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: US Policy in the Middle East
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.
To determine whether demonstrations in Gaza are “peaceful protests or violent riots,” New York Times reporter David Halbfinger imbedded himself with Israeli forces. The one-sided report follows a pattern, Norman Finkelstein says, in which Times writers rely on official Israeli statements to portray the encounters at the fence as armed confrontations in which Israeli snipers return the fire of protesters.
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.
Both houses of the California state legislature passed resolutions applauding Israeli democracy on its 70th anniversary and overlooking the carnage in Gaza. Despite these victories, pro-Israel forces are facing greater and greater resistance from progressive voices in California politics.
The New York Times echoes Israeli propaganda about slain Palestinian medic Razan al-Najjar, saying she was “more complex” than the innocent woman described in reports. If Russians issued such a cynical slander of a protester, the Times would be the first to denounce it. But it’s Israel, and the Times collaborates in blaming the victim.
From Tom Friedman to Bari Weiss to Bret Stephens to Shmuel Rosner, New York Times opinion writers have supported Israel’s massacre at the Gaza border. Only Michelle Goldberg has condemned it outright, while David Brooks and Roger Cohen have equivocated, and blamed Hamas.
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.
NPR promoted the Israeli occupation TV show “Fauda” on Saturday and when Scott Simon suggested that Palestinians killed in Gaza were “innocent,” Lior Raz retorted that 60 had been killed — a lie — and that almost all were members of a terror group– the Israeli government line. Simon failed to mention the killing the day before of a Palestinian medic.
Comedian Roseanne Barr lost her show for racism in a tweet this week, but she has a long history of hateful speech about Palestinians and Muslims, and of likening supporters of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) to Nazis. In one case she impersonated Adolf Hitler in a photo meant as a joke, putting human-shaped cookies in an oven, and said the victims were Palestinians. She did not suffer career-wise for those comments.
Trump once laughed at the efforts of the Republican Jewish Coalition, rightwing supporters of the Netanyahu government, to “control” politicians. But 2-and-1/2 years later the group has emerged as a hub for fundraising for Trump and for setting his foreign policy agenda on Middle East issues. A former board member, Elliott Broidy, shows up in the Mueller probe, working with Israel lobby groups and the UAE to punish Hamas.
Tom Friedman of the Times says that Palestinians in Gaza are responsible for their own suffering because they have not marched to demand a two-state solution that preserves the Jewish state. He’s been giving Palestinians that advice for 7 years and ignoring their suffering under blockade.
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.
The NYT has no one to the left of Michelle Goldberg on Israel and meantime it publishes Shmuel Rosner saying that Israel’s shooting of civilians at the Gaza border was good for Palestinians, because the killings make Israel feel more secure. You really would have to publish a defense of suicide bombing to balance this. Rosner should just wear a sheet over his head and burn crosses.
Two leading figures on the American left, Rob Malley and Chris Hayes, cannot openly discuss the role of Israel in foreign policy-making, specifically Sheldon Adelson’s influence over Donald Trump’s historic and tragic decision to scrap the Iran deal, a landmark of international diplomacy.
Adoration of Donald Trump is nearly universal among Jewish Israelis in Jerusalem. “Trump is an amazing president. What he promises he makes to happen,” says Rami, 45. “He doesn’t’ care about the opinion of other people. This is how the president of the biggest country in the world needs to act.”
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.
The upside of Trump’s destruction of the Iran deal is that he has isolated the United States and Israel in world opinion, and made it clear to Democrats that if they are going to avenge this foreign policy outrage, they must take on Israel’s influence in our politics. Because that influence was so transparent.
The mainstream media’s obsession with the “fake news” story of the 2016 election is itself fake news. We’ve never had more good information than we have now; people are as well-informed as they want to be. There have always been outlets purveying lies. And the insistence on the story is an effort to assign Trump’s victory not to those who brought it to us (the electorate, and Hillary Clinton) but on some nefarious agents.
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.