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but if the IDF thinks its record is so good why is it so fervently opposed to any outside investigations--by any international human rights group or organization-of its behavior? Also worth noting that Israeli human rights groups--including Breaking the Silence, which takes testimony from former soldiers--take a far darker view of IDF conduct. I don't think Israeli soldiers are bad people. not at all. But when you're overseeing a civilian population to whom the state is not accountable because they aren't citizens, and you have almost complete impunity, I think any military is likely to do terrible things. The problem isn't the quality of the people in the military. It's the impunity.

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Why would Israel submit to an outside investigation? How about the US, anyone suggest let alone carry out an investigation of what the US bombing did to Raqqa? I recall there were some rumblings about investigating the US over its “shock and awe” in Baghdad. But the US put it aside as "Saddam was hiding behind his people" and therefore it could not be avoided. And of course, during Clinton’s time our campaign in Bosnia “destroyed or damaged bridges, industrial plants, hospitals, schools, cultural monuments” not to mention people (Wiki). Not a peep or question and certainly no investigation.

What about Turkey vis-a-vis the Kurds? What of Iran and Saudi Arabia’s actions in Yemen? Nope. Just Israel always Israel.

And why would Israel submit to any of the myriad international organizations who see nothing wrong with Palestinian actions because its “resistance” and have accused Israel of ""Automated Apartheid", "Medical Apartheid" and garden variety apartheid. There is no shortage of reasons to accuse Israel. Why would Israel subject itself to a foregone conclusion?

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Richard--in regards to this list: I'm against any references to religion or ethnicity or race in national anthems because they are exclusionary of the people in that country who don't share them. But references that equate citizenship with a particular ethnic/religious/racial group are far more exclusionary when they are married to state policies that discriminate against people who don't share that ethnicity/religion/race. So a British Jew, Muslim or British Hindu may not like Christian references in the national anthem but they do, for the most part, enjoy equality under the law. In Israel, the exclusionary language of Hatikvah is mirrored in the most profound ways in law: the fact that Jews can come to israel and gain citizenship on day 1 but expelled Palestinians and their descendants can't return, the fact that 80% of the Palestinians under Israeli control (W Bank, Gaza, E Jerusalem) can't become citizens or vote for the government that controls their lives and that even Palestinian citizens are fundamentally discriminated in terms of land by a land authority that gives almost half its seats to the Jewish National Fund. That's what makes the reference to "Jewish soul" matter so much. That, I think, is what Lucy and virtually all Palestinian citizens are reacting too. I won't have time for another post on this thread but wanted to respond to your note.

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May 9, 2023·edited May 9, 2023

Beinart, are you aware the Ukrainian national anthem contains a lyric that goes, "And we’ll show, that we, brothers, are of Cossack descent?"

I have educated you in the past that there are over eight million Ukrainians who are of Russian descent, and therefore do not enjoy equality under the law per your arbitrary criteria which seems designed exclusively to damn Israel.

I eagerly await your next article about "the cracks in the facade of Ukrainian nationalism," and an endorsement of a one state solution between Russia and Ukraine. Have a nice day.

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Ukraine also has state policies that discriminate against Russians, state policies Peter straight up cheered.

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Thank you, Virginia. I appreciate it

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May 8, 2023·edited May 8, 2023

Christian:

El Salvador - The national anthem of El Salvador, "Himno Nacional de El Salvador", contains the phrase "Al trabajo y a la paz, cristiano pueblo salvadoreño" (To work and to peace, Christian Salvadoran people).

Federated States of Micronesia - The national anthem of the Federated States of Micronesia, "Praising God", contains the phrase "Praising God for the Christian faith".

Marshall Islands - The national anthem of the Marshall Islands, "Patriotic Exhortation", contains the phrase "Christian nation, Marshall Islands".

Nauru - The national anthem of Nauru, "Nauru Bwiema", contains the phrase "God save Nauru, our Christian land".

Palau - The national anthem of Palau, "Let Us All Unite", contains the phrase "Christian nation, Palau".

Dominica - The national anthem of Dominica, "O Lord, Our God, We Praise Thee", contains the phrase "O Lord, Our God, We Praise Thee, Thou Christian nation".

Grenada - The national anthem of Grenada, "The Hills of Grenada", contains the phrase "And may God bless our land, the land of the free, the land of the Christian".

Saint Kitts and Nevis - The national anthem of Saint Kitts and Nevis, "O God, Our Help in Ages Past", contains the phrase "O God, Our Help in Ages Past, our hope for years to come, our shelter from the stormy blast, and our eternal home".

Saint Lucia - The national anthem of Saint Lucia, "The Saint Lucia National Anthem", contains the phrase "May God bless our land, the land of the free, the land of the Christian".

Muslim:

Afghanistan - The national anthem of Afghanistan, "Hamd Paigham-e-Nabi" (Praise be to the Prophet's Message), contains the phrase "Islam, Islam, Islam".

Iran - The national anthem of Iran, "Sorud-e Melli-e Iran" (National Anthem of Iran), contains the phrase "In keshvar-e Islami-e Iran" (This Islamic country of Iran).

Mauritania - The national anthem of Mauritania, "Hamdulah" (Praise be to God), contains the phrase "Wa islamuna ad-din" (And our religion is Islam).

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The State of Israel was founded on May 14, 1948, as a Jewish state, in accordance with the United Nations Partition Plan for Palestine, which called for the creation of two states in Palestine, one Jewish and one Arab.

Since its founding, Israel has been a state that was has a Jewish character reflected in its laws, its symbols, and its culture. And yes, in it’s national anthem. That does not mean that the 21% of Arab Israelis cannot live as equal citizens and become doctors, lawyers, politicians, or journalists. They can and they are.

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The chorus of the Ukrainian national anthem:

"We’ll lay down our souls and bodies to attain our freedom,

And we’ll show, that we, brothers, are of Cossack descent."

And all those Ukrainians who aren't of Cossack descent? I guess Ukraine has no right to exist. Oh sorry, "there are cracks that are deeply subversive to the idea of Ukrainian statehood," to use Beinart's parlance.

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Peter and the rest: "Yeah, well, it's different because it's not the anthem of people we don't like (Israeli Jews) making people we do like (Palestinian Arabs) feel bad!"

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May 8, 2023·edited May 8, 2023

Don't forget the Palestinian national anthem!

Warrior, warrior, warrior,

Oh my land, the land of the ancestors

Warrior, warrior, warrior,

Oh my people, people of eternity

With the resolve of the winds and the fire of the weapons

And the determination of my nation in the land of struggle

Palestine is my home, and the path of my triumphal

Palestine is my vendetta and the land of withstanding

By the oath under the shade of the flag

By my land and nation, and the fire of pain

I will live as a warrior, I will remain a warrior,

I will die as a warrior - until my country returns

Can't imagine anyone feeling uncomfortable about that, can you?

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"The State of Israel was founded on May 14, 1948, as a Jewish state, in accordance with the United Nations Partition Plan for Palestine, which called for the creation of two states in Palestine, one Jewish and one Arab."

Richard, where are the borders of this Israeli state?

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Anything to say about the actual subject of the thread, Sean?

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Excellent story by Peter Beinart, as always.

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Anything about Richard's point that there are many, many countries with national anthems that reference particular religions and ethnicities? Other than that you and Peter don't care about those countries because you hold Jews to a different standard than everyone else?

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May 8, 2023·edited May 8, 2023

Sean, they were clear when the United Nations partitioned the land. But, Israel was attacked by the surrounding Arab countries hoping to defeat the Jewish state and take over all of the land. But it didn’t work out that way. And then in 1967, again Israel defeated countries that wanted to destroy it, and again the borders changed. Ever since then, Israel has tried repeatedly to negotiate a Palestinian state with borders, only to be rejected repeatedly. So to answer your question, the borders of a Palestinian state are changing because of the rejectionism and intransigence of the Palestinians.

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Israel has never negotiated for a Palestinian state in good faith. Israel never stopped building settlements on Palestinians land. And the reasoning behind this was that Israel always wanted all of Palestine with as few Palestinians living there.

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May 8, 2023·edited May 8, 2023

Two states for two people has been a longstanding solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that recognizes the legitimate aspirations of both Israelis and Palestinians to self-determination and sovereignty over their respective territories. The establishment of two states would allow for peaceful coexistence and the resolution of long-standing disputes between the two peoples.

Israel has repeatedly offered the proposal of two states for two people and made many attempts to negotiate a peace agreement that would result in the establishment of two separate and independent states. However, the Palestinians have consistently rejected these proposals.

The Palestinian demand for the right of return for the 1948 refugees is reasonable -- but not to their millions of descendants. That is a made-up definition of refugee that would result in the flooding of Israel with Palestinian refugees, thereby altering the demographic balance of the country and undermining Israel's Jewish character. This demand is a red herring that corrupt Palestinians leaders use to intentionally sabotage every negotiation.

Any peace agreement must include measures to prevent terrorism and ensure the safety and security of Israeli citizens. Palestinians have not taken sufficient steps to address these concerns -- in fact the opposite with teaching hatred of Jews and Israel in school, and paying the families of terrorists as an incentive to others.

The onus is on the Palestinians to change -- not on Israel. If they want peace, they must explicitly say so and act accordingly. Otherwise, the Arab world will move on without them with normalization deals. Biden is apparently working hard with the Saudis toward normalization...and with that a flood of new countries will follow.

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Richard, I believe that Robert Herbst's article is worth a read. If there is anything in it you disagree with, I would like to know.

Let’s have a frank talk about Israeli oppression and antisemitism

https://mondoweiss.net/2021/05/lets-have-a-frank-talk-about-israeli-oppression-and-antisemitism/

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This article says what? That innocent Palestinian children died because Israel had to respond to missiles being launched from Gaza at Israeli cities from missile launchers placed on apartment buildings, schools, and hospitals? It supports what I have been saying. The horrific, corrupt, murdering Palestinian leaders choose conflict over having their own country and living in peace.

At any time they want this to change, they must explicitly say that they want to live in their own country next to Israel, recognize Israel as an independent sovereign nation, and that the “right of return“ is only to their new state of Palestine, not to Israel.

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In his article mr. Herbst says that there were 2,000 dead and 500 were children. But the Gazan Ministry of Health, says there were 243 deaths and over 1910 injuries, including both civilians and militants, over the course of the May 2021 conflict.[41] The death toll includes 65 children and 39 women. officaisl owned up to "

A far cry from the numbers claimed by Mr. Herbst

The problem when it comes to Israel is that the data is often just convenient fiction.

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I have to agree with you on this one, Richard.

The national anthem of the United States, as a further example, is based on a longer amateurish poem that enforces positive views of slavery that were common among white elites in 1814 America.

I don’t sing it or lose sleep over that because national anthems are stupid, pointless relics of civil religiousity of eras long past. The offensiveness of the lyrics to modern ears makes this fact self-evident to anyone that actually might bother to discern the words.

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May 8, 2023·edited May 8, 2023

It must be a slow news day in the "Hate Israel" blogosphere.

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Are you kidding me? With Bibi in office and Ben Gvir trying to give a speech at the UN? There’s an endless stream of fodder for western Israel-critics every morning.

I just wish I could convince lots of people to pay me money for the privilege of reading my opinions and telling me how wrong I am about everything. My wife does it for free. 😀

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I guess, if you say so. This particular Beinart article seems to be scraping the bottom of the barrel.

I can't speak for anyone else, but I don't donate a cent to this hate site.

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As if on cue. Killing women and children to make nice among domestic political factions.

https://www.timesofisrael.com/otzma-yehudit-says-its-ending-boycott-of-government-after-launch-of-gaza-operation/

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Agreed, killing women and children is only OK if they're Jews and killing them is "resisting occupation."

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All these comments reveal the bankruptcy of the national anthem itself -- any national anthem -- which is a celebration of nationalism, itself a suspect, dangerous ideology defined by exclusion.

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So you're opposed to Palestinian nationalism?

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I'm in favor of Palestinian rights to civil & human rights, including democratic self-determination.

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A simple yes or no will suffice.

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that is, P civil & human rights etc.

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Thank you for this. Totally agree! This is not a sole criticism of Israel’s National Anthem. This may be the specific dynamic in this particular conversation, but it’s a reminder and mirror to ALL national anthems/nations that exclude and any form of religious and/or ethno nationalism that uses violence or domination. Personally, as a white Christian, resisting Christian Nationalism and white supremacy for me is extremely theologically and practically important. How can we point the finger at others when we don’t hold ourselves accountable?

Thank you for your comment. So many of the reactions are a criticism for singling out the State of Israel, and claim that equals a negation of what Mr. Beinart said. However, you are right. This critique should absolutely not solely be a critique of The State of Israel and therefore negated, but a critique for all nations that seek to run themselves on religious and/or ethno nationalism at the expense of others’ human rights... including our own country here in The US. Thank you.

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It would be nice, Virginia, if Peter and his supporters actually did critique all the countries that are ethnic/religious based nation-states, but he and they don't. Peter rarely if ever has an ill word to say about any other ethnic-based nation-state other than Israel.

The other readers and I are old enough to remember when Peter literally cheered for Ukrainian self-determination and independence.

https://peterbeinart.substack.com/p/two-cheers-for-bidens-ukraine-policy

Rather than critique Ukraine for being an ethnic based nation state, Peter praised Ukraine's fight for independence and self-determination, and declared that anyone opposing Ukrainian self-determination was in violation of international law.

So now we have a commentator who on one hand praises Ukraine fighting and killing Russians to maintain its independence, and on the same hand declares Israel racist because its national anthem makes someone feel bad. This kind of mentality can only be describe as hypocritical and a double standard. There's no other way around it.

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Fair enough statement. Mr. Beinart would have to discuss this himself. I cannot on his behalf. However, where I stand as mentioned remains the same whether Mr. Beinart agrees or not.

I wouldn’t characterize Ukraine’s current state of being occupied the same way as Israel’s current state of occupying, but certainly some of the points you make are absolutely relevant, especially in relation to something like a national anthem, cultural exclusion, etc, and definitely an important part of the conversation. Thanks!

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Critiques of nationalism and ethnic based nation states as a whole are valid. Critiques of Israel and only Israel for having a ethnic character whilst having nothing to say about 23 Arab states and 50 Muslim states is an anti-Semitic double standard. I think we can agree about that.

Thank you.

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We can definitely agree on that. ;)

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What I appreciate about Mr. Beinart, and anyone brave enough to self-interrogate their own culture, is the honest process of just that.. self-interrogation. It’s a rare thing in this world. I appreciate that as a Jew and as an American, Mr. Beinart is devoted to this process of self-interrogating his own tribe. I do find he critiques America just as much as Israel, and I have heard him critique Arab Nationalism as well as well as other countries like Russia, China, etc... though he concentrates on his “keeping his own side of the street clean.” The more I dialogue with people around the world, the more I realize this rare tragedy. We’re all too ready to point the finger at others before we interrogate our selves and our own “tribes.” I understand why as an American Jew, Mr. Beinart focuses on what he does. I wouldn’t define him as exclusive in this focus, but concentrated. It is his own culture he is critiquing, which is appropriate, and I wish more of us would concentrate on that more often before jumping to whataboutisms that deflect from self-interrogation. The classic childhood saying is true! “Peace begins with me.”

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Peter, this is even less coherent than usual.

First of all, Lucy Aharish is perfectly "able" to sing Hatikvah even though it refers to the Jewish spirit or soul. Her logic that she can't sing it because "it refers to nefesh Yehudi, a Jewish soul" makes absolutely no sense, and even if it did, one individual person for some reason feeling uncomfortable with a national anthem does not make a state with one ethno-religious group "racist."

No one besides you and Aharish are saying that singing the national anthem "requires you to have the soul of a particular ethno-religious group". The concept is completely absurd.

It's time to get over the fact that Israel is a state for a particular ethno-religious groups, just like dozens of other ones. How do British atheists feel when they sing "God Save the Queen"?

Honest question, Peter. Do you think the NAACP is racist, because it exists only for the benefit of Black people?

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So Jews shouldn't have rights because a song might make Lucy Aharish feel sad.

This is a joke, right?

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ran--what's your email?

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actually i already have it. but won't be for this week

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it's a thought. what's your email

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yes, unfortunately. i'm figuring out what to do in his absence

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I'll be your guest, Peter!

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A very good article, from a man who writes from the heart. A decent, honest, compassionate, good soul. Thank you Peter.

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Thanks, Peter. The house of cards called Israel is being dismantled, card by card, in the face of reality. The protesters must wake up to the historic correction that may have a chance to save Israel from itself--"Equality or nothing", as Edward Said wrote, in any number of states one's heart desires.

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Sam, how are 23 Arab states, 50 Muslim states, and zero Jewish states "equality"?

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Lucy Aharish is most incredible and more Jewish than most jews, she hosts the program DemocraTV that I listen all the time. She interview and talk to all the leaders of Israel, politician, rabbis, and artist who expresses their love to her.

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May 8, 2023·edited May 8, 2023

The reason there is no state of Palestine is Palestinian rejection. Period. Palestinians adopted the uncompromising stance regarding the ‘right of return’ that Erekat himself published an article in the Guardian, stating that the main principle in negotiations was the nonstarter issue of ‘right of return.’

This is not how to promote a fair settlement of ‘two states for two peoples’. This is how to eliminate it. And it’s the Palestinian people who are the ones most hurt by this.

Peter and his followers should be focusing on the corrupt Palestinian leaders to advocate for a Palestinian state and stop rejecting an Israeli one (the very definition of ‘right of return’.

Excellent article: https://fathomjournal.org/a-modern-history-of-palestinian-rejectionism/

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The absolute rejectionist language that drenches Benjamin Netanyahu’s modern speeches to his right-wing constituents is almost pure Revisionist Zionism of Jabotínsky and the Yishuv that long predates Yassir Arafat, the PLO, Hamas, the Intifadas, Oslo, 1967, or even Israel itself.

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Politics. Very different than diplomacy. You want to hear rejectionist language, listen to the translated speeches of the PA and Hamas leaders to their people. You’d think you were listening to the Nazis.

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But that’s when politics is policy. Israeli diplomacy has been the feint and misdirection directed to outsiders that they might be persuadable to compromise, for the hardliners, or the delusions of Labor Zionists that they could ever deliver domestically on any promises even if sincere. Every Israeli leader who made any attempt was domestically discredited and politically ruined by it (Barak, Peres, Olmert) or worse (Rabin.) Netanyahu who made his name rejecting Oslo from inception has been triumphant.

For the last several months one has witnessed the greatest show in decades of mobilization, strength, and persistence of the long defunct Israeli center-left—the former home of the peace camp—yet the subject of the Occupation and the Palestinians remains a taboo even to them. The essential whole of the Israeli public has embraced—or, at my most charitable, resigned themselves—to rejectionism.

So your position as ascribing it 100% to the Palestinians is nonsense. They are weak, leaderless, divided and all but politically irrelevant in the larger Arab world; they could be forced to compromise with relative ease. The Israelis, on the other hand, have long been convinced—or even held from the get-go—that they don’t have to. That’s just the reality of where the conflict is today and essentially has been since the beginning.

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The Palestinians make it extremely easy for Israel to want to ignore their cause. They refuse to recognize Israel, they refuse to negotiate for their own country, they refuse to stop the nonsense of right of return. And…they make a sport out of killing innocent Israelis. If and when they ever choose peace as an alternative, they should explicitly say so and act accordingly. That’s when they will get a positive response from Israel.

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The Middle East 'peace process' was a myth. Donald Trump ended it.

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/feb/18/the-middle-east-peace-process-myth-donald-trump-ended-it

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Why would you reference a Palestinian supporter of BDS who is on record as being against the state of Israel and against two states for two people?

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It’s the message I’m referencing, not the messenger. Any comments on the message?

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The usual comments from Zionists who refuse to even consider the possibility that their state was founded on racist exclusion, brutality and mass death to Palestinians. Yes, that is deeply disturbing. But, as we are seeing around the world (and as happened to me), it is becoming the accepted understanding of what Israel is all about. Many Zionists have always known this and just don't care. Democracy and freedom must come to Israel/Palestine.

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James, is Ukraine fighting for "racist exclusion"? You and Peter's anti-Semitic double standards for Jews vs. everyone else are as blatant as they are unconvincing.

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