For 50 years the Democratic Party establishment has been able to stifle pro-Palestinian efforts as too radical for US politics. That red line is breaking down today though, as the permanent occupation marked its 50th anniversary, BDS gains adherents among young Dems, and the Jewish monolith supporting Israel fractures. It’s about time.
Category Archives: American Jewish Community
Abba Solomon see the film, The Golden Age of Second Avenue, a documentary love poem for Yiddish theater in NYC, from 1890s-1930s, as part of an effort to save the Yiddish legacy of New York’s Lower East Side and observes, “The weight of memory, and the histories Jews tell of themselves, the tradition and experience we imagine we are heir to, shape the way the creation and conduct of the State of Israel is considered.”
The sound of the shofar at Rosh Hashanah in the synagogue is a “wake-up call” to Jews to support the “Jewish homeland” Israel, and fight the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, says David Harris, of the American Jewish Committee, completely conflating religion and Zionism in a way that fosters anti-Zionism.
A young operative from the heart of the pro-Israel community, Richard Goldberg, is pushing “regime instability” in Iran in a document circulating at the White House and in the Republican Congress. Goldberg has has worked with Stand With Us and the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. The document calls on the president to threaten a “global economic embargo” of Iran so as to undermine the regime.
Jews in America “are of more influence economically, politically, culturally, than in any other place in the world in world history,” Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel tells Times of Israel, so they are obligated to help “victimized” communities, African-Americans and Mexican-Americans and aspiring Americans.
“The status quo is no longer tenable.” Nearly 600 Conservative rabbis and leaders, most of them North American, wrote a letter to Benjamin Netanyahu expressing “dismay, anger and sense of betrayal” over official Israeli discrimination against non-Orthodox Jews. But not a word about Israel’s discrimination against Palestinians.
North Korea is helping Iran to become a threshold nuclear state, and Syria too, so “there needs to be an alliance against the axis of evil” between Israel and the U.S., says Israel Labor pol Erel Margalit speaking at Columbia University. Haven’t we heard that before?
Novelist Nathan Englander has a new political thriller called “Dinner at the Center of the World,” based on his efforts to imagine peace between Israel and Palestine, but asked if Israel should give up its character as a Jewish state and be a democracy, he says, “I’m a fiction writer… I have never even thought about having to take a personal stand like that as being imperative upon me.”
A rightwing campaign has begun against a Jewish organization, the Center for Jewish History, to fire its new executive David N. Myers, who has called for discussions of the Nakba and against demonizing the BDS campaign (boycott, divestment and sanctions). And happily, it appears that this campaign will fail.
This is an incredible story about the power of the Israel lobby inside Democratic Party politics, and in Chicago. Daniel Biss, a progressive state senator contending for the Democratic nomination to be governor of Illinois, has dropped his running mate, Carlos Ramirez-Rosa, over Israel issues — two days after Illinois congressman Brad Schneider revoked his endorsement of Biss, because Ramirez-Rosa had supported Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel.
Brad Schneider, Illinois congressman who once worked for AIPAC, rescinds endorsement of State Senator Dan Biss for Illinois governor because his running mate, Carlos Ramirez-Rosa, supports BDS. Biss is Jewish, and the news is evidence of the growing American Jewish divide over rightwing Israel.
When white nationalist Richard Spencer said there was a lot to admire in Zionism, he held up a mirror to Jewish nationalism’s contempt for Palestinian rights. Naomi Dann of Jewish Voice for Peace was right to seize on the affinity as a reflection on Zionism, as lived. While Jane Eisner of the Forward and Jonathan Greenblatt of the ADL are in denial about what their ideology has become.
Trump’s ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, refers to an “alleged occupation” in an interview with the Jerusalem Post, and says settlements pose no real obstacle to peace but Palestinians’ “culture of hate” does. Once again, the White House acts as Israel’s lawyer.
Eleven years after Jimmy Carter was excommunicated for using the word “apartheid” to describe Palestine, the description is showing up in more mainstream places. The Israeli human rights organization Peace Now says that Hebron has an “apartheid system,” and Israeli journalist Avi Issacharoff says in the New Yorker that it’s only a matter of time before Europe says “No more apartheid!” to Israel.
“The American Legion has looked at us with disdain and dishonor for years,” says Ernest Gallo, president of the USS Liberty Veterans Association, but last week pushed by its grassroots, the Legion’s convention voted to call on Congress to investigate the June 8, 1967 attack on the Liberty by Israel that killed 34 sailors. There has never been a U.S. government investigation of the matter.
The never-ending deathbed vigil for the two-state solution has reached a new stage. The Trump administration’s refusal to commit to the two-state solution is horrifying liberal Zionists who fear threats to the Jewish state, but Netanyahu is overjoyed. He celebrated the settlements this week: “This is the inheritance of our forefathers, this is our country… We came back here to stay forever. There will be no more uprooting of settlements in the Land of Israel.”
American Jews have “tremendous power” over the government of Israel, but they should never criticize the Netanyahu government on its policies toward Palestinians, just “stand up for” Israel in the U.S., says American-born Israeli politician Dov Lipman, at the American Jewish Committee forum in June.
Forward editor Jane Eisner argues that Israel, and the Jewish people, have a right “to maintain the hegemony of the dominant class” – privileging Jews over Palestinians, at the same time she decries the discrimination and occupation that resulted from such hegemony. The rest of us have a right to label such an order exclusionary and racist.
Yehuda Kurtzer has been outspoken on the horrors of Charlottesville. But he justified a friendly tour by Jewish lay leaders to rightwing segregated Jewish settlements in the West Bank, because “to be in serious and committed relationship, with the State of Israel requires a real reckoning with its complexities.”
A minority of Jews ruling over a Palestinian majority would seal the “apartheid” label; and the latest numbers on Israeli expats suggest that’s now the case in Israel and Palestine. But US media are not picking up on a story that shows Israelis are leaving the country.
In a breakthrough, the Forward runs Naomi Dann’s piece saying that Zionism is racist. While Forward editor Jane Eisner promptly denounced the article as untrue, the debate in the liberal newspaper is a sign that the U.S. Jewish monolith in favor of Israel is crumbling, and open debate about how safe Jews are in the west, and how unsafe Zionism has made Palestinians, has begun.
The New York Times once again opens its op-ed pages to a militant Zionist, Daniel Gordis, to argue that Jews in Israel are safer than in America because they have overcome their fears by handling guns. He never says what they do with those guns: Oppress Palestinians without rights in the occupation.
Wolf Blitzer and Josh Marshall are strong voices against white nationalist violence. Yet Blitzer once wrote that the Deir Yassin massacre in Palestine was a “spurious myth.” And Josh Marshall named his son after an Israeli general who committed ethnic cleansing. Charlottesville is a moment of truth. If you’re going to stand up for liberal values here, you need to criticize Jewish nationalism there.
Marc Ellis writes: Charlottesville and White nationalism have brought the issue of monuments commemorating the fallen to the forefront. Often remembrance is a form of denial. Jews are very present in the movement to oppose white supremacy and were involved in opposing white nationalism in Charlottesville. Yet, Jews have our own history to struggle with as well. Where and how the memory of our own suffering is portrayed is crucial to the Jewish future. It is hotly contested as well.
If you know what Israel’s plan for Gaza is, you must give up on erudite chit-chats with even the finest Israelis. But Noam Chomsky is still caught up in a romance of what Israel could have been, so he opposes the only thing that can change it, BDS.