Among the general US population, the number of those “unreachable” by Israel is 9 percent, but among Jewish college students the number is much higher 13 percent. And that is a “national security issue” for Israel’s future, says Fern Oppenheim of the Brand Israel Group.
Category Archives: US Policy in the Middle East
A new study titled, “Sounding the Alarm: The American-Israeli Relationship” by an American Zionist group says that Israeli PR (or hasbara) isn’t working, and the more Americans learn about Israel, the less favorably they feel about the country. The report says that Americans have learned a lot more about Israel since 2010, but that knowledge has fostered the country’s unfavorable reputation, and fed the “delegitimization” campaign, because Americans increasingly feel that Israel does not share their values.
“Politically, ideologically and in some sense spiritually, I was born in June 1967,” Israeli settler and ambassador Dani Dayan tells a liberal Zionist gathering in New York, in yet another reflection of how rightwing ideology is ingrained in US Jewish life and in Israeli politics.
Last Sunday five mostly-liberal American Jewish groups held an all-day conference in New York on “Israel at a crossroads on the 50th anniversary of the Six Day War,” and it was chaotic. The Israeli ambassador tells the crowd that Jews have a right to the West Bank because “winner takes all,” while an Israeli rabbi pleads with American Jews to stop backing up rightwingers in Israel. Phil Weiss writes, “if I can extract any lesson from it, it is that older establishment liberal Jews aren’t ready for the new discourse of Israel and they are freaked out about what young Jews are saying. Peter Beinart’s crisis of Zionism of 2013 is now four years old, and we are starting in on the chaos of American Zionism.”
Israelis live in fear of Palestinians, and speak of a hundred years war. These conditions have produced a militaristic majoritarian culture where everyone admires Trump and even leftwingers dismiss Palestinian human rights concerns. “They have plenty to eat.” Phil Weiss’s observations from a tour on the 50th anniversary of occupation.
“I have enormous respect for the Palestinian national movement,” says Israeli ambassador and settler, Dani Dayan. “I admire in some sense a movement that keeps its refugees for five generations in squalid camps in order to keep the flame alive. In some senses I envy that movement.”
Amith Gupta examines why Governor Andrew Cuomo rebuked the Puerto Rican Day Parade while attending the Israel Day Parade in New York City: “This tale of two parades is remarkable in that it is very much a microcosm of politics in a state that is often reduced to little more than a bastion of liberalism.”
Memoirs by American Jews reveal that the 1967 war revolutionized Jewish life: even leftwingers like Joel Kovel were initially swept up in the fear for Israel and excitement over its victory, but those fears helped produce the most powerful force in American Jewish life since: the neoconservatives who, inflamed by memories of the Holocaust, vowed to support Israel in the face of an indifferent world.
“We had both written plays about Israel and Palestine that were deemed too political, biased, left wing, angry, anti-Israel, and even anti-Semitic. Artistic directors said they would lose half their boards if they produced our shows and to be fair they probably would.” –Ismail Khalidi and David Zellnik announce a new project for theater pieces on Palestine.
At Shavuot celebration at Tzedek in Chicago, Marc Ellis says Elie Wiesel was a Holocaust thinker who believed that Israel was the path to bring Jews out of suffering and towards redemption. Unfortunately there was no room for Palestinian suffering in that worldview. So relates Liz Rose, who used to write adoring letters to Wiesel, and planted a tree in Israel in his name.
Tony Judt’s disillusionment with Israel as an “anachronism” began when he volunteered during the Six Day War: “For the first time I met Israelis who were chauvinistic in every meaning of the word: anti-Arab in a sense bordering upon racism; quite undisturbed at the prospect of killing Arabs wherever possible, frequently regretting that they had not been allowed to fight their way through to Damascus and beat down the Arabs for good and all.”
In a new collection called Kingdom of Olives and Ash that decries Israel’s 50 years of occupation, Michael Chabon documents the grinding humiliations and complete loss of freedom for Palestinians living in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, who must get permits just to travel a few miles.
Only a brave, progressive international movement can end the Israeli occupation, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders says, in a video on its 50th anniversary calling for “equality, security, democracy and justice.”
Israel needs to enforce laws against polygamy because Palestinians are overpopulating the Negev, Jerusalem, and the Galilee, says Michael Oren, former ambassador to the US. Oh and by the way, US liberal Jewish support for Israel is in “radical… implosion” because they see Israel as oppressive, Oren says. Maybe they have good reason?
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.
Nathan Thrall has an important new book out, “The Only Language They Understand: Forcing Compromise in Israel and Palestine”, arguing that Israel will only end the occupation when it is subject to “severe pressure” from the U.S., and that the U.S. is capable of applying that pressure. In an interview with Phil Weiss and Scott Roth in Jerusalem, Thrall says a two-state solution is the optimal outcome and says that violence on both sides has actually led Palestinians and Israelis to take steps toward such an outcome.
U.S. President Donald Trump faces a deadline this Thursday about whether to renew a presidential waiver to delay recognizing occupied Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and relocating the U.S. embassy there from Tel Aviv. Jonathan Cook writes, “Whether Trump signs the waiver or not on Thursday, all indications are that the US president – faced with domestic pressures and an intransigent Israeli government – is going nowhere with his ‘ultimate deal'”.
Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike called off the strike this weekend after achieving many demands in 41 days of self-imposed starvation. One thing for sure about the historic strike: it didn’t get a lot of coverage in the U.S. press. A cartoon by Katie Miranda.
The Israeli media reported last week that the US government demands Israel will transfer some territory from Area C to Area B. These reports have not been confirmed yet, but they are already causing some trouble in the Israeli political system. What may be hiding behind this opaque formula may be the greatest breakthrough in the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations in 20 years.
As Donald Trump wrapped his visit to Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory yesterday, Gazans said they felt ignored. They do not expect the president’s travels will improve or lift the decade-long Israeli siege imposed on the coastal Mediterranean strip. Many noted Trump’s pro-Israel rhetoric during the later part of his campaign and first months of the presidency as a signal that their well-being is not on his agenda. Some cynically referred to the president as on an “elegant businessman’s” trip to Saudi Arabia, followed by less important stops to Israel and the West Bank.
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.
In 1953, Joel Kovel had an epiphany as a Yale freshman that would ultimately determine his life’s course, against the US war machine and Zionism. He was tempted to return to Yale for his 60th reunion but thought better of it in light of the ordeal of Rev. Bruce Shipman.
Leaving aside the question that should strike any reasonable citizen — Isn’t the “secret” Trump gave the Russians a bit obvious? (gee, laptops; who would have thought)– the story is roiling the chambers of state-and-spycraft in Washington and Israel.
Haaretz newspaper in Israel gets death threats for its unblinking reports on Palestinian conditions, but the New York Times, once again moving mountains to support Israel, describes it as juvenile, antagonistic and contrarian, in a column by Shmuel Rosner.