Start A Petition

To My Fellow Israelis: We Can Stop This (An Open Letter From An Israeli Jew)

World  (tags: middle-east, israel, palestine, Jonathan Ofir, history, Zionism, occupation, expansion, "promised land", brutality, Al Dawayima, Deir Yassin )

- 1118 days ago -
Our evaluation of Israeli history omits so much atrocity from our side. Indeed, much of it is still classified. Had we not hidden our crimes so well, so deep, with so much propaganda "deterrence" rhetoric, it would perhaps be easier to believe our sinceri


We hate spam. We do not sell or share the email addresses you provide.


Evelyn B (63)
Monday February 22, 2016, 2:46 pm
To my fellow Israelis: We can stop this
Middle East Jonathan Ofir on February 8, 2016

An open letter to my fellow Israelis:

This is probably a culmination of nearly a decade’s reviewed study of our history. At some point, beyond the singular stories, cases and arguments, I feel something unequivocal and very generally encompassing needs to be said about our Israeli “miracle”, the manifestation of the Zionist “dream”.

I will not write this in Hebrew, although that would probably have been the most direct idiomatic tool to reach your minds. I will not do so, because I have had enough of dirty laundry recycled amongst us “self-understanding” Israelis. Whilst I write to you, my hopes of change coming from within us Israelis have regrettably declined in the years – and thus, I am also, if not more so, placing my bets upon the involvement of the international community – whose help we need so badly – not for more cash, weapons, or apologetic “understanding”, but rather for its intervention in what we are apparently unable, and mostly unwilling, to fix. The attitude which I thus exhibit here is an extremely unpopular one in Israeli and Jewish culture. It is the vein of the “moser” – the one who “snitches” against the “Jewish nation” towards the goyim.

Well, get over it. There are far more serious issues at hand.

I have to tell you first that our evaluation of Israeli history omits so much atrocity from our side. Indeed, much of it is still classified – even back to 1948. Yes, you may have heard about the Deir Yassin massacre, it is often taught in school books, yet portrayed as an aberration, perpetrated by “extremist”, “rogue” factions before the Declaration of Independence (although the leaders of those extremist factions became our Prime Ministers). But what of the dozens of other massacres perpetrated by – us – in 1948, indeed by the very IDF? Have you read about Al Dawayima, which was apparently worse than Deir Yassin? Yair Auron just wrote about it in Haaretz, I translated and put it out here and on my Facebook page. Go and read. It’s a letter which is out for the first time in full, but it’s no secret as such – excerpts of it have been out for decades – as have many other testimonies and documents, for those who care to seek and look.

When you sum up the systematic mass executions, the many gang-rape cases (which have been slow to be uncovered, because they involve shame on both fronts), the crushing of children’s skulls with sticks, the ripping out of fetuses from their mothers’ wombs – all, and many more, perpetrated by “us”, the “good guys”, the “cultured elite” – often in situations which presented no danger, just out of pure gratuitous sadism and hate for the “Arabs” – then you may begin to realise, that Israel is not in a war of survival, a war of an elite and advanced culture in a “bad neighborhood” of backwards Arab sub-culture.

Let me put it out there, clearly and directly:

We have been acting like animals, with barbarism of a degree which indeed could be, and should be, and has been, compared to those whom we love to hate – the Nazis – whose cruelty is supposed to exonerate ours. As Golda Meir told MK Shulamit Aloni: “After the Holocaust, Jews are allowed to do anything.” NO. Damn well not. We’ve used this excuse, with those words or others, together with a systematic cover-up of our own cruelties, since the start. And because we have largely succumbed to our own propaganda in this, we have failed to perceive the historical trace, which, if followed honestly, will show us that we are essentially AT THE SAME PLACE as before – still subjugating, still massacring, still torturing.

This is not a chain of events forced upon us as an inevitable consequence of trying to “survive”. This is nonetheless a predictable outcome of our inherent state-religion – which is not Judaism, as many mistakenly think – but rather Zionism.

We were brainwashed to think that Zionism is our savior. That as Jesus died on the cross for the Christians, our soldiers have died for our country. No – they died primarily for Zionism. “Our country”, as is mostly perceived by us, is not really “our country”. It is the country of so many others, whom we have not only expelled with unfathomable brutality, but whom we also now keep locked up in cages of various forms, shapes and styles, as well as under horrendous Apartheid regime in various degrees – in order to maintain our sacred “demographic balance” – whilst we continue, rather unabated, in our expansion over the “promised land”.

Our occupation did not begin in 1967, neither did our cruelty and crimes. We have established a state on the mass graves of others. This was not forced upon us. Just as Begin said in 1982, concerning the 1967 war “we must be honest with ourselves…we decided to attack.” So must we be honest with ourselves about all of our other portrayals of “self-defense”. Indeed, the whole Zionist venture is essentially portrayed as a “struggle for survival”, a “struggle for self-defense”.

Had we not hidden our crimes so well, so deep, and with so much propaganda “deterrence” rhetoric, it would perhaps be easier to believe our sincerity. On the other hand, when those crimes are exposed for what they are, it also becomes impossible to justify our moral righteousness. Indeed, as the world media became much more instantly transparent, the reality of our crimes became impossible to hide – so we put an extra focus on propaganda – to twist it all into “self defense”. We indiscriminately shelled houses and leveled neighborhoods in Gaza, for “self-defense”. We torture children, for “self-defense”.

Let’s just say it outright: We torture and terrorize the hell out of Palestinians in order to deter them and make their lives so miserable so they will want to leave – or to revenge, which will justify our next blow.

We have created a monster. Who on earth would want to “survive” if this is how “survival” looks? How vile is this “survival” which maintains itself upon the death and destruction of “others”? Indeed, who are those “others”? Are we not really the “others”, who came with our “better knowing” culture to “make the desert bloom”? And as this desert “blooms” with yet another settlement, another fictitious “military zone”, another “expansion” – the people who are there, the “others”, are gradually removed, encircled, or killed.

We Jews have thus created a violent legacy to last for centuries, even if it were to stop now. If all stories were now revealed, all archives declassified (1948, 1967 and all others), it is certain that this Zionist venture would constitute another shocking and substantial chapter of barbarism and cruelty in the annals of world history.

But it is not over – for worse, but also for better. We have the ability to stop it now. No, this does not mean our annihilation, as the propagandist Zionist hysterics would reflexively profess. It is an option, standing before us – to relinquish the reign of exclusivity, to separate the Jewish from the State, and to live in peace, with all the challenges that may face every human and every state.
But WE are not a state. A state is not “people”. A state is a regime, a paradigm of governance. A state may belong to its citizens – but then neither “we” nor Israel constitute a real state. For the State of Israel is the state of those who hold Jewish Nationality – which supersedes their citizenship. And I refuse to be a part of this “we” if that means some ethnic-religious-national mishmash superiority. Does that necessarily mean divorcing Judaism? No, of course not. It simply means divorcing the ostensibly inextricable tie that Zionism has made between itself and Judaism, in monopolising Judaism, using a mafia-style coercion of all those who speak against it, with the (too often) applied ultimate rhetoric WMD– of “anti-Semitism”.

This is a scare tactic that needs to be fought. If we do not rise above the intellectual atavism that this ideology submits us to, we will continue to be committing grave crimes and exonerating them as we go, in the name of this “religion”.

There is a future. Zionism, nonetheless, is a dead-end. I realise that saying these things today, is far, far from consensus, and is in no uncertain ways a recipe for societal exclusion. I’ll take that. I’m already resolved to it. But this is not some prophetic martyrdom that I submit myself to. It is actually the only right path that I see. If you want to hope for a good future with Zionism, at least do the minimum to really see what it has meant for Palestinians. That is, surprisingly, perhaps the easier part. The harder part is to look the horrors in the eye, and then look yourself in the mirror, and see what Zionism has done to you.

Evelyn B (63)
Monday February 22, 2016, 2:50 pm
On the same subject: ‘Barbarism by an educated and cultured people’ - Dawayima massacre was worse than Deir Yassin

Freya H (345)
Monday February 22, 2016, 3:23 pm
I hope that the knee-jerk Zionists Gemma and Alexa R. read this article.

Shirley S (187)
Monday February 22, 2016, 3:53 pm
I hope the author of this letter stays safe ! Also it amazes me how ANY soldier can accept orders to participate in BARBARIC atrocities.

Animae C (507)
Monday February 22, 2016, 8:39 pm
: ' (
Thanx Evelyn

Rose Becke (141)
Monday February 22, 2016, 9:53 pm
It must stop

Farah H (155)
Tuesday February 23, 2016, 6:52 am
Noted, thank you for sharing Evelyn
It is horrible, the poor and vulnerable Palestinian people are suffering on a daily basis while their Leaders and The Arabs are watching the daily massacres committed against the Palestinians silently and enjoying a good relationship with the Israelis or what the letter like to describe as Zionists. It can be easily identified as a perfect conspiracy that no one wants to find a proper solution to end the daily atrocities.

Evelyn B (63)
Tuesday February 23, 2016, 8:00 am
Too true, Farah
But at least some Israelis are daring to speak up (despite the risks involved) - although their voices tend to be drowned by others screaming all the insults they can think of to justify NOT being honest about the State's history ..... & human rights abuses.

More like this man, and it might be possible to start making progress towards a genuine solution to the present mess.
It won't be "perfect" - neither side will get all they want - but it could be "live-withable", unlike the present situation where oppression increases along with land-grabbing, throttling of means of building livelihoods ... and those who don't want peace can generate excuses for continuing their oppression of Palestinians by pushing a few over the edge into violent response (and calling this provocation "self-defence")

Peggy B (43)
Tuesday February 23, 2016, 8:02 am
Wow. Thanks Evelyn. I have been reading Breaking The Silence facebook page and how the Israeli government is trying to stop them giving witness to their war experiences and coming to terms with themselves. I fear for the retribution these young men face if exposed.

Darren Woolsey (218)
Tuesday February 23, 2016, 9:00 am
Shared to spread awareness.

Lona G (66)
Tuesday February 23, 2016, 9:43 am
Thank you, Jonathan Ofir, for writing this and thank you, Evelyn, for posting it. This article has made me do two things, both for the same reasons: it has made me cry, and I've bookmarked it to keep and read again. Because it was written from my heart, because Ofir describes exactly how I feel even though I'm not an Israeli but only from Jewish descent, because I'm glad there are more of us who feel this way, because he has the guts to write this and risk societal exclusion. Because WE CAN STOP THIS.

Angelika R (143)
Tuesday February 23, 2016, 10:14 am
WOW. I won't spoil the deep and lasting impact this letter leaves with any comments here from me, except point out that this wording has got to be the most accurate and unique analysis read in a long time:

" It simply means divorcing the ostensibly inextricable tie that Zionism has made between itself and Judaism, in monopolising Judaism, using a mafia-style coercion of all those who speak against it, with the (too often) applied ultimate rhetoric WMD– of “anti-Semitism”.
Thx Evelyn, have yet to read the other story linked above.

Sheryl G (359)
Tuesday February 23, 2016, 11:00 am
I am also, if not more so, placing my bets upon the involvement of the international community – whose help we need so badly – not for more cash, weapons, or apologetic “understanding”, but rather for its intervention in what we are apparently unable, and mostly unwilling, to fix.

We have established a state on the mass graves of others.

Thank goodness for the voices of matter where they arise from.

As Martin Luther King Jr said, "The ultimate measure of a man (or woman) is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.

Everyone should take a moment to read this letter.......thanks Evelyn.

LucyKaleido ScopeEyes (82)
Wednesday February 24, 2016, 4:16 am

I was interested in finding out exactly WHO Jonathan Ofir was: a journalist, an academic, an historian??

I hadn't seen the description at the bottom of Evelyn's post on Mondoweiss. But turns out that it was a very fortunate oversight, because it led me to googling his name, and unexpectedly finding the YouTube video of Jonathan Ofir himself reading his letter, at home in front of his computer, a video he himself filmed & uploaded to YouTube two weeks ago.

Jonathan Ofir is "a Jewish-Israeli musician, conductor, writer and blogger residing in Denmark," as reads his YouTube description of himself, and, as for his letter, it "addresses the paradigm of Zionism and what it means for Palestinians and for Jewish Israelis - then and now," in his own words.

God bless musicians! (My very personal totally subjective but also true & accurate view of all the good musicians do on every level!) Don't forget the uproar Daniel Barenboïm caused in Israel at his Wolf-Prize acceptance speech before the Knesset way back in 2004, when, in pre-Prize interviews, he firmly denounced Occupation & the Settlements, stating that while he plans to play in Ramallah [which has now happened several times], he would always refuse to play at any settlement ! (The Rutube video linked to above - - includes a pre-Prize acceptance interview, a bit of a concert, and, most important, the entire acceptance speech, all with English subtitles)

"When he was awarded the prestigious Wolf prize for the arts in May 2004 in the Knesset, his acceptance speech quoted from the 1952 statement of Israeli independence, espousing human rights and tolerance. "Can we, despite all our achievements, ignore the INTOLERABLE GAP between what the Declaration of Independence promised and what was fulfilled, the gap between the idea and the realities of Israel?" he asked. Limov Livnat, the Israeli minister for eduction, culture and sport, in turn accused him of "attacking the state of Israel". (from Guardian article linked to below)

On Sunday 21st August 2005, "conductor Daniel Barenboim's orchestra [The West-Eastern Divan Orchestra] - made up of young Arabs and Israelis - performed a landmark concert in Ramallah, West Bank (The Guardian)

"The day before the Ramallah concert, he [Barenboïm] MAKES A POINT of striding through the DEBRIS and SMOULDERING RUBBISH beside the NOTORIOUS Qalandiya CHECKPOINT just outside Ramallah, and surveying the enormous West Bank BARRIER, accompanied by a GAGGLE of cameramen and journalists. Earlier he had held a packed press conference with the Palestinian minister of culture, Yahia Yakhlef. ..."
"Barenboim's own humanitarian commitment is beyond dispute, though his stance has been bitterly opposed by some inside Israel..."

"If Barenboim has achieved nothing else, there are 100-odd young people from Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Palestine, Lebanon and Israel who have lived together "as family", as Tyme Khleifi [a (beautiful), young violinist from Palestine] puts it."

But even if the unprecedented, good personal and musical relationships between musicians never -in the normal scheme of things- destined to meet each other or play together in the same orchestra, the realities of the Israel/Palestinian situation can be ignored by no one, and no one seeks to sweep them under a musical carpet:

"Part of the point of the orchestra is that the players are encouraged (though by no means forced) to discuss their lives and the apparently intractable political problems that beset the region. According to 21-year-old violinist Daniel Cohen, the main problem in these discussions is "the differences in THE WAY WE WRITE OUR HISTORY; finding the NARRATIVE OF THE OTHER SIDE upsetting because you grew up with a different version."

"All the young Israelis who visited Ramallah with the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra were entering the West Bank for the first time in their lives."

" "For a Syrian to have to have a Spanish passport and go through an Israeli checkpoint to be here [at the Ramallah concert] says it all," sighs [clarinetist] Kinan Azmeh. Azmeh elected not to fly to Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion airport for the concert and thus travel through Israel, but came in, on the diplomatic passport that had been issued by the Spanish government to each player, via Amman in Jordan."

Evelyn B (63)
Wednesday February 24, 2016, 5:11 am
*************************************************** Lucy!
I'd also googled Ofir to find out more about him & his stance (There are a handful of Israelis that put out, & support, some REALLY anti-Semitic messages, so I systematically check new -to me- voices however their message sounds valid ..... Palestinian activists have openly condemned a few for their anti-Semitism. Are some actually "agents provocateurs"? Perhaps) ... Anyway, I checked, but didn't find this reading of his letter!

Thanks for adding the link, Lucy - I'm sharing it

Sandra Penna (135)
Wednesday February 24, 2016, 6:39 am
Thank you for posting, Evelyn. As far as I know, the Brazilian government has barred the new ambassador designated by Netanyahu, Dani Dayan. Brazilian diplomacy is against the occupation of Palestinian territories and Dani Dayan would represent the Jewish settlements in the West Bank. Israel has no ambassador in Brazil since January...

. (0)
Wednesday February 24, 2016, 7:47 am
This is not terrorism? And the reaction of Palestine, with what little is left of it, is overreacted? Easy to say that Palestinian terrorists. all together. attached. They should be ashamed, but is a feeling that does not run through the veins of the State of Israel. Good for Brazil and all of South America has always questioned and condemned these actions. All epithets say from Israel and their supporters are applicable to say it.

Evelyn B (63)
Wednesday February 24, 2016, 10:34 am
*********************************** for Sandra & Pablo!
(with a proviso to Pablo - a reminder that this absence of shame is at government & political party level, not globally applied to all Israelis - because the Israeli who wrote this open letter is living proof that there are Israelis who don't agree with Golda Meir's assessment that, after the Holocaust, Jews have the right to do whatever they wish (in all impunity). While it does appear that she was right insofar as that there does appear to be internationally tolerated impunity, the opinion isn't shared by all the citizens of Jewish religion/ ethnicity/ affiliation. Ofir isn't alone. He's not alone is speaking out - Avnery, Levy, Peled and many others have opinions along the same line, & he stands together with more Israelis who join organisations such as Gush Shalom, Breaking the Silence, Tikkun, B'tselem, Rabbis for Human Rights, Peace Now (there's a long list .....) which oppose the betrayal of conscience represented by right wing & extremist pro-Zionist political groups & the successive governments which have built on such political positions.

I hope Ofir's message is heard by others, whose sense of "right" brings them closer to such outlooks - and that it will encourage them to think carefully about where the "tolerance line" should end. I know they are out there - some are also here on Care2 and occasionally hint at the dilemma that the situation represents for them.

Trish K (29)
Wednesday February 24, 2016, 12:44 pm
Ofir's Mother did a good job Instilling Shame & Guilt -
It's tradition

Birgit W (160)
Wednesday February 24, 2016, 1:02 pm

Lois Jordan (63)
Wednesday February 24, 2016, 2:06 pm
Noted. Thanks for posting, Evelyn.
Glad to read that letter and know that there are still people with consciences who will speak out----hopefully without fear of any retaliation that has become so pervasive.

Roger G (148)
Wednesday February 24, 2016, 2:24 pm
noted, thanks

Janet B (0)
Wednesday February 24, 2016, 2:36 pm

fly b (26)
Wednesday February 24, 2016, 5:32 pm
Barbaric and criminal -- truly.

I agree with Lois, thank goodness for people with conscience and awareness, speaking out!


Past Member (0)
Wednesday February 24, 2016, 8:53 pm
Peace. Noted with thanks Evelyn.

Colleen L (3)
Wednesday February 24, 2016, 10:44 pm
So sad. I pray for PEACE too. Thanks Evelyn

Dt Nc (0)
Wednesday February 24, 2016, 10:58 pm

Darren Woolsey (218)
Wednesday February 24, 2016, 11:50 pm
Reshared to spread awareness.

LucyKaleido ScopeEyes (82)
Thursday February 25, 2016, 2:53 am
Thank you for all the stars, everyone, esp Evelyn who typed so many!

If people don't want to take the time to watch the video of Barenboïm making his Wolf-Prize acceptance speech (shame on them!!), I have found ONE SITE that posted their own translation of it (from Hebrew to English) in its entirety: Electronic Intifada! @

I was sorry to see that the Guardian didn't quote the best parts, which are extremely moving to me, and I know will be to Lona, in particular, though I hope to everyone. There are, in fact, no 'best parts' -- it's all magnificent:

"... It was in 1952, four years after the Declaration of Israel’s Independence, that I, as a 10-year-old boy, came to Israel with my parents from Argentina.

"The Declaration of Independence was a source of inspiration to believe in ideals that transformed us from Jews to Israelis.

"This remarkable document expressed the commitment (in the Rutube video, he announces to the audience that he's going to quote from the Declaration): “The state of Israel will devote itself to the development of this country for the benefit of all its people; It will be founded on the principles of freedom, justice and peace, guided by the visions of the prophets of Israel; It will grant full equal, social and political rights to all its citizens regardless of differences of religious faith, race or sex; It will ensure freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture.”

"The founding fathers of the State of Israel who signed the Declaration also committed themselves and us: “To pursue peace and good relations with all neighboring states and people.”

"I am asking today with deep sorrow (on Rutube, this is translated as 'distress'): Can we, despite all our achievements, ignore the intolerable gap between what the Declaration of Independence promised and what was fulfilled, the gap between the idea and the realities of Israel?

"Does the condition of occupation and domination over another people fit the Declaration of Independence? Is there any sense in the independence of one at the expense of the fundamental rights of the other?

"Can the Jewish people whose history is a record of continued suffering and relentless persecution, allow themselves to be indifferent to the rights and suffering of a neighboring people?

"Can the State of Israel allow itself an unrealistic dream of an ideological end to the conflict instead of pursuing a pragmatic, humanitarian one based on social justice.

"I believe that despite all the objective and subjective difficulties, the future of Israel and its position in the family of enlightened nations will depend on our ability to realize the promise of the founding fathers as they canonized it in the Declaration of Independence.

"I have always believed that there is no military solution to the Jewish Arab conflict, neither from a moral nor a strategic one and since a solution is therefore inevitable I ask myself, why wait? It is for this very reason that I founded with my late friend Edward Said a workshop for young musicians from all the countries of the Middle East, Jews and Arabs.

"Despite the fact that as an art, music cannot compromise its principles, and politics, on the other hand, is the art of compromise, when politics transcends the limits of the present existence and ascents to the higher sphere of the possible, it can be joined there by music. Music is the art of the imaginary par excellence, an art free of all limits imposed by words, an art that touches the depth of human existence, and art of sounds that crosses all borders. As such, music can take the feelings and imagination of Israelis and Palestinians to new unimaginable spheres.

"I therefore decided to donate the monies of the prize to music education projects in Israel and in Ramallah.

Thank you."


Evelyn B (63)
Thursday February 25, 2016, 3:12 am
And I suppose he also would be considered by Stan as "loopy" - Stan's assessment of Ofir in the thread on another Ofir article ...... an article with as provocative title as any that Sam comes up with!! Jews Arent Special
(Before opening & reading it, I feared it would be from a genuinely anti-Semitic source .... although Jess wouldn't normally promote an anti-Semitic article. I did open & read, realised it was almost certainly not written by either an "agent provocateur" or one of those very rare creatures, a genuinely anti-Semitic Jew - & then checked out Ofir - just to be sure.)

Thanks for sharing that, Lucy

Roslyn McBride (28)
Thursday February 25, 2016, 3:23 am

M B (62)
Thursday February 25, 2016, 8:34 am
thank you

fahad Al fahad (140)
Thursday February 25, 2016, 10:44 am
A witness of his family! he sends a strong message to the Israelis . really what the Zionist regime made for them ? Only commit the most heinous crimes and to spread hatred, and love revenge to the other side, I means the Palestinians and the Arabs.

Angelika R (143)
Thursday February 25, 2016, 4:14 pm
Lucy < ***********************************************************************************
(since the star bank is closed for you..I actually do not at all like to do this on threads but apparently you seem to enjoy it and all your comments do deserve them!)
Thx for that video too!
As for "God bless musicians! (My very personal totally subjective but also true & accurate view of all the good musicians do on every level!) " Amen to that! We have a saying in German that goes "Wo man singet laß dich ruhig nieder, böse Menschen haben keine Lieder"
means wherever people are singing you can settle and rest as evil folks have no songs. Or music in general for that matter!

Maria Papastamatiou (4)
Friday May 6, 2016, 12:14 pm
Thanks for posting.
Or, log in with your
Facebook account:
Please add your comment: (plain text only please. Allowable HTML: <a>)

Track Comments: Notify me with a personal message when other people comment on this story

Loading Noted By...Please Wait


butterfly credits on the news network

  • credits for vetting a newly submitted story
  • credits for vetting any other story
  • credits for leaving a comment
learn more

Most Active Today in World

Content and comments expressed here are the opinions of Care2 users and not necessarily that of or its affiliates.

New to Care2? Start Here.