Israeli leftwing legislator Stav Shaffir’s appeals for the two-state solution at AIPAC sounded a lot like rightwing nationalist appeals. She said a Palestinian majority between the Jordan and the Mediterranean is a “danger” to Israel, that Trump made all Israelis happy by moving the embassy to Jerusalem, and that young American progressives are mistakenly falling for the “Palestinian narrative.”
Category Archives: American Jewish Community
The AIPAC policy conference has featured one prominent Democrat after another seeking to outflank the Trump administration in expressions of love for Israel. Senate Minority leader Chuck Schumer took the prize by slinging mud at Palestinians and Arabs as the reason there is no end to the conflict. Schumer said the problem is the Palestinians “don’t believe in the Torah. So that’s the reason there is not peace.”
The Israel lobby group AIPAC kicked off its annual policy conference in Washington on the weekend, and speaker after speaker expressed fears that progressive Democrats are abandoning Israel. The speakers urged progressives to stay in the bipartisan fold of support for the Jewish state; they insisted that Israel is a progressive cause. But many also embraced Donald Trump and Nikki Haley– evidence of the rightwing character of Israel support, which is driving the partisan divide in our country.
There was no political opposition to Avraham Burg’s message of equal rights in Israel and Palestine at Temple Israel in Brookline, and that’s bad news. The political winds are blowing in such an opposite direction in the U.S. and Israel right now that those who object to his message don’t believe he is even worth pushing back at.
Leftwing Israeli author Avraham Burg called for one state in Israel and Palestine and described some of his cousins as “literally speaking racist, xenophobic, Islamophobic, homophobic, OK, a few other phobias”, and he got a less than hearty welcome for his remarks at B’nai Jeshurun, a progressive NY synagogue. The sad state of American Jewry.
The premier Israel lobby group AIPAC fulfills its mission of guaranteeing bipartisan support for Israel by having many liberal Democratic speakers this weekend: Rep. Adam Schiff, Jake Sullivan, and Tamara Cofman Wittes. Even as the progressive Democratic base grows alienated from Israel, establishment Dems need to show support for the rightwing country so as to preserve their careers.
Ambassador David Friedman’s assertion that uprooting 100s of 1000s of settlers would “cause a civil war” is echoed by many on the left. Both sides imagine a one-state outcome, even as liberal Zionists attack Friedman for suggesting that Israeli society is not resilient and that the two-state solution is right around the corner.
New York Times columnists Bret Stephens and Roger Cohen repeatedly bashed the left for not tolerating dissent at a JCC panel about Israel in New York last week. Cohen called for “unsafe” speech and “open discussions, fierce debate” so as to fend off a “monolithic” McCarthyist “mob” on campuses. But the panel itself embodied Jewish intolerance of dissent: All three speakers on stage were ardent Zionists, introduced by a JCC official as people who could reinforce “our commitment to Israel.”
After comedian Sarah Silverman called last week for people “to stand up” for imprisoned Palestinian teen Ahed Tamimi, she quickly encountered a barrage of feedback that lasted through the weekend. She was labelled a supporter of terrorism, but she stood her ground.
The latest study of U.S. Jewish attitudes towards Israel only confirms the trend– growing indifference to the idea of a Jewish state among younger, unaffiliated Jews. When 18-34 year-old Bay Area Californians are asked if they’re “very attached” to Israel, only 11 percent say yes, compared to 25 percent of those 50 and older. Is a Jewish state very important? 37 percent of the young say yes. Only 40 percent of the young are comfortable with the idea of a Jewish state.
Amos Schocken, publisher of Haaretz, bashes US ambassador David Friedman for perpetuating “apartheid” in the West Bank, and meantime former Israeli security official Charles Freilich says that Jewish “intermarriage” in the U.S. is threatening Israel’s support because assimilating Jews don’t see the “supreme ideological importance” of the settlements as an “existential” issue for Israel.
Nathan Englander is a superb storyteller in his new novel Dinner at the Center of the Earth. And the spiritual portrait of the Israelis is grim. It’s not a happy country. Everyone is narcotized or unconscious or belligerent. The book’s central character is a young American who was deluded by his beautiful Hebrew school teacher to believe that Israel was his birthright, and so he made aliyah, and became a black-ops warrior, only to find that Israel was committing indiscriminate massacres.
Rabbi Susan Silverman describes Israel as a place of refuge in a NYT piece denouncing plans to deport thousands of African refugees. But the piece never mentions Palestinian refugees. “We are the people who expelled over three quarters of a million people in our war of conquest in 1948,” Joseph Levine writes.
We have “a duty to restore the honor” of that most vilified word, the Zed word, Zionism, Israeli consul general Dani Dayan tells a pro-Israel group at Columbia University. He criticized U.S. foreign policy for “injustices” like Abu Ghraib and said that when Palestinians declare a day of rage over Jerusalem, it’s not as if the other days are “days of yoga.”
Media redlines on the Israel lobby are still in force: Col. Lawrence Wilkerson publishes an op-ed in the NYT saying that the runup to a war with Iran reminds him of the falsehoods that paved the way for the Iraq war, but he never mentions “Israel’s security” as a motive for neoconservative analysts — points that are at the top of his mind when he is interviewed by the Real News about his op-ed.
Israel advocates Tamara Cofman Wittes and Daniel Shapiro concede that Israel is becoming politicized, and support for the country is draining out of the Democratic Party as young Democrats, including many Hispanics and African-Americans, look at the Jewish state through the “lens of human rights,” as an occupier and discriminator.
An interview with Rabbi Lynn Gottlieb about the “land with two names” — Palestine-Israel — and its relation to Jewry. “Zionism is a failing ideology for many younger Jewish people. They see the oppressive conditions facing most Palestinians under the banner of Zionism and are frustrated by the mainstream community, which is in denial.”
“We have to remember, it’s a Jewish newspaper,” Israeli author Ben-Dror Yemini says of the New York Times, linking it to the “sickness” of American Jews in seeking meaning by attacking Israel. He spoke at a Reform synagogue on the Upper West Side.
Henry Siegman’s landmark piece in the National applauds Trump for ending illusions. The two-state solution is dead and buried, Palestinians are making the right choice, a struggle for equal rights. And this will lead to a “significant exodus of Jews” as Israel faces a future as an acknowledged apartheid state or a democracy. Siegman’s defection from Establishment “scam” on these issues shows up Barack Obama, who endorses the same old illusions in NY synagogue appearance.
Mathilde Krim, who died at 91 this month, was honored in obituaries for his courageous advocacy for AIDS victims in the 90s. The press ignored her other great cause: Moving US foreign policy on Israel in the 60s to the “no daylight” stance we’ve had since. Krim had lived in Israel and married a leading Democratic fundraiser, and she twisted Lyndon Johnson’s arm to stand by Israel’s side.
Jane Eisner of the Forward says the identification of Israel with one party, Republicans, is “terrifying,” and so Democratic Jews should support AIPAC, the Israel lobby. Liberal Zionists hate the occupation but they hate the threat to US support for Israel even more. She endorses the idea that the lobby is an instrument of Jewish influence.
Roger Cohen published a NYT column from occupied Hebron that takes a step away from Zionism– stating bluntly that the Israeli goal of sterilizing Hebron streets by emptying them of Palestinians is reminiscent of anti-semitic rhetoric, and that the occupation is neverending and it is imposed in the name of Jews, which he rejects.
The Jewish establishment threw itself into the battle against intermarriage 25 years ago with warnings about Hitler and books by Dershowitz. Now no one cares anymore; and there are countless half Jews. The same thing is going to happen to Zionism, another anachronism the establishment is angrily defending.
A new documentary on the conflict, In the Land of Pomegranates, suggests that Israelis and Palestinians only need to understand the other’s narratives of victimization to overcome their differences and get along. But its portraits of young Palestinians and Israelis scarred by violence shows that only outside pressure and structural political change will allow the two peoples to get along, and the film’s politics are meaningless.
Vic Mensa bears witness to Israeli “oppression and abuse” in an essay in Time. He saw elderly women being “punched in the face” by Israeli soldiers, and children being harassed and detained. He was enraged by fetid water tank for refugees alongside a swimming pool for Israeli settlers. Yet Time obviously forced him to begin his article by swearing that he is “not anti-Semitic” and his words are not an attack on those “of the Jewish faith.”