Commenter Profile

Total number of comments: 36 (since 2015-05-30 18:08:43)

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  • Young Jews resist AIPAC-- even as Democrats' 'progressive' thinktank sends a crew to speak there
    • Frankly IfNotNow and CodePink have horrible politics, effectively trying to exclude Palestinian and anti-Zionist perspectives from their organizing. IfNotNow is chauvinist in its outlook, while CodePink is a standard white liberal org that similarly prevents criticisms of Zionism. Both groups only accept limited policy-related criticisms of Israel, and INN doesn't even endorse BDS.

      Another organization, Al-Awda, was organizing a much more important rally at the same time. Unfortunately, after years of political repression (including police infiltration), internal fighting, and mismanagement by its Cleveland branch, Al-Awda backed out of the rally and it is basically just one guy and his friends.

      A very sorry statement about where we are in national politics in dissenting against the Israel Lobby. I'm hoping next year's demonstration will be A) more attuned to ensuring the primacy of Palestinians (not just by having token Palestinians like at US Campaign but rather by having the Palestinian national narrative as the central theme); B) recognizing that AIPAC is not just bad for Jewish people but bad for the world; and C) will not allow Jewish voices to overshadow and marginalize other communities even in the realm of dissent.

  • Zionism and feminism are incompatible, leftwing voices say
    • @Phil and @Mondo,

      This is a great article, but is there a reason you basically left out Lamis Deek, who issued a powerful 6 minute condemnation of Zionism on the stage at the Women's Strike, with a Palestinian flag fluttering behind her?

      The only mention of Lamis is in passing: "You, Lamis Deek, Rasmea Odeh, among others..."

      I would suggest actually publishing the video and perhaps including it in the article:

  • Open Letter: Against the blacklisting of activists and writers
    • MondoWeiss was one of the few publications to post a defense of Alison Weir (although it was paired with a condemnation of her), as well as a longer letter demanding an end to "divisive attacks" that defended Alison Weir as well as Miko Peled and others. Judging by the comments here and the statements by many of the people who work with and have published at MondoWeiss I think very few people at MW think Alison Weir was treated fairly, but that's just a guess.

      Gilad Atzmon is another story, I think that guy made an effort to discredit himself.

    • Have to say I agree with this. A number of these names have been involved in assisting in silencing other voices, including at SJP. Last year around this time, an SJP in California cancelled a talk featuring a Nakba survivor and another Palestinian refugee after caving to pressure from their administration, and they sought to save face by claiming it had something to do with "anti-Semitism" (Alison Weir, who has been accused of anti-Semitism, was in the audience handing out flyers). Some of these same people did not seem to mind shutting down a Nakba survivor because Alison Weir was handing out flyers, including Rania Khalek and Ali Abunimah who tweeted his support of the cancellation. And now she wants to complain that a group rescinded their discretionary invite over her views on Syria?

      I also don't know how anyone can deny that Rania is an Assad apologetic, if she were to voice the same views about Israel as she has regarding the Syria situation I wonder if there would be any doubt that she would be an "Israel apologetic". Frankly Palestine is enough of a minefield, there is no need to start spewing clickbait in defense of Bashar Al-Assad and other cartoon villains.

  • Wave of bomb threats renews charge that anti-Semitism is fueled by BDS
    • "IfNotNow, a group focused on ending American Jewish support for Israel’s occupation but takes no position on the BDS movement, is one progressive group that..."

      This statement is a contradiction in terms. If Not Now takes no position on BDS, which translates to being against it (you either boycott something or you don't, if you're not boycotting then you are against BDS). If that is the case then they are not a "progressive group".

      It is bad enough that Zionist groups are trying to slander Palestine activism by tying it to anti-Semitism, we should reject the attempt to find token Jewish groups that reject this worldview when they are unprincipled on Palestine. The attempts to characterize Palestine solidarity as "anti-Semitic" is part of the Zionist worldview and is based on the same racism that regards Black Lives Matter as "anti-white". We should not play into their propaganda by promoting Jewish groups that themselves have unprincipled views on Palestine, even if they don't agree with the smears.

  • Trump says he's 'happy' with one-state outcome, ringing in a new era
    • The "Solidarity Movement" is acting as though this is a good thing, and bringing up South Africa. South Africa ended awfully. Blacks are still ghettoized and treated with utter contempt -- and that is *after* they achieved formal equality, not before. There is no guarantee that this will make the choice on Israel/Palestine as painfully clear as these pieces make it out to be. It could very well make the issue's international character disappear, resulting in Palestine being simply one of many places where racial discrimination takes place, with no international implications because the discrimination takes place within rather than between states. Annexation would also create a significant bar to international pressure even were international sentiment to be kept up. In short these pieces seem to think that ushering in an era of uncontested Israeli hegemony is somehow going to magically transform into democracy, or at the very least, that it will be easier to obtain. That is incredibly foolish.

  • The immaculate conception of Louis Brandeis
    • Good piece, but I too noticed the conspicuous absence of any mention of Alison Weir. Given that she's pretty much the only person who has written in great depth about Brandeis' involvement in Zionism I think that is an odd slip. But perhaps I'm reading into it too much.

  • Deborah Lipstadt's double standard on white nationalism and Jewish nationalism
    • Without defending Lipstadt's overall wordview, I have to ask, where in the excerpt is she defending Jewish nationalism? It sounds like she is simply criticizing the (alleged) leftist tolerance of anti-Semitism. It would be a sign of hypocrisy if, for example, she failed to criticize perceived anti-white bias by black activists, as that would be the analogy to anti-Jewish bias by Palestine activists. However, I don't see any of the quotations suggesting that. She is slamming white supremacy and also slamming the (alleged) left-wing anti-Semitism. It may very well be that she is wrongly conflating anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism (the Corbyn and college campus references would suggest so) but she doesn't come out and say what she considers anti-Semitism to be. So I don't think it's necessarily hypocritical of her. That being said I've always considered her to be somewhat of a huckster whose primary fame comes from being sued by a neo-Nazi. A very bizarre affair.

  • Tulsi Gabbard's screw-the-neocons meeting with Trump sparks anger, derision, encouragement
  • Rally marks the rebirth of the New York Jewish left
    • I have to say that this article is fairly inaccurate. It is not the rebirth of the Jewish left or of any left at all. It was a restatement of liberal Zionism. Anyone who attended the shitshow rally that Rob describes would have been greeted with signs that said things like "Zionism and Bigotry Don't Mix" and Israel ultranationalist slogans like Am Israel Chai.

      The rally was very much a Zionist rally and it was clear that a significant number of the people (not to mention deeply chauvinistic and racist organizations like If Not Now, which opposes "the occupation" but fights against BDS and the like) were not there for Palestinian rights, or rather, that it was not a matter around which these people were particularly principled. It seemed that many people were there because of the prevailing view that Bannon is anti-Jewish (something that has been challenged on MondoWeiss by Phil). Bannon's blatant and obvious genocidal anti-Muslim prejudices were secondary and the obvious fact that Bannon and the Zionist Organization of America go quite well together was being challenged by those who cannot accept that Zionism is, in fact, a deeply racist endeavor.

      Palestinians who attended the rally were shown the door for challenging Zionism outright and at least one Palestine student group received some angry letters about alienating Israeli Jewish liberals and the importance of the Meretz Party (?). In short it was similar to other very white rallies against Donald Trump: it emphasized the concerns of the dominant ethnic groups (in this case, Jews concerned about Bannon's alleged anti-Semitism) while equivocating or even wholly dismissing the systematic racism against Muslims, Arabs, and other marginalized groups.

      Rob might have considered using this as an opportunity to be critical of the deep-rooted racism amid the Jewish liberal groups that put the rally together rather than tout them as a sort of renaissance of Jewish resistance. The effect of continuing to reduce INN, JFREJ and JVP to part of a "Jewish tradition to fight for egalitarian ideas" in the same sentence that he concedes that several of them don't even boycott Israel amounts to little more than a whitewash. The rebirth of the Jewish left cannot happen without a principled shift on Palestine, and that can start by recognizing the significance and importance of Palestinians and their organizations in mobilizing for change.

  • New statement calls on the movement to focus on Palestine, not divisive internal conflicts
    • A great and valuable statement.

      I'd like to address two criticisms:

      1) I suspect that this is not a generalized "unite for Palestine" statement, which is why it says nothing about Syria. It is explicitly written in the introduction that this was written in the aftermath of JVP's very public insult at Miko Peled. Given that JVP's leadership explicitly pointed out that Miko has particular responsibilities to be careful in his rhetoric because he is a white, Jewish, Israeli guy and has immense privilege on the issue, it is unsurprising that the same scrutiny is being applied to JVP. This petition is a long overdue statement calling out JVP's consistent attempts to police the rhetoric of the solidarity movement to privilege Jewish voices and Jewish dissent. It is not a generalized statement about every possible fissure within the movement (Syria, etc). Nada Elia recently wrote a piece challenging this line of reasoning on this very website. These kinds of challenges are overdue and the fact that JVP believes it is appropriate to release such statements without even being asked is all the more reason for a public rebuke.

      2) Others are (again) making a fuss about Alison Weir. About 2,000 activists rejected these insults against Weir, including the heads of several major anti-discrimination organizations and world-renowned peace and justice activists. The notion that they are part of some sort of racist conspiracy is ludicrous. Moreover, as the petition points out, the allegations against Weir were pretextually used to justify shutting down two Palestinian refugees from speaking about the Nakba while Weir happened to be present. If Weir is suspect for challenging "Jewish power," discussing the Israel lobby in exaggerated terms, or touching on taboo topics, then MondoWeiss is suspect for the same reasons. The effect of these kinds of insinuations is to cast aspersions on a significant part of the anti-Zionist movement, which is exactly the purpose of making these kinds of cheap allegations.

  • NYC city council anti-BDS bill meets resistance from protesters
    • Wilson,

      This is a great article, but you left out some of the groups that were so instrumental to this action. The people who disrupted and who had organized this action were from a number of groups not represented in the press conference, including New York City Students for Justice in Palestine, Al-Awda NY, and the New York 4 Palestine Coalition.

      Especially considering that those groups are all heavily Palestinian I think it is important to make sure their organizing involvement is included. The only policy position on Palestine that you included was from Pam Sporn, who framed her dissent as a "Jewish" dissent and completely ignored the refugees. Of course her opinion and support are important, but I think you should make sure that when you cover these events that you don't give short shrift -- even unintentionally -- to Palestinian groups that have different politics like Awda.

      My 2 cents.

  • Hundreds of Jews march for 'Black Lives Matter' in New York
    • Really? it's an "important shift for our struggle to free Palestine" that a bunch of Jews in New York decided to support BLM?

      I kind of assumed that the liberation of Palestine would be at the hands of Palestinians, but I guess the measure of whether or not Palestine will be free is dependent on how the members of the community that is entitled to their land feel, and about a different race-related issue at that.

      Honestly this entire article is an erasure. We hear Jews talking about blacks, and there's some mention of Israel sprinkled on top of it. It's great that people of all backgrounds support BLM and that BLM has in turn defended Palestine, but to suggest that this is a sign of the coming liberation smacks of delusion and deep-seated racism. Please rethink your words.

  • In overwhelming vote, leading Lutheran branch calls on US to cut off aid to Israel
    • Yes, but what is to say that a resolution that actually mentioned the majority of the Palestinians wouldn't have passed? Did they field such a resolution? It is not a question of "purity". The simple fact is that when one boycotts or divests, there is an expectation that the boycott/divestment will "end" once certain demands are met. If the refugees aren't mentioned, that implies that it does not need to be addressed before investment continues.

      The other issue is that a significant chunk of the "BDS" Movement very vocally shunned Norman Finkelstein for suggesting that it was not possible to get a large movement of people together without removing the refugees and recognizing Israel, as part of a 2-state solution. If this is a success for BDS and a sign of progress then those people who shunned Finkelstein owe him an apology and should be ashamed of their duplicity.

    • It is great but what does this say for "BDS"? The Church explicitly reaffirms the two-state solution and there is literally 0 mention of the refugees. I don't mind the former, but the demands we make are what will decide when the investments are put back into place. Efforts like this essentially mean that a just settlement for the refugee population is not necessary before the Church begins investing in Israel or resuming calls for US support for Israel again. It also shows that the people who are in charge of much of this kind of activism (US Campaign, Anna Baltzer, JVP) do not consider that a requirement for our advocacy.

      I wonder how many Lutherans would have changed their vote had the campaign at the very least included some sort of rhetoric about UN 194. My guess is, given that it is a humanitarian matter, not much; but they have all but removed the Right of Return anyway. I remember a close friend showing me that for years, there was some sort of feud between Al-Awda (a major Palestinian-American refugee organization) and the US Campaign, apparently over the Campaign's refusal to advocate for the right of return, which the US Campaign denied. And yet here we see them plastering their names all over a resolution that all but erases the Nakba. In fact the only place it is even mentioned is on the Isaiah 58 website in one of its informational sections; but in advocating for peace and so on, it is all about 1967. Hmmmm...

    • Virtually every student I've met who has attended the "National SJP Conference" came back disillusioned. Last I remember they were using money they raised, much of it from grants from liberal NGOs, to give their own members paid vacations to foreign conferences, spreading all sorts of rumors among the student body, accusing their own members of "anti-Semitism" and not taking Palestinian voices seriously (unless they were token Palestinian voices that would promote Jewish voices). There were also some allegations of sexual harassment but for obvious reasons I can't comment on that other than from what I heard from the victims, it was never dealt with. There was some sort of town hall in 2014 in which the students who attended lambasted the people in charge, but from those who told me about it nothing has changed and they just ignored all of the complaints.

      To be clear, that isn't a slight against individual SJP chapters, but this "National" SJP conference is run by its own group of self-appointed PhDs from wealthy schools like Columbia and Harvard. They have very poor reputations in the world of student organizing, I wouldn't recommend advertising for them. Especially considering you've called on BDS to "abolish the state of Israel". That is the kind of rhetoric that is unacceptable to people in NSJP, they are trying to pander to Jewish liberals, they don't say the "Z" word, etc.

  • Israeli racism unmasks Netanyahu goodwill video
    • Also, not completely sure but I think the three words of Arabic at the beginning are wrong. I think he is trying to say "Dear Arab citizens," but he said "Citizenship of the Arabs" and then a non-existent word. Again, not sure because I'm not an Arabic pro but then again I'm not making propaganda videos to justify subjugating them.

    • Why did he need to remind Israeli Arabs that 20% of Israel is Arab? And why'd he need to do that in English?

      He not only erased the millions of "Arabs" i.e. Palestinians that have been banished to the hell that is the refugee camps, he has millions more under military occupation. The only "Arabs" that appear to matter are the ones who have been granted the illusion of citizenship, and Mr. Netanyahu managed to whitewash the sheer brutality of the police services against them while audaciously suggesting that the real issue is not enough stormtroopers. Good riddance!

  • The 'New York Times' is dead set on marginalizing Jewish anti-Zionism
    • I don't think it was fair for Eric Walberg to throw Atzmon and Sand in the same article. Sand's critiques of Zionism are what an actual critique of Zionism and identity politics looks like. Gilad Atzmon's narrative is, simply put, anti-Jewish. Zionism is seen as an outgrowth of Jewish culture alone, alongside Marxism and communism. It is no wonder that Atzmon has such a strong far-right following.

      Sand, if I am understanding him correctly, is pointing out that the notion of a secular Jewish identity is based on a nationalist myth concocted by pro-Israel groups, and he is upset that as a non-practicing Jew, his Jewish status gives him racist privileges in Israel. That is not the same as saying Zionism is an outgrowth of Judaism, but rather that the notion of a singular, united, international secular Jewish identity is an outgrowth of Zionism.

      More importantly, there is something called Jewish anti-Zionism (the Bund, etc.). I think the bigger point is whether or not Jews who oppose Zionism, whether out of Jewish values or anything else -- like others who oppose Zionism -- are doing so in a way that does not marginalize other anti-Zionist voices. In my opinion, many have not been careful, arguing that their Jewishness makes their opposition more legitimate and their voices more important; and it is not just them, but Palestinians and others who also think it is appropriate to privilege Jewish voices.

      But there are others who are Jewish and oppose Zionism out of general humanistic values that are not contradictory to the values of secular Jewish culture that has developed throughout the world. What's wrong with that?

  • Using Rep. Johnson's innocent comment to stain his reputation was the real crime
    • I wonder if Ali Abunimah will gather 17 Palestinians to disavow Hank on behalf of the entire Movement.

  • Meet Ali Kurnaz, young Democratic leader who lifted Palestinian flag on convention floor
  • Support for Rep. Hank Johnson following mischaracterization of his remarks on settlements
    • Oh good, you didn't hire a lawyer to look through everything he's ever written to characterize him as a creeping Nazi apologist the way you did with Alison Weir. Thanks guys, I wasn't sure how you'd react.

  • Hillary Clinton gains backing of neocon megadonor who funds Islamophobic groups
  • Why Trump's revolution succeeded, and Bernie's fizzled
    • "Today the Republican establishment that supported war is in smithereens. While the Democratic establishment that supported war is stronger than ever."

      I disagree with this, a lot. Trump did not end the pro-war sentiment in the Republican Party. He simply replaced it with a much more aggressive and less diplomatic message. He has promoted everything from torture to air strikes, and one of his arguments against the Iraq War was that we should have been MORE aggressive in confiscating the Iraqi people's resources. He also railed against the Iran Deal and cites Netanyahu as his compatriot. And although he has said that we should avoid regime change, one should recall that that is exactly the same message that George W. Bush gave us before coming into office. So long as Trump and his party remain invested in Islamophobia and unlimited executive power while continuing to court Christian Evangelicals and Zionist lobbyists like Sheldon Adelson, there is nothing to suggest that Trump won't shoot for the same kinds of foreign aggression as his predecessors.

      As for Clinton, it is true that she is a war-hawk, but her Party has grown tired of it. She has turned on the Netanyahu switch to sway Trump voters, the same way Cruz did during the GOP primary. She is purposely pandering to people who are likely to vote for Trump. As for her own policies, she is also a warhawk, but given the pressure from within her own Party that nearly cost her the nomination, I doubt one can argue that the pro-war sentiment in the Democratic Camp is GREATER than in the Republican Party. To the extent that the Republican Party's pro-war camp is in "smithereens" it is only because they keep aggressively promoting terrible policies and discrediting themselves. That does not mean, however, that those pro-war influences are not still there and not dominant.

      So it would be more accurate to say that the Republican Party and the head of the Democratic Party are both still aggressively pro-war, but the Republican Party is simply put, quite bad at it.

  • 'Washington Post' publishes article by Jewish leader urging boycott of Israel
    • So...Rebecca's qualification to speak is that she is a Jew who raised kids inside the settler-colony?

      Great way to reaffirm to the American public who is allowed to speak from the whitest and most chauvinistic "solidarity" group in the movement. Didn't these people condemn Alison Weir for allegedly taking such an approach?

  • Palestinians in North America: Our rent to pay
    • I would point out that there are still some distinctions, particularly that Zionism is a latter-day settler-colonial project carried out in the ostensible age of "Decolonization," and that while the US settler-colonial project is unfortunately completed -- stretching between oceans and no longer requiring the deployment of military forces to subjugate and destroy, Israel is still in the throws of its "fortress" stage.

      Nonetheless the distinctions do not outweigh the similarities and the writer is correct that our activism here should involve greater work with the indigenous communities.

      I enjoy hearing Nada Elia's enlightened perspectives (this and the piece about ending the celebration of Jewish Dissent) and I hope MondoWeiss publishes more from this author.

  • NY state senator wants to cut off university funds to SJP
    • If they pull off these kinds of stunts they A) won't make SJP go away, as students can easily just raise money from the community, and B) they will make SJP more radical as the school won't have any leverage over the group anymore! On top of that they will be highlighting the Palestine Exception.

  • Holocaust survivor and activist for justice Hedy Epstein dies at 91
    • Hedy,

      I will always have the greatest respect for you. From hunger striking for the people of Gaza to defending Michael Brown and the people of Ferguson, to standing up for justice even if it meant alienating family members, you will always be a role model of self-sacrifice in my eyes.

      The vile campaign of invective that was directed at you by those who disagreed with your support for Alison Weir was particularly disgusting, and I praise your resilience in standing up for yourself even when your "allies" turn their backs on you.

  • It is time to stop celebrating Jewish dissent in the Palestine solidarity movement
    • Are you surprised, though? Liberal Jewish groups continue to make up the central infrastructure of the so-called solidarity movement (JVP, etc). They have explicitly grounded their strategy in identifying themselves as Jewish and therefore more "legitimate", and others tolerate them even when they take less than principled positions (i.e. JVP only targeting settlements with boycotts and refusing to endorse BDS until last March).

      Concerns about anti-Semitism that are totally exaggerated or outright fabricated are not just taken more seriously by administrators, city councilors, etc. They are taken more seriously within organizations as well.

      Your article is effectively pulling the carpet out from underneath a highly racist but dominant tendency within Palestine activism in America. I praise you for it and I agree with what you have said entirely, but I don't think it's revealing. What did you expect?

      And that's from comments on MondoWeiss. A friend of mine in a JVP chapter told me that the group is going to have some kind of meeting about it because someone was offended that your article was posted to one of their list-servs or something. Your article is making waves, and a significant number of people to whom I've shown it have simply gotten upset, said you are making up a problem, etc.

  • Why are American pro-Palestinian voices silent about the brutal war on Yemen?
    • For the record, it took years before any significant portion of Western society, including the "Left," decided to sympathize with Palestine. There is also the difference that Israel, unlike Saudi in Yemen, is a settler-colony, making Israel's crimes more than just a matter of invasion, but also one of territorial expansion, something that always looks palpably more brazen and is always illegal.

      Nonetheless the failure of the Western left to say or do anything significant about the Saudi bombardment of Yemen is conspicuous.

  • Roundtable on the Palestinian solidarity movement and Alison Weir
    • This is not a very "round" table. Kind of a 30 degrees of not-sure-how-to-tackle-this-one table.

      Why didn't MW reach out to Hedy Epstein, or Iyad Burnat, or Bassem Tamimi, all of whom have wholeheartedly supported Weir, or even some of the people that are regularly published at MW to speak about this?

  • 'I love Obama' 'You're infatuated' (The argument on the left)
    • Michael Smith's comments were accurate with two related exceptions.

      1) Obama did not "end the occupation of Iraq" only to support terrorist violence against the Iraqi regime. That sounds like FOX News-style propaganda. It's one of the strange aspects of our time that Stalinist "Tanky" propaganda sounds so similar to right-wing war propaganda, from the discussions about Syria to Iraq to Ukraine. In reality, Obama continued the war in Iraq for 3 years and drastically reduced troop involvement only when outside forces, namely the ongoing mass popular resistance in Iraq coupled with the revelations from WikiLeaks forced him to make (delayed) good on his prior campaign promises.

      Obama did not support the terrorist violence in Iraq (I assume Smith means ISIS) except according to the Tanky-meets-FOX line in which any group that opposes the Syrian regime for any reason is basically ISIS. Of course, it is ironic that at the same time the Stalinist narrative posits ISIS as a threat to the Syrian "resistance regime," there is no recognition that the regime it is fighting in Iraq was entirely built by US imperialism.

      It is more accurate to say that Obama pulled troops from Iraq under massive international pressure while continuing to back the US-installed regime in Iraq with billions of dollars, even though that regime was falling into the hands of the Iranians. And that is what explains, at least in part, Obama's attempt to negotiate with Iran: The Iranians won in Iraq, and it would mean allowing the US-cultivated sectarian regime of death in Iraq to completely collapse if they avoided some sort of diplomatic arrangement with Iran.

      2) Phil is right to praise Obama, although he does so excessively. Obama is not a "man of the left" for most of the reasons Smith points out, although given all the other bizarre, kooky non-sense that sometimes qualifies as "left" I don't know why it matters or why that is a significant label. Obama is not a "leftist". On the economy his policies, believe it or not, are rooted in the kind of neoliberal garbage promoted by Reagan. On the military front his policies match up with George H.W. Bush. The only place where he is nominally liberal is on social issues like gay rights, and even there it took him (and the rest of the Washington establishment) years to catch up with the country.

      But, regardless of his reasons or his motives, he does in fact deserve praise when he does something right. But that is true whether he is Obama or Dubya. On this occasion, he has done something right: he has called on the Washington Zionist traveling circus to check itself before it wrecks itself. The cards on the table say that it is time for the US to end its jingoism against Iran. Those cards are:

      A) Iran stabilizing the US-sponsored bloodbath in Iraq and inheriting the sectarian regime there.
      B) Iran's closest ally, Syria, surviving the Arab Spring because none of the factions within Syria were able to mobilize effective opposition.
      C) Israel re-electing a leader with no long-term thought process who openly disavowed the fake US-sponsored "peace process" while carrying out a third large-scale massacre in Gaza within 6 years.

      Those cards mean that while Israel is seen as more and more of a strategic and diplomatic liability, Iran is more and more of a strategic asset. Obama is simply weighing the geopolitical costs and balances. That is not "leftism," that is just statecraft.

  • In effort to thwart BDS, some Israel supporters urge partial settlement freeze
    • How does this vindicate BDS?

      If anything it vindicates Peter Beinart. They are playing on the fact that settlements alone should be pulled because of the harm to Israel's image internationally. The same pressure could be applied using settlement-focused boycotts in the way that Beinart advocated and in the way that generations of Israeli faux left groups advocated.

      Virtually all of the recent BDS "wins" have been occupation-focused and settlement-focused, including the UCC "win". If anything the "victories" in question vindicate some of the comments made by anti-BDS campaigners like Finkelstein, who said that a broad-based focus on the occupation would make more in-roads and get Israel to make serious concessions.

      If partially reducing FDI in Israel or getting right-wing Israeli officials to try to apply the same "formaldehyde" to some of the Zionist settlements in the West Bank that they did in Gaza is a "victory," then BDS is not necessary for that. Instead, occupation-focused and settlement-focused boycotts are all that is needed.

      In reality this is simply a repeat of something that has happened throughout Israel's history, namely that international pressure focuses almost entirely on Israel's occupation and settlements and small concessions are offered by even the most right-wing administrations. Dov Weisglas made that clear when he referred to the Gaza disengagement as a "formaldehyde" for the peace process.

      If BDS wants to make in-roads in order to isolate Israel then activists should be actually following the dictates of the NGOs and CSOs that called for it, especially given that they've long since ignored the actual mass movements on the ground in Palestine for being too Islamic for their tastes. The BDS call very clearly includes refugee rights and Omar Barghouti has himself emphasized again and again that he does not think it is pragmatic or ethnical to remove them, and yet every BDS resolution that has passed so far ignored the refugees. There isn't a single mention of them in the actual resolutions.

      This post implies that BDSers are now taking Finkelstein and Beinart's advice, focusing on ending the occupation and settlements, and that the new goal post for victory is small concessions like the Gaza disengagement. If that is a victory then quite frankly Palestine has been winning for many years. One step forward, two steps back.

  • Israeli propaganda dominates front page of 'New York Times' today
  • Can the US Congress bring justice for the Palestinians?: A response to Robert Naiman
    • Beinin is confusing a substantive disagreement with a formal one. It is true that JVP takes substantively better stances than J-Street. In fact it should not even be up for debate.

      But as Beinin points out, JVP also lobbies Congress. In fact, both groups, despite their substantive differences, have pursued similar strategies: courting donors, working within the liberal elements of the Jewish community, and so on. If anything, J-Street's position is less contradictory. It is a liberal Zionist group, and it is aware that it is a liberal Zionist group, which is why it can lobby Congress successfully, being able to claim powerful donors and a network of interests on its behalf by refusing to challenge Israel on substantive issues.

      JVP on the other hand takes an "anti-racist" stance while effectively operating as a Jewish communal organization. Their website used to contain content suggesting that their Jewishness made them "more legitimate" and Rebecca from JVP uses the same tokenizing rhetoric in much of her advocacy. Any attempt to point out the contradiction between rejecting a Jewish state while operating on the basis that Jews have a greater say in resolving the situation is ignored. They also purposely side-stepped the issue of Zionism which left them open to criticism when they went after Alison Weir. JVP is trying to be too many things. It wants to be anti-racist, but it also wants ethnic legitimacy. It wants to be a grassroots movement, but it also wants to affect those in power. It wants to be for the liberation of Palestine, but it cannot use "anti-Zionist" (read: anti-colonial) rhetoric.

      So what Naiman says is about JVP's current position is accurate. It is not a serious contender for power in Congress. It is a grassroots movement that is internally contradictory and that struggles to find itself within a climate of racism.

      I think JVP is trying to put a more professionalized, Congress-friendly spin on, but of course that is easier said than done. Even assuming they are able to raise enough money to form the kind of network that can seriously affect Congress, it is usually at the cost of taking the kinds of stances that achieve the more progressive goals that they have aligned themselves with, which would explain why it took JVP so long to endorse BDS and why it is still afraid of critiquing Zionism.

      If there is a time that JVP's positions will be mainstream enough to take it into Congress successfully it will likely be due to the activities of groups that take less contradictory stances.

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