Matisyahu in Spain and the BDS Inquisition

Matisyahu in Spain and the BDS Inquisition

  Picture: Sean Gallup-Getty Images Off-Guardian August 20, 2015 By Joshua Tartakovsky The decision to pressure a music festival in Spain to disinvite American-Jewish singer Matisyahu does smack of more than an iota of anti-Semitism. Supporters of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign against Israel traditionally make several arguments. The first is that Judaism is separate from Zionism. The second is that the state can successfully be pressured via a sanctions campaign against Israeli artists as well as artists who perform in Israel. The choice of Matisyahu as an artist to boycott reveals that BDS activists do not in earnest separate Judaism from Zionism. Matisyahu is an American-Jewish singer, not a citizen of Israel. Faced with accusations of anti-Semitism in the boycott of Matisyahu, Ali Abunimah of the Electronic Intifada claims that any suggestion Matisyahu was picked out as a Jew is simply untrue. He argues, rather, that Matisyahu was chosen as a target because he performed at a Friends of the IDF and at an AIPAC event and because he also expressed support for Israel. The validity of these claims does not pass closer scrutiny. Simon Cowell also performed at a Friends of the IDF event, yet, to the best of my knowledge, there has not been a post-event campaign against him in the UK or an appeal to remove him from X-Factor. The Bright Star Church of God Ensemble performed at an AIPAC event and later in theChicago Gospel Music Festival. Yet, there has not been a request made to organizers of the festival by local BDS activists in Chicago or by Students for Justice in Palestine to boycott the group. As far...
Fifty Alums of Israel Arts and Science Academy in Jerusalem Call on Israeli Youth to Avoid the Draft Despite the Legal Risk

Fifty Alums of Israel Arts and Science Academy in Jerusalem Call on Israeli Youth to Avoid the Draft Despite the Legal Risk

[Exterior of Israel Arts and Science Academy in Jerusalem. Image by Neta via Wikipedia]Jadaliyya Dec 30 2014 by Joshua Tartakovsky  On 28 December 2014, over fifty Israeli and Palestinian alumni or teachers of the Israel Arts and Science Academy in Jerusalem, issued a letter calling high school students in Israel to refuse serving in the Israeli army and enabling its occupation of Palestine. The students, teachers and alumni who signed the letter called for an actual refusal and did not choose the safe route by engaging in a mere condemnation of Israeli policies, therefore placing themselves at risk of prosecution by Israeli courts for breaking the law. For example, in April 2009, the Israeli police arrested seven people who were running the anti-draft websites of New Profile and Target 21, and were accused of “incitement for draft evasion”. The signers stated that “We, Israel Arts and Science Academy alumni, former staff members, Palestinians and Jews, from different ages and diverse world-views, approach you, alumni and future alumni – dare to refuse.” The signers explain that “refusing to serve in the Israeli military is not an easy choice, but a moral stance against a collective mood manifested in racism and violence on every street these days. It is a choice to withstand the pressure coming from one’s home, friends, professional environment and the media, and to not take part in the crimes done in our name.” This was also the first letter signed by both Israelis and Palestinians who are associated with the academy. The signers of the letter seek not only to refuse to take part in a military...
Tikkun: Ultra-Orthodox Jews Draw the Line

Tikkun: Ultra-Orthodox Jews Draw the Line

Photo by Abir Sultan / EPA by: Ronnie Barkan and Joshua Tartakovsky on April 4th, 2014 Tikkun Net Daily A recent law obligating military service on religious Yeshiva students reveals the inherent flaw in Israel’s claim to be Jewish An earlier version of this article has appeared on AlterNet Prime Minister David Cameron got more than he expected at the Israeli Knesset in his last visit, receiving a cold shoulder from ultra-Orthodox and Palestinian legislators who share common interests, being the state’s most oppressed communities. Cameron’s visit to the Knesset took place on the same day that two controversial laws, the Conscription Law and the Governability Law, were finally approved following a prolonged legislative battle. As Prime Minister Netanyahu welcomed the guest of honour the ultra-Orthodox parliamentarians left the plenary session in protest while their colleagues, Palestinian Members of the Knesset, refused to attend the event altogether. This was the culmination point of several months of heated protest over the Conscription Law which brought to the surface contradictions between Zionism and Judaism. Hundreds of thousands of ultra-Orthodox Jews (Haredim) of all denominations took to the streets of Jerusalem to oppose the draft law several days before its legislation. In a mass prayer, the worshippers-protesters declared their faithfulness to Torah study rather than to the military. United under the banner declaring that “the State of Israel is fighting against the Kingdom of Heaven” they held signs stating that military draft is a spiritual suicide. The event was not merely an opposition to the law but nothing short of a battle cry against the very legitimacy of a state that encroaches upon their spiritual autonomy and poses a danger...
AlterNet: God, Not Militarism: Ultra Orthodox Jews Say No to Guns and Ammo

AlterNet: God, Not Militarism: Ultra Orthodox Jews Say No to Guns and Ammo

Photo by TheNewsTribe  AlterNet / By Joshua Tartakovsky, Ronnie Barkan March 23, 2014   A recent law pushing military service on religious Yeshiva students reveals the flaw in Israel’s claim to be a “Jewish state.” An Israeli soldier training. Photo Credit: Israel Defense Forces/Flickr British Prime Minister David Cameron got more than he expected at the Israeli Knesset when he visited the country, receiving a cold shoulder from ultra-Orthodox and Palestinian legislators who share common interests, being the state’s most oppressed communities. Cameron’s visit to the Knesset took place on the same day that two controversial laws, the Conscription Law and the Governability Law, were finally approved following a prolonged legislative battle. As Prime Minister Netanyahu welcomed the guest of honour, the ultra-Orthodox parliamentarians left the plenary session in protest while their colleagues, Palestinian Members of the Knesset, refused to attend the event altogether. This was the culmination point of several months of heated protest over the Conscription Law which brought to the surface contradictions between Zionism and Judaism. Hundreds of thousands of ultra-Orthodox Jews (Haredim) of all denominations took to the streets of Jerusalem to oppose the draft law several days before it passed. In a mass prayer, the worshippers-protesters declared their faithfulness to Torah study rather than to the military. United under a banner declaring that “the State of Israel is fighting against the Kingdom of Heaven,” they held signs stating that military draft is spiritual suicide. The event was not merely showcasing opposition to the law, but nothing short of a battle cry against the very legitimacy of a state that encroaches upon their spiritual autonomy and poses a danger to their religious liberty. Under the slogan...