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...
Time to Address the Jerusalem Issue

Time to Address the Jerusalem Issue

Photo by Joshua Tartakovsky AntiWar Blog The shooting of a prominent Jewish activist who frequented the sacred Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif on a nearly daily basis by a Palestinian gunmen on October 29, 2014, is another cornerstone signaling a deteriorating state of affairs. Young Israeli Jewish nationalists declared that they would attempt to visit the Temple Mount tomorrow morning in response. This latest incident comes after another attack in which a Palestinian driver ran over an Israeli baby and a woman, while several days earlier an Israeli settler ran over a Palestinian girl in the Occupied West Bank. Jerusalem is holy to the three monotheistic religions and contains residents of all three faiths. Ever since 1967, when Israel occupied East Jerusalem, it did not grant Arab residents of the city the same rights given to Jewish residents. Non-Jewish residents in the East are given residency permits but usually not full citizenship. They are often barred from expanding their homes as their families grow in number while they suffer from neglect by the municipal services in an attempt to “Judaize” the city. The city’s poster site, the Temple Mount where the magnificent Al Aqsa Mosque is located, is occupied by Israeli soldiers who guard the entrances and exits and frequently raid the area once clashes break out. Israel limits access to the holy site to Palestinians below the age of 45, thereby restricting Palestinian Muslims’ freedom of religion. For many Palestinian Muslims, it is not easy to accept that that this holy site is under a foreign occupation. As Israel expands its building of Jewish settlements in East Jerusalem it appears that a future Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as Jerusalem remains as elusive and...
Media Roots: Ultra-Orthodox Jews in Israel Draw the Line

Media Roots: Ultra-Orthodox Jews in Israel Draw the Line

Photo of ultra-Orthodox protest in New York by Rebecca Hiscott in Observer.com *Comment: This is the third version of our article and includes a greater elaboration on the historical figure of Jacob Israel de Haan. Posted on April 21, 2014 by Ronnie Barkan and Joshua Tartakovsky Media Roots Prime Minister David Cameron got more than he expected at the Israeli Knesset in his recent 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 Jerusalemto 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 to their religious liberty....
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...