Trending Topics:

Commenter Profile

Total number of comments: 385 (since 2010-06-26 18:54:32)


have a US citizen's obligatory interest in "the question of Palestine". See


Showing comments 385 - 301

  • Hitchhiking to Treblinka
  • You can no more be a socialist Zionist than you can be a meat-eating vegan
    • I think this book also covers the link between the German ostmark settlement and the WZO. I haven't read it

    • Shafir notes a kvutza called Degania in 1907-8 that disbanded at the end of the harvest. It was successful economically, but workers were essentially sharecroppers, like the fellahin. Another kvutza in 1909-10, also called Degania, was a success, and attracted more workers. It became permanent, on WZO land, the first kibbutz. Shafir says the initiative lay with Ruppin, not with the "pioneers".

      Shafir draws the links between the German "demographic crisis" in east Prussia, the German settlement plans, and the WZO and Ruppin.

      Borochov internalized the anti-Semitic notions of "abnormal" Jewish social structure, for national-racialist reasons. The economic specialization of Jews in Europe is hardly unique. There are numerous examples of ethnic groups worldwide that occupied economic niches for various reasons.

    • Excellent, and I would like to add a few notes if I may. "Marxist Zionism" arose after 1900, in the person of Ber Borochov. He joined the Russian Social Democratic Labor Party but was thrown out for advocating Zionism. He was a Zionist youth leader and protege of Menachem Ussishkin of the General Zionists. Borochov argued that the class structure of Jewish society in the diaspora (the Pale of Settlement) was abnormal, and only in Zion could Jews constitute all classes and the Jewish class struggle be properly pursued.

      This analysis was viewed as "the price Zionism had to pay" in the revolutionary climate of the time, which exercised a fatal attraction on Jewish youth, as Weizmann lamented. Borochov was subsidized by Ussishkin and complained of "being accused of selling the proletariat to the bourgeoisie for money."

      Matzpen would later write of the same role of "Marxist Zionism" in attracting Jewish youth in Latin America away from revolution and toward Zionism.

      Tony is of course exactly right that Labor was more racist than the right wing Zionists. He notes the "conquest of Hebrew labor" expressed in Ben-Gurion's remark. This story is brilliantly told in Gershon Shafir's "Land, Labor and the Origins of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict". The kvutza, the small commune that was the precursor of the kibbutz, arose around 1910, after 30 years of experiment in finding ways to settle a Jewish population on the land.

      The kvutza model arose in the eastern marches of the German Empire, where an agricultural crisis led to the bankruptcy of the Junker estates, flight of their peasant work force, and an incursion of Poles. They constituted a "demographic threat", a major issue in German politics, and experts advanced various plans to settle German families in the contested areas.

      One of the experts, Franz Oppenheimer, was also a Zionist, and donated his plans to the WZO. Arthur Ruppin, head of the WZO Palestine office, modified them, absolving the Zionist settlers of liability. The settlers got rid of the agronomist-manager and managed the farm themselves not from idealism , but to remove the threat of being replaced with cheaper Arab labor.

      The kvutza was a success. The Ashkenazi Jewish settlers had modest but secure homes and livelihoods, free from Yemeni Jewish and Arab competition. Thus arose the virulent Labor racism. The Zionist agricultural capitalists, by contrast, freely hired cheaper Arab labor on their establishments. They were pressured by Israel Shochat of Poale Zion to hire his "guards", the first Zionst paramilitary force, Bar Giora and later Hashomer, for the plantations.

      Shochat's cadre were were extremely agressive and brutal toward the Palestinian Arabs, and proved too volatile and expensive for the Zionist planters, who hired Arab guards without Hashomer's ideological baggage. All this was well before WW1, and laid the foundations for later Zionist and Israeli politics. The various elements of Labor Zionism developed the institutions that supported Jewish settlers and thus dominated Zionist and early Israeli politics.

      Here is Shafir's book, required reading.

  • Kovel's 'Overcoming Zionism' was ahead of its time
    • I was at the memorial for Joel on Saturday at St Mary's, where Michael and other friends and family spoke quite engagingly and movingly about Joel. I don't think Overcoming Zionism was ahead of its time. Joel never said anything that implied that.

      Au contraire, he mentioned several times that, while he had broken with the ancestral religion in his teenage years, when he overheard two aunts savage his favorite aunt at her funeral, his public break with Zionism was deferred because of his mother's feelings

      After 1967, a few vocal and visible critical voices emerged in Israel who rejected Zionism on principled grounds, to cite only the Jewish side. These included Matzpen (founded 1962) which overlapped with Israel Shahak and his circle. In other terms, Yeshayahu Leibowitz spoke of Judeo-Nazism at the same time.

      Shahak and Matzpen were self-consciously in the anti-Zionist traditions of the Enlightenment and Jewish emancipation. Before that, Isaac Deutscher, Maxime Rodinson and Elmer Berger had survived Zionism's triumph in the 1940s with their principles intact. The traditional Orthodox critique had never died out entirely, and Leibowitz I suppose would be considered a variant of that.

      In the US, the 1967 left awakening was not anti-Zionist, but voelkisch, in identity politics and its truncated critique of "the occupation". This development was led by Chomsky, and still dominates. And I think it delayed Joel's public break with Zionism.

      But break Joel eventually did, quite decisively, in his conversion, tho his sensibility was not conventionally religious, but more radical idealist, as the content of the memorial showed. In my view Overcoming Zionism belongs to the classical anti-Zionist literature, such as Deutscher's Non-Jewish Jew, Rodinson's Cult, Ghetto, State (and his historical critiques), Berger's various liberal religious statements.

      This tradition is as dead as if it had never existed, triumphantly buried by Chomsky, Joel Beinin, Judith Butler and other merchants of ID politics.

      Joel Kovel was a noble exception.

  • The 'Jewish nation' is the central myth of Zionism. It needs to be dismantled.
    • In strictly east European terms you may be correct about the choices, but "from Alsace to Ukraine", which is west of the Rhine eastward. I think there were more than a few German and Austrian Jews who were assimilated, for whom the ideal of bourgeois secularism or strictly religious minority, without associations of Yiddishkeit, did apply. Some of them were in business, many in the professions or the arts. The socialists and revolutionaries among them made a secular choice.

      I believe you are quite right in comparing Zionism's pan-Jewishness to pan-German or pan-Aryanism. This is exactly the critique that leftists of Jewish background should have developed after 1967, to name only that epoch. Noel Ignatiev, who became a historian after many years as a radical labor activist, did call Zionism "Jewish race doctrine", an idea derived from his experience of race analysis and politics in the labor movement. He wrote a book "How the Irish Became White", based on his dissertation. He did not have the background to develop the idea for European Zionism.

      Edward Said, for all his formidable powers, and the same holds for his cohort of Arab American intellectuals and their successors, never questioned "Jewish identity", because the Jewish left cut him off, refused to address it, because of their own identitarian commitments, a condition that largely holds still.

      Elmer Berger as you probably know, led a rear-guard action against Zionism in the 1940s, and after 1948, went into permanent opposition. Berger was a classical Reform anti-Zionist who stayed true to his principles. After 1967 he renewed that commitment and entered a new phase of activism. He co-drafted the 1975 UN resolution on Zionism as a form of racism. He was well known and lionized in the Arab world. On a visit to Lebanon and elsewhere in 1955 he was very warmly received. The Institute for Palestine Studies published some of his books.

      I am unable to find any evidence that the Arab -American left from Edward Said on down, had anything to do with Berger or his anti-Zionist critique. The same holds for Maxime Rodinson, who remained steadfast to his internationalist ideals to his passing in 2004.

    • I believe you left out another "identity", to be secular, a Frenchman or a German ... of "the Mosaic persuasion" for the religious. Not traditionally Jewish, modern bourgeois liberal

      Said never developed a Jewish critique because the Jewish left led by Chomsky, had none. Chomsky was and remains a Zionist, defends Zionist separatism, defends the kibbutz as "anarchism", claims that binationalism was possible, heading a long roster of Jewish identitarians and programs on the left

    • Zoabi, whose family has lived in the Galilee for centuries, was called "invader of the Jewish state" on the floor of the Knesset by an Israeli cabinet minister. See my account of her appearance in the northeastern US 3 yrs ago

    • Haneen Zoabi interviewed by the Jewish Press in Berkeley. "We must liberate Americans from the Zionist lobby."

    • The anti-Zionist Orthodox position does reject the idea of nationality. Yaakov Shapiro, a congregational rabbi and Judaic scholar in New York, is writing a 3-vol update of Orthodox anti-Zionism. He adamantly rejects the notion of "Jewish peoplehood" in any civic, rather than religious sense, among other similarities with the classical liberal position. See this on Youtube

    • Perfectly correct, as far as it goes. The notion of "the Jewish people" must be recognized as a form of racism, as many commentators have argued, such as Rabbi Elmer Berger, who upheld classical Reform anti-Zionism. The radical labor activist turned historiain Noel Ignatiev called Zionism Jewish race doctrine, which explains its affinity for and collaboration with racialist anti-Semitism from the late 19th c down to Nazism, and with Christian evangelicals and the alt-right today.

      Classical Reform Judaism was one of the anti-Zionist traditions based on the classical liberalism of the Enlightenment and Jewish emancipation. The Marxist internationalism in which Jewish people were prominent rejected Zionism as colonialism and imperialism. Isaac Deutscher and Maxime Rodinson upheld those standards after 1967. Israel Shahak, the great Israeli critic of Zionism and Orthodox Judaism, cited the "modern secular (non-)Jewish tradition" which he dated from Spinoza, the greatest of the 17th c rationalist philosophers.

      Since 1967, the aggrandizement of "the Jewish people" has replaced liberalism as the Jewish social principle, in the state of Israel, in the organized Jewish communities abroad, and also on the left. The latter, from Noam Chomsky on down, have abandoned internationalism and secularism for the minimal critique of Israel’s “occupation” of the territories conquered in 1967, etc.

      The concept of "the Jewish nation" must be ended not only Israel, but in the "Jewish politics" of the "diaspora". On the left, Jewish intellectuals led by Chomsky and groups like Jewish Voice for Peace have ruthlessly enforced limits on Palestine politics for 50 years. The assassination of Alison Weir by all means except physical is only one example. Chomsky, JVP, et al continue adamantly to deny the decisive influence of the Israel Lobby.

      Ofir seems to refer only to Israel. "The archaic concept of a religious-conditioned ‘nation’ must give way to the modern, enlightened version, wherein the term basically defines those who happen live in a given territory in a given time, providing them with justice, freedom and equality. Dispossessing the vast majority of those under the pretext that there’s a ‘nation’ waiting to take their place cannot be the solution." Quite correct, and Boas Evron said as much in "Jewish State or Israeli Nation", arguing for secular Israeli Hebrew nationality open to all.

      Like most Israeli expatriate critics, Ofir is admirably unstinting in his analysis of conditions in Israel. He can not or refuses to understand "Jewish politics" outside Israel. He absurdly compared Israel's banning JVP over its BDS position (reluctantly and tardily adopted), with Spinoza's excommunication by his Amsterdam synagogue.

      But the "Jewish nation" must be dismantled in the "diaspora" also. In the mainstream it commissions genocide and the clash of civilizations. On the left it denies the radicalization of US foreign policy by Zionism, from the establishment of Israel in the 1940s, to the anti-Iran/Russia/Syria/Hizbollah animus which threatens cataclysm today.

      Left Zionism substitutes militant anti-anti-Semitism for an analysis of Jewish racism and its influence, ignores Zionism's mortal danger to all of us, and precludes understanding and activism which would address it.

  • Israelis disfigure Damascus Gate with steel watchtower
    • All along the watchtower, Zionists kept the view...

      Agreed on the beauty and centrality of Damascus Gate. Robert Stone's one novel set in the Middle East dealt with various Palestine threads, and was called Damascus Gate, to emphasize the importance of his themes.

      Here is the history of the Gate, constructed by Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent in the 16th c, on the site of an old Roman gate

  • There are two narratives, but one reality: Palestinian dispossession
  • Flynn's plea on Russian influence reveals... Israel's influence!
  • Why a children's book has Zionists losing their minds
  • The Clinton scandals entailed violent threats against people who knew about his sex life
  • Liberal Israeli leaders were contemplating genocide in Gaza already in 1967
    • Khalidi also defended the affirmative side of a resolution on the Israel Lobby, with Tony Judt, in a debate vs Martin Indyk and Dennis Ross, its two preeminent creatures.

      I suggest you look up the video of his talk, on YouTube, before throwing around words like "gross falsehoods". In it he cited his first book, on the pre-1914 background to British Middle East policy. He found British policy in WWI incl the Balfour Decl based on "strategic interests", which I think is dated and wrong. See Sahar Huneidi's book "Broken Trust" that I mentioned, and the discussion around it.

      See also my critique of "Dying to Forget" linked above , a crudely dishonest attempt to impose the "strategic interest" view on US policy in the 1940s. It was published by Columbia Univ Press, and Khaliidi as senior prof at Columbia very likely recommended it to the press. I could also discuss his views on more recent history.

      I know of his earlier views, but he seems to be reconsidering more recently, as the stakes around the issue have risen

    • Tom Suarez, the quote I attributed to you, that the Nazi comparison “calibrates Palestinian suffering by European Jewish standards, and obscures Palestine” is a correct paraphrase of what you said, as anyone would conclude after seeing your brief excerpt above. I can't recall a remark from the audience like that

      I noted that Khalidi spoke "as a historian", exactly his words, in rejecting comparison of Zionism with Nazism and apartheid. He was moderately animated and emphatic. I agree that the Nazi comparison can obscure Palestine and distract from its appalling reality, as you said.

      It is however necessary in order to understand Zionism, as Jewish racialism, as race doctrine, comparable to racialist anti-Semitism. The late Yeshayahu Leibowitz, the late Israel Shahak, two emphatic Israeli critics of Zionism, and the late Hajo Mayer, a Reform Jews and survivor of Auschwitz, all made the comparison of Zionism and Nazism.

      It is necessary because of the voelkisch turn in Jewish affairs since 1967, the enduring, fanatical pro-Israelism of organized Jewry outside Israel, and the equivocation and manipulation of the Jewish left, who have for 50 years imposed a minimal critique of "the occupation", etc, which is only now being challenged. I tried to explain this in my question to you during Q&A.

      Khalidi did indeed declare that "for the US and Britain, it has always been about strategic interests," pretty much exactly those words. He referred to his first book, about British policy before 1914, which refers to a 50-yr old article by Maier Verete on this point.

      The question of British "strategic influence" vs the London Zionist Lobby in the Balfour Declaration has been thoroughly discussed in the wake of Sahar Huneidi's "Broken Trust", about the politics of Balfour and the early British administration in Palestine. As far as I can tell British "strategic interest" was limited to the marginal advantage Zionism might bring with Jewish opinion in Russia and the US, in Britain's colossal struggle with the Central Powers.

      The alleged "strategic advantage" of Zionism in helping secure the Suez Canal was Zionist propaganda, and by no means unanimous in the British government. I think Huneidi is right in arguing that the British persisted with the Balfour Declaration, even after the election of 1923 replaced the wartime government with one much less committed, mainly for reasons of invested prestige.

      I don't recall any qualification about "relative proportion to other, more powerful elements" in Khalidi's remarks about the Israel Lobby. I think he is wrong about Balfour as British strategic interst, and also wrong about US policy. See for example my critique of a book on US policy in the 1940s that was published by Columbia Univ Press

    • I think most people who profess "concern" over Palestine dispute that Zionism equals racism and genocide. I attended a talk by Tom Suarez about his book "Terror State", based on material from the British official archives, at Columbia, moderated by Rashid Khalidi. The audience seemed less interested in the latest details on the Zionist-Israeli horror show than in meta-answers.

      During his talk, Suarez said that comparisons of Zionism and Nazism had the effect of "calibrating Palestinian suffering by European Jewish standards, and obscuring Palestine", so he rejected them.

      During Q&A I conceded Suarez's point about calibrating suffering, but argued that Zionism and "Jewish identity" generally had to be acknowledged as Jewish racialism, as powerful as German voelkisch ideology in the 1930s.

      A guy who identified himself as a former defense attorney at Gitmo said that the corruption of law by Israel was comparable to Fascism.

      The Israel Lobby also came up. In response there was a whiffleball statement about "strategic asset" by an apparent undergraduate.

      Rashid Khalidi was so upset he had to declare, "as a historian", that comparisons of Zionism with Nazism and Fascism were inappropriate, because "these developments were all local and contingent and unique". A questioner stated that "of course Zionism isn't as bad as Nazism."

      Khalidi also dismissed the Israel Lobby categorically. "For the US and Britain, it's always been about strategic interest".

      Not to single out Khalidi, but I think his is the prevailing viewpoint, certainly at outfits like Jewish Voice for Peace and its effective subsidiary, US Campaign. The long history of Zionism as Jewish racialism, including its collaboration with Nazi Germany, and the critiques of Zionism and the “Jewish people” idea as racism by Jewish writers like Elmer Berger, has been buried by the Jewish left, and most Palestine supporters have gone along. JVP and others still vilify critics of the Israel Lobby as anti-semites.

  • The Balfour centenary is also the centenary of the Zionist lobby
    • Second Henry Norr's recommendation. 93 pages of dry text and 100+ of footnotes. As Henry said, try reading the book rather than repeating "what we know" about Alison and IAK.

    • Overall an excellent piece by Phil IMO. Schiff's "non-Zionist" position superseded his earlier avowed anti-Zionism. In 1907 he stated “ ‘Speaking as an American,’ he declared, ‘I cannot conceive that one can be at the same time a true American and an honest adherent of the Zionist movement.’”

      His peer in the American Jewish Committee, attorney Louis Marshall, “declared
      political Zionism to be a mere ‘poet’s dream,’ an ‘irreverent protrusion of religious Judaism.’"

      Rabbi Elmer Berger called the "non-Zionist" position Zionist in all but name, an excuse to avoid opposing Zionism.

      I disagree that "Zionism is an ideology about Jewish safety based on separatism and nationalism that answered the long-debated Jewish question in Europe"

      Separatism certainly, nationalism only in the extreme sense of racialist nationalism like Nazism. Nationalism was liberal insofar as it assimilated Jews and others to the nation. Even Germany had such a strain, which was overcome by racialist nationalism. Zionism obviously excluded non-Jews by definition. Its state would not be "Jewish like England was English" but "Jewish like Germany was German" 1933-45.

      Nor did Zionism have anything to do with "safety". It was an elite project of national renewal. As Ahad Ha'am put it, Zionism was concerned with "the problems of Judaism, not of Jewry". This was echoed by Buber, Ben-Gurion and many others

      At the time Zionism arose in early 1880s westward immigration was possible and remained the preferred outlet until the gates finally closed, in the US, in the early 1920s. For Zionism, the rise of Hitler and Nazism was not a threat to Jews, but a confirmation of its world-view, and an opportunity for collusion with an ideological partner, as in the Transfer Agreement that broke the Jewish boycott of Germany. At all times Zionism put its political project in Palestine ahead of the fate of imperiled Jews.

      Otherwise, in my view, this is an excellent article, together with Phil's earlier observations about Brandeis and Zionism.

      An interesting related book is Sahar Huneidi's "Broken Trust", about the history of the Balfour Declaration thru the tenure of Herbert Samuel, first British High Commissioner for Palestine. It is out of print, very expensive used, and the copies at Columbia and NYPL do not circulate. But still worth tracking down.

      Huneidi cites the British debate over Balfour, after it was promulgated in 1917. She argues that Zionism's "strategic value" was negligible, and that the British govt persisted, despite considerable criticism, for reasons of invested prestige.

      Part of this debate was stimulated by J M N Jeffries in his articles for the Daily Mail in the early 1920s, which translated the key parts of the Hussein-McMahon correspondence, showing that Palestine was included in the portion of the Ottoman lands promised to the Arabs for their support against Turkey in the war. Institute for Palestine Studies republished this recently

      The foreword by William Mathew should be mostly disregarded. It undercuts and fails to support historically Jeffries' findings. IPS chose this, I think, because under Rashid Khalidi's influence it discourages the Israel Lobby argument. Mathew criticized Huneidi's book.

      I was at a recent talk at Columbia at which Khalidi categorically dismissed the IL argument, said that for Britain and the US, it was "always about strategic interest", which I think is egregiously wrong.

      Another interesting book on this period is Doreen Ingrams' Palestine Papers, which compiles official documents about the debate over the BD, showing the resistance of many British officials, including Lord Curzon. This book is from 1973

  • American Jewry and Israel, unbound
  • 'The Siege' gets US premiere at last, in blow to 'Israeli propaganda machine'
    • I saw it last night, and agree with Phil. Very engaging, with film excerpts used to frame the action in the church. I also found the actors on the street leaving the theater, chatted a bit with them.

      He didn't miss anything from the post-talk, with the exception of some remarks by the director. The Euros had nothing to offer, except for one eloquent moment by the Murkin who chaired the panel, who at the start asked for a minute of silence in recognition of all that was portrayed

      I saw the film about the Kafr Kassem massacre in 1956, shown in a new print with subtitles 2 wks ago at Anthology Film on the lower east side. KK is a village in the "Triangle", within the Green Line abutting the northern West Bank. A 5 PM curfew was imposed on the village, communicated to the mukhtar late afternoon by Israeli authorities, and troops given orders to fire on violators. As the villagers were working in the fields around town, and returning from jobs in Tel Aviv, they could not possibly have known. The orders were clearly a pretext for a massacre.

      The film is an excellent docudrama, by Euro-Syrian director Borhane Alaouié in 1974, and its style is compared to the Battle of Algiers.

      A descendant of one of the families from the village, whose father had been wounded but survived, spoke afterward. He was overwhelmed by seeing the film, and his account was very moving. "Not a chicken left the village. The women determined to have as many children as possible to prevent Israel from driving us off the land."

      After the massacre Arab Jewish women from Iraq, members of the Haganah and then the IOF, came and taunted the villagers with songs sung in Arabic from a sound truck. The village women in turn went to Tel Aviv hospitals to give birth, to advertise their fecundity.

      Village life was deeply marked. Of his parents generation the survivor said, "they were wounded, and they wounded us. When we were growing up were were told to obey, if not 'the Israeli soldiers might come to the village and kill you!', smack!"

      The population of Kafr Kassem has increased 10-fold+ since 1956

  • 'Forward' finally publishes Stephen Walt -- ten years too late
    • Meanwhile Columbia publishes Irene Gendzier's crudely dishonest book, "Dying to Forget", which attempts to impose the "strategic asset" view on the 1940s, a period generally acknowledged as the maturation of the Israel Lobby, and heretofore ignored by the SA school.

      The nascent IL imposed Zionism on a military and diplomatic establishment which opposed it as a strategic albatross. Gendzier's claims are taken seriously in academic circles, but this critique can circulate only at the margin, and be ignored.

      It is noteworthy that Gendzier's book has not been reviewed by a single academic specialist in the subject, at least that I have seen.

  • A Jewish atonement for Zionism
    • I will read the new edition of Menuhin. Berger called him an "old firebrand" and referred to his "incendiary" missives in the ACJ battle, so I am highly skeptical that anything Menuhin said redounded with credit to Zionism

      In any case the notion of a humanist "cultural Zionism" has long been debunked. See Steven Zipperstein's bio of Ahad Ha'am, now 25 yrs old. Zip began his study with an vague idea of finding ideas useful in ameliorating the current Zionism, but found in AH a parochial Jewish 19th c conservative, afraid of the liberal world then opening to Jews.

      AH's rep rests largely on an 1891 article "Truth From Eretz Israel", which supposedly showed great concern for the Palestinian Arabs. The first full translation was done in 2000 by Alan Dowty, who found "much ado about little", a purely pragmatic, instrumental concern, and not AH's highest, about Palestine Zionism. The extant xlations of AH are by Leon Simon, of Buber's generation, from before 1914, and were sanitized for the goyim, which I think is a general problem with Zionist literature.

      In the wake of the Balfour Decl, Ahad Ha'am called for immigration as the only thing the Zionists could realistically ask of the British. According to buber he wanted a Jewish majority, a state, which Buber defended as a means to attaining "Zion", Buber's national-religious mystification of Jewish control of Palestine. Buber described settlement as a Jewish right, since the Jews could develop the country more fully, a standard colonial rationale.

      Zionism arose, not in western Europe, via Herzl, but in the Pale of Settlement in the Russian Empire, in the ghetto, in response to pogroms in the early 1880s. The Jewish masses voted with their feet, and fled to western Europe and the US. The radical Jews energized socialism and communism.

      Zionism was the product of the thin bourgeois stratum in the Pale, of those few who did well in traditional Jewish society. They responded, not only to anti-Semitism, but to liberalism, and its "threat to the Jewish people", with a plan of Jewish separatism and segregation, led by themselves, a new version of their customary social role, which would preserve their status.

      Their premises were those of racialist anti-Semitism, with which they allied, from belle epoque salons, to czarist ministries, to anti-semitic nationalists and reactionaries after WW1, to Nazism.

      As Shlomo Sand (and others) have shown, the Zionist notions of "the Jewish people" attached to the "land of Israel", of the "secular Jew" are racialist nonsense. Zionism is Jewish race doctrine, as the radical labor activist turned historian Noel Ignatiev argued. That doctrine is now coming to Judeo-Nazi fruition, which was inherent from the start, though it has required many contingencies to realize.

      The fundamental "solution" to the problem of Zionism is not simply one of maps and borders and documents in Palestine, or even of overthrowing US support. Those outcomes begin with unambiguous acceptance by people of jewish background of the modern world, abandoning their medieval quasi-national collectivity, and embracing their status as secular citizens, or a religious minority, period.

      That outlook seems as novel and distant today as it did in early modern times, when rabbinical reactionaries expelled Spinoza and burned Moses Mendelssohn's German bible translation. As shown by the left, from Chomsky on down.

      Alan Dowty, "Much Ado About Little"

    • Norton Mezvinsky, Israel Shahak's friend and co-author, was a close friend of Berger, served in American Council forJudaism, and joined him in AJAZ. Berger, Shahak, Mezvinsky, Marxists like Matzpen, Maxime Rodinson and Isaac Deutscher, constituted the tiny universalist current, from the Jewish side, after 1967. This current remained tiny because the US Jewish left, led by Chomsky, did not uphold universalist standards.

    • Thank you. A closer reading suggests that Yoav Litvin, not Menuhin, has made the association, as you suggest. I haven't read Menuhin's book. Berger did say that there was no distinction betw "cultural" and "political" Zionism.

    • Actually the Mendes-Flohr book cited in my article is "A Land of Two Peoples", M-F's edited and annotated collection of Buber excerpts. The other book is also important, for a deeper view of Buber, like his great enthusiasm for WWI and the near-break with his closet friend, Gustav Landauer, who denounced him as "Kriegs-Buber". For Buber the war was a great voelkisch awakening which would summon the primordial feelings of the Jew and remind him of his nation and homeland. Unbelievable nonsense. Buber was 36 in 1914, no stripling.

    • Menuhin was a comrade of Elmer Berger, and wanted to fight to the death when Berger was kicked out of the American Council for Judaism, which he helped found in 1943, after 1967. Berger preferred to move on, and with the support of his closest German Jewish Reform friends, started a new organization, American Jewish Alternatives to Zionism. This episode is described in Berger's Memoir of an Anti-Zionist Jew.

      I have not read Menuhin's book, but he is wrong about binationalism. Buber, Magnes, Hashomer Hatzair, all wanted Jewish immigration leading to demographic parity and majority. They categorically rejected Jewish minority status.

      Magnes and Buber opposed statehood. Magnes feared Zionist attempts on his life, and Lessing Rosenwald paid for his evacuation from Palestine in 1947 or 48. Magnes sought immigration of healthy Jewish "pioneering" stock and proposed fanciful "federal" arrangments with Transjordan and elsewhere that would in his mind induce the Palestinian Arabs to leave without coercion. Unsurprisingly, there were no Arab takers for binationalism.

      Magnes may have been so blinded by voelkisch idealism that he failed to grasp his epic hypocrisy. Buber was smarter, and simply asserted Hebrew manifest destiny. At the Zionist Congress in 1921, when Hitler was a beer hall agitator, he stated:

      A strong nucleus of the Jewish people is determined to return to its ancient homeland, there to renew its life, an independent life founded on labor which shall grow and endure as an organic element of a new humanity. No earthly power can shatter this determination, whose strength is found in the lives and deaths of generations of our pioneers. Any act of violence against us because of it sets the seal of blood on our national will.

      Buber was a Blut and Boden Jewish racialist and racist. See his On Zion, On Judaism, and Paul Mendes-Flohr's "Between Mysticism and Dialogue". Some of this is summarized in on p 4-7 in my article on the 1940s, "When Palestine Was at Stake"

  • After article was rejected and publishers yawned, Walt and Mearsheimer dropped 'The Israel Lobby' in 2005
    • The book and article were indeed important landmarks, and brought the issue into the mainstream. But the authors pulled their punches in certain ways. They did not examine the first chapter of the story, the 1940s, when the nascent IL overwhelmed the opposition of the military and diplomatic establishments, and forced support for partition of Palestine and a Jewish state on the US government. They also claimed that the IL "is just another lobby, doing its job in US interest group politics". This was in part defensiveness about the charge of anti-Semitism, which they addressed.

      The IL is not like other lobbies, it has operated at and beyond the margins of the law since its founding. In its early years it moved adroitly thru various legal gambits and incorporations to evade prosecution under foreign agent laws. The Fulbright hearings of the early 1960s forced the founding of AIPAC by existing IL personnel, and were the end of US sovereignty in the foreign agent area, as far as Israel was concerned. Grant Smith has shown all this in an important series of books based on documents unearthed with FOIA. He feels that the USG has essentially lost the ability to enforce the Foreign Agent Registration Act where Israel is concerned.

      Much of Mears/Walt'sr defensiveness was due to the refusal of the left, led by Chomsky, to consider the issue, imposing instead the "strategic asset" dogma. Chomsky wrote some trivial dismissal in response to the article, and ignored the book. The left is unchanged since Mears/Walt. The Israel Lobby argument is still viciously attacked as anti-Semitism, notably by Jewish Voice for Peace. Ten years after the article and book appeared, Chomsky's friend Irene Gendzier tried to impose the "strategic asset" argument on the 1940s, in a risibly weak book.

      The IL has also been addressed by diplomats, politicians and academics, since the 1940s. Paul Findley, George Ball, and Michael Cohen are examples.

      Nonetheless, Mears/Walt gave the issue renewed prominence, made a major contribution, and paid a price, as Phil says.

  • Israel lobby is never a story (for media that is in bed with the lobby)
    • Democracy Now discovered Occupation of the American Mind a year after its release, ran a three part interview

      In one interview Sut Jhally repeats what is claimed in the film, that Israel's propaganda works only because it agrees with "US interests". He cites the Iran agreement which AIPAC opposed

      But the Iran agreement was defended by the Obama administration as good for Israel, not good for the US, a better way of ensuring that Iran would not get nuclear weapons. Those were the only terms permitted. Gareth Porter and others pointed this out at the time. Israel won both sides of the argument

      As Peter Beinart observed, “privately, American Jews revel in Jewish power. But publicly, we often avoid discussing it for fear of feeding anti-Semitic myths.”

    • These 'liberal Zionists' include the entire left, from Chomsky to JVP and Democracy Now to campus activists for whom they set the tone. Their line is to dismiss the Israel Lobby.

      The film The Occupation of the American Mind, by UMass prof Sut Jhally, narrated by Roger Waters, was careful to include Chomsky and his acolytes, and emphasize the Chomsky line that " the Lobby is powerful only when it advocates policy that accords with US interests".

      This in nonsense; the IL exercises a quasi-sovereign power, which shapes "US interests." This began in the 1940s, when the nascent IL overwhelmed the US diplomatic and military establishments, which opposed Zionism, to achieve US support for partition of Palestine and patronage of a Jewish state.

      The IL and the neocons advocated the destruction of Iraq from the 1970s onward. Their partnership with the gentile radicals, Cheney and Rumsfeld, was formed in common struggles against detente and arms control in the 70s, as the Reaganite reaction took shape.

      This partnership of course came to ghastly fruition in the 2003 invasion of Iraq, which destroyed the country, set the stage for the destruction of Libya, the attempted dissolution of Syria, and heightened Saudi Arabia's antagonism toward Iran.

      The 9/11 attacks were mainly an attack on US patronage of Israel, and were used to launch the invasion of Iraq, planned long in advance, not only Afghanistan.

      This chain of causation, the Zionist radicalization of US foreign policy, has been ignored by the left, which has limited criticism across the political spectrum.

      Alison Weir, who has done more than anyone apart from Mearsheimer and Walt to expose the Israel Lobby, was viciously attacked by Jewish Voice for Peace and the US Campaign. The latter has always been dominated by the limited critique of the Jewish left, critique of "the occupation", instead of Zionism, and myriad other equivocations, including "strategic asset'.

      This mirrors attacks on critics of Israel by the mainstream, a staple of US politics since the 1940s, which shifted into high gear after 1967.

      Etc etc

  • Israel would use nuclear weapons to keep refugees from returning -- Noam Chomsky
    • On Chomsky's defense of Zionism, see p 32 ff in this. He has abandoned the classical liberal values of the Enlightenment and Jewish emancipation, that categorically rejected Zionism, has attempted to Judaize secularism, and impose an equivocal critique.. This is a stupendous failure, comparable to the failure of the left in Germany to mobilize effectively against Hitler for ideological reasons

    • Chomsky's views on BDS are those stated in the 2014 exchange in the Nation, and earlier. The Nation exchange was followed by a panel on BDS with Harvard Arab alumni that fall. His talk of "realism" and "practicality" is just defending Israel, and "the Jewish people" generally, lowering the bar morally. He repeats the apologetics that were made for apartheid South Africa over sanctions.

      If he believes that Israel would use nuclear weapons to oppose the right of return then he should condemn Zionism in the most forthright terms, as a genocidal racist ideology, and oppose it root and branch, in its Israel Lobby manifestation in the US also. He still defends Zionism, still extols the kibbutz as "anarchism" when it was a racialist instrument of Ashkenazi Jewish settlement, and still dismisses any consequential role for the Israel Lobby.

      Here is 20,000 words on the 2014 exchange in the Nation and the Harvard panel. Because of his opposition the Nation could not manage to endorse BDS, pathetic.

  • Jew and Israeli: Solomon Schechter and Shlomo Sand
    • Among founders in the modern Zionist movement, many major figures embraced Zionism to unify the atomizing population of Jews in the world, especially the Jews of the west — for tribal as much as literal survival.

      In 1906, Schechter said that he feared assimilation of Jews, loss of identity, “even more than pogroms.” He wrote that in the Jewish “exile,” the Zionist project could form “the great bulwark against assimilation… an opposing force.”

      The purpose of Zionism was to accentuate the Jewish identity of diaspora Jews as much as it was a place to go to or be “from.” The world-wide network of Zionist youth organizations are more to make nationalist Jews than to make Israeli immigrants.

      This is racialism, the insistence that there is some inalienable Jewish essence, difference, distinction, the counterpart of the racialist anti-Semitism that arose at the same time, and with which Zionists made common cause.

      Pinsker's famous pamphlet Auto-Emancipation! (c 1882) also proclaimed the naturalness and inevitability of anti-Semitism. Herzl used to commune with fellow aficionados of the "Judenfrage" at the "salon" of the anti-Semitic publisher Edouard Drumont. Nazi and Zionist "race experts" consulted each other in the 1930s.

      Everyone has a background. Most people manage to enjoy theirs without destroying the world, or insisting on racialist notions about themselves. It is a short distance from racialism to racism.

      Assimilation is good, healthy, normal, and it is the dominant experience among people of Jewish background---"intermarriage" (miscegnation to Jewish racialists), disaffiliation from organized Jewish society and "Jewish identity", apart from gestures toward one's background like everyone else. This describes half to 2/3 of US Jewry.

      The problem is the organized "professional" sector, whose mainstream commissions , by sanguinary reaction or liberal hypocrisy, genocide and the clash of civs, as the "Jewish people" and its state.

      The Jewish left proffers a better way of "being Jewish", an equivocal critique limited by its fundamental loyalty to the Volk, one which collapses universalism to pure legality. The Volk must obey the law, but short of that liberal institutions can be turned inside out to express racialism, and racism, in the form of "Jewish politics" and other practices.

      We have to recover the foundations of the modern world, to even think about the disasters of Zionism, let alone act.

  • NYT, Reuters, Economist journalists self-censor reports from Israel so as not to be 'savagely targeted' -- John Lyons
    • Here Chomsky and David Samuels of the conservative Tablet find common ground against the Israel Lobby argument. Samuels finds "something distinctly Jewish" in Chomsky's thought

    • Dropping the pretence of "Jewish peoplehood", and its Jewish supremacist claims, is the first necessary step in Palestine. It's also the first step in addressing Zionism in US and western foreign policy.

    • In addition to blaming the usual alernate suspects, the Jewish left has also, of course, mounted a minimal critique of "the occupation" (not of Zionism), of "international law and human rights" (not of racism and genocide), of "solutions" discourse, and "strategic asset" rather than the Israel Lobby.

      The real "solution" to Zionism and the "Palestine question" is that people of Jewish background stop this pretence of being a "people", a national group, and live like the rest of us. In Israel it means Israeli Hebrew nationality, secular and open to all, not Jewish Zionist "nationality".

      Outside Israel it means liberal standards--secular citizenship, with freedom of religion, the standards that guarantee the rights of all, and the corresponding social and political practice.

    • The first problem is an example of the general second problem. The Jewish left, in suppressing the Israel Lobby critique, and its cognates, by setting the outer limits on criticism of US support for Israel, is the first, if not the last responsible party, for the power of the Israel Lobby, including its influence on journalism.

      The Israel Lobby has dragged the US into wars, incited terrorist attacks against the US, is the chief source of Islamophobia and anti-terrorism mentality. Zionism has radicalized US foreign policy, and domestic culture, since the creation of Israel by the Israel Lobby in the 1940s.

      Instead of this argument, the Jewish left, led by Chomsky, blames the arms and oil industries, Christian Zionists and other tertiary parties. Marxist political economy, with which Jewish radicals once incited revolution, is now used chiefly to hide the role of Zionism. This obfuscation is accompanied by militant anti-anti-Semitism, constant accusations and the occasional pogrom.

      The real defense against anti-Semitism is the classical liberal traditions that rejected Zionism categorically, which the Jewish left has also abandoned. Chomsky defends Zionism, in the form of "the Jewish people", the "secular Jew", absurdly cites a figure like Ahad Ha'am, and defends the kibbutz as "anarchism" despite the critical modern scholarship that has totally demolished the notion of "progressive Zionism." Judith Butler and others reify "Jewish identity", substituting "Jewishness" for secularism.

      The critiques of "identity" and "peoplehood", of Shlomo Sand, Boas Evron, Israel Shahak and others, have had exactly zero impact in the US, thanks to the "left". This dismissal of liberalism, and its condemnation of Zionism, shows how secure Jews are, how unthreatened by anti-Semitism.

      The task of the Jewish intellectuals was to de-brainwash the left Jewish public, to deflate "Jewish identity" from public, collective, social imperialism, to a private matter, an incident of one's background, of no political import. And in its stead to recover liberal politics.

      This would be derived from modern ideals like Reform Judaism, whose champion Elmer Berger, born in 1908, fought Zionism until his passing in 1996, upholding the view of Jews as a religious minority or secular citizens; the Marxist internationalism among whom Jews were so prominent, upheld in recent memory by Isaac Deutscher, Maxime Rodinson and the Israeli Matzpen; and plain secularism, disaffiliation from organized Jewish life and from Jewish identification, which the late Israel Shahak dated from Spinoza.

      The Jewish left had the power and obligation to mount an exacting critique of the Israel Lobby, and to uphold liberalism against the cult of "the Jewish people" that drives Zionism, and thus set the tone for discussion of Israel and its Lobby, in the US and the world.

      This failure is the greatest disaster on the left since the failure of the SPD and the Communists to unite against Nazism in Weimar Germany.

      Yes, the Jewish left is the first, if not the last, party responsible for the travail of journalistic and other critics of Israel.

    • It goes without saying that the Israel lobby will continue to exercise outsize power so long as journalists and politicians refuse to speak about it openly. That’s not happening in the U.S.

      Quite true, and the problem with the Israel Lobby begins with the Jewish left, where leading figures like Noam Chomsky and Joel Beinin still dismiss the argument, where Jewish Voice for Peace assassinates those who advocate it, such as Alison Weir; where the fundamental problem is conceived, not as the Israel Lobby, Jewish power, and Jewish racism, but anti-Semitism. The prevalence of this concept is of course a form of the Jewish power the concept seeks to deny.

  • Israeli victory in '67 was manufactured in western Europe, not by 'Jewish geniuses' -- Guy Laron at Wilson Center
    • This is more than speculation. Jeff Gates has tracked White House logs and so on and places Johnson and Mathilde Krim together, at the LBJ ranch and the WH, without Arthur Krim. Phone logs show that Mathilde was the first person Johnson called when he was told of Israel's attack on June 5. All this is in one of Gates's books

    • Not a new viewpoint, but an interesting development of the critical view.

      The corollary is that the US Jewish left's overweening assurances that the US wanted to destroy Nasser and supported Israel as a "strategic asset" in 67 are equally false

      In 1956, Britain and France indeed wanted to destroy Nasser, for various geopolitical/chauvinist reasons; the record is explicit

      Contrary to Chomsky et al, the USG was not so obsessed. The supposed threat to Saudi Arabia and the Arabian sheikdoms posed by Nasser in supporting the republicans in the Yemen civil war vs was well-contained; the war had become Nasser's Vietnam, a threat to his power.

      The USG recognized that Nasser was past his peak, that Arab socialism was struggling under myriad problems. During the crisis the USG published studies of likely Arab retaliation for support of Israel, which anticipated the economic consequences, thru the oil market, of the October 73 war. Warnings were received from Aramco.

      Johnson was not chafing for war when the crisis broke in May, tho some of his Jewish advisors were. Various diplomatic gambits were tried. The Israel Lobby was mobilized like the Israeli military. Yet Eban was discouraged after a May 25 visit. Mossad chief Meir Amit, on his famous June 1 visit, tried to scare McNamara with the Soviet threat, and told Helms of a decision to attack, which elicited no resistance. Assenting to Israel's resolution by war was the easiest political solution to a complex international and domestic dilemma.

      Afterward, in contrast to the insistence of Eisenhower and Dulles on Israel's withdrawal from Sinai in 1956, Johnson decided that any withdrawal should be part of a general peace settlement. The paper trail on this is very thin; the first mention is a suggestion from the Israeli ambassador on June 5, in White House documents. The USG diplomatic/intel/military apparatus was otherwise totally excluded from this very fundamental change.

      Johnson was a passionate Zionist and philo-Semite. His family supported clemency for Leo Frank in 1913, and his father and grandfather guarded their house with shotguns against possible reprisal by the Klan. He smuggled Jewish refugees into Texas, and smuggled weapons to Palestine.

      He was a pillar of the nascent Israel Lobby in Congress and his life and career were full of Jewish friends and acquaintances. Abe Fortas, a friend from New Deal days, resolved a legal threat to LBJ's election in 1948 that would have ended his career. Johnson made him a SC justice, and Fortas was invited to cabinet meetings over Israel in May 67. Fortas placed Israel's interests and US obligations to it first, which was the WH atmosphere

      At the time Johnson was probably having an affair with Mathilde Krim, convert to Judaism and Irgun romantic. Johnson told Soviet premier Kosygin at a mtg in June in NJ that he supported Israel "because it was the right thing to do."

      Johnson sold Israel the F-4 Phantom in the last year of his presidency, against the advice of the Sec Def, Defense Intel Agency, and the State Dept, which understood that Israel would use them offensively. The "deep penetration bombing" of Egypt followed, and with it the USSR, in large numbers, providing Egypt with an air defense that grounded the vaunted Phantoms.

      Sadat of course kicked out the Russians, in order to go to war, which led to the 4-fold oil price increases of 1973, deep recession and inflation, the biggest shock to the world economy since 1945. Some "strategic asset".

      The US establishment was duly alarmed, and Kissinger's piecemeal disengagement efforts were deprecated in favor of a comprehensive solution, including 2-states, by Carter and his nat sec team. The Israel Lobby intervened against Carter's attempt, permitting only a separate peace with Egypt, ending the last exercise of US sovereignty against the Israel Lobby.

      Not the story that Chomsky et al tell.

  • How 1967 changed American Jews
    • Chomsky was more anxious in his writings of the time. See his first collection, Peace in the Middle East? from 1974. He "feared genocide".

      Elmer Berger parted ways with the ACJ, but as he states in his memoir, soon after that breakup, met with some of his supporters, such as "Mrs Samuel Kuhn", presumably of the Kuhn Loeb investment bank, the patrician German Jews who were the backbone of classical Reform anti-Zionism. They urged him to continue, and he did, as American Jewish Alternatives to Zionism. See his "Memoir of an Anti-Zionist Jew"

      There were some twitches of anti-Zionism at the American Jewish Committee also, very much a minority current by then, but not totally extinguished. I think it's in Marianne Sanua's history of the AJC post-1945

      This comparison could have included the left in Europe. Isaac Deutscher was not taken in.
      Deutscher was born in 1908 and came of age just after the revolutionary and counterrevolutionary aftermath of WWI, and the rise of the USSR and of Fascism. In April 1939 he became London correspondent of a Yiddish newspaper, probably his planned escape.

      The witness and analyst of the tumult and cataclysm of Europe was not to be fooled by Zionism, and while Chomsky was making the desert bloom on a kibbutz in the 1950s, Deutscher was observing the militarism of the kibbutz and the aggressive nationalism of Ben Gurion. See "Non-Jewish Jew and Other Essays", which also has a piece about the 67 war. This echoed the critical interpretations of Israel's actions, which began contemporaneously, with Deutscher, and Maxime Rodinson, as well as Matzpen, not in the work of later scholars like Avi Shlaim.

      Maxime Rodinson was under no illusions either. He was born in 1915 to Russian Jewish immigrant parents, entered the higher ecole for Middle East languages without a secondary diploma, by competitive exam, having had to work as a poor youngster. He joined the CP in 1937, during the Popular Front, the height of the party's prestige. After his education he took a French diplomatic position in Syria, and survived the war there.

      After the war, he was attached to the embassy in Beirut, when he learned of his parents' demise in Auschwitz. He was offered a car to drive him to Jerusalem, to "be with his people". He considered it, but declined as a violation of his internationalist principles. This passage is in his Souvenir d'un Marginal, in the intro by Pierre Vidal-Naquet. Rodinson does not make the stmt.

      In the early 1960s, Rodinson spoke against the proposition, "Israel is a Socialist State", in a debate arranged by the Union of Jewish Students in France. On the eve of the 67 war, Sartre's Les Temps Modernes published Rodinson's "Israel: A Colonial Settler State", elaborating that thesis, at a time when the idea was scandalous to the US left. Rodinson's "Israel and the Arabs" (1968, 2nd ed 198x) had a highly critical analysis of Israel's role in the origins of the 67 war.

      The entire ouevre of the Israeli Matzpen, whose critique Phil cites, is on-line at Israel Shahak moved in this circle, tho he was not a socialist. One of Tikva's contemporaries told me that he opposed the attack in 67, did not think Israel was in danger. Matzpen's analysis of the origins of the war as rooted in Israeli aggressive policies was similar to Rodinson's.

      Matzpen was not alone. They and others kept the radical, internationalist principles that the Jewish left in the US has totally abandoned for "Jewish identity", from Chomsky on down.

  • Why has the Israeli occupation lasted so long? It's good for business.
    • I have not read Halper's book, tho I got a sample from a rapturous speaker at Left Forum in NYC this weekend.

      Halper is only the latest "anti-occupation" writer to have a eureka moment, penetrating with x-ray vision to the political economy analysis that explains it all.

      This argument founders at the start, in the 1940s, when the US military and diplomatic establishments opposed US support for Zionism, when the considerations Halper and others claim as fundamental were far over the horizon. The nascent Israel Lobby overwhelmed the government and secured US support for partition and a Jewish state in Palestine.

      This period, which extended well past the 1940s, is inconvenient to the political economy authors, so they ignore it, until one of them tried to backdate such arguments to the 1940s, in a crudely dishonest book, which I reviewed

      In his memoir, which Friedman cites, Halper states that he moved to Palestine in 1974 "for Jewish reasons." In other he partook of the ongoing Jewish usurpation of Palestine in pursuit of his "Jewish identity". He has never examined, let alone rescinded that statement.

      No doubt he has done good work with the "Israeli Committee Against Home Demolitions." What would we say about a group of German settlers in Poland in the 1940s organized as the "Committee Against Oppression of Polish Jews"?

      Does Halper claim, or should anyone believe, that the US invasion of Iraq, and the US animus against Iran, are due to Israel's military technology and industry?

      Marxist political economy writers (many of them Jewish) once aspired to explain the world. Today this analysis is applied to the Middle East by mostly Jewish writers to counter the Israel Lobby argument and implicitly (often explicitly) accuse its proponents of anti-Semitism.

      I think the political economy writers need to apply themselves closer to home, geographically and spiritually.

  • The US and Israel: 'An integrated political system'
    • The MIC saw profit in selling arms to the Shah of Iran and would gladly have supplied Iran, after the Iran-Iraq war. Not only the MIC but a substantial business lobby had an interest in reviving Iranian markets that had existed under the Shah. They were prevented from exploiting it by the Israel Lobby, which imposed "dual containment" in the 1990s

    • I haven't listened to the interview but the claim that the MIC is a major reason for US support for Israel is simply wrong. The US-Israel relationship began in the 1940s, when the nascent IL overwhelmed military and diplomatic opposition to US support for Zionism and forced support for partition and a Jewish state on the US govt. The MIC was nowhere to be seen, as far as Israel was concerned. Arms sales to Israel were considered a strategic liability into the 1960s.

      The "strategic asset" school on the left have ignored this chapter, until one of them, Irene Gendzier, tried to impose the asset argument on the 1940s, in a crudely dishonest book. See my review at

      Beyond that, even after the June, 1967 war, the State Dept, the Defense Intel Agency and the SecDef declined to sell Israel the F-4 Phantom on the grounds it would encourage Israel's offensive proclivity. President Johnson overruled them and the deep penetration bombing of Egypt, and the massive Soviet missile defense, which grounded the Phantoms, and eventually a cease fire, in summer, 1970, followed.

      Among other observations. Israel's military aid to Israel is relatively small, and Israel is allowed to spend funds on its own industries and to compete with the US MIC

      The US MIC doesn't spend time and money lobbying mainly for foreign policy, but for arms programs. Profiting from military budgets is not the same as initiating wars. The 2003 invasion of Iraq was the culmination of a 25-yr design of the Israel Lobby and above all the neocons, not of the MIC. Etc etc.

  • When it comes to Syria, our press is full of moralizing and propaganda, and short on analysis
  • Trump's Gambit: Sacrificing a fascist for establishment approval and Israeli propaganda
    • I think Trump is more dupe than master manipulator. US intel agrees with the Russian account, that Syrian AF struck a jihadi CW store. It is also argued that McMaster has been controlling the flow of intel to Trump, and the CIA was notably absent from the photo ops. See pieces by veteran nat sec journo Robert Parry at Consortium News, and iviews with Phil Giraldi, retired CIA counterterrorism, and Patrick Lang, retired Defense Intel Agency.

      I agree with Yoav that Trump struck mainly at his various domestic opponents. I don't think he's happy about disowning his base, no triumphant tweets about the Syria attack. Tillerson and McMaster both are saying that regime change is still not US policy.

      Too late for that. "It's worse than a crime, it's a blunder." See

      5 reasons why Donald Trump’s missile strike was a massive blunder

  • The Jewish revolution
    • Beinart also warned that if Israel fails, the Jewish community will be tromping through the rubble for generations ala the momentous failure of Shabbtai Zvi in the 16th century; for this failure implicates an edifice of thinkers .... et al

      The problem is not worship of the state, but of its underlying concept, The Jewish People, a race fantasy, as Shlomo Sand showed in his books and just summarized in Le Monde Diplo, as noted in another Mondo article

      The "Jewish revolution" is certainly not groups like JVP and IfNotNow, with their minimal, philo-Semitic critique, who aspire to be the next Jewish establishment. The needed revolution is tantamount to a second emancipation from "Jewishness" as the ontological basis of existence, let alone politics. It is rediscovering the secularism and liberalism of the modern world.

      "Jewishness" not the Jewish state, is the misguided, Shabbtain obsession, and the needed shattering is regaining perspective, relegating it to an aspect of one's background, instead of social ontology.

  • Broad coalition attends teach-in on Israel lobby ahead of AIPAC conference
    • Phil, thanks for a good summary of the Israel Lobby conference, which I watched on the live internet stream.

      I have one disagreement, your characterization of Grant Smith's position as "nationalist." There is a presumption of democratic sovereignty in our system of government, "We the people..." etc. However corrupted and attenuated, it is the principle that makes the govt accountable to its citizens. The Israel Lobby, as the agent of a foreign government, whose power makes impossible the enforcement of federal foreign agent registration law, is a usurpation of our democratic sovereignty as US citizens. As I pointed out at the end of my article on the first IL conference in 2014 (which I did attend):

      There was a patriotic tone to some presentations, and most of the speakers emphasized American interests. This is an observation, not a complaint. The American system of government expresses the democratic sovereignty of the American people, however corrupted and attenuated that principle is. Israel’s influence is fundamentally a usurpation of our sovereignty as US citizens. Veterans of the national security establishment, and democrats left, right and center can agree on that. They may or may not be allies in the class struggle, but they are allies in the medieval-modern struggle which Zionism has joined. As Stephen Walt noted, we need a “broad tent.”

      However, AIPAC is not simply an agent of a foreign power, but of the Zionist "Jewish people" which the Jewish state presumes to represent, including US citizens. The formation of this quasi-sovereign body "the Jewish people" is a fundamental violation of the liberal compact in which people of Jewish background are either a religious minority, or secular citizens, period. This position was upheld by classical Reform Judaism, and other modern movements in which Jews participated. As I noted at the end of my piece on the JVP attack on Alison Weir:

      Count Clermont-Tonnerre spoke for Jewish emancipation in the French National Assembly in December, 1789. The

      "adversaries of the Jewish people attack me. This people, they say, is not sociable. . . The worst of these reproaches is unjust; the others are only specious. . ."

      "No doubt these religious oddities will disappear; and if they do survive the impact of philosophy and the pleasure of finally being true citizens and sociable men, they are not infractions to which the law can or should pertain."

      "But, they say to me, the Jews have their own judges and laws. I respond that is your fault and you should not allow it. We must refuse everything to the Jews as a nation and accord everything to Jews as individuals. It is repugnant to have in the state an association of non-citizens, and a nation within the nation. . . In short, Sirs, the presumed status of every man resident in a country is to be a citizen. (50)"

      The quasi-national organized Jewish society and sensibility violate the liberal compact that Clermont-Tonnerre outlined. Their quasi-sovereign power usurps the democratic sovereignty embodied in the US government, as famously stated in the Preamble to the Constitution. “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union. . . do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.” (51) The principle of democratic sovereignty, however corrupted and attenuated, makes the government accountable to its citizens, as the If Americans Knew web site states. “In a democracy, the ultimate responsibility for a nation’s actions rests with its citizens. The top rung of government—the entity with the ultimate power of governance—is the asserted will of the people. Therefore, in any democracy, it is essential that its citizens be fully and accurately informed.” (52)

      At the end, you (Phil) quote Smith: The Lobby has

      been the largest single factor in the way of a resolution of the conflict, Smith said near the close of the conference. I share that view, the lobby is the reason partition hasn’t worked for 70 years, it’s my original community’s achievement. The community in the room yesterday was much broader than that.

      True, and the Jewish-identified left, from Chomsky to JVP on down, with its absolute insistence on "strategic asset" and its Inquisitions against presumed "anti-Semitism", has been the reason the Lobby issue has been so late to surface, and still is an embattled critique on the left, still attacked by Chomsky, Beinin, and JVP, with the ceaseless cry of anti-Semitism.

      The left Israel Lobby is also why we have a critque of "the occupation" but no critique of Zionism as Jewish racism, and why the universalist positions of classical Reform, Marxist internationalism and plain secularism, the moral antipodes to Zionism, and also to anti-Semtism, have been buried. The Chomskyite left is as invested in "the Jewish people" as Morton Klein and Bibi Netanyahu, they just differ on how best to "be Jewish".

      As you note at the end, "the community in the room yesterday was much broader than that." This is necessarily an urgent issue for all of us, US citizens and people abroad. There is no "Jewish point of view," no "Jewish politics" that is not simply Jewish power and privilege. It is not "nationalist" to point this out, merely secular and democratic.

  • The explosion hidden inside the UN Apartheid report
    • George Smith:

      One can vehemently reject the racialized notion of a “Jewish people” and the Zionist cause it has inspired, while at the same time embrace membership in a Jewish community with (imperfectly) shared values.

      You agree about the "dismaying vilification of Alison Weir" and "rushed to IAK to donate." You cite "other members who complained vociferously."

      You know as well as I do that it came to exactly zero. The criticism of their decision on Weir was too much for the leadership and they shut down the forum for a month, then returned with warnings about "civility" (familiar censorship gambit) and the discussion stopped. Some members wanted a position on Zionism, and after desultory effort and occasional inquiries from the membership that was eventually dropped.

      The attack on Weir led to an incident of violence and an arrest at one speaking engagement of Weir's. Thuggish disrupters tried to shout her down and distributed copies of the contrived JVP attack on her. The same JVP info was used in threats against a second appearance by her. Many SJP chapters dropped her, tho she spoke at one chapter in the midwest recently. They continue to deprecate the Israel Lobby argument and attack it as anti-Semitic

      JVP encouraged the cancellation of Miko Peled's appearance at Princeton, and RV later issued a mealy-mouthed stmt about "possibly overreaching" while never apologizing. JVP for ten years supported only "anti-occupation" BDS, finally endorsing full BDS only in Feb 2015 when it became impossible not to.

      Their critique of "international law" and "peace and justice" is minimal, anodyne language, contemptuous of the victims, that contrasts with condemnations of Judeo-Nazism from Israeli and European Jewish critics like Yeshayahu Leibowitz, Israel Shahak and Hajo Meyer.

      You sweep all this under the rug as "imperfectly shared values". No, shared values, on the importance of "Jewishness", far more important that mere life and death in Palestine and west Asia.

      "Jewish politics" is simply Jewish power and privilege, a form of Zionism, drawing distinction between Jew and gentile.

    • Lillian, JVP is the current incarnation of the identity politics that has replaced secularism on the left over Palestine since 1967, and effectively destroyed our ability to think, let alone act.

      What do you think "anti-Zionism" means? It means, as it did for Berger, that people of Jewish background are either a religious minority, or secular citizens, period. It rejects the notion of "the Jewish people" and the "secular Jew", and identity politics, as racialist.

      This was the view of the classical liberal traditions of the Enlightenment and Jewish emancipation, like Marxist internationalism or plain secularism. It was restated by Shlomo Sand in his three books, which had zero impact in the US.

      Chomsky still extols Zionism and the kibbutz. JVP's literature and web site are full of sentimental nonsense about "Jewish values". A JVPer maundered on "Jewish values" at the Israel Lobby conference, and was scornfully dismissed by Gideon Levy. "I recognize only universal values."

      It took JVP ten years to endorse the Palestinian call for full BDS; Chomsky still rejects it as anti-Semitic.

      During JVP's jihad against Alison Weir, some JVPers proposed a statement on Zionism. A "study group" was to be formed. The issue came up periodically, and nearly a year later Joel Beinin advised against having a position on Zionism, and it was dropped. This was all in the JVP member forum.

      The key issue is the Israel Lobby, an argument that JVP still deprecates and attacks as anti-Semitic, as do Beinin and Chomsky. The moral antipode to the Israel Lobby (and to anti-Semitism) is the aforementioned classical traditions that rejected Zionism, not controlling the discussion with the "strategic asset" orthodoxy and anti-anti-Semitism persecutions

      See my piece on Alison Weir, linked below, on these matters. See also the upcoming JVP Woodstock, the workshop about being "Self-Loving and Anti-Zionist". This is moral and intellectual infantilism.

      I realize that Jewish people have been totally brainwashed over these matters , and I do not object to good faith efforts to learn and grow. JVP is about confirming "Jewish identity" in the face of Judeo-Nazism, not about opposing it. The whole notion of "Jewish politics" is inadmissable.

    • Thanks for mentioning Rabkin's discussion of Ross's book, which I had missed. I did read the book, and found it rather weak. I think Rabkin is making the most of it for Berger's sake, which is understandable. I think anyone interested in Berger should read his own writings, such as Memoir of an Anti-Zionist Jew and others. The Memoir was published by the Institute for Palestine Studies. Thomas Kolksy's "Jews Against Zionism" is also informative, about the American Council for Judaism in its heyday.

    • I would say not only the UN wants to bury the issue of Zionism as racism, but so does the Jewish left, from Chomsky on down. Chomsky still defends Zionism as a "form of ethnic identification as long as it doesn't lead to racism" (but it does by design), still extols the kibbutz as anarchism and Zionist socialism, and defends a Jewish national right to settle Palestine.

      JVP refuses to take a position on Zionism, on the advice of counsel, Stanford prof Joel Beinin. Beinin knows that examining Zionism would expose the racialism and racism of Jewish identity politics. JVP does feature a workshop on being a "Self-Loving Anti-Zionist" at its upcoming Woodstock. That surely is the first question to consider in opposing Zionism, whether one can still love one's self.

      The great anti-Zionist Reform rabbi Elmer Berger, who helped lead a heroic rear-guard action against Zionism in the 1940s, co-drafted, with Palestinian diplomat Fayez Sayigh, the UN 3379 on Zionism as a form of racism, and wrote on the subject himself, as an associate of EAFORD, Org for Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination. Look around at this link

  • Almost 1 million Syrian children can't go to school
    • While 1 million Syrian refugee children can't attend school in Lebanon, 4 million return to school in Syria, a revolutionary accomplishment in present conditions, which Syrian "revolutionaries" in the West somehow overlook. This is from September 2015 but the numbers if anything increased in 2016 and will increase again in 2017

  • Remembering Revolutionary Yiddishland
    • But Zionism isn't religious, though there are religious Zionists. Israel's Jewish/non-Jewish distinction isn't religious, it's simply racialist. The national designation that Zionism attributes to "Jewish" is historically and morally untenable. In the Pale of Settlement the Yiddish Jews attained quasi-national status, but that had nothing to do with the acculturated west Euro and North American Jews. The secularism of many Israeli Jews points to secular Israeli Hebrew nationality that would be open to all. That is the normalization of Zionism, on modern terms.

    • As Echinococcus notes above, it is inappropriate

      to call irreligious, revolutionary Bundists, openly connected by their Yiddish language and peculiar culture, “Jewish” instead of what they called themselves –Yiddish? They never considered themselves as anything but culturally Ashkenaze people... and nothing to do with any cloud-cuckoo “Jewishness”.

      Moreover, they did not romanticize their Yiddishkeit, but viewed it as backward and sterile. The Bund was founded in 1897, not by Yiddish speakers, but by Russophones. The workers' movement in the Russian empire, including in the Pale, was begun by Russophones, who were the most acquainted with the wider world and politically conscious.

      Julius Martov, a key figure in the Russian Social Democratic Labor Party (later a Menshevik) was one proponent of a Yiddish-speaking mass movement, but some Russophone Yiddish-speaking workers opposed Yiddish as backward and the Yiddish masses as unpromising. The Bund did not hold a congress in Yiddish for many years.

      I haven't read the book but it seems to be an exercise in "Jewish identity" and unsurprisingly Max Ajl's review does not escape that. Of the Jewish Spanish Civil War veterans he states:

      Accompanying their awareness that anti-fascism was a struggle being fought with arms and not merely with words was a desire to settle accounts with that stereotype of antisemitic propaganda – European Jewish weakness.

      Does the book actually say that? Or is that Ajl's projection? It is hard to believe that being a "tough Jew" was very important to the internationalists who fought fascism in Spain knowing what was at stake. One recalls Ajl's old "Jewbonics" web site (now retired), with the statement by the Russian soldier, speaking of Jewish partisans: "These Jews know how to fight!" Is that,
      what the left was about, being a "tough Jew"?

      Ajl does recognise that "socialist Zionism" was a racist/racialist chimera, to his credit. The same must be said for secular "Jewish identity", beyond the obvious fact of Yiddish language and culture. They were destroyed by Nazism, but also did not survive integration and assimilation in liberal societies, which was a positive development.

      Consider also Shlomo Sand's critique of the "secular Jew", and the legacy of those who abandoned their Jewish backgrounds and thereby contributed to the modern world, from Spinoza on. The Yiddish radicals were part of that, with the Yiddish non-radicals who came to the US by the million, leaving Yiddishkeit behind.

  • Resolution for 2017: Stop substituting 'the occupation' for 'Zionism'
    • Zionism, not occupation. But what is Zionism? Not merely the colonization of Palestine, but a reaction against the modern world, against assimilation and integration, an attempt to preserve pre-modern "Jewish identity". The basic opposition of Zionism is not Jewish settler vs Arab indigene in Palestine but Jew vs gentile everywhere.

      This separate "Jewish identity" is morally and intellectually untenable. See for instance Shlomo Sand on the "inventions" of Zionism, including the myth of the "secular Jew." Dezionizing Israel means, to start, secular Israeli nationality in the place of Zionist Jewish nationality.

      Dezionizing the US means replacing Jewish separatism and identity politics, which is as untenable as Sand's catalog of "inventions", with politics drawing on the classical liberalism of the Enlightenment and Jewish emancipation. In religion, classical Reform (and perhaps classical Orthodox insofar as it is anti-Zionist), socialist internationalism, or plain secularism.

  • Some big Jewish donors to Clinton don't seem to care about Israel. Hallelujah
    • What nonsense. JVP has indeed tried to stop Alison Weir; that was the whole purpose of their campaign against her with End the Occ. They and others have actively pressured various groups not to host her for speaking engagements. SJP is deeply influenced by JVP, rejected Miko Peled due to JVP, and would not consider Alison Weir because of JVP.

      It's not just Alison Weir it's the whole Israel Lobby critique. JVP recently hosted Mitchell Plitnick in NY, to promulgate "strategic asset" orthodoxy.

      The first, if not last, opponents of Palestine, of recognizing the Israel Lobby, as Phil claims is imminent, are the Jewish left, from Chomsky on down.

    • How will this mainstream epiphany take place when Jewish Voice for Peace attacks Alison Weir as anti-Semitic for her Israel Lobby argument, attacks Miko Peled for comparing the power of US Jews to anti-semitic stereotypes, and complains (after the Forward and ADL) that the presidential campaign was anti-Semitic because it talked about wealthy elites?

      No doubt there is a "Jewish debate" and that is exactly the problem, it will never become a general debate, because most of the Jewish critics won't let it. It's one thing to talk among themselves, and decline to donate to Israel. It's quite another to let the Israel Lobby become a public issue, let a candidate for office charge that his opponent is too dependent on the IL, that the IL gets us into wars abroad and provokes terrorism against the US.

  • Miserable night, bleak forecast
    • Plitnick denounced the Israel Lobby thesis as anti-Semitic, the work of "Jewish conspiracy theorists," in Jewish Voice for Peace's "Reframing Anti-Semitism" booklet in 2004

      His claim that the IL became powerful only in 1967 is nonsense. The IL has been a factor in US politics since before WWI. It achieved maturity in the 1940s, when it overwhelmed the US military and diplomatic establishments and secured US patronage for partition and creation of a Jewish state. That quasi-sovereign power preceded the "enmeshment of US and Israeli intelligence, defense, technology, and economy" and has been a factor in US politics and ME policy ever since.

      JVP and other elements of the Jewish left waged a multi-year campaign against Alison Weir for her advocacy of the Israel Lobby critique, above all her book, which has sold 28,000 copies. The result was the 2015 show trial for violating "anti-racism principles" which do not mention Zionism and drumming of Weir and If Americans Knew out of the US Campaign and off campus, through JVP's influence on groups like SJP, who have denied Weir a table at their national meeting

      JVP's charge of anti-Semitism against Miko Peled for daring to compare Jewish power to anti-Semitic stereotypes resulted in cancellations of 2 campus engagements for him, including one in San Diego by the SJP chapter, after it consulted campus JVP.

      Presenting a debate betw Plitnick and Alison Weir, or Jeff Blankfort, would have been honest and constructive. But years ago Plitnick (and Chomsky and Phyllis Bennis and Joel Beinin) all declined to debate Blankfort with the same reason, "it wouldn't be useful." Not useful to the Jewish left's campaign to bury the Israel lobby critique and control the issue.

  • New statement calls on the movement to focus on Palestine, not divisive internal conflicts
    • Philip Crawford claims that my article included "slanderous and divisive attacks on Jewish Voice for Peace and the U.S. Campaign", and that "the only people launching divisive attacks are the fanatical followers of Alison Weir."

      A subjective judgment to say the least, which the reader may make for him or herself. Note the availability of a longer (13000) word version of the CounterPunch article.

      The reader may also consider that 2000 people signed the petition in support of Alison Weir in 2015. So far 1600 have signed the petition against the attack on Miko Peled, and all the attacks mounted by JVP in the last few years. Weir's book "Against Our Better Judgment" has sold 28,000 copies.

      As I pointed out in my article JVP, after 20 years of existence, is about 1300 people nationwide, notwithstanding their ceaseless claims of importance. Its August election for board of directors required a quorum of 20% of the membership, 1250 votes, which was attained in the final hours of 10-day on-line voting period.

      More people signed the petitions against JVP's attacks than vote in JVP's elections. JVP's active members are less than 5% of those who bought Alison Weir's book. Like the rest of the Israel Lobby, JVP has little to do with the views of the American people, but imposes itself by being relentless, highly organized and lavishly funded.

      Crawford states that:

      “BDS is an inclusive, anti-racist human rights movement that is opposed on principle to all forms of discrimination, including anti-Semitism and Islamophobia.” Should we conclude from this that the BNC has also decided to “prioritize Jewish preoccupations?”

      Yes, we should ask why the BDS Committee has accepted the JVP "anti-racism" formula. It opposes Islamphobia, which has no adherents in Palestine ranks, and otherwise mentions only anti-Semitism, and is obviously designed to persecute people for anti-Semitism. This double standard was so egregious that JVP discussed formulating a position on Zionism, which was dismissed on spurious grounds by Stanford historian Joel Beinin

      Palestinians should not be so bound. We should indeed ask why a group addressing Palestine, above all one formed by Palestinians, does not condemn Zionism as a form of racism, given its racialist and racist theory and practice, and the many critiques of it on those terms.

      Palestinians accept the double standard of "anti-racism" that ignores Zionism, because Palestine politics in the US is dominated by Jews just as much on the left as in the mainstream

    • Since Alison Weir has come up, and the JVP charges against her repeated, readers may find interesting a critique of their "case", including a discussion of Clay Douglas. And the absurdity of "anti-racism principles", from a group supposedly concerned with Palestine, that do not condemn Zionism as a form of racism, despite the long history and literature on the subject.

      The "principles" mention only Islamophobia and anti-Semitism, suggesting that they were devised to mount a show trial for "anti-Semitism," and that JVP's real animus against Weir lies elsewhere. That would be her version of the "Israel Lobby" critique; her book that has sold 28,000 copies, "Against Our Better Judgment"

      "When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.”

      “The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.”

      “The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master—that’s all.”

      That is JVP's use of "anti-racism principles"

  • Israel lobby panics about 'spoiled' next generation of American leaders turning against it
    • I would only comment that Yudof, Goldberg and Herzog are the real threats to the Jewish future.

      Their past was an attack on all of us, not simply on "the Jews", and their future threatens us all

  • The 'New York Times' is dead set on marginalizing Jewish anti-Zionism
    • No, the racism is entirely on the "Jewish" side, constituting "the Jew" as an ontological category, just like racialist anti-Semitism.

      This is Jewish hate speech pure and simple, and entirely typical of the "left" today

    • JD, while something calling itself "Jewish anti-Zionism" may exist, it is indefensible, simply prejudice and privilege, as the politics of "Jewish anti-Zionists" shows. As Eric Walberg argued in the piece I cited at the outset.

      "If those who call themselves anti-Zionist Jews without having lived in Israel, and without knowing its language or having experienced its culture, claim a particular right, different from that of non-Jews, to make accusations against Israel, how can one criticize overt pro-Zionists for granting themselves the privilege of actively intervening in decisions regarding
      the future and fate of Israel? The Jewish signifier undermines the anti-Zionist one."

      Nor can "Jewish anti-Z" be sustained citing Israeli ex-patriates.

      Above all:

      "Assimilation is not like extermination, despite Golda Meir's cries of "Wolf!" Non-religious Jewishness will continue to evaporate, along with Christian and Muslim identities for those who abandon their faith. There is no shame in calling oneself an ex-Christian or ex-Muslim. "

      That is normal, not the obsessive cultivation of distinction, difference and separatism of today's Jewish left, which obstructs Palestine politics, just like the obscurantist rabbis who burned Mendelssohn's German bible translation and murdered a Reform rabbi obstructed liberalism.

    • You have misread Sand, or perhaps not read him at all. He isn't "upset that as a non-practicing Jew, his Jewish status gives him racist privileges in Israel." He doesn't consider himself a "Jew" at all. He says quite clearly that there is no such thing as a "secular Jew" or such "culture", the idea is retrograde nonsense. This is what racialist anti-semitism said after all.

      The Bund was not "Jewish anti-Zionism", it was Yiddish anti-Zionism, arose in Jewish quasi-national conditions in Poland. American Jewish people no longer have anything to do with Yiddish culture, or any other distinctive ethnic culture, however much they cultivate separatism and distinction.

      "Jews who oppose Zionism, whether out of Jewish values or anything else". There are no "Jewish values". Gideon Levy laughed at the idea when JVP maundered on about it at the Israel Lobby conf 2 yrs ago. "There are no 'Jewish values', only universal values" he said.

      The socialism of the Yiddish movements was a universal idea, articulated by Yiddish speakers, which did not make it "Jewish", any more than German socialists made socialism German. See internationalism.

      The historical Jewish presence on the left did not make the left a "Jewish" idea. Socialism, communism, civil rights, were not "Jewish values". The Jewish presence was historically contingent and has declined with Jewish socioeconomic advance.

      Until the 1967 war, this confusion did not exist. The New Left of the early 1960s was heavily Jewish, but they did not want to be a "Jewish" movement, they wanted to appeal to all. That vanished with the June, 1967 war, since which time secularism has been obliterated by identity politics.

      These aren't theoretical questions of no practical import, but supremely practical, determining strategy, rhetoric and tactics on a daily basis.

      Another Mondo uproar in the offing. Time to quit, for good

    • See Elmer Berger's "Memoir of an Anti-Zionist Jew" for a hilarious account of an encounter between Berger and Dorothy Thompson and Turner Catledge of the Times about their "Hitler on the Nile" coverage of Nasser in the 1950s. The Times did not then fear being a "Jewish paper". Not mentioned in the Neal Lewis piece, though I thank you for that reference. Here is the direct link

    • Really Phil. I read the Haaretz piece about the 2 historians a few days ago. Another exercise in "Jewish identity". It will be news when it stops being a "Jewish debate" and the Jewish critics start acting as secular citizens, joining the rest of us and opposing Israel and the US Jewish establishment as a mortal threat to us all. The Times might even be forced to cover it.

    • What, pray tell, is "Jewish anti-Zionism"? It is proper to speak of "Judaic anti-Zionism", referring to the religious rejection of Zionism. whether classical Orthodox or classical Reform. Otherwise, "Jewish anti-Zionism" is meaningless, because the notion "secular Jew" is meaningless.

      See for instance this July 30 piece by Eric Walberg on the inadmissability of "Jewish anti-Zionism"

  • Israel’s opposition parties plan to filibuster bill to expel Hanin Zoabi
  • Holocaust survivor and activist for justice Hedy Epstein dies at 91
    • Hedy told me about her grandchildren 12 or 14 years ago. There may have been other factors, and/or things may have changed over time. Pianoteacher's info is obviously much more recent. But her family situation is not important.

      What is important is her principled dissent. Joining a vigil outside a synagogue about Israel was anathema to liberal Jewish opinion, which did not faze her in the least. She came up from St Louis, spoke at an event, tried to contact the rabbi, who hid from her, and published a letter in the Ann Arbor News.

      Likewise her stand against the JVP/End the Occupation attack on Alison Weir. Many people who disagreed with it did not speak against it because they are afraid of JVP/ETO. Not Hedy. As her participation at the synagogue vigil showed, she agreed with Alison's critique, about the influence of American organized Jewry, which was the real basis of JVP/ETO's attack on AW.

    • It's nice to memorialize Hedy in the various ways noted, but the best memorial might be to commission a good translation of her memoir, Erinnerung ist nicht genug (remembering is not enough) still available at Her web site does not mention an English translation.

    • I met her twice. When I lived in Ann Arbor MI a group organized a vigil outside a Conservative synagogue. She came to join the vigil, spoke at a separate event, and tried to contact the rabbi, who hid from her.

      I also met her at one of the anti-AIPAC demos in DC. At the Busboys and Poets event after the demo she spoke, and in response to my question frankly described herself as a lifelong anti-Zionist.

      She opposed the JVP/End the Occ jihad against Alison Weir, which resulted in threats and violence at an appearance by Alison at Walnut Creek CA earlier this year.

      Hedy told me that her children had prevented her from seeing her grandchildren over her views, outrageous.

      She was courageous and exemplary.

  • Reinterpreting Truman and Israel: A review of Irene Gendzier's 'Dying to Forget'
    • For a contrary review see

      Dying to Forget the Israel Lobby?
      (5900 words)

      The book purports to be a major revisionist statement about Israel's "strategic value" to the US in the 1940s, against a large body of writing attesting to the paramount importance of the nascent Israel Lobby in this period. In my view the book's claims are based on omissions and exaggerations, and will not persuade anyone interested in the period. The paramount influence of the nascent Israel Lobby remains the story of the 1940s.

  • Sick of Zionism’s stranglehold on Jewish culture? There is an alternative.
    • Gosh, whatever happened to, what was it called, I think... secularism. What Israel Shahak called "the modern, secular [non-]Jewish tradition", which he dated from one of those old guys, who was it, Spinoza, yeah, the greatest of the 17th c rationalist philosophers so they say. But that was then, "Jewishness" is now, fuggedabout that passe secular stuff. Too goyisch.

      Remember this? Not secular, but universalist, goyisch...

    • What does medieval Andalusia have to with Jewish membership in the International Brigades? What do either of them have to do with being a 21st c American or European? Absolutely nothing, except in some mythical construction of "The Jewish People". This thinking substitutes "being Jewish" for being human, attempts to make "Jewishness" an ontological category, beyond history (like racialist anti-Semitism, the mirror of Zionism)

      This is not an abstract observation. This thinking results in the crippled identity politics that still dominates the left on Palestine. Thus critique focuses on "the occupation" but not Zionism as Jewish racialism, on the absolute distinction between Jew and gentile, which is the fundamental problem, Jewish racialism, now reaching genocidal intensity in Palestine.

      Activism focuses on BDS, rather than on what matters in the US, the Israel Lobby, even as the Lobby moves to quash legally BDS, which has finally attained critical mass, no thanks to JVP et al, which limited it strictly to "the occupation" until a year ago.

      This thinking empowered the JVP/End the Occ attack on Alison Weir, a prerogative of "Jewishness" as constructed on the left by such exercises as Birthwrong.

      It has also throttled the annual rally in DC against the AIPAC meeting. JVP and its affiliate US Campaign to End the Occupation in 16+ yrs of existence never tried to do anything like it until Code Pink came along in 2011. Then Phyllis Bennis came aboard to drive the people who knew something about AIPAC off the program (Jeff Blankfort,Janet McMahon, Grant Smith and Alison Weir). Bennis, according to talk in DC, later masterminded the campaign against Weir. Now Al-Awda and Answer are getting behind it and the Jewish left may be losing control

      This is only the recent history of Jewish identity politics on the left. 30 years ago New Jewish Agenda was suppressing calls for Israel's aid to be cut, keeping Palestine off the general left agenda, etc.

      The About page at Mondo recently dropped its qualification about "a progressive Jewish point of view" and now states

      We recognize that Jewish voices are often prioritized in discussions of Israel and seek to challenge that dynamic by bringing a universalist focus to an issue that is commonly dominated by narrow points of view.

      Does anyone realize that Birthwrong and the Jewish identity fetish are part of Old Thinking?

  • State of the Union 2016
    • The federal govt burned alive 80 or so white Branch Davidians in Waco TX in 1993, including whole families. I think they have played this correctly. The "patriots" have been denounced by the Mormon church, by the ranchers who had to return to jail, the nominal cause celebre, and by the people of Burns, OR, incl more ranchers. They have become a laughing-stock, and will probably wind up being arrested with no shots fired.

      I"m not defending the blatant racism of US law enforcement, but I think the feds did the right thing in this case.

  • Do 'Rabbis for Human Rights' protect Palestinians or the Jewish State?
    • Ascherman and Halper should come home and confront the zealots of US Jewish institutions. As native born US citizens their responsibility lies at home, opposing the forces that drive US policy on Palestine (and much else). Not as part of some Jews-only protest designed to showcase "Jewish debate" but in concert with large crowds of gentiles, since this is all of our urgent business. "Jewish people yes, Zionism no!," chanted at the doors of the DC convention center during the annual AIPAC mtg in March, is the needed approach

  • 'Turning point' -- Obama defeats Netanyahu and 'destroyers of hope' on Iran Deal!
  • Pappé on apartheid, ideology, Chomsky, and the contradictions of "liberal Zionism"

Showing comments 385 - 301