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Jewish food fight (at Park Slope Co-op)

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Kiera Feldman has a great piece of reportage up at the Nation about Tuesday’s boycott vote at the Park Slope Food Co-Op. (Alex Kane mentioned it here). The beauty of the reporting is that Feldman understands exactly where the locus of opposition is in America to the idea of Palestinian freedom: it is inside the liberal American Jewish community.

You won’t see any talk of Christian Zionists or even the monolithic lobby in this piece. No: you see the reactionary attitudes inside mine and Feldman’s religious community, east coast Jewish progressives. She is sympathetic: she sees that these attitudes come out of fear and hurt. But these attitudes are selfish and inconsiderate of other people’s suffering.

Happily, Feldman is for having that Jewish food fight. And you will see from the piece that follows hers, that she is getting a fight– from another writer at the Nation no less who is fulminating about “demographic abolition” halfway round the world from where he lives! The Jewish left must have this fight about whether a Jewish state makes us safe, and have it publicly. Because we are so crucial to the disposition of cultural and political power in the new establishment.

When we get this argument going, the American media will at last do the story. As Feldman notes, that’s the triumph of the Park Slope loss: it’s moving the discourse.

Here’s Feldman describing the Brooklyn boycott argument in baldly Jewish terms:

Jewish BDS proponent Jessica Rosenberg… [said] “60/40 in Park Slope makes me feel hopeful about the future of my people…”

BDS had permeated even Park Slope–“the heart of the Jewish crunchy liberal establishment,” in the tongue-in-cheek words of Jewish Voice for Peace activist Jesse Bacon….

In the months leading up to the vote, Nadia Saah, a blonde Palestinian-American Coop-er, said her Semitic looks led to some interesting exchanges at the Coop… Saah’s parents fled Jerusalem in 1948 after the Deir Yassin massacre, but fellow Coopers passing through the check-in desk often assume two things: first that she’s Jewish and second that all Jews feel compelled to commiserate about BDS. “I’ve heard first hand how frightened people are about the BDS vote,” Saah said. Her heart went out to them. Having grown up in the U.S., Saah said she understands and has “compassion for the historical traumas that have engendered this fear.” But, she added, “Sadly, we’re the unfortunate inheritors of Jewish fear.”..

my impression has been that that existential fear seems to underpin all Jewish opposition to the Coop’s adoption of BDS. What’s more, the organized opposition appears almost entirely comprised of Jews who are middle aged and up. (The population of the general meeting appeared to skew older, although who is to say if that’s reflective of the Coop as a whole–or simply of the Coopers who happen to have enough leisure time to attend. To be sure, the pro-BDS contingent had a critical mass of white-haired Jews as well.) Every conversation seemed to circle back to the international BDS movement’s call to honor the Palestinian right of return, which Zionists see as a threat to Jewish demographic majority in Israel and therefore a call for the destruction of the state itself…

“BDS, KKK.” Renee Silver, an Orthodox Jew, explained to me, “This is a hate organization. They hate Jews.” In front of me, Bruce Janovski, also Jewish, said he agreed with Mayor Bloomberg’s pronouncement against the boycot…

People really lost it when Hima B. mentioned a Palestinian body count during the Gaza attack. A man across the aisle from me wearing a yellow t-shirt that said “Esperanto” on the front began screaming, “How many Jews! How many Jews!” with both hands raised, pumping the air. When she mentioned “ethnic cleansing,” the man in the Esperanto t-shirt screamed, “Go home! Get lost!”

When you read this piece, you understand that the neocon migration to the right had a strong Jewish component: Norman Podhoretz and Irving Kristol doubted the security of Israel in the hands of liberal Democrats. Now we will see privileged liberal Brooklyn Jews called upon to declare their views on the boycott call; and many of them will go to the right politically, out of Jewish exterminationist fear projected on to the Palestinians. So let’s have the argument openly. Feldman wants it:

As facts on the ground in both Israel proper and the Occupied Palestinian Territories worsen, young Jews with political commitments like Ora Wise and Rebecca Manski are becoming more and more commonplace

Feldman is getting attacked at the Nation by Ben Adler, a blogger. The piece reflects Jewish communitarian concerns. And so again I must point out, this is a Jewish cultural/political moment, not an American leftwing moment. Notice how Peter Beinart, former editor of the centrist New Republic, who pushed the Iraq war, is suddenly a moral leader on the left. Adler:

…like Beinart, I think boycotting democratic Israel, within the Green Line, is not the appropriate mechanism to promote this. Beinart’s proposed “pro-Israel boycott” of settlements in the West Bank may not be a practical solution either, but at least he–unlike BDS–is making the important distinction between Israel proper and the West Bank. If you want to boycott Israel itself, then you need to explain why you’re not calling for a boycott of other countries in the Middle East which oppress their own citizens worse than Israel does anyone living within the Green Line. Plenty of countries violently suppress internal dissidents and persecute ethnic minorities but are virtually never criticized by the American left, much less boycotted…

Israel’s destruction is indeed what BDS seeks. Calling for a Palestinian “right of return” is, as Feldman acknowledges, calling for the demographic abolition of Israel as a Jewish state. A lot of people have fled persecution over the years. I have no right of return to the Eastern European countries where my ancestors feared pogroms, nor do Israelis. Native Americans cannot reclaim the land in Brooklyn that the Park Slope Food Coop currently occupies.

Even if you think a right of return for Palestinians is just in the abstract, it’s a nonstarter when negotiating an agreement whereby Israel withdraws from most of the West Bank and dismantles the settlements. They simply won’t agree to a right of return. No matter what think is right, you’re talking about a country with one of the best military and intelligence operations and nuclear capabilities. You will have to offer them a deal by which they continue to exist, or there will be no deal.

I don’t have time to get into all the problems with this argument. But “demographic abolition”? My god, would a lefty ever make this argument in the context of say, immigration in Arizona or southern-states rights to self-determination during the civil rights era? No: racists made arguments like that. 

As to all the countries that persecute minorities, Adler is right, and the Palestinian solidarity left probably doesn’t say enough about them. But some of us do, and more to the point: This occupation has been going on for 45 years, there’s a reason that it demands attention. After endless violence, persecution, ethnic cleansing, and countless efforts at resisting oppression, the Palestinians have come together in a coherent sophisticated political movement to demand our action (as say, the Syrian opposition has not). We must respect that! Especially if you’re on the left.

Finally, the idea that because Israel has so much power we must defer to them on issues of rights. Oh my. The game has not been played. Let us bring pressure. Let us try to bring that country to its senses. Right now Avigdor Lieberman is the deputy prime minister and racist legislation is OK’d by the Knesset. The conscience left has a role to play here.

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30 Responses

  1. pabelmont
    pabelmont on April 1, 2012, 10:05 am

    “The Jewish left must have this fight about whether a Jewish state makes us safe, and have it publicly.”

    A public fight? YES! But about the right question, please.

    Wrong fight! A piece of unconscious (or merely sly, so sly) misdirection! The question for anyone who thinks Israel is necessary, desirable, etc., is whether GREATER ISRAEL is necessary, desirable, etc., it (by now in — let me see, yews! 2012 ! 24 years after the PLO recognized Israel in 1988) being an accepted “given” that Israel is a permanent fixture in the Middle East.

    And, suppose Israel does NOT make Jews safe, or even merely feel safe, here in (Oh! So dangerous! America — tell it to Mr. Goldman and Mr. Sachs, Mr. Summers, rafts of talking heads at NPR, owners and operators of NYT, Mr. and Mrs. AIPAC and their numerous brood, etc.) — does that mean it is OK to abandon not merely Greater Israel but Israel altogether? Wow?

    See? Wrong issue, intentionally bad framing.

    And if not even Greater Israel == Mandatory Palestine (territorially) will make those Park Slopers feel safe, does the USA have a duty (or do they themselves have a duty) or a right to demand an even greater Israel?

    Get your eyes on the ball, folks!

    And if you don’t like BDS because of the RoR (but do you like the Israeli-Jewish RoR? hmmm), then speak out NOISILY about ENDING THE SETTLEMENTS and the SIEGE and removing the wall and, generally, ending the occupation. The Palestinians will readily forgive you for failing to call also for a Palestinian RoR (tho they will still do so). Because if you do not call for an end of the oppression, you are Pharaoh and not Israel.

  2. Don
    Don on April 1, 2012, 10:23 am

    Ben Adler “If you want to boycott Israel itself, then you need to explain why you’re not calling for a boycott of other countries in the Middle East which oppress their own citizens worse than Israel does anyone living within the Green Line.”

    Noah Pollak “Global March to Jerusalem needs a more accurate name, like Global March to Become Target Practice for the IDF.”

    When public intellectuals (and I obviously use the term “intellectual” here rather loosely) like Adler do not respond to comments like Pollak’s (a comment I suspect, if made by a German citizen about Jews, would earn that German citizen a prison sentence) what right does he have to tell anyone else what they NEED to do if they choose to boycott Israel. ?

  3. Krauss
    Krauss on April 1, 2012, 10:34 am

    Yes, yes, yes and yes. Brilliant post.

    And I cringe when I see terms like “demographic abolition” coming from ‘progressive Jews’. It’s a racist argument because it’s based on blood and race, not liberal principle.
    The same is true of the term ‘preserving Israel’s Jewish character’ which is really ‘preserve the race, or it will be diluted!’. Again, often coming from ‘liberal’ Zionists.
    I had hoped those arguments had died with the Nazis.

    And I remember that some ‘progressive’ rabbi, when attacking Beinart’ used the term ‘the disease of assimilation’. We haven’t kept our doorstep tidy. We did wonderful work under the civil rights movement but failed to introspect. And now it’s all falling out at the same time and it ain’t a pretty picture. But we have to start somewhere and we’ll be better off from it.

  4. pabelmont
    pabelmont on April 1, 2012, 10:46 am

    Another point about full-Israel BDS. Do these anti-full-Israel-BDS-ers ever take medicine by moth? Pills? The medicine gets in the blood and goes everywhere, even if the disease is localized. Cancer medication (chemotherapy) “attacks” all the cells in the body even if the disease is localized.

    So too with full-Israel-BDS. The “cancer” or “disease” is the Greater Israel Project, the Settlement Project. anyone who understands that understands that the change must come in all of Israeli society, wherever located: an “attack” on the settlement industry is not enough.

  5. Pixel
    Pixel on April 1, 2012, 11:10 am

    “If you want to boycott Israel itself, then you need to explain why you’re not calling for a boycott of other countries in the Middle East which oppress their own citizens worse than Israel does anyone living within the Green Line.”

    No, we don’t.

    This is exactly the same argument little kids use to justify their behavior and we don’t think twice about the answer.

    “But Herman’s parents let HIM do it!”

    PARENT (stating unequivocally):

    “That may be, but this is about YOU. This is OUR house and right now we’re talking about what’s appropriate HERE.”

    We’ve got to stop allowing ourselves to be sidetracked by this argument.
    The answer is simple: STAND FIRM.

    “That may be, but right now we’re talking is about ISRAEL and what’s appropriate THERE.”

  6. Shmuel
    Shmuel on April 1, 2012, 11:15 am

    The Zionist project itself was and remains one of intentional “demographic abolition”. This is the root cause of the entire conflict.

    – Israeli expansionism in the OPT – including East Jerusalem! – is “demographic abolition”.
    – “Judaizing” the Galilee or the Negev or Jerusalem is “demographic abolition”.
    – Recognising pre-48 titles held by Jews but not those held by non-Jews is “demographic abolition”.
    – Radically discriminatory immigration policies are “demographic abolition”.
    – Denying the right of Palestinian refugees to return to the areas from which they were driven in 1948 and 1967 is ongoing “demographic abolition”.

    So is BDS really advocating “demographic abolition” or is that just Adler projecting?

    Despite various (inadequate and unsatisfying) attempts to rationalise his opposition to BDS, Adler finally lets the cat out of the bag toward the end of his piece: the side with the nukes gets to decide what is and is not a “nonstarter”. Not a great basis for a viable solution, but I suspect that Adler knows that.

  7. Les
    Les on April 1, 2012, 11:40 am

    Here’s another interesting battle coming up in Minnesota where there is a lawsuit against state funds being invested in Israel bonds.

  8. Ismail
    Ismail on April 1, 2012, 12:11 pm

    “…As to all the countries that persecute minorities, Adler is right, and the Palestinian solidarity left probably doesn’t say enough about them. But some of us do, and more to the point: This occupation has been going on for 45 years, there’s a reason that it demands attention…”

    No, Adler is wrong, and I think your reasoning leads us astray, Phil. Once you bring up the occupation’s duration to justify your position, you’re accepting the bizarre notion that political commitments follow from some simple political calculus – if it’s long enough, or involves more people, it follows that it’s a legitimate political concern. If not, your commitment smells fishy.

    No one -absolutely no one – is expected to justify his or her political actions with reference to this slapstick notion of permissible activism EXCEPT supporters of Palestinian rights.

    Can you imagine anyone insisting that a feminist justify working for equal pay when the far worse crime of FGM still occurs?

    You didn’t come to focus on Palestine/Israel because you performed some calculation that resulted in assigning P/I the highest spot on the Infamy Index, and nor did any politically interested person on any political issue.

    The Bizarro World picture of activism implicit in Adler’s et al has nothing to do with real human beings and their convictions. I say don’t give an inch – not a centimeter – on this.

    • philweiss
      philweiss on April 1, 2012, 12:51 pm

      movements build. the palestinian solidarity community existed long before i got on board. but i got on board because of the iraq war. and i found that palestinian resistance to occupation and ethnic cleansing has been going on for a long time. they have tried many different modes. the 2005 call for bds is one of the more recent modes. it represents the evolution of a sophisticated political movement.
      if i jumped on any and every moral issue around the world, i’d never do anything. i care about this one because im american and jewish and both my political communities are afflicted by the character of Zionist project

  9. Cliff
    Cliff on April 1, 2012, 12:23 pm

    Phil said:

    As to all the countries that persecute minorities, Adler is right, and the Palestinian solidarity left probably doesn’t say enough about them.

    The Palestinian population inside Israel proper is not comparable to African-Americans in America.

    African-Americans are not indigenous to America.

    Native Americans are indigenous to America.

    This is a colonial conflict. Mark Twain hated Native Americans but sympathized with African-Americans. Why?

    He is ignoble—base and treacherous, and hateful in every way. Not even imminent death can startle him into a spasm of virtue. The ruling trait of all savages is a greedy and consuming selfishness, and in our Noble Red Man it is found in its amplest development. His heart is a cesspool of falsehood, of treachery, and of low and devilish instincts. With him, gratitude is an unknown emotion; and when one does him a kindness, it is safest to keep the face toward him, lest the reward be an arrow in the back. To accept of a favor from him is to assume a debt which you can never repay to his satisfaction, though you bankrupt yourself trying. To give him a dinner when he is starving, is to precipitate the whole hungry tribe upon your hospitality, for he will go straight and fetch them, men, women, children, and dogs, and these they will huddle patiently around your door, or flatten their noses against your window, day after day, gazing beseechingly upon every mouthful you take, and unconsciously swallowing when you swallow! The scum of the earth!

    These groups are viewed differently. It’s not enough to be a minority. If that minority has something you want (land) – then you hate them even more.

    I don’t understand why people like Adler think every single person who is a political activist, has to be a one-man Amnesty International or HRW.

    Are Zionists one-mn AI/HRW? NO! They think the UN is biased. They think AI is biased. They think HRW is biased. They try to undermine NGOs in Israel. Etc. etc.

    This is a very cynical accusation and it is used by partisans.

    It deserves no consideration. If you care about dolphins in Japan, then you aren’t going to be working on other issues. You’re going to be working on dolphins in Japan.

    Does that mean you are a sociopath and don’t care if a human being dies beside you? LOL

    Zionism and it’s 2nd grade logic belong on the playground. It’s all mendacious bullshit.

  10. annie
    annie on April 1, 2012, 12:28 pm

    phil, i am curious when you say “This occupation has been going on for 45 years, there’s a reason that it demands attention.” how you would characterize the years between ’48 and ’65.

    yesterday i was fumbling around on twitter and intercepted the conversation between adam (i assume it was adam) and alder. alder is so old school in his phraseology and thinking. there’s very little originality coming from his mind, he translates and transforms others words to fit the his mindframe which seems incapable of processing simple concepts, like the difference between calling someone a racist and saying an idea (like demographic engineering) is racist. i guess it shouldn’t surprise me but one would imaging he could evolve away from this oldschool hasbara framing. “@robprather you’ve never seen me respond to some asshole calling me a racist before I suppose.”

    the ‘some asshole’ would be, i presume, adam who rightly characterized the racist framing. alder is on a very immature warpath. he should learn how to conduct himself in ‘public’ without revealing so much childish behavior.

    15h Ben Adler Ben Adler ‏ @badler

    according @mondoweiss Barack Obama and Peter Beinart support anti-Arab racism. Good approach to winning converts! Let me know how that works
    15h Ben Adler Ben Adler ‏ @badler

    I’m waiting for @mondoweiss to give his house to a Native American or admit he’s a racist. Until then, he’s just a hypocritical jerk
    16h Ben Adler Ben Adler ‏ @badler

    . @mondoweiss’s wanton slander of opponents as racists is the kind of self-righteous arrogance that makes people hate the left
    16h Ben Adler Ben Adler ‏ @badler

    As someone who wants Israel to disband settlements and withdraw from West Bank, I find ppl like @mondoweiss who demand 1 state v unhelpful
    16h Ben Adler Ben Adler ‏ @badler

    @Mondoweiss Looking fwd to your posts saying I have right of return to Hungary, Russia, Lithuania & calling anyone who disagrees a racist
    In reply to Mondoweiss
    16h Ben Adler Ben Adler ‏ @badler

    @Mondoweiss I look forward to your piece explaining why you continue to deny Native Americans’ right to reclaim your land
    In reply to Mondoweiss
    16h Ben Adler Ben Adler ‏ @badler

    By @mondoweiss’s own definition, he supports the racist oppression of Native Americans
    16h Ben Adler Ben Adler ‏ @badler

    shorter @mondoweiss: if you don’t share my tendentious premise you’re a racist, and I can just say that instead of making an argument
    16h Ben Adler Ben Adler ‏ @badler

    @Mondoweiss yes, that, unlike your obnoxious smears, is actually a fair point, I should have acknowledged that
    In reply to Mondoweiss
    16h Ben Adler Ben Adler ‏ @badler

    @Mondoweiss I wouldn’t call it right. I’d call it an acceptance of certain realities, along with your occupation of Native American land
    In reply to Mondoweiss
    16h Ben Adler Ben Adler ‏ @badler

    I support Palestinians having their own state alongside Israel. @mondoweiss opposes Israel’s right to exist. but HE’s calling ME racist
    16h Ben Adler Ben Adler ‏ @badler

    since basically every Israeli supports their country’s right to exist, they are all racists, according to @mondoweiss
    16h Ben Adler Ben Adler ‏ @badler

    according to @Mondoweiss if you support Israel’s right to exist you “support racism.” So he must see racists everywhere
    16h Ben Adler Ben Adler ‏ @badler

    according to @Mondoweiss if you support a two state solution instead of right of return, you “Support racism.”
    16h Ben Adler Ben Adler ‏ @badler

    @Mondoweiss the alternative is a two state solution! Are you saying everyone who supports that instead of right of return “supports racism?”
    In reply to Mondoweiss
    16h Ben Adler Ben Adler ‏ @badler

    @Mondoweiss well that’s a vague, arrogant jab with no substance or examples. very useful
    In reply to Mondoweiss
    16h Ben Adler Ben Adler ‏ @badler

    @Mondoweiss you should read pieces before you call them racist. if you had, you’d know I’m for ending status quo thru other political means
    In reply to Mondoweiss
    16h Ben Adler Ben Adler ‏ @badler

    @Mondoweiss you didnt read my post, did you? I explicitly argued against BDS on grounds of what’s best route to ending occupation
    In reply to Mondoweiss
    16h Ben Adler Ben Adler ‏ @badler

    @Mondoweiss if you think believing that Israel should be allowed to exist within the Green Line as a Jewish state makes me a racist, fine
    In reply to Mondoweiss
    16h Ben Adler Ben Adler ‏ @badler

    @Mondoweiss it would eliminate the right of jews to immigrate there. thus, no safe harbor for oppressed jews
    In reply to Mondoweiss
    16h Ben Adler Ben Adler ‏ @badler

    @Mondoweiss I imagine a democratic majority Arab Israel might elect hamas-like party that might pass anti-Jewish laws
    In reply to Mondoweiss
    16h Ben Adler Ben Adler ‏ @badler

    @Mondoweiss ok, well you’re a racist for not recognizing the Native American right of return to your house. you racist
    In reply to Mondoweiss
    16h Ben Adler Ben Adler ‏ @badler

    @Mondoweiss you’re putting words in my mouth instead of apologizing like an adult for slandering me. I’ve never written anything of the sort
    In reply to Mondoweiss
    16h Ben Adler Ben Adler ‏ @badler

    @Mondoweiss you’re making shit up because your a lazy hack who can’t justify slandering me. I never said they’d be in physical danger
    In reply to Mondoweiss
    16h Ben Adler Ben Adler ‏ @badler

    @Mondoweiss do you think that arrogantly, obnoxiously and lazily labeling everything you don’t like racist helps your cause?
    In reply to Mondoweiss
    16h Ben Adler Ben Adler ‏ @badler

    @Mondoweiss If I were Palestinian in West Bank, I might harbor some resentment towards Israelis. Admitting that doesn’t make me a racist
    In reply to Mondoweiss
    16h Ben Adler Ben Adler ‏ @badler

    @Mondoweiss what is your example of a democracy in the middle east that respects the rights of its Jewish minority?
    In reply to Mondoweiss
    16h Ben Adler Ben Adler ‏ @badler

    @Mondoweiss are you offering your house to Native Americans? Am I racist for pointing out that you obviously aren’t
    In reply to Mondoweiss
    16h Ben Adler Ben Adler ‏ @badler

    @Mondoweiss so instead of making an argument you just label any question you don’t want to answer as racist fear-mongering? Smart!
    In reply to Mondoweiss
    16h Ben Adler Ben Adler ‏ @badler

    According to @Mondoweiss, if you recognize that Israel won’t give up its right to exist you’re a “typical racist fear-monger.” Nice guy!
    16h Ben Adler Ben Adler ‏ @badler

    According to @Mondoweiss, if you ask about how right of return might actually work, you’re a “typical racist fear-monger”

    like a dog with a bone. and here’s what set him off:

    Mondoweiss ‏ @Mondoweiss

    typical racist fear mongering MT @badler: can u tell me what ISR would be like 4 the 6 mil Jews there if they lived with 8 mil Palestinians?

    the horror!

    • philweiss
      philweiss on April 1, 2012, 12:53 pm

      wow. this guy might as well be a neocon– adler!

      • annie
        annie on April 1, 2012, 1:19 pm

        i know phil, it’s pretty funny actually. this is how his article in the nation sounded to me too. just very on the surface and when you scratch there’s nothing there but the same tired ol lingo. and he’s young too, have you looked at his pic?

        reading the exchange between him, adam and max is like night and day between the awareness levels and ability to discourse rationally. night and day. each and everyone of adam’s tweets was fresh and real. whereas alders were stale and loaded with crutches, representing a complete inability to think outside a very tight enclosed box. very sad.

    • Proton Soup
      Proton Soup on April 1, 2012, 1:48 pm

      while it’s true that america treated the native americans badly, last time i looked they could move about and live freely wherever they wanted.

      still, my white guilt has indeed been twanged. maybe he’s right. perhaps we are being hypocritical. it’s an old argument to be sure, but true morals don’t change. it could be just as right today as it was many decades ago.

    • mudder
      mudder on April 1, 2012, 3:24 pm

      I think Adler is better suited to writing for the New Republic than the Nation. I don’t want to have to cancel my subscription to the Nation.

  11. yourstruly
    yourstruly on April 1, 2012, 1:02 pm

    the question isn’t whether the palestinian’s right of return poses a threat to a jewish demographic majority in israel but whether the denial of said right poses a threat to peace on earth and to the survival of all living beings. which means that israel firsters must stop thinking that jews are the only people that matter and adjust instead to the reality of our being no more than equals among equals. as for why go after israel and not other nations violating human rights, remember, none of these other nations (except for egypt and only because it’s made peace with and recognizes israel) receives billions of dollars of u.s. taxpayer money, and, unlike israel, none claims to be acting on behalf of jews everywhere. in the jewish community who then will emerge as its leaders? those among us who all along have persevered in supporting universal human rights rather than yielding to the temptation of establishing an jewish entity by way of occupying and ethnically cleansing another people’s homeland. how long will this process take? since the change of leadership already has begun, at most another year or so.

  12. American
    American on April 1, 2012, 1:34 pm

    February 13, 1959
    Ben Gurion Reveals Hammarskjold’s Suggestion to Re-admit Arabs
    TEL AVIV, Feb. 12 (JTA) –
    Prime Minister David Ben Gurion disclosed today that United Nations Secretary General Dag Hammarskjold had suggested that if Israel could take in a large number of Jews, it should be de to accept also a large number of the Arab refugees.

    Details of the exchange, which occurred during the Secretary General’s recent visit to the Prime Minister’s retreat at the Sde Boker kibbutz, were reported by the Prime Minister at the Convention of the Latin American Organization in Israel now being held here.

    He quoted Mr. Hammarskjold as remarking to him that if the Prime Minister envisaged “the absorption of 2, 000, 000 Jews, could you not take back 1,000,000 Arabs?”

    The Prime Minister said he replied: “Would those Arabs be able to do what our boys and girls do in conquering the desert and turning it into flourishing green land?”
    The Prime Minister said he believed Mr. Hammarskjold understood the point.

    The Prime Minister also told the delegates that while 50 percent of Latin American Jews migrating to Israel went into the pioneering settlements on the borders–a record he lauded—he still felt that numerically Latin American Jewry was not fulfilling the mission of Aliyah.”

    This was 53 years ago….been racist so long, unlikely Israel will ever not be racist, they think it’s normal.

  13. mudder
    mudder on April 1, 2012, 2:47 pm

    Thanks to MW commenter ParkSlopeSingleGuy, we know that the Norman Finkelstein who spoke out there against the boycott was an impostor.

  14. Keith
    Keith on April 1, 2012, 7:07 pm

    There is a certain Kafkaesque quality to this whole situation. Looked at from a purely rational perspective, there shouldn’t be much of a problem. If Israel simply became a state of all of its citizens, what would happen? Hopefully, the Palestinians would suffer less, however, is there anyone who doesn’t understand that Jews would basically be in control for the foreseeable future? What happened in South Africa? White politicians who were in the pockets of local white oligarchs and transnational corporations were replaced by black politicians who are in the pockets of local white oligarchs and transnational corporations. Okay, a few black oligarchs emerged. Fundamentally, little of substance changed.

    In the case of Israel, the same logic would prevail. There is, however, one huge obstacle: Zionism. It poisons the air both in Israel and the US. In Israel, there are the religious fundamentalists who feel that giving up so much as one inch of the “sacred soil” is a sin against God almighty. Rationality plays no role. In the US, the center of Zionist power, the same Zionist fundamentalism prevails, less concerning biblical imperatives, but more concerning induced fears of anti-Semitism and annihilation. Concerns so far beyond rationality as to be almost unbelievable. It is difficult to listen to the racist fear mongering of a Benjamin Kerstein, Debbie Schlussel or Pamela Geller and not wonder if they really believe what they say. Is it possible to believe things so irrational? And these are well educated people. They are also ideologues and propagandists. And based upon some of the reported comments of the members of the Park Slope Co-op, the increasingly cult-like ideology of Zionism remains potent. Rational argument falls on deaf ears as ideology triumphs. It is difficult to see a good way out of this.

  15. Daniel Rich
    Daniel Rich on April 1, 2012, 7:43 pm

    Time to take the ‘D’ out of Israel’s BDS and face the BS being hurled back. D.

  16. tombishop
    tombishop on April 1, 2012, 9:08 pm

    Philip, you have a number of times alluded to have an ethnocentric streak. Isn’t it ethnocentric and tribal to be so dismissive of considering the role of Christian Zionism in the current situation in the Israel toward the Palestinians as you do at the beginning of your article? You may think you are being objective by criticizing your own “tribe”, but if you want to understand the the current situation considering the role of Christian Zionism is vital, not as an excuse for Zionism or the role of the liberal American Jewish community, but for an objective understanding of the politics of Israel and the United States as a whole.

    Christian Zionism and Jewish Zionism have existed in a symbiotic relationship since the beginning of the 19th century. Both played a role in the Balfour Declaration in 1917 and both played a role in the establishment of Israel in 1948.

    At their recent conference in Jerusalem the Christians United for Israel of Rev. John Hagee proudly announced that they now have over 1 million members. They are deeply involved with the settlers on the West Bank. According to a 2010 study by the Pew Research Center, 41% of Americans believe that Jesus Christ will return to earth in the next 40 years. This is a major factor in U. S. society and politics.

    • Danaa
      Danaa on April 2, 2012, 1:37 am


      have you counted the number of christian zionists among the co-op opponents of BDS? let me know if you found more than 5. Actually, how about just one? (they don’t, for the most part live in Brooklyn, did you know that?).

      BTW, Hagee’s organization and fulminations about Israel-must-be-for-the Jews is a decisive minority among Christians of all denominations, including the very devout. Where I am often nowadays, there are quite a few fundamentalist Christians, including Baptists and Pentacostals. For the most part, Israel and I/P are quite low on their list of priorities. For the most part, they tend to be rather more concerned for the unborn than the born-in-the-middle-east.

      For some solid educational material on who and how many Christian Zionists there are, and the true magnitude of their impact (negligible), I recommend looking through the archives of Thomas Rutherford, a commenter on this site, who seems to know much about the Christian demographics of America. Not that I’d expect you to follow this recommendation, since knowledge and truth is not what you might be after. More like cover, one would suspect.

      • tombishop
        tombishop on April 2, 2012, 8:00 am

        What do you claim I am taking cover from?

    • Danaa
      Danaa on April 2, 2012, 1:45 am

      More for you tombishop:

      I seem to be having some success convincing some fundamentalist Christians that God in his mysterious ways may have mixed up the deck a bit. Since it is the Palestinians who are in all likelihood the true descendents of the bibilical Jews, it is their return that will hasten Jesus’ re-arrival on earth, rather than that of the very assimilated Jews of everywhere else. They seem especially interested in the historical demographics of diaspora Jews as presented by Prof. Sand. I had opportunity to recommend the book to more than one. And yes, several had to consult with their priest on this most serious matter.

      Maybe I should write to Hagee? nahhh……I have a more immediate worry – what if a priest actually asks me to speak before the congregation?

      • Shmuel
        Shmuel on April 2, 2012, 2:04 am

        You’re very bad, Danaa :-) But apparently also very good. I can barely convince Catholics that there are indigenous Christians in the Holy Land.

      • Danaa
        Danaa on April 2, 2012, 12:19 pm

        Shmuel – it’s all in the fervor and the passion, you know, which i can summon now and then (having once done some acting once helps). On a good day can pass for old preacher style. I suspect you are appealing to reason and being your temperate rational self. But if respondents are imbued with conviction, perhaps sometimes raw emotion can work better? Fight fire with fire, as they say and I am OK with fire (and smoking mirrors). At least, it’s lively, offered as a specialite de la maison in lieu of anything edible.

      • tombishop
        tombishop on April 2, 2012, 8:13 am

        Consider this from Talk to Action:
        Pastor Hagee’s Christian Zionist Enterprise Hits One Million Member Mark

  17. stevieb
    stevieb on April 2, 2012, 12:25 pm

    The occupation comes from ‘Israel proper’ and “USrael” – so, for me, it makes perfect sense for BDS to extend to Israel and American institutions and corporations that work to enforce the occupation..

    btw very good post.

  18. Justice Please
    Justice Please on April 2, 2012, 1:49 pm

    “The Jewish left must have this fight about whether a Jewish state makes us safe, and have it publicly”

    Fully agreed.

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