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!
Category Archives: American Jewish Community
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.”
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.
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.”
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.
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!”
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 Balfour Declaration was a wartime play by the British government to win international Jewry to its side. This meant the Russian masses in the U.S., and banker Jacob Schiff, who were against American entry into the war. The British may have exaggerated Jewish power, but Zionists lobbied successfully for the declaration by citing such power, marking the entry of the Israel lobby on the world stage.
After Alan Dershowitz spoke at the University of California on “The Liberal Case for Israel,” a cartoon by Joel Mayorga appeared in the Daily Californian, savaging Dershowitz’s claim by showing his hand dripping blood from a corpse. The school’s chancellor said the cartoon was anti-Semitic and the newspaper retracted the image. Does any of this really matter?
Writer Mark Oppenheimer’s effort to portray Harvey Weinstein’s victims as “shiksas” failed because the cultural divide, and prejudice, that term reflects was over a generation ago. Privileged Jews and Christians get along fine today. The country has moved on to definitions of Otherness that are far more meaningful.
The Jewish Telegraphic Agency says its briefs editor, Marcy Oster, moved to Israel in 2000. It airbrushes the uncomfortable truth: Oster lives in an illegal settlement deep in the occupied West Bank, Karnei Shomron, and has often acted as an advocate for that community, raising money for young Jews to buy mobile homes there.
Citing the separate laws and roads for Palestinians and Jews in occupied territories, CBC columnist Neil Macdonald says “Israel is already an apartheid state.” It’s about time liberal Zionists in the U.S. admitted what’s going on over there. But they can’t, they’re the firewall on the political mainstream, and U.S. support for apartheid Israel. Still, the list of apartheid-namers is growing.
Organized American Jewry has a tough job. It has to raise endless money for Israel and protect the country against all human-rights-abuse accusations and denounce Israel’s accusers. To be Israel’s vassal, in short. But the new anti-BDS legislation across the country will make some Jews reexamine the deal. They are being asked to sell out our country’s civil rights for the sake of Israel. And there’s sure to be a backlash against the Jewish organizations.
Retired Gen. Amnon Reshef tells a NY synagogue that the two-state solution is a dream that is years away and the only way to sell it to Jewish Israelis is: “They support separation. They don’t want to be a part of one state. They want to be separated. It’s a Zionist dream. They don’t care about the Palestinians.” Isn’t that apartheid by another name?
Anyone in America who wants hard truths about Israel/Palestine today must read Haaretz instead of the U.S. press. The New York Times acknowledged the Israeli newspaper’s supremacy with the ultimate compliment: it ran a hatchet job on the journal.
Cartoonist Eli Valley lost his job at the Forward after editor in chief Jane Eisner said “she wasn’t comfortable with a Jewish newspaper criticizing Jewish leaders,” he discloses in his new book, Diaspora Boy. And the New York Times runs a puff piece on Eisner and ignores the paper’s crisis over Zionism.
Two victims of censorship by the American Jewish Historical Society say they’ll mount their events anyway. Dan Fishback is raising money for his play on rifts in the Jewish community. Lawyer Jonathan Kuttab says, “If we fold and play dead then they will get away with it without paying any political price.”
The American Jewish Historical Society in New York was set to host a discussion later this month of the Balfour Declaration by civil rights lawyer Robert Herbst, a member of Jewish Voice for Peace, and Palestinian lawyer Jonathan Kuttab. Then the event came under attack from far-right pro-Israel supporters and the history organization folded, canceling the discussion as well as a play reading on the US relationship to Israel.
Israel has deep support among US cultural institutions, witness director Greta Gerwig removing her name from a letter critical of Israel lest it hurt her Oscar hopes, and NYU staging Israeli government propaganda to counter a Palestinian play about resistance to occupation, The Siege.
The nefarious gun lobby is open for criticism. In the New York Times, Bret Stephens says the Second Amendment is an anachronism and should be repealed. Well that is true of Zionism, too, but Stephens is in the tank for that ideology. And David Brooks describes the ingrained political culture of gun-rights but he can never turn that lens on American Jewish cultural/political support for an ethnocratic state in historical Palestine.
Steve Israel and other Democratic politicians are rightly slamming the gun lobby for preventing commonsense measures that might have prevented the Las Vegas massacre. But these same politicians get their policy on Israel from AIPAC, the Israel lobby, and the media never talk about that form of corruption.
One of the largest holders of Puerto Rican debt is Seth Klarman of Boston. He gives money to tons of liberal causes but also funds many groups that provide propaganda for Israel, including the Israel Project, Birthright, and the Times of Israel.
A New Yorker has a feel-good poster with the word GAZA on it in their window. A neighbor tapes an anonymous letter to the door saying they are showing support for people who “would have me and my family and my friends mutilated to a cheering crowd.” Yet another sign of paranoia among Jewish Israel supporters.
How pathetic: The Jewish newspaper the Forward finally allows Stephen Walt to state his argument about the Israel lobby’s power, 10 years after he published a book on the subject. Till now Walt was redlined as an alleged anti-Semite– which was a travesty of intellectual honesty inside the Jewish community. And now Walt’s warnings about apartheid in Palestine are too late.