Jerusalem Day

What’s happening in Israel is bad for the Jews.

Israelis taunt an Arab woman whose home has been occupied by settlers.

From the Wall Street Journal’s photo-blog

I still recall the profound joy of the real Jerusalem Day in 1967. It’s getting harder and harder to celebrate.

Yes, Israeli mishegas is in part a product of Palestinian intransigence; every Israeli politician who has thought he could make peace has been proven wrong. A one-state solution will leave as many Jews in Tel Aviv fifty years from now as there are in Baghdad today, and there is no substantial bloc of Palestinian support for a two-state solution.

But the more the Israelis allow themselves to be shaped into the mirror image of Hamas, the less it seems to matter which group of Semitic lunatics gets to oppress the other. Looking at those evil, leering faces, my strongest regret is that I don’t have a club to smash them all in. My second strongest regret is that the heads are covered with yarmulkes. What’s happening in Israel is bad for the Jews.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact:

26 thoughts on “Jerusalem Day”

  1. You want to commit an act of significant physical violence because some people are making faces? What kind of mensch are you?

  2. The photograph immediately reminded me of Jews surrounded by brownshirts on the sidewalk.

    As for the strenuous efforts by the usual suspects to deny the propriety of the comparison … well, as a lawyer, when I can't win on substance, I argue form.

  3. hmm, they aren't just making faces at her. They took her house. Read the article.

  4. Joel,

    There is no article…there's merely a caption. And you appear to be using the pronoun they to refer to two different antecedents. The first "they" refers to the ugly-faced "gentlemen" in the picture. The second "they" seems to refer to the Jews, en masse.

    Frankly, this photo lacks context. Was there an actual two-way verbal argument going on? Or was this mere barbaric harassment on the part of the "youths"? Video footage would be helpful.

  5. Hmmm, clearly Joel misspoke: he obviously meant that they went there to celebrate the taking of her house, not that they took her house themselves – but taking his two "theys" as referring to two different groups, and especially taking his second "they" as referring to Jews en masse, is incendiary, and it's not an interpretation in good faith. Speaking as a Jew, I agree with Mark and with the majority of American Jews: the behavior of the Likudniks is bad for the Jews and bad for Israel.

  6. Okay, "hmm…" Let's say this photo is a complete and utter fake. In that case, just take out from the post the two sentences,"Looking at those evil, leering faces, my strongest regret is that I don’t have a club to smash them all in. My second strongest regret is that the heads are covered with yarmulkes."

    The rest is still completely true, and there are plenty of other photographs that could have been used.

  7. Her family may have been there for generations, and these guys may have arrived from Brooklyn all of three months ago, but, in their minds, that means that they have the right to what was her house. They look like recent transplants from the USA, in any case. Is there any information on their backgrounds?

    I share the frustration of hmmm that the caption is insufficient to give us an understanding of the incident, but if this picture is seen by their friends in the US, and if these friends let them know that this is bad for Jews everywhere, that may wipe off their smirks more lastingly than any club.

  8. I think Israel has a long ways to go before it's the mirror image of Hamas. I base this on the fact that the Palestinians are still alive. That they're not behaving as nice as people not surrounded by folks who'd like them dead is, however, obvious.

  9. I base this on the fact that the Palestinians are still alive.

    Many Palestinians are not, in fact, still alive.

  10. But how Israeli are these boys? They still look American to me somehow. The actual Jerusalemites who wrote to Elie Wiesel, and whose criticisms of him were recently posted here, probably do not resemble these Johnny-come-latelies. None of them looks a day over nineteen. I think they were probably stateside this time last year.

  11. Certainly, there is a lot of context missing from the picture; however, the reference to the "Sheik Jarrah neighborhood" in the original article is suggestive. That is the place where the Israeli Supreme Court recently permitted the Jewish owners of several homes to evict Arabs who had been living there for decades without paying rent. The neighborhood is mostly Arab today, but it was a Jewish neighborhood before Jordan captured the area and expelled all of the Jews living there.

    That doesn't excuse these young men from jeering at one of the people evicted, of course, presuming that this is indeed what is going on. On the other hand, this is the New York Times, which some years ago ran a picture of an American Jewish young man who had been badly beaten by Palestinians, and was being defended by an Israeli policeman from the thugs who were chasing him – and claimed that the picture showed a Palestinian being beaten by that policeman.

  12. OK, I'm a moron. This is NOT the New York Times, but the Wall Street Journal. Anybody who has the ability to do is welcome to delete my comment, or at least the bit about the Times.

  13. Anderson's thought was the same as mine. These boy are acting like arogent punks and disgrace themselves. But of course what boy hasn't disgraced himself?

  14. Brett Bellmore says:

    "I think Israel has a long ways to go before it’s the mirror image of Hamas. I base this on the fact that the Palestinians are still alive. That they’re not behaving as nice as people not surrounded by folks who’d like them dead is, however, obvious."

    Well, well well. Suddenly Mr. Hardcore Libertarian isn't so hardcore libertarian.

  15. Well, one thing that can be said positively is that their parents have failed, they have all raised fools.

    Worst disgrace parents can commit. I don't care what their religion, beliefs, color, context, or language is. This is a photograph showing a pack of fools.

    There are "savages" in the shrinking Amazon rain forest that have a lot more class.

  16. In the course of searching for something else, I came across a passage that seems appropriate. It is from a 'resignation letter' of Bertell Ollman's:

    [T]he ancient Hebrews not only received the Laws from God but also, supposedly, the promise of a particular piece of land. The latter, however, was always linked to the Jews obedience to these laws, of which the most important—given the number of times God refers to it—is the prohibition against idolatry. While the Jews have not built any idols of Jahweh, their record on idolatry—perhaps in part the result of the restraint shown in representing God—has probably been worse than that of their neighbors. For well over 3,000 years, Judaism has fought a largely losing fight against idolatry with the temple in Jerusalem, the scrolls of the Torah and the land of Israel coming to embody and gradually to replace the relations with God and the corresponding ethical precepts that they were supposed to represent. But only in Zionism, the current version of this land idolatry, have these precepts been sacrificed altogether. This modern version of the Golden Calf has saved Moses the trouble of smashing the Ten Commandments by doing it for him. That many of today's Zionists don't believe in the God of their fathers simply makes it easier for them to turn Eretz Israel into a new God. The idolatry stands. Only now God's laws can be written by a committee without sullying their nationalist content with any universalist pretensions. If such extreme nationalism is normal—which makes Spinoza, Marx, Freud and Einstein thoroughly abnormal—then, I guess, Berlin finally got his normal people.*

    *This last sentence refers to an anecdote about I. Berlin recounted earlier in the essay.

  17. What I'd like to know is, what are those guys thinking? Do they believe that they are entitled to the land because of a religious conviction? Because if so, there is no point arguing with that kind of person.

    It's one thing to claim land and negotiate for it (or cede parts of it) based on a rational calculus of outcomes. Demographics, military strength, water supply, previously signed treaties, etc. But if the impulse is faith-driven, sit back and watch the situation explode – which it will, eventually.

  18. Ed Whitney says not once, but twice, that he can tell that those Jews are "Americans," and "recent transplants from the USA." Not only does he know that they're Americans (how? "somehow"), but he can pinpoint that they "may have arrived from Brooklyn all of three months ago."

    This Whitney guy is something else!

  19. Friendly tip from a liberal Orthodox Jew: if the best argument for Zionism you can come up with is "the Israeli government is not as bad as Hamas", you really need to walk away from your keyboard and come up with some better arguments.

  20. Right on, hmmm! I can tell just by looking at them that they graduated from the Yeshiva of Flatbush in 2008, that they flew into Ben-Gurion airport on January 14th, and that they took the train from Tel Aviv to Haifa, and then caught the bus from Haifa to Jerusalem four days before the picture was taken, except that the kid on the left took the bus from Beer-Sheva instead. I am willing to bet my virginity on this.

  21. "“I think Israel has a long ways to go before it’s the mirror image of Hamas. I base this on the fact that the Palestinians are still alive. That they’re not behaving as nice as people not surrounded by folks who’d like them dead is, however, obvious.”

    Well, well well. Suddenly Mr. Hardcore Libertarian isn’t so hardcore libertarian."

    You know, Barry, I completely fail to see how observing that if Israel really were the mirror image of Hamas, the Palestinians would all be dead, establishes that I'm not a libertarian. Likewise for the observation that people facing an existential threat tend to be less well behaved than folks under more secure circumstances.

    Libertarianism is a theory of how people ought to behave, not a prediction as to how they do behave.

  22. But Hamas is identical to itself (Randroids note: A is A) and the Israelis are still alive. Therefore the aliveness of the Palestinians cannot be construed as evidence of whether or not Israel is the mirror image of Hamas.

  23. Hamas suffers from a severe mismatch of ends and means; They'd like to commit genocide against Israel, but lack the ability. Israel certainly DOES have the ability to commit genocide against the Palestinians if they wanted to. But hasn't, which proves they're not Hamas' moral mirror image, which is clearly what was suggested.

  24. I agree they are probably Americans: Israeli men that age are in uniform.

    Someone has to explain to me more slowly why the Jews who owned property in Sheikh Jarrakh get it back but Arabs who owned homes in Talbieh (from which they were forcibly driven, you can even see the commemorative plaque for the event on the outside wall of a building on HaPalmach Street) don't.

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