Is Zionism integral to Judaism?

by Richard on October 2, 2012

Religion Dispatches has a review of Judith Butler’s Parting Ways: Jewishness and the Critique of Zionism

From its inception Zionism had been always one of a variety of Jewish narratives of identity. Anti- or non-Zionist narratives always existed, both in Europe and the U.S., from Bundists, Yiddishists, German nationalists, universalist and internationalists of various stripes, Marxists, American assimilationists (i.e. classical Reform Judaism), ultra-Traditionalists from Aguddat Yisrael, to Habad, to various communities of Hungarian Orthodoxy now largely coalesced around Satmar Hasidism.

These movements all contested the narrative of Jewish identity encapsulated in a Jewish nation-state. Even within Zionism, statist Zionism was hardly accepted uncritically. From Ahad Ha-Am’s cultural Zionism to Simon Rawidowicz’s vision of two spiritual centers in Israel and the Diaspora, Zionists were almost always at odds about what Zionism was supposed to accomplish.

Perhaps the health of Zionism was precisely that it always had Jewish resistance; it never had the hegemony on Jewish identity, it always had to watch its back. Butler argues that this is no longer true and that the fusion, or confusion, of Jewishness (not Judaism) with Zionism has its consequences.

Zionism in the Diaspora is arguably no longer the rich, complex, and multifaceted ideology it once was but has been flattened to mean support of the State of Israel against all detractors (think of those critics who contest Beinart’s Zionism or call J-Street anti-Israel).

Butler writes,

“If Zionism continues to control the meaning of Jewishness, then there can be no Jewish critique of Israel and no acknowledgement of those of Jewish descent or formation who call into question the right of the State of Israel to speak for Jewish values or, indeed, the Jewish people.”

Definitely a book for the reading list.

{ 91 comments… read them below or add one }


Daphne Anson 10.02.12 at 3:32 pm

It’s quite true that prior to the Holocaust there were a variety of Jewish political parties in the Diaspora - in Poland the anti-Zionist socialistic Bund was the biggest of these. But the fate of Jewry in the Second World War demonstrated the futility of the Bundist position.
Since Israel is now a reality, these past political positions of Bundists and other non- or anti-Zionists have been rendered irrelevant. The vast majority of world Jewry is Zionist in some form, because the vast majority of world Jewry supports the existence and well-being of the State of Israel.
Invoking these past political stances as a stick with which to beat Zionism and Zionists is a wasted exercise. Once upon a time the US Democrats supported black slavery, the Conservative Party in Great Britain supported the Empire on which the sun was never supposed to set, and the British Labour Party wanted to nationalise all the means of production. Circumstances change. And for Jews no circumstance has been more significant than the extermination of six million of our people followed by the miraculous rebirth of a haven of our own.


Richard 10.02.12 at 4:31 pm

You’ll have to take this up with the author of the article, but it seems to me that “Invoking these past political stances as a stick with which to beat Zionism” is a complete mis-reading of its intent. The Religion dispatches piece agrees with you that the alternatives of the past are no longer available (”Admittedly, historical alternatives are now largely irrelevant”), but the fact of their existence surely allows for present and future Jewish alternatives to Zionism.


Daphne Anson 10.02.12 at 4:44 pm

Why? Zionism is integral to Judaism.


Richard 10.02.12 at 5:05 pm

“Zionism is integral to Judaism” is precisely the point that is being challenged here. I think. And the fact that Zionism co-existed with other perspectives within Judaism in the past rather proves the point. Doesn’t it?


Daphne Anson 10.02.12 at 7:58 pm

No, Richard, it doesn’t.
The longing for restoration to Zion is integral to Judaism. The nineteenth-century German “gentlemen of the Mosaic persuasion” who founded Reform temples and sheared references to Zion from the liturgy in the belief that with political emancipation the longing for restoration was obsolete got a rude awakening when emancipation proved shortlived; their counterparts in English-speaking lands received their rude awakening with the reality of six million dead. So did the Bundists of Poland, who had hoped that a culture of yiddishkeit could be made to flourish in Eastern Europe.
Israel is a sovereign state. What you appear to wish for is the dissolution of that sovereign state. The question is why. Israel has as much right to exist as Britain does. And as much right to exist as all the nations, including Muslim nations, that came into existence in the twentieth century.
With Israel a reality, even those Jews who were “more British than the British” and slavishly supported British policy during the Mandate proudly avowed their championship of the new state - an outstanding example was Rabbi Jacob Danglow of Melbourne and his (mainstream Orthodox) congregation.
Support for Israel’s right to exists reflects the general consensus among the majority of world Jewry.
There is something deeply disturbing about the fact that the heirs of those who persecuted Jews for 2000 years should be seeking to undermine Zionism and to delegitimise Israel, the land which gave refuge and succour to those pitiful remnants of European Jewry who managed to make their way there, as well as to refugees from Muslim lands.


Richard 10.02.12 at 8:58 pm

You’re under the misapprehension that criticism of zionism implies questioning the legitimacy of the state of Israel. But we’ve been over this ground before, and experience suggests that we’re not going to make any progress by going over it again.


Avraham Reiss 10.02.12 at 10:37 pm

At it again, Richard? This time trying to beat up Zionism under the hypocrytical guise of “spare the rod and soil the child - we only
mean well for Zionism”?

You’re under the misapprehension that criticism of zionism implies questioning the legitimacy of the state of Israel.

- and how about “some of my best friends …” ?

And your title is the biggest lie of all; Jews - OK. But no more Israel. I don’t even believe the first half of that “equation”. The rest of this post explains that.

The author of the article you quoted has a very superficial understanding of Judaism, which in turn infers a superficial
understanding of Zionism.

The very term ‘Judaism’ is far from representing the religion of the People of Israel. Judaism refers to those Toranic commandments that can be observed in exile, i.e. outside of the Land of Israel. Out of 613 comandments in the Torah - i.e. the 5 Books of Moses - only 192 can be observed in exile, which today means Washington, Moscow and Merthyr Tydfil, to name just a few .

At the time of the destruction of the 1st Temple in 586BC, it was decided that a long, 2,000 year exile was required for the Israeli

Nation to disperse amongst the nations in order to attract the various qualities of said nations, for the purpose of self-improvement.

But at that time the nation was not ready for exile, and had it been sent to a long exile, would have assimilated totally and been lost for ever. (This is based on an idea from Rabbi A. I. Kook, first Chief Rabbi of the Land of Israel).

Thus the Second Temple was allowed to be built in order to prepare the nation for its long exile, the Oral Law was written down, great Rabbis created what is known today as “Judaism” - a watered-down version of Toranic life in the land of Israel, which would allow Jews to live amongst Christians, Moslems, Buddhists and all others, while retaining their own religion in exile. But lacking the monarchist level of a King, army, Sanhedrin (High Court), prophecy and other accoutrements of state.

At some point in time it was decreed that the exile had achieved its purpose, fulfilled its mission, and that now was the time for the Israeli nation to return to the Land of Israel.

It’s been going on now for over 100 years, during which time the State of Israel has shown itself to be an indestructable fact of life.

Its vehicle: Zionism, a movement of the will of G-d who began - and is now ending - the long, 2 millenium exile.

Jews in exile who do not support Zionism, are those enjoying a good life amongst the goyim, and don’t want to give it up - not an approach to be treated with great respect.


Richard 10.02.12 at 11:13 pm

I can only ditto my previous comment Abraham.


Kim 10.02.12 at 11:14 pm

Silly me: I thought this post was about the new book by the brilliant, audacious, and hugely humane political and social theorist Judith Butler, who is a Jew, and the review of it by Shaul Magid, who is also a Jew, not about Richard — and an Aunt Sally of a Richard at that. It’s as if, intellectually, the mention of “Israel” sets off an aggressive one-track reaction not unlike that in the famous Abbott and Costello “Niagara Falls” sketch — but scary rather than funny.


Avraham Reiss 10.02.12 at 11:25 pm

” It’s as if, intellectually, the mention of “Israel” sets off an aggressive one-track reaction …”

Now I wonder why that could be? Maybe 2,000 years of Christian persecution?

“Abbott and Costello “? Each to his intellectual level.


Avraham Reiss 10.02.12 at 11:30 pm

Kim, I agree - with the 1st two words you wrote.

“How to Separate Jewishness from Zionism” - how about “How to Separate Christianity from Christ”? Any more offensive than Richard’s title? Or any more ridiculous?

I doubt if you understood 10% of what I wrote, if your reaction is A and C.


Richard 10.03.12 at 7:07 am

The title wasn’t intended to offend. It was borrowed from the linked article. And since I’ve got no wish to cause gratuitous offence, I’ll edit it, of course. However, I wouldn’t be offended at all by your suggested parallel.

I’m not sure whether I’m more puzzled or honoured by the fact that Daphne and Avraham clearly keep on eye on me, though.


Kim 10.03.12 at 7:50 am

I always enjoy your insults, A. I take them as accolades. As I wrote in a recent doodle at F&T (the absence of an idiotic comment there suggests that somehow it must have gotten under your radar): “It is never pleasant to be called anti-Semitic, but when the epithet is hurled at you when discussing the colonising of the West Bank, best not take it personally: the abuse is really just a truculent compliment to the cogency of your argument.”

Of course I understand the demurral about taking on Butler — which, again — though just a small point — is what the post is all about: it’s like a flea taking on a whale. Alas, it also rather goes to suggest she is right.


geoffff 10.03.12 at 8:20 am

[comment deleted by admin: write your own post as you like geoffff. But if you want to comment here you must do so without accusations of antisemitism]


Daphne Anson 10.03.12 at 8:21 am


Avraham Reiss 10.03.12 at 8:30 am

Your altered title is a question some Jews ask themselves, so I can’t find fault with it. I do however question your asking it (that is a generic ‘your’, referring to any non-Jew who asks the question).

Calvin Coolidge, ate USA President, once said “the business of America - is business”.

The business of Israel is Zionism: Zionism is the business of reclaiming the Land of Israel for the Jewish People.

People like Kim have a very selective view of the laws of war; when you declare war on somebody and lose - you can lose land. This he’ll/they’ll accept elsewhere, but not for the results of the 6 Day War.

Kim, your wise-cracks (they aren’t wise) in this and many earlier threads contribute nothing. If you have nothing of substance to contribute …


Richard 10.03.12 at 9:54 am

…that is a generic ‘your’, referring to any non-Jew who asks the question

I’d understood it to be a Jew who was asking the question.

“People like Kim…”

There aren’t many. (Thank God!)

…have a very selective view of the laws of war

I think you’ll find, though he must speak for himself, that Kim has consistently and absolutely rejected war as a mechanism for resolving disputes or settling any question.

Your last couple of sentences were a bit playground-ish. if you’re going to make jibes about referencing Abbot & Costello, you aren’t in a position to sneer at other people’s wise-cracks. Whether they’re wise or not.

I’ve had to edit your comment. How many times must I say it: make such accusations if you must. But make them elsewhere.


Daphne Anson 10.03.12 at 10:18 am


Richard 10.03.12 at 11:09 am

Not so much ‘fresh baked’ as ‘re-heated’, surely?


Avraham Reiss 10.03.12 at 11:14 am

“I think you’ll find, though he must speak for himself, that Kim has consistently and absolutely rejected war as a mechanism for resolving disputes or settling any question.”

I also prepare alternative solutions to war. Very few think otherwise. But it doesn’t matter at all what he - or I - think about war. I was making a general observation that after-the-fact, declare war and you stand to lose land.

And I expect men of the cloth to be aware that the Bible (OT) recognizes the existance of war as a facet of human behaviour, does not forbid it, merely regulates wartime behaviour.

I’d go one further and say that the “Children of Israel” (a terrible translation) in the OT were COMMANDED to wage war against the idol-worshipping inhabitants of what was then Canaan.


Richard 10.03.12 at 11:21 am

I really don’t understand what point you’re trying to make here, Avraham. Especially since no one at this site has ever questioned the legitimacy of the modern state of Israel.


geoffff 10.03.12 at 11:55 am

If you believe I have made an allegation of antisemitism Richard then it is only because you have accepted the term for yourself or at least for Kim.

why don’t you come out with what you think yourself? Should Israel be torn down as if it was apartheid South Africa?

May be that’s your opinion. Why don’t you say so without resorting to the pre emptive denial of antisemitism.?

If you can.


Avraham Reiss 10.03.12 at 12:17 pm

I disagree, Richard.

Questioning the relevance of Zionism to Judaism is to question the very basis upon which the State of Israel stands. The legitimacy of the State of Israel cannot be questioned, because the UN founded it. But when a door is closed there are those who will try and come in through a window, by placing moral and other questions concerning Israel’s existance. “OK, it’s legal - but is it moral?” etc.

You quote an article by a Jewess who has selected not to live in Israel, and therefore seems to need to justify her choice by questioning Zionism. That I can understand. Not agree with, but understand.

What I find hard to understand is why a a Christian minister living in Wales is so concerned about Israel, and so often. How many posts so far have you devoted to Syrian Assad’s slow genocide of his people?


Richard 10.03.12 at 12:34 pm

Avraham - I get that you disagree. But you’ve misunderstood. I don’t believe the article I was referencing questioned the relevance of Zionism to Israel. That would be foolish. The issue is whether it should be the only lens through which “Jewishness” is understood: “If Zionism continues to control the meaning of Jewishness, then there can be no Jewish critique of Israel and no acknowledgement of those of Jewish descent or formation who call into question the right of the State of Israel to speak for Jewish values or, indeed, the Jewish people.”
Can I turn your final question around: Why is a Jew living in Israel so concerned about the blog of a Methodist minister in Wales. I’m glad of your company, of course.

geoffff - I deleted your comment because I can read and understand english. There was nothing pre-emptive about it. I have never said directly or indirectly that challenges the existence of the state of Israel. I do question that state’s policies and actions.


Daphne Anson 10.03.12 at 12:53 pm

Well, have it your way, Richard - re-heated. A re-heating of the words of a Chief Rabbi. Learn from them.


Richard 10.03.12 at 2:18 pm

…have it your way, Richard

Words I never thought I’d hear from Daphne Anson. ;) My day is made.


Avraham Reiss 10.03.12 at 7:46 pm

“The issue is whether it (Zionism) should be the only lens through which “Jewishness” is understood”.

Zionism cannot serve as a lens for examining Judaism. In post no. 7 above I explained that Judaism is the reduced, exile version of the Jewish Torah, the Jewish religious way of life, whereas Zionism is the tool designed for ending that exile. Anyone trying to examine Judaism through Zionism, understands neither of them.

Judaism and Zionism are two independant mechanisms of survival of the Israeli nation (Where ‘Israeli’ refers to all Jews everywhere). The founder of modern Zionism - Theodore Herzl - was a totally irreligious Jew, who was bothered about the future of the nation, not the religion.

“Why is a Jew living in Israel so concerned about the blog of a Methodist minister in Wales?”.

The Holocaust taught us to ignore nothing. And as Bob Newhart once put it, I only write on “slow newsdays”, when I have little more important to do.


geoffff 10.03.12 at 7:52 pm

So do all Israelis question the state’s policies and actions at one time or another Richard. You know this. There is no no one who has ever suggested this is antisemitism. Pre emptively or not. That is however incessantly denied.

If you do not challenge Israel’s legitimacy or right to exist then may I suggest you make that very clear especially when you link to those who most certainly do and in fact have made a career of it . If you link it you own it. Otherwise repudiate it.

Like you would any other racist site and let me be clear about this. Perhaps even as late as 1947 antizionism could not necessarily be construed as antisemitism but by 2012 it most certainly is and increasingly many of us can see this and are saying so. That way lies terrible war.

If the word “Zionism” means anything at all in 2012 then antizionism is just another form of antisemitism.

There can be no escaping this.

Are you having difficulty making these basic moral distinctions ? Like Stephen Sizer?


Richard 10.03.12 at 8:40 pm

Avraham: please note that, following the lead of the linked article’s author, I wrote “Jewishness”, not “Judaism”. That rather renders your 2nd paragraph redundant.

geofffffff: “If the word “Zionism” means anything at all in 2012 then antizionism is just another form of antisemitism” is just plain silliness. You’ve made your last comment on this thread.


Avraham Reiss 10.03.12 at 9:02 pm

If you were quoting “Butler” (never heard of him), ““If Zionism continues to control the meaning of Jewishness…” then what I have written here points out how he misunderstands both Judaism and Zionism. Zionism has never “control(led) the meaning of Jewishness”; there are non-Zionist Jews, and even anti-Zionist Jews. Being one of either does not negate their “Jewishness”, although it does bteray their Judaic ignorance, which is rampant amongst assimilated, irreligious Jews.


Avraham Reiss 10.03.12 at 9:09 pm

regarding your above comment to Geoff concerning Zionism vis anti-Semitism, an emminent Jewish British Lawyer, Anthony Julius (he was the late Princess Diana’s lawyer), published a year or two ago an 800 page book entitled “Trials of the Diaspora”, the history of anti-Semitism in England. I’ve mentioned it before here.

He determines there that anti-Israeli thought/behaviour is the new anti-Semitism. That means that anti-Zionism is the new anti-Semitism, in Julius’s opinion - and that Geoff got it right.

You aren’t an anti-Semite, and are not involved in anti-Semitism in your neck of the woods, so the misunderstanding is a blessed one!


geoffff 10.03.12 at 11:04 pm

[comment deleted: You aren't listening. I did tell you that you'd made your last comment in this thread. I'm probably being unreasonable, but whatever you post here seems to arrive on at lat 3 other sites as well so I dare say you'll live. ~Richard]


Kim 10.04.12 at 4:17 am

Let me get this straight.
Richard posts a piece on Judith Butler, one of America’s leading public intellectuals.
Avraham, who is a busy man, replies, “Blah, blah, blah. Never heard of him.” Never heard. Of him. Judith.
This tinpot little blog is honoured that you spare us your time and learning, sir.


Avraham Reiss 10.04.12 at 10:07 am

“one of America’s leading public intellectuals … blah blah blah”.

When you have spent years studying the Mishna, Talmud, Maimonedes, Nachmanedes, Joseph Cairo, the Maharal of Prague, the Vilna Gaon, and a never-ending number of other Judaic legalists and philosophers ranging over the last 2,000 years, who collectively have been everywhere and seen everything, you’ll excuse me if your modern-day offerings leave me a little under-whelmed.

Kim, I have yet to hear you make a serious comment on any subject. Most of what you write regarding me are ad hominem attacks. “If you can’t get the ball, get the man”.


Richard 10.04.12 at 10:22 am

Hang on, Avraham. Are we supposed to treat ‘my learning is better than your learning’ as a serious comment?

I’m sure everything that needs to be said on this thread, has been said. Let’s leave it there.


Avraham Reiss 10.04.12 at 10:40 am

Richard, just a quick reply to your above comment:
No “my leaning is better… etc”, just saying that my intellectual needs have been fulfilled, and a person disussing Judaism without having delved into it seriously such as this Butler person, cannot seriously impress me.


Kim 10.04.12 at 12:36 pm

… and a person discussing Judaism without having delved into it seriously such as this Butler person, cannot seriously impress me.

But then you wouldn’t know that unless you read his [sic] stuff, would you? And you expect me to engage in a serious intellectual conversation with somone who pontificates on people he hasn’t even read? And who always appears at Connexions as a one-trick pony shouting, or rather (to keep the metaphor unmixed) neighing the odds? And who, along the way, has appealed to Glenn Beck — GLENN BECK! — as a credible commetator on public affairs? Puh-lease!

As for my failure to “make a serious comment on any subject”, Avraham, on top of chronic bombast you are clearly suffering from ADD. Try scrolling back over the past months and years that I’ve been contributing to this blog (posts, threads, reviews, sermons, hymns). Or check out my “propositions” at “Faith and Theology” which, unsolicited by me, an American academic publisher deemed substantive and good enough to publish as a book (and which Richard himself, as an education officer here in Wales, uses as a teaching aid). I’d particularly recommend “Ten Propositions on Peace and War” and “Twelve Propositions on Same-Sex Relationships and the Church”. You’ll love them.


Avraham Reiss 10.04.12 at 1:27 pm

A few minutes on the web, Kim, and I see exactly where you’re coming from (and _trying_ to go to):
“I signed a petition framed in these terms … in which 3700 American Jews opposed the Israeli occupation, though in my view it was not nearly strong enough: it did not call for the end of Zionism, or for the reallocation of arable land, for rethinking the Jewish right of return or for the fair distribution of water and medicine to Palestinians, and it did not call for the reorganisation of the Israeli state on a more radically egalitarian basis.” Butler, Judith

Even the most extreme leftists in Israel don’t have such extreme, anti-Israeli views, in effect a desire to see an end to the State of Israel.

No wonder you are pumping up Butler so hard.

As for her knowledge of Judaism in depth, she has written:
My grandmother was always very clear that I should go back to Europe to study and so I came to study in Heidelberg in 1979.

Which courses in Judaism do you think she studied there? and for how long? Are you thick enough to believe that she went to Heidelberg to study … Judaism?

I will place any amount of money you care to name on a bet that the woman has little or no knowledge of the Talmud, certainly cannot read it in its original Aramaic (as I can), and cannot read Rashi script. In other words, a Judaic ignoramus, no matter how well she is regarded on homosexual and lesbian matters.

Which reminds me: you recommended some literature, let me honour the debt so incurred by recommending a book by the Butler:

Butler, Judith and Sarah Salih (Co-Editor). “The Lesbian Phallus and the Morphological Imaginary” (1993).

- Do you know of any other well-known Jewish intellectual who writes such books? (If by chance you do, please … spare me!).

In general Kim, you remind me of a comment once found pencilled in the margin of one of Sir Winston Churchill’s speeches:
“Argument here weak - shout louder”.


Richard 10.04.12 at 2:07 pm

What I’m struggling to see is how you might interpret the fair distribution of water and medicine to Palestinians as being an extreme anti-Israel view.

But it really is time to close this thread.


Avraham Reiss 10.04.12 at 5:13 pm

when the “palestinians” stop trying to murder us and sit down at peace talks with a determination to cease hostilities, THEN we can talk about “fair distribution” of resources.

What is anti-Israeli here is when someone who has NO connection whatsoever with the Middle East ignores Syrian genocide and homes in on Israel - THAT is an extreme anti-Israeli view. I could say a lot more …


Richard 10.04.12 at 6:40 pm

You could, but I know that you won’t. Because I’ve asked you ever so politely. Be content tht you’ve had the last word.


Adam 10.04.12 at 11:26 pm

No Richard, no obsession with Jews and Israel at all…


Adam 10.04.12 at 11:50 pm

…as long as you question the racist Palestinian official policy of insisting that no Jew can live in any territory administered by them (that is the PA - Hamas in Gaza wants to exterminate the Jews, again, official policy).

Then we’ll talk about water distribution.


Ric 10.05.12 at 7:45 pm

I have now read Shaul Magid’s review of the book to which Richard linked. The problem with Judith Butler’s approach is that she writes as is the Holocaust never happened; or, that it changed nothing. In fact it changed everything for Jews. After 1945 it was obvious that Jews who relied on the reason and enlightenment of the previous 300 years to protect them from slaughter were mistaken. We needed the State of Israel and its Defense Force. Its benefits are felt far beyond Israel’s borders: it is no coincidence that there have been no massacres of Jews since 1948.


Ric 10.05.12 at 7:46 pm

Sorry: “…as if the Holocaust never happened…”


Richard 10.05.12 at 8:38 pm

>> “The problem with Judith Butler’s approach is that she writes as if the Holocaust never happened; or, that it changed nothing.”

I’m not sure that you can judge that from just reading a review. You might be right. Clearly, the Holocaust changed everything, and not just for the Jews. But the brutality and injustices of the past should not be used to justify injustice in the present.

Two things strike me as odd about this thread. One is it’s length: 40+ comments here, 20+ on Daphne Hanson’s site — and only half a dozen or so on the article that sparked it. I’m not complaining. But I do find it odd. Second, the animosity it has produced. That not all Jews are Zionist is surely uncontroversial, and yet numerous times the claim has been made that anti-Zionism amounts to anti-Semitism. I don’t get it.

But I really do want to wind this thread up now.


Ric 10.05.12 at 9:00 pm

I think what gets our goat (though I can only speak for myself) is that opposition to Israeli government policies and isolated excesses committed by some Israelis seems so easily to morph into (1) denial of the legitimacy of Israel as a state with a Jewish national character (2) denial of the right of Jews, individually or as a group, to defend themselves against actual or potential physical attack. That it is not infrequently our fellow Jews that are making this elision and allying themselves verbally to full-fat 8.1-litre antisemites just makes it worse.


Daphne Anson 10.06.12 at 8:05 pm

That’s right, and the other thing is that Israel is the only sovereign country which is held up to such close scrutiny by non-Jews, and which has its very right to exist questioned, made conditional upon its conduct.


Richard 10.08.12 at 10:38 pm

Sometimes a blogger has to edit or remove comments. I’ve done just that, removing one comment that (whilst it purported to be supportive of me) was written in terms that would be offensive to some readers. The point could have been made without resort to that sort of rhetoric, and the commenter is welcome to have another go of course. I’m sorry for any offense already caused, but a bit disappointed in the way some have responded. (I’ve removed those comments too, because they wouldn’t make sense without the one that sparked them). Sorry if this is a bit enigmatic, but I’m tired after a long evening in the scout hut. I’ll leave it at that.

PS If you can’t accept this in the spirit in which it is offered, please just go elsewhere.


Eternal Atheist 10.08.12 at 11:54 pm

[edited by admin]
Oddly enough rhetoric is their tool. Mine? The razor sharp scalpel of scientific enquiry.


Richard 10.09.12 at 8:55 am

Sorry, Eternal Atheist. You’ll have to do better than that. Your comment had all the rationality of a fundamentalist.


Eternal Atheist 10.09.12 at 11:28 am

No I don’t Richard. All I wanted to establish in the minds of those doomed to continue the judeochristian circlejerk is that there are those out there that don’t need Jesus or the bible to understand zionism and have freed themselves from the mental staight jacket of 2000 years of guilt fomented by abunch of meglomaniacal zealots.

They don’t need to set up useless blogs and engage these parasites in displays of doctrinal redundancy. The only way you’ll ever be victorious is if you shed your conditioning and establish a level playing field. As a christian you’ll have no chance - they invented it to give themselves the advantage.

I don’t really know why you bother engaging them if you don’t intend being victorious. They are much better organised than the ‘goyim’ they prey upon. Change your world view or admit defeat. These are your only options, it is designed that way , your god won’t save you. Atheism is your only escape.

As a physicist one would think you’d have seen the power of entropy and understood its pupose and for that matter ours as flesh and blood, but I imagine it unsettled your sensitive soul and hence why you fled acadaemia and ran back to the bossom of the church. How weak!

The meek don’t inherit the earth Richard, you’ve been led down the garden path. Charles Darwin understood this and unfortunately so do the jews!


Ric 10.09.12 at 11:57 am

Having read Eternal Atheist’s deleted comment, I can confirm that it was antisemitic by any reasonable definition. To paraphrase, his (or her) contention is that uppity Jews are a poison in the body politic of the world, and they must be kept down by any means necessary.


Kim 10.09.12 at 12:27 pm

Agreed. Mind, give him the leash and he’d be Islamophobic with a vengeance, and eventually he’d be growling at Christians. An equal opportunities fundamentalist.


Ric 10.09.12 at 12:58 pm

He might, Kim. And if (for example) he were lambasting the Coptic or Iraqi Christians, that would also be wicked. But today he didn’t.


Avraham Reiss 10.09.12 at 1:08 pm

Your apology is in character with your general management of your blog, and is therefore accepted.

I do not, however, understand your ‘disappointment’ at some responses you received.

Please keep in mind: Jews in general do not turn the other cheek. Israelis in particular, hit back.


Eternal Atheist 10.09.12 at 1:51 pm

Kim I appreciate that you don’t have the intelectual accumen nor decency to accept those whose beliefs run couter to yours. If you must know I consider myself a militant atheist. Having stood by quietly for a large portion of my life and witnessed countless individuals claim a moral high ground for their non-sensical and unrealistic belief systems I decided that this is as much my right as they claim it is theirs.

What is actually fundamental are the laws of the universe, if that makes me a fundamentalist then so be it! But that is not the meaning you intended, you meant the culturally accepted definition easliy found with a google search:-

A religious movement or point of view characterized by a return to fundamental principles, by rigid adherence to those principles, and often by intolerance of other views and opposition to secularism.

Clearly this doesn’t define my beliefs, infact through your very own intolerance of atheists it actually defines yours. The laws of the universe aren’t “a point of view” they are proven facts.

To make the point further as an anarchist/libertarian I claim no strict adherance to any principles whatsoever, other than a free market economic system (which I might add has not existed since the birth of the city state) and what truely benefits my offspring, as they are my legacy

Similarly I have no interest in controlling anyone unlike your belief system, which seeks to dominate and subordinate via pompous heirarchies pedling hopium, dellusion and wholesale guilt.

Life is what it is. In many ways its self explanatory, it doesn’t require the deep understanding of a handfull of obscure documents handed down from a bygone era, interpreted without any reference to that particular period.

Ironically thats why most jews today adhere to the Talmud and have relegated the Torah. I may abhor their supremacist views and their iron grip on western culture but I can appreciate they had the sense to update their belief system, unlike the beleagured followers of some guy named jesus that apparently lived two millenia in the past!


Richard 10.09.12 at 1:56 pm

Avraham: My disappointment comes from having read one or two comments (which unfortunately includes one of yours) which said that because the Eternal Atheist’s comments had appeared on my blog, that made me an anti-Semite. I think that’s unreasonable. (Bizarrely, Daphne Anson — who thought that comment shouldn’t appear on my blog — has copied it onto hers. As the American’s say; go figure)

You’ll see that I’ve just approved another comment from the same person, this time without any edits. It should go without saying that his (or her, I don’t know) views are light years away from mine. I’ve allowed this one because it is not specifically anti-Semitic. S/he appears to hold all faiths in equal contempt. And like you, s/he refers negatively to the teaching of Jesus. I shouldn’t need to remind you that the one who said “Turn the other cheek” and “Blessed are the meek” was a Jew.

Ric: You can’t be blamed, because your comment appeared after I’d approved the Eternal Atheist’s, but you’ll have seen by now that lambasting Christians was indeed on his agenda for today. No doubt the Islamophobia would come too if we waited around for it.

And finally…

Eternal Atheist: I really don’t know where to start, except to note that your ranting has got a lot in common, stylistically at least, with some of the pro-zionist heckling I’ve had lately. That at least ought to give you (and them) pause for thought. If you want to present yourself as a paragon of rationalism, you really should write rationally. Hint: If you start resorting to insults at this stage of the conversation, it appears to others like you don’t have any proper arguments. We’ll have no more. Comment here, by all means. But let’s keep it polite.

Oh, and accusing someone else of weakness from behind a cloak of anonymity — how very big and strong!


Richard 10.09.12 at 2:09 pm

The Eternal Atheist’s comment of 1:51pm came in while I was writing my response to the earlier one. Thank you, EA. You’ve proven Kim’s implication that if you were given enough rope…


Eternal Atheist 10.09.12 at 2:24 pm

Richard these people are fighting a gloves off clandestine war against all non-jews who refuse a position of inferiority.

I hardly think polite and menial discourse is going to discourage their underhanded tactics.

Our governements, monetary system and culture have been subverted by these interests as such now is not the time to talk it through over a cup of tea. They need to know the veracity of those they are claiming to wage war with, only then will this subversive and destructive element be countered and nullified. What they fear most is exposure so the least we can do is begin to expose zionist thought.


Richard 10.09.12 at 2:34 pm

You’re raving again, EA. And becoming obsessive. Calm down. If you can’t see how irrational conspiracy talk like your opening sentence sounds, I can’t help you.

But even if you’re right (and you’re not!) I’m the one who gets to dictate the tone of the conversation in my corner of the internet. If you can’t be polite, you’re not welcome.


Kim 10.09.12 at 2:40 pm

#57: intelectual accumen

Nuff said. Except to add, with Terry Eagleton — my kind of atheist — speaking of “card-carrying rationalists like Dawkins … The more they detest religion, the more ill-informed their criticisms of it tend to be.”


Avraham Reiss 10.09.12 at 2:54 pm

“only then will this subversive and destructive element be countered and nullified. What they fear most is exposure so the least we can do is begin to expose zionist thought.”

Here we go again. This time this EA is actually inciting to violence!
“..nullified”? That’s nazism!

If I were living in the UK the police would have been handling my complaint by now.

You removed Geoffff fom your blog for far less.

EA’s views don’t bother me - they’ve been around in various forms for 2 millenia. But when decent Christians give them platforms - that’s where the rot sets in.

The Methodist Church’s anti-Israel stand has to bear some responsibility.
This is rabid anti-semitism - you can’t publish and then apologize repeatedly ad nauseum.


Richard 10.09.12 at 3:36 pm

Avraham: I can’t win. I’m not apologising for EA’s comments, ad nauseum or otherwise. I’ve explained why they’ve been allowed. They certainly haven’t been unchallenged. I haven’t removed geofffff from the blog. I did get fed up of having to tell him, as I’m telling my new atheist friend, to remain polite. I try to give people the benefit of the doubt, as you know, but my patience with EA is wearing very thin now. I’m intrigued though. How is Daphne allowed to post this stuff “as an example of how anti-Semites think”, where on my site it is “giving a platform”.

And one last time. The Methodist Church does not take an “anti-Israel stand”. Don’t try to argue with me on this: we’ve been over that ground and we’re not revisiting it.

Eternal Atheist: I’ve had enough now. Really. Sorry to do this, but I can’t let your last two comments through. I’d suggest that if you want to comment on what I think about a subject — the evolution of life, say — you take the trouble to actually find out, rather than assume. I’ve got little time for libertarian free-marketeers at the best of times, but even less for those whose arguments don’t get beyond gibbering conspiracy theories and insult.


Avraham Reiss 10.09.12 at 3:46 pm


“How is Daphne allowed to post this stuff “as an example of how anti-Semites think”, where on my site it is “giving a platform”. ”

I see Daphne’s POV as clear as daylight. She is warning Jews of another spot of potential danger. Without quoting the material, how could it be recognized?

In other words, Dapne publishes anti-semitic diatribes as a warning whereas the original publisher’s intentions are still unexplained, and default values come into play … which in the post-H period, are extremely severe.


Richard 10.09.12 at 4:11 pm

>> “She is warning Jews of another spot of potential danger”

Hardly. It’s not as if this anonymous atheist is posting anything original or surprising. The only positive thing I can think to say about his comments is that they do cut across friend geoffff’s narrative of anti-Semitism as a characteristic of the left. My guess is that on most other subjects their politics would be broadly the same.


Avraham Reiss 10.09.12 at 5:04 pm

I (humbly) suggest that you missed the point: EA _said_ it, but _you_ published it.

I agree with you that anti-semitism is (politically) all-encompasing.


Richard 10.09.12 at 5:36 pm

If there’s a point, yes — I’m probably missing it. I’m not going to argue any more. I just don’t understand how someone writing anti-semitic stuff here makes me an anti-Semite, if publishing your Zionist comments don’t simultaneously make me a Zionist.


Avraham Reiss 10.09.12 at 5:50 pm

You just made a very good point!

But I would have to reply that I (and other Zionists) only write here to reply to attacks, never to start Zionist “propaganda” from scratch.

And I think you’ll agree that none of us have ever suggested “nullifying” (see #60 above) those who would oppose us.


Richard 10.09.12 at 6:41 pm

>> “You just made a very good point”

It happens occasionally. ;) I’m not sure that who writes first makes any difference. In any case, EA wasn’t going first in this thread and his views are as opposed to mine as yours are. I’m sticking to my logic: if hosting his comment makes me anti-Semitic, hosting yours must make me a Zionist. No wonder I feel dizzy by the afternoon!

In fact I’m strangely comforted that I’ve been got at by these two different camps. Makes me think I’m on the right lines


Adam 10.09.12 at 7:42 pm

Richard, that makes no logical sense. Being “got at” (in fact it is you who is getting at us, that’s why we’re responding) by two different viewpoints does not validate yours. Just like being impartial does not come from looking at two sides of an argument and splitting the difference.

And do you really equate blatant racism from EA with being pro-Israel?


Richard 10.09.12 at 9:07 pm

Like most other people, Adam, I’m not entirely ruled by logic. Of course being attacked from 2 sides doesn’t prove I’m right. I never said it did. What i said was that I find the attacks ’strangely comforting’. And I do.

I’m not sure that EA really warrants your charge of racism. Although Jews were the main focus of the rants you’ve seen here, he really does appear to have equal contempt for all religions. I say this not to defend him - it’s just that his bigotry is defined much more broadly than ‘racism’ implies.

As for who I’m “getting at”: who is “us”? I’ve said before, and I’ll keep saying until someone listens. The only criticisms I have made have been of the Israeli government and its policies towards the Palestinians. You want to equate that to enmity towards Jews, but I can’t help that. It’s the truth, whether you’ll accept it or not.


Avraham Reiss 10.09.12 at 10:01 pm

“The only criticisms I have made have been of the Israeli government and its policies towards the Palestinians. You want to equate that to enmity towards Jews …”.

Why shouldn’t we? You have singled out Israel from all countries that could have been a subject for your ‘humane’ interest. There’s no way that you can rule out the religious meaning of the Jewish Renaissance in the Land of Israel, and your - lets say ‘dislike’ - of it from the religious point of view.

Syria’s Assad kills abut 500 citiziens a week, its been going on for months, but for some unfathomable reason Israel’s North-Eastern neighbour merits no mention by Welsh Methodists.

And that’s just one example.


Richard 10.09.12 at 10:28 pm

Old ground, Avraham. We’ve been here before. It’s never got us anywhere before, and I don’t suppose it would now, so we’re not doing it. It’s your choice whether you believe me or not. There’s nothing I can do about that.


Eternal Atheist 10.09.12 at 11:38 pm


1. To make null; invalidate.
2. To counteract the force or effectiveness of.

In what language does the word nullify entail ‘violent action’?

You are a slanderous douchbag Richard. You desrve all you get from these rabid racial supremacists. You are nothing but a willfully ignorant fool.


Richard 10.09.12 at 11:50 pm

You agree with the Zionists about one thing then. ;) Go in peace.


Ric 10.10.12 at 12:18 am

If we were teaching a course on Introduction to Blogging, Eternal Atheist would be a splendid example of Troll 101. S/He rails against an authority that has lost its teeth these three centuries. He is not worthy to unloose the shoe’s latchet of the heroic Thomas Aikenhead.


Kim 10.10.12 at 7:44 am

BTW, what is an eternal atheist? Does that mean you last forever? Or, platonically, that you are timeless? Or that you endlessly return, a kind of cosmic nightmare (I’d say cf. Nietzsche, except that Nietzsche’s noble atheism is the kind to which you give a bad name)? Or that you have taken a divine predicate and applied it to yourself — i.e., that you are a megalomaniac? Or are you simply as confused as you are petulant? Anyway, you’ve certainly been a breath of stale air. Take care.


Avraham Reiss 10.10.12 at 8:25 am

items #75-76 above:
Please disassociate myself and other Zionists from those those of EA, and with your relating them to the few Zionists who post here.

And talking of Zionism, since you claim that your only criticism of the State of Israel is concerning the Arabs, it should follow that at least up until this recent conflict started, you should have been supportive of the return of Jews to the Land of Israel, from which they were expelled by force 2K years ago. That is the essence of Zionism.


Adam 10.10.12 at 10:39 am

Old ground Richard…which you have never adequately addressed.


Adam 10.10.12 at 10:44 am

Richard, it is singling Israel out for treatment and expectations which you do not bestow on others - a point you have repeatedly refused to address. Your one defence was that you attack Israel because you opp0se other Christian Zionists, thus exposing the lie of your supposed love of human rights; it simply demonstrates your inter church squabble, and you use us to vent your disagreement.

What about racist Palestinian policy towards the Jews? Why is that off your radar, even though it provides context for Israeli policy?

It’s not honest debate Richard, it’s one-sided vilification, and you are guilty of it.


Adam 10.10.12 at 10:46 am

Richard, EA’s use of classical racism (tentacles, insects, racial supremacists) surely does not equate to hating all religion? Don’t you see the difference?


geoffff 10.10.12 at 1:41 pm

“. I haven’t removed geofffff from the blog. I did get fed up of having to tell him, as I’m telling my new atheist friend, to remain polite. I try to give people the benefit of the doubt, as you know, but my patience with EA is wearing very thin now. I’m intrigued though. How is Daphne allowed to post this stuff “as an example of how anti-Semites think”, where on my site it is “giving a platform”.”

I’m not having this Richard.

You banned me from this thread for saying that antizionism is the new antisemitism. It’s there for all to see.

I know I admitted to liking to think it was for being impolite, not listening and not doing as I’m told .. but mate … have a look at your own thread …

I was having a lend!

You know?

Humour? Aussie humour? Jewish humour? Any humour?

Forget it. It’s probably illegal in Wales by now.

“mewling about being ‘banned’”
“I don’t want to legitimise such toxic comment. So I’m done here.”
” … let him fling shit in his own house”
” … a lie”
” …orc end of the blogosphere”

Let me be quite clear about this Richard.

I don’t know how you expect people to behave on your blog but in my culture people having a conversation do it eye to eye. If someone in that conversation wants to talk that way about me or to me then honestly that is fine.

Just don’t expect me to take a backward step. Like any other Australian.

Do they do things differently in Wales?

Not from my experience.

Besides admit it. It was mostly on other blogs anyway and if you had your way would never have seen the light of day.

“Hardly. It’s not as if this anonymous atheist is posting anything original or surprising. The only positive thing I can think to say about his comments is that they do cut across friend geoffff’s narrative of anti-Semitism as a characteristic of the left. My guess is that on most other subjects their politics would be broadly the same.”

I’m not having that either Richard. In fact I’m especially not having that.

You know nothing about my general politics other than like everyone else I know I will welcome the opportunity to vote the Australian government out of office as a deciding majority of Australians do right now.

And I hope that Obama will be consigned to history just like I believe a deciding majority of Americans do right now or will after the foreign policy debate.

My politics are out there because I am outspoken. I use a pen name now for reasons of security and privacy — not just my own — but you know my name and so do a number of your readers.

I am a supporter of liberal secular democracy and I am on the side of human rights.

I am a supporter of these because I am a supporter of peace.

No more war

I am a supporter of Western values and liberties and I believe them to be at risk.

I am appalled at the direction the Islamic Revolution has taken a whole slab of humankind and I fear where it will lead.

This is because I am a supporter of human rights and peace.

I am a supporter of Israel and the rights of its citizens to their secular liberal democracy.

This is because I am a supporter of human rights and peace.

I am a supporter of self determination for the “Palestinians”. Also all other Arab peoples especially those going through hell right now and also in particular the Iranian people who are especially close to my heart.

May their lives in the dark end soon.

Eternal Atheist on the other hand is an obnoxious and impossibly pompous coward and nasty violent minded bigot.

And you put me in the same category and therefore anoint yourself impartial by being in the middle.

If your moral radar was functioning properly you should have spotted what EA is in a second.

That’s offensive. Please do not misunderstand me because you will never be under any threat of litigation from me. I’m not that petty a man. But you might like to sound out any lawyer acquaintance about the possible implications of talk like that the next time you are talking to one.

I also have the EA comment and I will be putting it up on my blog. Straight after this.


Richard 10.10.12 at 3:33 pm

Not likely to be back at my computer for the foreseeable so I think we’ll leave it at that. Everyone has surely had their say.


Kim 10.10.12 at 4:04 pm

Mind, Richard, a comment from George Carey would nicely round off the general insanity!


Avraham Reiss 10.10.12 at 7:51 pm

Where would we all be without Kim and rice-pudding?


Daphne Anson 10.13.12 at 10:47 pm

Incidentally, gentlemen, here’s something I’d like to bring to your attention. You may not be aware of this upcoming programme on Channel 4


Avraham Reiss 10.14.12 at 4:25 pm

No less important in that post was the following:

“Meanwhile, as reported in the current Jewish Chronicle, the Methodist Friends of Judaism (MFJ) has been launched. Co-ordinated by Reverends Colin Smith and Bruce Thompson, it aims, according to the report, ‘to celebrate the contribution of Judaism to the worldwide community, to raise awareness of anti-Judaism within the Christian church, and to challenge antisemitism. ”

Wow! There are actually Methodists who support Israel!


Avraham Reiss 10.14.12 at 4:50 pm

P.S. I’m waiting for soemone to comment that the quoted item referred to Judaism, not to Israel.

Let’s not kid ourselves, OK?


Richard 10.15.12 at 1:41 pm

Well, Avraham, they couldn’t call themselves ‘Methodist Friends of Israel’ because that name was already taken. It was set up in 2010 or thereabouts. Not sure what relationship the two groups have with one another, if any.


Avraham Reiss 10.15.12 at 11:00 pm

Well, the start of this thread verified that some Jews can be anti-Israel, such as the Butler woman. But TG, they are few and far between.

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