Liberal Judaism and the state of “Palestein”

Richard Kuper (JFJFP), Jeff Halper (ICAHD), Rabbi Danny Rich (Liberal Judaism)

For most Jews it might seem incongruous to attack Israel from in front of the Aron Ha-Kodesh but not for Jews for Justice for Palestinians and not for some from Liberal Judaism which hosted Jeff Halper of Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD) at the Montagu Centre.

Halper is an American who has lived in Israel for 40 years. His talk was titled The Problems of a Peacenik in Israel: Attacking the messenger.

Before Halper spoke Rabbi Danny Rich made the following statement:

“Jews For Justice For Palestinians have booked the Montagu Centre on a number of occasions. They pay more than an economic rent. It is not our custom to censor speakers. We have come under pressure both formally and informally to cancel this meeting. It is not appropriate to cancel this meeting as JFJFP have booked our hall many times before without any problem and we do not believe that calling for a one-state solution, and I believe that Jeff does not call for that anyway, is anti-Semitic.”

So Halper does not call for a one state solution? Some of his his words:

“There’s only one government in Israel and Palestine which is an Israeli government. There’s only one army, one electrical system, one highway system and one water system. Israel has made that, now we can’t blame the Arabs for that. They accepted the two-state solution publicly in 1988. We made this a binational state and we have to accept responsibility for what we do. We made our bed and we have to lie in it, which means a one-state solution which is either binational or a democratic unitary state. I’m not advocating it. I think a one-state solution is a challenge, I think it’s just, I would like to go that way. You can’t keep advocating for a two-state solution when Israel has eliminated the two state solution.”

Extraordinarily, at the end Halper came over to me to specifically state for the record that he “supports boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel” and he agreed that he is going round British universities both calling for those and describing Israel as an apartheid state.

As for the rest of his talk Halper:

1. Quoted General Petraeus’ recent statement on Israel’s behaviour in not allowing the West to make an accommodation with the Muslim world: “Judaizing Jerusalem isn’t some local issue. Jerusalem is the epitome of the clash of civilisations. It has tremendous implications in the world.”

2. Said the population of Israel is only 70% Jewish. 30% are not Jewish including Russian immigrants and foreign workers and their families. Adding four million Palestinians has made Israel a binational reality. Jews in the diaspora must let Israel go. What Zionism did to the Jewish people was terrible. It negated diaspora Jews.

3. Told us that if diaspora Jews respect Israel they have to respect its right to evolve as a country and find its own place in the Middle East. It isn’t in Europe. After World War One Chaim Weizzman said: “We want the Land of Israel to be as Jewish as England is English.” That made sense in 1919 in England but England could evolve and go somewhere else. England has become a very different country. Bradford has a majority non-white population. You can now become British even if you are from China.

4. Said he thinks Israel intends to keep “Judea and Samaria”: “I can’t explain why we did that if we want a Jewish state. Whoever planned these settlements must be the most anti-Zionist of them all, possibly Ariel Sharon.”

5. Stated that the majority of Jews have always lived in the diaspora and that their national identity is based on the Torah and the book of Joshua (the book of conquest) which is tribal and genocidal and which is where Zionism took its Judaism from. The prophets, however, articulated human rights and liberal humanism. The values Israel talks about are unacceptable to diaspora Jews and that Jerusalem should be Jewish is a racism people would never accept in Britain.

Halper never mentioned the spectre of Islamic Fundamentalism, twisted history by saying the Jews had rejected a two-state solution in 1948 and said that Jewish children were being “brainwashed” by the likes of Birthright Israel. This brainwashing accusation is becoming a common theme against anyone who puts forward Israel’s position.

Finally, after two-hours of advocating a one-state solution, despite his ridiculous denials, Halper even gave us its name: Palestein.

27 responses to “Liberal Judaism and the state of “Palestein”

  1. Jonathan Hoffman

    It is unconscionable that such a meeting can take place in the home of a synagogue movement.

    “We do not believe that calling for OneState is antisemitic” – Liberal Rabbi and CEO of Liberal Judaism Danny Rich.

    EUMC Definition: “Denying the Jewish people their right to self­determination” is antisemitic

    What do Liberal Judaism members think?

    Does he speak in your name?

    What affect do you think statements like this have on those of us who actively fight antisemitism and on Jewish students on campus who try to make the case for Israel against sometimes overwhelming odds?

  2. The absence of a Jewish state brought the 50 percent of Israeli Jews from Arab and Muslim lands pogroms, insecurity, forced conversion, murder, discrimination, torture and dispossession. They’d be damned if they would consent to return to subjugation under the Muslims – the true meaning of the one-state solution. How dare Halper speak for all diaspora Jews in his arrogant eurocentrism.

  3. I am a Reform Jew and Danny Rich and his like do not speak for me.
    JFJFP and others are nothing more than appeasers of radical Islam, they are paying the playground bullies with their lunch money.

    I am going to be controversial here and slightly off topic – may I suggest Jewish efforts should be directed against our real enemy – extremist Islam in this country? We live here in the UK, not Israel – and each time we think only of what is good for Jews it isolates us from our non-Jewish compatriots. We will need them when the balloon goes up in Europe, so we should not isolate them and what they stand for.It makes us even easier targets for Islamofascism – and as British, not Israeli citizens we should be giving serious thought to standing together with them against Islamification and appeasement.

  4. “Palestein”? But that’s a Jewish name, surely. Like Goldstein or Feinstein. Of course, he could have named it HalPal after himself.

    BTW, those Russians who have Christian paternity/maternity or whatever – does Jeff think they are going to turn to Islam or to Judaism?

    And as for Liberal (Reform) Judaism, after Eric Yoffie’s renunciation of “east Jerusalem” construction, will they reinstate the practice of removing sacrifices and mention of Zion from their prayerbook?

  5. It is appalling that publicity is given to these people, once again, nothing more than a bunch of 2-digit IQ, Quislings and traitors, trying to do what Lord Haw haw did to the UK during WWll, that is supporting our enemies with distorted propoganda.
    The ideology of Liberal Judaism is a Chillul Hashem and it is exactly what I would expect of them, to be sitting in front of an Aron Hakodesh and inviting speakers to spout this garbage.
    Liberal Judaism is as much a part of Judaism as Seventh Day Adventism is a part of the Church of England – it isn’t ! it is a fringe movement with no credence or credibility.
    It is a disgrace for an organisation that “purports” to be Jewish to be openly advocating the support of the delegitimise Israel campaign.
    If there any genuine Jewish people amongst the Liberal Judaism group, I hope they stand up and be counted and throw these idiots/organisers out of office, as amongst the mainstream of British Jewry they are, at the moment seen as a laughing stock.

  6. jcwmoderator

    It’s no coincidence that the Liberal host also advocates ceremonies marrying homosexuals.

    These people are completely off the rails, exiling themselves from Judaism for all practical purposes.

    50 years ago Louis Jacobs began the rot by declaring that the Torah is not of divine origin. It’s been downhill all the way since then for the Liberals.

    Avraham Reiss – Jerusalem

  7. Jonathan Hoffman

    More lies from Halper last night:

    – Lie: “Petraeus said that Israel is preventing any kind of accommodation between the West and the Muslim world”

    – Lie: “the vast majority of Jews never accepted that Jews were a nation”

    – Lie: “ultra-Orthodox Jews are all anti-Zionist”. Only Neturei Karta and Satmar are – a small minority.

    – Lie: “Zionists say Judaism is ethnic”

    – Lie: “Zionists say you are living in exile, there is no such thing as the Diaspora”

    – Lie: “what Zionists did to the Jewish people was terrible”

    – Lie “Zionists made Diapora Jews be voyeuristic”

    – Lie “Israel is putting Jews in jeopardy”

  8. Jonathan Hoffman


    According to my notes, Halper said he had been 4 years in Israel (not 40)

  9. Deborah Maccoby

    Jonathan, you must have left a nought off in your notes – it is definitely 40, as you would discover if you read Jeff’s book “An Israeli in Palestine” – I recommend it.

    Many thanks to Richard for what is in many ways a useful summing up of Jeff’s views. Just one correction re Jeff’s views on one state. It’s a solution he likes very much and he would like to go in that direction – but, as you correctly quote, he said he is not advocating it – the reason being that he doesn’t think enough people will accept it. His preferred solution – which you omit to mention – is one within a Middle Eastern Union: the states of Israel, Palestine and Jordan joined in a federation – on the lines of the EU -, which will draw in other states – Egypt, Iraq, eventually even Syria and Iran. This would solve the problem of the Palestinian right of return, since Palestinian refugees could live and work in Israel but not have citizenship (they would be citizens of Palestine), and also the problems of Israel/Palestine can mostly only be solved in a regional context. But Jeff is never dogmatic and his preference for this solution doesn’t mean he opposes either a one state or two solution. He is not opposed to a genuine two state solution that gives the Palestinians a viable state, not a bantustan. He is open to any solution that gives peace, justice and security to both national groups in the land. He said all this and you left it out.

    best wishes,


  10. To entertain this man and allow him to speak in front of an Aron Kodesh is just contemptible in the extreme.

  11. richardmillett

    Deborah, Jeff said that a one state solution is the way he would like to go. That is surely advocating a one state solution. I didn’t hear him touch on the federal state really, although audience members did. I know he was time limited (although 2 hours isn’t that short).

    There would still be problems, i think, of Palestinian refugees living in Israel even if not as citizens as soon after the de facto majority of Israel having both non-Jewish residents and citizens would come the call for that to be made de jure so to speak and Israel as a state of the Jews or a Jewish state would be no more. Best wishes, Richard

  12. I am a member of Liberal Judaism and I find this shocking and embarrassing. I am none too pleased that this has happened in one of our synangogues.
    I support the State of Israel and I believe that JFJFP are traitors.
    I can assure you that Danny Rich does not speak in my name

  13. Jonathan Hoffman

    Deborah, on Saturday at SOAS he very strongly endorsed ‘OneState’ as the best solution, he called it ‘most just’.

    The way he tried to give a different, sanitised talk on Sunday – to a Jewish audience – from the one he gave on Saturday, at SOAS (and presumbly the ones ha gave in Bradford, Exeter, Birmingham and Glasgow – was despicable.

    I say ‘tried’ because such is his hate for Israel that he could not stop himself switching back into the apartheid/boycott rhetoric when prompted.

    He used his ‘right of return’ and now travels the world stirring up hatred against the country that gave him citizenship, thereby fomenting antisemitism.

    How despicable is that?

  14. Deborah Maccoby

    Richard, surely it is possible to think a solution is the ideal one, but realise that in practice it wouldn’t work out, because not enough people would support it. That is all Jeff is saying when he says a one state solution is the way he would like to go. We can’t always do what we like – reality gets in the way.

    If Palestinians living and working in Israel didn’t have Israel citizenship – couldn’t vote etc – I can’t see it would be a problem.

    best wishes,



  15. Richard,
    I did a post on the Wed. night meeting in Parliament-did you get.

    Main question was-

    Was teh audience handpicked by Col. Travesty jpjp etc. esp teh questions about Col. Tim Collins and Col. Richard Kent.

  16. Deborah:

    What valid arguments does Halper offer in support of his ostensible ideal and when has he ever suggested that he realizes that a one state solution is merely an ideal?

    And what on earth gives this man any license anyway, save for the time he has devoted to his “cause”? The man offers half truths and distortions that not only defame Israel, but do nothing to serve the best interests of the Palestinians who are left with the sorry choices of Fatah, Hamas and some very despotic and xenophobic Muslim countries as their protectors.

  17. Deborah Maccoby

    Dear Lynne,

    Jeff Halper has expressed in many places his belief that the one state solution, though – as he said at SOAS – the “most just” solution, is also unattainable. Unfortunately, in this world we usually have to settle for less than complete justice and Jeff realises this. Here is what is probably the most complete expression of his views on one state and two state and his advocacy of a Middle East Union, which he calls the “two-stage” (not two-state) approach:

    Very much worth reading!


  18. Halper states that ‘What Zionism did to the Jewish people is terrible’.

    Spoken like a Judenrat Jew! How dare he!
    As a holocaust survivor from Poland, I’ll tell you what it did for our nation – it restored our honour and pride after the humiliation of the Shoah. This would not have happened had there been a Jewish state. Jews today can no longer be killed with impunity – that’s what Israel has done for us!

    You ask the millions who found asylum there, including the remnant of my family, when no country wanted them or had had enough of being pushed around and only wanted to live in their own land.

    To an ‘Ersatz Jew’ like him, short on spine, it matters not if Israel were to lose its Jewish identity and character in a One State Solution that those like him advocate. It could end in another Final Solution. He is welcome to offer his neck, but there will be no lambs to the slaughter this time….

  19. Thank goodness there is a Jewish movement that will allow free speech and differing views on Israel. There must be many Jews who oppose the house demolitions and actions of the Israeli army and government in the occupied territories. They also have a strong commitment to Israel and Judaism and do not believe that much of what happens in the Israel is in accord with Jewish teaching. Neither do many Israelis who work for co-existence and affilitate to peace movements.

  20. If Halper realizes that a one state solution is unattainable, then why go on promoting it on the basis that it is “the most just”?

    “Most just” by what objective standards, based on what knowledge? Only fools like you and he ignore the reason that hundreds and thousands of Leventine, Mugrhebi , Misrachi and Persian Jews left countries they lived in for centuries if not milenia over the last 70 or 80 years. It wasn’t just the spike in persectution that started with the call to re-create a Jewish state were it once existed. It was centuries of experience.

  21. modernityblog

    Here’s an idea:

    Let the Brits, French, Germans, Belgians, Spaniards and other members of the EU get the whole one state solution working in Europe first, and then after about 80 years of bedding it down, it could be reviewed.

    Imagine someone said “let’s have a one state solution between Britain and France” they would be laughed at, ridiculed and joked about.

    Yet that is what the British and Europeans are suggesting in the Middle East and they can’t get it working in Europe with their “allies” 🙂

    One state solution in Europe first!

    • A Brit can immigrate to France, although I don’t see why, but anyway, and he’d have the same rights as a French person born in France. I don’t believe the Arabs that are left living in Israel have equal rights whatsoever.

      • richardmillett

        Tom, have you been to Israel to find out whether Arabs have equal rights? I think you would be surprised as to how equal they are and how well off some are. I am not saying things are perfect. There is still lots of room for improvement on many levels but woman and gay Arabs are free for starters and Arabs are well represented politically.

    • Tom,

      Excellent point, however, how do you think that the French would react should the Brits in France start up their own political party, to represent their views?

      I imagine the French would be extremely hostile.

      The recent hostility shown towards a young baker, Djibril Bodian is just one example.

      I remember when I worked in Paris over 25 years ago being struck by the fact that all of the street cleaners that I saw were North Africans.

      One could go on about French xenophobia and its long history, etc but surely that makes the point?

  22. Deborah Maccoby

    Dear Lynne,

    In terms of justice, surely it is not the most absolute justice for Israel to take 78 per cent of the land and the Palestinians only 22 per cent. Yet this is what a genuine (as opposed to a bantustan) two state solution would be. Jeff points out that this is not all that just – adding that he would be prepared to support it all the same, as it would provide at least some kind of justice even if it isn’t the most just solution. The main problem about the two-state solution, he points out, is that Israel has made it almost impossible with its settlement expansion and its evident determination to hold on to most of the West Bank. As for the one state solution, Jeff likes it because it is the most just solution, far more just than the two-state solution – ie the whole land would be equally a homeland for both peoples, instead of being split so unequally. But his objection to it is that seems as unattainable as the two-state solution, as not enough people want it. So – though he does not oppose either a two state or one state solution and would be perfectly prepared to accept either if there was any chance of them happening – he actually advocates his two-stage Middle East Union.

    I hope this is clear now.

    best wishes,


  23. Though the author of the post isn’t guilty of this some commenters need to be guilty of Reform/Liberal bashing, Israel should not be an excuse to deligitimise forms of Judaism – Reform/Liberal supporters of Israel do so despite the discrimination and lack of parity their movements face in Israel. The movements also get picked on more regarding Israel issues, part of this is because more of the movements’ Rabbis and leaders are not afraid of making their voices heard but these leaders do not speak for the many and let’s remember policy wise they are still pro-Israel and engage with Zionist movements (Danny Rich is named on the ZF notepaper).
    Is also somewhat ironic that a group that supports boycotts is happy to pay to use a building that is home of a Zionist youth movement (LJY Netzer – netzer a hebrew acronym for Reform Zionist Youth).