Dreaming of Freedom: Palestinian Child Prisoners Speak

8 Aug


[Prefatory Note: This is a collection of reflections by child prisoners in their own words, edited by Norma Hisham. It is a successor to her earlier volume of Palestinian prison recollections. Both books can be obtained from Amazon. I post below some blurbs that convey the importance of Dreaming of Freedom together with an image of the cover and the text of my Foreword. As much as anything I have read these texts convey the reality of the experience of all Palestinians living under occupation or as exiles or as a subjugated minority.]





Dreaming of Freedom: Palestinian Child Prisoners Speak

Dreaming of Freedom encourages its participants to speak naturally in their own voices, rather than seeking to depoliticize them or impose false notions of “innocence” on those who have participated in a just anti-colonial struggle. By placing Israel’s military detention of Palestinian children in its full context – not only the Israeli occupation itself, but also Palestinian resistance to it – Dreaming of Freedom offers valuable insight into the lives of children whose forays against heavily-armed soldiers, walls and tanks have inspired millions.

~ Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network

Being children does not spare them the horrors endured during a life under siege – prison cells, beatings, torture and humiliation. This powerful book is the reflection of these realities. They are first-hand testimonies by children whose rights have been violated with no accountability whatsoever. This book voices their heart-wrenching stories, perhaps with the hope that people around the world may understand their ordeal and answer their pleas for freedom and justice.

~ Dr Ramzy Baroud Journalist and author of My Father was a Freedom Fighter: Gaza’s Untold Story

The stories contained within this book captured one of the most overlooked aspects of the cruel war on Palestine – the children, who represent the future of this broken nation. Although many of the children displayed resilience and defiance despite torture and imprisonment (some repeated times), we ask ourselves, are these normal emotional and psychological processes for children?

~ Dr Musa Mohd Nordin Chairman, Viva Palestina Malaysia


Foreword by Richard Falk


Cover illustration by Mahmoud Salameh, political cartoonist, film maker and Palestinian refugee from Yarmouk camp in Syria. He now lives in Sydney but dreams of returning to Palestine where his parents were born. The oranges on the cover are a symbol of his stolen land.

Norma Hashim



Palestinian Child Prisoners Speak

Edited by Norma Hashim

Translated by Yousef M. Aljamal




Foreword (Dreaming of Freedom: Palestinian Child Prisoners Speak)


What strikes me most directly after reading these moving statements by Palestinian child prisoners is the aura of state terror that pervades the lives of all Palestinians living under occupation. Horrifying as is the experience of these children, mainly mid-teenagers, the deeper horror is the degree to which the entire community of Palestinians is scarred for life by Israeli brutality. Of course, it is the stone throwing children that bear the brunt of the violence that is reported by the vivid statements compiled here, but their younger siblings and older parents and relatives that are also being scarred for life by the arrest and interrogation process developed by Israel that seems calculated to be as intimidating as possible.


Reading through such pages of torment, a pattern of abuse clearly emerges that exhibits Israel’s total disregard for international human rights and international humanitarian law as it applies to these young Palestinians, who are totally vulnerable to such oppressive tactics. Although international humanitarian law fails to focus with sufficient specificity on the vulnerability of children, there are some general measures of protection given in Articles 71-74 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which ensures that any civilian subject to occupation who is charged with criminal activity shall be informed in writing in a language that he or she understands, is assured the right to the assistance of a lawyer, and must be given the opportunity to present evidence in defense. It is no surprise, based on our knowledge of Israel’s apartheid administration of Palestinians living under occupation that none of these rights are recognized and respected. Indeed, the daily reality of life for Palestinians of all ages is one of rightlessness and unconditional vulnerability.


Despite the generality of abuse to which Palestinians of all ages are subjected to throughout their entire life, it is important to take account of the particular forms of experience that are the tragic destiny of Palestinian children, realities that begin from the earliest stages of childhood. What these reports convey as a result of their overlapping accounts narrated with a concreteness that makes the reader confident about the credibility of the stories being told. This credibility is further reinforced by the consistent reports of respected Palestinian and Israeli NGOs concerned with the protection of human rights of those being subjected to the rigors of Israeli criminal law enforcement. In other words, from everything we know, there is every reason to place trust in the accuracy of these first-person accounts, and given the careful method by which this material was assembled it is possible to construct an accurate portrayal of this pattern of lawless law.


Among the features of this pattern that particularly stand out, I would mention the practice of apprehending Palestinian youth accused of resistance activity in the middle of the night in the presence of the entire family including very young siblings. The accused youth is literally seized from his home and family without being informed of what he is alleged to have done, with parents being given no idea where he is being taken and for how long. Invariably, as well, the child being taken captive is painfully tied and blindfolded often in the presence of his family, thrown onto the floor of a military car, and generally badly beaten while being taken to an interrogation center or some preliminary holding area. The interrogation process is itself completely alienating and calculated to overcome even the most stubborn refusal of a teenage boy to cooperate with his jailors by acknowledging guilt.


It seems clear that the ‘crime’ that almost all of these Palestinian children are accused is throwing stones at vehicles that belong to Israeli security forces or settlers. There is no claim by the Israeli authorities that these stones caused any injury or even damage, but the allegations are treated as if involving the most serious imaginable crimes. As has been observed by progressive Israeli journalists and others, the throwing of stones should be principally understood as forms of symbolic violence expressive of the inherent right to resist unlawful and abusive occupation. What is more, such stone throwing is consistently met with excessive force by Israel that constitutes violence of a much more punitive and consequential nature, and seems inflicted with an intent to intimidate not only the immediate victim but Palestinian youth in general.


In the end, the tactics used by Israel are mostly successful in extracting confessions from the Palestinian children, seemingly regardless of whether the allegations are accurate or mistaken. What we take away from the ‘confessions’ reported in these statements is an utter inability to determine whether it is accurate or fake. As the prisoners are being threatened with continuous beatings, contrived reports that others have independently confirmed the accusations, prison ‘plants’ or ‘snitches’ who mislead the accused on behalf of the captors, and a variety of abusive practices, it is hardly surprising that the will of these children is eventually broken in almost all cases. In a manner that I encountered in apartheid South Africa maintaining innocence is usually punished worse than confessions, whether true of false, and thus there is no incentive whatsoever to hold out. What is even more dehumanizing, is the demand of Israeli officials that these Palestinian teenagers implicate their friends and neighbors. It is evident that several of narrations compiled here report great courage in holding out by refusing to confess, although in such a confined setting where the difference between guilt and innocence is obliterated the significance of such a sacrificial resolve of steadfastness is rarely appreciated or even known in the outside world.


Another striking feature of this arrest and interrogation experience is the punitive reliance by Israel on post-release punishment in the form of house arrest. Several of these young Palestinians declare that would prefer confinement in an Israel prison than enduring house arrest. At first, this preference is difficult to comprehend. On reflection, it becomes more understandable given the nature of life under occupation that allows so few opportunities for satisfaction, and house arrest is a tantalizing deprivation of the comraderie of friendship and neighborhood life.


These Palestinian children express a shared feeling of humiliation that seems to be even more painful for them than the beatings received. The word (izlaal in Arabic) recurs repeatedly in these narratives, and I think testifies to the dehumanizing effects caused by feelings of helplessness and futility, which Israel seeks to induce so as to give rise to an atmosphere among Palestinians of resignation, if not spiritual surrender. A similar approach is evident in relation to house demolitions that are justified in the name of security, but are carried out for the sake of collective punishment and intimidation. Jeff Halper, a respected Israeli critic of the practice estimates that less than 1% of all house demolitions have a genuine security justification.


There are several conclusions that emerge from this deeply moving collection of separate but interconnected witnessing by these Palestinian children. First of all, the urgent need for a distinct international treaty devoted to the situation of children living under conditions of prolonged occupation. Realizing that Israeli occupation has lasted almost half a century with no end in sight, it is intolerable from the perspective of human dignity and human rights, to fail to offer much more concrete protection, including procedures for redress of grievances. Secondly, we need studies of the longer term effects in terms of trauma of such arrest and interrogation experiences, as well as on the impact on families and communities not only of the dynamics of victimization, but also of the shared sense of hopelessness that is the inevitable byproduct of witnessing a brother or son dragged away by abusive soldiers in the middle of the night. And thirdly, we need widespread dissemination of these Israeli policies and practices, especially as carried out with the evident intent of immobilizing resistance to an unlawful occupation that has gone on far too long.


In this spirit, I commend a close reading of Dreaming of Freedom: Palestinian Child Prisoners Speak. With such knowledge solidarity with the Palestinian struggle for freedom and dignity becomes almost a psychological inevitability and an even more urgent moral imperative of our world than we previously realized.


Richard Falk


May 3, 2016

59 Responses to “Dreaming of Freedom: Palestinian Child Prisoners Speak”

  1. Fred Skolnik August 8, 2016 at 4:43 am #

    This is solely for your information and may help you understand the Six-Day War a little better, including Gen. Peled’s stance:


    As for the children, they are arrested in the middle of the night to avoid riots in their villages and neighborhoods, which would cause the Palestinian civilian population even more hardship.

    Rocks kill and crip[ple. Be a hero with your own children.

    • Richard Falk August 8, 2016 at 8:22 am #

      Fred Skolnik:

      I have written to you many times that I reserve the right to block personally insulting comments. You continue
      to write such defamatory comments about being ‘dishonest’ and having as ‘clients’ murderous governments. Please
      take your hostility elsewhere. You show not the slightest respect for those with whom you disagree not unlike the
      attitude and behavior of Israel’s current Sect’y of Defense. He too would be an unwelcome guest here.

      • Fred Skolnik August 8, 2016 at 8:53 am #

        I have also written to you many times that the idea that you can slander and defame entire peoples and nations as long as you don’t “get personal” and then claim academic immunity to shield yourself from having your qualifications, your biases and your motives scrutinized too closely is, I think, unique to self-styled “public intellectuals” like yourself who have abandoned scholarship to become polemicists airing their grievances and resentments. Historians certainly examine their sources at a personal level in order to evaluate their reliability and whoever sets himself up as an authority should be prepared to be examined in the same way. You are writing in a public forum in what many people, including myself, consider to be wild and irresponsible language. Anyone using words like Nazi and genocide with reference to the State of Israel should expect a response in kind.

        I wpuld also be a little skeptical about the testimony given by children or teenagers surrounded by their terrorist sponsors. Obviously it’s all of a piece.

      • Richard Falk August 8, 2016 at 2:33 pm #

        You can disagree as vigorously as you wish, but if you feel you must insult and defame to get your
        point across, then I advise you not to waste your time by submitting comments. I would point out
        further that I have never replied in kind by attacking your integrity or demeaning you as an individual.

  2. Gene Schulman August 8, 2016 at 4:51 am #

    Can there be any stronger testimony that the Israelis are on a par with the Nazis? Whatever happened to “never again!”? Like the roads for Jews only in the West Bank.

    • Fred Skolnik August 8, 2016 at 9:15 am #

      The roads for Jews only are security roads aimed at preventing terrorist attacks on Israeli vehicles. They only exist because the Arabs do attack Israeli vehicles with the aim of murdering their occupants. As for being on par with the Nazis, we have been through this before but here is a reminder:

      The extermination process and cremation of the corpses in crematoria II and III went as follows. After selection for death, the Jews who could walk were marched from the loading ramp to the crematorium. The weak, the invalid, and the sick were transported on trucks. In the crematorium yard, the SS men told the prisoners that they would undergo a disinfection that consisted of delousing and bathing. The victims were led down the staircase to the dressing room in the basement, where they could see the signs (in German) “To the Baths” and “To Disinfection”. Similar signs were posted on a portable board in the native language of the victims.

      When the chamber was full or the entire transport was inside and the personnel had left (two SS noncommissioned officers always stayed until the end), the doors were shut, the bolts were slid into place, and the screws were tightened. On order of the supervising SS doctor (the job was assigned to, among others, Josef Mengele, Hans Koenig, and Hans Thilo), the SS disinfectors (Scheinmetz, among others) opened the Zyklon B cans and poured their contents into the vents down the induction shafts into the chamber.

      About a half hour after the induction of the gas, the ventilation was turned on, the door was opened, and Sonderkommando prisoners wearing gas masks began dragging the corpses out of the chamber.
      It took about four hours to empty the gas chamber. Initially the corpses were delivered to the furnaces on small trolleys that ran on rails, as was done in the main camp. The trolleys also served to load the corpses into the furnace retorts. This arrangement, however, did not last long. On the initiative of the Kapo August Bruck, special corpse stretchers, which could be rolled into the retorts, were introduced. To facilitate the loading, the corpse stretchers were lubricated with soapy water.

      About 2,500 corpses could be cremated in 24hours in each of crematoria II and III.

      Do you understand, Prof. Falk, why we find this Nazi business so offensive?

  3. Beau Oolayforos August 8, 2016 at 11:07 am #

    Dear Professor Falk,

    Lord Acton’s warning is here in spades: there is little immediate countervailing force to Israeli cruelty, which would be much worse if the world weren’t watching. USG continues to flatter & abet Zion, as it does the Saudi’s, Sissi, the newly-hatched murderer of the Phillipines, etc., etc. But time is on the Palestinians’, or rather the peacemakers’ side, & meanwhile, it seems we are to be taught the meaning of heroism by some encyclopedist:)

    • Gene Schulman August 9, 2016 at 12:44 am #

      “The Holocaust is over. We must move on.” (Avram Burg, member of Israeli Knesset). The Palestinians were not responsible for the Holocaust, and had no hand in it. Why do the hasbarists consistently blame them. A cover and diversion of/from their own crimes? Israel’s gratuitous cruelties are crimes against humanity, just as the Nazis’ were. Do you understand, Fred, why these comparisons are so necessary?

      • Fred Skolnik August 11, 2016 at 12:10 am #

        You are the one who is invoking the Holocaust, Mr. Schulman. What does Avram Burg have to do with your comparison of arresting rock throwers and roads for Jews only with the murder of six million Jews?

        You should be ashamed of yourself, Prof. Falk, for blocking my reply to this kind of malicious garbage.

      • Richard Falk August 11, 2016 at 12:46 am #

        As I have repeatedly pointed out, if you consistently personalize your comments to demean others,
        comments will be blocked. Others who write primarily substantively, and are occasionally provoked to
        respond with insults, are given the benefit of the doubt, including you. If you can wrap your mind around
        the idea that you are a ‘guest’ when writing comments and I have the responsibility to act as a ‘host,’
        which includes dealing with uncivil behavior.

    • Fred Skolnik August 11, 2016 at 1:55 am #

      And what exactly is demeaning about asking Mr. Oolayforos what is “heroic” about blowing up Israeli women and children in buses and restaurants or murdering them in their homes? or expressing my doubts about whether Miss Knightly has “witnessed” all the transgressions she enumerates, and pointing out to her that it is terrorists who are killed or incarcerated and that the well poisoning business wreaks of the medieval Church and that rounding up a few dozen or a few hundred Israeli soldiers in an army where hundreds of thousands serve to supply horror stories to an eager audience is less than meaningless?

      • Richard Falk August 11, 2016 at 2:37 am #

        I cannot monitor each and every comment, but your response to Oolayforos was personally insulting, insinuating that if he really
        favored peace he would give the advice you favor to the Palestinian leadership. That was irrelevant to your substantive point, and
        is inserted merely to discredit..And as for Laurie Knightly, it is again insinuating that she lacks the qualification to make her
        argument, which does not depend on witnessing. Many Israelis have written extensively on the basis of first-hand knowledge of house
        demolitions that have no security justification (Halper insists on the basis of extensive experience that less than 5% do).

  4. Laurie Knightly August 8, 2016 at 6:34 pm #

    A few points;

    Perhaps there will come a time when Palestinians will no longer be scapegoated for WW2.

    There are people who care deeply for other people’s children and demonstrate this in a variety of ways. Some live in Israel and care about Palestinian children. And they care about what their own children are being taught to inflict on others – the effect that it has on them as people.

    There are high school children, called Schministim, who are refusing to serve in the Israeli military upon graduation. There are videos of them on line denouncing Israeli treatment of the indigenous people. Other young refusniks are incarcerated again and again for desertion. Check the video of Natan Blanc, Omer Goldman, and others. I spent time with some very young soldiers who came to NYC to escape the military. They testified at the UU church in Brooklyn stating that they would no longer break into Palestinian homes in the middle of the night to terrorize the families. It was often for no reason other than to generate fear and submission. They also told us about the tactic called – Provocation and Reaction used to start stone throwing. One can research this easily. One soldier said that he would never be able to erase the scene of those frightened children and his part in their plight. Another stated that the military would insult and harass young Palestinian boys to create an incident so they could beat/arrest them – or provide targets for snipers.

    I have witnessed the Israeli military in action myself. What kind of people can destroy homes/villages, poison wells, steal land, destroy crops, and subjugate/kill/incarcerate the rightful owners? And blame their victims for the crimes. Not all Israelis – but far too many.

    General Matti Peled resigned from the military following the ’67 war and with other retired officers became a very dedicated activist. His plan was not an Eretz Israel but a withdrawal from occupied land and two states. His daughter, who paid a heavy price, was aware of other people’s children and blamed Israel for the deaths/inhumanity on both sides. And we must never omit the sponsorship of US, UK and UN in these actions.

    People on this blog get insulted for caring about other people’s children by one who admittedly does not. Please consider the source before taking offense. There is debate and de bait. Don’t fall for the latter.

    • Richard Falk August 8, 2016 at 9:47 pm #

      As usual, Laurie, very well expressed, and capturing the spirit of what I was trying to convey. I will try harder to heed the guidance of your final line.

      • Kata Fisher August 9, 2016 at 7:27 am #

        Important note:

        I should be specifically simple: those who are in satanic seals and in blood-lines of satanic seals – they will Blaspheme existence of God, they will blaspheme Spirit of God and they will blaspheme the Church because Spirit of God trough Jesus Christ of Nazareth is in the Church. They always hiss- they do not stop, and always ready to bite at opportunity – like their father the devil. How can anything be a nest of vipers and like a nest of vipers?

      • Richard Falk August 9, 2016 at 9:37 am #

        Kata: This note has no discernible connection to this blog. You have to be more explicit about
        the connection between what you write and what I and others at this blogsite know and understand,
        You call it an ‘important note,’ perhaps to you, but how are others supposed to appreciate its
        importance without your patient guidance.

  5. Fred Skolnik August 8, 2016 at 10:28 pm #

    By the way, Prof, Falk, I believe it is I who am being labeled as someone who does not care about other people’s children. I am tempted to return the compliment but I will leave it to you to clarify for Laurie your policy about personal insults.

    • Richard Falk August 9, 2016 at 9:46 am #

      Fred: The difference between you and other comment writers who on occasion make insulting and derogatory remarks is
      that you do it consistently and in a particularly insulting manner. Those that stray across the line occasionally, especially
      when provoked, are given the benefit of the doubt. I accorded you and your likeminded friends such a courtesy for a long time,
      and tried to persuade you to participate civilly or not at all.

      • Fred Skolnik August 9, 2016 at 10:58 am #

        Once again: Do you believe that calling murderers heroes (Oolayforos) does not warrant a reply? Do you believe that likening the arrest of stone throwers and “roads for Jews only” to the systematic extermination of six million Jews (Schulman) does not warrant a reply?

      • Richard Falk August 11, 2016 at 2:40 am #

        I have not observed the slightest pretense of balance in your comments, and so why do you lecture me?

  6. Falk-Uncensored August 9, 2016 at 5:30 pm #

    Falk, as usual you run from the truth.
    Why don’t you include this in your forward to the book?

    Or is adding balance against your religion?

    • Richard Falk August 11, 2016 at 7:40 am #

      I have not observed the slightest pretense of balance in your comments, and so why do you lecture me?

      • Fred Skolnik August 11, 2016 at 9:48 am #

        No one is lecturing you. We are challenging you. You are, as you say, the host, so the burden of proof is on you. What we are challenging is the quality of the evidence you present to support your assertions or allegations, which derive solely from other polemicists who share your views and almost by definition do not meet the minimal standards of investigation or scholarship. That really isn’t good enough.

      • Richard Falk August 11, 2016 at 10:23 am #

        The point is to stick to the issues without telling me and others that we are dishonest, Jew haters,
        uninformed, unqualified. Give your point of view without the insulting and demeaning language. Are you capable of
        this? I realize you have a negative opinion about me. That is okay, but if you want to participate on this website
        you must treat this as irrelevant. You tend also to view anyone with an opinion that collides with yours as a ‘polemicist’
        but somehow what you and those who share your outlook as ‘objective’ and ‘scholarly,’ which is itself a leading tactic
        of a dedicated polemicist!

      • Fred Skolnik August 11, 2016 at 10:51 am #

        No, I am not posing as a scholar and I am not even saying that I am objective. I am challenging your assertions. If you were to say that Obama was a Muslim or was not born in the United States and were to cite Donald Trump or some other Republican “critic” as your source I would point out that Donald Trump has a bias and is not by any measure an authority on the subject just as Jeff Halper, Uri Avneri, Gideon Levi and all the other critics that you cite for no other reason than that they share your views are also not authorities.

      • Richard Falk August 11, 2016 at 11:17 am #

        Your are not challenging my assertions. You are challenging the integrity and qualifications
        of my motivations and qualifications to make assertions with which you disagree. And to do this
        as harshly as you do, whether you intend it or not, is insulting and demeaning.

  7. Gene Schulman August 11, 2016 at 11:38 am #


    Fred is here only to discredit your blog and drag you, and those who agree with you, through the mud. He is right that he is not a scholar, but he is indeed a polemicist. As long as you tolerate him and respond to his bullying tactics, he is winning. He wants your blog, discerning and honest as it is, to disappear. Most of your usual commentators seem to have already been chased away. I, personally, would not object if you blocked all of Fred’s comments, along with those of the likes of Aaron (Falk-Uncensored), Rabbi Ira, et al., so the issues you raise can be discussed, as you put it above, civilly.

    Still reading, slowly and deeply, “Power Shift.”

    Good wishes,


    • Richard Falk August 11, 2016 at 9:29 pm #

      You are undoubtedly correct about this at both the level of explanation, and at the level of policy. I
      keep trapping myself by a habit I developed during decades of teaching–taking every student seriously no
      matter how alien their opinions and assuming the sincerity of their emotions. I have to keep learning that
      this is a different game being played in the blogosphere! Thanks, Gene, for this necessary mentorship!!

      • Rabbi Ira Youdovin August 12, 2016 at 10:13 am #

        It’s difficult to reconcile Prof. Falk’s castigating Fred Skolnik and others (myself included) for impugning motives with his endorsement of this accusation by Gene Schulman:
        “Fred is here only to discredit your blog and drag you, and those who agree with you, through the mud….He wants your blog, discerning and honest as it is, to disappear. Most of your usual commentators seem to have already been chased away.”
        How do Prof. Falk and Mr. Schulman know what’s in Fred Skolnik’s head? Might not he simply be dissenting with their views by presenting an abundance of contrary evidence? Indeed, they deny him the respect they demand of others.
        Theorizing that Fred seeks to destroy this blog runs counter to observable facts. When Fred and others post, the number of participants increase. When Fred and others take a break, neither the quantity nor quality of comments increase. In fact, they tend to decrease with the vacuum filled by Ray’s quotes from the New Testament, Kata Fisher’s theobabble, etc; none of which is likely to attract serious people seeking serious discussion.
        This blog has never attracted a large following. At one time, when the number of subscribers was listed, that number hovered around 1000 or so. (n.b. The number of readers who don’t formally subscribe undoubtedly is larger). Frankly, I’m surprised by the apparent paucity of interest. Prof. Falk has been a prominent figure for a very long time. I’m also surprised by the absence of Palestinian participants, and participants from academe. I have some thoughts as to why, but I’ll keep these to myself.

        Rabbi Ira Youdovin

  8. Rabbi Ira Youdovin August 12, 2016 at 8:06 am #

    In light of recent mention of the Holocaust on this blog, a note of clarification is in order.

    To my knowledge, with one notable exception, no prominent Israeli has blamed the Palestinians for the Holocaust. That exception is Prime Minister Netanyahu, who recently told the Knesset that Haj Amin al –Husseini, grand mufti of Jerusalem, had persuaded Hitler to change his original intention of expelling the Jews to annihilating them. He was roundly denounced by a large of diverse group of political leaders and scholars.

    Avram Burg’s statement, “…the Holocaust is over …” needs to be contextualized. He was not critiquing Israeli tendencies to blame Palestinians for the Holocaust, or “scapegoating” them as Laurie Knightly asserted. His concern was the lasting impact of the Holocaust experience, when the whole world abandoned European Jewry, which makes many Israelis suspicious of alliances or the possibility of their enemies changing ever changing. This reality, which is brilliantly discussed by Israeli journalist Ari Shavit in his book “My Promised Land”, is regarded by many as an impediment to Israel’s taking risks that are a prerequisite of making peace with the Palestinians. Burg’s complete statement is, “…the Holocaust is over, it’s time to move on,”

    Rabbi Ira Youdovin

    • Brewer August 12, 2016 at 4:41 pm #

      “when the whole world abandoned European Jewry”
      A gross insult to the Allied soldiers who fought and the 14 million or so who died in that conflict.
      Please withdraw that disgusting calumny, not least for the sake of Jews everywhere unwillingly associated with such a self-centered, malicious falsehood.

    • Gene Schulman August 13, 2016 at 12:44 am #

      Few have come right out and admitted that they blame the Palestinians for the Holocaust, but then why are the Palestinians treated and punished as if they were the cause? Every time there is an Israeli aggression against Palestinians, the Israelis invoke the Holocaust as the justification – “we must defend ourselves – never again!” Isn’t it about time we began taking Burg’s advice, and stop using the Holocaust as the justification for every illegal war against the Palestinians? Ira, if you read my comment above, you will note that I quoted Burg’s statement in full. No need to repeat it as though something had been left out.

      As for Ari Shavit’s book, “My Promised Land”, let me just cite my own letter (in part) published in the FTimes in reply to Simon Schama’s sickening review of it:

      “As I read the book, I couldn’t help thinking that Shavit was no different than all the trolls who comment on blogs that criticize Israel and its racist policies toward the Palestinians. They all go out of their way to rewrite the history of the Palestine/Israel conflict in order to defend Israel’s existence. Shavit doesn’t so much rewrite as he omits. Yes, he tells the story of Lydda, but then apologizes that it had to be done, or else his family would not be Israelis. Israel would not exist. This is pure hasbara. Why should Palestinians be murdered so his children could be born and live in Israel?

      “Shavit’s is a syrupy, cloying historical romance. Colored to justify the creation of an artificial state at the expense of an indigenous population as though it never existed. This book was written to enforce the ZIonist narrative for skeptical Jews who are watching Israel’s legitimacy self destruct.”

      One more remark: The Yeshuv was as guilty as anyone else for the abandonment of European Jewry. Shavit’s “new” Jews wanted nothing to do with the “Yekkes”.

      • Fred Skolnik August 13, 2016 at 9:05 pm #

        Your are reasoning backwards. Israel would be defending itself in the same way if there had never been a Holocaust. Who wouldn’t against an enemy whose declared aim has been to destroy the state and massacre its population? No one is blaming the Arabs for the Holocaust and no one is invoking it whan Hamas fires 4,500 rockets at Israel’s civilian population or its freedom fighters blow up Israeli women and children. Israel is responding as any other country would respond.

      • Richard Falk August 13, 2016 at 10:46 pm #

        Untrue. Israel’s use of violence and oppressive polices is unmatched elsewhere. The damage done by rockets is incomparably
        small compared to the deliberate excessiveness of Israeli violence and state terror, especially evident in the collective
        punishment inflicted on the civilian population of Gaza, denied even the option of leaving the combat
        zones while Israel ‘mows the lawn’ in the language used by a Sharon aide. Your blindness to such realities is part of
        why you have recourse to such personally insulting language, destroy the messenger if you cannot bear the message.

      • Gene Schulman August 13, 2016 at 11:39 pm #

        A rather unsightly form of genocide to be accounted for. Rather shows how badly Israel treats its own Arabs:


    • Laurie Knightly August 13, 2016 at 2:19 pm #

      The holocaust is used to justify what has been done subsequently in Palestine – a reparation package on the backs of innocents. To my knowledge, it has not been referenced in other terms by moral critics. I suspect that you may very well understand this. And is the number 40,000, the census of holocaust survivors who are living in abject poverty in Israel? The term ‘holocaust survivor’ is used broadly but pales in comparison to the obvious opportunists who claimed a piece of the spoils. Sure, time to move on. It was successful………..

    • Laurie Knightly August 13, 2016 at 3:20 pm #

      Oh yes, and it was a Palestinian, Haj Amin al-Husseini, who convinced Hitler to exterminate Jews. He would never have done such evil deeds had it not been for this persuasion. So it must have been a Palestinian who was responsible for WW2. Such power this man possessed!

  9. Laurie Knightly August 12, 2016 at 11:15 pm #

    The subject was centered on the lasting trauma inflicted on Palestinian children. If the Z team acknowledged/admitted/cared about these children, I missed it. Not only does Fred in particular seem unfazed by the testimony, he suspects they are lying – while being surrounded by terrorist sponsors. I stand by any and all statements that I have submitted. What need would I have to define in any manner the ethics/motives/empathy of these men? Do they not elucidate that sufficiently without any personality assessments from me?

  10. Rabbi Ira Youdovin August 13, 2016 at 7:32 am #


    Why did your delete my most recent comment after briefly posting it? Who complained? Fred Skolnik and I have been accused of impugning motives, questioning integrity and driving away serious discussion. Why are we denied the right to respond, especially when these same tactics are used against us?


    • Richard Falk August 13, 2016 at 10:58 pm #


      Because your comments are so mean-spirited, condescending, supercilious, and deceptively phrased. To demean the blog,
      to characterize those who share to some extent my outlook as my ‘admirers’ is to belittle and to associate yourself
      with such a rigid critic as Fred Skolnik who never misses an opportunity to make personally insulting attacks. These
      are my reasons. I owe you this courtesy of an explanation, which judging from past experience, I don’t expect you to swallow.

      • Rabbi Ira Youdovin August 14, 2016 at 7:22 am #


        The comment you censor and condemn is nothing more than a measured recitation of provable, albeit inconvenient, truths. Under the misleadingly benign rubric of owing me the “courtesy (!) of a reply”, you hurl a public and intensely personal attack on me and a document you prevent readers from seeing. Now that you’ve spoken your piece, it’s only fair that you post the comment you censored so that readers can draw their own conclusions.


      • Richard Falk August 14, 2016 at 8:08 am #


        I agree with you that your comment should be approved (and it now is) and hopefully read in the spirit that it is written. I
        cannot possibly grasp what motivates someone of religious vocation and pastoral training to write in such
        a hurtful manner. To what end but to demean and belittle. I have often received hate mail over the years for
        a variety of issues, but nothing that is crafted with such obvious malicious intent. It is not surprising that
        you find Fred Skolnik a welcome bedfellow..


  11. Rabbi Ira Youdovin August 14, 2016 at 10:26 am #


    I’m traveling today and won’t have time to respond to your comment except to thank you for restoring my original post. It was an act of both decency and courage .

    One brief item: I’ve re-read my comment and can’t find my using the phrase “your admirers”, as you claimed. And if I had, would it be an improper way of describing folks like Gene, Laurie and Walker Percy who repeatedly and explicitly express their admiration for you?


    • Richard Falk August 14, 2016 at 1:48 pm #


      You know very well that to identify someone as an ‘admirer’ in this way is to deprive them of their primary identity.
      How would you like it if I referred to you not for your views but merely as an ‘admirer’ of Fred Skolnik, which incidentally,
      you seem to be? It was also a remark made in the context of trying to describe the blog as lacking any meaningful following or influence,
      which makes me wonder why you bother with it, and keep returning..


  12. Fred Skolnik August 14, 2016 at 11:04 am #

    As I wrote, Prof. Falk, the ploy of “depersonalizing” the most violent slander is unique to polemicists like yourself. No, you have not “replied in kind” to me, as you assert above, you have done much worse, because you do not seem to grasp that when you call Israelis Nazis and accuse them of genocide you are calling me a Nazi and accusing me of genocide. I served on active reserve duty in the Israeli army for nearly 20 years, searched Arab homes, arrested rock throwers, pursued terrorists, defended the country’s civilian population against barbaric attacks. To suggest that any of this is Nazilike is simply repulsive and indicates that you, and certainly your admirers, have lost every modicum of restraint in venting your vindictive hatred of Israel. Exactly how do expect someone you call a Nazi to respond to you?

    • Richard Falk August 17, 2016 at 5:00 am #

      I have never on this blog made any comparison between Israel and Naziism or Nazi behavior. How dare you pretend
      that you are dealing with such inflammatory accusations when in reality Israel is being accused of a variety of crimes
      by reference to international law. To exaggerate the allegation, and then complain about it, is to evade the substance
      of criticism. And you wonder why allegations of hasbara and troll flow in your direction.

  13. Rabbi Ira Youdovin August 19, 2016 at 7:27 am #



    I’d like to explore your assessment of my blog comments. You write: “I have often received hate mail over the years for a variety of issues, but nothing that is crafted with such obvious malicious intent.” Wow! Considering the hostile reactions your views elicit from mainstream academics and social activists, I must be one terrible dude. Or maybe I’m not. Let’s see.

    Several days ago, you castigated me for referring to a group of folks who post on this blog as your “admirers”, because (you said) failing to mention them by name robbed them of their individuality. This is at best, a stretch. I can’t imagine that someone like Gene Schulman who frequently posts statements of admiration for you would be offended. But stranger still is the fact that I never wrote the words you criticized. You can check. They’re not there. And when I told you that, you doubled down by insisting that my intention in posting them was to demean the blog.

    This is by no means the first time you’ve put words into my mouth (or into my word processor.) And there are your incessant extremist critiques of what I do write. You conveniently summarize on a recent post: “Your comments are mean-spirited, condescending, supercilious, and deceptively phrased…I have often received hate mail over the years for a variety of issues, but nothing that is crafted with such obvious malicious intent.”

    Regrettably, but revealingly, you rarely if ever cite the offending word or phrase, so neither I nor anyone else can evaluate the accuracy of your allegations. But I do know a little something about hate speech, having served a term on the Illinois Governor’s Commission on Hate Crimes. To say that anything I’ve written on this blog, or anywhere else, is hate speech, indeed the most malicious hate mail you’ve ever received, is entirely groundless to the point of being irrational, or as you might put it, “mean-spirited”.

    I won’t speculate on the psychological and/or logistical factors that drive you to use allegations that are easily disprovable by readily accessible evidence to build a straw man. At times, your charges are so ridiculous as to be laughable. You accuse me of being in league with the hardest of Israel’s hard liners, while the record shows that throughout my long career as a Jewish professional, I’ve consistently and vigorously opposed the Occupation and advocated for Palestinian rights both inside Israel and in the Occupied Territories. And I’ve made my position clear in my postings on this blog.

    It would appear that in your mind, anyone who isn’t 100% in agreement with your views is 110% opposed, an enemy of the Palestinians, and an unwanted intruder on this blog. My imagination? Well…not so long ago you clearly stated that you wanted comments only from those who believe that Israel is totally, or near totally to blame for the conflict. As you may recall, I wrote you privately to suggest that this could best be achieved through a password protected blog. But so long as entrée was open, you would have to accept whatever comments were sent, or act as censor. You’ve chosen an ill-advised mash-up, making civility the sole criterion for acceptance while enforcing the rule in a consistently one-sided manner, and treating the dissent that gets through with clenched-teeth disdain.

    Richard, as you may remember, I began following your blog at the suggestion of a mutual friend who felt you were being treated unfairly by mainstream critics. He’s still my friend, as he is yours. But I am now persuaded that he’s wrong. You ask, why do I hang around? I sometimes ask myself that question. And in fact, I spend very little time with the blog. My guess is that I hope to somehow initiate a meaningful dialogue with you or somebody else whose views of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict are mostly different from mine except that we both share a commitment to Palestinian national fulfillment in the context of a just and equitable resolution based on the concept of peaceful co-existence of two states for two peoples. I haven’t found that person yet. But who knows?

    Rabbi Ira Youdovin

    • Richard Falk August 19, 2016 at 9:39 am #


      I appreciate the care you have taken with this response, and it makes me aware that I have not expressed myself as well as I might.

      Let me respond briefly. I agree that this blog is not meant for someone with your views, and I acknowledge that this may be a limitation,
      but it a reflection to the best of my ability of my views. In this sense, it is mainly intended for an audience, not of ‘admirers,’ but
      of those who share my broad frame of reference. There is plenty to disagree about within this frame even with respect to Israel/Palestine.
      Also, this blog was never conceived to be predominantly about Israel/Palestine, but rather an outlet for a broader set of interests.

      I should not have merged ‘hate mail’ and ‘mean spirited.’ Of course, your messages are not hate mail, but they are more hurtful as you write
      from a more informed perspective and in a style that is thoughtful and engaged. I meant by ‘mean-spirited’ your rather frequent ways of telling me
      that I am essentially wasting my time, that no one cares about what I have to say, etc.. This is a heavy blow given the work that goes into keeping
      up a blog of this sort. It also contradicts my experience of feedback from a wide range of people throughout the planet, and from the number of
      requests I receive for permission to publish elsewhere the posts that first appear here.(to be cont’d; a friend just arrived) Richard

    • Richard Falk August 20, 2016 at 2:40 am #

      Ira: (Sorry for the break. We had to leave for dinner as soon my friend left)

      I also wonder about your contention that I have no reason to doubt that you seek a peaceful reconciliation between the two peoples,
      as do I, but it seems incompatible with your unflagging support, and if I might add, ‘admiration’ for Fred Skolnik who strikes me as
      an Israeli extremist who despite the realities of the situation justifies Israel’s every action, and is crudely and consistently abusive to me and others.
      I have blocked many of his posts that are filled with invective and tendentious reasoning.

      Let me try to explain one last time why I have found your messages so disturbing, and different tone and nature that my many disagreements
      over the years with friends and colleagues on various delicate issues. Because of our common friendship with Rich I supposed that you would
      proceed in a similar manner of disagreeing with my views on Israel, pointing to my errors and emphasizing your positive views on a diplomatic
      path to peace. You do this, but couple it with various kinds of innuendo that question my motivation and underlying capacity for judgment, suggesting
      my views are harmful to the Palestinian cause, that I write from a perspective hostile to Israel, and the like. It is this unwillingness to give
      me the benefit of the doubt even on an incident as distasteful as my accidental posting of an anti-Semitic cartoon in the midst of an article that
      had nothing whatsoever to do with Israel is illustrative of why I have reacted strongly to your various personal attacks over the life of the blog.
      I had nurtured the hope that we could have a constructive discussion, and if not, then no discussion. I would have thought that your pastoral
      experience would have also led you to choose one or the other of these alternatives.

      I guess I keep responding to you because I somehow believe that we should be able to express our differences without losing the high ground of civility.

      Best, Richard

  14. Fred Skolnik August 20, 2016 at 9:42 am #

    You are misrepresenting my views. There is nothing extreme in the view that Israel’s response to acts of terrorism is justified, This includes returning fire in Gaza when the country is under rocket attack and the checkposts, security roads and arrests in the West Bank. This represents the view of the majority of Israelis and is perfectly natural.

    • Richard Falk August 20, 2016 at 10:02 am #

      Maybe not on this issue, but overall. I have never noted a criticism of Israel’s behavior on your part
      or even respect for the views of those who make a criticism or even meeting somewhat halfway (as by acknowledging
      the point, but it is not the whole story).

      • Fred Skolnik August 20, 2016 at 10:48 am #

        MY personal criticism of Israel or the idea of meeting anyone halfway is not the issue here. We are not involved in negotiations. When an allegation or assertion is made that I find to be false, I say so and I argue my point. As for respect, I have had my say about that.


  1. Richard Falk: ‘History is on the side of the Palestinians’ | The Prisoners' Diaries Book - October 20, 2016

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  7. Jared Kushner, here are 25 more books you should read about Palestine, Israel relations | Uprootedpalestinians's Blog - February 14, 2020

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