Progressive Democratic politicians and organizations are losing their fear of AIPAC and Haim Saban and starting to be openly critical of Israel. Few Democrats have defended Israel’s actions at the Gaza border, Rebecca Vilkomerson of Jewish Voice for Peace points out. While 13 senators have been critical.
Category Archives: American Jewish Community
Progressive Mal Hyman, in a South Carolina runoff for a Congressional nomination, has been outspoken about Israeli human rights violations. He blames the U.S. for supporting colonialism and sees U.S. failure in the Middle East as giving progressives an opening to bring in humane ideas. AIPAC has asked for a meeting and Hyman says, “Wonderful,” but we’ll disagree. His boldness on these issues is a sign of things to come in Democratic races.
Liberal Zionist scholar Shaul Magid served in the Israeli army but he has had enough of Israel. Ben-Gurion miscalculated the nature of Jewish relations to the world, and that’s why Israelis are now flocking to Berlin and L.A. Magid left for Indiana and says if he had to live in Israel now, “It would actually drive me insane.”
In an article criticizing the intersectional left at the Forward, Batya Ungar-Sargon continuously reinforces the false and dangerous notion that to oppose Zionism is to be against Jews: “Jews feel that when they do show up, there’s always something wrong with them.” Zionism is an ideology, Donna Nevel asserts; and even if Jews adhere to it, it is not “anti-Jewish” to oppose it.
Most of the big Democratic donors featured in a NYT article on presidential hopefuls raising money in NY are pro-Israel. Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren need $30 million for a campaign war chest, so they are unlikely to say anything critical of Israel. Both progressives have demonstrated as much during the Gaza massacre.
“There is no Judaism without Zionism,” Yossi Klein Halevi states flatly in his new book; and Jewish Voice for Peace and anti-Zionists are not part of the Jewish community. This intolerance has not stopped many liberal Zionists from embracing him, including J Street, Jodi Rudoren, David Gregory and Cokie Roberts.
Netanyahu’s famous lecture to President Obama in 2011, warning him not to have “illusions” about making peace, worked. It galvanized the leadership of the American Jewish community against the president, former Obama aide Ben Rhodes says in his new book. After the lecture, Rhodes was “given a list of leading Jewish donors to call, to reassure them of Obama’s pro-Israel bona fides.”’
Congressional candidates Leslie Cockburn in Virginia, Scott Wallace in Pennsylvania and Mal Hyman in South Carolina have all been critical of Israel or supported Israel critics. And the progressive Democratic base wants to hear that criticism. Aaron David Miller fights back, saying that supporting Israel is mom and apple pie, and Israel support must stay bipartisan.
The generational break among Jews that is happening in the US has moved to Britain. About 50 mostly young people called ‘Jews against the killing in Gaza’ have slammed British Jewish leadership for blindness to Israeli human rights violations. The next step is recognizing that Zionism is a morally defunct ideology.
A new documentary film, “Israelism,” nearing completion and scheduled for release over the next year, chronicles the changing attitudes among young American Jews toward Israel, in which they at last engage their liberal values with an intolerant country.
Organized Jewish groups have offered mealymouthed statements on the slaughter of more than 100 Gazans at the border; but the horrific events have shaken loose a segment of the Jewish community in outright criticism of Israel. Debra Shusahn of Peace Now, the non-Zionist group IfNotNow, and the foreign policy writer David Rothkopf are among those who call the killings immoral.
On May 18, Rabbi Jill Jacobs published an essay in the Washington Post suggesting that Steven Salaita is anti-Semitic. Here is the essay that he wrote in response that the Post refused to run. “Sloppy accusations of anti-Semitism betray visceral attachment to a country performing violence rather than empathy for those on its receiving end,” Salaita writes. “But it won’t deter us. Indeed, it serves as fuel to work even harder so that we might one day enjoy the same freedom as those who appoint themselves chaperones of our anger.”
Phil Weiss reports from Jerusalem that the Republicans love Israel and Israel loves Trump. Two toxic brands are having a merger. But the Israel lobby’s oath, that Israel must remain a bipartisan issue is broken. The Republicans own Israel but it’s going to be a hot potato among Democrats. The massacre has done that.
When Palestinian novelist Susan Abulhawa published a column in the Philadelphia Inquirer urging the Philadelphia Orchestra to cancel a trip to Israel because the country is slaughtering unarmed protesters in Gaza, Jewish leaders in the city flew into action, demanding that the paper publish a rebuttal and that editors take a training against BDS. The Israel lobby in action.
The Council on International Relations, a Gaza-based NGO, issued an invitation yesterday to Senator Chuck Schumer to come to Gaza so that he can see that he and the Palestinian community share many attributes, from humble origins to a high value for education. Schumer has had nothing to say about Israel’s killings in Gaza, despite pressure from young Jewish progressives.
Peter Beinart is a leader in the Jewish discourse of Israel. He says that when young American progressives call for a one-state solution, this will become a “very, very powerful” force in U.S. politics, and that these young people will not mourn “the end of the Zionist dream.” And offering the Palestinians a state without Jerusalem is like “creating a country in Westchester that can’t get into Manhattan.”
Roger Cohen argues in the New York Times that the right of return is code for pushing Jews into the sea. Joseph Levine issues a challenge to Cohen and other liberal Zionists: “It’s time to stop the scare tactics, stop using loaded language about “destruction” and “throwing into the sea” and face the consequences: either defend liberal democracy consistently or admit that one is willing to sacrifice it for ethnic nationalism.”
Natalie Portman’s refusal to attend the Israeli Genesis Prize ceremony is a blow to Israeli pride. But her statements of support for Israel reflect liberal Zionist convictions. Will she go further with her critique?
Leanne Gale, a Yale law student, came out of the heart of the Jewish community to all-but support for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS) at the J Street conference. She said BDS is the most important nonviolent Palestinian movement in the world, that anti-Zionism is a living tradition in the Jewish community as a response to anti-Semitism, and that Jews should not seek to marginalize or suppress or seek an alternative to BDS, but should engage it in an effort to make Israel a liberal democracy.
Liberal pro-Israel conference in DC featured hawkish statements on Syria. Susan Rice said Trump should have been “demonstrably unpredictable” with Assad to gain advantage. “For all our handwringing about President Trump’s temperament, he could have played those concerns to our advantage.” While Nancy Soderberg, a Clinton security aide running for Congress, said Trump had handed Syria to Iran “on a silver platter.”
The shame of the Jewish establishment: Rep. Jan Schakowsky says she never used the word “occupation” before last year, while Jeremy Burton of a leading Boston Jewish organization brags of a policy of refusing to debate Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS), even with other Jews. These people have their heads in the sand (or worse) and young Jews want none of it.
Alan Dershowitz has become an advocate for Donald Trump on the airwaves at a time when the president has few legal chums. And Israel’s interests are close behind. Dersh is a conduit to Israeli PM Netanyahu, and the EPA set up a research agreement with an Israeli water company of which Dersh is a board member– at the prodding of Trump donor Sheldon Adelson.
Liberal Zionist Michael Koplow has condemned Israeli actions at the Gaza fence but called on the left for “balance” in acknowledging the terrorist threat to Israel in the protests. Robert Herbst says the power differential is so unbalanced in Palestine that it is unfair to state “that 30,000 unarmed protesters cannot march and expect to return home alive and uninjured unless they are prepared to take on the impossible task of identifying and removing the few ‘troublemakers’ who may also show up.”
A mental health professional in Gaza once said, “We live in a cage, you can see that plainly. But the Israelis, they have a cage in their mind. They are more imprisoned than we are.” Jews need to deal with their historical trauma, in order to stop massacring Palestinians.
The silence of Jeffrey Goldberg, Bill Kristol, and Jennifer Rubin over Israel’s indefensible slaughter of Palestinian protesters on March 30, and the outspokenness against the atrocity of Bernie Sanders, David Rothkopf, Ayman Mohyeldin, and Chris Hayes, shows that the center has at last shifted in US discourse. American Jews have had it holding the bag for Israeli massacres.