December 20, 2011

A speech by Yossi Klein Halevi on Threats to Israel and the Jewish People

Since I have become more involved and knowledgeable about the Arab-Israeli conflict, I also get to see how others relate to it. My experience is that most people have insufficient knowledge or do not care enough beyond the one fact that there is a conflict and each side should just stop and make peace. If only life were so cut and dried.

Over at Daphne Anson's blog, an important voice from "down under," my attention was drawn to a speech by Yossi Klein Halevi at The David Project. Though some knee-jerk anti Israel crusaders have impugned Daphne Anson's site, I question why standing up for Israel and against hate and discrimination targeted at Israel and the Jewish people gets them so bent? I suppose they imagine that Jews cannot be victims and that it is impermissible to expose abusers (including themselves) unless one is fighting in "solidarity" for "justice" and Israel is the target.

Halevi's speech was given on November 3, 2011 in Newton, Massachusetts, and concerned delegitimization efforts against Israel and prospects for the future.

According to his bio, Halevi is a contributing editor of The New Republic magazine, and frequent contributor to the op-ed pages of leading American newspapers, including the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and the Los Angeles Times.

Among his activities, he is active in Middle East reconciliation work, and serves as chairman of Open House, an Arab Israeli-Jewish Israeli center in the town of Ramle, near Tel Aviv. He was one of the founders of the now-defunct Israeli-Palestinian Media Forum, which brought together Israeli and Palestinian journalists.

For those that question The David Project's information, here is his bio at Wikipedia.

In truth, I did not know who Halevi was. Which is nothing new. I am constantly introduced to new people and ideas. I liked what Daphne wrote about the speech, which she named: The Green Flag Of Jihadism Waving In Every Direction; aka Which Existential Threat Keeps You Awake At Night? So, I watched the video and decided to write a post and have embedded it below.

I think Halevi's speech is well worth the time to watch, hear and learn. He not only speaks about delegitimization, but about the Jews as a people, what that means, and the attempts going on to erase Jewish narrative from history, and thus the Jewish people.

He suggests that other religions cannot comprehend that Jewish is more than a religion. If it only was the latter, then how can there be Jewish atheists? Of course, he goes deeper into this and is far more insightful and interesting than anything I offer here. And he provides some valuable advice for both the Left and the Right.

If you have gotten this far, I do hope you will watch the speech, especially if you would like a deeper understanding of the issues. You may not agree with all that he says, but it is important to hear from many sides and to consider a wide range of information, especially for those who believe the simple proposition that both sides are equally at fault and should just stop and make peace.


  1. School, I would very much like for you to cross-post this one, if you would.


  2. The diary I am most proud of from my years at DKos is was the one where I stated that Jews are a people not a religion.

    I used the Jewish atheist argument, among others.

  3. It is a good argument. Of course, when people cannot see past what their religious orientation tells them, things get problematic when it comes to others.

    Except, as Halevi said, when your religion is particularist, like Judaism, you mission is not to create a world of Jews, or a world where others must conform to your beliefs, by consent or duress.

  4. We are "a people."

    We are not a race, because biology does not recognize any such category.

    "Ethnicity" is almost as suspect as race, imo.

    But we are a people and one of the very oldest on the planet.

    3,500 years, or thereabouts?

  5. Everything is "race" these days. Even, it seems, Republicans and Democrats. That way it's just easier to label others as racists.

    Of course, I agree that Jews are certainly a people who are entitled to external self-determination, which international law recognized in the Mandate of the Council of the League of Nations on July 24, 1922 and reaffirmed by Article 80 of the UN Charter.