Hardworking Ethan Bronner of the NY Times, whom we bash alot around here, had an important piece out of Bi’lin’s weekly protest the other day. Here. It is significant for a couple of reasons. First, even piecemeal Times coverage of the nonviolent protests offers the hope that the movement against Israeli Jim Crow will work its way into the liberal American conscience as the civil rights movement once did (and smash the idolatry of PEP (I’m Progressive, Except Palestine!) to the ground). Every time human rights advocate Emily Schaeffer gets mentioned in our press, a drop of water smashes down into the stone. Then there’s this:
Ms. Schaeffer was explaining the case to the visitors, who go by the name The Elders. The group was founded two years ago by former President Nelson Mandela of South Africa and is paid for by donors, including Richard Branson, chairman of the Virgin Group, and Jeff Skoll, founding president of eBay. Its goal is to “support peace building, help address major causes of human suffering and promote the shared interests of humanity.”
Both Mr. Branson and Mr. Skoll were on the visit to Bilin, as were Mary Robinson, the former president of Ireland; Gro Harlem Brundtland, a former prime minister of Norway; Fernando Henrique Cardoso, former president of Brazil; and Ela Bhatt, an Indian advocate for the poor and women’s rights.
Readers of this site know that I grasp at straws. It’s my nature. But I think this is huge. Richard Branson is a marketer nonpareil. And Jeff Skoll may just be the ball game. Skoll, a founder of ebay, runs Participant Media, which produces films for causes not money. He lately started a project that will look into Middle East peace, led by cosmic genius Larry Brilliant, who eradicated smallpox and is thoroughly left coast. Skoll is left coast too. And maybe most important, Skoll is said to be Jewish.
American Jewish identity is not a distraction. When we get Jews of conscience on this cause, freeing Israel/Palestine from the grip of the mostly-east-coast Israel lobby, that’s the game changer. I often say that non-Zionism is the new Zionism. And it is. Zionism struggled against all odds for 40, 50 years. Herzl bashed his head against the doors of all the rich Jews in Paris and London, seeking their support. They were against him. His own newspaper was against him. He raged against the media just as this site rages against the media. Still he built his following, and warned those Parisian and Viennese Jews that they too would be hurt when there was "a change in the weather." Herzl was prescient.
Today we tell the Establishment Jews that the weather has changed again, and Israel cannot continue destroying human rights in our name. (hat tip to Scott McConnell).