Walking Away from Alice Walker

When Eric Maria Remarque, the exiled author of All Quiet on the Western Front, was asked whether he missed Germany, he is reported to have said, “Why should I? I’m not Jewish.” Remarque’s comment was an edgy swipe at those formerly German Jews who never lost their infatuation with the Fatherland or its culture. Even after Germany became maniacally genocidal, many German Jews could not help themselves but love it.

It’s an oft-repeated Jewish pattern. The Jewish belief in the value of human creative genius often reigns so supreme that we refuse to draw lines in the sand; we resist calling something evil even when there is no other way to describe it. Now we’re seeing it again – not with Germany, but with the United States. It’s reappeared not with Richard Wagner, but with Alice Walker, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Color Purple.

Walker, as is by now well known, recently refused to allow her novel to be translated into Hebrew. In a letter posted on her website, she explained her reasoning as follows:

“… last Fall in South Africa the Russell Tribunal on Palestine met and determined that Israel is guilty of apartheid and persecution of the Palestinian people, both inside Israel and also in the Occupied Territories. The testimony we heard, both from Israelis and Palestinians (I was a jurist) was devastating.  I grew up under American apartheid and this was far worse. Indeed, many South Africans who attended, including Desmond Tutu, felt the Israeli version of these crimes is worse even than what they suffered under the white supremacist regimes that dominated South Africa for so long.”When a person of Walker’s obvious intelligence utters such drivel, what we have is not a matter of ignorance. It is a matter of hate.

Everyone knows that the condition of Palestinians in the West Bank is far from ideal; we also know that Israel could, and must, do better. But Walker writes as though the Palestinians are identical to the blacks of South Africa; they suffer only because of the color of their skin (or their ethnicity, in this case), not because of anything they have done. She writes as though Israel is the only obstacle to their “freedom,” as though Israel is, as a matter of policy, committed to perpetuating their second-class status without end. But no reasonable reading of the Middle East justifies any such claim.

There is much to critique about Israeli policy; but the notion that the Palestinians are stateless solely because of Israel, or that they suffer at Israeli hands only because of their ethnicity, is obviously rubbish. Deep down, Alice Walker must know that.Lest we imagine that what Walker really objects to is the occupation, she even makes a point of saying that Israel is guilty of apartheid inside the Green Line as well.

Really? Again, it is true that Israeli Arabs do not get a fair share of Israel’s social bounty, and that must be fixed. But name a single country in which some minorities do not get the short end of the stick. Is every country on the planet therefore guilty of apartheid? And if so, why boycott only Israel? It can’t be because of Israel’s social policies, which are far better than those of many other countries that Walker is not boycotting.

Why just Israel? In apartheid South Africa, were there blacks on the Supreme Court? (Justice Salim Joubran, an Arab, serves on Israel’s highest bench; nor is he the first to do so.) In apartheid South Africa, were there recognized black parties in the parliament, legally pressing for their rights? The list could go on, almost endlessly. Anyone who knows anything about apartheid South Africa and about Israel knows how utterly different the two are.

Alice Walker also knows. But Alice Walker doesn’t care. Because this is not about Walker’s concern for the Palestinians; it is about her attitude to the Jews.

Yet, à la Remarque’s bemused comment about Jews their abiding infatuation even with cultural icons who hate them, there are Jews across the US still wondering how to “bring her around.” What can we say to Alice Walker, they ask, to get her to re-think, to understand? Though these questions come from a place of deep goodness, of belief in reason and decency, they also reflect our inability to draw a line in the sand and to demand that hate speech (which is precisely what Walker’s letter was) simply be banned from any circles in which we will take part.

We can especially understand those Jews who do not wish to cut their ties with Alice Walker, of all writers. After all, we sympathize with the plight of African Americans, which she evoked so brilliantly in The Color Purple. Her cause was our cause, and rightly so. But our cause, sadly, is not hers. Our ongoing attempt to assure a Jewish future by assuring a vibrant and secure Jewish state is a cause Alice Walker utterly rejects.

Walker, who joined a failed flotilla that had planned to sail from Greece, who openly supports the BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) movement and who has called Israel “the greatest terrorist” in the Middle East, compares Israel to South Africa and to the American South because she hopes for the same outcome – she wants Jewish sovereignty to go the way of apartheid, a rich Jewish future to go the way of the old American South. She does not want the Jews to have the revitalization that the Jewish state is meant to foster.

The real issue, therefore, is not Alice Walker, but us.

Anti-Semites come and go. Walker is not the first, nor will she be the last.  There is nothing we can do about that. But there is something we can do about our own reactions. Can we learn to stop coddling cultural geniuses, even though we revere their craft and talent, when they cross certain lines? Can we remind the world that what is truly abhorrent is not a conflict that Israel does not know how to end (though again, Israel could certainly manage it better), but the tarring of all Israelis and all Jews with one brush, as boycotts such as Walker’s invariably do?

Anthony Julius, in his magisterial Trials of the Diaspora, a history of British anti-Semitism, says this about boycotts: “What happens when people are boycotted? The ordinary courtesies of life are no longer extended to them… The boycott is an act of violence, though of a paradoxical kind – one of recoil and exclusion rather than assault… It is a denial, amongst other things, of the boycotted person’s freedom of expression… The boycott thus announces a certain moral distaste; it is always self-congratulatory.”

Nazi Germany, we should recall, began with boycotts of Jewish businesses, with the boycotting of Jewish intellectuals and professionals.By and large, German Jews said nothing. Will be we silent once again? This will be our test: Will Jews across the spectrum come to the defense of their people, or will they continue to wallow in their fawning over cultural icons? Will J Street’s Jeremy Ben-Ami publicly repudiate Alice Walker? What about Peter Beinart, who continues to insist that he is a Zionist? What about the many American rabbis who have made social activism a cornerstone of their rabbinate? Do they care about Jewish civil rights, too, or is it only other victims who arouse their sympathies? We are going to learn a great deal in the weeks to come.

We know what Alice Walker is made of; now it’s time to find out what we are made of.

About Daniel Gordis

Dr. Daniel Gordis is Senior Vice President and the Koret Distinguished Fellow at Shalem College in Jerusalem. The author of numerous books on Jewish thought and currents in Israel, and a recent winner of the National Jewish Book Award, Dr. Gordis was the founding dean of the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies at the University of Judaism.

59 Comments on "Walking Away from Alice Walker"

  • Linda (Israeli) says

    Superb- but why do you insist, in almost every paragraph, to prove your “objectivity” by denigrating Israel alongside the antisemites: do you not understand that this, very common approach, exactly plays into the hands of people like Alice Walker and co.? They can ( correctly) posit that even as part of making the case for Israel, you are bound to apologize for her. This apologetic, a grievious mistake, might be excusable (?) in an election campaign within Israel, but you are shooting yourself, and us along with you in the so called foot when you make it part of an extraordinarily articulate case.
    Shabbat Shalom from a fellow worried Israeli

  • Rabbi Scott Bolton says

    Insightful piece. There’s a theological dimension that is worth noting. How many of those Zionists and rabbis you challenge love finding their causes in the Bible and in the sources, to add gravitas to their pursuits? You noted such a stance; it has taken hold in Jewish circles. Here’s the rub – Walker is living out what Renita Weems and Delores Williams came to understand and articulate as a core element of womanist theology. Hagar is the model, the mother-sister, and Walker (whether she articulates it or not) is acting the way God needs her to be. Hagar is calling, and the cause to get behind is to put Abraham and Sarah in their places. The Israel narrative you are asking Walker to consider is the patriarchical one that this author reads in positive erasure, to arrive at her own midrash. Abraham’s, Sarah’s and their great, great grandchildren’s outlooks and feelings, modern Israel’s extending an olive branch have no place in the rage against the initial casters-out. Problem is that we eat this stuff up! Walker has linked onto and into a read of a biblical passage, a midrash, a new face of Torah itself and called herself to action. God is the wind in her sails, and she is the new Moses (respect given still to Tubman and Parks – “if she had not sat down, King would not have stood up.”) She is not looking for a man to save the Palestinians, and she is not hoping for a railroad that goes underground either. Jewish leaders, at least rabbis and all those who will be in synagogue for Rosh HaShannah are going to read Hagar’s story. In seeking to understand more about where Walker gets her inspiration perhaps we will have a way to answer the claims concerning apartheid or calls for boycotts. In womanist theology there is an ultimate call for recognizing the violence committed against others and protecting all those against whom it is perpetrated – including the Children of Abraham and Sarah. I hope Walker is reading that part of the message, too. We have to offer the theological response: Hagar would rise up to show her children that there is enough water in the well for all.

  • Marilyn Caplin says

    Once again you have succinctly summarized a difficult issue in a nutshell. I appreciate very much your ability to admit that Israel has flaws (like all of us) while still defending her against the slander that Ms. Walker spews. It doesn’t help much that her own daughter has distanced herself from her mother’s vitriol…kudos to you for a well made response.

  • Chuck Bohm says

    Excellent piece. You are spot on. She is simply an anti-semetic, she does not care about Palestinians or anyone else. Alice Walker has no idea what she is talking about.

  • Frances Weingarten says

    You have written an excellent article, with which I fully concur. However, it would be far better if you didn’t feel that you have make certain you’ve shown moral equivalency whenever you write about Israel vis-a-vis the Palestinians. There is no moral equivalency and we don’t have to apologize in our writing about how the Palestinians are treated by us. In the article you wrote, it wasn’t necessary to show that we’re not perfect in our treatment of the Palestinians. Besides, I believe that most of their diffiulties stem from their own behaviour, not ours.

  • Marlene Maier says

    Bravo. If only I could respond to such “drivel” instead of being too flooded with emotion to provide an articulate rebuttal. Yesterday, a friend told me of an experience in her ceramics class (full disclosure: this is Northern California); a college-age male asked a fellow Israeli student, a middle-aged woman, why Israel should exist. My friend said that the other Israelis likewise reproached her afterwards for taking the bait, but how to respond to such abhorrent behavior??

  • Gideon Fraenkel says

    Alice Walker isn’t going to change her mind. I propose a boycott of her writings.

  • Roz Goldberg says

    Excellent analysis, and I agree that Walker’s statements must be repudiated by all people of good will–but I have one question: Who have been Walker’s sources of information? Anyone other than virulent anti-Semites and/or anti-Zionists? You assume that she knows–“deep down”–that everything she says is a lie. How do you know that? Could she be relying on corrupt data? You know the maxim: “garbage in, garbage out.” Is that possible? I don’t know enough about her background and historical positions and statements to know the answer to that question–but maybe she should come to Israel and see for herself.

  • Eric Levy (oleh chadash) says

    I really don’t think Alice Walker hates Israelis, and she certainly doesn’t hate Jews. She had no problem with Steven Spielberg adapting her book into a film, and I’m pretty sure she knows he’s Jewish. Supporting the Palestinian cause does not automatically make one an anti-Semite. I think we need to be more careful when administering that title lest we enter a McCarthy-like realm.

  • TomSolomon says

    Thanx for the article on the Jewish left’s infatuation with literary, but misguided, geniuses as Walker. Of course, they’ll ignore her rants, but it may be a little harder for them to do so.

  • Moishe (Thomas) Goldstein Toronto Canada says

    Alice Walker is a monster – see Barbara Kay’s column of June the 22nd skewering her in Canada’s National Post.

    We have an excellent word for how to deal with Alice Walker – shun her (from our trusty word “shundah”)

    Hope you enjoy a שלום ומבורך שבת.

    Happy Canada Day – the second best country for a Jew to live in.

  • betty bosnick says

    Alice Walker is antisemtic …i will not buy her books ,, Hopefully many thousands of people will follow /

  • One of your better efforts. And evenhanded as it needed to be.

  • I was glad to read the earlier comments; but I recommend “Dark Hope”, by Hebrew University Professor David Shulman, to more fully understand why Desmond Tutu, Alice Walker, and others are more than mild critics of Israeli intergroup policies.

  • Kate Armstrong says

    Wonderful succinct analysis Daniel. However, as one who has studied and taught ‘good’ literature throughout what now feels like a ‘long’ lifetime, I must disagree with the idea that this is a great artist. Apart from ‘The Color Purple’ there is little to admire in subsequent writings. ‘One swallow does not a summer make’!

    Apart from that,I have read the writings of Alice Walker’s daughter. An abandoned child, psychologically and emotionally tormented by an egotistical (mostly absent) mother.

    Along with great skepticism in the context of her literary work, as a mother and grandmother of (Thank G-d) six wonderful children, my distaste for Ms Walker’s uninformed self-aggrandizement in relation to Israel grew apace with every news bulletin.

  • Sidney Leventhal says

    Walker was a student of Howard Zinn’s and maintained a conversational not close relationship with him throughout her life. Zinn was a friend of Noam Chomsky with whom he shared hostile feelings respecting the legitimacy of Israel. Together they advanced anti-Israeli arguments about its history and its leaders. It is no wonder to me that Alice Walker has expressed identical feelings and thoughts. Her husband, Melvyn Roseman Leventhal, not a relative of mine, were divorced after 12 years of marriage. I wonder what debates and arguments ensued in their home. Did Walker cane to hate her husband’s patrimony. Quien sabe?

  • Sandy Wilde says

    The article is good to a point, however, I must take issue with your constantly saying, “Israel can do better”. Israel is doing better than any other country in the entire Middle East. It is NOT an apartheid state. Name one country that treats women as well as Israelis do, that allows other religions to practice openly, that does not behead, torture or otherwise do harm to anyone whose opinion differs from theirs. The Palestinian problem has been created and perpetuated by the Arab world, whose countries will NOT give any Palestinian citizenship. As long as the world believes the Arab propaganda, Israel will be considered apartheid. When, in fact, it is ALL the Arab countries that are apartheid.

  • Edwin says

    By and large, I think your point is well-taken. But there are two issues. Would you please stop saying, and it’s not just you, that Israel could do better, that Israel should do better, that Israel must do better? Is this mantra recited to show how objective you are? I believe Israel is doing the very best any nation could do under the circumstances. What does it mean that Israel could, should, and must do better? What is Israel NOT doing that she SHOULD be doing. Do I sound petulant? I am tired of the hypocritical mea culpas about Israel. I am proud that Israel does what she does. Can Israel do better? No, I really don’t think so. Do you REALLY think so?

    Another point. With hindsight it’s easy to say what German Jews should have done. No one expected a murderous genocide. It was unthinkable. It was another era. It hadn’t happened yet. There are stereotypes of German Jews which have become emblematic, but that doesn’t make them true. There were many communities of traditional Jews in Germany. The Jews were a small minority. The anti-Semitism there was becoming virulent. To whom should these Jews have spoken out in Germany? Fortunately, we are not in that situation here in the US, and it is good that you are calling out Alice Walker on her absurd statements regarding Israel. She is a huge disappointment, especially to those of us who empathize so strongly with the history of African-Americans.

  • Brynn Olenberg Sugarman says

    Brilliant point! The tendency of certain Jews toward self-deprecation in the name of empathizing with “the other” gives a stamp of approval to anti-semites like Walker. While it is important to fight for justice, this sort of overboard fawning over “the other” at the expense of one’s own justified interests is a kind of cultural illness, born of 2,000 years of diaspora and its self-effacing effects. It is a mentality which is both pathological and antiquated. For all of her imperfections, the State of Israel is a place we can be proud of.

    As for Walker: within the self-proclaimed intelligentsia, there is a tendency to elevate artists to a sort of demigod status. This is not only absurd but dangerous.Alice Walker may know about the American south, but when it comes to the Middle East, she is too brainwashed to be relevant.

  • Thank you Daniel.

    I have written to and about Alice concerning her poisoned anti-Semitism; about her racism many times in the last five years. I have only done so publicly, never privately. Alice and I go way back, at least to the early 1970s.

    She has never answered me, neither publicly nor privately. Anyone who stands up for Israel or for Jews under seige is shunned–as so many of us have discovered.

    Alice lives in Berkeley where the very air is permeated with a toxic Jew hatred. She claims she is a Buddhist.

    Once, the Swedish filmmaker, Lukas Moodyson, refused to allow a film of his which opposed sexual trafficking to be shown in Israel at an Israeli anti-trafficking conference. I wrote about this. Moodyson answered me, angrily. But he relented and allowed his film to be shown. Mind you–he had already allowed this film to be shown in countries where women are chained to the brothel walls. Like Alice, he disagreed with Israel’s “policies.”

    Talent does not immunize the talented from the basest of prejudices.

    The hatred is very hard against us but we will prevail.

    Hazak v’ematz.

  • Daniel

    I cannot understand why so many Jews win Nobel prizes.It goes against my philosophy that all people are created equal On the same level I cannot comprehend why supposedly intelligent Jews give credance to anti-Semitic statements made by people who are intelligent enough to know better. Enlighten me!

    Murray Rubin

  • Herbert Kaine says

    well said. I couldnt agree with you more. I now treat the works of Alice Walker as I do the works of Richard Wagner. I shun them, because it is impossible to separate ones spirituality from ones creative thought. In a sense Alice Walker is worse then Wagner. Wagner did not anticipate that his works would be used by the Nazis, and while an anti-Semite, he had his Jewish coterie. Walker is probably aware of the Holocaust, yet wishes to boycott in the same fashion as the Nazis. My guess is even Goebbels or Streicher would not object to their works being published in Hebrew. This might be one of the “fruits” of intermarriage, as Alice’s ex husband is Jewish. Magda Goebbels is said to have dated Chaim Arlosoroff before she met Joseph Goebbels, and she was a fanatic Nazi. Similarly, Theodor Danneker, head of the Paris Gestapo, had a Jewish girlfriend

  • Adam G says

    I believe this writer is guilty of a softer version of the anti-Semitism he accuses Alice Walker of. So really Daniel? Israel could do better??? Like you almost pointed out, there are plenty of Arabs that get along just fine in Israeli society. They serve on the Supreme Court, they serve in the lower courts. They serve in Knesset, and they live peacefully in the same cities as Jews and Christians. Christians live good lives in Israel. How come the Christians are not dicriminated against and just the Muslims? Oh wait the Muslims are not, just the Hamas supporting Palestinians are. And that’s Israel’s fault? They should do better? So allowing a Mosque to stay on the most holy site in the world isn’t enough? Banning their people from going to certain areas is not enough? The BILLIONS of Dollars they give to the Palestinians every year is not enough? Withdrawing from Gaza was not enough? Exchanging 1000 terrorists for 1 soldier was not enough? What else would you like them to do? According to the Palestinian Charter, the only concession that will make them happy is the death of the last Jew on Earth. You want to volunteer to go first?

  • Daniel,
    I agree that Jews have to simply walk away from Alice Walker and all others who spew mindless but dangerous slander. However,I don’t agree that she is knowledgeable. Hers is that kind of dangerous, blinkered knowledge that refuses to look the truth in the face because there is simply no gain in it for her. Such people will side by what they perceive to be the “politically correct” despite the facts. On the other hand, using her anti-Israel stance to champion what she claims is the underdog in the Israel Palestinian conflict (and the Palestinians must be the underdog because they’ve denied every chance of a viable state) earns her prestige. Look how much publicity this has earned her? Supporting Israel would have passed unheard and unregistered. Batya Casper,www.Israelathebook.com

  • Let’s face it, Alice Walker is right. This whole post is just an apologist view of Israeli occupation. Shame on you.

  • Howard Stevens says

    I feel that Rabbi Gordis is again preaching to the choir. Alice Walker is a jerk. Another extended essay is hardly necessary in view of the wide publicity and criticism she has fomented.

    What troubles me is: “Will J Street’s Jeremy Ben-Ami publicly repudiate Alice Walker? What about Peter Beinart, who continues to insist that he is a Zionist?”

    Well, when Dan Gordis, recognizing that “Israel can do better,” writes a few pieces forthrightly specifying exactly HOW he thinks Israel can do better, then he can call out Beinart and Ben-Ami.

    But as long as Rabbi Gordis coyly buries his own views on how Zionism should be strengthened, it seems hypocritical to cite others for this presumed failing.

  • Yiftach says

    1. To all the folks berating Rabbi Gordis for the “Israel can do better” line of reasoning: He is not an apologist by any stretch of the imagination. The fact that Arab citizens of Israel have more civil rights than they do anywhere in the world is not exclusive from the fact that Israel could do better in the treatment of its minorities. Israel is an amazing, vibrant democracy that extends remarkable rights to its citizens, but IT. CAN. DO. BETTER. Guess what? So could the United States. So could many other democracies (cf Rabbi Gordis in this very same essay).

    2. @Howard Stevens: Rabbi Gordis has written extensively about how Israel could be a better country, Jewish homeland, Zionist enterprise, and model of democracy. Read his books. Read (and comprehend) more of his columns. From suggestions about greater infusions of Jewish texts into secular education, to his very recent commentary on the illegal immigration issues in Israel, his writing is chock full of what you allegedly seek.

  • Adam G says

    @Yiftach- Simply HOW COULD ISRAEL DO BETTER??? Why can’t the Palestinians “DO BETTER???”

  • Yiftach says

    Adam – 1. calm down and stop yelling. 2. Read what Rabbi Gordis and I wrote, carefully. At no point did either of us absolve the Palestinians of responsibility for the continuation of the conflict, their current statelessness, and other sins. In fact, every statement that Israel can do better is accompanied by an acknowledgment of the reality that the Palestinians are, in fact, primarily responsible for their own plight and fate, now and throughout history. If this acknowledgment isn’t literally present in every case, it’s certainly there as an underlying thread in our philosophy.

    To be clear: The Palestinians can OBVIOUSLY do much better on myriad levels, not only having to do with the conflict with Israel and the Jews – within their own house, in terms of treatment of minorities, for example.

    Israel, too, can do better, not only vis a vis the conflict. There is a great deal of room for improvement, for example, in our approach to the treatment of minorities and immigrants. Rabbi Gordis has written about this extensively in previous essays and books.

    This essay barely touches on those issues; it “only” explicitly calls out an American literary/cultural icon for her blatant antisemitism disguised as anti-Israel rhetoric. At the same time, it calls out those in the Jewish community who would continue to support such a person (or believe in her capacity to change) despite the evidence and their own stated missions being utterly incompatible.

    Being a constructive critic of Israel (in the context of the Arab-Israeli conflict or outside it) is not the same as being an apologist. Saying that Israel can do better doesn’t mean that we believe the Palestinians do no wrong (very much the contrary) nor that Israel does nothing right (again, just the opposite).

    Rabbi Gordis is an unwavering defender and advocate of Israel’s right to exist and its role as a Jewish homeland; he (and I) are not unblinking supporters of every Israeli policy and action. That’s the very definition of an active participant in a living democracy, not of an apologist.

  • Howard Stevens says

    Yiftach: I have followed Dan Gordis for many, many years and have several of his books. As far as how Israel can become a “model of democracy” in my view he comes up a bit short.

    I’ve never seen him criticize Israel’s failure to implment the recommendations of the Orr commission.


    And his silence on the Occupation is disheartening to me.

  • Adam G says

    Yiftach- I yell because it is infiriating. As I posted earlier, and barely scratched the surface, there are examples of Israel makes the “Israle Could Do Better” argument completely irrational and illogical. Every time Israel has attempted to do better, they have been spit on for it by those who think it should be the responsibility of Israel to give into the demands of madmen.

    Yiftach, you mention treating “minorities” better. Maybe Israel could allow them to build a giant Mosque on the Temple Mount and allow it to stay… Oh wait, they did. As I also stated, why is it the Christians seem to be happy with the way they are treated. Heck, from my travels even the non Palestinain Arab Muslims seem to get along just fine. I find it funny that only the Hamas led Palestinians seem to be “mistreated” Could it be that they are not?

    Palestinians wanted Israel out of their lives. They withdrew from Gaza. So the violence in Gaza left any Jew or Christian who ventured in dead, so the built a fence to keep Jews out of Gaza. Now it is an apartheid state, and I have to read an alleged Rabbi apologetic and sympathetic to those who want us all dead? This is why I yell.

    Remember, the Maccabees not only had to fight the Syians and Greeks but the Saduccees who betrayed them too.

    Here is how Jews like me think Israel could do better. First, it is now obvius as the Palestinian Charter dictates, there will be no peace unless all of us are dead. “From the River to the Sea, Palestine will be free.” so, lets survive and treat them equally. Second, withdraw from the UN. It is clear from the news I read today they are not Jew friendly.

  • Adam G says

    Howard- The “Orr commission” is just as ignorant as the Goldstone Report. Why would any rational person lend it any credence?

  • NuritG says

    There is a lovely song from the 70s:
    Living Next Door To Alice (Who The Fuck Is Alice) – [Concert Audio]

  • Howard Stevens says


    Kindly explain how the Orr Commission report is “ignorant.”

    To me, supreme ignorance is dismissing any criticism one doesn’t like on the basis of…well, one just does’t like it!

  • Roberta Kalechofsky says

    I couldn’t agree more. Jews are infatuated with genius—T.S. Eliot, Ezra Pound, etc. and want to be seen as people who can rise above geniuses who insult them—this is the most extradordinary trait a people have ever developed. Our desire to be loved, admired and to be seen as “objective” spills over to our relationship with Israel, and can be dangerous.

  • Adam G says

    Howard- Simply put the Orr Report is just the latest in blood libel against Israel. Its only purpose is to demonize the State while ignoring relevant fact and reality and using false allegations and in some cases fantasy above the facts. The Goldstone Report was later retracted by the author after learning he was mislead and wrong. The Left clung to it regardless until they were tired of being laughed at for it. The Orr Report is essentially the same report, new name, new author but same hate and lies.

    The Orr Commision conducted an investigation into the riots in 2000 when a violent mob of Arabs Israelis murdered innocent civilians at will for two days. And so the Orr Commision was put together in order to investigate alleged abuses by the ISraeli police and military in an attempt to restore order. Simply put, Howard, the entire premise of the Orr Commision is ignorant.

    Critisism is fine Howard. But I don’t dismiss this report because ?I don’t like it” I dismiss it for the tripe that it is plain and simple. Where is the commision investigated the continued violence spewing from the Gaza? Where is the commission on human rights investigating Syria, Saudi Arabia, Jordan et al. Oh, that’s right, the UN will only investigate those after Israel is destroyed. It’s the Palestinians stated goal based on lies that the land is theirs and that people were thrown out of their homes when Israel became a Jewish nation. Which it doesn’t take a brain surgeon to realize is nonsense.

    Go to Israel. You can see for yourself. Arabs, Jews, Christians, Hindu, Buddists, Atheists, and many others live day after day right next door to each other. If Israel were an Apartheid state, then they would have rebuilt the Holy of Hollies on the Temple Mount a long long long time ago. If Israel was oppressive, there would be no Palestinians left in Israel, wwe all know they have that capability. If Israel was abusive to Arabs or Muslims, they wouldn’t treat the children from all around the region with their cutting edge medical care. They wouldn’t allow Muslims to serve in government. And other Muslims wouldn’t serve on their police force or in their military, but they do in large numbers.

    To believe the Orr Report is to allow yourself to fall for the revisionist history of the Palestinian Authority and Left wingers. Palestine is named after the Phillistines. According to the Encyclopedia Britanica, the Phillistines occupied lands in Western Jordan. Why does no one look at Jordan as an Apartheid state?

  • Howard Stevens says

    I asked for an explanation of “how the Orr Commission report is ‘ “ignorant.’ ”

    But all Adam can come up with is that the report is a “blood libel.” That a text from an instrument of the Israel government can be so described by another Jew is unfortunate discourse.

    Without stating any claim of error of fact or any discussion of any particular wrongful conclusion, Adam prognosticates “its only purpose is to demonize the State; it is unspecified “hate and lies,” tripe plain and simple” and “revisionist history.”

    It is ironic that in a discussion devoted to the subjective, fact-free bigoted ranting of Alice Walker, we find the opposite side of the same coin here in our midst.

    The issue is not how relatively better Israel is than most of the rest of the world. Jewish tradition is not based on comparative morality. The issue is how the constant striving for justice (zedek, zedek you must pursue”) which is at the core of our tradition, can also become a basic principle of the state.

  • Adam G says

    Howard- I guess reading and comprehending are not your strong suit. It would probably explain your confusion. I’ll type slower so you can understand. Palestine as a Muslim state NEVER in the history of the Universe ever existed. Anything printed by any entity eluding to this is, like your last coment, RETARDED in its thinking. Second, to claim that in any way shape or form Israel at any level is on par with the atrocities of entities like Hamas is anti-Semitism. The entire “Struggle of the Palestinian” people is only preached by functionaly ignorant propagandists like you. Learn the history behind this Palestinian conflict. The state of Israel has a right to defend itself just like any other, and any report, or internet tough guy like yourself can gfy.

    Simply stated I do not need to defend my position of the Goldstone report or the Orr Report because I choose to rise above it and not even give it the consideration of higher thought. What’s next, are you going to have me argue against Mein Kempf? Or perhaps argue against the PAlestinian or Muslim Brotherhood Charter. Giving credence to the hate you love so much would mean I lost from the get go. If you can’t identify the character assasination of the Jewish state in that report for yourself, then you sir are on the wrong side to begin with.

  • Howard Stevens says

    I guess reading and comprehending is not Adam’s “strong suit.” He obviously has not read the Orr Commission report as it has NOTHING to do with “Palestine as a Muslim state.”

    The report also did not reject Israel’s “right to defend itself.”

    Adam, in his own words, will not give anything that challenges his preconceptions “the consideration of … thought.” Unfortunately, too many other people also refuse to engage in critical thinking when it comes to defending and improving the state.

    But perhaps the saddest part of Adam’s commentary is his ad hominem insults and the despicable slander about the “hate you love so much.” Assuming that anyone who disagrees with him is evil is a hallmark of the ignorant bigotry that has been so problematic throughout Jewish history. The rabbis understand the destructive force of chinat sinam. Regrettably, it still lives.

  • Adam G says

    Howard- You’re an ignorant anti-Semite. Apparently it is time to take the gloves off with you since you are an insulting ignorant tool.

    “Orr Panel’ Finds Decades of Discrimination Against Palestinian Israelis

    ‘Police Should Not Use Live, Rubber Bullets to Disperse Protesting Crowds’

    In a landmark report, an Israeli commission of inquiry found on Monday a pattern of government “prejudice and neglect” and decades of discrimination against Israel’s more than one million Arab minority, or the Palestinians who were not forced out of their ancestral homeland when the Jewish state was created in 1948, and concluded that police used excessive force in quelling Arab demonstrations in solidarity with the Intifada of their Palestinian brethrens in the West Bank and Gaza Strip three years ago.”

    The premise of the “Orr Report” begins with anti-Semitism and anti-Israelism. If this were not true, logical beings would not have dreamed up the need for it, and further more this bigoted report would not garner support from uneducated simple minded people like you. The Orr Report was on police and military brutality in the face of a violent Palestinian riot that caused the death of an innocent Jewish civilian. Once the angry mob murdered this man, they began to brake up the fight the violent mob of animals became more violent. To say that Israel doesn’t have a right to defend itself or people is despicable rhetoric of bigots.

    “The three-member panel was charged with investigating the deaths of 13 people from police fire in October 2000, when thousands of Palestinian Israelis choked streets and threw stones in solidarity with Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, who had just begun their uprising against the 36-year-old Israeli occupation. A Jewish motorist was also killed by a thrown stone.”

    Civil order is controlled by the police of EVERY nation in the world. Only in Israel does this constitute a commission to investigate. This commission then went way off track to charge Israel with “Decades of Arab discrimination.” This is a common lie by anti-Israeli bigots. Mainly from people like you who obviously have never been t Israel and only disseminate your information from blogs by phony Leftist Rabbis like Daniel Gordis.

    I’m sure you took issue with the Flotilla incident as well. A situation prompted by Terrorists smuggling weapons into Gaza and killing an Israeli soldier who had the audacity to search the boat.

    Like I stated earlier in this thread; If Israel is discriminatory of Arabs, why is there a Mosque on the Temple Mount? Why do Arabs serve in Knesset, the Military, the Police force and the Israeli Higher courts? Why do Arabs enjoy more freedom and rights than they do in any other country in the region? Why did Israel withdraw from Gaza? Why has Israel consistently made concessions in the name of peace with a people whose stated goals are their deaths? You can’t answer any of these because your entire premise is based souly on irrational emotions and not fact or reality.

  • Howard Stevens says

    The emotionally overwrought Adam G can be called a Jew hater. Why? Because he blasphemes Jewish tradition in nearly every paragraph he writes.

    He emits invective such as “blood libel,” “ignorant anti-Semite” and other atrocious filth without shame. The rabbis honored an argument “in the name of heaven” where a difference of opinion in the community was treated with dignity and respect. But not our boy Adam.

    Challenged to cite an error in the Orr report, Adam G utterly fails and can only weakly retort with irrelevant posturing and vile name calling. As Dan Gordis has noted:

    “If we Jews and lovers of Israel want to win this battle over Israel’s legitimacy, we’re going to have to recall the very definite line between advocacy and apologetics.”

    Sadly, Adam G, with only hate to offer, delegitimizes Israel as much as the bad guys across its borders.

  • Adam G says

    Howard- I provided more facts in my last post than you have in all your posts combined. If you really need a report to support the legitimacy of Israel I reccomend the Levy report which is supported bipartisanly thoughout the Kinnest and even by the Likkud party. But I find it telling that you claim Israel still needs to “battle over Israel’s legitimacy”. I mean talk about blasphemes, God granted that legitimacy Thousands of years ago, end of debate. And you try to involke “Jewish Traditions,” you apparently are unaware of soooo many that I will not even begin to try and educate such an ignorant person who knows nothing of my people’s history. I will how ever remind you of a story. It was of the Maccabees. When they origionally decided to fight back against the Greeks who were attempting to Hellinize all of Judea, one of the biggest challenges they faced was from their fellow Jews who enjoyed the influence and wealth the Greeks brought. They did all they could to cling to it even sinking to informing the enemy of the Jewish rebels whereabouts. Like the Greeks armies, the Hammer was brought down even more harshly on them. In a parrellel to today, you seem to want to cling to whatever it is the Liberal leftists have afforded you for your continued obedience and loyalty. You need to look inward and decide which side you want to be on when the sh** really hits the fan.

  • Howard Stevens says

    Well thank you at least for a more civil tone, forgoing the insults and obscene name-calling. Let’s hope for a civil discussion.

    But “it is telling” how you take statements out of context. The quote about the “battle for Israel’s legitimacy” is from a statement of Rabbi Gordis, not me. And that battle is actually going on, whether you like it or not. You can either help to defend Israel by seeking to continually make things better or you can stand on the sidelines, living in an imaginary world, pretending things are just fine as they are while smugly declaring all critics to be anti-semites or left wingers or liberals, or whatever other simplistic label you chose paste on an idea to excuse yourself from thinking any further. The “facts” you cite do not address the specific criticisms of the Orr Report which you persist in refusing to comprehend or confront.

    Your reference to the Maccabees is also “telling.” If you study Jewish history you will learn that the Hasmoneans devolved into a bloody crew, whose internecine plots and civil wars and atrocities weakened Israel to the point that it lost its independence. Clearly, just bringing down the hammer and abandoning morality and justice has been a failed strategy.

    You need to look inward and decide which side you are on want to be on: an Israel that constantly strives to achieve the ideals of the Megillat Ha’atzmaut or an Israel that ignores the realities of history, allowing its enemies take advantage of such intransigence.

  • Adam G says

    I am confident in the side I have chosen. Much like at the end of the Maccabee story the cyclical process displayed in the Book of Judges is evident. Many times has God allowed our enemies to weaken us, and many times God has intervened through an unlikely warrior. Rabbi Gordis and you would do good to re-read these teachings.

    The Legitimacy of Israel is and always will be literally etched in stone. It is an irrational position to defend those who would question it. Jews have been the majority in that land for thousands of years and many many more years than the Arabs. Israel is forced to live up to impossible standards which my position of the Orr report is perpetuated and illustrated proof of this.

    I was raised in Boston. When the Red Sox won their first World Series in 87 years, the people rioted. There were three deaths at the hands of police attempting to break up the ruckus. Neither Orr nor anyone like him was urged to form a report of Police Brutality. When Sadam Hussein used chemical weapons on his own people for simply being a different kind of Muslim as he was, no Orr type report was authored. When Hamas took over the Palestinian Authority, and created an environment of poverty by diverting aid and funds directly to their Jihadist ambitions, no Orr type report came about. When King Abdullah mandated that women will cover all of themselves except one eye, no Orr commission was formed. When the Muslim Brotherhood began an ethnic cleansing of all Coptic Christians who had lived peacefully in that region of centuries, there were no Orr reports.

    But a riot in Israel in which Israeli civilians were killed and injured and threatened and civility was abandoned, and the Police attempted to quell the violence brought forth by a mob, a UN motivated commission was asked to write a report about Israeli discrimination and police brutality. I contend as I have throughout all my posts (and I apologize you can’t understand this position) the entire concept of the need for the Orr Report is troublesome to begin with. It is based in Prejudice and Bigotry and a standard that no other nation in the history of the world has been held to.

    So yes, I will continue to think poorly of Jihadist apologist Rabbi who has in the past aligned himself with groups like J Street who undermine the continued existence of a Jewish state in a land we have lived for thousands of years. A land they are legally entitled to and a land that holds our deepest faith. You will never attend a Service in a Temple that does not mention the land of Israel. There is a reason for that; a Rabbi should know this better than most.

  • Howard Stevens says


    What you fail to recognize is that our holy texts acknowledge that in instances where “God allowed our enemies to weaken us” the causes were the moral deficiencies that the Prophets excoriated. Those lesson should be respected today and I invite You “to re-read these teachings,” especially as Tisha B’av ends.


    You keep changing the subject. NOTHING in the Orr Report questioned the “legitimacy of Israel” and you consistently have failed to cite any words in the report that does this. You also need to specify your so-called “illustrated proof” of exactly what “impossible standards” you claim the report provides.

    Your reference to the Boston Red Sox riots is not at all irrelevant – no one there claimed this was a result of decades of discrimination against Sox fans. Do you think that the same moral sensibilities that governed Saddam Hussein, or Hamas, or Saudi Arabia or the Muslim Brotherhood should be followed by Israel? Surely you cannot seriously argue that Israel fall into the same pit of evil.

    And as far as “a standard that no other nation in the history of the world has been held to,” You should do a little actual studying of history before you make more claims. You will learn that many countries have established such commissions, including the United States:


    and South Africa:


    and Canada:


    Finally, you are in error stating that Dan Gordis has “aligned himself with groups like J Street who undermine the continued existence of a Jewish state.” Firstly, Gordis has severely criticized J Street in these Dispatches. And it is a complete falsehood that J Street supporters are not as Zionist and concerned for the future of Israel as you are.

    You are entitled to your political opinions, but history, Jewish tradition, reality and facts should not be ignored.

  • Adam G says


    Once again, my issue with the Orr Report was the premise. Do you know what a premise is? “Decades of discrimination?” Based on what, the Jews tearing down the al Aqsa Mosque and rebuilding their Temple? The millions of Arab Muslim children they treat in their hospitals every year for free, often even flying them in from countries like Iran and Saudi Arabia? Go ask the families who have been thrown out of their home. Go ask the widow of Major Roi Klein, a war hero who threw himself on a grenade to save his men, who was targeted for expulsion from her home by the same groups supported by IPF and J Street who daily advocate and demand the ethnic cleansing of Jews from the territories.

    This is all empty theory to Gordis, but it’s daily life to people who build homes, put money into them, raise families, and risk their lives driving home every day, and on top of that have to worry that one day they’ll be thrown out of their homes, their homes will be bulldozed and they’ll be living in a trailer.

    Do you want the Ninth of Av? Go look at the demolished homes of Jewish families. Homes that were torn down because there were Jews living in them. Then tell us how “derisive tones” concern you. There is plenty of ethnic discrimination in the world. To assert that we in Israel are the offenders and not the offended is insanity.

    You have the audacity to blame Jews like me over the Second Temple you Westernized Liberal hand puppet? If you do pray, thank what ever god you pray to you said that to me over the safety of the Internet. Within those scriptures you pretend to know are sy=tories of Brave courageous and powerful warriors who defended the righteousness of the God of Abraham. The second coming of the Judges of Israel will be upon us soon, this is your notice.

    What you suggest is simply what all anti-Israel types always suggest. That the problem in Israel is the Jews and their wicked ways. Hey, you are free to believe anything you want, but this simply means you are free to be wrong.

    As far as Daniel Gordis, you happen to be wrong about him too. Daniel Gordis signed on to a letter from an Anti-Israel group attacking the Levy Report rejecting the occupation myth. The Levy Report has been accepted by the Israeli government. Gordis could present no rational explanation for attacking it or for joining with an Anti-Israel group except an editorial in Haaretz full of twaddle about not giving up hope.

    Rather than discuss the issue, Gordis chose to write a self-righteously self-pitying article trying to connect the criticisms of him for that decision to Tisha Ba’av and the fall of the Second Temple.

    Such cynical exploitation of Jewish history would be repulsive enough on its own, but it’s doubly disgusting by Gordis who is doing it in defense of his letter which actually undermined Israel’s claim to Jerusalem by demanding that Israel ignore the Levy Report and go on maintaining the current myth.

    Gordis is essentially arguing that to criticize him for undermining Israel’s claim to Jerusalem is tantamount to destroying Jerusalem. The levels of self-contradictory absurdity in that are almost staggering.

    “Sinning Against Each Other” is the title of Gordis’ article, but what he really means is that he is the one who has been sinned against.

    “On my list of worries this Tisha B’Av: Iran, Egypt—and the ugly ways we Jews talk to one another” is Gordis’ touching subheader. And naturally Gordis follows this touching concern by attacking his critics in ugly ways.

    After complaining that Yisrael Medad’s blog post about him had a “derisive tone” and about how distressed he was about “the blatant hate speech that some have no qualms using”, he got down to derisively and hatefully insulting people.

    Gordis calls the talented and passionate journalist Giulio Meotti a plagiarist in the second paragraph of the next page. Clearly by this point Gordis is no longer worried about the Ninth of Av. Or perhaps Meotti is not a Jew and Gordis has no problem speaking of him in an ugly way. Or getting his attack material against a pro-Israel journalist from Max Blumenthal whose hatred for the Jewish State is second to none.

    The letter Gordis signed on to was authored by M.J. Rosenberg who was kicked out by Media Matters for being too Anti-Israel. Not that Media MAtters, the far left hate group loves Israel, but MJ Rosenberg was just simply to open about it.

  • Howard Stevens says

    You are truly amazing, still refusing to read a single word of the Orr Report, yet able to prattle on about what you guess is in there.

    It is amusing that while ignoring the Orr report, you accept the Levy report! (Because it accords with your prejudices?) Do you not understand that the United Nations partition plan which underpins Israel’s legitimacy did the same for the Arab side?


    But the emptiness of your rhetoric is best demonstrated by your outrage that anyone who criticizes a policy of the government is “anti-Israel.” To put Gordis in the camp of Israel’s enemies shows how your explosion of words do not reveal a thinker.

  • I have to heartily agree with Linda, the first letter shown. You apologise too often. Israel is not perfect, but who is? Make the statement about Israel`s faults ONCE. That is enough to make your point

  • bandora etrog says

    “The ordinary courtesies of life are no longer extended to them”

    The ordinary courtesies of life have never been extended to Palestinians. Why shouldn’t a boycott of an oppressive and racist regime be used as a way for ordinary people who oppose such behaviour to express their distaste? It was good enough for South Africa…

  • Adam G says

    “You are truly amazing, still refusing to read a single word of the Orr Report, yet able to prattle on about what you guess is in there.”

    And I refuse to read Mein Kempf too.

    “you accept the Levy report! (Because it accords with your prejudices?)”

    Yes, my prejudices pertain to legal standing and precedence. Not in a document claiming discrimination by the only Nation in the region that actually allows other religions to live, worship and participate in their country.

    “Do you not understand that the United Nations partition plan which underpins Israel’s legitimacy did the same for the Arab side?”

    The United Nations, LOL!

    “But the emptiness of your rhetoric is best demonstrated by your outrage that anyone who criticizes a policy of the government is “anti-Israel.””

    My “empty rhetoric” simply isn’t a simplistic way of thinking. Simpletons ignore the reality of the world at large because they haben’t the capacity to see the big picture. The Millions of Jews evicted from their homes around the world simply because of intollerance as compared to the Palestinians who continue to live good lives with in the boarders of a country you claim is evil.

    ” To put Gordis in the camp of Israel’s enemies shows how your explosion of words do not reveal a thinker.”

    No, as I illustrated with a small sampling of his own words and actions, Gordis has repeatedly put himself in the camp of Israel’s enemies.

  • Adam G says

    Bandora- I reccomend you turn off MSNBC and take a trip to Israel for yourself. You would then realize you are way off base. Palestinians enjoy more “courtesies of life” then any other race or religion or lack of recieves in all Muslim nations combined. They even recieve more “courtesies of life” than non Muslims do in the areas controled by the Palestinian Authority.

  • Howard Stevens says

    Bandora, you’re wasting your time with Adam G. He just doesn’t chose to think, strangled by his own uninformed prejudices and refusal to accept anything that contradicts his fantasy views.

    Every time one of his lies or misconceptions are exposed, he blithely ignores the corrections and goes on with more ad hominem attacks, happy to dwell in ignorance.

    In Adam’s world anyone who rebuts his errors is anti-Israel, an anti-Semite, spreading blood libel, evil, a far left hater, or any other of the numerous insults and name calling he engages in rather than dealing with truth and engaging in analytic debate.

    To Adam, Daniel Gordis, is a “Jihadist apologist Rabbi.” No further proof is needed of the irrational hatred that has clouded this person’s mind. Too many self-proclaimed “friends” of Israel regrettably share this trait and wreak terrible harm by stubborn refusal to meaningfully confront reality.

  • Adam G says

    Howard, does your mother know what you do on the internet? You come across as a child. Here is an idea, instead of claiming to prove me wrong, actually try to do it. You’ve proven nothing. You fight back with other people’s opinions that have nothing to do with the discussion, and have yet to offer up a coherrent thought of your own. I am however very amused by your constant claims of victory. You should go out and play with your firends little Howard, your summer vacation will be gone before you know it. Now run along little boy.

  • Howard Stevens says

    Another empty-headed retort from Adam who has previously boasted he doesn’t “give the…consideration of higher thought” to anything his prejudice blinds him to.

    It’s sad that he thinks vehement ignorance is helpful to Israel.

  • Alfred Neuman says

    Of course Gordis has it exactly right. Because someone achieves prominence in one walk of life shouldn’t enable them to be a bigot any more than anyone else. And it’s obvious from the dishonest hate Walker has written about Israel, as well as her ill-considered actions, that she’s an antiSemite, pure and simple.
    How ironic that a significant number of prominent blacks seem to harbor this disease, given how much disproportionate help many Jews provided them in the early civil rights struggle. Not the least of whom were Schwerner and Goodman, 2 NY Jews trying to help blacks out in Alabama who instead themselves were murdered because of those attempts.
    No, Alice Walker not only shouldn’t be coddled, she should be called out more loudly and more directly for her hateful bigotry, just because she has such a ” bully pulpit”–which she hasn’t hesitated to use in her persecution of Israelis and other Jews.
    Walker is a lying antiSemitic racist and should be called out as exactly that. It’s only the history and pattern of Jews’ self-flagellation that some would still be trying to cozy up to this bigoted witch.

  • Do those who severly criticize Walker also do so with regard to Desmond Tutu?

    Also, Israel is not the sole source of a “Jewish renaissance”. Rather, some of it’s policies are severe stumbling blocs to it, and deserve more than mild criticism.

  • Al Neuman says

    Tutu deserves to be criticized too for his mindless antiIsrael narrative and Islamofascism advocacy. He may have done some good deeds elsewhere but his position on Israel is stupid an disgraceful, not hindered by things like the facts in the Mideast.
    Actually the same can be said of “Howard Cort’s” comments. ( in addition he apparently doesn’t understand the difference between “it’s” and “its”!)
    Would ask those like Cort who love to criticize Israel ( indeed a shining light of “Jewish Renaissance”) and a beacon of civilization in a very uncivilized neighborhood), how much he’s written in the way of “more than mild critidism” of say, Syria, busy murdering over 40,000 of its own people?
    Oh you haven’t? Guess you don’t think that stuff like that in all the Islamofascist theocracies surrounding Israel are actually “human rights” problems!
    That strange silence on the REAL human rights issues by the “Corts” of the world tell you everything you need to know about their intelligence and real motives.

  • Mr. Neuman, I appreciate your pointing out
    my incorrect use of it’s instead of its, when a possessive.

    I disagree, however, that Desmond Tutu “may have done some good deeds elsewhere”, for I think it is well-established that he DID do good deeds in South Africa.

    Secondly, please specify an example(s) of Tutu being “stupid and disgraceful, not hindered by the facts in the Mideast”.

    Then, you correctly suggest that I haven’t
    written criticsm of other “human rights” problems in the region, for my knowledge of them is considerably less than that about Israel-Palestine, including my 2008 draft (to be updated and revised) article, http://www.approachestocoexistence.com.

    Finally, my Jewish father came to Cleveland in 1905, from “Gedrovitz” (now “Gedraicia”) Lithiuania, and he and my uncles think our “Cort” name came from the Spanish “Cortez”, and/or from the German, perhaps meaning “coat” or outer garment. This is relevant to your writing that the neglectful behavior on other regional “human rights” problems “by the ‘Corts’ of the world tell you everything you need to know about their intelligence and real motives”.

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