Category Archives:
American Jewish Community

Ari Roth is fired by DC Jewish center — after staging Nakba play

Philip Weiss on
Ari Roth

McCarthyism is alive and the battle is on inside the Jewish community: The Washington DC Jewish Community Center has come down squarely against free speech, firing longtime theater director Ari Roth because he staged works that focused on the Nakba, the dispossession of Palestinians during Israel’s creation in 1948. The Jewish community is going to have to decide — Are you for free speech or donor-controlled speech?

Memo to Sen. Warren: More young Dems want US to side with Palestine than Israel

Philip Weiss on
Sen. Elizabeth Warren

In recent days, Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts has offered herself as the great progressive hope of the Democratic Party but remains silence on the Israeli occupation. Well, here’s some encouragement to Warren to move left on the question. Shibley Telhami reports Democratic Party politicians are out of touch with their grass roots on Israel/Palestine. Women, African-Americans, Hispanics and young Dems all want the U.S. to show less favoritism to Israel than it does now.

Support for Israel in the U.S. Jewish community continues to erode

Marilyn Kleinberg Neimark and Donna Nevel on
Part of the Jewish Voice for Peace delegation at the 221st Presbyterian General Assembly in Detroit who worked in solidarity with Presbyterian groups on divestment from companies profiting off the Israeli occupation.

Marilyn Kleinberg Neimark and Donna Nevel write: “As the discourse changes and unquestioning Jewish support for Israel continues to erode – both for its policies and for its status as an ethnocratic state– there’s reason for optimism. But the ongoing work of Jewish groups standing with, and participating in the growing call for BDS and other efforts to achieve justice, equality, and human rights for the Palestinian people, as well as for a US foreign policy committed to these principles, remains more important and more challenging than ever.”

US Jewish voters have more favorable feelings about Netanyahu than Obama

Philip Weiss on
Obama in 2012

J Street published a poll of 800 Jewish voters on November 4 that is scary. When asked to “rate your feelings,” warm versus cold, they favor Benjamin Netanyahu by 53-24 percent but fewer warm up to Obama– 48-44. Notice the unfavorables for Obama are nearly twice Netanyahu’s. Hillary Clinton they favor, 61-31. And only Sheldon Adelson is […]

Ilan Pappe offers a reminder that the ‘ongoing Nakba’ implicates many of us in Israel’s history

Liz Rose on
Ilan Pappe

Ilan Pappe’s October 25 lecture in Chicago, “The Ongoing Nakba,” promoting his new book, The Idea of Israel: A History of Power and Knowledge, emphasized two things that stood out to me in particular: Israel’s importing of European pine trees and the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians. Though these issues are not new to the discourse on Palestine, Pappe reminds his audience that the land is as alive as the indigenous people who inhabited it. The mind, body, and spirit of both land and people are still victims to Israel’s current goal of de-Arabizing Palestine, “which has gotten worse for the Palestinians every year since 1882.”

J Street’s progressive illusion

Marc H. Ellis on
J Street founder Jeremy Ben-Ami speaking at the group's conference in 2012. (Photo: J Street)

Are there any in more active complicity in the destruction of Palestine than Palestine’s well-wishers? J Street’s October 28 statement is the latest example of a “pro-peace” organization that is doing nothing to advance an end to the conflict in Israel/Palestine.

UCLA Hillel partners with PR firm to fight BDS movement

Alex Kane on
Hillel logo

A California Hillel chapter has partnered with a D.C.-linked public relations firm to fight the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement, according to leaked emails obtained by Mondoweiss. The PR firm 30 Point Strategies has discussed how to combat BDS at the University of California, Los Angeles campus with Hillel staffers there. 30 Point staffers have advised UCLA’s Hillel to stay largely silent in the event of a student government resolution that recommends divestment from Israeli military-linked corporations. The revelation that a Hillel chapter has turned to a professional public relations firm shows that UCLA Hillel is stepping up its work to fight BDS on campus.

Israel and Palestine is not about Jews vs. Palestinians

Samantha Brotman on

Samantha Brotman shares her remarks from an event called “Zionism & The New McCarthyism: A Conversation with Bruce Robbins” that took place in Champaign-Urbana. It was a canceled University of Illinois event that was rescheduled as an independent event, without university support. Bruce Robbins’s short documentary, Some of My Best Friends are Zionists, interviews influential Jews such as Judith Butler and Tony Kushner who discuss the repression of anti-Zionist viewpoints. His talk addressed the rise of a “new McCarthyism” on college campuses which threatens to shut down criticism of Israel in the guise of “civility.” Brotman was a respondent along with Jodi Byrd (Professor in American Indian Studies) and Bruce Levine (Professor of History).

An open letter to Birthright participants past, present, and future

Hannah Friedstein on

Hannah Friedstein writes a primer on Birthright to demystify its themes and its objectives based on her experience in the program. Her goal is that Birthright participants gain a new and critical perspective on the program which she believes is anything but neutral.

A Yom Kippur epiphany

Liz Rose on
Rabbi Brant Rosen

Growing up an ardent Zionist, Liz Rose says Judaism “became synonymous with Jewish nationalism.” Now she’s struggled to separate the religion and the ideology. At Yom Kippur she had a breakthrough, remembering Palestine

The ice floe

Philip Weiss on
Gal (l) is out of uniform for her meeting at the wall with Rezan, from My So-Called Enemy

A liberal NY Jewish community sees a film on a dialogue project between Israelis and Palestinians and thinks that’s the answer to the conflict. Hapless in the Hudson Valley

Israel’s Dead Soul: Steven Salaita’s critical scholarship explains his dismissal from the University of Illinois

David Green on
Steven Salaita speaking at the University of Illinois, September 9, 2014. (Photo: Facebook)

Steven Salaita’s book “Israel’s Dead Soul” (2011) merits serious attention and ultimately effusive praise. It contains five critical essays that not only offer brilliant insight into the cultural and ideological practices of Zionism in both Israel and the United States, but implicitly explain why his conscientious efforts would be denigrated and rejected by the ostensibly liberal aspects of this culture at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.

How ‘Open Hillel’ created a new community by challenging the Jewish establishment

Alex Kane on
(Photo: Gili Getz/ Open Hillel Facebook)

Hundreds of young Jews from around the country converged on Harvard over the weekend for the Open Hillel conference. The event succeeded in creating a space where open dissent on Israel is welcomed and where conversation and debate is the norm. At the heart of the Open Hillel network is a conviction that Hillel should be a place that welcomes all Jews–not just those who follow the establishment line on Israel.