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In confab over ‘Jewish democracy,’ Goldberg says the U.S. has plenty of ‘schmucks’ and ‘fascists’ too

Israel/Palestine
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“Will Israel survive as a Jewish democracy?”

That was the central question posed at an event at the historic synagogue at 6th and I in Washington D.C. Tuesday night.

CNN’s Jake Tapper moderated the discussion that featured Atlantic heavyweight Jeffrey Goldberg — whom Tapper said the White House calls “the official therapist of the U.S.-Israel relationship” — and Haaretz columnist Ari Shavit. The audience was mostly older/retired, joined by a smattering who looked to be middle-aged activist types and another smattering of young professionals. 

Tapper jumped right into the issue, recalling that two decades prior his college professor said that Israel thought it could simultaneously remain the same size, a democracy and Jewish. But, according to the professor, it couldn’t remain all three. 

Referring (haltingly, initially) to the occupation of the West Bank, Tapper asked if Israel hadn’t “already lost the democratic part of that?”

He also mentioned a New York Times op-ed by a former speaker of the Knesset, which said that “something went wrong” with the Zionist dream, where instead of a flourishing democratic Israel, the nation instead found itself “brutally controlling” another people. 

Neither Goldberg nor Shavit shied away from the term “occupation.” Goldberg acknowledged that, while Israel was more democratic than most countries in the region, and that its various ethnic strains were “reasonably integrated,” there was undeniably a portion of the population “under military occupation.”

Pointing to Hebron, Goldberg said it’s “impossible to argue it’s fully democratic,” as a Jewish family in that town can enjoy the fruits of participatory democracy, while a Palestinian family down the street remains under military rule. (In fact, though he didn’t mention it, Jews can walk down roads that Palestinians are barred from.)

“That’s unsustainable,” Goldberg said.

Shavit maintained that Israel “is in many ways a miracle,” but conceded that the democratic institutions were in trouble. Though by no means “a naïve peacenik,” Shavit said, he is “not ashamed of that word — it is an occupation. There’s no way around it.”

And when an audience member later contended that there is a “tension” between Israel’s professed liberal values and the occupation, Shavit said, “Not tension — clear contradiction!”

He said Israel’s political left has it half correct: the occupation is indeed “morally unsustainable,” but it was “totally wrong” to think that when and if it ended, peace would automatically follow.

Goldberg said that giving up West Bank territory so as to end the occupation, most of it anyway, was “a risk that has to be attempted” because Israel simply could not maintain face in the world while holding “2.5 million people without rights.”

Not that he was comfortable with the word “apartheid.” Saying that its use in this context was disrespectful to those who suffered under it in South Africa, Goldberg nevertheless said that if nothing changed, then Israel would be left with “something between Apartheid and Jim Crow South.”

However, echoing Shavit, he said “let’s stop making believe that if you give up the occupation” then all would be well in the region. Shavit suggested that at minimum the settlers must be disentangled so the world “can see we’re trying…. Israel actually has no choice.”

He called for replacing the two-state solution with a two-states-within-a-state version — each in its own space. “To impose 25-year-old ideas… would be disastrous.”

Shavit repeatedly spoke of the Middle East as a bad neighborhood.

“The most important city in the Middle East is Washington,” he said, maintaining that only Washington and the West could stabilize the “malignant area.” And he said the harsh political reality of the region was immune to idealistic approaches — it rather called for “bold and direct words.”

To wit, according to Shavit, “all peace is dead.” Every attempt to trade land for peace had blown up in Israel’s face, he said, and that is what “killed the Left” in Israel.

Washington was “very naïve” about the Arab awakening, he said, thinking that it is like 1776 in America or 1789 in France.  In reality, in the wake of the Arab Spring, “there’s no partners for peace… no leader with enough legitimacy.”

“One must call a spade a spade,” Shavit added later in the discussion. In his view little more than “religious fascism” had emerged in the wake of the Arab Spring — “largely ugly and dangerous.” He asked, “Where are the women or gays or Christians under Hamas in Gaza, in Egypt?”

At times Shavit’s warnings against the Arab Spring came off as extreme, though he sought to allay any concerns about bias by saying that he was making these observations not as a Jewish Zionist Israeli, but as a human and a democrat.

Continuing in the same vein, he suggested there was a growing silent majority of Israeli Palestinians that believes that as bad as it may be for them in Israel, it remained better than what was on offer in surrounding countries.

Not that this was a good situation for Israel. Shavit said Israelis are “the new isolationists… victims of our own success.” His fellow countrymen are living under the “illusion” that they can go on with the status quo and ignore the world around them.

The question arose, with a coalition government made up of factions highly supportive of settlers, how can Israel change? “What is that miracle change?” Goldberg asked. “What can [U.S. Secretary of State John] Kerry or Obama say” or do that could actually bring about movement? He called the settlers “the actual Israeli lobby” — like the NRA in the United States, a decided minority that can “bollix” up every attempt at a solution.

But that’s trouble for Israel supporters. Goldberg said centrist Jewish Americans look at the current rulers of Israel and think, “you are not the Israelis we thought we knew 20-30 years ago.”

Shavit agreed that any progress would be difficult under the current government. However, he did divine slim signs of hope for his cause in the last elections. While the left and center remain confused and rudderless, the right has become less monolithic.  

Shavit used America as an example. He spoke of visiting dejected American friends after the 2004 U.S. elections. With the re-election of George W. Bush they had given up on their country, saying it had been overrun with right-wing zealots — only to see Barack Obama elected four years later.

Jake Tapper echoed the theme, citing poll data showing that young American Jews don’t cotton to Netanyahu and are in general more critical of Israel.

Goldberg suggested that the various measurements were “derivative of how the person feels as a Jew generally,” and that those feelings shifted along generational lines.

Goldberg, 47, said his positive vision of Israel was formed by the “miracles” of the ’67 war and the raid on Entebbe; while Tapper, who is 44 and also Jewish, had a different outlook. His awareness of Israel came about during the first intifadah in 1987.

Young American Jews are not so much “disillusioned or angry at Israel… [they] just don’t care,” Goldberg said. Israel and the Holocaust would no longer be the rallying tools they have been for Jewish identity. And mostly liberal secular American Jews were always going to have a hard time relating to rightwing Israelis.

Tapper wondered if it was a function of assimilation. Goldberg acknowledged that two generations ago “it was taboo to marry outside” the faith, “now it’s taboo to disapprove of it….”

He also said young American Jews are “bombarded by anti-Israel propaganda, and some unfortunate truths,” which affect their outlook. (No mention, though, of the Israel lobby in the U.S. that has conducted its own full court press for decades, relatively unchallenged until only recently.)

Shavit was far less comfortable with this reality. He stressed “interdependency” between Jews in both countries. The last century led to “two miracles” in Jewish life — one being “the perfect diaspora” in the U.S. and the other the creation of Israel. Israel must make itself “attractive to young American Jews,” he said. It “can’t have this backward religious regime.”

He said that American Jews must feel like they have “a second home in Israel or both will be in trouble.”

“There is a larger ‘we,’” he said to the synagogue audience.

Tapper asked about Iran and its nuclear weapons program: who was more likely to act against it, the U.S. or Israel?

Goldberg, who has written that Israel would act on its own, said that Obama did a good job during his recent Israel trip to convince Netanyahu that “he’s very serious on the subject.” He joked that while Netanyahu’s and Obama’s “red lines” differed, they were nevertheless “on the same scroll” when it came to the seriousness of the issue.

Iran is not the “existential” threat to the U.S. that it is to Israel, Goldberg said. And while the United States could live with an Iran “perpetually three to six months away” from a bomb, Israel “can’t live on the lip of that volcano.”

He also suggested that Israel may “secretly realize that it’s too late” to act on its own, because the operations have gone too far underground and added, rather solemnly, that for the first time in its history Israel is “subcontracting out its existence to the United States.”

Shavit pointed to a number of U.S. failures that he said only served to empower Iran, such as George W. Bush’s “unnecessary” invasion of Iraq, and Obama’s lack of support for the Green uprising in Iran in 2009. “Iran, like any mafia, feels weakness,” Shavit said.

Still, he considered Netanyahu’s attempt to bully America into a military strike “a terrible mistake.”

 Neither was enthusiastic about the U.S. entering Syria. Shavit drew an analogy with the Spanish Civil War, when “Europe’s conscience died.” He said the international community’s standing as a moral arbiter has suffered greatly as thousands are massacred in Syria. And so the international community had little moral authority to complain about deaths resulting from political violence in Israel or Nigeria.

Goldberg supported the unnecessary invasion of Iraq, and though admitting to being “an interventionist by disposition,” he conceded that as the leader of an “exhausted, broke country,” Obama had “many reasons to run the other way” when it came to Syria. There was no domestic groundswell calling for action.

However, he also suggested that the leader of the free world might be keeping his powder dry for an eventual confrontation with Iran.

The only challenges to the journalists on the dais came during the Q & A. One woman was put off by Shavit’s wholesale denunciation of the Arab Spring, and asked if there weren’t good things about it. The speakers didn’t offer much to console her.

And Naomi Paiss of the New Israel Fund decried statements from the governing coalition chair in Israel who said it was more important for the nation to be Jewish than democratic. Similarly, she bemoaned efforts to disenfranchise human rights organizations as well as proposed legislation to replace democracy with Jewish law.

Shavit, who once chaired the Israeli ACLU (“like the American ACLU, but with fewer Jews,” Goldberg quipped), said that two years ago, he would have shared her concerns, but that the latest election showed the tide was turning, however slightly.

Goldberg said there are a lot “schmucks” and “fascists” in American politics too, and that he believed Israel’s democracy was resilient and self-correcting. He also chided American Jews who complain about Israel’s politics: “you’re just complaining vicariously — move there.”

In closing, despite an evening of much hand wringing and facing of uncomfortable realities, both men sounded a positive note.

“I mean the Jews are the ever-dying people — right? For 3,000 years … dispersion, death, exile,” Goldberg said. But, in actuality, he said, “The amazing thing about this moment in Jewish history is that it’s never been better.”

Jews have never enjoyed such “power — cultural, political, financial — every sort of power,” Goldberg said.

“You have most of the world’s Jews living in either a free, independent and powerful Jewish state or in … the United States,” Goldberg continued. “There’s never been a diaspora country like the United States, that wholly, wholly accepts Jews and allows Jews to be everything.”

So despite the myriad “existential threats to the Jewish people at any given time,” Goldberg concluded, “things are actually pretty good.”

Update: Original version of this post gave New Israel Fund official’s name as Naomi Chazan, due to editor’s error. It was Naomi Paiss. Apologies.

Peter Voskamp
About Peter Voskamp

Peter Voskamp is a freelance writer based in Washington, DC.

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52 Responses

  1. pabelmont
    pabelmont
    May 30, 2013, 2:38 pm

    Yes, yes, Israel with the most powerful army in the region, is (nevertheless) in existential danger, and a return to the lines of 1966 will be impossibly dangerous, (as to why this particular contradiction, dunt esk!), and ending the occupation (ahem: therefore) will not work, blah-blah-blah.

    However: Shavit suggested that at minimum the settlers must be disentangled so the world “can see we’re trying…. Israel actually has no choice.”

    I like the idea of unilateral unmediated voluntary Israeli removal of all or most settlers, especially from Hebron. Great idea, if that is what Shavit meant.

    But as to “no choice”, he’s wrong, as all who say “no choice” are wrong, because Israel has the choice (that is, has the option) of keeping on keeping on, and Israel luvz the apartheid regime it has so cunningly created.

  2. eljay
    eljay
    May 30, 2013, 2:47 pm

    >> Shavit maintained that Israel “is in many ways a miracle” …

    It is in no way miraculous, but it is in many ways unjust, immoral, hateful and supremacist.

  3. seafoid
    seafoid
    May 30, 2013, 2:53 pm

    “Washington was “very naïve” about the Arab awakening, he said, thinking that it is like 1776 in America or 1789 in France. In reality, in the wake of the Arab Spring, “there’s no partners for peace… no leader with enough legitimacy.”

    France in 1789 was followed by 26 years of war. There is no constituency in the Middle East that values Israel as a dependable partner. They have all followed the BS for long enough.

    • hophmi
      hophmi
      May 30, 2013, 3:14 pm

      ” There is no constituency in the Middle East that values Israel as a dependable partner.”

      Who cares? The West thinks Israel is dependable enough. As I’ve said many times, you guys want the West, and particularly the US, to change sides in this conflict (because no matter what you do, the people in the region will assign you a side), and side with dysfunctional states and societies where the leaders are oppressive, women are still second-class citizens, etc? Why would they do that? What’s the incentive, when the side they’re on is a productive democracy and there are much worse conflicts elsewhere in the world?

      • seafoid
        seafoid
        May 30, 2013, 3:32 pm

        Do keep up, Hoph

        Shavit says

        “in the wake of the Arab Spring, “there’s no partners (sic) for peace… no leader with enough legitimacy”

        So he cares . Israel is a part of the Middle East, in case your geography is as poor as the rest of your insight. Za’atar is an Israeli food as well, you know.

      • hophmi
        hophmi
        May 30, 2013, 5:08 pm

        “Israel is a part of the Middle East, in case your geography is as poor as the rest of your insight. Za’atar is an Israeli food as well, you know.”

        Yes, it is, although many seem to think it’s really part of Europe. It happens to be the only place in the Middle East where the choice is not dictator or terrorist. If you’re a policymaker, that’s a better choice, whether you think it’s an apartheid or not.

      • Woody Tanaka
        Woody Tanaka
        May 31, 2013, 8:21 am

        “[israel] happens to be the only place in the Middle East where the choice is not dictator or terrorist”

        Unless one happens to be an Arab between the Jordan and the Med, then your life’s choices are dictated to you by one Jew or another, who enforces his diktat by the israeli terror forces occupying your land.

      • Donald
        Donald
        May 30, 2013, 4:04 pm

        “What’s the incentive, when the side they’re on is a productive democracy and there are much worse conflicts elsewhere in the world?”

        Hophmi’s id posts again. He doesn’t even pretend to care that Israel is practicing a form of apartheid.

        Orwell’s “Notes on Nationalism” talks about this too–how people on opposite sides of an issue start forcing all the facts to fit what they hope to be true. So on the pro-Palestinian side some are tempted to see Israel as being on the verge of collapse, while on the other side hophmi here bursts into full-blown cheerleading mode for his democratic state that chooses to practice apartheid. He can’t help it–ideology trumps mere considerations of common decency.

      • hophmi
        hophmi
        May 30, 2013, 4:59 pm

        “Hophmi’s id posts again.”

        Is this your new line? It’s not convincing.

        “He doesn’t even pretend to care that Israel is practicing a form of apartheid.”

        That’s because it isn’t a form of apartheid. It’s a military occupation of people who have no desire to become part of Israel (people whose day-to-day lives are governed by their representatives), and the road to ending it is not as simple as you make it. But it’s really ancillary here. You’re ignoring the human rights abuses everywhere in the Middle East except for Israel because if you acknowledged them, as well as the instability that accompanies them, you’d have to acknowledge that the situation is much more complex, especially with regard to why the United States supports the Jewish state rather than the Arab cause.

        “Orwell’s ‘Notes on Nationalism’ talks about this too–how people on opposite sides of an issue start forcing all the facts to fit what they hope to be true.”

        That definitely happens with many here.

        “while on the other side hophmi here bursts into full-blown cheerleading mode for his democratic state that chooses to practice apartheid. ”

        You’ve shown, along with many here, a complete inability to understand the difference between a realpolitik argument and a propaganda argument. I’m not cheerleading for Israel here. I’m trying to explain to you why the US and most of Europe takes the position it does, which ranges from neutrality (which is interpreted in the Arab world as being pro-Israel) to support. As long as the Arab world is a dysfunctional mess with periodic atrocities (soon to hit 100,000 dead in Syria), you’re never going to have a very convincing argument to make to policymakers about why the Palestinian cause is so just that they should abandon Israel.

      • eljay
        eljay
        May 30, 2013, 5:12 pm

        >> hophmeee: I’m not cheerleading for Israel here.

        That is pure comedy gold! :-)

        I also liked the part where he blamed the Palestinians living outside of Israel’s / Partition borders – many (most?) of them victims of terrorism and ethnic cleansing at the hands of Zio-supremacist Jews – for Israel’s 60+ years, ON-GOING and offensive (i.e., not defensive) campaign of aggression, oppression, theft, colonization, destruction and murder.

        According to hophmeee, because the victim has no desire to become the rapist’s love slave, it’s her fault she remains chained up in the basement and is physically and sexually assaulted on a daily basis.

        Too much…

      • Cliff
        Cliff
        May 30, 2013, 5:52 pm

        Atrocities elsewhere have nothing to do with Israeli apartheid.

        You should be thankful there is a human being out there that gives you some benefit of the doubt.

        Donald is clearly a nice guy.[…]
        Syria, Libya, Iraq, etc. have nothing to do with Jewish colonialism in the context you apply (white-washing).

        And there is no complexity. You simply allude to it (since you have nothing to say and nothing to cite, no substantiation, no proof, nothing). Just more bullshit Zionist conjecture.

        This is a colonial conflict between European/American Jews and the indigenous Palestinian Arabs.

        The land belongs to the Palestinians and was only made ‘Jewish’ by war and atrocities.

        Whatever is going on elsewhere in the world does not change that fact and to include Syria or whatever distraction your cynicism […] forth is no different from Holocaust Denial – which makes perfect sense since you and other Jewish extremists are exactly functionally like the KKK or neo-Nazis or other White nationalists who employ all kinds of racist illogical nonsense to whitewash legitimate grievances of the wronged indigenous peoples.

        The only issue is lobbying and money and religion. It has nothing to do with strategy.

        Israel is completely worthless to a superpower like the US or Europe.

      • Donald
        Donald
        May 30, 2013, 6:25 pm

        “Is this your new line? It’s not convincing.”

        Sure it is. Most of your posts here don’t even qualify as liberal Zionism–you show utter contempt for Palestinians. I actually think you’re better than this.

        “It’s a military occupation of people who have no desire to become part of Israel (people whose day-to-day lives are governed by their representatives), and the road to ending it is not as simple as you make it.’

        This argument would have some force if the Israelis were only engaged in occupation, as the US was in Iraq. There would still be plenty of human rights violations to criticize, as there were in Iraq, but what makes it apartheid are the settlements. It’s not just a question of Israel controlling the territory until a negotiated settlement is concluded–it is Israel controlling the land and stealing it and building settlements. You know this is true.

        “You’re ignoring the human rights abuses everywhere in the Middle East except for Israel because if you acknowledged them, as well as the instability that accompanies them, you’d have to acknowledge that the situation is much more complex, especially with regard to why the United States supports the Jewish state rather than the Arab cause.”

        The first point is just a lie, the standard one put out by most Israel defenders. Speaking for myself, I’ve always acknowledged that there are massive human rights violations in the Middle East that have nothing to do with Israel–for the most part that’s the case in Syria. And I’ve also been consistent in denouncing Palestinian attacks on civilians. You remind me of the now banned RW, who used to accuse me constantly of not denouncing Hamas atrocities, right after I’d denounced them. It’s a pattern with Israel defenders, to distract attention from the fact that in the US the only double standard that matters is one that favors Israel.

        The second part is simply wrong. The fact that there are human rights violations in countries across the Middle East is not a reason for the US to act as Israel’s lawyer and defend their crimes. If anything, it just makes the situation worse. We have no credibility with Arabs in the region because they know we’re hypocritical in our human rights talk–of course not all of this involves Israel, but Israel is a huge part of it. If our government took a principled stance on human rights it would give us more leeway to pressure both sides, not less. But here I am dreaming. I don’t see the US doing this, and frankly I don’t expect a happy ending to the I/P conflict.

        “You’ve shown, along with many here, a complete inability to understand the difference between a realpolitik argument and a propaganda argument”

        Wrong again. You’re the one mixing them up. If you want to explain why the US is unlikely to side with the Palestinians and do it in your angry gloating sort of way then it’s obvious you’re trolling, not making a realpolitik argument. I don’t forsee the US siding with the Palestinians for various reasons, mainly domestic. (I think during the Cold War Israel was seen as part of the “free world”, our ally against Soviet-backed regimes and liberation movements, but nowadays it’s hard to see what geopolitical value Israel has, if one views it through coldly realistic terms.) The Syrian horror has little or nothing to do with it–we’re certainly not siding with Israel’s apartheid system because of that. Do we side with Saudi Arabia because of their wonderful human rights practices? Be serious. Israeli oppression created Hamas and created Hezbollah, so if we’re worried about Islamic extremism and fratricidal civil war then we ought to be pushing for more liberal democratic policies from our allies, not making excuses for their own oppressive practices.

      • Woody Tanaka
        Woody Tanaka
        May 31, 2013, 9:17 am

        “As long as the Arab world is a dysfunctional mess with periodic atrocities ”

        And to the extent it is so, the majority of the blame goes to the US and it’s bastard child, israel, for their actions in the region.

      • Tzombo
        Tzombo
        May 30, 2013, 4:22 pm

        Nobody wants the West to side with dysfunctional states, just stop funding and arming Israel. You get the same bullshit from the people who want us to start arming the Syrian rebels. How hard is it to understand that some people do not want us to side with either.

      • hophmi
        hophmi
        May 30, 2013, 5:04 pm

        “Nobody wants the West to side with dysfunctional states, just stop funding and arming Israel. ”

        No one is arming Israel. You could make some argument that US aid helps, but it is a small fraction of Israel’s GDP. Israel is perfectly capable of arming itself.

        “You get the same bullshit from the people who want us to start arming the Syrian rebels. ”

        Well, again, in this part of the world, there isn’t a lot of neutrality. By not helping the rebels, we’re perceived as being on Assad’s side, just as we were on Mubarak’s side until we spoke out, just as many in Iranian democracy movement said we were essentially on Ahmedinejad’s side when we didn’t overtly support them.

        You have a civil war in Syria that is perceived as being a contest between a repressive government, using Hezbollah for help, against a rebel movement that most of the world fears is run by Sunni extremists. And it’s a microcosm of the problems of the Middle East – your choice remains dictator or terrorist. In a way, it makes Egypt that much more important because they are in a position to disprove this theory. And it doesn’t mean that the vast majority aren’t caught in the middle.

      • MarkF
        MarkF
        May 31, 2013, 8:32 am

        “No one is arming Israel. You could make some argument that US aid helps, but it is a small fraction of Israel’s GDP. Israel is perfectly capable of arming itself.”

        C’mon, now, that’s not true. We are arming Israel at taxpayer expense. We supply them with weapons, missles, etc. This military aid is on top of the yearly aid we send there.

        If Israel was capable of arming itself and not needing the cash, they would cease to accept it from their “greatest ally”.

        You and I have had ove this before. If we Jews are incapable of supporting a Jewish state, why should it fall on a majority Christian nation, a nation that’s currently suffering a HUGE financial crisis. If Israel didn’t need the yearly aid, wouldn’t the moral thing be to tell the U.S. to halt it, at least until the country is out of financial crisis?

      • Citizen
        Citizen
        June 1, 2013, 5:20 pm

        The U.S. provides Israel $8.5 million in direct military aid each day, plus interest beginning at the start of each year,
        while it gives the Palestinians $0 in military aid. The US also underwrites Israel’s debt, making it easy for Israel to borrow at low rate of interest. The direct aid is supplemented by more aid on ad hoc basis, e.g. Iron Dome most recently. Obama just promised another $40B to Israel, once Bush Jr’s $30B pledge is finished. This is the largest chunk of US foreign aid, and Israel, the size of NJ, is the #1 benefactor of US foreign aid in all US history. Israel also gets billions from Germany, and it just increased. Also, Israel gets far more in charity from foreigners than it gives. Anybody can look up the facts.

      • Cliff
        Cliff
        May 30, 2013, 5:44 pm

        The West couldn’t care less.

        Its the Jewish Lobby/Israel Lobby and Christian fundies.

      • Citizen
        Citizen
        May 31, 2013, 6:57 am

        @ hophmi

        The people in the region will assign the West a side, no matter what the West does in the region? Which side would the West be assigned on by the people of the region if the West decided it wished to be known and appreciated as an honest broker, rather than “Israel’s lawyer”?

        Which side did the people of the Jim Crow South assign the US federal government? Was this effective, persuasive? Eventually definitive? Conclusive?

        Which side did the people of Apartheid S Africa assign the West to? Was this effective, persuasive? Eventually definitive? Conclusive?

      • May 31, 2013, 7:25 am

        Israel will dependably keep her hand in our pockets and drag us into their expansionist wars until we do something about it

  4. Krauss
    Krauss
    May 30, 2013, 3:05 pm

    Is there any depth to which this man isn’t willing to sink to?

    This reminds me of Zionists trying to compare 18th century America with 21th century Israel and saying, basically, “See! America had these problems too”. Sure, but we dealt with them a long time ago and while they are not completely yet it’s simply ridicolous to compare an outright Apartheid state with America.

    Also, Goldberg, where are these ‘facists’? There are plenty of them at the highest levels of government in Israel. Starting at the top, Bibi Netanyahu.

    • seafoid
      seafoid
      May 30, 2013, 4:57 pm

      It would be really valuable to have a Mondo conference . The wheels are falling off intellectual Zionism . That Shavit/Goldberg duet is just chock full of crap.

      Shavit today chiding the neighbours for being non democratic and not taking care of their minorities. Hello kettle. This is the pot. Reading between the lines there is so much going on in Israel at the moment.

      Strenger is lost. Reduced to namechecking 10 Israelis who did something decent more than 10 years ago in rebutting Shlomo Sand. There is so much content in Ha’aretz at the moment and there are huge questions swirling around Judaism and then there is all the Palestinian work in the US and BDS and the geopolitical situation with the end of the US as sole superpower and what the Obama win means for the lobby.

      It would be great to get people together and have a mix of plenaries and discussion groups .

  5. seafoid
    seafoid
    May 30, 2013, 3:30 pm

    “Jews have never enjoyed such “power — cultural, political, financial — every sort of power,” Goldberg said.”

    Such a pity they didn’t know how to use it and invested instead in a failing state that turned its own religious values upside down .

    “Goldberg said there are a lot “schmucks” and “fascists” in American politics too, and that he believed Israel’s democracy was resilient and self-correcting. He also chided American Jews who complain about Israel’s politics: “you’re just complaining vicariously — move there.”

    Nobody in the US wants to move to Israel. It’s not the kind of place anyone with choices would want to bring up kids.

    • hophmi
      hophmi
      May 30, 2013, 5:10 pm

      “Such a pity they didn’t know how to use it and invested instead in a failing state that turned its own religious values upside down .”

      Despite your stereotype, there are many issues of importance to the Jewish community besides Israel.

      “Nobody in the US wants to move to Israel. It’s not the kind of place anyone with choices would want to bring up kids.”

      Thousands move every year, and raising kids is usually one of the main reasons.

      • May 31, 2013, 7:26 am

        Nobody ever said Jews were invulnerable to Israeli propaganda.

      • Woody Tanaka
        Woody Tanaka
        May 31, 2013, 8:23 am

        “Thousands move every year, and raising kids is usually one of the main reasons.”

        Yup, it’s hard to indoctrinate your kids with the idea that your people are the chosen people if you don’t have some non-Jews around to oppress.

      • seafoid
        seafoid
        May 31, 2013, 9:48 am

        “Thousands move every year, and raising kids is usually one of the main reasons.”

        Aliyah from the US is dead, buddy
        Nefesh bi Nefesh have the stats

  6. seafoid
    seafoid
    May 30, 2013, 3:36 pm

    “Continuing in the same vein, he suggested there was a growing silent majority of Israeli Palestinians that believes that as bad as it may be for them in Israel, it remained better than what was on offer in surrounding countries”

    So patronising. They don’t understand that it’s their country. Their balad and they aren’t going anywhere.
    And the decline in Israeli standards of public life is a Jewish thing.

    And Hebron isn’t the problem. The IDF and the system it runs are. Hebron is worst case but it’s only a tiny part of the system. Israel can no more turn back the clock to 1967 than Cher can reverse the menopause. Israel has built its own grim future.

  7. William Burns
    William Burns
    May 30, 2013, 3:43 pm

    I’m so moved by Goldberg’s exquisite sensitivity to the feelings of black South Africans. What a pity that Bishop Tutu is such a clod in comparison!

    • yourstruly
      yourstruly
      May 30, 2013, 8:56 pm

      perhaps he doesn’t know that the land to which he owes his allegiance, Israel, was an ally of apartheid South Africa.

  8. yourstruly
    yourstruly
    May 30, 2013, 3:44 pm

    American Jews who complain about Israel. “You’re just complaining vicariously–move there.”

    Nonsense, many of us are complaining because invariably we side with the oppressed, not the oppressor, and it makes no difference what the nationality or religion of the oppressor happens to be. We’re not progressives except on Palestine, we’re progressives on every issue. In addition, knowing that U.S. support for Israel’s occupation of Palestine endangers our country further motivates us to oppose the so-called special relationship.

  9. Tzombo
    Tzombo
    May 30, 2013, 4:18 pm

    “Saying that its use in this context was disrespectful to those who suffered under it in South Africa”. Good gawds how full of shit can you get? Not using it in this context means being disrespectful to the Palestinians living under it now.

    • Woody Tanaka
      Woody Tanaka
      May 31, 2013, 8:25 am

      No, what the zio meant by “disrespectful to those who suffered under it in South Africa” was: “I know there were some Jews who fought against Apartheid in South Africa and calling the ethno-religious bigotry in occupied Palestine to be ‘apartheid’ makes some of them feel uncomfortable because they are still delusional about the evil nature of zionism.”

  10. Nevada Ned
    Nevada Ned
    May 30, 2013, 4:26 pm

    Tapper asked about Iran and its nuclear weapons program: who was more likely
    to act against it, the U.S. or Israel?

    There he goes again! Blathering about Iran’s “nuclear weapons program”. In fact, Iran has no nuclear weapons. They have no program for getting nuclear weapons. Twice, the top US spy agencies have issued an official finding that Iran does not have a nuclear weapons program.

    Iran has a nuclear power program. They should be saluted for having a plan to generate electricity when the oil runs out.

    Mr. Tepper, there is a country in the middle East that really DOES have nuclear weapons. And the name of the country starts with the letter “I”. But it’s not Iraq: we’ve been through that already with propaganda about Saddam Hussein’s WPD. And it’s not Iran, either. The mideast country with nuclear weapons is Israel.

    Iran is in compliance with the NPT (non-proliferation treaty), which it has signed. Iran’s right to develop peaceful nuclear power is allowed by the NPT.
    Israel has not signed the NPT and is not in compliance.

    The US has signed the NPT, which provides that the US (and other nuclear-weapons states) promise to enter negotiations to get rid of all of their nuclear weapons. That treaty entered into force in 1970, which is only 43 years ago. The US still have many thousands of nuclear weapons, and is therefore not in compliance with the NPT.

    In short, Iran is in compliance with the NPT, while Israel and the US are in violation of the treaty.

    I suppose that during this debate in the synagogue, nobody blew the whistle on this rubbish about Iran’s alleged nuclear weapons program. It’s a talking point of the Israel Lobby.

    Somebody ought to fact-check the Israel Lobby.

    There they go again!!

  11. seafoid
    seafoid
    May 30, 2013, 5:05 pm

    “Shavit drew an analogy with the Spanish Civil War, when “Europe’s conscience died.” He said the international community’s standing as a moral arbiter has suffered greatly as thousands are massacred in Syria. And so the international community had little moral authority to complain about deaths resulting from political violence in Israel or Nigeria.”

    Franco could have used similar rhetoric post-Dresden to say the Yanks had no moral justification in condemning the Holocaust.

    It is sickening to see prominent Jews using language like this. As if human rights are tradable. Or Israel, because it kills fewer people, is somehow kosher lemehadrin.

    • Donald
      Donald
      May 30, 2013, 6:30 pm

      Another thing that’s ugly about the “conscience” argument is that when people make it they nearly always talk about it in terms of how we have an obligation to intervene when some other country not our ally does something terrible–I’ve never seen people use it when the US or “the West” was actively siding with the oppressors or when the US itself was an oppressor. We’re only supposed to have a conscience regarding other people’s crimes, it seems.

  12. DICKERSON3870
    DICKERSON3870
    May 30, 2013, 5:44 pm

    RE: [Jeffrey] Goldberg said it’s “impossible to argue it’s fully democratic,” as a Jewish family in that town can enjoy the fruits of participatory democracy, while a Palestinian family down the street remains under military rule. “That’s unsustainable,” Goldberg said. ~ from the Voskamp article above

    MY COMMENT: In the eyes/minds of many Israelis (and even more American Jews), the above-referenced comment by Jeffrey Goldberg is a heresy!

  13. Dutch
    Dutch
    May 30, 2013, 5:58 pm

    “Will Israel survive as a Jewish democracy?” That was the central question posed at an event at the historic synagogue at 6th and I in Washington D.C. Tuesday night.

    Oh no, not again! I thought Vilkommerson c.s. had recently figured this out in their little temple in NYC. Who the hell cares about a ‘Jewish’ democracy when that so-called democracy is killing people by the dozens? It is no democracy, it has never been one, and it will never be one due to the fact that there are also non-Jews living there. It’s a myth, a figleaf, a nasty fantasy and a debate-killer.

  14. Sin Nombre
    Sin Nombre
    May 30, 2013, 6:00 pm

    Awww, what a nice … solicitous little meeting they had there in the synagogue. Solicitude solicitude. Goldberg even for the disenfranchised Palestinians of Hebron. Shavit for the people in Syria. Tapper for Israel and young jews. Solicitude solicitude.

    Except—and I doubt this was talked about and just not mentioned by Mr. Voskamp—not a trace of solicitude that I see for *my* people and *my* country. You know, the one on whose land this synagogue sits. The one that shovels billions per year to the participants of all this Levantine fun. The one that one suspects Mr. Tapper and Mr. Goldberg are at least supposedly part citizens of.

    Nope. No mention that I could see. Just the total and yet utterly unconscious acceptance that for some reason of *course* the U.S. must just keep expending its blood and treasure over all these objects of solicitude in every way imaginable. Just the overwhelming sense that if someone had gotten up and said that the U.S. is getting screwed here eight ways from Sunday and ought to totally absent itself from all these issues as they have nothing to do with our vital interests that such person would have been regarded by everyone in that synagogue as some sort of extremist if not a monster.

    “The citizens of the U.S. should only be called upon to sacrifice their money or blood for their own interests???!!! Have you lost your mind? You you you … anti-semite/anti-arab! Filthy nationalist! Racist! Only Israelis/jews and arabs have the right to watch out for their own interests, and certainly not you Americans! You are … sheep! *Made* to be sheared!” (Just as both sides just did to us by getting Kerry to promise another $400 million to shovel to the P.A., thereby also rewarding Israel which is under int’l law actually responsible for the occupants there.) “So shut up and get out of here!”

    Indeed you can just *feel* the level of outrage this would engender, much less if supposed American citizen Jake Tapper with supposed concern for this country had even *hinted* of a concern for U.S. interests, as one might foolishly think given his job. *If* he was still able to keep his job at CNN by now he’d be the Permanent Special Correspondent For Reporting On The Weather In Outer Mongolia.

    But yeah, let’s forget about this issue and go back to being the Great Stupid Enablers of all these parties (does anyone really believe that if the shoe were on the other foot the arabs would be treating the jews oh-so-gently?) mercilessly competing to rip us off by getting us talking about … just where exactly the green line should go, and whether the arabs like homosexuals not enough and to just what degree “apartheid” is what Israel is now practicing and blah blah blah ad nauseum ad infinitum.

    Uh-oh though: Time for the next … conference/confab/debate/symposium/whatever never coming within a zillion parsecs of talking about American interests in general. Gotta run and read up on the crucial question of … what Herzl really said about the rocks on the other side of the planet from this country, and the intricacies of the Sunni/Shia split and other such issues so crucial to all Americans.

    What a larf. It’ll never end. We’re getting played like a stolen ukelele.

    • CloakAndDagger
      CloakAndDagger
      May 31, 2013, 2:16 am

      @ Sin Nombre

      Unequivocally agree!

      • Donald
        Donald
        May 31, 2013, 7:47 am

        I don’t unequivocally agree–only partly. As a primal scream Sin Nombre’s piece works and there are some legitimate points in it as well, but the US has too much blood on its hands to go whining about how ALL the players are abusing poor little us.

    • thankgodimatheist
      thankgodimatheist
      May 31, 2013, 10:02 am

      Yeah, poow little US! Big, good-heartedness incarnate, naif and gentle giant getting screwed by “ALL parties”! They wouldn’t have done anything to harm even an ant, would they?

  15. DICKERSON3870
    DICKERSON3870
    May 30, 2013, 6:03 pm

    RE: “Goldberg says the U.S. has plenty of ‘schmucks’ and ‘fascists’ too”

    MY COMMENT: Well, duh! ! ! But that doesn’t mean that we should blindly follow them (as AIPAC and the U.S. Congress blindly follow the Likudniks)!

  16. DICKERSON3870
    DICKERSON3870
    May 30, 2013, 6:08 pm

    RE: And when an audience member later contended that there is a “tension” between Israel’s professed liberal values and the occupation, Shavit said, “Not tension — clear contradiction!” ~ from the Voskamp article above

    A MID-SPRING EVENING’S MUSICAL INTERLUDE, proudly brought to you by the makers of the new Über-Xtreme Ziocaine Ultra SR (Sustained Release) Transdermal Patch®: Let The Good Times Roll!™

    I cried when they shot Medgar Evers
    Tears ran down my spine
    I cried when they shot Mr. Kennedy
    As though I’d lost a father of mine
    But Malcolm X got what was coming
    He got what he asked for this time
    So love me, love me, love me, I’m a liberal

    I go to civil rights rallies
    And I put down the old D.A.R.
    I love Harry and Sidney and Sammy
    I hope every colored boy becomes a star
    But don’t talk about revolution
    That’s going a little bit too far
    So love me, love me, love me, I’m a liberal

    I cheered when Humphrey was chosen
    My faith in the system restored
    I’m glad the commies were thrown out
    of the A.F.L. C.I.O. board
    I love Puerto Ricans and Negros
    as long as they don’t move next door

    So love me, love me, love me, I’m a liberal . . .

    Phil Ochs — Love me, I’m a liberal [VIDEO, 4:40] – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u52Oz-54VYw

  17. DICKERSON3870
    DICKERSON3870
    May 30, 2013, 6:20 pm

    RE: “One must call a spade a spade,” Shavit added later in the discussion. In his view little more than “religious fascism” had emerged in the wake of the Arab Spring — “largely ugly and dangerous.” He asked, “Where are the women or gays or Christians under Hamas in Gaza, in Egypt?” ~ from the Voskamp article above

    MY COMMENT (HOPEFULLY CALLING A SPADE A SPADE):
    And whose fault is that “religious fascism”, pray tell? The CIA supported the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt (and Chabad in the Soviet Union) back during the Cold War in an effort to counter Soviet influence in Egypt (and to destabilize the Soviet Union in the case of Chabad).

    A LITTLE OF THAT INFAMOUS “CIA BLOWBACK”: “The CIA and The Muslim Brotherhood: How the CIA Set The Stage for September 11” (Martin A. Lee – Razor Magazine 2004)

    [EXCERPTS] The CIA often works in mysterious ways – and so it was with this little-known cloak-and-dagger caper that set the stage for extensive collaboration between US intelligence and Islamic extremists. The genesis of this ill-starred alliance dates back to Egypt in the mid-1950s, when the CIA made discrete overtures to the Muslim Brotherhood, the influential Sunni fundamentalist movement that fostered Islamic militancy throughout the Middle East. What started as a quiet American flirtation with political Islam became a Cold War love affair on the sly – an affair that would turn out disastrously for the United States. Nearly all of today’s radical Islamic groups, including al-Qaeda, trace their lineage to the Brotherhood. . .
    . . . For many years, the American espionage establishment had operated on the assumption that Islam was inherently anti-communist and therefore could be harnessed to facilitate US objectives. American officials viewed the Muslim Brotherhood as “a secret weapon” in the shadow war against the Soviet Union and it’s Arab allies, according to Robert Baer, a retired CIA case officer who was right in the thick of things in the Middle East and Central Asia during his 21 year career as a spy. In “Sleeping with the Devil”, a book he wrote after quitting the CIA Baer explains how the United States “made common cause with the Brothers” and used them “to do our dirty work in Yemen, Afghanistan and plenty of other places”.
    This covert relationship; unraveled when the Cold War ended, whereupon an Islamic Frankenstein named Osama bin Laden lurched into existence. . .

    SOURCE – http://ce399fascism.wordpress.com/2011/02/09/the-cia-and-the-muslim-brotherhood-how-the-cia-set-the-stage-for-september-11-martin-a-lee-razor-magazine-2004/

  18. Marco
    Marco
    May 31, 2013, 12:28 am

    “Goldberg says the U.S. has plenty of ‘schmucks’ and ‘fascists’ too”

    This is actually a revealing statement. It shows how much leading neocons have contempt for the country which they claim to speak on behalf of. Think of it – the same observation made by a left-winger is considered treasonous. But Goldberg’s fellow travelers on the right won’t mind.

  19. seafoid
    seafoid
    May 31, 2013, 1:03 am

    It is such a pantomime. Goldberg can say anything about the settlers in Hebron but his job is ultimately to defend the status quo.

    “Goldberg acknowledged that, while Israel was more democratic than most countries in the region, and that its various ethnic strains were “reasonably integrated,” there was undeniably a portion of the population “under military occupation.””

    Erez Israel is not a military occupation. It’s the return to Zion. And that is how the IDF and the Israeli elite sees it.

    ” “One must call a spade a spade,” Shavit added later in the discussion”.

    That may be a coded reference to Obama. You never know what these screaming bigots will come out with, especially when their backs are up against the wall. Would Obama be allowed into Superland on a Tuesday? Ask yourself the question.

  20. Woody Tanaka
    Woody Tanaka
    May 31, 2013, 8:31 am

    “Shavit drew an analogy with the Spanish Civil War, when ‘Europe’s conscience died.’ He said the international community’s standing as a moral arbiter has suffered greatly as thousands are massacred in Syria. And so the international community had little moral authority to complain about deaths resulting from political violence in Israel or Nigeria.”

    This is all the zionists really want, though; for the world to hold its collective tongue as israel goes about raping and dismembering Palestine. (Not that the moral authority of the international community has ever held back the whip hand of the zionist mafia.)

  21. Woody Tanaka
    Woody Tanaka
    May 31, 2013, 8:36 am

    Interesting that they didn’t have a Palestinian on the program, given that the issue more strongly affects them than anyone else on the planet. (No, not really interesting at all. When has the American Jewish community and the zionist communities ever given a damn about the destruction of human rights in the non-Jewish community, which the zionists have unleashed in Palestine???)

    • just
      just
      May 31, 2013, 9:28 am

      The Zionists have historically been very good at leveling hate and propaganda wrt the Palestinians and Muslims, and the Western world did swallow it hook, line and sinker. Not so much anymore. Though the US has been mightily complicit,–nay, instrumental– in generating Islamophobia and stoking the fire.

      Why would any “self respecting” Zionist invite a Palestinian to a discussion in D.C., when our government regularly ignores them as partners for a just peace, and ignores the atrocities committed by the Israelis on a daily basis?

    • seafoid
      seafoid
      May 31, 2013, 9:40 am

      Typical of Zionism. Only Jews have the intellectual gravitas to discuss the mess.
      Shavit and the other clown are still quite young- they’ll live to see Israel collapse.

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