Judy Mandelbaum

Judy Mandelbaum
Brooklyn, New York, United States
June 01
Freelance writer, editor, and first citizen of Judy's World.

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APRIL 15, 2010 8:58AM

Is the Star of David becoming the new swastika?

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Vandalized synagogue in Russia, 2006
(Source: Crown Heights Info)

Time was when Nazis used to slather swastikas on synagogues and Jewish businesses to prepare the local population for expulsion or much worse. It’s sad that this sort of behavior persists around the world, as a new study by Tel Aviv University shows. But it’s even sadder to see Israelis regularly defacing Palestinian property with Stars of David with equal glee and with what appears to be the same brain-dead mindset.

Your local paper might not have covered it, but in the wee hours of Wednesday morning a gang of Israeli settlers attacked the West Bank village of Hawara. “Palestinians reported two torched cars on the village’s central road early yesterday,” Haaretz writes. “A small village mosque, used only on the weekend, had the word ‘Muhammad’ sprayed in Hebrew and a Star of David. Haaretz also found graffiti with the Jewish prayer ‘Praise be onto him for not making me a gentile.’” The attackers also took the opportunity to destroy some three hundred olive trees, a major source of local income.  


Defaced mosque in Hawara, West Bank, yesterday
(Source: AP)

In February of 2009, a Canadian writer by the name of Marcello Di Cintio witnessed how “earlier this week, the IDF raided Jayyous. Soldiers entered the village at night, seized about a hundred young men and penned them in the school gymnasium. The troops also occupied several village houses and spray-painted a Star of David over a pro-freedom mural on a school wall. The IDF took about a dozen men with them when they left, and the men are still in custody somewhere in Israel.”

According to the Maan News Agency, in December 2008, “Israeli settlers rampaged through five villages in the northern West Bank early on Tuesday, vandalizing mosques, attacking farms and harassing residents. In the villages of Yatma, Qabalan and As-Sawiya, south of Nablus, settlers slashed the tires of more than 20 cars and also set fire to thousands of shekels worth of straw bales, used as animal feed. In As-Sawiya, settlers wrote slogans insulting Islam and the prophet Mohammad on the walls of a local mosque. [S]ettlers painted a star of David and slogans such as ‘Death to Arabs’ on the village mosque.” 


A defaced Palestinian ambulance in Nablus, November 2008
(Source: Daylife/Getty

“On 19 March 2007, Israeli settlers illegally occupied an empty four-story Palestinian building,” the Electronic Intifada reported. This multi-unit Hebron building is close to the Kiryat Arba settlement of 7000 residents and is strategically located to link Kiryat Arba to the smaller enclaves inside Hebron’s Old City. … Palestinians say that another settlement will lead to yet another checkpoint and tighter curfews, further isolating this part of the city. Already settlers have placed a wire at the entrance of the Palestinian house across the street to trip residents as they exit their home. They have stoned the house and spray painted a Star of David on the front door.”

Also in 2007, Tim McGirk blogged about his own experiences in the West Bank for Time Magazine. “Not long ago, I ventured into Hebron ... I wanted to see what [the Palestinians] thought of their Jewish neighbors. On this street, winding up a hill, it was easy to spot the Arab houses. Their windows and doors were covered in metal grills to protect them from stones, rotten fruit and the occasional gunshot coming from settlers living across the road. Over the years, a few Jewish settlers had also been shot by Palestinian militants, and Israeli soldiers had cordoned off this section, emptying life from the heart of old Hebron. The Arab houses were easy to spot for another reason. The settler kids had spray-painted a Star of David on walls of all the Arab houses. A religious symbol used for intimidation. I found this disturbing, like seeing the Klu Klux Klan’s cross blazing on a black man’s lawn.”

Defaced Palestinian house in Hebron
(Source: Time)

Blogging for the Madison Times, George Arida described a visit to Nablus in 2003: “We stopped at Joseph's Tomb, a site of archaeological and religious significance. It also had military significance; the Israelis had bombed it over a year ago (the dome and outside walls were damaged) and then had later used it as a base of operations. The soldiers had left a spray-painted Star of David on the ancient stone wall. This spray-painted souvenir was left by the Israelis on the walls of many buildings in Nablus.”   

Israeli troops pulled out of the West Bank city of Ramallah in 2002. “The home of Hamdi Flaifer, 35, was in ruins after an Israeli search,” the New York Times reported. Windows were broken, furniture was smashed, sofa cushions slashed, closets and cabinets were emptied onto the floor. Just outside his front door, Israelis had spray-painted a Star of David and a number, indicating to other Israelis that his house had been searched.” 

The Mogen Dovid is a symbol that has experienced a roller coaster of shifting meanings over the centuries. The six-pointed star was a symbol known to many religious and spiritual traditions and only became firmly associated with Judaism and Zionism in the late nineteenth century. But its power as a Jewish symbol derives less from what Jews have done with it than from what anti-Semites have tried in vain to make it into. Storm troopers painted Stars of David on Jewish businesses during their boycott of Jewish shops in 1933. In September, 1941, SS leader Reinhard Heydrich signed a decree demanding that all Jews in German-occupied Europe wear a yellow star – first to shut them up as potential defeatists, and later to mark them for extermination. After the war the new State of Israel chose the Star of David as its national emblem. Thus it has gone from a symbol of pride to a symbol of shame and fear and then back again to a symbol of pride and endurance against impossible odds. 

Will it return to being a symbol of shame and fear - perhaps permanently? With attacks like the ones I described above on the increase, and now that the Israeli military has approved plans that could lead to the mass deportation of tens of thousands of West Bank residents on short notice, Palestinians are increasingly experiencing the Star of David as a threat to their very existence. This should be a scandal to everyone who remembers what the star has meant in the past. My message to Israelis is simple: Stop doing this. NOW.

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Wow. Well, and then, just, wow. Interesting piece, Judy.
I keep hoping that (smarter) aliens from another planet will come and spray paint "stupidity" all over the human race. This is disturbing on so many levels.
Kathy and cartouche,
Thanks, the news of this latest vandalism made me very angry - "on so many levels," as cartouche puts it.
Very informative, well written, shocking on many levels, piece. What to do? I think that the government of Israel should heartily condemn this behavior, fine it and prevent anyone in the military from participating under pain of court martial. Also, everyone caught should be made to pay restitution and watch WWII films of Nazi doing the same thing. Then I think we all need to take a deep breath and recognize the hatred and its similarities and when we say never again, mean it for all peoples. Extremist are the fuel of hatred. Rated.
Wow, incindiary stuff. Though you make it clear the story has received some coverage, it still seems significantly under-reported. Rated.
Judy -- I respect your reporting, but if you're going to put yourself in the position of reproducing such arrant propaganda as the "deportation order" nonsense, I think you at least have an obligation to get square on the facts. This from someone who, you know, actually *asked* the IDF:

1. The new military order was signed 6 months ago.

2. There are no changes to the repatriation system or the authority/means to repatriate illegal residents in Judea and Samaria. The only difference is that now the process includes a judiciary review.

3. The decision to establish a judiciary committee to review the administrative process of repatriation was taken in response to the Israeli High Court of Justice (בג"ץ) decision that there should be judicial oversight.

4. Any illegal resident who stands to be repatriated will be brought before the judicial committee within 8 days of receiving the order, they will have the right to legal council, and will be able to appeal the judicial decision to the high court.

5. When making decisions about whether or not to repatriate an individual, the administrative and the judicial committees consider family ties.

6. Currently there are very few illegal Palestinian residents in Judea and Samaria - over the past several years, as a goodwill gesture to the Palestinian Authority, the Israeli government has approved an amnesty for nearly all of the 32,000 illegal residents whose names were submitted to the population registry by the Palestinian authorities.

7. Since the beginning of 2010, there have only been 5 Gazans who have been repatriated to Gaza.

8. The current system allows Israeli authorities to arrest, detain and deport illegal residents (specifically those who came in on a tourist visa and decided to stay) - these are the same powers that every sovereign nation in the world possess. The establishment of the Judicial Committee to oversee the process is the only change.



Kudos for your research, and you are obviously closer to events than I am. Let me point out that the order's ultimate significance boils down to how it is applied, i.e. we can look at it as either a precautionary measure or as a sign of greater things to come. As Amira Hass points out in Haaretz:

"The order's language is both general and ambiguous, stipulating that the term infiltrator will also be applied to Palestinian residents of Jerusalem, citizens of countries with which Israel has friendly ties (such as the United States) and Israeli citizens, whether Arab or Jewish. All this depends on the judgment of Israel Defense Forces commanders in the field. "
Hmmm. There also, however, seems to be another sort of awakening occuring: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/8618868.stm
Palestinians test out Gandhi style protest.
Most people do not realize that a symbol is an artifact, existentially impotent except for the powers we ascribe to it.

Far from being outrages, I think that the use of the Mogan Dovid as an assertive symbol is an exact reaction to the abomination of the Holocaust when that symbol - in use for more than 3,000 years - became associated with degradation and death. Its use as an assertive symbol is a reclamation, not an outrage.

Where you put it is another matter. Having personally scrubbed swastikas off walls where they do not belong, despite the fact that I am well aware of the fact that the swastika has been venerated by Native People here in America, by Indians, Egyptians, Persians, and, among others, ancient Jews.

You can find specimens of the running cross embedded in floor tiles in ancient Hertz ilia, and other excavations of ancient Israeli sites.

The greater matter lies in the psychological use of these devices. When the Nazis painted swastikas on Jewish-owned buildings, they were saying, "This is ours. We own it," in an effort to establish their suzreignity over the possessions of others, expressing the view that these locations had been usurped by interlopers.

The Israelis who go around painting their favored symbol on walls belonging to others are doing the same thing, expressing the same psychological impulse, as cats and dogs mark their territories.

However, I tire of those who expect us to represent some higher standard of morality than others ascribe to. You cannot be a beacon to the nations if someone else smothers your light.
Difficult situation. Impressive post.
This article could have been written by one of the Arabs who generally write the brainwashed liturgy after I write on middle east matters. Or, it could have been Arafat or that little jerk who runs Iran, whatzhizname. It would have some worth if it were balanced and given a proper amount of time and space to the Israeli government or the military's position on these incidents. It states really bad Israeli behavior, however these few incidents, even if reported by the purity of Caesar's wife, is incidental in terms of the years of Arabs killing Israeli women and children.

It is typical to say that the killing of Israeli people are justified because of this reason or that. I say there is no justification. Yet, when Israel retaliates, they run to the U.N., cry 'over reaction', seek sanctions and toss a few hundred missiles.

When someone with a pretty name as Judy Mandelbaum shows both sides of a story, I'll take note. Until then, she is Judy bin Brooklyn.

Read Harv: http://theHARVview.blogspot.com
Very good piece, Judy. I can't say I hopd w the title's seeming comparison but I recognize the issues you raise as important. Being a Zionist, as I am, hardly meand supporting every move of every P.M. I went to school w the Netanyahu brothers. I generally admire/d Bibi. I think that he and our president will sort it out.
Harv, I can do "fair and balanced" as well as the next one (although I'd need a couple thousand times more webspace than this to do so). My topic today is defacing Palestinian mosques and homes with the Star of David, as if it were clever. It's not, and changing this very narrow topic to the vast and sullied history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict doesn't make it any cleverer.
Below, with a link, is an excerpt from a National Public Radio story/interview aired 18Mar2010. It, like your "Is the Star of David becoming the new swastika?", is revealing, chilling and frightening given the history of, current policies of and leadership of zionUSt$ Israel:

Is The Bible More Violent Than The Quran? http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=124494788&sc=nl&cc=progserv-20100406
"By the standards of the time, which is the 7th century A.D., the laws of war that are laid down by the Quran are actually reasonably humane," he says. "Then we turn to the Bible, and we actually find something that is for many people a real surprise. There is a specific kind of warfare laid down in the Bible which we can only call genocide."

It is called herem, and it means total annihilation. Consider the Book of 1 Samuel, when God instructs King Saul to attack the Amalekites: "And utterly destroy all that they have, and do not spare them," God says through the prophet Samuel. "But kill both man and woman, infant and nursing child, ox and sheep, camel and donkey."

When Saul failed to do that, God took away his kingdom.

"In other words," Jenkins says, "Saul has committed a dreadful sin by failing to complete genocide. And that passage echoes through Christian history. It is often used, for example, in American stories of the confrontation with Indians — not just is it legitimate to kill Indians, but you are violating God's law if you do not."
Judy -- I don't claim to be closer to the situation than you at all. You've been doing solid reporting on the region, and I take nothing away from that. But I do think there's a groundswell of sentiment (rwnutjob in this thread is one such example) eager to villify Israel and it is therefore wise to treat some of the more extreme claims -- such as that the IDF is preparing to carry out (and is reported in some hysterical quarters already to have carried out) mass expulsions on the basis of this order -- with skepticism.

Reikistar -- I can think of no better move the Palestinians can undertake to win redress of their just grievances than to adopt a massive campaign of non-violent protest. The reasonable left in Israel has been all-but-moribund for a decade now, in no small measure owing to the methods Palestinians have consistently chosen to express their "resistance," and there is really no hope of reaching any kind of peaceful resolution without active leadership from the Israeli left. I wish the article you point to gave better reason for hope, however:

"Hind Awad, 22, a campaigner for an international boycott of Israel, said non-violent methods had historically been a 'major tool' of the Palestinians.

"'I also think that under international law, armed struggle is just, for people that are living under occupation,' she added.

"A recent poll suggested that nearly half of Palestinians support armed struggle.

"Many of these, like Hossam Khader, a long-standing activist with the Fatah movement which dominates the PA, believe Israel would not have agreed even to negotiate without years of Palestinian militant activity."

I rather suspect Khader is wrong. The history of the Palestinian experience to date has been one long demonstration of the futility of mindless violence. Surely he can't really be looking around at his situation and concluding that things are substantially better now than they've ever been, which would be the necessary outcome if one were to prove that violence is working. Israelis are far more susceptible to being shamed (the counter-example of Ehud Olmert notwithstanding) than they are to being cowed, because they know that, regardless of what the world thinks of them (or, more accurately, *because* of what the work thinks of them), they have nowhere else to go. Sadly, however, a non-violent resistance comingled with a policy of suicide bombings and random rocket attacks, is not, in the end, a non-violent resistance.
Judy, thanks for reporting this....
david lieberman, don't you think the right wing government has contributed to the problem though?
I'm a Zionist Jew who still hopes for peace between Israelis and Palestinians. I am not a member of a "brood of vipers."

It's always depressing to see well-intentioned articles about Israel, such as this one by Judy Mandelbaum, bring out the anti-Israel haters, such as "rwnutjob," who seem to think that reducing Israel and Israelis to "Zionist bullshit" somehow promotes Palestinian sovereignty.

"rwnutjob" should recognize too that a great number of "Israeli Zionists" yearn for reconciliation with Palestinians willing to renounce violence. It seems RW's preferred mode of discourse is the ad hominem attack. His name-calling is really offensive.
Very interesting piece. It is important that supporters of Israel be honest in dealing with them. This type of behavior - in some ways an outcrop of war in almost any time or place - does need to be called out, whoever is doing it. I hope if our soldiers ever start spray painting crosses on Iraqi or Afghanistani walls, we call them on it too.
"The HarvView,"

I find your comment petty-minded and rather incoherent, but it is beyond tacky to plug your blog here. Please resist.
doloresflores_d: "david lieberman, don't you think the right wing government has contributed to the problem though?"

I do. I also don't think the rw would have much traction with the general population if the Palestinian "resistance" had taken a different, more effective form.
Even if this article is accurate in and of itself, it is a lie when viewed in any context larger than the web page on which it sits. Why? Because its effect is to shift blame for the troubles in the region from the real source (repeated Palestinian rejection of peace offers from Israel), to some admittedly nasty vandalism.
You seem to be under the impression that the Star was ever anything but a swastika, a symbol of hate and disease and war. This would be a mistake as Jews have always been the 'Nazis' to the world. That's why everyone everywhere has tried to wipe them out. I read somewhere that if were never any so called persecutions that there would be 300 million Jews in the world today. Can you imagine what a horror that would be? But thankfully through righteous war, that number has been reduced 95%. Keep up the good work, Judy, alert the world.
We have a long way to go, it seems.... Thanks, and Peace to you, Judy
Excellent post. Two wrongs have never made a right and won't in this case either. Israel needs some honest leadership. Oh wait...isn't that why Yitzhak Rabin was murdered?
you are such a brave writer. I've only read two posts by you so far, but both were honest and excellent.
@David Lieberman

So Dave, nice research there, but the fact that the IDF are going about their business in much the same way as street hooligans in the ghetto's of all metropolitan cities is undeniable.

For them, the Star of David is the "new swastika" .. a way of marking their territory, the same way a dog would have a piss against a tree.

At least the dog does this out of instinct, not because he was indoctrinated by some governmental institution who thinks they have a moral and ethical high ground, mixed with a lot of holy/unholy mambo-jumbo, because they just so happen to occupy a piece of land that has cost countless of lives across the span of our recorded history.

On a related subject, were you maybe in the IDF Dave?
rwnutjob ~
>You can't be a Zionist (as I use the term) and a Jew.

Amen. Goy means nation, btw. Israel is filled w/goyim.

To paraphrase Anne Frank, I believe that at heart, all people are the same in their propensity for evil.
Great article Judy. You are an übermensch (unlike me). so rated
I have so much respect for your writing, and for you as a person. This is a great article as all of yours are - you're one of the fairest reporters on issues that can be very divisive. Using the Star to intimidate Palestinians is horrible, and I would think that the people who are doing it should know better, considering their own suffering cause by Nazi's whoused the swastika in similar ways.

@ Further Left - you disgust me. Take your filthy hate speech and spout it in some far flung corner where like-minded maniacs stagnate.
Israel continues to condone ever more reprehensible activities against the Palestinians. It's hard for me to see how long the United States can continue to aid and abet the Israeli government in its crimes against humanity in the West Bank and Gaza. Sooner or later, I hope the White House suspends all foreign aid to the country when it commits a major outrage like the recent attack on Gaza.
Get a load of this propagandist bullshit: Jews are afraid of attending UC Irvine, because the big bad meaning punch them and kick them around.
@thabo: I'm not sure who you're arguing with. I neither denied nor endorsed the defacements Judy describes. On a completely unrelated note, I did my military service in the US Army. How about you?

I was going to hold up the examples of pseudonymous heroes rwnutjob and Further Left as evidence of the persistent need for a Jewish state of refuge, but I've decided that Further Left's expressions of Judaeophobia are so over-the-top that he/she must be trying to play some sort of double agent game. (Case still stands for rwnj, though.)
Over the top? Have you read the papers recently? The left and the right are joining forces to cleanse the world of you scum once and for all. In Hungary last week a new Nazi party openly dedicated to so called 'genocide' of Jews and Roma scum came in 3rd in national elections. The far left in the UK is calling for a purge of Jews from UK politics while the ex-Peronists in Argentina have joined with the Iranian regime to get rid of you filth.

2011 will be the year of a marriage of convenience between we on the far left and our opposites on the far right to join forces. You think 15 million is an atrocity? Think again. We will be laughing.
@Further Left: You're really not very good at this.
Thank you, Judy, for quoting from my blog. It is good to know that someone is reading that thing.

It is telling, I think, that in the case of Jayyous, the Star of David on the school wall was not spray-painted by some crazed Israeli settler, but by members of the IDF.
Is Salon the new Der Sturmer?
@David Lieberman

Allo again Dave, sorry for only replying now.

Well, I am not arguing with anyone, it would be a waste of time to argue about something with someone whom I would most likely never have the opportunity to discuss it face to face, I am merely commenting and conversing about other peoples thought's and ideas.

With that said, I can go on and explain why I pointed out that which was the core of the article for me.

People, part of a group that belongs to an organization with a specific set of goals, who go around, terrorizing other people with a different set of goals, and then leave their mark.

I know you didn't deny or endorse the defacement's the article spoke of, but, from my point of view you tried to justify the way things are done by the IDF, almost an apologetic kind of way, hence my question if you were in the IDF.
"Is Salon the new Der Sturmer?"
As David Lieberman says above, "you're not very good at this."

My pleasure, and I look forward to your book on "walls"!

That sounds promising! I plan to explore it further.

Emily, Julie, Natalie,

Everybody else,
Thanks for commenting. I leave the vitriolic pro-Zionist and anti-Semitic messages up since they do rather highlight what's at stake in this issue.
Another big problem is that, for many Americans, they are simply growing apathetic about the whole middle east. We have Iraq, Afghanistan, Israel, Palestine, Syria, Iran, Jordan, Lebanon, the Saudis. Americans are, aside from a few Xtian fundis and Leftist anti-Zionists, increasingly indifferent to what people over there are doing to one another. We have tried everything and nothing has worked. Why is it any of our business anyway? Why is it our responsibility?

As the economic situation at home gets worse, I hear many Americans say we should pull out of the region all together, withdraw all troops from Afghanistan and Iraq. Withdraw all foreign aid from Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Israel, Jordan and the like, and reinvest the money at home, where we will see immediate returns. Most of the money we spend there is borrowed anyway, so why pay interest on loans from the Chinese and Arabs, if peace never happens? Its like using a credit card to gamble in a casino. Its worse than self-defeating.

We can only spend so much money ant time on a situation where both sides are not taking the initiative for peace. America is in free-fall. Our days of Empire are at an end. One day, the legions will have to come home. Once we are energy independent, and dont need to ingratiate ourselves with the Saudis, the Arabs will not be able to have America come to their rescue when the Israelis brutally counter-attack them. With an isolationist foreign policy, and massive reductions in foreign aid, and increased restrictions on civilian wire transfers to the region, Israel will have less and less American money and military equipment to rely on.

Perhaps it is America, and its mere existence as an arbiter in the region, that is an enabler for violence and escalation on both sides? Perhaps if we stayed out of the region for good, they would all start getting along that much faster?
People pushing their religion on others is one of the most dangerous and destructive practices the past few millenium. I don't know why people can't keep their faith to themselves.
Judy, your post and that BBC article about Ahmad Lazza inspired me tonight to write a song I titled Stand With Sumud.

I hope peace one day grows in that land.