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  • On the day two Palestinians are killed, 'NYT' reporter flashes snark
    • "The NYT’s hard-right turn is interesting. I think that it went a lot tougher on Israel as a way to get a deal. I think what we’ve seen in the past few years is a slow realization on their part that the 2SS isn’t coming and as such the NYT has decided to prolong the inevitable, to shield Israel as long as it humanly can, until it is axiomatic that Israel’s an Apartheid state and the 2SS is dead even for the beltway types.

      Kerry’s A-word usage behind closed doors is as good an indicator as any that we are getting there. But how fast we get there is an open question."

      Krauss, I think this is a big part of it. The prevailing wisdom in the Beltway (and if nothing else, the Rothkopf/Oren exchange nailed this part: facts drive perceptions and those perceptions drive policy) is that the 2SS is endangered not just by demography but by the ultranationalist Likud-YB coalition. The perception in DC is that since Arafat, the PA has become the best peace partner Israel is ever realistically going to get: Abbas is finally tentatively willing to sign off on the Barak/Olmert/Kerry Framework (it's all really close) and Fayyad was an example of the sort of Western Palestinian leadership that could close the wounds with economic development. However, the Likud-YB coalition and the ongoing settlements are demonstrable evidence of Israeli intractability, and that's the part of the narrative that's really changed.

      If the NYT, which has actually been much cooler to Israel on the whole over the last few years, can create enough frostiness, perhaps it could serve as a sort of "wake up call." If not, c'est la vie. In either event, it accurately reflects the bifurcation of elite opinion (which Rothkopf/Oren really demonstrated.) I think the rising tide for now isn't anything near one state, but rather a sort of "tough love" hardline liberal Zionism (ex. Beinart), if that makes any sense.

  • Shalom Modi: India and Israel look to deepen ties following victory of the Hindu right
    • Kathleen, while I certainly agree that the latest round of talks cracked up under the mountain pressure of increased settlement activity, it's foolhardy to ignored the rejection of the Barak offer in 2000 or the Olmert offer in 2008 (both of which were substantially similar to the Kerry Framework.) The trick is that the current Likud-YB-JH wing of the Coalition has zero inclination to agree to a peace deal.

      I think the pressure from the Obama Admin is as much aimed at getting a genuinely and workably pro-2 state Israeli Coalition gathered as it is anything else. It's why they went to Barnea in YA (a Hebrew paper.) If Netanyahu appears isolated, there's a chance that the Israeli public (already moving away and towards Lapid-ism as of the last election) follow accordingly.

      I do think that Abbas is dedicated to a 2SS and I actually happen to think that Bibi would prefer one, but not at the cost of his Coalition. It's also important to remember that Abbas, when personally pressed by President Obama, failed to assent to the Kerry Framework even with reservations (unlike Netanyahu.) Yair Lapid (no liberal) supports negotiations with a unity PA. Livni went and met with Abbas in London without Bibi's permission (Lieberman has tried to waive this away.) Most Israelis and Palestinians support a 2SS because they know the alternative is likely to be unpleasant at best.

  • Israeli Housing Minister predicts massive settler population growth over next five years
    • The ongoing settlement permits, even if they are just confined to the 5 major blocs are an obvious bad faith showing. Uri Ariel is a radical ultranationalist whose politics are in practice anti-Zionist because they will lead to a binational state. I don't see any other way to paint this, and considering Quartet and especially US frustration at the collapse of the talks (considered largely due to settlement growth) which is already manifesting in the German gunboat deal breakdown, I'm surprised that Ariel is still in his cabinet position.

      That having been said, I'm also surprised that Bogie Ya'alon has his position after shit-talking John Kerry. Or that Naftali Bennett has his after releasing his odious Area C annexation plan and constant sniping at Bibi. Or that Avigdor Lieberman has his after his series of scandals and open talk of a Russian speaking PM. Or, honestly, that Tzipi Livni has hers after she unilaterally attempted to restart peace talks by meeting with Mahmoud Abbas: http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/1.591127

      ...Some of that was tongue in cheek, but I am surprised that Yair Lapid hasn't seized on the zeitgeist, bolted along with Livni, and formed a pro-2 state by any means necessary coalition (i.e. leaving Shavit/Oren-style unilateralism on the table) alongside Labour/Meretz. Would he be able to form a majority? I know Lapid has sworn off any connection with Shas.

      The bottom line is that Netanyahu is out of step with his own party (he's easily the most liberal Likud minister) and with the country (he's veered far too rightward.) This is a moment not unlike the US in the mid-00's, and I suspect a correction towards the center and the left. Israel must unburden itself of the Occupation, and I suspect that Shimon Peres (probably the most popular political figure in Israel and a true peacenik) will speak up much more strongly once he's out of the Presidency and Ruby Rivlin is in.

  • This just in: Glenn Greenwald was never bar mitzvahed
    • "But how seriously is it taken? I mean, are there Jews that take it so seriously that they would not let a non-BarM’d Jew in their house? Is it as objectionable, say, as not being “genitally circumscribed?”"

      Secular diaspora here: I'm a millennial, I was raised in a relatively Jewish area, have a lot of Jewish friends, and can say with confidence that I wasn't bar mitzvah'd, and nobody I know cares. This includes Israelis that I work with. Though definitely a step away from the norm, even amongst the Secular and Reform crowd, it is literally not an issue beyond "Oh man, you missed out!" In that way, it's really not unlike skipping Birthright.

      Of course, I can only speak to my experience. The most interaction I have with Hasidic Jewry is to inform them that yes, I'm Jewish but no, I'm not interested. (That's a joke for anybody who ever encountered the Mitzvah Tank.)

  • After first visit to Israel, 'Foreign Policy' editor says religious, garrison state has 'passed its sell-by date'
    • Phil,

      I come and visit Mondoweiss explicitly to see and read views that I disagree with, some of which is stomach churning (particularly in the commentary.)

      My question is a simple one: why would you right this up without having read Oren's letters? Don't you think you'd, at minimum, need them in order to inform your understanding Rothkopf's own letters?

  • Blumenthal in Brooklyn
    • "Lesson of the Shoah? Oh God, you sound like our politicians. Honestly, I don’t understand the obsession with wanting to draw a lesson from the Holocaust. Why do we need to read a lesson into a past event? That reminds me of paranoid Zionists who try to read anti-Semitism into every statement. “We really need to find some lesson.” is like “We really need to find some anti-Semitism.”"

      ...you... don't see a connection between anti-Semitism and the Holocaust? Or that there's a lesson to be learned from the systematic destruction of 12 million people (including the attempted extermination of the whole of Jewry which wiped out 2/3's of Europe's population)?

      The events of 1881-1945 speak to the need of Jews for a sovereign, safe state of their own, and it was recognized before WWII had reached its ugliest point (Herzl's career, Ze'ev Jabotinsky's speech at Warsaw are two obvious examples.)

      The issue today, that Jewish state being realized, secure, and providing ongoing refuge (this year will mark the single largest French Aliyah since 1948 due to rising fears of anti-Semitism), is to secure a 2 state peace deal. A lesson learned is that a people should have a state in which they can be safe and free from persecution.

      While I know it's an unpopular view on this site, I really do believe that 2 states for 2 peoples is a pragmatic necessity as the most practical, best path forward for Israel and Palestine. A safe, sovereign, prosperous Palestinian state alongside a safe, sovereign, prosperous Israel and deeply integrated economic and security cooperation between the two states will do more to advance the cause of the Palestinian people than the inevitable strife that a one state solution would.

    • OK, I'm not usually the guy to fly this flag, but who could read this post in this context and NOT see it as anti-Semitic?

      Unless I'm missing something, that Wandering Jew crack came out of nowhere, and Zionists is clearly being meant as "you Jews gotta stick together though."

      Note: I don't see how you could see Lieberman as anything but a racist and I find his politics deplorable, but his rise from the working class is admirable.

  • Israel's unending settlements 'mortally wound idea of a Jewish state' -- Indyk
    • The UK doesn't have a written constitution either, formed a Supreme Court just a few years ago, and those pesky Scots are about to be independent! :P

      The truth is that Israel has something called "Basic Laws", which are tantamount to a Constitution. Any change or addition to them is extremely hotly debated. The most recent example of this is the proposed Jewish & democratic nation-state law. As you can imagine, it's a very thorny issue, and any potential wording (there have been other attempts before) is very important.

  • Now that Israel has killed the two-state solution, will liberal Zionists support equality or ethnocracy?
    • I've noticed a dearth of actual liberal Zionist commentary in this thread, so I figured I should chime in:

      I don't think the 2 state process is dead. If anything, I think it's closer than ever. Look past Netanyahu (his coalition is fraying) and see the imminency of a peace deal for Lapid and Livni, the way Herzog is ready to agree to something along Arab League lines, al-Masri's op-ed in Haaretz, and Abbas' own acquiescence to a deal most of the Israeli center and left would find palatable (indeed, the Kerry/Peres offers are substantially quite similar to the Olmert offer, if you believe what you read.) International pressure, Palestinian applications to international treaties (and their subsequent compliance, one would hope), and internal secular Zionist pressure will lead to a deal.

      Tony Blair and the Quartet have a plan of action. The Obama administration is finally playing hardball. The Clintons (who made the most progress of anyone) are nearing the White House. There's finally a burgeoning Palestinian unity government which might stick (and Hamas might actually be willing to be a partner in peace!)

      Any one state solution would be covered in ethnic strife and likely bloodshed that neither the Israelis or the PA want. 2 states for 2 peoples makes the best of a rough situation. It's not lost on anyone that Abbas' concessions are very significant, or that the Kerry Framework would be favorable to the Israelis, and I think it's highly likely that a deal will emerge in the near future because it is the only really (actually) plausible, realistic path forward. Settlers at Kiryat Arba might stay in the new Palestinian state, but otherwise, most players on both sides see a better future with a peace deal (and would accept it if one came along.)

      It just so happens that the peace process is only MOSTLY dead. There's a big difference between mostly dead and all dead. Mostly dead is slightly alive.

  • Now Rand Paul wants to 'Stand with Israel'
    • http://www.gallup.com/poll/161387/americans-sympathies-israel-match-time-high.aspx

      On an anecdotal level, as an educated, young, progressive urbanite, I can tell you I don't much get the sense that people view Israel in that way at all.

    • I think there's a very practical reason for Paul's evolution: unlike his father, Rand Paul is a good politician with a willingness to accede to his votership's preferences. Israel (and especially Greater Israel) is wildly popular on the ground, in the grassroots of the Republican base and especially in the TEA Party. If Paul ever has any hope of getting his 2016 campaign off the ground, this is an issue where he has to be perceived as "strong".

      Even considering Paul's counter-culture and libertarian credibility, Israel's domestic popularity is actually at an all-time high in the US and I assume that's doubly true for a GOP base that pathologically hates President Obama and probably views him (incorrectly) as anti-Zionist. Thus, for Paul, the most obvious answer is likely the correct one: sheer electability.

  • In historic interviews, US officials blame end of talks on Israeli land theft
    • There's a fair amount of sad truth to this, unfortunately. I think Area C annexation (if not outright WB annexation?) is totally plausible. Caroline Glick's been beating this drum and getting track in the hardcore American right. Naftali Bennett is obviously popular and this is the centerpiece of his politics.

      I think you nail it with the burgeoning alliance between the Israeli right and the Putinists. There's not just commonality of politics, but of language and culture (a direct product of the massive Russian Aliyah of the 90's.) FM Lieberman wasn't kidding when he said he aspires to see a Russian-speaking Israeli PM. These aren't the original secular General Zionists, for sure.

      Hopefully, the Indyk resignation and the deep international scorn towards the Netanyahu coalition will lead to at least a more peace-palatable government.

      As an aside, is there a reason my last comment wasn't posted? I don't think it was particularly objectionable (beyond reflecting my own [minority on this website] leanings.)

    • This is absolutely stunning, and something close to the inverse of Camp David. I think the key takeaways here are that:

      a) This was in Hebrew in the largest newspaper (or does Haaretz have a larger readership?) The key readership is Israeli. Netanyahu's coalition is shaky enough as it is. Note the glowing words about Tzipi Livni, who despite Hatanuah's poor showing in the last election, has already carried a general once. I think this is as much about trying to change the hearts and minds of Israeli voters and build the antipathy towards the settler movement and its representatives like Bayit Hayehudi. Kerry's recent statement reflected that, too. The current coalition simply doesn't have a realistic vision of peace and most of it doesn't want it under any circumstance (like Uri Ariel.)

      b) Tom Friedman's reporting on the Framework was accurate, that the general reaction (the Framework was very favorable to the Israeli position) was not unnoticed by the Americans, and that coalition intransigence was at the center of the breakdown.

      c) Urgency. Abu Mazen is nearing the end of his time in public life, is seeking a successor, and seems to genuinely want peace. Yair Lapid this week said that Hamas can be negotiated with. Livni no doubt agrees. Bougie Herzog obviously does, and Zahava Gal-On (whoever many seats Meretz has) would probably rather as many people at the table as possible. This is meant to create urgency, precisely to counter the sort of inertia and "sustainability" that Roger Cohen described the Occupation as having.

      "Unsustainable" is the administration keyword on this. It's the keyword of the secular Israeli middle class and Tel Avivians. It's the way any right-thinking Zionist thinks of this. The idea is to foment a coalition that gets it and is willing to make peace, especially on favorable and mutually agreed upon terms like the potential Kerry Framework could be/have been.

      I am very, very curious as to the domestic Israeli media response to this as well as the NYT/WaPo response.

  • Fiddler on the Nakba
    • "How relevant are the pogroms of 100 years ago? They are relevant to Jews her age."

      I take it you haven't much been paying attention to the Ukraine, Hungary or France?

  • Kerry says that Israel could wind up being 'an apartheid state'
    • I haven't seen a word of it in the Times, but there are a pair of interesting articles:

      A decidedly liberal Zionist piece about J Street: http://takingnote.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/04/28/who-speaks-for-pro-israel-americans/

      and this news on the suspension of talks which quotes Naftali Bennet of all people at length: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/29/world/middleeast/israel-appears-to-raise-new-peace-talks-issue-with-us.html

    • (This ran longer than I expected it to, it's still a touch embryonic.) I don't really think it's an accident that this leaked. I don't really think Kerry's assessment is wrong, either.

      As the Occupation continues and deepens, a two state solution grows more and more imperiled. With that comes the choice: a Jewish state or a democracy. Plans to annex Area C only add to this problem, as would the "Autonomy on Steroids" Bantustan proposed by Naftali Bennett today. Given the events of the last week (Fatah-Hamas unity involving Gazan leadership, Hamas' de facto acquiescence to the Quartet's demands, Abbas' acceptance in Arabic of the Holocaust), I don't see how anybody can take Bibi Netanyahu's commitment to a 2 state solution at face value anymore. Much like when the PA had a friend in Salaam Fayyad, Abbas has delivered gift which Netanyahu is determined to look in the mouth. Even if you accept that there is a 2 state vision he'd get behind, it is as far removed from reality as Hamas' unitary solution.

      Andrew Sullivan (in a piece I disagree with for reasons I'll get to in a moment) just posted this well-written bit: http://dish.andrewsullivan.com/2014/04/28/john-kerry-tells-the-truth/

      Sullivan's analysis isn't out of place with anything you'd see here. Probelmatically, it also ignores Yesh Atid, Hatnuah, or the desperate-for-peace Israel left led by Labour's Bougie Herzog. I suppose, by Sullivan's analysis, Americans were all pro-torture warmongers in 2004? Roger Cohen's piece in the Times was essentially true: the status quo is sustainable for Israel, and however odious it may seem, most Israelis appreciate their safety and economic growth. That's the real problem, particularly as Netanyahu pivots towards being a Russian client due to common ethos and the growing influence of the Soviet bloc.

      My hope is that the Obama admin's pressure cracks up the Netanyahu coalition, that Lapid bolts to the opposition along with Livni, and that a newly installed Prime Minister Herzog meets with the moderate new Palestinian President (al-Masri? Fayyad? Dahlen?) Even if you think that's Utopian (and even I'm inclined to say that my hope might be...) I think the likelihood is that Michael Oren is right and there will be a unilateral disengagement in the near-future contemporaneous with PA efforts towards UN recognition that the US may well support. The moment that a two state solution is impossible and a one state solution is inevitable (which I contend is still a little ways off), the position of the Israelis will shift from immoral Occupier to apartheid governor.

      One final bit: The Daily Beast (which also hosted Andrew Sullivan and Peter Beinart) just released the American Secretary of State saying this after Barack Obama spoke with similar frankness to Jeffrey Goldberg a mere month ago. There is no war with Iran. Apartheid is a loaded word meant to scare the Israeli public and government, a sort of step up from the mention of BDS a few months back. These are not things that puppets say. At what point can we speak frankly on this blog about the nature of the "Israel Lobby": that it's not some all powerful tail that wags the dog, but rather the more obvious answer that the reflexive Likudnik tendencies of most Washingtonians are dulling due to a combination of the obstinacy and shameful governance of the Netanyahu coalition and the deeper influence of realpolitik retrenchment following the neocon adventurism of the Aughties (as embodied in Obama's foreign policy)?

  • Israel stops US-led peace talks citing Palestinian unity (Updated)
    • Provided that this unity deal includes Hamas renouncing violence and extinguishing their paramilitary arm, abiding by past PLO/PA agreements, and recognizing the right of Israel to exist, this is a *major* step forward and one that the Netanyahu government should welcome and reciprocate by re-opening talks, freezing settlements, and discussing borders.

      Likud is as much a capitalist enterprise as it is anything else, and normalization of relations would be a boon for the Israelis as they could finally take advantage of potential economic partnerships with neighboring states assuming ensuing diplomatic regularization. Moreover, a two state peace would mean that Israel (which is growing more conservative) would remain fertile ground for Likud and its coalition partners.

      (Granted, as I've stated before in other posts, I'm not exactly enthralled with Likud, and would much rather a Labour-led Israeli government and the sort of Coalition that would enable that.)

  • 'Al Jazeera' examines Jewish constellation of lobby elites, and marginalized 'universalists'
    • For what it's worth, Labour MK Herzog appears to support the 02 plan, and if one were to squint, there isn't too much of a gap between the Kerry Framework, the 02 Plan, and the Olmert/Barak offers.

      Were the current rightwing coalition to be unseated, I think a peace deal may actually be tenable, particularly if Hamas and Fatah can make their union work while abiding the existing PLO framework. I think that a lasting, durable 2 state peace would certainly be in everyone's interests, no?

    • "The reason most Jews support Israel is because they recognize that ‘anti-Zionism’ is a thin veil for anti-Jewish. "

      It's total and complete tomfoolery to think that there isn't a significant overlap between anti-Zionists and anti-Semites. Moreover, even well-meaning observers who are anti-Zionist on principle (and I suppose are anti-Australian, etc.?) often trade in anti-Semitic language and tropes even without intending it as such. This is to say nothing of the immediate replies to your comment ("ziocaine"!? listing prominent Jews? Would anybody do this to prominent members of the LGBT community and be called anything other than homophobic?) which demonstrate something much darker.

      That having been said, it's legitimate to discuss the existence of a pro-Israel/Likudnik lobby, though it is the beyond reason to expand and extend it to any group which isn't explicitly anti-Zionist. It's legitimate to discuss Sheldon Adelson's influence. It's certainly legitimate to advocate for the rights of Palestinians living under Occupation.

      However, it simply is not legitimate to question the very existence of a lawful United Nations member state any more than it is legitimate to question any other. The question of the necessity of political Zionism, if there ever had to be one, was settled in the last century and some Americans are very lucky to have the ability to question that (ask a French Jew, a Hungarian Jew, or a Ukrainian Jew how they feel right now.) There is a Jewish nation-state, and acceptance of that fact is the first step towards a normal and rational discourse over how to end the morally and pragmatically problematic ongoing, illegal occupation of a neighbor.

      Israel's sovereignty within its 1967 borders has been recognized by the PLO, Fatah, and now, seemingly, by Hamas. The 2002 Arab League Initiative is clear and convincing evidence of the Jewish state's existence. The question isn't and shouldn't be the ongoing existence of a Jewish state, but rather the birth of a neighboring Palestinian one - a moment that has drawn much closer with the unification agreement between Fatah and Hamas and the news that Hamas has agreed to renounce violence and recognize Israel.

  • You know Israel's in trouble when 'NYT' runs op-ed saying it's replacing Iran as isolated theocracy
    • I certainly think Israel is veering rightward in a problematic way. However, the conflation of this with the rise of religiosity is indicative of a seriously thin understanding of Israeli politics.

      The latest election cycle was predicated on Lapid's Yesh Atid's ascendancy, which is a secular party which sought (successfully) to integrate the Ultra-Orthodox through ending draft exemptions and the like. FM Lieberman's YB is a secular-zionist party. Naftali Bennett is threatening (with no seriousness) to bolt from the Coalition. The latest rumblings are that there's a Shas-Labour union in the offing (potentially with Meretz?) which is trying to pick off Lapid and Tzipi Livni's Hatnuah (something that I think is actually fairly likely, in a way similar to the undoing of Barak's tenure in the early 00's.) Herzog (Labour leader who is explicitly pro-peace) has been saying that Israel needs to adjust to something similar to the Arab League Initiative terms!

      Pegging religiousity to ascendant conservatism in Israel is utterly falacious. The State of Israel remains a recognizable liberal democracy and I sincerely doubt that's changing any time soon, even with the demographic shift underway due to massive Haredi birthrates.

      I think the Times is right here. If Kerry were to just publish his rumored framework and leave it on the table as the official US position, it would have to effect of likely breaking the Likud-YB coalition. Most of the Israeli moderate right, and virtually all of the center and left seek a peace deal and the Kerry Framework would placate all of those groups. In the meantime, it would leave open the possibility of someone more sensible like Livni, Herzog, or Lapid becoming PM, and that is obviously an outcome the Obama administration would prefer. Similarly, an officially stated US position might actually push the Palestinians to move away from Abbas (who certainly isn't the most moderate leader the Palestinians could put forward) and towards someone new and more reasonable such as Dahlen, al-Masri, or Fayyad.

      To Mr. Weiss, chag sameach!

  • Grindr in Hebron: A dispatch from the last debate
    • See below, and feel free to comment.

    • You're right. Honestly/sincerely, as I know the Internet can sometimes obscure that. It would appear, based upon that, that Mr. Blumenthal has greater reach amongst those who use the web.

      This is precisely the reason that I post here and visit this site, so as to be exposed to news that I might not read otherwise. My impression was obviously based on the fact that Mr. Beinart has been featured in significantly more mainstream media (NYTimes, etc.)

    • "Besides, criminal records are not inheritable. So, if my ancestors committed any crimes against Jews, then this has nothing to do with me."

      "The victimhood mindset of Zionist Jews is truly pathetic. They need to acknowledge that times have changed. Anti-Semitism is not a problem anymore. Or at least a much, much, much, much, much smaller problem than injustice to Palestinians."

      " Besides, if a Zionist WANTS to accuse you of anti-Semitism, then he will find a reason/pretext to do so, no matter how carefully you choose your words.
      Choosing your words MORE carefully when writing about Jews than about non-Jews would be special treatment of Jews. And that’s discrimination."

      I'm struck by your statements. Do you understand how these statements could be viewed as being discriminatory in effect? Are you familiar with the concept of a "suspect class"? Why did you, in response to me, immediately compare anti-Semitism to the Occupation (which I have repeatedly denounced on this website)?

      I'm curious as to this: how would you define an anti-Semitic action or statement? Do you believe there currently exists a basis for there to be laws against discrimination, Holocaust denial, or incitement, as there presently are in Germany?

    • Why would you assume I didn't read it? And why would you assume I support the treatment of Palestinians under the Occupation? Or the obviously unhinged actions of a small minority of the Israeli population?

      I have read Goliath. While it was obviously a yeoman's effort to write, the tone and tenor were so biased and inflammatory as to create apprehension and misgivings surrounding the author's personal biases, and I think that was fairly generalized reaction beyond the audience to which Mr. Blumenthal was already writing.

    • @Woody

      I think that if that's the agreement reached between Israelis and Palestinians, then that should certainly be the case. My own preference is probably something closer to the rumored Kerry Framework or the Olmert Plan, but I'd be a-ok with that if it was what the Israeli government agreed to and what their citizenry approved via referenda. Might I ask what your preferred peace deal looks like?

      Please note that the following isn't my precise preference, but I think is representative of what the Israeli center and right would probably accept since it follows what is reputed to be the Netanyahu bargaining position:

      Would you be ok with a demilitarized Palestinian state on the Gaza and approximately 90% of the land beyond the Green Line with appropriate land swaps and a predetermined access route between the two territories, recognized West Jerusalem and predesignated East Jerusalem settlements as the Israeli capital in addition to the Old City (with liberal access rights and the existing control of the al-Aqsa Mosque carried over), which allowed for an indefinite joint-IDF/NATO presence along the Jordan River, and which affirmatively outlawed anti-Israeli incitement in all forms while recognizing Israel as the national home of the Jewish people?

      Would you support it if the Palestinian Authority agreed to that and the Palestinian people approved that or a similar plan in a national referendum?

    • Wouldn't the most likely answer for no Grindr dates in Hebron be that the population:

      a) is too damn broke to have smart phones (is Grindr iOS only?) Note that I sort of doubt this.
      b) is too religious/oppressive to publicly broadcast a homosexual "hookup" culture? Note that I sort of don't doubt this. Particularly in light of the famous friendliness of Israel, and Tel Aviv in particular, to the LGBT community, especially in comparison to neighboring states.

      ---

      C) Directly to Mr. Blumenthal, I'm curious if you'd answer a few of questions.

      1) Do you think that the refusal to debate you is due to the controversial nature of your writing and a lack of desire to give it greater publicity? It's indisputable that Peter Beinart is a bigger name than you are.

      Please note that I am strongly opposed to censorship and do believe that more prominent and moderate Zionists (who are more representative of the Zionist body politic) should engage you in debate. My belief in this follows from Herzog/Toynbee.

      2) Noting the language you used in this article. The Guardian has written about the necessity of sachel in reporting on matters concerning Zionism and Jewry: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2011/nov/06/averting-accusations-of-antisemitism-guardian?commentpage=1

      In both this post and your other writings, you make a point of using notably controversial language. I'm curious if you'd like to address the idea that there is a significant problem relating to the potential use of loaded language.

      An example: "With Washington closed off to anyone to the left of AIPAC, I argued, the only available recourse was a campaign of massive external pressure against Israel organized among global civil society, with BDS as its central tactic."

      This would appear to me to be, dovishly, something in line with the Walt/Mearsheimer (how about that Gilad Atzmon?) hypothesis. However, as has been written about quite a bit, a very significant percentage of official Washington - including the President - is explicitly to the left of AIPAC while still remaining Zionist in its proclivities. What say you about J Street? And what of the potential to read that sentence as something much darker?

      Further you mentioned "the obsessively pinkwashing Israel lobby". I'm curious as to what you mean by this. Is there anything wrong with Zionists who highlight Tel Aviv's LGBT community as evidence of tolerance within Israel proper? Particularly as contrasted towards prevailing attitudes towards homosexuals throughout the rest of the region. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LGBT_rights_by_country_or_territory#Middle_East (please also note the disparity between the Gaza and the West Bank.)

      http://www.buzzfeed.com/saeedjones/76-countries-where-anti-gay-laws-are-as-bad-as-or-worse-than (yeah, it's Buzzfeed, but it's also well sourced.)

      One other bit: "Landes homed in on Atshan, who happens to be gay, "... you might want to listen to an old George Carlin bit about this.

      3) "When Zionists debate, they do so over the only issue over which they disagree: Which size cage should Palestinians inhabit?"

      As a liberal Zionist who strongly supports the 2SS and the right of the Palestinian people to a sovereign nation state and self-determination, I'm curious as to what you mean by this. I don't think that's a fair characterization of my views, or those of most American Democrats, or the Israeli center or left.

      Thanks for your time.

  • 'Daily Beast' labels Abbas 'stubborn' for refusing to recognize Israel as Jewish state
    • @just

      Thanks for linking. The JRV is a really interesting conundrum. The Israelis have an absolutely legitimate security concern based on their history in the region. However, it's obviously what will become a significant portion of the Palestinian state and Abbas has reasonably offered to allow a long term NATO presence in the region following an IDF presence during the nation building process (5-10 years?).

      I don't think it's unfair to say that the recent events in the Ukraine have undermined the international peacekeeper position (which looked similar to Olmert + Abbas', and was my own until watching the events in Crimea), and given tailwind to something more like Netanyahu's based on the attenuation between Western support and defensive/supportive action.

      I found this part of the article (right after the cut off) to be most interesting:

      "
      Maj. Guy Inbar, spokesman for the military-run authority that coordinates Israeli government activities in the West Bank, said Palestinians living in the Jordan Valley have the right to build if they can prove land ownership and if they gain the appropriate building permits.

      Israel, he added, has also started drafting plans for new Palestinian communities in the area, at least five of which have been announced.

      “Israel does recognize the need to create options” for the people living there, Inbar said.

      Sarit Michaeli, a spokeswoman for Israeli rights organization B’Tselem, said she viewed those plans with “cautious optimism” but noted that they have yet to receive final approval.

      Meanwhile, building permits have proved nearly impossible to obtain, according to a recent B’Tselem report. More than 94 percent of 3,750 building requests submitted by Palestinians between 2000 and 2012 were rejected by Israel, the report said, leaving residents no choice but to build illegally and face possible demolition.

      Michaeli said the main problem is that large swaths of Jordan Valley land are off-limits to Palestinians because the areas are closed military zones, protected nature reserves or zoned as part of an Israeli settlement."

      On a media critique level, I don't see how else this could be construed but as a sympathetic article Palestinians in the Occupied Territories. That's a good thing, too. Obviously. It closed on this really appropriate note:

      "Back in Ein al-Hilwa, local council head Arif Daraghmeh said Israeli military patrols return daily to the village to make sure there is no rebuilding of the demolished structures.

      “Look over there. That is the Israeli settlement of Maskiot,” he said, pointing to a cluster of red-roofed houses sitting neatly on the adjacent hillside — a former unauthorized outpost that the Israeli government approved in 2006. “They also started off with just a tent, but now they have proper buildings and water and electricity. We are not even allowed to put up a simple tent.”"

      Allow me to be clear here: I find nothing problematic in the rigorous enforcement of zoning laws. They are beneficial to the body politic. However, this is a far murkier situation.

      The trouble here is obviously that there is a discriminatory effect (but not necessarily, though likely, intent) in the zoning process. That last quote absolutely nails it. Palestinians cannot build the necessary infrastructure in the present due to onerous zoning regulations. However, institutional Israeli support seems to be coming along and hopefully these plans will get approval and, additionally, a more realistic and laxer regulatory environment will ameliorate this situation as a peace deal comes closer.

      A far worse and more odious idea is of course something like Naftali Bennett's desired annexation of Area C, but I genuinely believe that to be a right-wing pipe dream with very little realistic chance of occurring beyond being red meat for the base. Most Israelis oppose that, and I cannot imagine a plausible coalition which would support that.

    • For the average person, the statement that

      "My wife watched the whole thing and finally realized that I am not a raving, demented, isolated, solitary, anti-Semite outcast always bleating about how bad the Zionists are. "

      does not compute with

      "Daily Beast is just a typical suck-up to Jewish money and power."

      because most Americans would take away an anti-Semitic tone from the latter statement. Please also consider that a significant majority of the Zionists (a very significant majority of the US population) in the United States are Christians, and that most of the most active Christian Zionists are generally speaking Evangelicals.

      Just for reference, Gallup's recent poll on US attitudes towards the I/P conflict: http://www.gallup.com/poll/1639/middle-east.aspx

    • Since I think it's always useful when discussing something, here's the source. It's best described as a stub with a link and the word "stubborn" prominently displayed: http://www.thedailybeast.com/cheats/2014/03/07/abbas-no-israel-as-jewish-state.html

      It's a summary of a USA Today article which is actually an AP article, found here: http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2014/03/07/abbas-denies-israel-jewish-state/6156919/?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter&dlvrit=206567

      Finally, from a fuller NY Times piece in which, um, one might call Abbas stubborn based on his words: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/08/world/middleeast/secretary-of-state-john-kerry.html

      "
      “The negotiations resumed on the basis of the 1967 lines — thus, we emphasized from the beginning that Israeli settlement inside the 1967 lines is illegitimate,” Mr. Abbas said in remarks broadcast on Palestinian television and published by Wafa, the official Palestinian news agency. “When we sign the agreement, the Israelis should start gradual withdrawal. After the specific timeline, there must be no single Israeli in the Palestinian state.”
      "

      That last bit, "there must be no single Israeli in the Palestinian state." So, two questions to the board:

      a) Would you characterize that as a stubborn statement? Or perhaps as a hardline position? and
      b) How would you respond if Benjamin Netanyahu said that there should be no single Palestinian in Israel following a peace deal?

  • Anti-anti-semitism: How did a movement against bigotry lend itself to another form of bigotry?
    • "Will the Jewish people ever get over the Holocaust the way (to take my own people) the Irish have gotten over Cromwell and the Potato Famine? If and when they do, what will remain of the justification for a Jewish State? If they never do, will that be right?"

      I honestly can't answer whether Jews will "get over" the Holocaust. Frankly, I don't think "get over" is the right terminology. What I can say is that it'd be incredibly inappropriate to let that horrible event become forgotten.

      Moreover, the lesson learned from it and from the thousands of years of Jewish persecution preceding it is that there necessarily must be a sovereign Jewish state. Similarly, there is a sovereign Irish state. Moreover, as the Occupation has shown, there must be a sovereign Palestinian state formed on the basis of a durable, lasting peace agreement.

    • "Yes. And anyone who speaks out for basic human rights for the Palestinians is automatically assumed to have anti-semitic motives."

      This is what I mean. This simply isn't factual, unless you think that mainstream Western conversation holds Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, George H.W. Bush, et. al. as anti-Semites.

      What cranks on the American and Israeli hard right say is out of the mainstream, and moreover, inapplicable to the idea that "anyone" is tarred.

    • "In order to save Israel and the whole ‘idea’, Israel has to become honest and change its’ path– soon. I doubt it will happen without serious and deliberate pressure from the outside. I hope for you that it is not too late for Israel to do a 180, since you clearly support that country."

      I agree completely. I don't know how else to say that. Moreover, as a liberal Zionist, I'm certain that the more right leaning and hardheaded Zionists will disagree with me. I do support Israel, largely because I think history speaks to its necessity, but it's foolish to support the current direction of the nation so long as there is a deeply unserious contingent in the governing coalition which would bring on further pariah status or would undermine the democratic and Jewish character of the state (Naftali Bennett and Avigdor Lieberman are the two worst about this.) It's certainly true that the longer Israel continues the Occupation and the more new settlements it builds, the less sympathetic it will be as a state.

      And I agree that the incredibly unfortunate circumstances which led to the creation of Israel do not in any way excuse Israeli actions towards the Palestinians in 2014. However, this can serve as explanatory, particularly considering the harsher rhetoric which will emerge from the Gaza. Moreover, this works the other way, too! It's utterly understandable that Palestinians would have a psychological wound - who wouldn't? The Nakba is, of course, an unbelievably terrible occurrence, and just as the more reactionary elements of Palestinian civil society clearly use troublesome language, the ongoing construction of settlements (much less the horrid Area C annexation proposed Nafatli Bennett) makes old wounds worse.

      Perhaps we can agree on this?

      However, I suspect that we break on this:

      "Why has Israel forced them to remain “stateless”?

      Why does Israel continue to “oppress” them?"

      While the Netanyahu government has signaled a willingness to go along with some variation of the Kerry Framework (we'll see if it winds up being a palatable peace deal), there have been prior efforts (most importably Barak and Olmert's offers) which were rejected that would have created a Palestinian state. Abbas (if he does in fact have the support of Hamas- and I doubt that based on Meshaal's prior public statements about Zionism) needs to act soon. Occupation is a terrible status, but I suspect that a unilateral withdrawal and border declaration by Israel (the likely alternative) would be, at the very bare minimum, no better and far more likely worse.

      As to oppression, the plain truth is that terror attacks against the Israelis have been reduced very significantly since the creation of the security barriers. The blockade in the Gaza is terrible, but what alternative is there when there are still missiles being smuggled through?

      I don't at all claim that Israel is blameless in this (and, indeed, my participation at this site is precisely because I think that the current coalition government is doing its nation a disservice in this matter), but rather that I think there is blame to be passed around (and I don't mean that in a way to sort of... explain it away? but rather, to say that neither party nor its leadership is blameless, though I do think there's a big difference between modern Israeli center and left leadership like Labour and the conservatives like Likud-YB and Jewish Home.)

    • Sorry for the delayed reply! I have some problems with your response, because while I understand that this was merely a blog, it's incredibly problematic to gloss over a key event, particularly when writing to an audience which includes responses which indicate exasperation and/or unseriousness on a gravely important topic.

      "I then wrote a few paragraphs describing how the laudable attempt to stamp out one form of bigotry (anti-semitism) then morphed, in some cases, into an excuse for justifying another form of bigotry (anti-Palestinian racism). Somehow I suspect that’s my real offense."

      ...This is precisely what I mean. I wrote this:

      "I want to make clear that I think that there is absolutely not enough attention paid to the plight of the Palestinians, and their ongoing struggle (particularly int he face of a massive boom in settlement construction.)"

      and

      "The Jewish people were forever altered by the Holocaust, and there was a mass migration as a direct result (which led to a mass displacement of native Palestinians.) To this day, the Israeli mind is still affected by those horrible events.

      I actually agree that “anti-semitism” charges are thrown around too loosely, but I was just initially struck by the lack of an explicit mention of the Holocaust considering its centrality to everything that has gone on since. So, while I know that it wasn’t central to your article, I do believe that the events surrounding Israel’s creation deserved at least some more mention."

      So, speaking frankly, I neither see how your comment is apposite nor your accusation of bad faith is grounded.

      What struck me was the blithe manner in which you glossed over a central event which a) proves a real-world basis for the necessity of the Jewish state and b) led to a surge of philo-semitism and Zionism. The exclusion is problematic precisely because it is massively explanatory.

      It is obvious and terrible that Palestinians were displaced by a displaced people. However, your analysis is needlessly reductionist in its sole blame of Western Zionism, and its false pretense of Palestinian blamelessness.

      You've utterly ignored factors which support philo-Zionism such as: Arab and Iranian aggression, Palestinian violence (ex. the first and second intifadas), continuing bad faith play (i.e. the regular rocket strikes emanating from Gaza, particularly towards Sderot), refusal of peace offers (i.e. 2000), lack of unified pro-peace governance post-Arafat, the treatment by the Jordanians, Egyptians, and Syrians of their Palestinian refugees and their refusal to step in as interlocutors, and instead created a straw man. Those are factors which would obviously cast the Israelis in a sympathetic light, no? Once again, to be clear, Israeli actions towards Palestinians in the Occupied Territories are clearly problematic (settlements, displacement, racism, and force are the tip of the iceberg) morally and pragmatically, and there is an obvious acknowledgement of that by the majority who agree with me that this needs to be resolved through a sovereign Palestinian state. However, to act as though Zionism is supported solely for reasons related to Christian anti-Semitism is simply untrue.

      This is massively counterweighted by plain historical truth. Sykes-Picot was misguided and Naftali Bennett is... something else, no? But in the meantime, the West has made significant overtures, particularly since Oslo, towards maneuvering towards a durable two state peace. While the West is obviously friendly to Zionism, there has been no shortage of effort to nation build for the Palestinians through international investment, media and academic coverage (though I know that's an unpopular opinion on this site), and Fayyadism recently took root for precisely this reason.

      So, I realize it's just a blog post, but please be more evenhanded in the future?

    • I want to make clear that I think that there is absolutely not enough attention paid to the plight of the Palestinians, and their ongoing struggle (particularly int he face of a massive boom in settlement construction.) I come to this struggle with my eyes in 2014, and that is why I support a two state peace process: because I think it will cause the least bloodshed and lead, ultimately, to the best outcome for both Israelis and Palestinians. I came to this site precisely because I disagree with most of what I'll read, but also because it's a chance to keep my mind open to that which I might not read elsewhere.

      However, reading this, I couldn't help but feel like short shrift was given to the one event which had the most to do with the creation of Israel as a state. The Jewish people were forever altered by the Holocaust, and there was a mass migration as a direct result (which led to a mass displacement of native Palestinians.) To this day, the Israeli mind is still affected by those horrible events.

      I actually agree that "anti-semitism" charges are thrown around too loosely, but I was just initially struck by the lack of an explicit mention of the Holocaust considering its centrality to everything that has gone on since. So, while I know that it wasn't central to your article, I do believe that the events surrounding Israel's creation deserved at least some more mention.

    • OK, I'll be *that guy*.

      "And of course the resurgence of European anti-Semitism is in part what sparked the Zionist movement. After WWII the Western world became belatedly ashamed of its anti-Semitic past. Anti-Semitism was no longer acceptable. There was a movement to stamp it out."

      "What started as a laudable attempt to make up for past bigotry morphed into an excuse for supporting a new type of bigotry. In order to atone for anti-Semitism, some started to give their unconditional blessing to Zionism. "

      It is frankly very deeply offensive to read this because there is literally not a single mention of the Holocaust. One oblique reference to the systematic, state-sponsored genocide of a people. Without mentioning the Holocaust, you're ignoring a fundamental and huge part of the creation of Israel and the ultimate expression of anti-Semitic activity.

      The raison d'être of Zionism, creation of Israel, and the massive population migration there (through the Fifth Aliyah and the post-war displacement) are inexorably tied to the notion that so long as they were stateless, Jews were forever doomed to oppression. That statelessness and the powerless that comes with it is precisely why people (myself included) support the creation of a Palestinian state today.

      I'd like to know why you didn't mention this.

  • Netanyahu mentions 'BDS' 18 times in denouncing movement and its 'gullible fellow travelers'
    • "His extended comments on BDS took up the last five or six minutes of his speech. By taking on BDS so directly and insistently, Netanyahu has elevated the movement to new heights of importance, and will force American media to discuss the movement’s goals openly."

      This is precisely it. Now, the question will be how the narrative evolves from here on out. I frankly don't think BDS will be the big takeaway, but rather that Netanyahu's forceful support for a two state solution (still a relatively new position for him) will be. At least to the extent that any of this is covered, since there's frankly way, way bigger news in Crimea right now.

      Watching the address, I got the distinct feeling that the BDS comments were really aimed to his home audience, where BDS and the Euro boycotts have been a major issue as of late. Moreover, these are *not* the big takeaway parts of the address, and so I'd be a little surprised if the coverage focuses in on them. It's still very, very much a minority position native largely to the far-left, and I suspect a much bigger narrative will be the ongoing Kerry Framework talks and Bibi's statements vis a vis that (to the extent that any of this is covered with the ongoing Ukrainian crisis.)

      Still, this is a little strange to see Netanyahu tackle BDS so forcefully in this setting. I think Schumer was right in his sentiments, and I have trouble reconciling the "don't give them more pub/veiled threat" response to Kerry with the tone and tenor of Bibi's vociferous anti-BDS comments today. Maybe I'm missing something about this?

  • 'Politico' leaves Israel off list of 25 'awkward allies' of U.S.
    • "Politico’s oversight is further evidence, the Israel lobby is embedded in the US press."

      Once again, this is where you lose me. Israel has an approval rating around 65% in the US and it's an "awkward ally"? California, the most populous state, just signed a trade deal and Bibi Netanyahu is giving a speech at AIPAC, which Kerry (and a huge portion of the federal government) attended.

      There's a big gap between Israel and Bibi Netanyahu, and it's not evidence of some grand conspiracy for Politico (writing for an American audience) to say that a popular place isn't among the 25 most awkward allies.

  • 'NYT' buries Amnesty International call to suspend arms to Israel in 5th paragraph, page A9
    • Quoting Pew (2013) here: http://www.pewforum.org/2013/10/01/chapter-5-connection-with-and-attitudes-towards-israel/

      "About seven-in-ten American Jews (69%) say they are emotionally very attached (30%) or somewhat attached (39%) to Israel. These findings closely resemble results from the last National Jewish Population Survey, conducted in 2000-2001. In that survey, roughly seven-in-ten Jews said they felt very (32%) or somewhat (37%) emotionally attached to Israel."

      With regard to US opinion of Israel: 64% of Americans view Israel favorably in the Israel/Palestine conflict, and fully 75% of Americans believe Israel is at least a friend to the United States: http://www.gallup.com/poll/1639/middle-east.aspx

      (This took about 2 minutes.)

    • "Or maybe the Times should modify its famous slogan: “All the News That’s Fit to Hide.”"

      I find this logic immensely frustrating. If the NY Times was trying to hide something, *they wouldn't run the story.*

      Giving it space in the physical paper is an acknowledgement. That it's not front page, above the fold is because the Times' editorial doesn't think it's very big news. If this does become major news, or the Times decides it's more important than initially considered, they'll give it more space.

  • AIPAC denies us credentials for its policy conference
    • Wait, how is at all violative of the First Amendment? Are you comparing this to the Texas Jaybirds (which is inapposite prima facie)? Seriously, I can't think of anything about a denial contra 1A re. press/association/speech for a private non-party political gathering.

      I think press credentials ought to be offered to Mondoweiss, particularly on the grounds of preventing epistemic closure. However, I (and hopefully everyone here) can understand why a Zionist interest group concerned with bi-partisan consensus building (and facing a serious threat from J Street) wouldn't want to give access to a vocal anti-Zionist organization.

      There's a big gap between Hillel limiting discourse and AIPAC (an advocacy group) doing it. I don't expect NARAL to show up at the 2014 GOP convention. Do you?

  • A month later, de Blasio's AIPAC declaration continues to roil New York
    • A few points here:

      a) I live in NYC and I'm not unengaged with the progressive left. I don't sense any real dismay with the mayor's policy, feelings, or rhetoric vis a vis Israel at all.

      b) de Blasio's statements to AIPAC were nothing new. Starting at :37, you'll notice rhetoric directly in keeping with this from a mayoral debate. Moreover, listen to GOP candidate Joe Lhota for similarly intense rhetoric. http://nycelects.com/2013/10/31/joe-lhota-and-bill-de-blasio-pledge-to-defend-israel-in-all-terms/

      “There is no closer relationship on earth — literally no closer relationship — than that between New York City and the state of Israel.” Mr. de Blasio declared. “As mayor, It’s my sacred responsibility to speak out and defend the State of Israel.”

      c) Mayor de Blasio's campaign and time as Public Advocate was full of deep throated supported for Israel. All politics is local, right? Bill de Blasio favors Likudnik policy. There is no practical downside to that in NYC beyond offending voters who may well be to the left of his base, and it would seem that the Mayor is simply ardent in his views There is nothing secretive about this, nothing weird, and certainly nothing nasty. It's likely that the worst case here is just that he's pandering to his base.

  • Jewish community commits intellectual suicide before our eyes
    • While I don't think it's absolutely necessary to validate the all anti-Zionist critiques, I do think that the potential of of burgeoning epistemic closure is troubling. I agree that it's not necessary to air grievances in every setting, but censorship is something which must be guarded closely.

      I celebrate the victory by Herzog over Toynbee in debate, and I don't see why there's any reticence to simply re-affirm the Zionist project in that manner. The most troubling bit is Butler, due to the non-political nature of her speech. The best reason not to see her is that she's an awful speaker. :)

  • Hillary Clinton to do NY fundraiser with man whose 'only agenda' is Israel
    • 1+2) This is like saying that all Americans supported the Iraq War. The majority of Israelis support a two-state solution. Yair Lapid swept through the last elections on secularism and a two state solution which he claims to be at the heart of modern Zionism.

      I agree that the treatment of Palestinians by the Israeli government has, at times, been deplorable. Palestinians deserve a state of their own.

      3) Through history's lessons, and this applies to many nations beyond the Jews. Distinctly persecuted groups deserve the right to be free and safe. The Roma, for instance, deserve a state of their own on a similar basis. The Palestinians, too.

    • Thanks for the reply! I mean it. Sorry for the delay!

      Here's the biggest spot where you lose me: " In large part because the wool was being held over Americans’ eyes by the good liberal nephews in the media."

      I just don't think there's ever been a conspiracy to hold down anti-Zionist opinions in the US. Full stop. I think that, as this very blog has linked (and been a part of) there's been a rise in criticism of Israel as of late (a good thing insofar as it advances the peace process.) That rise is related to the ongoing Occupation and a reaction to the thoroughly unlikable Netanyahu government (and especially its right wing of Lieberman and Bennett.) Why there isn't even more criticism? Israel remains largely popular with the US at large, and its creation is tied in the public mind to the Holocaust, which creates deep and enduring sympathy.

      Before the latest Sodastream/ScarJo/ASA/Gaza protests which have flooded the media, you still could find criticism from Hitchens/Judt/Chomsky/Said/Finkelstein dating back decades. Regarding feeding anti-Semitism vis a vis Zionist commentary, that's a real fear since there is overlap (though, obviously and to be clear, it is absolutely not inherently anti-Semitic to be anti-Zionist or to criticize Israel), and so words must be parsed clearly.

      One bit regarding the crazy uncles: I assume you mean the politicians, domestic, abroad and Israeli, who sit to the right of the average American, the average North American Jew and the average Israeli on their position on Israel? Because I don't think anybody (myself included) is a fan of Michelle Bachmann or Naftali Bennett. And if you're referring to Citizen's United... I utterly agree that we need campaign finance reform and that it would be a salve to many problems with the political process in 2014.

    • A) In context, Obama was clearly joking and being friendly. Playing up the myth/joke with the loaded term.

      B) Shocker: potential Presidential candidate going to a fundraiser from a major donor. Those at dinner get access and can potentially influence the candidate's positions. The US needs campaign finance reform. Film at 11.

      C) The majority of the leadership at most pro-LGBT organizations (a civil rights movement that has thankfully been massively successful in recent decades, but sadly still has quite a road to go down) is gay. Donorship is high amongst prominent LGBT community leaders. Is this evidence of a conspiracy?

      D) Mr. Weiss, very specifically, I'd like you to answer this: do you find it incongruous that you claim Diaspora Jews are well suited to their current societies (American, Canadian, etc.) but find something unwholesome about successful Diaspora Jews' civic engagement? This very blog is a form of civic engagement, is it not?

      Would you rather American Jewry ignore Israel? Wouldn't *that* be a stranger thing, especially considering that Zionism and Israel have been a hot button issue for over a century? There is an Israeli state, the Kerry Framework has generated a ton of news, and most Jews have an opinion on this. If anything, the timing is such that you'd expect more civic engagement on the issue of Zionism within the modern US political framework, particularly considering the current European Settlements boycott and the BDS/anti-Zionist movement and the platform its received (i.e. recent NY Times coverage/Sodastream/ASA boycott)

      Incidentally, Jack Rosen was born in Germany in a displaced persons' camp in 1949. Anti-Semitism (per the ADL's latest survey) remains at 12% nationwide in the US. Obviously, these factors support the Zionist project: that Jews, due to their unique historical persecution, require a sovereign ethnonational state of their own. Wouldn't someone like Rosen whose life was affected by the Holocaust be expected to understand and support that?

      E) Isn't it weird to contemplate who Abedin and Weiner's landlord is (was? I thought they'd split?) If you live in a luxury building in Manhattan, there aren't all that many potential landlords.

      F) If Israel were as unpopular an issue as you seem inclined to think (Israel's general approval rating in the US remains around 70%, by far the highest in the region), then politicians would respond to that and wouldn't seek out donors with strong connections to Zionism. This means the issue isn't "conservative", but rather "centrist" and "bi-partisan."

      TL;DR: Doesn't Occam's razor explain this without a need for a conspiracy? Zionism is a popular cause generally , a key issue for an affluent demographic, and a win-win for those involved.

  • Knesset member endorses settlement boycott
    • That Meretz is marginal (they absolutely are, esp. as Israeli politics have tilted rightward) doesn't change my point. If anything, the existence of a still hearty Israeli left is proof of the success of the state. The Haredi may be forced to serve in the IDF soon (a good thing! It comes closer to the pre-religious Zionist ideal.)

      How do you see this as a Jewish tragedy? (Seriously. I'm obviously a fairly liberal Zionist, I'm on this site trying to explore the other side's thoughts, etc. I obviously have some problems with the editorial line, but I'm here. Seriously. Honestly. Genuinely.)

      I do see the existence of settlers like David Wilder (I still can't believe that was real) as problematic for Israelis ethnonationally. The settlements are illegal, no new ones should be built, and the existence of small radical ones contributes to a perverse worldview. Cooperation is required, and those settlements inhibit that.

    • I know that it's unlikely anybody will listen to this, or that this is just going to be viewed as a talking point, but I think there's merit to this:

      This is some serious dissent from a major Israeli political figure who will continue to compete in a democratic electoral process. This is also a boycott of *settlement* products, something which has at least some degree support through most of the two-state cause (and my own.) That's a sign of a healthy democracy, however flawed it may be. So is the move by Israel to allow for direct election of the President.

      The radical BDS movement, it needs to be pointed out, isn't being supported here, just as it isn't through most of the West except by radical anti-Zionists (who are the very opposite of realists.) Israel is very, very far from perfect. It's also a successful project, and shifts like these portend greater success as their Overton window shifts towards rhetoric which makes a Palestinian state (and the end of a morally and pragmatically wrong Occupation) more likely.

  • Disenfranchised: How the NYT spins the status of Palestinian land
    • Ok, I want to make a point here. I'm assuming this isn't a troll, since I'm not a member of the community. If it is, my point still stands.

      See how nuts this sounds? (Because it absolutely is.) This is *exactly* what anti-Zionists sound like to the vast majority of the other side.

      However Israel came to be, it is and Zionism succeeded in that sense. There are facts on the ground, including a flourishing Israeli (i.e. ethnonational sovereign Jewish state with self-determination) state and woefully mistreated Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza. Sykes-Picot is long-gone, Peel was never adopted, and the world has moved on from the 48 borders to 67 (with land swaps to accommodate shifts.)

      The focus must shift to the adoption of an equitable Kerry Framework. The focus cannot be on the BDS chainsaw, when a settlement boycott scalpel will suffice and not feed the irrational right.* The goal must be an embrace of Fayyadism, side by side state-building, moderation, and cooperation along reasonable, equitable grounds.

      That's the path to peace. Not settlements, not BDS and delegitimization (unless the pressure leads to a new Livni/Lapid/Herzog government), not anything else.

      Check this out: http://www.timesofisrael.com/us-asked-israel-for-partial-settlement-freeze-report/

      This is a really basic ask! "Hey, stop building outside of those settlements which will probably be yours! That other land isn't going to be yours!" This is the sort of thing to focus on. It's fair, it's equitable, and it's true. Should Netanyahu refuse, it'd be foolhardy (though I guess practically he'd be trying to placate his hard-right base?)

      On the other hand: http://www.timesofisrael.com/netanyahu-said-to-seek-public-election-of-president/

      That's good news! More direct participatory democracy in choosing a major (albeit largely ceremonial) figure. Peres has been a wonder, hopefully he can guide the public towards an equally successful successor.

  • Hell freezes over (NYT publishes glowing profiles of anti-Zionists)
    • A couple of points:

      a) I really doubt one can fairly state at this point that there is a MSM blackout of anti-Zionist opinions, particularly at this stage of the game (as was alleged on this site less than a week ago.) Between the ASA, SodaStream, Kerry's mention of the Boycott, and now this, I really don't see how anyone can make an honest argument about censorship.

      b) "But evidently these religious folks count more, because Zionism is (my contention) a religious ideology."

      Honest question: I'm really curious as to how you came upon this? Israel was founded largely by explicitly atheist leadership. Tel Aviv remains the most secular and hedonistic locale in the Middle East. Zionism (the Jewish right of self-determination expressed through national sovereignty) is an explicitly ethnonational cause. Obviously, there is a rising tide of religiosity throughout Israel that does no favors, particularly to the welfare state, but I'm curious as to how one can see Zionism as per se religious.

      One last bit, and quoting at length from the posted article because I genuinely want your response as to how this meshes with a religious view:

      "Skepticism toward Zionism used to be common. Before World War II, Reform Jews tended to believe that they had found a home in the United States, and that Zionism could be seen as a form of dual loyalty. Orthodox Jews generally believed, theologically, that a state of Israel would have to wait for the Messiah’s arrival (a view some ultra-Orthodox Jews still hold). In the 1930s and ’40s, the persecution of European Jews turned many American Jews into Zionists. Major organizations, like the American Jewish Committee and Hillel, the Jewish campus group, turned toward political Zionism after the war."

      c) This Times piece is important for another reason entirely (and to be clear, I'm not at all casting this aspersion): it demonstrates anti-Zionist opinions which clearly aren't anti-Semitic. To be clear (as though it wasn't already?), I'm a liberal Zionist. If there is to be an attempt to advocate an anti-Zionist position (which may well be the sort of thing that leads to a reasonable PM like Herzog [or even Livni or Lapid], which would actually make the Zionist project safer long-term), articles like these are far more likely to do yeoman's work than repeating dirty old tropes which are baseless and self de-legitimising.

  • NYT obit of rabbi left out his urging Sharon: 'Very simply, wipe them out'
    • "The average American who relies on the American mainstream press is not getting anywhere near an accurate picture of what Israel is in 2014. Most Americans don’t have a lot of hours every day to search out the truth about Israel on alternate websites and European sites. They rely on the media, understandably, and they’re consistently being misled. This is why Max Blumenthal’s book is indispensable: it’s a long and detailed, and necessary, corrective to the warped perspective in the press."

      An honest question: do the Authors understand how this comment could be construed as anti-Semitic?

      The idea that there is a mainstream proclivity to block out anti-Israeli screeds touches upon the old Jewish Media Control anti-Semitic slur. It also flies in the face of common sense, when Tom Friedman has been castigating the Israeli government of late, Omar Baghouti received space in the Times, and BDS + the Occupation have received far more mainstream media traction in the last month as a result of SodaStream/ScarJo than they did in the previous 8 years combined.

      There's a legitimate argument which I support against expanding West Bank settlements. Palestinians deserve a state. Hartmann's mendacious recommendation should have been mentioned in the obit but instead Hartmann (an influential voice) is painted as a Labour-supporter and peacenik likely because it may help stir some support for that cause.

      Arguing that there is a mainstream media blackout (particularly considering the connotations and where most minds immediately go), even when there is a quote which should have been mentioned, is reckless, feckless and generally self-delegitmizing. Attack specifically, not so broadly.

  • Liberal Zionists and rightwingers shed differences in effort to save the Jewish state
    • Good! I say this as a liberal Zionist.

      The Palestinians deserve a state both morally and pragmatically. Israel cannot continue as an occupier, nor should it build any new settlements. The Kerry Framework is a helluva starting point, and the Obama administration has been smart to pursue this because it creates pressure on the Israeli government to come to the bargaining table. A reasonable deal which ensures the Zionist future is a good thing, it sets the stage for a durable solution that offers Palestinian independence, and it's something most western Zionists (be they Jew or gentile) would likely support given the overwhelming general popularity and acceptance of Israel as a nation-state.

      A side effect which I think isn't mentioned often enough is that the terms of the Kerry Framework (if as reported) are very likely acceptable to the vast swath of Israelis but not the right wing of the Likud-YB coalition government. That being the case, Bibi will be forced to choose between realigning with a leftward by accepting the framework (and potentially forming a new coalition with Labour when Jewish Home bolts upon acceptance, even with reservations) or losing the support of Western Zionists by rejecting an plainly reasonable deal. Either way, Netanyahu may well lose his government, and that would likely lead to a more moderate and Obama/Kerry-friendly leader like Yair Lapid or even Isaac Herzog.

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