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By the Numbers

Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech to Congress this week, filled with falsehoods and untruths, defies the spirit of this week’s parasha, which urges us to be diligent with numbers and facts

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Benjamin Netanyahu speaking to a joint session of Congress. (C-SPAN)

Analysis of this week’s Torah portion requires a certified public accountant more than a qualified writer: The whole thing’s about numbers. Moses, following God’s commandment, conducts a census of the Israelites and finds 603,550 men of draftable age. The Levites are counted next, and then each tribe gets its own accurate tally. If you’re the sort of reader who’s into facts and figures, this week’s downpour of digits is a rollicking read.

But what are the rest of us to make of this bit of text, we whose eyes glazed over in math class and require a calculator to work out a 20 percent tip on a $100 check? The answer lies in the spirit rather than the letter of the text, and in spirit this week’s parasha delivers a simple but profound message: We all count. Even a small nation, or in particular a small nation, must keep track of each and every soul. Seen through this prism, numbers are not abstractions; each one corresponds with a living, breathing human being. Which, of course, is why we should be very careful to handle numbers with accuracy and care—fudge a number, and you’ve sinned against the very core of the tangible and the real.

Ours, alas, is the era of unreal numbers, from the falsified spreadsheets of Bernie Madoff to the felonious schemes of the equally criminal yet tragically unpunished swindlers behind the subprime mortgage bubble. Bluffing discreetly on balance sheets is bad enough; do it in the open, on the largest imaginable stage, and we’re headed down a dangerous road.

Unfortunately, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech to a joint session of the Congress earlier this week was a master class of numeric (and other) inaccuracies. Because these things matter—they matter very much—let us, in the spirit of this week’s parasha, do the Jewish thing and set the record straight.

Netanyahu said: The vast majority of the 650,000 Israelis who live beyond the 1967 lines reside in neighborhoods and suburbs of Jerusalem and Greater Tel Aviv.

Actually, there are 304,569 Israelis living in the West Bank, according to the Israel Defense Forces. Add to that East Jerusalem—which, according to most credible sources, is home to about 200,000 Israelis—and you hit the 500,000 mark. Even if one chooses to be generous and give the prime minister these East Jerusalemites in his count, one has to wonder, as Jonathan Lis recently did in Haaretz, why Netanyahu, who later on in his speech roared that “Jerusalem must never again be divided,” would possibly choose to include the residents of the undividable capital in the overall tally of the contested populace.

Of the 300 million Arabs in the Middle East and North Africa, only Israel’s Arab citizens enjoy real democratic rights. I want you to stop for a second and think about that. Of those 300 million Arabs, less than one-half of 1 percent are truly free, and they’re all citizens of Israel.

This bit of bluster may come as somewhat of a slight to Israel’s northern neighbor, Lebanon, where the robust parliamentary elections of 2009 drew a record-high voter turnout. Also in line for surprise are the Iraqis, who, despite still struggling to find democracy’s balance, came out in droves to vote in the recent 2010 elections for the Council of Representatives: 62.4 percent of Iraqis cast a ballot that year, only a slightly less impressive showing than the 65.2 percent of Israelis who exercised their civic duty in the nation’s most recent elections in 2009. Oh, and Jordan? Its 120-member House of Representatives holds a substantial number of seats for women and religious and ethnic minorities. You know, as they’re wont to do in fiercely oppressive, thoroughly non-democratic countries.

As the cherry on top of Netanyahu’s rhetorical ruses comes the fact that two days before the prime minister thundered in Congress, the Knesset’s Constitution, Law and Justice Committee passed, in a preliminary vote, a new bill that would give preference to  applicants for government jobs who are veterans of the IDF, thereby openly discriminating against Israeli Arabs, who do not serve in the army. Add to that the so-called Nakba Law, which prohibits Israeli Arabs from teaching or commemorating their interpretation of the historical events that led to the creation of the State of Israel in 1948, as well as other laws currently under consideration in the Knesset—like the one that would require all citizens of Israel to pledge allegiance to their nation as a uniquely Jewish state—and this whole “truly free” business begins to crumble.

In Judea and Samaria, the Jewish people are not foreign occupiers. We are not the British in India. We are not the Belgians in the Congo. This is the land of our forefathers, the Land of Israel, to which Abraham brought the idea of one God, where David set out to confront Goliath.

David, actually, swung his fateful sling in the valley of Elah, near modern-day Beit Shemesh, which is squarely within the boundaries of Israel proper. And if Netanyahu truly believes Israel is nothing like the Brits or the Belgians, he is welcome, of course, to do with the West Bank as had once been done with Jerusalem and the Golan Heights, and annex them. Until then, however, the prime minister has to choose: If he wishes to follow the Bible as his unsurpassable guide to realpolitik, let him declare so openly and allow his constituents to support or reject his theological aspirations. But if he wishes to guide the ship of state according to the acceptable, rational norms of Western democracies, all that blessed biblical stuff is, alas, rather irrelevant. Seen from that perspective, asserting martial law on a territory and its citizens, setting up an intricate bureaucracy of governance, oppressing any aspirations for self-governance, and insisting time and again that the natives are too corrupt and incompetent to govern themselves sounds like it’s one punch bowl away from feeling right at home at the Bengal Club.

The fun never ends. One could, for example, juxtapose Netanyahu’s encomiums for the riotous youth of the Arab spring with his efforts to drum up support for the despotic Hosni Mubarak as the Egyptian president was losing his grip on power earlier this year, or contrast Netanyahu’s claim that “the Palestinian economy is booming” with the World Bank’s report, released this April, which finds that the very same economy would soon be rendered “unsustainable” unless Israel relaxes the considerable restrictions it still places on the Palestinian private sector.

But instead of hurling oneself against the firm wall of slurs and untruths Netanyahu erected in his Washington speech, let us read the parasha instead, and recall the spirit, sacred and fierce and urgent, that urges us to keep our accounting strict and strictly honest.

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Shalom Freedman says:

This vicious and wrongheaded attack totally ignores the accomplishment of Prime Minister Netanyahu in presenting Israel’s position and situation to the Congress. The heartwarming reception given him show that they do not share Leil Leibowitz’s petty vitriol. As for Leibowitz’s charges the fact that he considers Hizbollah dominated Lebanon a ‘democracy’ shows how far he is from understanding Middle East realities. As for the democratic rights of Israeli Arabs I recommend Leibowitz take a look at Dan Schueftan’s monumental research which demonstrates how Israel Arabs despite the freedoms they have in Israel have chosen leaders who work openly to destroy the Jewish state. There is by the way nothing whatsoever ‘non- democratic’ about rewarding soldiers with a post- military financial stipend.
On the whole though I find it outrageous that ‘Tablet’ magazine can find no better fair-minded journalists than Liel Leibowitz. While the Prime Minister of Israel defends it against a global effort at delegitimization , Tablet’s correspondent joins the delegitimizers.

Carl says:

You’re kidding right? Jordan a democracy? Jordan is a dictatorship ruled by a foreign king. It is a country where selling land to Jews is punishable by death. Lebanon? a democracy? Anyone who is a credible opponent of Syria is murdered (including the president).
Let’s look at who is really telling lies-you bring up the preference to IDF veterans; Arab Israelis can volunteer for the army (and some do), and receive exactly the same benefits. While those who don’t volunteer work or study, the soldiers earn around $200/month for 3 years. Don’t you think that they might deserve a little boost when they get out? I don’t call this discrimination.

Now: why should I believe your numbers, and not Netanyahu’s? What David’s sling has to do with it? Shall Jews live only where David lived before he created his kingdom? How did you get an idea that everywhere where there is a parlament, there is a democracy? Then Stalin’s Soviet Union and Third Reich were perfect democracies. Your article is “falsehoods and untruths, defies the spirit of this week’s parasha”. Shame on you.

Peter W. says:

This piece is a defamatory smear job. As others point out, Jordan and Lebanon are hardly “democracies”, and veterans preferences for government jobs are found everywhere. The Nakba Law is about Israeli taxpayer not funding anti-Israel propaganda. Unfortunately, the Arabs in Israel are still free to spout their traitorous propaganda, and they sit in the Knesset. (Can you imagine Bin Laden supporters serving in the U.S. Congress?) Liebowitz’s smear job would do Goebbels proud.

Michael says:

I’m so tired of leftists like Liebowitz pretending they’re Jews, even having the chutzpah to write a weekly “parasha” column which does nothing but profane the sacred.

Ms. Newhouse, maybe one day when you grow up and run through your Daddy’s money; maybe at that time I’ll once again read what you publish but your attraction to writers like Liebowitz leaves me disconsolate.

I’m saying goodbye to Tablet, which unfortunately, is Jewish in only the most superficial and mindless ways.

Ben says:

Whoa, Liebovitz just translated a Haaretz (very bad) piece. All the “lies” are in fact truth. Netanyahu did count the Arabs of Jerusalem because, yes they are residents of Israel and counted as such. Which means that he did a small mistake – the number is 750,000 beyond the green line and not 650,000 – but that happens.

This article is just a shame. Netanyahu’s trip in the US was an amazing success. Most Israelis were proud of him. This “Jewish site” seems to be just another extreme left-wing propaganda tool. What a pity.

Not Michael says:


“I’m so tired of leftists like Liebowitz pretending they’re Jews,”

Say whatever you want about Leibovitz’s politics, but don’t question his Jewishness. Right-wingers and conservatives don’t have a monopoly on Jewishness, and to attack your (obviously Jewish) political opponent by saying, “He’s not a real Jew” is low and uncalled for.

david blank says:

I guess a prerequisite of Tablet is that their “journalists” only spout Haartez.

View the real thing at no need to read the Tablet!

David says:

The Jewish people have survived so much, I am optimistic that it will also survive Leil Liebowitz’s incessant ravings.

David says:

And I’m surprised at the lies shouted as truth from Israel’s enemies. Next will this person be detailing the Palestinian Holocaust? What a bunch of neatly packaged crap! Could Mr. Liebowitz write a similar counter governmental perspective in Iran, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia…? And yet we are all Jews. This is our heritage. This is our family. Oy Vey!

Michael L. says:

Yes, the author is indeed a Jew. Unfortunately, he’s apparently a self-hating Jew, as well . . .

Jewish self-hatred is a mental disease/condition that develops through various means (upbringing, guilt, poor education, etc.). To the detriment of all it’s difficult to cure, even when otherwise-intelligent people are presented with objective/cogent facts/arguments, and they become blinded to obvious truths/conclusions. It becomes a larger problem when those afflicted are given an unfettered public forum (i.e., in this case).

MARTY says:

I live safe & sound in Los Angeles Ca. so at times I feel strange about giving advice to the people of Israel about anything. I would however like to comment on just a few items of the above article.
A. The Congress loves Israel for the votes it get’s it’s members when they are trying to be re-elected.
B. The Congress loves Israel for the Jewish money they collect when they run again.
C. The Congress is without question tied to the military industrial complex meaning arms for peace/war.
D. Bibi comes here & argue’s with the elected President to make points with his supporters in Israel.
E. The right winger here in the US are waiting for judgement day when all Jews in Israel will die.
F. The supporters of Bibi had Ralph Reed showcased, sorry any group that has Ralph Reed on US TV as supporting them must be wrong or just plain stupid. Reed should be in prison not sitting on stage of the largest Jewish group in the US.

Just wanted to comment on what things look like here in the US, maybe lastly I would say comments like his fighting in the Suez should be chatted about during a poker game, not on stage in the US Congress meaning Bibi is the wrong man for the job of peace even if his idea’s are correct.

david star says:

Liebowitz brings to mind a Chief Bosun’s Mate of a destroyer-escort I served on many decades ago. His descrition of the seamanship of a young officer, when paraphrsed, describes Liel Leibowitz to a “T”
“Liel couldn’t make a pimple on a real Jew’s Butt!”

Ehud says:

A classic case of straight-up critique being labeled self-hating by insecure right-wing Jews. Bibi and AIPAC crowds talk a lot about the strength of this alliance, but his recent visit has not only helped drive a wedge between the US and Israel, but also between the majority of American Jews who are liberal and the increasingly radical right-wing government of Israel.

A young American Jew growing up today cannot feel part of her generation and at the same time feel it’s okay for her ancestral land to be ruled by racists who would deny Israeli Arabs their citizenship if they could get away with it. AIPAC is in bed with the Christian Zionists and Sara Palin, and that’s a sure way to get VD.

Pinchas Baram says:

A wolf in sheep’s clothes is not a wolf, and a total drekhead and basically a traitor and hater (think Noam Chomsky, Richard Falk, Neve Gordon of BGU) even with the jewish/israeli name Liebowitz is NOT a Jew.

Forget the DNA argument, or the conventional view that if this shnook’s mother is biologically Jewish so is he. And forget too the Lubavitcher rebbe’s nice, pious and utterly nonsensical view that even a heretic, a rasha, an apostate!– if he’s born a Jew, he’s still a Jew, has a Jewish neshama, blah blah blah.

As far as I’m concerned, and thankfully for a lot of your readers (and former readers, who got sick of the Tablet’s leftist preaching),Liebowitz is a bad joke, not a Jew. He’s like larry derfner of jpost or gideon levy of haaretz–a a totally post-Zionist cheapshot and a creep behind a keyboard.

Cyberspace is full in recent years with pretenders like him who self righteously declare, I’m a Jew and I hate Israel! They are a curse– AND WE CURSE OURSELVES IF we stupidly succumb and say, yeah, they’re still Jewish, they’re part of the big tent, they’re just as Jewish as you and me, we have to accept them…

J Carpenter says:

So—to be a Jew, one must unequivocally support all that the political state Israel is, says, and does; then slander and brand as “self-loathing Nazi anathema” any who voices dissent? Is “Jewish” a political party or philosophy? or is it a faith and a culture and a people, which includes Israel among the many?
Political emotionalism is not faith.

sonoffar says:

As a non-Jew I will refrain from commenting on, “Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech to Congress”, and it’s, “defiance of the spirit of this week’s parasha”. However as an interested observer, I have observed that the severest critics and and most insidious enemies of Israel, the concept of a Jewish state, and Jews in general, are not radical Muslims or White cloaked Americans, but are in fact Liberal Westernized Jews.
Mr. Leibovitz seems to be showing, to any who care to see, what his beliefs and intentions are. If the character of a man is shown by the fruits of his mind and labor, a second reading of “By The Numbers” tells me all I need to know about Mr. Leibovitz and his concern for truth and correctness in all things, be it a speech from Benjamin Netanyahu, a reclamation of the nation of Israel, or an op-ed in Tablet.

MethanP says:

I can’t add anything to what the above comments have to say.
And to “sonoffar”, right on.

From a “Conservative Jew”.

ralph says:

the liar, the distorter, the self-deluded naive fool is Liebowitz.

shame on you for publishing such dreck.

David Baron says:

This is pretty typical of the “liberal” part of the Jewish spectrum. They are almost anti-Israel, although they hold them selves out as “pro”. There is a lot of thinking like this among the Reform Jews who might go to Temple on Friday night after saying a blessing over the pepperoni pizza they have for “Shabbat” dinner. They probably also wear long sleeves so no one at the Temple sees all of the tattoos.

J Carpenter says:

I would respectfully agree with sonoffar’s observations, yet respectfully disagree with his conclusions. I appreciate highly his respectful tone in true debate, unlike the many others who somehow have found a way to dance around the “bearing false witness” commandment against others by name-calling, labeling, suppositions, etc., not just against the author but anyone left of center.

Gene says:

Lebanon is not a democracy. Lebanon’s law sets up the amount of representatives in proportion to the amount of people of certain religious group within the country. In other words, if such “democracy” would exist here, the USA law would prohibit to have more than one senator of Jewish faith. I wonder if Mr. Leibovitz would admire it then the way he admires it now in Lebanon or would call it “democracy” at all.

babawawa says:

When we held a “job fair” here in Los Angeles, the Fire Dept. declined to attend because they were giving preferential hiring to returning Iraqi and Afghani war vets. I never thought it was racist – just a show of appreciation. BTW, you don’t have a Jewish country so your citizens can decry not being able to slaughter you. Right on to not permitting Nakbah celebrations. In terms of the schmuck Liel being a Jew, well, a baby boy needs a bris to join in the congregation, and I was for sure not at his bris.

kagan says:

Mr. Liebowitz, how can you in good conscience put this half-plagiarized, half-blasphemous parshah interpretation of a commentary out into a world of anti-semites who don’t recognize our legitimacy and deny our human rights even without your help? Netanyahu’s speeches to AIPAC and US Congress were as relevant and visceral as any of those given by an Israeli prime minister since Rabin. Come on man, this is your leader talking, don’t question him on minutia and stoop to the level of pretending to be qualified to justify your critique on religious lines. Its not your place and obviously not your strong suit. I agree with many of the comments before mine, save the insults and right-left poilitico nonsense. Bibi is a stronger, more realistic leader for the country than what the liberals would like him to be, and yet they forget that only under such leaders have they been given the right, in Israel, under true democracy, to even be given a voice as liberals.

Judy Weiss says:

Shame on you,” Tablet” for publishing such drivel. Too bad many Israel-bashers will use this wrong-headed article!

Lester Goldstein says:

You should not confuse the act of voting with the freedoms that Bibi mentioned. Just ask the Christians in Egypt.

Gene says:

Interestingly enough Mr. Leibovitz claims:
“Add to that the so-called Nakba Law, which prohibits Israeli Arabs from teaching or commemorating their interpretation of the historical events that led to the creation of the State of Israel in 1948″
and points to the following explanation of the “Nakba Law”:
“any body that is funded by the state, or a public institute that is supported by the state, will be barred from allocating money to activity that involves the negation of the existence of the State of Israel as the state of the Jewish people; the negation of the state’s democratic character…”
Do you see in this sentence prohibition for any individual (Arab or not) to teach or commemorate historical events of any interpretation? It talks only about ORGANIZATION, supported by the state. Not any organization but only those which are supported by the state. And even in such instance it does not prohibit it “from teaching or commemorating their interpretation of the historical events that led to the creation of the State of Israel in 1948″ but only does not allow government to fund it.
Really, speaking about articles “filled with falsehoods and untruths”… Mr. Liebovitz hit the nail on the head.

Lisbet Soda says:

This is a despicable farce. A case of the pot calling the kettle black. The “falsehoods and untruths” you accuse Netanyahu of are not even inaccuracies in comparison to the ridiculous claims Mr. Leibovitz makes. How far are you willing to stretch, Mr. Leibovitz, in order to black-wash the prime minister in this speech. The countries who you mention as having some modicum of democratic elections do not in ANY way compare in values or degrees to those of Israel, and you know it. If you claim those to be of equal degree, you are the liar. Do NOT use parasha to condemn the prime minister if you are the one with the evil tongue. And that a Jew would be able to spread such untruths about the leader of Israel to the rest of the world at such a volatile time for all is a tragedy and disgrace. Shame on you!

Herbert Charles Beim says:

Liel…Take off your blinders and smell the coffee. Lebanon,the oposit of democracy. Hezbolla controlls and Wo to anyone who does not tow the line. Iraq is a Nation in making. It has yet to proove that democracy is anything more than a fleeteing moment in history. What will happen when the Americans leave? It’s an open question. Jordan has a King who runs the country. What kind of democracy is that? I wish there were other democracy’s like Israel but there are NONE. It is you who are confused and discombobulated. You probably want a job at Haaretz.

Isabel Ringer says:

I am dismayed once again by the extreme New York take on Israel. We in other parts of the US do not view Israel like you do. We love Israel (not blindly). We support Israel as a (yes) Jewish state that treats its Arab citizens for the most part decently–far better than they would be treated in any Arab country. I do not see Netanyahu’s speech as in any way related to the parashah. Please stick to what you could elucidate from Torah, not from your slant on the headlines.
I do see you as an Israel-hating Jew. That is too bad. I am sure it is chic in your circles but plenty of Jews do not run in your circles.

Liel Liebovitz, in your own words, “spends more time playing games than a grown man should.” (

You’re out of your league, here. The Torah is not a game.

The parasha is not a game of numbers. There is more to it than the spirit of the text. However, your point is valid – we all count. Each and every one of us counts. But that doesn’t mean that each of our opinions counts for much. Your opinion on games counts more than mine. A doctor’s opinion on health might count more than the average plumber’s. Bibi’s opinions about recent and current events surrounding Israel and the Jewish people count far more than yours and the pundits of Haaretz.

And the collective opinion of the Jewish people counts more than yours, too. Surveys indicate a jump in support for Netanyahu after his performance at Congress (which video I’ve posted on my website. Click my name.)

Personally, following Obama’s speech at the State Dept., I was feeling pretty miserable. Following the meeting between Netanyahu and the president, I was feeling better. Seeing Netanyahu stand before Congress, hearing his speech, seeing the reaction of the U.S. Congressmen and Senators, for once I was happy to be an American, and elated to be a Jew.

I wonder if the collective “spirit” of the Jewish people was not raised as mine was. We all count, right? The spirit of us all is greater than the sum of our spirits. That’s also in the spirit of the text of the parasha, but you missed it. What Netanyahu’s speech did for Israel and it’s people, including the Arab population, and for Americans in general and Jewish Americans in particular, far far outweighs your attempt to diminish it.

דוד says:

Liel Liebovitz go back to playing video games and leave the real world to the people that live in it!

esthermiriam says:

And here I was, looking forward to consideration of what it meant that the *women* of the people weren’t counted, and what it might have meant if they were….

Now just wondering if the ugly bullying nastiness in most comments here would be softened in a face-to-face setting, particularly if there were women in the room. And, why so many seem to think challenging another’s Jewishness (as if there weren’t many versions) is any refutation of his/her arguments.

Time will tell about the wisdom of Bibi’s speech and the Congressional pep rally: the status quo, as has been said, can’t be sustained forever.

tillkan says:

I hope the Liberal Zionists like the author read these comments and understand just what a cesspit Zionism has become.

Larry says:

You can add Liel Leibovitz to the long list of self hating Jews. I don’t see why it was necessary for Tablet to carry such a anti-semetic diatribe.

Irwin says:

Mr.Leilbovitz you are kidding right Jordan a democracy or lebanon as well which parliament is made of hizzboullah terrorist you are joking right? See whats wrong with self hating jews like you suggestion Mr.Leibovitz go live with these parasites of humanity who kill three month old jewish children and have a party when three thousand Americans are murdered and give candy’s out to the children in the streets need I say more.I truly have no patience for fools like this I would appreciate if TABLET wouldn’t give vital space to self hating jews its discusting.

Lou Adams says:

I am sorry, I thought this was a site that took Israel’s side in the asymmetrical war to destroy Israel. I thought there was enough attacks coming from the Arab side joined by anti Semitic far left to cover every possible Israeli wrong. I thought Jews had learned from history and that while we are not perfect, at least we can get beyond attacking the leader of the Jewish world with innuendo and petty juxtaposition.
While some Israelis work hard to project their hatred of the religious by attacking any members of their government to the right of Mao, I would hope in a so called Jewish publication, an attack would at least have some substance.
My mistake. MS destroy your people, go take some time to study the Jewish narrative while there are still Jews alive for people like you to degrade.

Cosmic says:

just another Israeli academic who runs in far left circles, G_D forbid someone would think he is a Jew, oops unless he can use the Parsha to show how self righteous he and his far left Israeli bashes are.

Beatrix says:

Netanyahu wasn’t trying to embarrass Obama. The head of Israel is a much more experienced leader and it showed. We have taken a man with 144 days of experience in the Senate and made him the head of the most powerful nation in the world.

Negotiations between Israel and Palestine should take place in private, not in front of TV cameras. Obama has no way of getting Abbas to the negotiating table (Netanyahu isn’t afraid of Abbas, its Abbas who’s hedging) and Obama has lost his chief negotiator.

Obama thinks he can do everything, but everything he’s done from making settlements a pre-condition instead of negotiable to refusing Netanyahu’s offer to extend the moratorium, but keeping mum about it, has deepened the chasm between Israel and Palestine.

All Obama had to say about 1967 is that “of course we’ll negotiate from 1967 instead of 1948” and Netanyahu would be thanking him. Liberals have lost all legitimacy.

Peggy Walt says:

Why would we bother to read the parashah at all if we don’t really care for that “blessed biblical stuff?”


Haim says:

When the genetics are your worst enemy…

Haim says:

Oh, and Liel? Yup, David had slain Goliath at Elah. But he “set out” as if “went with the army of King Saul” out of Saul’s capital of Israel, which was in Gibeah near the “settlement” of Givat Zeev, north of Jerusalem. Your people know it as Tel El Ful. Of course, he was also born in Bethlehem. But hey, who need details – you’re THE LEIBOVITCH, you’re above all this nonsense, right?

Stu says:

Who Paid this jerk off?

incredible the way your react to people you don’t agree with. You even get into our centruy old enemies game of defining who is Jew.
I live here, in Israel, and agree to Leib. Makes that me also less a Jew, Zionist or patriot? I believe that this blind applause given to Bibi, will put my kids in danger. We need a leader willing to stop building more settlements and instead getting back to recognized borders. We won our biggest victory ever from these undefendable pre 67 lines. We need a foreign leader like Obama bringing us back to our senses. And you need to stop cursing your fellow Jews. Shabat shalom from Zion.

B”H If people lived as closely to Israel as BB and I we’d all know that the educational system that prodyced the likes of him is much worse today and the future leaders likely to be extemely not only entirely incompetent. Mr. Netanyanhu relys on digital politics to catapult his empowerment throught history. The staging of Goliath against whom he pitted himself was intended to swooo the Christian ladies in USA like misfit Palin and the congress but what’s worse he has no loyalty to his party or history and civilization to him a non-starter only whoredom and military powress were the instrction of the school system in which he grew up. Today the college kid are digital abbearant of intellectual pusuit so anybody can dump phrases on anything but they have no stay power. BB back to the jungle where the babboons belong

You cannot make peace with people who do not believe in peaceful co-existence. You cannot make peace with people who want to kill ALL the Jews and Christians in the world ! FACE REALITY

Binyamin in O says:

I am so happy to be living here in the U.S. and not Israel. Can the U.S. government ban the teaching of the view that European conquest of this continent was a catastrophe for Native Americans? I doubt anyone but the most extreme right-wing knudnicks in our Congress would support such an assault on freedom of academic inquiry. Of course Zionism was, in fact, a catastrophe for the Arabs of Palestine. You don’t advance co-existence by denying that the other side’s narrative has a right to exist and be taught as such. That is the technique of Stalinists, not democracies.

It is an utterly sterile debate as to whether the Arabs holding Israeli citizenship are more or less fortunate than the Arabs of other Mid East nations for two reasons: the conflict is over what rights the 3 million Arabs of the West Bank and Gaza should have (they currently have none), and secondly, the test of whether Israeli Arabs enjoy democratic rights is not comparisons to Jordan or Saudi Arabia, but rather to Canada and Switzerland.

To my Zionist friends I ask the following: could America be a democracy if it were a “Christian STATE” (not a Christian country, i.e. meaning a majority profess Christianity but there is no established religion) and a “homeland for the Christians”?

I doubt it.

Miss Brooks says:

The commentary and screeds against Liebovitz is frightening. If we continue to decry anyone who disagrees with Bibi and AIPAC and the lot as non-Jews we really don’t need any enemies. We’ll do a fine job destroying ourselves.

Anna Kelman says:

I am amazed by the name calling and angry words. If you don’t agree with Netanahu you are anti Israel and not a Jew. (Not even a bad Jew). I think Tablet is an interesting and thought provoking (some of the time) magazine. However, I think many of their readers are rude beyond belief. Disagreement is fine. Name calling is shameful. I am proudly pro Israeli and certainly not self hating, and I don’t agree with Bibi and many policies of the government.

Yishai says:

I’m so tired of right wing fascists like Michael pretending they’re Jews.

(Feel good, Michael?)

Oh, and I’m also tired of self-hating right wing Jews who are so insecure in their identity that they feel they have no recourse but to get in bed with evangelical Christians (who, incidentally, love us because we’re the canaries in the coalmine for their millennial lunacy).

Oh, and I’m also so tired of self-hating right wing Jews who are willing to be used as political pawns by American pols just trying to scrape up a few bucks and a few votes wherever they can.

And my view (from Jerusalem, incidentally) is that things are only going to get worse the longer Bibi runs rampant over every standard of international etiquette and law to score points that keep his pathetic coalition together.

Keep up the good work, Liel.

VICTOR says:

I want to commend the magazine for publishing this article. The self-hating Jews are those who would like to ignore injustice and inhumanity toward Palestinians. True Jewishness is the one reflected in this piece,compassion and understanding of the other are essential aspects of judaism.

David says:

Yishai, true some Christians see Israel as the canary in the coalmine. But most Christians who are sincere will not take Israel into the mine in the first place. Unfortunately for you, the millennial lunacy comes from Jewish Prophets of old who so far are batting 1000. You may disagree with that, but if you read up a bit you might see a different future than the one that seems to be predicted by men.

God Bless You


Yishai says:

Many thanks for your concern, David, but I’m quite comfortable with my erudition on the subject. And I’ve heard your argument before both with and without your ersatz friendliness (as well as your not-so-subtle dig at my religion — I’ll guess you feel quite clever that you came up with that, but were you a little more well read yourself, you’d know that we Jews know Tanakh a hell of a lot better than y’all, with the added bonus that we can actually read the language it was written in. Why don’t you get back to me when you can read any of the “Prophets of old” in the words they actually used. And then perhaps I’ll entertain taking your exegesis seriously).

I’ll stick to my gut feeling, which you confirm, that with friends like you, Israel hardly needs enemies.

You can keep your god’s blessing, I’m quite content with my own.


Yishai says:

Oh, and by the way, ditto to what Victor said. Well put.

Gene says:

I wonder – what this racist definition of “true” Jewishness is coming from? How was it discovered? Just to remind you: the last people who spoke about “true” attributes of their folks (albeit not Jewish but German and Italian) were Hitler and Mussolini. Besides, since Israel is a democratic country and the government was chosen by the majority of population the conclusion from the Victor’s rant should be that the majority of Jews in Israel are not “true” Jews. That is really something.
As to the “sufferings” of Palestinians – this is usual trick of all anti-Semites: to put blame on Jews. (So far I did not hear one word from Jewish leftists blaming Palestinian leadership, overwhelming influence of ignorant Islamic clerics or lack of democratic principles for the bad shape of the present situation). As the matter of fact many Jews suffer more than Palestinians. You can hear a lot of scream from the leftist media about the check-points on the West Bank but no one mentions that Israeli Jews have to go through the check-points much more often than Palestinians when they enter on a daily basis supermarket, theater or even hospital. No one Palestinian was expelled yet from the place he legally occupies but many Jews were. And so on.
To make a conclusion: I really don’t know what gives a person more satisfaction – to be a “self-hating Jew” or a “Jew anti-Semite” (the one who hates other Jews but excludes him/herself)?

David says:

Yishai, well thanks for your ersatz “many thanks”. I’m not digging at your religion, which is the foundation of mine. I do study the Scripture, as we call it, in the old language, but I admit current interpretations sometimes leave something out and further study is required. Fortunately, Scripture witnesses to itself and better understanding comes with study. Granted, you likely have a better understanding of the Tanakh overall as the culture of your religion is a living experience. So it is with me and mine. I also study the Koran, as much as I am able to stomach it, as it is quite relevant to today’s world. I also study the dynamics of the ME situation, Turkey in particular. Through my studies I was able some years ago to determine that islam would reform, and that this reformation would be false. Not quite there yet, but well on the way. Not by my understanding, just reading and studying what is written.

The culture of the world is in poor shape. How this becomes the Jews fault escapes me, but it is what it is, and yes, this is spoken of in Scripture. I suppose I am just unable to understand hate. So what will you have me do, change my exegesis to something more palatable for the sake of a comfy lifestyle full of brotherly love and peace granted and guaranteed by man ? Not likely to happen. Personally, I don’t think any of us are going to like living with the post post modern NeoOttoman empire. Or maybe it’s just me.

At any rate, I do pray for peace, and that I completely misunderstand and everything will be alright.


editrix says:

The pleas for compassion for the Palestinians are just truly astounding. The only people who are responsible for Palestinian suffering are the Palestinian leadership, who have refused 3 serious offers for a country in the last 10 years and continue to refuse to come to the negotiating table. They are the ones, when they decided to respond to Camp David with the second intifada, who are responsible for the daily annoyances of checkpoints and other inconveniences of this horrible “occupation”. But aside from these checkpoints and some other aspects of Palestinian life that aren’t pleasant, what is all this talk about suffering? The Palestinian economy is growing at 8%, they are building mall after mall, there is a growing middle class on the West Bank.

They could have an even more wonderful life, IF THEY CHOOSE TO HAVE A STATE, which they could have tomorrow, if they would sit down and except that the only right of return they will have will be to their new state and to end the conflict. They are ready to do neither, so their mythical “suffering” will continue. Stop parroting their inane propaganda.

Beatrix says:

Yishai and David:

You both seem to have a profound knowledge of your religions, Judaism, Christianity and perhaps Islam, but you use this knowledge to hit each other over the head.

Do your religious insights offer any answers to the seemingly intractable problems of the Mideast.

dina adler says:

how left wing are you guys? this whole convoluted essay is ridiculous. with friends like you…..

Tzipora says:

Editrix – you expressed it perfectly. Stop blaming Israel.

David L says:

This article is not articulate nor accurate. Tablet should be ashamed.

How about the Jews in the Golan, which was also captured in 1967? Didn’t include them in the authors counting. So obvious a mistake that an editor of this publication should have gone back to the author and indicated a factual error.

You consider the people of Lebanon and Jordan to have open and free elections? Maybe you ought to include Tunisians, Moroccans and Iranians while your at it. The closest to having free elections are the Moroccans, and that is not terribly free. As far as Iraq, perhaps in Kurdistan today, but as for the rest of Iraq, I would not hold out much hope beyond the departure of coalition forces.

And while the author is entitled to her opinion that “all that bibilical stuff is irrelevant” it is not unimportant to either Israelis or Palestinians who both consider their historic ties to the land as significant in their assessments.

The bottom line is that the authors article is about as important as all that biblical stuff is worth to her.

Meaning that it is irrelevant.

moomoo says:

“This bit of bluster may come as somewhat of a slight to Israel’s northern neighbor, Lebanon”

Yes, a slight. Sort of like the “slight” of killing 1,000+ Lebanese civilians…

David says:

Hi Beatrix. We should seek the Truth, which will set us free. Sorry if I come across as harsh, not my intent. Apologies offered.


Michael Nahum says:

As complaints go, these are mighty petty. Netanyahu lumped East Jerusalemites in with the West Bankers in his total count of settlers? Horrors.

He didn’t list Lebanon and Iraq as “fully free”? Neither does Freedom House.

He mentioned the Bible when discussing Judea and Samaria? Heaven forfend.

Speaking of, isn’t it a little odd that the weekly parashah columnist thinks that “all that blessed biblical stuff is, alas, rather irrelevant”?

All the Best,
Michael Nahum

Palestineisamyth says:

Liel is just another Judenrat who would have helped hitler during the Holocaust. Israel belongs to the Jews! Arabia is the homeland of the Arabs who falsely call themselves “Palestinians.”
Yishai and Victor are nothing but nazi pigs. Ignore them.

Chris Berel says:

Unfortunately, for you and your Arab allies, there is no such political entity known as East Jerusalem. there is only the eastern part of Jerusalem.

Additionally, no reasonable person on earth considers Lebanon, Jordan, or Iraq to be functioning democracies.

Bill Krebaum says:

“Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech to Congress this week, filled with falsehoods and untruths, defies the spirit of this week’s parasha, which urges us to be diligent with numbers and facts”


“Liel Leibovitz’ article in Tablet Magazine this week, filled with falsehoods and untruths, defies the spirit of this week’s parasha, which urges us to be diligent with numbers and facts”

Which is the more accurate statement? I would say the latter, since, as has been pointed out by other commenters, every item Mr. Leibovitz uses as a club with which to whack Mr. Netanyahu, is in fact a falsehood or a distorted half-truth.

Mr. Leibovitz and Tablet Magazine would boost their credibility if they would own up to the fact that the article is completely based on incorrect information and false assumptions. Even Gilda Radner’s character, Mrs. Hatala, on “Saturday Night Live,” had enough sense to say “never mind…”

It’s too bad that some of the commenters felt the need to use harsh words against the author personally, questioning his Jewishness. However, when someone writes an article that is full of falsehoods and distortions of fact, and is hard to distinguish from anti-semitic propaganda, such responses are predictable.

—Bill Krebaum


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By the Numbers

Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech to Congress this week, filled with falsehoods and untruths, defies the spirit of this week’s parasha, which urges us to be diligent with numbers and facts

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