David Harris of the American Jewish Committee says it’s his “Jewish duty” to put aside political differences with Trump and advocate for Israel. Speaking to a liberal Westchester synagogue, Harris also took a shot at the president. Asked, “Has Jared Kushner sought your counsel?” he shot back: “You’d have to ask Moscow.”
Category Archives: US Politics
Open Hillel, IfNotNow, and Jewish Voice for Peace, have all decentralized Zionism from Jewish political life, and the Zionist Organization of America’s gala honoring Steve Bannon is assisting that process. The drama of Zionist donors, cozying up to figures of Christian nationalism and regressive nostalgia, brings to mind Theodor Herzl’s attempt at collaboration with Russian anti-Semitic Interior Minister von Plehve.
Kenneth Marcus, Trump’s nominee to head the Office for Civil Rights at the Department of Education, actively works to pass and enforce legislation that suppresses civil and human rights and criminalizes constitutionally protected free speech. His nomination points to the increasing convergences of white supremacy, fascism, and Zionism.
On Nov. 28, the New School in New York is to host a panel on the use of the anti-Semitism charge to protect Israel from criticism. It features two activists who support boycotting Israel, Linda Sarsour and Rebecca Vilkomerson of Jewish Voice for Peace. The New School is under attack from pro-Israel groups; some fear that the panel could be shut down, as the Anti Defamation League accuse Sarsour and Vilkomerson of fomenting anti-Semitism. Just what the panel is about!
In an important new piece in the New York Review of Books, David Shulman says that the “heroic myth” of Israel as a savior of the Jews has been eclipsed by an awareness of the “terrible violence” inflicted on Palestinians and the need to give equal rights to all between the river and the sea. The anti-apartheid-style struggle for basic rights has begun, and “at whatever cost, we will win.”
The State Department threatened Friday to close the Palestinians’ Washington office unless they enter into direct negotiations with Israel. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has determined that the Palestinians have run afoul of a condition in the law that allows their mission to the U.S. to function which prohibits the Palestinians from requesting the International Criminal Court, or ICC, to prosecute Israelis for crimes against Palestinians.
The domestic political fight that is Russiagate takes up all the media’s attention, while civilians killed by US bombs are like ants on the sidewalk. That’s because U.S. crimes against humanity are never seen as scandals, except maybe a century later. At most we just treat war crimes as policy disputes. Nobody expects a bipartisan investigation into our ties with the Saudis.
The signature moments of the Clinton scandals involve threats against people who were going to talk about his sex life. When Lindsey Graham asked in the House, Is this Peyton Place or Watergate? we said, Watergate. It wasn’t just about a blowjob.
New York Times columnist Bret Stephens says that Jewish Voice for Peace is as anti-Semitic as white nationalists like Richard Spencer because it undermines “Israel’s right to exist.” This is a clever feat of propaganda for Israel: Stephens is saying that Israel has a right to discriminate against Palestinians. People need to call it out as racist claptrap.
The tag team of Benjamin Netanyahu and former US ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro springs into action on Iranian earthquake. “Our humanity is greater than their hatred,” Netanyahu says of Iran. And Shapiro echoes, “Sadly, Iran hates Israel more than it wants to find earthquake victims.”
Ron Brummer of the Israeli Ministry for Strategic Affairs says there’s no point in just boycotting the settlements because there’s only one economy between the river and the sea. “If you want to divest from the West Bank, Judea and Samaria, you have to divest from Israel, which means you boycott Israel completely.”
Steven Salaita visits Hawaii to learn more about Kanaka Maoli resistance and to converse with local activists and intellectuals about Palestine. He writes, “Enough commonalities exist among the two nations for a shared political project: both suffer military occupation, land theft, foreign settlement, and structural racism. In fact, they contest the same colonial apparatus. This point may seem counterintuitive, but these days the United States and Israel differ only according to technicalities of nomenclature and color scheme. Collusion between the US and Israel is by now axiomatic. People needn’t be identical to know that it is foolish to oppose one of those powers while ignoring the other.”
United States Rep. Betty McCollum (D-MN) introduced on Tuesday a bill to the U.S. House of Representatives that seeks to bar U.S. government aid and funding from supporting Israeli military detentions of Palestinian children and their prosecution under Israel’s military court system. The legislation is said to be the first time a bill on Palestinian human rights has ever been introduced to U.S. Congress.
On November 7, the House Judiciary Committee held hearings over the Anti-Semitism Awareness Act, a bill that would broaden the definition of antisemitism to include criticism of Israel. Dr. Barry Trachtenberg, the Chair of Jewish History at Wake Forest University, argued that the act’s definition of antisemitism was deeply flawed because it defines all accusations of American Jewish dual-loyalty as inherently antisemitic. Rabbi Abraham Cooper of the Simon Wiesenthal Center accused Trachtenberg of providing ”cannon fodder for antisemites”. In many ways, the exchange between Cooper and Trachtenberg mirrored the debate the American Jewish community has been having about dual loyalty since the establishment of Israel.
David Brooks does a limited confession of his mistake in supporting the Iraq war. He was naive. “People like me used to advocate for spreading democracy around the world. Sometimes we were naive. And Iraq was Iraq and it didn’t work out. But at least it was a belief in essential progress.”
No individual had as large a role in Israel’s shift from an embattled settler state to a regional power as James Angleton, the head of counterintelligence at the CIA in the 50s-70s, who relied on Israeli intelligence in his battle against communism. Angleton overlooked Israel’s acquisition of nukes, Jefferson Morley relates in his new biography of Angleton, The Ghost.
Thirty years ago, Prince Charles said that U.S. support for Israel is a cause of terrorism and that the “Jewish lobby” tied an American president’s ability to address the issue. He wrote in a 1986 letter: “I know there are so many complex issues, but how can there ever be an end to terrorism unless the causes are eliminated? Surely some US president has to have the courage to stand up and take on the Jewish lobby in US? I must be naive, I suppose!”
British-Israeli historian Avi Shlaim says the peace process is worse than a charade because it has given cover to Israel to steal more and more land and destroy the two-state solution.
Stella Penn Pechanac, the Israeli actress identified as the spy for disgraced producer Harvey Weinstein who duped his accuser, actress Rose McGowan, immigrated from Bosnia to Israel with her family in 1994, helped by a Jewish family whose forbears were hidden during the Holocaust by Stella’s grandmother, who died in a concentration camp.
A five-year long study published this week in Science shows that small independent news outlets can have a dramatic effect on the national conversation. Mondoweiss participated in a research project conducted by Harvard Professor Gary King that found that if just three outlets write about a particular major national policy topic – such as jobs, the environment or immigration – discussion of that topic across social media rose by as much as 62.7 percent. This study proves is that when independent news outlets work together they can have a mighty effect.
The press is obsessed with the claim that absurd ads planted by Russians on Facebook bashing Hillary Clinton actually swayed the election. This is a form of propaganda about “our democracy,” exposed by the fact that our press fails to report on Saudi and Israeli meddling in our politics, a real factor in Washington. And though quick to seize on Russian war crimes, it has almost nothing to say about Saudi atrocities in Yemen, backed by the U.S. government.
Former Israeli PM Ehud Barak hooked Harvey Weinstein up with a firm composed of former Israeli spies that he used over the last year to try and suppress publication of accusations of sexual assault and harassment, the New Yorker reports. The firm’s work on “reputational management and political persecution” is a far cry from the derring-do associated with Israeli spies.
Tzipi Hotovely, deputy Israeli foreign minister, says American Jews are threatening the existence of Jewry with “80 percent” rate of assimilation, and criticism of Israel, which is all that holds Jews together. Then she challenges Labor parliamentarian Merav Michaeli, “When’s the last time you went to the Kotel [the western wall], can you possibly tell me?”
Women of the social action committee at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Marblehead MA refuse to bend to organized Jewish community’s pressure to shut down a screening on Sunday Nov. 5 of “The Occupation of the American Mind.”
The organization Friends of the IDF raised a record $53.8 million for the Israeli military last night at its annual Western Region Gala, hosted by Democratic Party mega-donors Haim and Cheryl Saban. The figure represents the most money raised at any single FIDF event in the organization’s history.