Ruth Bader Ginsburg And The Banality Of Ambivalence

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The late Ruth Bader Ginsburg at Georgetown University Law Center

Immediately upon hearing the news of Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death, the first thought that came to my mind involved the anxiety that many other people also exhibited regarding her replacement on the Supreme Court by a haywire president and the inspiring, heroic life she lived in the Netflix documentary.

But then I also remembered this headline from the media script of her life we were served on July 6, 2018: Ruth Bader Ginsburg receives Genesis Lifetime Achievement award in Israel.

This was after Forward (“Jewish, Fearless since 1987”) had reported that “Oscar-winning actress Natalie Portman has refused to travel for Israel to accept a $2 million award, citing her ‘Jewish values’ as an imperative to stand up for justice amid an increasingly deadly conflict with the Palestinians.”

Ginsburg allied herself with “past and present female Israeli Supreme Court judges,” who were present at the ceremony, and a court that has legally sanctioned torture of Palestinian detainees.

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Stan Polovets, Co-Founder and Chairman of Genesis Prize Foundation, presents Ruth Bader Ginsburg with the inaugural Genesis Prize Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award in Tel-Aviv, Israel, July 4, 2018.

So, I posted the following text and meme on Facebook:


Did you know? The late Ruth Bader Ginsburg fought for women everywhere except for Palestinian women. Two years ago, the Supreme Court Justice traveled to #Israel to receive a lifetime achievement award from the apartheid Jewish state. To her everlasting #SHAME, Ginsburg accepted the prize and took the money.

She took the money and entrenched Zionism with it. For her, supporting the Jewish state and its sham democracy and normalization trumped Palestinian right to self-determination in their own homeland.

What a shame that a woman who professed to embrace equality also embraced the evil that Zionism has visited on Palestinians!

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The late Ruth Bader Ginsburg with her family

Today, I posted:


In response to my meme ‘Justice for Some’ (see comments), several people have shared with me the Haaretz article titled ‘Why Ruth Bader Ginsburg had an intimate, yet ambivalent, relationship with Judaism and Israel.’

I don’t know what this is supposed to mean. Is it evidence of yet another “liberal” American Jew anguished over her identity vis-à-vis the Jewish state?

Like all Jews, Ginsburg faced choices, and the one I am interested in is not the one between “being loyal to the ethical imperatives at the heart of Judaism” or “giving unconditional support to Israel.” The choice that makes sense to me, as a Palestinian, is the one between renouncing Jewishness as a nationality — i. e., renouncing Zionism and *any* support of Israel — or continuing to deny Palestinian right to self-determination on our own land, a crime against humanity that Israel continues to perpetrate on us in the name of all Jews worldwide, regardless of their nationality.

ANY support of Israel is support of Palestinian dispossession and erasure.

Why is any support of Israel against Palestinians, as someone asked me on Facebook? Because support for Israel is support for Zionism, which stands for the dispossession, ethnic cleansing and subordination of Palestinians.

I also had a reply for those apologizing for her as follows:

Facebook comment: She [Ginsburg] probably was a Zionist but she was not a supporter of brutality or apartheid. Just because she accepted the Genesis Lifetime Achievement does not mean that she supported the demolition of houses, arrest and torture of Palestinians. The struggle for human rights was in her genes. She won the Gilel Storch Prize which some say is the equivalent of a Nobel Peace Prize. She donated a portion of the prize money to Israeli schools with both Arab and Israeli students, schools that taught Arabic and compassion for all. I’d love to see evidence otherwise.

Me: Here is the dictionary definition of “support”: “to agree with and give encouragement to someone or something because you want him, her, or it to succeed.” Wanting Israel to succeed and normalize its existence as a “democratic Jewish state” is to support the very foundation of the evil that is Zionist colonization in Palestine.

That I am still having conversations such as the one below 72 years after the Nakba is astounding to me:

  • Justin Jones: Rima Najjar meh. Every single person is ambivalent to a wide range of conflicts, indecisive of moral conundrums and inactive towards political involvement. Any lack of voice towards Palestinian plight doesn’t take away her ground breaking exceptional pursuance.
  • Rima Najjar: Justin Jones, are you ambivalent about, say, the “conflict” that resulted in the Holocaust?

I ask myself, what has this long course in human wickedness taught us? The banality of ambivalence?

In my view, the best legacy we can leave behind as human beings is our work for a better world, not only for ourselves, but also for all people. Others have written about her appalling record on Native American rights, specifically the 8–1 opinion she wrote in the case of Sherrill v. Oneida Indian Nation in 2005.

Whatever else Ginsburg has left behind, her finding within herself nothing but “ambivalence” toward the plight of Palestinians is a moral outrage, a taint on her legacy, both as a Jew allowing Israel to define her Jewish identity in such a barbaric way and as a human being.

See also: Pro-Women’s Rights Supreme Court Judge Ruth Ginsburg Utterly Ignored Palestinian Genocide

Rima Najjar is a Palestinian whose father’s side of the family comes from the forcibly depopulated village of Lifta on the western outskirts of Jerusalem and whose mother’s side of the family is from Ijzim, south of Haifa. She is an activist, researcher and retired professor of English literature, Al-Quds University, occupied West Bank.

Palestinian and righteously angry

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