At the California Democratic Party convention in Sacramento over the weekend Palestinian rights supporters steered to passage a groundbreaking resolution that puts California Democrats far ahead of the national and other state parties. Time will tell whether the new resolution can become a model for other Democratic Party institutions, and more importantly, whether it will help accelerate a shift in the party’s stance on Israel/Palestine.
Category Archives: US Politics
Back in 1990 director Barry Levinson gave us “Avalon”, his epic masterpiece on the American Jewish community. In that classic film Levinson skillfully examined the Eastern European Jewish immigrants and their often tumultuous encounter with the complexities of American culture and the assimilation process. It is this debilitating process which becomes the underlying subject of Levinson’s chilling examination of the Bernie Madoff story. In “The Wizard of Lies” we see the pitfalls of ‘making it’ in America and how the Jewish community has reconfigured itself at the end of a very tumultuous century.
As Donald Trump wrapped his visit to Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory yesterday, Gazans said they felt ignored. They do not expect the president’s travels will improve or lift the decade-long Israeli siege imposed on the coastal Mediterranean strip. Many noted Trump’s pro-Israel rhetoric during the later part of his campaign and first months of the presidency as a signal that their well-being is not on his agenda. Some cynically referred to the president as on an “elegant businessman’s” trip to Saudi Arabia, followed by less important stops to Israel and the West Bank.
At a religious nationalist celebration three nights ago of 50 years of Israeli occupation in Jerusalem, the highlight was a rendition of the late Leonard Cohen’s most popular song, Hallelujah. And that’s appropriate.
No Trump’s not moving the embassy to Jerusalem, but Netanyahu got everything he wanted from the president’s visit. An end to the rancor of the Obama years, a declaration of loyalty, and a signal that there will be no real push for any peace deal between Israelis and Palestinians.
Phil Weiss shares a photo essay from when Donald Trump visited Jerusalem and the Old City. Israeli security wrapped sites he was visiting with white sheets ala Christo, to keep anyone from seeing him, or disrupting events. There were armed checkpoints for Jewish Israelis, and a surveillance balloon in the sky.
Alice Rothchild is invited to give a talk about Israel/Palestine to a New England private school, then disinvited after the administrators view her PowerPoint presentation. A dismayed Rothchild writes, “The tragedy for me is that first there is this framing that there are ‘two sides’ when there are actually many sides, this being a complicated historical time, and that anyone who says, let’s step back and look at the forces of colonialism, ethnic cleansing, explore the narrative of Palestinians, question the framing and dominant paradigms of the Israeli government, AIPAC, Christian Zionism, this person (who is often me) is immediately perceived as causing conflict or needing to be balanced by the ‘other side’.”
How much does the Israel lobby explain why negotiations have failed to bear fruit for the past 25 years? Rashid Khalidi says it’s beyond the lobby: Israeli and American politicians get funding from the same people. Important industries, like high tech and defense, are integrated in the U.S. and in Israel at the highest levels. As a result the U.S. and American political systems are on the same page, to the point that it is more accurate to think of them as one integrated political system than in terms of allies, he explains.
As Trump flies to the Middle East, he should consider: We’ve been at war there for 16 years. Israel may see that as a happy outcome, but we need to disentangle ourselves from Israel’s oppressive policies toward Palestinians if we seek a peaceful future.
In 1953, Joel Kovel had an epiphany as a Yale freshman that would ultimately determine his life’s course, against the US war machine and Zionism. He was tempted to return to Yale for his 60th reunion but thought better of it in light of the ordeal of Rev. Bruce Shipman.
Leaving aside the question that should strike any reasonable citizen — Isn’t the “secret” Trump gave the Russians a bit obvious? (gee, laptops; who would have thought)– the story is roiling the chambers of state-and-spycraft in Washington and Israel.
Haaretz newspaper in Israel gets death threats for its unblinking reports on Palestinian conditions, but the New York Times, once again moving mountains to support Israel, describes it as juvenile, antagonistic and contrarian, in a column by Shmuel Rosner.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu released his harshest statement yet to the Trump administration yesterday suggesting the president was duped by “the Palestinian fantasy that Jerusalem is not the capital of Israel.”
Netanyahu’s remarks were made after Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told “Meet the Press” on Sunday that Donald Trump is still considering the effects of moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem. Tillerson questioned if the move is “helpful to a peace initiative or perhaps a distraction.”
“You should never describe BDS as a movement,” Alan Dershowitz said in Scarsdale May 10. But in a 2014 screed against BDS, Dersh repeatedly refers to the “BDS movement.” I guess he hadn’t gotten the memo he hadn’t yet written.
Paul Berman’s claim that Eric Alterman is blackmailing him over sexual correspondence has had the good effect of exposing Berman’s continued evasion of the fact that he supported the disastrous 2003 invasion of Iraq.
When liberal cultural figures take a stand for Israel, they’re going to get punished by their own base. Just ask Ellen DeGeneres and PEN director Suzanne Nossel.
On Wednesday morning, two leaders of the Palestine solidarity movement in the US awoke to find they had been brazenly targeted by anonymous pro-Israel operatives who sought to paint American Muslims for Palestine (AMP) and Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) as supporters of terrorism. Hundreds of color-print flyers with the headline “A Sketchy Alliance—America at Stake” were found littered outside the California home of Hatem Bazian, AMP chairman and UC Berkeley professor as well as outside the New York home of JVP executive director Rebecca Vilkomerson. “I felt that I was being targeted and violated,” said Bazian, likening the tactic to that used by the Ku Klux Klan. “My home and my family [were] subject to intimidation.”
Palestinian hunger strikers entered their 25th day of strike on Thursday. While the protest for improved conditions inside of Israeli prisons for Palestinian detainees kicked off with an op-ed in the New York Times by strike leader and Palestinian prisoner, Marwan Barghouti, Jewish Voice for Peace says the Times has not kept up with the story. In the weeks since 1,500 Palestinian detainees announced they were on strike, multiple solidarity campaigns have launched and a Palestinian cartoonist is touring the U.S. speaking about the plight of prisoners.
Ariel Gold arrived in court on Wednesday expecting the unlawful entry charges against her to be dropped. Instead, two additional charges were added to the case against her for her April 27th protest in the House of Representatives Rayburn office building during the launch of the “Israel Victory Caucus.” Gold writes, “Before the Trump’s administration, cases like mine were usually thrown out. But now, even greater efforts are being taken to quash dissent.”
Speaking at the Jerusalem Post conference, Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton said the Jewish Diaspora serves as a global intelligence asset to Israel: “the worldwide relationships because of the Jewish Diaspora gives Israel some advantages that virtually no other country or institution anywhere else in the world has.”
Alan Dershowitz gave a pep talk on Jewish influence to an orthodox audience in Scarsdale Tuesday night. His theme? Jews earned their influence in the U.S. by contributing more to its success than others, so now use your influence: “We have contributed disproportionately to the success of this country. We have done so much for this country. When you think of how much better this country has become since our grandparents and great grandparents took the risk of coming, here, we have not only the right we have the obligation to speak out, and use every piece, every bit of power available in support of Israel.”
An “aggressive campaign of silencing, which we know too well from the extremist fringe in Israel, has made its way to the American Jewish community as well,” singer Noa says after synagogue in Detroit suburb cancels her May 18 concert after threats from rightwing Jews.
Israel commits serious human rights violations, Bernie Sanders says at the Carter Center, defending his signing on to a letter attacking the UN for singling out Israel for condemnation.
While President Donald Trump prepares to make his first trip abroad to Israel where he reportedly will announce his administration’s plan for the creation of a Palestinian state (without East Jerusalem as its capital), a new congressional caucus is calling for an alternative plan: “Israeli victory, Palestinian defeat.”
Palestinian cartoonist Mohammed Saba’aneh, now on a book tour in the US, spent five months in an Israeli prison, so he knows why 1600 prisoners are staging a hunger strike, and how much their families are suffering. Saba’aneh threw himself into documenting prison conditions during his solitary confinement.