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: Election 2016
Israeli PM Netanyahu was seen nodding during Donald Trump’s speech to the UN, and he later praised it to the skies. “I’ve listened to countless speeches in this hall, but I can say this: none were bolder, none more courageous and forthright than the one delivered by President Trump.” Netanyahu went on to offer red meat rhetoric of his own on Iran. He referred to the country by name 37 times and likened it to North Korea, saying it was conducting a campaign of conquest across the Middle East and threatens the world with ballistic weapons.
The Netanyahu-Trump meeting in a hotel at the sidelines of the United Nations in New York today was marked by Trump’s blather about the “fantastic” two-state solution and fulsome praise by Netanyahu of Trump clearly intended to show that the Obama days are past and gone. The relationship between the two countries has never been “stronger” or “deeper,” and some of that closeness has been behind closed doors.
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.
Israel is “always in a state of war,” and that’s why the people elect generals, the late rightwing political guru Arthur Finkelstein said in 2011. Famed for cynical, negative campaigning, Finkelstein foresaw the rise of Trump on a wave of intolerance and said his own work was based on voters’ ignorance and not on his boyhood principles of freedom. “I wanted to change the world, and I did; I made it worse.”
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.
President Donald Trump endorses neo-Nazis and white supremacists who rampaged through Charlottesvile.
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.
The power of the Israel lobby is in the news. AIPAC overplayed its hand with anti-boycott legislation that Democrats are stepping away from. While Sheldon Adelson is trying to get Trump’s National Security Adviser fired for being insufficiently supportive of Israel. We have a long way before the lobby is openly addressed, though.
Israel supporters such as Caroline Glick are demanding that Trump fire national security adviser H.R. McMaster because he has fired pro-Israel analysts and supports the Iran deal and considers Israel an occupying power. But realists are still the adults in the Trump administration.
Defenses of Linda Sarsour, the Palestinian-American activist attacked as an anti-Zionist by the New York Times, are popping up everywhere. Bob Bland, co-organizer with Sarsour of the Women’s March, writes: “As a cis-heterosexual white woman new to feminist activism, I found that there were times in planning the January march that were uncomfortable.” But she says coalitions of the oppressed and marginalized are essential to taking on Trump.
In an interview with the conservative National Review, neoconservative Bari Weiss, who works at the New York Times, says that her goal in castigating Palestinian-American Linda Sarsour as a “strident anti-Zionist” is to make the Democratic establishment of Schumer, Gillibrand and Pelosi “disavow” her. Will Weiss succeed? Neocons have long exercised power in the Democratic Party.
Victoria Coates is the latest Trump hire to join the team tasked with solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Coates worked under Ted Cruz when he introduced legislation to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. And her social media footprint endorses a plan for “Expelling Palestinians from lands controlled by Israel.”
Bari Weiss, an opinion editor at the New York Times and longtime pro-Israel advocate, smears Linda Sarsour as a purveyor of “hate” because she is anti-Zionist. Weiss is in a rich tradition of pro-Zionist advocacy at America’s leading newspaper, but Sarsour’s prominence is endangering that entitlement.
The head of the Zionist Organization of America, Morton Klein, bemoaned the firing of White House communications director Anthony “the Mooch” Scaramucci on Monday in an interview with Haaretz. “We lost a very strong friend and supporter of Israel,” Klein told the Israeli daily, referring to Scaramucci by his nickname.
Times columnist David Brooks says what’s “disturbing” about an interview with President Trump is his confused train of thought: “Spasms about what Napoleon was doing, then we go off to some other issue and some other issue. I thought – and especially compared to the transcripts of Donald Trump 15 years ago, there’s a totally different conversational style, the explanation for which I do not have.”
The State Department’s terrorism report for 2016 says Palestinians “lack of hope” in achieving statehood has fostered terrorism, and pro-Israel groups have pushed back against the statement calling it “anti-Semitic” and “pro-Palestinian.”
Senator Lindsey Graham wonders if AIPAC should be a foreign agent: “They come up here in droves lobbying Congress to do things in their view good for the US Israel relationship. I know they have a lot of contacts in Israel. Should somebody like that be a foreign agent?” But no, the AIPAC model is a “good thing,” he concludes.
The investigation of Russia’s meddling in U.S. politics dominates the liberal press. Phil Weiss writes that he believes the suspicions about Donald Trump and the Russians, but what stands out to him is that conduct that is Watergate-worthy when it comes to Russia is hunky-dory when it comes to Israel. Just in the last week there have been two other expressions of Israel’s active interests in our politics that the liberal media have failed to say boo about.
Glenn Greenwald and Ryan Grim’s report at the Intercept on new legislation in the Congress that would criminalize support for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS). Yes, criminalize. The bill is such a crude example of overreach by the Israel lobby that it is sure to backfire on its supporters as Greenwald and Grim’s report ricochets around the Democratic Party
America has been at war for 15 years but few Americans notice, because overall it is rural communities that have suffered the highest casualty rates, Francis Shen and Douglas Kriner argue in an important new paper. And it was those communities, in Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, that gave Donald Trump his victory over Hillary Clinton, who was seen as pro-war.
Recent days have dashed any thought that Donald Trump would be neutral or an honest broker. Negotiator Jason Greenblatt spent all his time echoing the Israeli message about the conflict, while envoy Jared Kushner reportedly angered Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas by carrying Netanyahu’s talking points to Ramallah.
The White House announced that Donald Trump will not move the embassy to Jerusalem at this time so as to advance peace talks. AIPAC and Netanyahu were disappointed by the news. Obama’s former ambassador Dan Shapiro calls for the embassy move later this year, so as to “shatter Pal myth” that Jews don’t have a connection to Jerusalem.
Phil Weiss shares a photo essay from when Donald Trump visited Jerusalem and the Old City. Israeli security wrapped sites he was visiting with white sheets ala Christo, to keep anyone from seeing him, or disrupting events. There were armed checkpoints for Jewish Israelis, and a surveillance balloon in the sky.
As Trump flies to the Middle East, he should consider: We’ve been at war there for 16 years. Israel may see that as a happy outcome, but we need to disentangle ourselves from Israel’s oppressive policies toward Palestinians if we seek a peaceful future.