arab nations they live in today and none of the 22 Arab nation are willing to give them citizenship (have u ever asked why is that ?)
    5. In any treaty and law which were set by the UN israel have the right on this land (in one of the treaties it even have the legit right on some of Jordanian land but no one is consider asking for that area)
    6. Till 1967 Jordan occupied the west bank, None of the Arabs which were living in that area demanded from Jordan for freedom. None of the Arabs in that area were using the term “Palestine” till Israel won the 1967 “6 Days” war and Jordan lost that area.
    7 Jordan don’t want this area back till today (no one asking why ?)
    8. 9 Years ago Israel gave back the area of Gaza strip to the PA. Hamas done a coup killing most of the PA officeres in Gaza and also many Christians living there.

    Now, in the last 9+ years Hamas rule Gaza strip, They imply the Islamic Sharia laws there, they got about 1,000,000,000 $ from donenrs like Katar and invested most of the money for building tunnles under Gaza strip and into Israel, they bought rockets and weapons and didn’t build a single school / hospital or other facility that can support the people of Gaza.
    In the last 9+ years Hamas attacked Israel. lunching more that 12,000 rockets while hiding behind civilians and using public facilities in the sole purpose to aim Israel civilians (which is in fact a WAR CRIME) and still the world stood silent ?
    Now when Israel react after Hamas kidnuped 3 Israelies teenagers and murdered them the world and people like you say Israel commit war crimes ?

    So wake up, open your eyes, learn history and get the truth, support people of Gaza who rules by Hamas who use them and kill them and support the Syrian and Iraqies who get butchered by their rulers and by ISIS.


  12. Steve K August 1, 2014 at 1:58 pm #

    You are an anti-semitic pig. Israel has the right to defend itself against any and all attacks. This time they will finish the job once and for all and rid the world of those animals of Hamas. I’m sure you would defend Al Queda’s actions on 9/11 too as “justified”.


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