American Jewry and Israel, unbound

US Politics
on 57 Comments

As we read recently, David Myers, appointed to head the prestigious center for Jewish history, barely managed to dodge a bullet, after suspicions were raised that he may be insufficiently versed in the dominant Zionist discourse. His crime? Mentioning the forbidden word Nakba (without sneering!) and failing to demonize supporters of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS).

This fortunate turn of events came right on the heels of the news that Daniel Biss, a progressive candidate for Illinois governor, had to let go of his selected running mate, Carlos Ramirez-Rosa, after one Brad Schneider, a congressman, withdrew his support. Ramirez-Rosa’s crime? Too progressive when it comes to BDS. Just like that, a congressman throws a little fit and a few days later Biss caves in, so he could remain viable as candidate. And that in a mere primary, in one state, Biss being one of several candidates, all of whom must apparently be certified kosher when it comes to Israel. In the space of a few days, even fairly mild support for BDS was red-lined, and hardly a soul in the so-called progressive left stirred.

So, win one, lose one – no big deal, right? Except that it is a big deal as the rebukes, denunciations and all too often, outright character assassination campaigns inside the Jewish community tend to score more wins than losses, with many cases failing to receive even the minimal public exposure these two events did.

Inspired by the recurrence of such events and the comments casting doubt on just how many American Jews “Organized Jewry” represents, I couldn’t stop thinking of the perils of organizing a little too well for one’s own good. Especially if the much too capable  “organizers”, the ones who likely manage the strings that hold organizations together (be they empowered by elections, traction or acclamation), also deign to send forth representatives purporting to speak on behalf of the great multitude of Jewish Americans, most of whom are neither cognizant of, nor particularly enamored with said representation. The most mutinous among said multitudes may, for example, prefer to be alternatively organized (cf. Jewish Voice for Peace, IfnotNow, etc.) or have no desire to be organized into anything with “Jewish” in its title.

Now, I don’t much care to venture into some fruitless debate about what “organized” means or what “Jewry” implies (though if you must know some of my deeper thoughts on the subject, an addendum, actually, a bit of a satire, is sure to come). Suffice it to say that organized collectives of all sorts are common enough in the American landscape. Americans seem to be quite fond of organizing for just about anything, and the country is kind of diverse – and huge – meaning there are at least as many organizations as there are people, and then some. Naturally, with such a myriad of organizations, there will be quite a variety, not just in size or purpose, but especially in the degree to which they take it upon themselves to act as official or semi-official mouthpiece of an “interest group”. The “interest” may be quite focused (say, the “Cajun Navy”, of recent Hurricane Harvey fame, who were, in fact, amazingly well organized), or the interest may be entirely nebulous, and sometimes even self-conflicting to such an extent as to make one wonder whoever thought they could ever fit under a single umbrella (certain “Interfaith” organizations are a personal favorite!). So we might say that this special entity, the “Organized Jewry” of popular folklore, revolving as it does around a “Jewish” theme, is but an avatar, a euphemism, call it what you will, but in principle no different than any other loosely-branded group which professes to represent them who consent, as well as those who never knew they were supposed to belong to, much less consent to anything “organized”.

Yet, commonalities with other “organized” entities aside, there is actually something quite unique to this “Organized Jewry” collective, something beside the concern for that “Jewish” je ne sais quoi, and/or the power that comes with being “organized”. This uniqueness has to do with the fact that for all intents and purposes (which are not likely to be spelled out in a formal charter), this remarkable entity is itself captured by an interest greater still, one that claims to trump any other representation of anything “Jewish” themed in name or intent.  Specifically, there happens to be a rather small Middle-Eastern country known as Israel, that for whatever reasons (which may ebb and flow with the seasons) also claims to represent all Jews everywhere (not even limited to American ones), organized or otherwise.

To add insult to injury, this sliver of a land stretched along the gorgeous eastern shores of the great Mediterranean sea, further insists upon absolute recognition of itself as The gathering place for The Jews, mostly by virtue of their say so. That includes the ones barely, hardly or somewhat organized, even as most have absolutely no intention of gathering anywhere but where they are already, doing quite well, thank you. It also includes, by implication, even the insufficiently-Jewish, the so-so Jewish (usually just before Passover), and even those Jewish-when-convenient types (say, if one wanted to publish a chick-lit novel, the sudden discovery of a long-forgotten Jewish heritage in both heroine and author could come in handy). Sure, the land allotted for the Great Gathering may be a bit on the smallish side, but it can always be made greater – by hook or by crook – if only enough Jews were to come.

Unfortunately for our “Organized Jewry”, living as it does in diaspora (i.e., those places contained in 99.999% of the planet’s land mass), it and all its members, movers-and-shakers included, are counted among the ones-who-failed-to-gather. As such, they are condemned to servitude as spiritual vassals of the gathered ones, with specified measures of guilt over not-gathering employed as the coin of bondage. Never mind that said self-designated Homeland for all Jews, tiny though it may be, is supposed to be a mere outpost of the mighty American Empire, in whose power structure the Jewish citizenry – both organized and otherwise – is embedded quite nicely, and more often than not, quite profitably too.

A true conundrum, isn’t it, to be a subservient vassal and a power broker at the same time?

Mercifully, a way was found to expiate the guilt over a homeland thus spurned for these exilic, diasporic, Jews, with some extra guilt-bonus thrown in for the many semi-apostates among them, being as the reformist and conservative liturgies followed by most American Jews are not actually recognized as legit Jewish per the homeland’s learned religious authorities. Heck, some might even be considered outright heretics (Unitarians? Palestinian sympathizers? Prophetics?). The recommended recipe for absolving the guilt (partially, at least) over the original sin of not-gathering (of which none can ever be completely freed), is to diligently engage in copious fund raising for the gathered ones, accompanied by further acts of contrition.

So here we have the most interesting case of an “Organized Jewry,” which, in-lieu of gathering over there, gets to gather funds over here, and send the lion’s share over there, preferably free of expectations of accounting for the details of just how the monies are distributed. They are spent, that’s what counts!

One reputable account, no less than The Forward, detailed the over $26 billion that was raised in a single year by Jewish charities, with the lion’s share of it going to Israel-focused concerns. Based on the 3,600 Jewish organizations that filed with the IRS (including 619 that are specifically Israel-focused) this study admittedly did not even account for funds provided separately through independent and/or individual donors (or their foundations), be they endowments provided to institutes of learning, grants to think tanks, sponsorships of media platforms and gifts to a host of worthy causes (save-the-bears? save-the-earth? cure everything?).

Taken together, there is staggering amount of funding provided by both “Organized” and “Unorganized” Jewry to just about every single enterprise or cause that can wield any influence anywhere, whether the influence is exercised or not. And all too often, the power of giving has been tilted – both overtly and covertly – to give Israel substantial protection from narratives deemed “a bit” too critical. (Like BDS in the cases of David Myers and Carlos Ramirez-Rosa). No small amount of the giving funds time-tested PR exercises, the cleverest being the continuous re-branding of what is essentially a colonial up-start enterprise into an enterprising “start-up”.

Indeed, the beauty of a system based on citizen generosity is that it can be weaponized, invisibly so. Private funding can be turned on and off at will, the better to reward recipients for good behavior or punish the errant by the mere threat of turning off the tap.

Naturally, this all fits quite nicely in an American landscape where private donations are the grease that helps almost everything move – or not.  For example, at least one recently published study, provided considerable support to the idea that economic elites and business interests have substantial impacts on U.S. government policy, while average citizens and mass-based interest groups have little or no independent influence (check out the link and try not to cry!). If anything we, the average citizens of an ostensibly democratic country, have been over-estimating our influence on elected institutions big time. No wonder the Republic that is supposed to also be a democracy but isn’t, seems kind of dysfunctional these days (as anything would be if it is mostly of, for and by the 1 percent).

Obviously, there is no reason to suppose that wealthy Jewish individuals and organizations are excluded from the oversized impact of wealth. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s words, issued to a reporter on a recent visit to Israel, resonate most poignantly:

If you look at Jewish history, never has the Jewish community been more influential, more powerful, in the history of the Jewish community in America … And I believe as a Jewish American — I’m an elected official — we are of more influence economically, politically, culturally, than in any other place in the world in world history.

Now, were it only a matter of somewhat disproportionate wealth possessed – and donated – by a particular group that can vaguely be described as “Jewish”, eyebrows might be raised. Though no more than they would be with any other group that uses the combined largess of its members to grease the squeaky wheels of power. Eyebrows might be raised a bit higher when it is pointed out that only a fraction of the collected funds is actually ear-marked to promote specific Jewish-in-America causes.

But the sorry matter of stiffing the local Jewish un-gathered yokels here, in favor of the gathered cool ones out there, is not even the wiggliest fly in the ointment. That honor belongs to the Burdensome Set of Expectations to which this one group, this “Organized Jewry’ in all its presumed prowess, is subjected to. See, not only must it toil to raise inordinate sums every month and every year. Not only is it expected to allot the majority of funds so arduously gathered to causes that benefit the gathered-in-Israel, rather than fund its own self interests like any other respectable interest group (think Big-Anything-needs-more- profit!). No, on top of all that, they must further atone for the sin of not-gathering through strenuous rituals of contrition, some of which may ill serve their very own long term self interests. Said rituals may take the form of tireless lobbying within the halls of power, the corridors of academia and the playgrounds of political power brokers, not just in DC, but in just about every city and every state that matters. This, as we may surmise, involves lots of dining on too-rich foods, much walking about, some very loud whispering (not easy to do!), and plenty of eye-straining reading of laborious policy papers.

All while holding a very large, very heavy umbrella designed to give shade to this one somewhat-ornery land of the gathering.

The outcome of all this toil and trouble is that the mighty US Empire remains hog-tied to its unruly vassal, no matter what the latter does, which means ANYTHING it does, limited neither by rules of international law, nor by acceptable measures of common decency, not even by vague prescriptions of some vaunted Jewish Values (say the ones still varnished with smidgens of “universal” flavoring and/or exotic “humanitarian” spices).

And a tough job it is too.

For when Israel is proven to be an apartheid state for all intents and purposes, our “Organized Jewry” is supposed to be behind it. Define “apartheid”! If Israel were to openly practice ethnic cleansing (as opposed to the creeping kind done now), our “Organized Jewry” would airbrush the worst excesses (just witness the collective silence that greeted the execrable manifesto of ethnic cleansing, advocated by Bezalel Smotrich, a member of Israel’s ruling coalition, which was already endorsed by at least one major Jewish philanthropic enterprise, with nary a reservation). And if Israel were to bomb every structure in Gaza to smithereens, killing not 1000’s but 100’s of 1000’s, most of the “Organized Jewry” would probably rush hither and thither to deflect international criticisms, and some would dig deep to find legalistic and humanistic rationales to “justify” the unjustifiable (OK, some would insert a little sad face on a Facebook to show some “heart”). Indeed, as we saw three years ago when Israel went on its latest rampage in Gaza, “Organized Jewry” hardly blinked. Some even praised the humanity of Israelis as they lamented the “excesses” to which their most moral armed forces were driven by an unreasonably resistant “enemy”.

One suspects that if and when Israel eventually goes entirely theocratic (which it will do, as sure as night follows day), dropping its last pretenses of religious tolerance, perhaps even banishing those pesky Reform and Conservative congregations altogether, “Organized Jewry”, including the many members who track with those denominations, would likely turn the other cheek.

In sum, as much as some hope for the great schism among the ranks of America’s Jewry, in the foreseeable future the more powerful “organized” ones will likely continue to cover (save for a few gentle slaps on the wrist) for an Israel gone mad with messianic zeal, no matter the repercussions to conscience or prestige, nor the estrangement from an increasing number of their young.

And even that is still not all that is expected of this one already over-burdened group!

As yet another ceremonial feature of the guilt-expiating rites (which some might consider to be more of a side-benefit), our “Organized” un-gathered also get to issue well-crafted panoplies of denunciations, dire rebukes, and poison-tipped defamations– You antisemite! — meant to chastise, censure and hound those errant souls who strayed from the permissible parameters of discourse, as sanctioned by the citadel of Zion. The ritual chastisements include prohibitions on say, exposition of heretical concepts such as the Jewish heritage of certain neocons (see the most recent outing and admonishments of Valerie Plame for the crime of re-tweeting a piece by Phil Giraldi, a notorious neocon-basher and a suspected “anti-semite”). Or, for another example, the prohibition on daring to advocate “universal” human rights, perhaps even suggesting that elusive “Justice” measures (long believed to be contained in that mythical concept Tikkun Olam, in Hebrew repairing the world), be stretched enough to include even those meddlesome Palestinians.

As for the forbidden words, “apartheid” and “BDS”, that’s where the sky will really fall down (not recommended for those not fond of Spectacles).  These and similar pronouncements by the unwary must, by definition, result in swift condemnations, solemnly delivered through the upstanding media outlets of record.

Should the perplexed need further guidance for their endeavors, they should read the sermon recently delivered by no less than Israel’s minister of justice (yes, they have such an office), which included the immortal words:

“Zionism should not – and I’m saying here that it will not – continue to bow its head to a system of individual rights interpreted in a universal manner”. 

And what if Ayelet Shaked actually believes, to quote Gideon Levy, that “Israel is built on foundations of injustice and therefore must be defended from the hostile talk of justice”?

It doesn’t matter. Not Smotrich’s repugnant treatise of ethnic cleansing, nor Shaked’s misbegotten words about Zionism and individual rights have caused even a hint of a crisis in Israel-Diaspora relations. If there was a collective groan, I, with my ear pressed to the ground, haven’t heard the faintest echo.

Thus must the great but un-gatherable “Organized Jewry” of lore contort to defend the indefensible and excuse the inexcusable, even as they wrestle with both reason and sense. Thus must this collective bend over backwards en masse, more limber than the best Chinese acrobats, to fashion ever more creative ruses for an increasingly erratic entity in which they have, in fact, no agency, and on whose agenda they have little, if any, influence.

And as recompense for all they do (and a great deal that is, too), their slightly sadistic all-gathered captor continues to revel in fifty shades of white and blue with nary a little grey in between.

Now, one might be tempted to call this arrangement between the Homeland of the in-Jews and the exilic, but organized out-Jews, a Faustian deal. Except it is actually breathtakingly anti-Faustian in both spirit and scope.  Israel calls the shots and gets the dough for its trouble (of having to call the shots. That’s work!). The un-gathered exile-loving Jews get to seek solace in the intricacies of organization, the joys of perpetual collection, disbursement of tributes, and the effort expanded in maintaining supine unquestioning allegiance to a rather ungrateful middle-eastern control junkie that is forever flexing its muscles for more of the same (good exercise!).

At the same time they, the hard-working super-organized ones, get to toil ceaselessly, navigating the tributaries of power and corridors of academia, forever greasing this hand, slapping the other, defaming this, derailing that, urging the other (say, more humanitarian bombing!). Their only seeming reward is to revel in the privilege of issuing well-crafted fatwas against some unruly deviant bandits within and without.

If I didn’t know any better I might be tempted to say that this organized entity, powerful and well-heeled as it seems to be, is actually trapped in the throes of a serious case of Stockholm Syndrome.

How else to explain the meek acceptance of captivity, being locked in a golden cage, festooned with the trappings of wealth and power, yet doomed to spiritual subservience, their efforts taken for granted, their religious rites spurned, their political over-reach held in barely-concealed contempt, and their ranks dwindling as more and more of their young choose the less organized roads to travel, openly pitching for universal this and justice that? One shudders, thinking of this poor little rich captive, shrink-wrapped in layers of cognitive dissonance, as they look forward to a future that promises, basically, more of the same. How they must suffer, our acrobatic lobbyists, our fatwa dispensers, as they contend with but a few scraps of praise, reeling from punishments visited upon their instruments of organization, acuity of judgment, and their mis-interpretations of “Jewish” and/or “Values”. The latter have obviously become too Americanized to conform with the dictates of the Homeland’s enlightened Education minister, one Naftali Bennett, who lately issued these ringing words of wisdom:

We are Jews! It’s not enough to be the Start Up Nation, we must also be the Bible Nation!”

Which brings us – finally – to the reddest of red-lines – BDS.

A politician, an academic, a journalist who is caught having uttered a word of sympathy with this BDS business as either a tactic or a strategy or just as an abstract movement, and/or failed to add suitable words of instant condemnation when the subject arose– well, just ask Biss what that means, even if the association is removed by three degrees of separation. I expect that in the ultimate battle to be waged for ‘icing’ BDS, no turn of convoluted logic will be spared, no torture of truth dodged, no bounds respected in the enactment of this most important of flogging rituals: the demonization of BDS and all its proponents, no matter how weak or circuitous their position. And no, even someone like Norman Finkelstein who is willing to extend BDS “only” to settlements, so as not to upset the apple cart of the “international consensus” two-state “solution”, is not off the hook either. Indeed, his position, while it might have gotten him a couple of apples, hardly bought him the slightest reprieve (Did I miss something? Has he been invited to come back in from the cold yet?).

There are many good reasons that we, who are neither well-gathered nor properly organized, should not delude ourselves that the battle over anti-BDS legislation is over before it has even begun. It took hardly any effort to get 40 senators to sponsor something that is not only unconstitutional, but fraught with dangers to all other forms of free speech. Yes there have been some brave dissents, but imagine what a little more pressure and some finessing of the language of the bill will do to bring a few more on-board.

Seeing what Israel is devolving into, the increasing arrogance and over-confidence of a rogue state that has effectively bent an entire Empire to do its bidding, there is every reason to believe this self-appointed Homeland of the Jews (which has more than enough of the mad among their already-gathered) will continue to pull all the levers of power they can, no matter the consequences.

And there will be consequences. Because at its core, the anti-BDS fight is, in fact turning into a fight against the First Amendment, enshrined in a constitution most American Jews consider sacrosanct.  Indeed, the ACLU and its coterie of capable constitutional lawyers, many of them quite Jewish (albeit differently organized), are licking their chops, looking forward to a mother-lode of all battles. Just the other day, we heard that the small town of Dickinson, Texas, has put its residents and businesses on notice that in order to partake of the help offered in the wake of Hurricane Harvey they, the recipients, who know nothing of Israel, and whose community includes not very many Jewish residents, must foreswear any “boycott” of Israel for the term of the assistance.

In other words, if you want to rebuild Dickinson, Texas, you must first acquit the great land of Israel of any and all blame for misdeeds. Never mind what those might be. If that doesn’t sound kind of “Stalinist” in scope’ and/or Orwellian in intent, I don’t know what does.

This is just the beginning of what’s coming down the pike. This and more. This and worse. Much worse. So I ask: Is this a battle “Organized Jewry” wants to fight? The Bill of Rights vs the State of the soon-to-be-mad gatherers? The right of free speech vs the self-imposed obligation to engage in rituals that make the likes of Shaked and Bennett and Netanyahu the final arbiters of “Jewish Values”?

What about all that Tikkun Olam business, anyway? Should they, our notable if somewhat elusive “Organized Jewry” ever find a spare a moment in the midst of their Herculean labors, they, or at least some of them, might start to wonder what happens when more people across the land (this one), begin to ask, What’s the matter with all this “Organized Jewry” anyways? The question may beget more troublesome questions still. Like, is there such a thing as being too organized? And what does this “Jewry” thing consist of exactly? Or, what other pledges will people in need of help have to sign to get it?

So, I wonder, given the stakes, will enough of “them”, the “organized” ones, find the wherewithal to finally pull their punches? Will they have the cojones to present at last a modicum of resistance to their captor (that overbearing little “homeland” that actually cares little about those who failed-to-gather). One would hope that there are enough among the “Organized Jewry”, who are astute enough to realize that an ill-conceived anti-BDS bill, once out in the open and garnering sufficient support, could potentially blow wide open the tenuous establishment consensus on Israel they have worked so long and hard to maintain.

And once the proscriptions on citizens of states and locales that already instituted anti-BDS prohibitions become more widely known, these may well precipitate an open and bitter rebellion by members of the progressive community, Jewish and not, who already have serious reservations about the unquestioning tributes and cover given to Israel all these years.  One could also hope that even Israel’s staunchest defenders, the ones who stopped at nothing before, including giving offense to the office of the presidency itself, will at last balk at the prospect of embarking on a slope so slippery as to constitute a serious hazard, and not just a moral one. I would like to think that many have already balked at stepping over this one red line, which explains why most Democrats have not jumped on the bandwagon – yet.

Still, there are reasons to worry. Things are not well with the country, and the Empire has entered a steeper decline phase (we already have our Nero!). Declining Empires do strange things, counter-productive ones that merely accelerate the decline (yes, I’ve been reading about Rome lately). Israel’s fortunes are entirely tied in with the fortunes of the Empire, what with the US possibly being the only country willing to give it across-the-board cover. At least for now, Israel still has enough strategic minds that know things will be coming to a head not so long from now, just as some of us do. But as the trends inside Israeli leadership bend sharply towards the religious, collecting ever more zealots along the way, rising to positions of power, the sensible minds are getting chipped away; and in time, we can expect Israel to up the ante.

Strangely, I happen to believe that we could, eventually, find many more allies among that “Organized Jewry”. I sure hope there are more than a few already hardy enough to peer into the darkness ahead, even from their secure establishment perch. Perhaps some will notice that there are flickers of light out there, just beyond the tunnel. Heck, maybe they’ll even notice we have already entered the tunnel.

I take comfort from the fact that there are documented cases of people getting over a Stockholm Syndrome. Maybe collectives can be liberated too, Inshallah.

H/t to Annie Robbins for inspiration

About Danaa Marec

Danaa Marec is the pen-name of a Hungarian-born American scientist. She grew up in Israel and then immigrated to the U.S., in the 1970's in her early 20's. She comments on our site as Danaa.

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57 Responses

  1. pabelmont
    October 26, 2017, 4:33 pm

    Of course organized Jewry does not represent a lot of Jews. But they don’t care, What they do represent is Jews willing to spend serious money on politics. Say, 1% of Jews (as a tail) wagging 1% of Americans (as the dog being wagged).

    Maybe all the young Jews who don’t care about Israel (or who do care and join JVP, etc.) could persuade their parents to quit the Zionist collective; you know, like people who “come out” have often persuaded their parents and friends to lay aside anti-gay ideology.

    • Mooser
      October 27, 2017, 2:02 pm

      “Maybe all the young Jews who don’t care about Israel (or who do care and join JVP, etc.) could persuade their parents to quit the Zionist collective; you know,”

      Not sure that would be a good strategy for a battle of wills.

  2. Jerry Hirsch
    October 26, 2017, 7:42 pm

    Mondoweiss appears to be censoring posts on it’s Facebook page. Not exactly the action we would expect of a group that claims to stand for honesty and a diversity of opinion.

    Let’s see if this comment gets deleted too.

    Why Norman Finkelstein believes the BDS movement is dishonest.

    “I’ve earned my right to speak my mind, and I’m not going to tolerate what I think is silliness, childishness, and a lot of leftist posturing.

    I mean we have to be honest, and I loathe the disingenuous. They don’t want Israel. They think they are being very clever; they call it their three-tier. We want the end of the occupation, the right of return, and we want equal rights for Arabs in Israel. And they think they are very clever because they know the result of implementing all three is what, what is the result? 

    You know and I know what the result is. There’s no Israel! And if you don’t want the same framework then stop talking about the law and stop trying to be so clever. Because you’re only so clever in your cult. The moment you step out you have to deal with Israeli propaganda. And here they have a case.

    They say no they’re not really talking about rights. They’re talking about they want to destroy Israel. And in act I think they’re right I think that’s true. I’m not going to lie. But this kind of duplicity and disingenuous, “oh we’re agnostic about Israel.” No you’re not agnostic! You don’t want it! Then just say it! But they know full well: If you say it you don’t have a prayer reaching a broad public. Because that’s where the public is right now.”

    Short video

    https://youtu.be/iggdO7C70P8

    Long video

    https://youtu.be/M7RWb24VKhA

    • Keith
      October 26, 2017, 9:25 pm

      JERRY HIRSCH- (Norman quote): “You know and I know what the result is. There’s no Israel!”

      I like Norman, but this statement is false. The result would be that Israel would (nominally) become a state of its citizens rather than a Jewish state. And stating that Israel becoming a state of ALL of its citizens is the same as “no Israel” is bogus. It implies some sort of destruction of Israel. There is no reason that Israel has to be a Jewish state and making it a state of all of its citizens is not tantamount to its destruction which Norman’s dishonest phraseology implies.

      Having said that, I have come to believe that BDS should have focused on shorter range objectives such as ending the blockade of Gaza and stopping Israel’s arbitrary violence against the Palestinians, worthy goals much more achievable than challenging the Jewish state feature of Israel.

      • Jerry Hirsch
        October 27, 2017, 12:00 am

        Keith, Noam Chomsky also considers the third demand by the BDS movement it’s fatal flaw.

        Noam Chomsky on BDS

        “The opening call of the BDS movement, by a group of Palestinian intellectuals in 2005, demanded that Israel fully comply with international law by “(1) Ending its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands occupied in June 1967 and dismantling the Wall; (2) Recognizing the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality; and (3) Respecting, protecting, and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN Resolution 194.”

        This call received considerable attention, and deservedly so. But if we’re concerned about the fate of the victims, BD and other tactics have to be carefully thought through and evaluated in terms of their likely consequences. The pursuit of (1) in the above list makes good sense: it has a clear objective and is readily understood by its target audience in the West, which is why the many initiatives guided by (1) have been quite successful—not only in “punishing” Israel, but also in stimulating other forms of opposition to the occupation and US support for it.

        However, this is not the case for (3). While there is near-universal international support for (1), there is virtually no meaningful support for (3) beyond the BDS movement itself. Nor is (3) dictated by international law. The text of UN General Assembly Resolution 194 is conditional, and in any event it is a recommendation, without the legal force of the Security Council resolutions that Israel regularly violates. Insistence on (3) is a virtual guarantee of failure.”

        https://www.thenation.com/article/israel-palestine-and-bds/

        Even Finkelstein agrees that Israel has the legal right to exist under International law. To flood their country with possibly millions of refugees and their descendents would dramatically alter it’s Jewish character and in effect obliterate their right of self determination in their indigenous homeland.

        You will probably respond by saying, what about the Palestinian’s right of self determination, and I will answer, they are indigenous to the Arabian Peninsula. Let them return to their native homeland. The base from which the Arab expansion began in the seventh century A.D.

        https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Siege_of_Jerusalem_(636–637)

        https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arabs

      • Annie Robbins
        October 28, 2017, 5:43 pm

        Even Finkelstein agrees that Israel has the legal right to exist under International law.

        that’s sort of a moot point since they’ve been violating international law since they came into existence. they abhor international law. the whole “right to exist” is a boondoggle with distinct purposes of diversion and confusion and cover up for what they are doing which is to guarantee palestine will be totally obliterated – wiped from existence. they even claim palestinians do not exist. there simply is no such “right of existence” — formalized or otherwise. but only educated people know that. others, they hear about it over and over and assume it’s there. something either exists or it doesn’t.

        these demands to recognize israel as a jewish state or right to exist while israel goes on bulldozing and killing its way through palestine — all the while whining about their so called rights. personally i think the days of make believe narratives (which the nation fed off of for the first decades of its existence) favoring israel are over. the masses are not on israel’s side anymore and you’d have to have a few generations of no internet to ever see that turn around. as a rule, colonization is not popular.

      • Nathan
        October 27, 2017, 8:05 am

        Keith – Norman Finkelstein’s criticism of BDS is absolutely correct. In order to try and reach a wide public, the BDS cannot state clearly that the intention is the demise of Israel. This is true of all the anti-Israel activism nowadays (including Mondoweiss): No one comes out and says in clear words that Israel should not exist. But that is the intention.

        What you are saying in your comment is that after ending the Jewish state, the state that will replace it might also be called Israel – and, therefore, Israel will continue to exist. And, if Israel continues to exist, then one cannot claim that BDS is aiming at the destruction of Israel. However, the ending of Jewish state is the same as the demise of Israel, and Norman Finkelstein is right that the BDS should be honest and declare that this is the intention.

        You might find it interesting to learn that “Israel” is the name of the Jewish people, both in Arabic and in Hebrew. So, if you imagine that after ending the Jewish state the new state that will replace it might also be called Israel, then you are totally detached from reality. The Arabic-speaking public will never agree that the state be called Israel. With the demise of the Jewish state, even the name of the state would also have to go. At best it is naivete to maintain that Israel would continue to exist (even nominally) after the demise of the Jewish state; and, at worse, it is trickiness meant to mislead the public.

      • eljay
        October 27, 2017, 12:04 pm

        || Nathan: … if Israel continues to exist, then one cannot claim that BDS is aiming at the destruction of Israel. However, the ending of Jewish state is the same as the demise of Israel … ||

        No state has a right to exist as a supremacist construct of any kind. “Jewish State” is a religion-supremacist construct. It has no right to exist.

        The end of “Jewish State” does not necessarily mean the end of Israel, but it should mean the beginning of a secular and democratic (S&D) Israel of and for all of its Israeli citizen, immigrants, expats and refugees (CIERs), equally. This is a good thing.

        If the CIERs of S&D Israel choose democratically to merge with not-Israel and form a new S&D entity of and for all of its CIERs, that’s an act of legitimate self-determination (unlike Zionism’s fraudulent “self-determination”). This is also a good thing.

      • Keith
        October 27, 2017, 2:29 pm

        JERRY HIRSCH- “Even Finkelstein agrees that Israel has the legal right to exist under International law.”

        So did South Africa under apartheid. Israel also has the right and obligation to end discrimination and abuse of the non-Jewish Palestinian population. And like South Africa, ending legal discrimination and practices won’t cause Israel to disappear.

        JERRY HIRSCH- “To flood their country with possibly millions of refugees and their descendents would dramatically alter it’s Jewish character and in effect obliterate their right of self determination in their indigenous homeland.”

        There is a lot of BS in that one sentence. If you read my comment, you will notice that I think it a mistake to focus on the PRINCIPLE of the right of return rather than focusing on the human rights abuses. Right of self determination? That much abused phrase was originally intended to emphasize the right of colonized peoples to throw off the yoke of Western imperialism. It is hardly intended as a justification for the colonization of foreign lands by retrograde Europeans. Indigenous homeland? The indigenous are the Palestinians, not the Ashkenazi invaders.

        What is all of this to you, Jerry? Why this dishonest defense of the indefensible? What do you get out of it? Being a member of a powerful group? What? Does your intellectual integrity mean so little to you?

      • Keith
        October 27, 2017, 2:48 pm

        NATHAN- ” However, the ending of Jewish state is the same as the demise of Israel, and Norman Finkelstein is right that the BDS should be honest and declare that this is the intention.”

        Did ending legal apartheid cause the demise of South Africa? No! The transnational corporations and SA oligarchs still run the place in a form of neo-apartheid. And if the Israelis were rational, they would have pulled a South African flim-flam long ago. Three problems. They would lose their enemy and they need an enemy, the religious nuts would go berzerk, and American Zionist Jews would likely stop supporting a peaceful Israel.

        NATHAN- “The Arabic-speaking public will never agree that the state be called Israel.”

        Put them to the test. Agree to make Israel a state of all of its citizens with no Jewish “right of return” if you can keep the name “Israel.” See what happens. Equal rights, Nathan, equal rights!

      • MHughes976
        October 27, 2017, 3:22 pm

        I don’t speak for BDS but many of us want reform of the existing situation in Palestine/Israel to the extent that no Palestinians are denied their rights. Reform does not imply the destruction of anyone involved in the process but it’s true that reform in all cases implies the end or death of some existing thing. But that cannot mean that reform is an inherently destructive, rather than a sometimes life-giving, process.

      • Mooser
        October 27, 2017, 5:31 pm

        “Even Finkelstein agrees that Israel has the legal right to exist under International law.”

        As if somehow the mere ‘right to exist’ guarantees the resources and conditions necessary for the state to exist? It doesn’t.

      • RoHa
        October 28, 2017, 6:48 am

        ” That much abused phrase was originally intended to emphasize the right of colonized peoples to throw off the yoke of Western imperialism.”

        I am under the impression that it was originally cooked up to destroy the Austro-Hungarian Empire, but then the evil Americans started using to destroy the British Empire and other empires that could be competition for the US.

      • RoHa
        October 28, 2017, 7:00 am

        “it’s true that reform in all cases implies the end or death of some existing thing. But that cannot mean that reform is an inherently destructive, rather than a sometimes life-giving, process.”

        I am not happy with the use of “death” as a metaphor for the end of an institution. The term is loaded with connotations that should not be applied to the situation.

      • Keith
        October 28, 2017, 11:08 am

        ROHA- “I am not happy with the use of “death” as a metaphor for the end of an institution. The term is loaded with connotations that should not be applied to the situation.”

        I agree completely and that was the point of my initial comment. Finkelstein is using misleading and innappropriate terminology. BDS isn’t looking to destroy Israel, rather BDS seeks to transform Israel, and rightly so. It is the Zionists who are the destroyers, who literally destroyed villages and sought to erase Palestinian history. And all of this whining about destroying Israel and throwing Jews into the sea strikes me as a form of projection. It mirrors what the Zionists did and continue to do to the Palestinians.

      • Annie Robbins
        October 28, 2017, 12:09 pm

        strikes me as a form of projection.

        me too, and by design. pr people, and people like frank luntz, that’s what they do. like the twisted claim removing the settlers is ethnic cleansing. that was constructed by luntz in 08-09 (as his “best settlement argument http://www.newsweek.com/how-sell-americans-israeli-settlements-81783) and more recently echoed by netanyahu.

        https://books.google.com/books?id=fn69wddQzx4C&pg=PA44&lpg=PA44&dq=strikes+me+as+a+form+of+projection.&source=bl&ots=ieQuRTNtXW&sig=4sx6qFukvVXkbRVHjN0FDT36OtI&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjFnJ7N1pPXAhUHslQKHXKPCKAQ6AEIKTAB#v=onepage&q=strikes%20me%20as%20a%20form%20of%20projection.&f=false

        to create emotional pressures to draw the object into compliance with the projection and to reinforce it

        btw, i do not equate finkelstein w/luntz nor intend to suggest any similar motivation. but once you start owning the language others become accustomed to it “emotional pressures to draw the object into compliance” which reinforces it.

      • Citizen
        October 28, 2017, 4:24 pm

        @ Annie
        I agree with you.

      • Annie Robbins
        October 28, 2017, 5:24 pm

        thanks citizen

      • MHughes976
        October 29, 2017, 12:24 pm

        I understand RoHa’s and Keith’s uneasiness about change as ‘the death of what has gone before’. I was following a respected source, Lucretius I 670-1 ‘Nam quodcumque suis mutatum finibus exit Continuo hoc mors est illius quod fuit ante’. I see, on looking again at the context, that I may have been somewhat misusing the great man’s words, which are also about the survival, rather than the death, of things participating in change. But it could be argued that serious political change is always exitus e finibus, a departure from certain hitherto fixed and important boundaries: death and new life.

      • RoHa
        October 30, 2017, 8:09 am

        @MHughes.

        Well, if you are going to consort with Epicureans, you have to expect that sort of thing.

      • echinococcus
        November 2, 2017, 11:43 pm

        Hirsch,

        Even Finkelstein agrees that Israel has the legal right to exist under International law.

        Well then, Finkelstein is totally wrong there.
        The existence of the Zionist entity is the most blatant violation of international law in the 20th Century. It is a rape of all international or arrangements, especially the very Charter of the UN by the colonial powers.
        There was never any right to invade, occuupy, “partition” Palestine. So stop bullshitting. With all the affection and respect I have for Finkelstein, he should stop bullshitting too.

        As for BDS, there is no need for a BDS official organization based in Palestine under the rule of the Zionist military and its puppet administration and managed by zympathisers if you intend to boycott and organize support actions. I’ve been boycotting since before 1960 and others since 1948, without any need for a separate boycott organization. Of course an organization dedicated to boycott within the movement to support Palestinian resistance comes handy but it’s not an absolute necessity, the major point being that it should be used by everyone.

        All that talk about clear goals for a boycott is plain bunkum.
        Every supporter of Palestinian resistance has hisher own goals for boycotting. Even enemies of the Palestinian people do boycott. End goals are meaningless here, important is that you boycott and by that action educate the wider public.

        What is important to note is that some Zionist bandits themselves, mortal of the Palestinian people, also participate in “BDS” with the goal of securing a foothold for the Zionist invaders, of spreading the nonsense that there is an initial “legitimate” invasion and occupation. That’s what the BDS participation by “liberal” Zionists for post-1967 occupation only tells you.

        I will stop boycotting when the Zionist colonial invaders evacuate Palestine, you may stop whenever you feel you are satisfied, Zionists will use it to legitimize pre-1967 invasion and genocide, etc.

        The only important thing here is to keep Zionists and their zympathizers far away from the direction of a movement that is so useful in educating the Western public about Zionism and convincing them to try withdrawing their Govt’s support to the Zionist entity.

    • Misterioso
      October 27, 2017, 11:13 am

      You discuss the opinions of Norman Finkelstein and Noam Chomsky regarding Palestinian refugees’ Right of Return, but conspicuous by its absence is any reference to the views of the Palestinian leadership. 

      For the record:
      In 2002, PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat declared he favoured a compromise on the Palestinian refugees’ Right of Return: “In addition, we seek a fair and just solution to the plight of Palestinian refugees who for 54 years have not been permitted to return to their homes. We understand Israel’s demographic concerns and understand that the right of return of Palestinian refugees, a right guaranteed under international law and United Nations Resolution 194, must be implemented in a way that takes into account such concerns.” (New York Times, February 3, 2002)

      The PLO also agreed to the US/EU/UN supported 2002 Arab League Beirut Summit Peace Initiative, which offers Israel full recognition as a sovereign state (per UNSC Res. 242, i.e., within its June 4/67 boundaries with possible minor, equal and mutually agreed land swaps), exchange of ambassadors, trade, tourism, etc., if Israel complies with international law and its previous commitments. Fully aware of Israel’s demographic concerns, the Beirut initiative does not demand the return of all Palestinian refugees. In accordance with Israel’s pledge given to the UNGA in 1949 and by signing the 1949 Lausanne Peace Conference Protocol to abide by UNGA Res. 194 (which is based on The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, binding on all UN members) regarding the then 800,000 Palestinian refugees as a precondition for admittance to the UN (after being rejected twice), the Arab League’s Initiative “calls upon Israel to affirm” that it agrees to help pursue the “achievement of a just solution to the Palestinian refugee problem…”  

      Regrettably, then Israeli PM Ariel Sharon summarily dismissed the Arab League’s peace overture..

      Along with all Arab states and the PLO, Hezbollah and Iran have also accepted the Arab League’s 2002 Beirut Summit Peace Initiative. (In its revised Charter, April, 2017, Hamas agreed to a Palestinian state based on the 4 June 1967 borders. Not surprisingly, Israel promptly rejected the Hamas overture instead of using it to open a dialogue.)

      Indeed, Israel’s response to every peace overture from the Palestinians and Arab states has been an escalation in collective punishments, confiscation of Palestinian land and the illegal construction of Jewish settlements in occupied Palestinian (and other Arab) lands.

      It should also be noted that surveys of Palestinian refugees indicate (for what should be obvious reasons) that few desire to return to what is now Israel, i.e., west of the green line.   Indeed the vast majority, in accordance with Paragraph 11 of Resolution 194, would agree to accept financial compensation in lieu of return.  

      Resolution 194, Paragraph 11:
      “Resolves that the refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbors should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date, and that compensation should be paid for the property of those choosing not to return and for loss of or damage to property which, under principles of international law or in equity, should be made good by the Governments or authorities responsible;”

    • Mooser
      October 27, 2017, 11:47 am

      “jerry” please learn the difference between being moderated and being “censored”.

      Unless, of course, you are intent on displaying entitlement.

    • DaBakr
      October 27, 2017, 4:56 pm

      @h

      Whatever you think of MW- I do not believe they intentionally censor pro Zionist commentary. Sometimes a moderator defines something incorrectly or more narrowly then a commenter might think but in the broader picture, they do not moderate heavily. Just my opinion.

      • Mooser
        October 27, 2017, 5:19 pm

        ” I do not believe they intentionally censor pro Zionist commentary.”

        Most of the time the Zionists just forget to click “Post Comment” when they are done.

    • Mooser
      October 27, 2017, 5:52 pm

      “Let’s see if this comment gets deleted too.” “Jerry”

      Well, it didn’t get deleted, did it? So it’s probably another one of those pro-Zionist posts which end up doing Zionism more harm than good. They never get deleted.

  3. Keith
    October 26, 2017, 8:03 pm

    DANAA- ” In the space of a few days, even fairly mild support for BDS was red-lined, and hardly a soul in the so-called progressive left stirred.”

    The reality is that Zionist Jews effectively control the Democratic Party and are almost as strong in the Republican Party. Let me quote myself from December 2016 when I discussed this and quoted and linked to Jim Kavanagh regarding Jewish Zionist control over even local California Democratic Party politics.

    “Organized Jewish campaign contributions account for over 50% of the Democratic Party funding. If fat-cat Jewish Zionists withdrew their financial support, the Democratic Party would soon become a powerless Third Party. Support for Israel has become so ingrained in the Democratic Party as to be virtually automatic. I repeat a previous quote and link about how Tom Hayden had to curry Jewish approval to even run as a Democrat for the California State Government.”

    “In other words, in this article Hayden was describing, in an unusually concrete way, how the state of Israel, through its state officials and their compliant American partners, was effectively managing—exercising veto power over Democratic Party candidates, at the very least—American elections down to the level of State Assembly. In any constituency “attuned to the question of Israel, even in local and state elections,” Hayden knew he “had to be certified ‘kosher,’ not once but over and over again.” (Jim Kavanagh) (12/2/16) (http://www.counterpunch.org/2016/10/27/tom-haydens-haunting/

    • JWalters
      October 26, 2017, 9:06 pm

      Let the Zionists put their money into an Israel party. See how far that get’s them. If the Democratic party divested itself from Israel and explained why, they would become the people’s party again, and would do VERY well. As it is, the Democratic party is the Israel patsy.

      • Keith
        October 26, 2017, 9:34 pm

        JWALTERS- “If the Democratic party divested itself from Israel and explained why, they would become the people’s party again, and would do VERY well.”

        Dream on. With no money and a hostile Zionist controlled media, they would sink like a rock. People’s party? You mean the Greens?

  4. Annie Robbins
    October 26, 2017, 8:05 pm

    touche! awesome essay danaa!

  5. Maghlawatan
    October 26, 2017, 8:56 pm

    Wallahi

    “If you look at Jewish history, never has the Jewish community been more influential, more powerful, in the history of the Jewish community in America … And I believe as a Jewish American — I’m an elected official — we are of more influence economically, politically, culturally, than in any other place in the world in world history.”

    Mean reversion hurts.

    Zionism needs to replace every dead Boomer fanatic with a rabid 18 year old. And that is not happening .

    Things fall apart. Ya’ni.

    Systems based on justice tend to be more stable. That is the lesson of hatorah. That is what Hillel says.

    https://youtu.be/G6ajuhikl7A

    • Citizen
      October 28, 2017, 4:39 pm

      Yes, Hillel represents the ethical, non-bigoted stream of Jewish heart and mind.

  6. Keith
    October 26, 2017, 9:04 pm

    DANAA- “How else to explain the meek acceptance of captivity, being locked in a golden cage, festooned with the trappings of wealth and power, yet doomed to spiritual subservience….”

    There is a lot in your post, a lot I agree with, however, I don’t see American Zionist Jews as subservient to Israeli whims, rather, I see Israel as an instrument of Jewish Zionist power. Remember, Zionism began and developed as a project of the Jewish elites, such as the Rothschilds, not the mass of Jews who desired assimilation. It was only after the Holocaust that the Zionists were able to take control of organized American Jewry. Israel Shahak considered Zionism as a throwback to Classical (medieval) Judaism, albeit in secular form. It was/is an attempt to reestablish a loose form of Jewish tribalism (kinship) as a vehicle for Jewish Zionist power seeking. And it has been very successful. And don’t kid yourself that the American Jewish fat-cats who supplied over 90% of Netanyahu’s campaign funding dance to Israel’s tune. Israel’s militaristic behavior is in no small measure exactly what American Jewish Zionists want. I leave you with a quote from Norman Finkelstein.

    “Only an Israeli Sparta beholden to American power would do, because only then could US Jewish leaders act as spokesmen for American imperial ambitions.” (p24, “The Holocaust Industry,” Norman Finkelstein)

    • Danaa
      October 27, 2017, 3:40 am

      Keith, I was kind of trying to do justice to the israeli viewpoint here, which basically views Jewish Americans as “freyers”, ie, suckers. There is little respect from that part of the woods even for them who give the biggest bucks. That’s just they way it is.

      Naturally, from the Jewish American viewpoint, they may well see things differently, and perhaps they even believe themselves to be in control. My point was that they are not. They are the tail that wags the dog. Where Israel goes they have little say over (yes, I know that many of the settlers hail from the great US of A, but once they are in israel, they do whatever they please, no matter how it might affect the ones “left behind”). As a result, I believe there are many Jewish Americans, including those who are various levels of zionist, who may cringe, just a little, at the kind of country israel is becoming.

      There is a reason I generally stayed away from the word “zionist” It’s a different lens through which to view things. Not that I disagree with what you say, or with Israel Shahak in this context.

      An aside: there are those in israel who will also disagree with my take. Many there believe that American money has a corrupting influence on Israeli politics, and yes, they point to the support Netanyahoo got as a specific example.

      Point is, the relationship between Israel and its primary supporters in the US is like a distorted prism. Depending which angle you view it from the picture may be different. But my main point remains – no matter which angle you choose, israelis, on the whole have a dim view of most American jews, including the richest of the rich (whom they kind of despise all the more). That attitude of barely concealed contempt is true even for the settlers who just yesterday were American citizens themselves. Doesn’t take long to take on the Israeli attitude, which pretty much looks down on everyone else out there. Whether they fear them or not.

      Yet another angle is how much Israelis actually worry about losing the support of America, including the new generation of Jewish Americans. They really do lose sleep over that. Yet strangely for the most part they won’t process that their own arrogance may eventually beget the very estrangement they fear.

      • Keith
        October 27, 2017, 4:22 pm

        DANAA- “Keith, I was kind of trying to do justice to the israeli viewpoint here, which basically views Jewish Americans as “freyers”, ie, suckers.”

        That may well be the viewpoint of the Israeli 99%, however, that viewpoint has been cultivated by the Israeli 1% and doesn’t reflect reality. Netanyahu is a perfect example of an Israeli politician who benefitted by assuring the voters that he could control Uncle Sam. The reality is a complex relationship between Israeli Jewish elites, American Zionist Jewish elites, and American non-Jewish elites, all of whom are jockeying for power within the American transnational corporate/financial empire. Israeli public opinion notwithstanding, I believe that the core of Jewish Zionist power is in the US, not Israel. This is an immensly powerful group of individuals and organizations and I can’t imagine Israeli elites having very much leaverage over them.

        To provide a little historical perspective, it should be noted that in 1996 a group of neocons led by Richard Perle prepared a study for Netanyahu titled “A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm.” Little discussed were the economic recommendations which follow:

        “As outlined in another Institute report, Israel can become self-reliant only by, in a bold stroke rather than in increments, liberalizing its economy, cutting taxes, relegislating a free-processing zone, and selling-off public lands and enterprises — moves which will electrify and find support from a broad bipartisan spectrum of key pro-Israeli Congressional leaders, including Speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich.” http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article1438.htm

        In short, the neocons were recommending to fellow neocon Netanyahu that he pursue neoliberalism, which he and succeeding governments did with the predictable results. Yet another example of the incestuous relationship between Israeli Zionists and American Jewish Zionists. Some Israelis may well object to the undue influence of the American Jewish lobby on Israeli politics.

        And then there is this: “Israel is dependent on the United States as no other country is on a friendly power…. Israel sees in intransigence the sole hope for preserving its dignity in a one-sided relationship. It feels instinctively that one admission of weakness, one concession granted without a struggle, will lead to an endless catalogue of demands…. And yet Israel’s obstinacy, maddening as it can be, serves the purpose of both our countries best. A subservient client would soon face an accumulation of ever-growing pressures. It would tempt Israel’s neighbors to escalate their demands. It would saddle us with the opprobrium for every deadlock.” (Henry Kissinger, quoted in “Straight Power Concepts in the Middle East” by Gregory Harms)

        I conclude with a quote from Joel Kovel concerning Zionism as an instrument of Jewish power: “Zionism is Jewish power- worldly and state power: military, economic, and ideological, too. It is the power, which to paraphrase Thomas Hobbes, is the “capacity to give names and enforce definitions,” including the definition that collapses the meaning of Jewishness into the support of Israel….” (p133, “Overcoming Zionism”, Joel Kovel)

  7. Maghlawatan
    October 26, 2017, 9:18 pm

    Gosh. The bots are putting huge efforts into fighting BDS. Justice is so scary.

  8. Bumblebye
    October 26, 2017, 9:45 pm

    Norman Finkelstein’s been expending his energies in another direction lately – and getting locked up for doing so. He’s posted about it.

  9. JosephA
    October 27, 2017, 1:07 am

    Wonderful article, well stated.

  10. Philip Weiss
    October 27, 2017, 9:30 am

    Agreed, wonderful. And excellent annotation by Dana in the comments.

  11. Mooser
    October 27, 2017, 11:55 am

    “And a tough job it is too.”

    I have to wonder if ordinary people are up to the job. Perhaps Judaism should be entirely composed of leaders, jettisoning the dead weight of ordinary followers.

    • Citizen
      October 28, 2017, 4:46 pm

      Gee, I thought that was what being Jewish meant, Mooser. Two Jews, three opinions, etc?

    • Mooser
      October 29, 2017, 1:34 pm

      “Two Jews, three opinions, etc?”

      Exactly. One opinion for him, another one for the other guy, and a third one useful as a pretense for everybody else.

  12. David Plimpton
    October 27, 2017, 2:17 pm

    Folks, welcome to the real world of negotiation. Goodness, how many angels can dance . . .?

    Right of return is a legitimate issue, but that doesn’t mean BDS and the Palestinians wouldn’t negotiate a resolution that preserved the State of Israel, even it wasn’t everything and every piece of territory they demanded. Every meaningful negotiation starts with demands and rhetoric by all sides beyond what is reasonable.

    Of course, no negotiation (other than this two state, recognize Israel’s right to exist, Palestine totally capitulate charade) can occur now because of the uneven playing field created by no Palestinian political leadership that has the interests of the Palestinian people at heart and, most important, the Israel Lobby’s control over U.S. leadership, so that Israel (and the settlers and military) get massive financial and political support from the U.S. and the Israel Lobby, so they can pursue their predatory aggression, occupation, and apartheid and don’t have to come to the table in any meaningful way.

    If that support gets taken away, though unlikely, that’s when Israel will come to the table, because then the whole world would be against Israel and that’s the ONLY WAY they could then survive.

  13. john douglas
    October 27, 2017, 2:51 pm

    JERRY: “You will probably respond by saying, what about the Palestinian’s right of self determination, and I will answer, they are indigenous to the Arabian Peninsula. Let them return to their native homeland. The base from which the Arab expansion began in the seventh century A.D.”

    What utter nonsense. Taking the mythological tales of the Tanakh as serious history, where would Jerry have the Jewish people, from Israel and Brooklyn, return to (paraphrasing), “… they are the indigenous people of of Ur (Abram’s home town) … Let them return to their native homeland (Kuwait). The base from which the Jewish expansion began in 1900 BCE.”

    • Danaa
      October 28, 2017, 12:44 am

      where would Jerry have the Jewish people, from Israel and Brooklyn, return to (paraphrasing), “… they are the indigenous people of of Ur (Abram’s home town) … Let them return to their native homeland (Kuwait). The base from which the Jewish expansion began in 1900 BCE.”

      Cute. I like. Didn’t think about that one. I mean, this kind of heritage (and as we know the Tanakh is proof enough. Just ask the Christian zionists!) should give the modern day Israelites a serious stake in Kuweit’s oil.

      BTW, are you sure that’s where Ur Kasdim was? I thought there was some controversy about the exact location (I mean, it’s not like the bible provided the GPS coordinates).

    • Annie Robbins
      October 28, 2017, 5:52 pm

      i thought Ur was in iraq.

      • gamal
        October 28, 2017, 5:54 pm

        “i thought Ur was in iraq”

        As is Kuwait.

      • Annie Robbins
        October 28, 2017, 6:25 pm

        true, but kuwait is not sumer.

      • gamal
        October 29, 2017, 11:45 am

        “but kuwait is not sumer”

        you are right but I couldn’t resist mounting my own little invasion,

        in 1972 the first and best Kuwaiti film was made, before Arabs were forbidden speech, I saw it as a kid, made me think. , Kuwait used to be a poor rough place, as the film recounts, The Sabahs are a brutal bunch but they are from a brutal class.

        Bas ya Bahr (enough sea!) but The Cruel Sea is the English title

        “The first feature film to be made by the state of Kuwait. It is a period piece about Kuwait before the discovery of oil when fishing was the predominant occupation.

        Bas Ya Bahr is the story of a crippled pearl diver who forbids his son Mussaid to go to sea to dive for pearls. Mussaid’s father got the ‘bends’ after resurfacing too fast during a shark attack on his boat. However, the boy cannot see any other way to make enough money to marry Nura, his beloved. Nura is the daughter of a merchant who wants her to marry off for money. Finally, his father gives Mussaid permission to go to sea and even gives him his special black diving suit.

        Mussaid then works with the man to whom his father owes money. While Mussaid is away, Nura is forced by her family to marry a rich, older suitor. During his last dive Mussaid puts his hand inside a huge clam which closes on it. Mussaid is gasping for air and his friend has to amputate his arm in order to ‘rescue’ him.

        However Mussaid was dead long before he was brought to the boat. Nura meanwhile is raped by her husband on her wedding night. Mussaid’s best friend looks through his cache of oysters and gradually starts opening all of them. Finally when he gets to the last one he finds a huge pearl inside. Maybe Mussaid’s death will not be in vain if he can give this to Mussaid’s family. When the boat reaches Kuwait, Mussaid’s mother is welcomed by the dead body of her son and his prize – the pearl – for which he lost his life. The mother stares at the sea with unbridled rage and flings the pearl into it uttering the phrase: “Bas ya bahr” (enough oh sea)!”

      • Mooser
        October 29, 2017, 1:40 pm

        ” Mussaid’s father got the ‘bends’ after resurfacing too fast during a shark attack on his boat.”

        Most unfortunate. He should have studied the NAUI chart.

      • RoHa
        October 29, 2017, 8:10 pm

        I remember “The Cruel Sea”. It starred Jack Hawkins and Donald Sinden, and it was about the Royal Navy hunting U-boats.

      • gamal
        October 30, 2017, 7:48 am

        I remember “The Cruel Sea”,

        Yes great old war movie.

        I am so lazy but I saw bas ya bahr, oh god, once more than 45 years ago but still remember the synopsis is very poor, the film is about our complicity,

        The Boy is brought to the boat alive, early on, he is wounded but no amputation, but in the searing heat if he is not taken to shore he will die, you know like in the tropics a scratch can kill you if don’t look after it.

        The captain has invested money in the trip, everyone knows, including Mussaids friend, just as the girl is sold off, the rape scene which is not in anyway prurient there is no flesh is truly awful, but no one helped her everyone just goes along, on the boat everyone including the boy just soldier on not remarking the brewing catastrophe as the boy lapses in to fever and death over days

        when the mother flings the pearl it is into the face of all the authority structures that rule our brutal degrading modern Arab world, the pearl in the sea is kind of welcome the new boss same as the old boss moment,

        what you expect Arabs are very fatalistic you know and as Al-Nawwab said not one of us is free of defilement, not easy being green.

  14. Stogumber
    October 27, 2017, 9:26 pm

    Well, BDS is an obvious case of discrimination. So it is rightly forbidden by anti-discrimination laws.
    Of course, conservative critics have told you from the beginning, that anti-discrimination laws destroy the First Amendment rights. And that is what is just happening now.
    I wonder how the ACLU and Liberals in general will resolve this self-inflicted dilemma.

    • Annie Robbins
      October 27, 2017, 10:25 pm

      for the most part our society already discriminates against criminals and criminal activity. so by your definition, being anti criminal would be destructive to 1st amendment rights.

      and i have no dilemma regarding bds, hence there’s nothing i need to resolve about my support for it.

    • Mooser
      October 28, 2017, 4:43 pm

      “Well, BDS is an obvious case of discrimination.”

      Gosh, “Stopgomer”, you must have been beside yourself with righteous indignation during the Apartheid South Africa boycotts.

    • Citizen
      October 28, 2017, 5:17 pm

      @Stogumber: Please clarify your definition of odious “discrimination” as distinguished from “OK discrimination”, Ok? Bear in mind the law always discriminates.

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