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: US Aid to Israel
If you are going to make a list of crazy UN speeches, you really have to twist yourself into a pretzel not to mention Benjamin Netanyahu’s theatrics. Rachel Maddow on MSNBC does the pretzel: she overlooks Netanyahu’s cartoon bomb and 44 seconds of silence, then cites Yasser Arafat, the Palestinian leader, wearing a gun to the General Assembly in 1974.
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.
Amanda Taub’s smart piece in the NYT on ethnic cleansing as an inevitable consequence of national “self-determination” cites examples of Rohingya, Roma, Jews and Muslims. The glaring omission is the Nakba, the expulsion of 700,000+ Palestinians during the creation of Israel. The Nakba is an American issue; Bernie Sanders and historian David Myers agree on that. But the Times can’t address Palestinian conditions.
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.
Liberal Zionists in the media set red lines on what can’t be covered. So the rejection of BDS in the Chicago governor’s race, or Steven Salaita’s career destruction, or Gary Ginsberg’s speechwriting for Netanyahu are all non-stories for the mainstream press.
“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?
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.
US ambassador David Friedman and Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu are a tag-team in supporting settlements and denouncing Palestinians, and even UN Sec’y General Guterres is caught up in blaming Palestinians. While the press goes to a farcical level to dignify a “peace process.”
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.
Conan O’Brien didn’t just flout the calls on artists to boycott Israel, he mock-trained with the Israeli army, making light of their deadly arms, and hung out with Benjamin Netanyahu, doing dog jokes at the Prime Minister’s house. “Conan in Israel” will air in September, but the damage to O’Brien’s brand is already happening, on social media.
The New Yorker runs a long article about an Israeli TV series involving an Israeli military unit in the West Bank, and it’s filled with the usual shooting-and-crying theme — the oh so sensitive but tough Israelis telling an American journalist about the occupation.
“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.
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.
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.
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand may want to run for president in 2020 and she is on the defensive from Israel lobby groups for withdrawing her name from anti-boycott bill. She pushes back, saying it is an “important part” of her oath to defend the Constitution that she protects the alliance with Israel. Sen. Cory Booker is under similar pressure.
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.
The Democratic groundswell against the Israel Anti Boycott bill continues to build, and progressive party leaders are falling into line. Senator Elizabeth Warren tells a town hall she does not support the Anti-Israel Boycott Act that is roiling the Democratic base.
Noam Chomsky says advocating for the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes in Israel is “not a moral position” because while it makes the BDS campaigners feel good, they create false hope, return will never happen, and Israel would respond with nuclear weapons if the world were to support the right of return.