J Street can’t tie Israel’s latest ‘illegal land grab’ to cutting US aid

US Politics
on 19 Comments

More on the crisis of the liberal Zionists. Jeremy Ben-Ami, the head of J Street, writes in the Los Angeles Times that the latest Israeli “land grab” “should be the straw that breaks the camel’s back in Washington.”

But what does breaking the camel’s back mean? Sanctioning Israel? Cutting off aid? No: The U.S. should shift its language from saying settlements are “unhelpful” to saying they’re “illegal.” And “It’s time for the United States to make its words mean something.” Huh, what does that mean?

if the United States were merely to state that it was undertaking a thorough, top-to-bottom review of its policy toward Israeli settlements, a review involving all relevant departments of the federal government, that would certainly cause Israel to take notice.

Do we really need another “thorough review” to know that these colonies are illegal? Ben-Ami says if the Obama administration declared the Israeli colonies “illegal,” under the Fourth Geneva Convention, “ordinary Israelis would understand that their government’s determination to push on with settlements was causing real, serious damage to the U.S.-Israel relationship.”

And this would make a difference to Israel?

clear terminology would empower opponents of these settlement decisions within the Israeli Cabinet, including Israeli Finance Minister Yair Lapid and Justice Minister Tzipi Livni. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would have to explain to voters how he justifies his settlement policy in the context of the harm it would be doing to the U.S.-Israel alliance, as well as the wider diplomatic discredit Israel is facing around the world.

Then Ben-Ami equivocates. After all, he’s trying to get his organization into the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations; and you don’t get into the club by calling for cutting off aid to Israel.

It may be true that the land, which is being expropriated from five Palestinian villages, lies within one of the settlement blocs likely to be retained by Israel in any prospective peace deal. But until there is such an agreement, this kind of land grab can only be seen as a blatant unilateral move to create new facts on the ground.

But the occupation has gone on for nearly 50 years with this kind of handwringing from liberal Zionists doing nothing to impede it. This is why the group IfNotNow has formed out of J Street’s own rank and file. They seem to want more than reviews and lip service (though what concrete action they favor is up in the air). I can’t wait for the next J Street conference. With this kind of one-the-one-had/on-the-other messaging, I wonder who will show up.

About Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net.

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19 Responses

  1. American
    September 10, 2014, 12:56 pm

    more J-St. bs
    J-Street is nothing but another zio group who wants to keep the talky talky and hokey reviews going until Isr has fully consumed Palestine and spit out the Palestines.

  2. Blownaway
    September 10, 2014, 1:28 pm

    What a bunch of baloney. The EU the US all summon their respective ambassadors use weasel words about unhelpful, bad timing ( is there a good time) but ultimately do nothing and the Israelis go back to business as usual. I can’t help but wonder if many of our problems in the world aren’t just because of our support for Israel, but because there is no cost gir ignoring America. Maybe under honest leadership the Palestinians can use these words against the same people who will try and frustrate the Palestinians cause at the ICC.

  3. amigo
    September 10, 2014, 2:31 pm

    “clear terminology would empower opponents of these settlement decisions within the Israeli Cabinet, including Israeli Finance Minister Yair Lapid and Justice Minister Tzipi Livni – ”

    This assumes that those people are any different philosophically from Bennet/Lieberman and Nietanyahu.

    I certainly do not believe they are.Two sides of the same coin.

    A greater Israel , Arab frei.

  4. surewin
    September 10, 2014, 2:37 pm

    It would really be earth-shattering if the U.S. government could get the Israeli government to take notice of what it’s saying.

  5. seafoid
    September 10, 2014, 2:46 pm

    Livni is a Hebrew Version of Hillary.
    She’s as much part of the system as her right wing opponents.

  6. gracie fr
    September 10, 2014, 2:58 pm

    Michael Ratner, President Emeritus of the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) in New York and Chair of the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights in Berlin. states:
    I realized there’s one more crime or series of crimes that continues and that Israel constantly renews or engages in those crimes again and again. As I said earlier, the Geneva Conventions and statutes of the International Criminal Court prohibit the transfer of the occupying power’s civilians–in other words, Israelis–into the occupied territories. And that is what Israel has been engaged in since 1967. There’s perhaps 500,000 Israelis living in Jerusalem, East Jerusalem, and the occupied territories of the West Bank. It’s a continuing violation to remove your citizens occupying our citizens into those territories, and therefore it’s a continuing war crime. And as I said earlier, they’re continuing to build housing and move more people in. So there’s a war crime that the ICC could look at if the Palestine Authority joined the court, because that war crime will last a very long time, I’m afraid. The transfer would be investigated, indictments of many high Israeli officials past and present could follow.
    http://therealnews.com/t2/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=31&Itemid=74&jumival=12336

  7. seafoid
    September 10, 2014, 3:25 pm

    J street’s problem is funding. They are like a woman trying to leave prostitution who keeps going back for the money. They have no choice other than to say what their donors want them to say.
    Appealing to the better nature of their donors is pointless. They are bastards.

    Finkelstein nailed it in that Defamation video. Those rich Jews from NY and Miami are the worst thing that ever happened to Israel. They are also behind Prof Salaita’s agony.

  8. seafoid
    September 10, 2014, 3:26 pm

    J Street should think outside the box and link up with funding from sympathetic people in Germany . How much would they need anyway ?

  9. Rusty Pipes
    September 10, 2014, 3:36 pm

    Great! Declare them illegal, as previous administrations have. Declare a review of US policies and agencies effected by such illegality. But why depend upon the review itself to put pressure upon the Israeli government?

    Apply the laws and policies (and sanctions) upon Israeli settlements — some of which are already well-known and shouldn’t take long to implement: Prevent any organization that supports the settlements from gaining or maintaining tax-exempt status. Let a UNSC resolution pass that penalizes Israel for settling its civilians in occupied territories.

  10. Kay24
    September 10, 2014, 6:41 pm

    JS is the zio good cop. Whatever they say, the bottom line is, they will always protect Israel’s crimes, and they will never push for aid for their mothership to be stopped, even if Israel uses our weapons to slaughter civilians. You have got to be naive to think otherwise.

  11. DICKERSON3870
    September 10, 2014, 7:28 pm

    RE: Ben-Ami says if the Obama administration declared the Israeli colonies “illegal,” under the Fourth Geneva Convention, “ordinary Israelis would understand that their government’s determination to push on with settlements was causing real, serious damage to the U.S.-Israel relationship.” And this would make a difference to Israel? ~ Weiss

    MY COMMENT: No, it will probably not make a difference to Israel based upon our experience with trying to dissuade Israel from developing nukes, because as one senior Pentagon official said back in the late 1960s : “Our demands must be unequivocal. Moral suasion and prolonged discussion does not work with Israel.”*

    * SEE: How Washington helped create Israel’s secret nuclear arsenal”, by Philip Giraldi , AlJazeera.com, 03 Sep 2014
    In the 1960s the US was far from blindly supporting Israeli interests in the Middle East.

    [EXCERPTS] Recently declassified documents reveal that consideration of how and when the White House can or should pressure Israel over policies damaging to the United States has been a contentious issue for quite some time. The 107 pages of formerly top secret memos, dating from 1968-9, relate to deliberations over what to do about the Israeli nuclear weapons programme. Prior to that time, the US position had been clear, supporting the principle that nuclear weapons should not be introduced into the Middle East.

    The declassified story

    President John F Kennedy was convinced that Israel was building a weapon and fully intended to force its government to abandon the effort and join the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), which Washington supported. Kennedy’s death and his replacement by the strongly pro-Zionist Lyndon B Johnson did not shift the general perception that a nuclear armed Israel would not be in US interest, though Johnson notably refused to tie the impending sale of 50 F-4 Phantom fighter-bombers to Israeli abandonment of both its nuclear and ballistic missile programmes, as the Pentagon had recommended. . .

    . . . So the tale of 1969 is how the US backed off of its intention to block Israeli nuclear proliferation and instead became complicit in the crafting of the current fiction regarding Israel’s weapons of mass destruction. But more interesting is the tone of the declassified documents: drafted and debated in light of actual US interests in the Middle East. Israeli concerns are addressed in passing but they do not drive the process and domestic political pressures from a still growing Israel lobby, are only mentioned once: “They could use their full range of assets in the United States to persuade us to abandon our demands.”

    Israeli Ambassador Yitzhak Rabin is described at one point as “stonewalling”. A memo notes that Congress would never go along with giving security guarantees to Israel while another from the Deputy Secretary of Defense concludes laconically that “not to lean on them would involve us in a conspiracy with Israel which would leave matters dangerous to our security in their hands.”

    Another official wrote “Whatever the validity of Israel’s position from its own standpoint, it does not coincide with the interests of the United States and, in fact, constitutes the single most dangerous phenomenon in a region already dangerous enough without nuclear weapons.” A senior Pentagon official adds: “Our demands must be unequivocal. Moral suasion and prolonged discussion does not work with Israel.” . . .

    ENTIRE ARTICLE – http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2014/09/how-washington-helped-create-is-201493144249940421.html

    • DICKERSON3870
      September 11, 2014, 2:09 pm

      P.S. FROM JOEL KOVEL, 1-20-13:

      [EXCERPT] . . . As with everyone I know of in official political culture, [Thomas] Friedman assumes that Israel is a rational actor on the international stage who will obey the calculus of reward and punishment that regulates the conduct of normal states.
      The presumption is that if you tell it the truth, and even pull back US support, it will get the message, reflect, and change its ways. But Israel is not a normal state, except superficially. It will make adjustments, pulling back here, co-operating there, making nice when necessary, crafting its message using a powerful propaganda apparatus employing the most up-to-date social science. But this is simply tactical and no more predicts or explains the behavior of the Zionist state than an individual sociopath can be explained by the fact that he obeys traffic signals while driving to the scene of his crime. . .

      SOURCE – http://mondoweiss.net/2013/01/israel-nominaton-hagel.html

    • DICKERSON3870
      September 11, 2014, 2:59 pm

      P.P.S. FROM foreignaffairs.com: “South Africa: Why Constructive Engagement Failed”, By Sanford J. Ungar and Peter Vale, Winter 1985/86

      Article Summary
      Ronald Reagan’s imposition of limited economic sanctions against the South African regime in September was a tacit admission that his policy of “constructive engagement”–encouraging change in the apartheid system through a quiet dialogue with that country’s white minority leaders–had failed. Having been offered many carrots by the United States over a period of four-and-a-half years as incentives to institute meaningful reforms, the South African authorities had simply made a carrot stew and eaten it. Under the combined pressures of the seemingly cataclysmic events in South Africa since September 1984 and the dramatic surge of anti-apartheid protest and political activism in the United States, the Reagan Administration was finally embarrassed into brandishing some small sticks as an element of American policy.
      [We’re sorry, but Foreign Affairs does not have the copyright to display this article online.]

      SOURCE – http://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/40525/sanford-j-ungar-and-peter-vale/south-africa-why-constructive-engagement-failed

  12. Donald
    September 10, 2014, 7:41 pm

    They’re decades late with this stuff. At this rate, they’ll start getting serious sometime around 2060.

    • seafoid
      September 11, 2014, 9:11 am

      Israel probably won’t be around by 2060. It needs treatment now.

  13. pabelmont
    September 11, 2014, 8:23 am

    Come on, guys and gals! Don’t be too hard on poor ole J-Street!

    They’ve now said, it appears, that it is OK (or mandatory?) foir the USA to say that the settlements are illegal. Well, yes, and let’s all get on that band-wagon.

    Does J-street hesitate? Sure. Are they caught between a rock and a hard place? Indeed.

    Don’t expect the world from J-Street. Welcome and ally with any statement that the settlements are illegal.

  14. Dan Crowther
    September 11, 2014, 10:21 am

    Whiskey Hotel Oscar Charlie Alpha Romeo Echo Sierra

  15. MSeveral
    September 11, 2014, 2:16 pm

    To get the United States to declare the settlements as “illegal” and not “illigimate” is no small thing. The abandonment by the United States to declaring them “illegal” was the consequences of AIPAC political power and influence. Any discussion to restate the previous policy will trigger a strong response in opposition by AIPAC and the Israeli government. Restating the policy will strengthen the argument that the settlements are illegal by undermining the claim that since United States does not adhere to that, the claim they are illegal is not universally recognized. In order for the settlements to be illegal, the transfer of the Israeli civilian population has to be to occupied territory. Declaring the settlements as illegal means the settlements are on occupied land and not on “disputed” territory as pro-Israel crowd asserts. And if declaring settlements as illegal doesn’t get Israel’s attention, it paves the way to up the anti, and pass a resolution in the Security Council to condemn the settlement enterprise. Dismissing the initial first step as insignificant and irrelevant, and assert that J-Street should press ahead on what will never take place–cutting military assistance to Israel (which I am against cutting because of the valuable military resource it provides my country) is just another example why the Palestine lobby is so ineffective and irrelevant.

  16. Mooser
    September 12, 2014, 12:20 pm

    “Palestine lobby”

    Like the Israel Lobby? Wow, that has got to be the furthest-out equivalency Hasbara I ever seen! Yup, the forces advocating for justice for Palestinians are the moral, legal, monetary, media and ethical equivalent of the Israel Lobby. Or is your intent to spur them to the Sinai-like heights of the Israel Lobby?

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