April 15, 2024 Editor

Highlighting: Opinion | I’m Jewish, and I’ve covered wars. I know war crimes when I see them.

By Peter Maass

April 9, 2024

WN: The Jewish writer of the article highlighted below gets it — and from the unique viewpoint of having covered wars and genocide. Hence the opening question below, to which the article gives the answer:

How does it feel to be a war-crimes reporter whose family bankrolled a nation that’s committing war crimes?


Peter Maass is the author of “Love Thy Neighbor: A Story of War.” He covered the Bosnia war for The Post and the invasion of Iraq for the New York Times Magazine.

The victims of genocide — which Jews were in the Holocaust — are not gifted with the right to perpetrate one.

How does it feel to be a war-crimes reporter whose family bankrolled a nation that’s committing war crimes?

I can tell you.

As Geoffrey Levin writes in his relevant new book, Our Palestine Question: Israel and American Jewish Dissent, 1948-1978,” since the founding of Israel “there have been American Jews deeply unsettled by Israeli policies toward both the Palestinian refugees and Arabs living under Israeli rule,” who are fiercely dedicated to the issue.
I covered the genocide in Bosnia for The Post, wrote a book about it, and reported from Iraq and Afghanistan, among other conflict-ridden countries. Also, my ancestors were key funders of Jewish immigration to British-controlled Palestine. The Warburgs and Schiffs donated millions of dollars to that cause, and during the war between Jews and Arabs that started in 1948, they helped raise vast sums for the new state of Israel. When Golda Meir made an emergency fundraising visit to the United States, one of the philanthropists she met with was an uncle of mine who led the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee.

Though Levin’s book was published just before the latest convulsion, he astutely noted that “some American Jews today see their support for Palestinian rights as a meaningful expression of their Jewish identity.”

As Israeli forces grind through Gaza in what the International Court of Justice defines as a “plausible” case of genocide, my family’s history of philanthropy runs into my familiarity with war crimes. When Israel bombs and shoots civilians, blocks food aid, attacks hospitals, and cuts off water supplies, I remember the same outrages in Bosnia. When people in a Gaza flour line were attacked, I thought of the Sarajevans killed waiting in line for bread and the perpetrators who in each case insisted the victims were slaughtered by their own side.

Atrocities tend to rhyme.

Millions of Jews in America feel connected to Israel’s creation. Maybe our ancestors gave or raised money, maybe they went and fought, maybe they donated to Zionist organizations. What’s a Jew to do now? Everyone makes their own choices, but my experience of war crimes taught me that being Jewish means standing against any nation that commits war crimes.


These protesters are part of a movement that includes Jewish demonstrators who wear T-shirts that say “Not In Our Name.” Their potent voices undermine the argument that all protests against Israeli violence are antisemitic. They help legitimize global opposition to what’s being done in Gaza, and they defend not only Palestinian lives but Jewish lives, too, because they contradict the misbegotten idea that Jews as a whole are to blame for what Israel is doing.

Please click on: I know war crimes when I see them. 

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Wayne Northey was Director of Man-to-Man/Woman-to-Woman – Restorative Christian Ministries (M2/W2) in British Columbia, Canada from 1998 to 2014, when he retired. He has been active in the criminal justice arena and a keen promoter of Restorative Justice since 1974. He has published widely on peacemaking and justice themes. You will find more about that on this website: a work in progress.

Always appreciate constructive feedback! Thanks.