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Logo for J Street’s new “2 Campaign” (Image: J Street)

Whenever I go to J Street I try and see the good side of its activities, and this time is no exception. I saw and heard a lot of great things at the J Street conference Sunday and Monday. Let me relate some of them before I move on to my (inevitable) criticism of the lobby group and its program.

The most moving moment of the conference for me was when an Israeli named Koby Huberman, in endorsing the Arab Peace Initiative, decried the statements that Israel lives in a bad neighborhood, that it is a villa in the jungle. Judaism is a religion born in the east, he said, and it shares many stories and myths with Islam — here Huberman noted the binding of Isaac– and there are many, many Arab Jews. Israel must stop facing west and start facing east to its neighbors, and please, learn Arabic. This speech brought a crowded room of Americans to their feet in explosive applause. None of us had ever heard it before. The audience seemed excited to have the stale prejudices of the US war on terror and the clash of civilizations exploded before its eyes. I had tears in mine. And the Egyptian on the panel merely gazed out at us as if he knew this a long time ago.

That is the greatness of J Street: it provides a forum for progressives to change attitudes inside Jewish life. The changes are baby steps, but they’re changes.

Peter Beinart is the soul of J Street and I saw him on two panels. He is bustling and friendly (and “the Jewish height,” as a friend put it to me, 5-10) and an eloquent and cogent speaker. Beinart is trying to break down some of the walls inside the Jewish communal conversation, and this is incredibly healthy. His best moment was when he objected to the red lines that the Jewish establishment in the person of Jeremy Burton of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Boston has imposed on the Jewish conversation about Israel– excluding supporters of BDS and Palestinian anti-Zionists. Burton responded that any community gets to set its redlines, we would exclude the KKK too. Of course, Beinart said, but you are setting them in the wrong place and doing so with redbaiting and bullying.

The crowd was completely on Beinart’s side. Beinart makes them feel OK about hearing a pro-Palestinian narrative. I sense that he is moving toward cultural Zionism himself, though it will take a few years for him to declare.

The second Beinart panel was one in which he hosted Marcia Freedman, the founder of Brit Tzedek (J Street’s predecessor), and Freedman took it further. She said her feminist activism informs her engagement with this struggle. BDS, she said, is a nonviolent form of protest that is “perfectly legitimate,” but the Jewish community has sought to make it “illegitimate by saying that it is beyond the pale to talk about.”

And she asked, “How do we think about what comes next?” How do we talk about the one state solution in ways that we can embrace it? We’re not dong that “except in very small circles. We need to be doing it in wider circles.”

(Freedman reminded me: you couldn’t be a feminist without taking on the patriarchy, and you can’t be a human-rights activist without taking on the ideology of Zionism.)

I tended to stick to inside-Jewish life panels because that’s my struggle. I did not attend the several Palestinian panels because I have just been in Palestine and don’t require a primer on Palestinian conditions. Still, I heard some Palestinian speakers, and they were quite good.

For instance, in a panel of new voices on the conflict, Riman Barakat, of the Israel/Palestine Center for Research and Information, brought up the red signs that you see on the roads in the West Bank warning Israelis not to enter Area A for risk of their lives. This elicited a wonderful moral response from Roger Cohen of the New York Times.

“How about getting those signs taken down. They’re terrible signs. Every time I see them I shudder. They’re outrageous.”

Yes: they are signs of apartheid. And when I saw Barakat later, she said it was up to Israelis to remove them– the occupier.

At a panel on water, two speakers from this project described a system that can only be called apartheid: Under Oslo, Israel can draw from the West Bank aquifer inside Israel without any regulation, while across the Green Line, Palestinian water use is regulated by an official body made up of Palestinians and Israelis. So two straws are drawing from the same bathtub but only the Palestinian one is regulated, with the result that Palestinians don’t have regular water supply, and all have tanks atop their homes. It makes me shudder.

To hear a narrative of persecution is far more compelling than a narrative of entitlement. Does anyone who cares about society want to hear a narrative of entitlement? That is another J Street achievement: it reveals the entitlement of Israelis. J14 activist and now member-of-Knesset Stav Shaffir was on the panel with Riman Barakat, and I can’t remember a thing she said beside exclaiming over her amazing career from journalist to activist to politician. Knesset member Ruth Calderon’s call on American Jews to volunteer for two years inside Israel if they are gong to assert their opinion was foolish. Shelly Yachimovich the Labor Leader said that the purpose of Labor is to be “a safety net” for Netanyahu so that he can cut a peace deal and stay in power. Now are you excited?

Netanyahu Justice Minister Tzipi Livni’s appearance was all but thuggish. She said her parents had met in the Irgun, robbing British trains, and then denied that they were terrorists. Israel was a “miracle in the Middle East and it still is,” and she knows that some young American Jews “feel alienated” from it — well thank god, they are not here with us tonight. “They don’t understand what Israel is… they don’t understand the goal and the vision of the state of Israel.  And what’s the use of saying that Israel is a Jewish state without creating a common vision for Israel and the world Jewry?”

Again, this is an unintended virtue of J Street: it is furthering the divorce between American Jews and Israelis with their accents and lectures. It is constituting American Jewish identity where it must be constituted, in a criticism of occupation. As I descended into the Metro last night, a conference-goer from Silver Spring said, “It’s really time we got to a recognition of what they call the Nakba.”

I said the Holocaust was recognized very quickly after the war, and it’s been 65 years since the Nakba. Well look at the Turks with the Armenian genocide, he said, they still don’t acknowledge it. I don’t want that company, I said.

That brings me to my criticism of J Street. Because it is inside the Jewish community, and the Jewish community doesn’t want to hear from voices outside the Jewish community except on its own terms, with cuddly Peter Beinart swearing his love for Israel, these are babysteps. Every step of the way the older organized Jewish community is fighting J Street on the babysteps, and they are in the house. In a day or so I will do a post on the Birthright criticism panel– a group of anguished young Birthright veterans criticizing this program that sends Jewish kids to Israel for 10 days for free for leaving Palestinians out of the program. Sage Lachman, a sophomore at Pitzer College, was floating in the Dead Sea next to her Israeli soldier minder and asked him about Palestinians and he said they are an invented nationality. Then she saw that Sheldon Adelson who funds the program says the same thing. It upset her. She and the other critics are like children waking up in their 20s or 30s to child abuse– in recovery, dazed. They affirmed their love for Israel but expressed their confusion.

And the older person on the panel, a professor at Brandeis named Leonard Saxe, insisted that Birthright is not political, it is merely community-building. What can you say about such an assertion? It is more evidence of the bomb of stupidity that Zionism dropped on the heretofore smartest people in the United States.

Because its focus is communal, J Street justifies and engages in tribal politics. Jeremy Ben-Ami, J Street’s director, said that the age of universalism has not come to pass and tribalism is still alive, and so Zionism is therefore justified. Do young American Jews really want to have a tribal politics? Rabbi Danielle Leshaw, Hillel director at Ohio University, says the young Jews coming to her to apply to Birthright want to meet Palestinians, see the wall, see checkpoints, and have “solidarity with Palestinians.”
But J Street is part of the Israel lobby, and the Israel lobby draws its power from tribal politics. When Ben-Ami kvells about the congresspeople who will put forward bills affirming the two-state solution in Congress, he cites four Jews– Feinstein, Waxman, Nadler, and Schakowsky.

The reason Feinstein, Waxman Nadler and Schakowsky are taking the lead on the two state solution is they are Jews with communal cred among Jews, so they are not afraid of getting out front of the lobby. By contrast, Joe Biden was very careful in his speech yesterday to utter not a word of criticism of Israel. He mentioned none of the themes of the J Street conference: not settlements, ’67 lines, or occupation. Though he took a shot at Arabs, saying that Palestinians are “the least ideological and the least – the least sectarian group of Arabs in the entire Middle East.”

Biden is afraid to criticize Israel because he might run for president, and the lobby worked: it intimidated politicians. And J Street is locked into that communal lobby conversation. Peter Beinart was compelled to swear to Jeremy Burton that he understood the pain that Jews feel giving up the lands of the West Bank– if that ever comes to pass. As Scott McConnell commented to me later, most American Jews feel more attachment to Ebbets Field.

I take no pleasure in saying that realistically J Street can’t save the two state solution. Netanyahu won’t withdraw enough to satisfy the Palestinians, and J Street won’t apply enough pressure for him to do so. And of course we are in a one-state reality now and for the very long foreseeable future, despite the J Street “2 campaign” logo with the scary red areas for Palestinians. The communal lobby worked. It stopped the conversation in the U.S. long enough for the settlements to be entrenched, and Israel is now an intolerant rightwing society with a cultural politics out of the Jim Crow south.

It will take more than Peter Beinart to break American support down. Turning around the lobby is like turning around the Queen Mary. Joe Biden has yesterday’s talking points.

Hesham Youssef, an Egyptian adviser to the Secretary General of the Arab League, explained how difficult it is to achieve a two state solution with Israel. He said that the Arab Peace Initiative would normalize Israel, by forcing Israel to return to the ’67 lines in exchange for the Arab nations supporting Palestinian leaders in making concessions on right of return. But the Arab Peace Initiative is running out. The Arab Spring is undermining it.

“Sometimes this is lost perhaps in Israeli and American discourse, that we also have a public opinion, and our public opinion is telling us No,” Youssef said. “Our public opinion has been telling us for the last 7, 8, 9 years, when are you going to withdraw the Arab Peace Initiative? Not asking us when we are going to implement it. It is saying, Israel has ignored you, Israel has not taken a step to achieve peace. Tell us one step, one irreversible step, that Israel has given to the Palestinians to achieving peace.”

No, all Arabs have seen are Israeli wars on Lebanon and Gaza and the endless occupation.

The American Jewish community is waking from its slumber about the persecution of Palestinians in its name. J Street deserves endless credit for helping that process. But the reactionary forces are still too entrenched for the American Jewish community to be able to apply real pressure on Israel. It is all too little, too late.

Update: I removed “guttural” from a description of Israelis’ accents because several readers were offended. Apologies. The real point here is, They have accents and sometimes broken English because: they’re a different people from Americans, the Israeli people.

philweiss
About Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net.

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69 Responses

  1. kayq
    kayq
    October 1, 2013, 11:42 am

    And we all know what’s really happening behind the curtains of J Street. Shameless, it really is.

    Thanks Phil, brilliant post!

  2. Krauss
    Krauss
    October 1, 2013, 11:52 am

    I’m still reading through your piece but a quick update on Huberman’s comments.
    They were echoed by more than one Israeli
    Here’s a very good part of their conference I’ve liked:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2ZmAHi1NuPE&feature=share&t=44m08s

    The woman in question is an MK of the Knesset and I think she makes many of the same points but in a forceful manner.
    Don’t watch the whole video, I did(because I’m a nerd on these issues and I’m a student so I have the time), but I can say that she got the biggest round of applause, by far, for that comment I’ve linked to, of all the comments that were made during that discussion.

    This feeds into what you wrote earlier about the growing rift between the leadership and the grassroots.

  3. seafoid
    seafoid
    October 1, 2013, 12:03 pm

    “Beinart makes them feel OK about hearing a pro-Palestinian narrative. I sense that he is moving toward cultural Zionism himself, though it will take a few years for him to declare.”

    He reminds me of one of those Saturday night camp-but-not-out-gay showbiz names the 1970s. He’ll get left behind. If he hasn’t already been.

    • eGuard
      eGuard
      October 1, 2013, 4:11 pm

      seafoid: [Beinart]’ll get left behind.

      Or this: Beinart will grow a niche in the liberal left side of J Street. As Phil describes, there is space. Then, in a year or three, this Beinart group “Openly Zionist” will merge into AIPAC and conference with J Streeters already there.

      By then, of course, a promising liberal Zionist group will have appeared to the left of Beinart.

  4. Walid
    Walid
    October 1, 2013, 12:36 pm

    “He said that the Arab Peace Initiative would normalize Israel, by forcing Israel to return to the ’67 lines in exchange for the Arab nations supporting Palestinian leaders in making concessions on right of return. ”

    What he’s really saying is that if Israel would accept the Peace Initiative, the Arab nations would ram down the Palestinians’ throats acceptance of land swaps that would keep major settlements inside Israel and acceptance that there would be only a token right of return.

    The Arab League has done absolutely nothing for the Palestinians since 60 years.

    • Pamela Olson
      Pamela Olson
      October 1, 2013, 2:14 pm

      They did accomplish one thing (whether intentionally or not): They gave Israel a sterling offer it had no right to refuse — the best offer they will probably ever get from the most pliant Arab world they are ever going to encounter — and Israel refused it anyway.

      We can always point to that — they missed their biggest opportunity to make their denial of most Palestinian rights permanent, through no fault but their own. If people begin to understand what’s happened, Israel will never again be able to claim with a straight face that it’s the Arab world that’s the “extremist, recalcitrant” one.

      (Of course, this has been the case for a long time, but a very recent, relevant example makes it easier to make it clear what’s what.)

      • hophmi
        hophmi
        October 1, 2013, 2:16 pm

        Yep, the API was good PR for the Arab dictators who offered it. No one paid attention to the fact that it said the same things they had said for years in nicer language.

      • Woody Tanaka
        Woody Tanaka
        October 1, 2013, 3:04 pm

        “Yep, the API was good PR for the Arab dictators who offered it”

        Not just PR. It showed that the israelis had no interest in a just peace, but were looking for the Palestinians accepting a permanent possession under the boot of the Jews in the Levant.

        “No one paid attention to the fact that it said the same things they had said for years in nicer language.”

        Yes, and that same thing was, objectively, the most just solution to the problem caused by the zionist crimes. (In reality, it was much too generous to the zionists, and they rejected it anyway, because they have no interest in peace. Their entire ideology, like all supremacist ideologies, is based on conflict.)

      • Walid
        Walid
        October 1, 2013, 6:49 pm

        “In reality, it was much too generous to the zionists,…”

        It sure was. It was willing to postpone final negotiations on returnees to a later date and that the number would have to be agreeable to both parties. In short, Israel was asked to sign on and cross the RoR bridge at some time in the future. Surprisingly as Pamela said, Israel did not jump at this super great offer for it and proof that it never really wanted peace but to have the whole of Palestine.

    • Inanna
      Inanna
      October 2, 2013, 8:06 am

      I’d go further Walid and say that not only has the Arab League done nothing for Palestinians but that many Arab leaders have actively sold the Palestinians down the river for decades. We need to get rid of the monarchs and dictators before we get any kind of justice, not just for Palestinians but for all Arabs.

      • talknic
        talknic
        October 2, 2013, 8:47 am

        @ Inanna >em>”I’d go further Walid and say that not only has the Arab League done nothing for Palestinians”

        Uh? On behalf of the Palestinians they fought legal battles at the LoN and later the UN ( 1920 til the 1975 hand over by Jordan to the PLO – 55 years )

        They fought on behalf of the Palestinians in 1948 in an attempt to expel foreign (Jewish/Israeli) forces from non-Israeli territory. (No Israeli territory was invaded)

        They fought on behalf of the Palestinians again in 1967 against yet another war started by Israel. (No Israeli territory was invaded)

        They have generously hosted Palestine refugees for 65 years

        They continue to support Palestinian push for independence from Israeli occupation.

        “We need to get rid of the monarchs and dictators before we get any kind of justice…”

        How about Israel simply adhere to the law for once?

      • Walid
        Walid
        October 2, 2013, 10:27 am

        … fought “valiantly”, if you please.

      • Walid
        Walid
        October 2, 2013, 10:56 am

        Inanna, those monarchs and dictators are there by the grace of the Western powers. Until they have finished with them, you can’t do anything. Tunisia, Egypt (twice), Sudan, Libya, Iraq, Bahrain, and now work in rogress on Syria. After Syria, it will be Jordan’s turn.

  5. W.Jones
    W.Jones
    October 1, 2013, 12:59 pm

    Polls are strange. While Israelis are more in favor of having a Palestinian state than their cousins in America, they also show Israelis are going increasingly intolerant. For example, significantly larger minorities of Israelis in younger generations think Christians from Russia should not be allowed to practice their religion.

    Meanwhile, in America what are the trends? It seems there are contradictions.

  6. pabelmont
    pabelmont
    October 1, 2013, 1:01 pm

    Phil, you write about ” Israelis with their guttural accents”. These speakers, I guess. Do all Israeli Jews have guttural accents? Do Arab Israelis? Do Arab Jews? I’m guessing that this is a German or Polish accept accepted into modern Hebrew and made a part of it, and taught, but not necessary to it. Have you heard people say HAMAS as if KHAMAS (something really to stick in your throat). But is it Hebrew, or is it a cultural import? How did religious Jews who lived in Jerusalem for years, decades, centuries, pronounce Hebrew?

    Can anybody help with this? (Does it matter?)

    • German Lefty
      German Lefty
      October 1, 2013, 1:52 pm

      Have you heard people say HAMAS as if KHAMAS (something really to stick in your throat).

      I’ve heard a German Jew pronounce Hamas that way. Non-Jewish Germans don’t do that. Hamas is spelt with “Chet” in Hebrew.

    • Xpat
      Xpat
      October 1, 2013, 1:55 pm

      @Pabelmont –
      The KH sound that Israelis (not Arabs) use in KHAMAS – and more pleasurably KHUMUS – is an authentic Hebrew sound. Technically, that is not a guttural sound (it comes from the roof of the mouth). Arabs (Jewish and otherwise) have an additional couple of deep guttural sounds which sound to Americans like somebody is choking and is transliterated into English as an approximation. So, the “H” of HAMAS is not an American “H” but an Arab sound. It’s also how we get the English GAZA from the original ‘AZA.
      The contemporary Israeli pronunciation of Hebrew is a modified form of the Sephardic/Middle Eastern traditional pronunciation. The American Jewish community, in sympathy with the Israelis and in line with their subservience to Zionism, abandoned traditional Ashkenazi pronunciation and now uses the Israeli style (albeit with an American accent).
      Hope that helps.

      • Pamela Olson
        Pamela Olson
        October 1, 2013, 2:22 pm

        The “H” in Hamas (and hummus, habibi [darling], and hurriyeh [freedom]) is a lovely sound, similar to fogging up a mirror with your breath. There is no friction in the throat or roof of mouth when pronouncing it properly in Arabic. You can immediately tell an Israeli by the fact that they cannot pronounce this letter correctly to save their lives.

        The Arabic word for Gaza is Ghazzeh (the first letter being a letter we don’t have that sounds like the Parisian ‘R’). It’s Israelis who pronounce it ‘Aza (another dead giveaway).

      • Xpat
        Xpat
        October 1, 2013, 2:32 pm

        Pamela, On Gaza/Ghaza, I was confusing two letters. Thanks for the correction.

      • bilal a
        bilal a
        October 1, 2013, 6:27 pm

        Arabic and ancient Hebrew (Canannite) are intertwined vines parallel of a shared root, Moabite Canannaite being a vulgar dialect of the ancient arabic. There is debate over whether modern Hebrew is a direct continuation of Mishnaic Hebrew or is something closer to a relexified Yiddish, with a grammar that is more Slavic than Semitic. Modern Hebrew is then Semitic the same way Krauthammer and Gertrude Himmelfarb are German.


        n the Middle Ages it was a prevailing opinion that Hebrew was the primitive speech of mankind. This view was based on “etymologies and other data in the early chapters of Genesis [comp. Berliner, “Beiträge zur Hebräischen Grammatik,” p. 9; König, “Hebräisch und Semitisch,” pp. 113 et seq.], which, however, were as plausibly turned by Syriac writers in favor of their own tongue” (“Encyc. Bibl.” ii. 1987; comp. Audo, “Syriac Dict.” Preface). A similar opinion was expressed by Rab (Sanh. 38b). Medieval Jewish scholars considered Arabic and Aramaic, the only cognate languages known to them, as corruptions of Hebrew. In more recent times, however, two opposing theories have been held. One, whose chief exponent is S. D. Luzzatto, is that Hebrew is derived from Aramaic; the other, whose chief exponent is Olshausen, is that it is derived from Arabic. D. S. Margoliouth (“Lines of Defense of Biblical Tradition,” and “Language of the Old Testament,” in Hastings, “Dict. Bible,” iii. 25 et seq.) claims that Hebrew is nothing but a vulgar dialect of Arabic. Not only, however, can the question concerning the relative age of a language whose origin lies in prehistoric times not be answered positively, but the necessity of the question itself is problematical: cognate languages may be parallel developments of one mother tongue instead of being derived from one another. All that can be said is, that by the testimony of the El-Amarna tablets (15th cent. B.C.), which contain Canaanitish or Hebrew glosses, and by the evidence of Egyptian, which contains Canaanitish loan-words borrowed some centuries before those tablets were written, Canaanitish or Hebrew was spoken in Palestine as early as the beginning of the second millennium B.C.
        http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/7453-hebrew-language

        Though an Ashkenazi Jew in Czarist Russia, the Zionist Eliezer Ben-Yehuda based his Standard Hebrew on the Sephardic dialect originally spoken in Spain, and therefore recommended an alveolar [r]. But as the first waves of Jews to resettle in the Holy Land were northern Ashkenazi, they came to speak Standard Hebrew with their preferred uvular articulation as found in Yiddish or modern standard German, and it gradually became the most prestigious pronunciation for the language. The modern State of Israel has Jews whose ancestors came from all over the world, but nearly all of them today speak Hebrew with a uvular R because of its modern prestige and historical elite status….There is debate over whether it is a direct continuation of Mishnaic Hebrew or is something closer to a relexified Yiddish, with a grammar that is more Slavic than Semitic.
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Modern_Hebrew#Yiddish_influence

      • Walid
        Walid
        October 1, 2013, 9:59 pm

        Bilal, from your article, “… claims that Hebrew is nothing but a vulgar dialect of Arabic…” has a cute ring to it, but my very unscientific guessing pushes me towards the other theory about Hebrew/Arabic that says, “languages may be parallel developments of one mother tongue instead of being derived from one another”.

        Either way, history has the whole lot of them starting out from Arabia and branching out towards Iraq, Egypt and Palestine of course with the Hebrews among the late arrivals: The Amorites, Hittites, Eastern Canaanites, the central and western ones, the Egyptians, the Assyrians and so on.

        For history nuts, 2 fun-watching videos of 5 minutes each that describe how and when they all came out of Arabia:

        Part 1

        Part 2

    • hophmi
      hophmi
      October 1, 2013, 2:04 pm

      A good part of the world has guttural accents. Usually, Western writers don’t comment upon them unless they’re being cute or racist.

      • Pamela Olson
        Pamela Olson
        October 1, 2013, 2:24 pm

        I think he was commenting on the very fact that they are foreigners trying to tell us Americans what to do. Americans don’t tend to respond to that very well for very long. (Well, it’s been too long already, but we’re starting to catch on and get a bit annoyed about it…)

      • Woody Tanaka
        Woody Tanaka
        October 1, 2013, 2:58 pm

        “A good part of the world has guttural accents. Usually, Western writers don’t comment upon them unless they’re being cute or racist.”

        There’s a word, sometimes pronounced with an initial guttural sound, that describes the spectacle of a racist like hoppy noting someone else’s supposed racism: chutzpah.

  7. W.Jones
    W.Jones
    October 1, 2013, 1:13 pm

    Speaking of Israeli speakers, what do people think of Gershom Gorenberg? He seems to be a good writer and dissident.

    His website says he will be speaking in America in November on a tour. Would anyone happen to know where?

  8. German Lefty
    German Lefty
    October 1, 2013, 1:32 pm

    Israel must stop facing west and start facing east to its neighbors, and please, learn Arabic. This speech brought a crowded room of Americans to their feet in explosive applause. None of us had ever heard it before.
    I am surprised that you have never heard this before. You know that the indigenous people of the area that is now called Israel are Palestinians. Palestinians speak Arabic. Therefore, it is only logical that Israel’s official language should be Arabic, not Hebrew. Just like Algeria’s official language is Arabic, not French.

    Peter Beinart was compelled to swear to Jeremy Burton that he understood the pain that Jews feel giving up the lands of the West Bank
    Puke!

    I take no pleasure in saying that realistically J Street can’t save the two state solution.
    Um, why do you want the two-state solution to be saved? The two-state solution is a Zionist solution.

    J Street deserves endless credit for helping that process.
    Oh, no! Don’t give Zionists any credit. That’s disgusting. These people are criminals. “Liberal Zionists” pretend to want to help Palestinians when their actual goal is to preserve the Jewish supremacist state. The only things they bother about are Israel’s existence and image. They only reject (some of) Israel’s crimes because these crimes harm the reputation of the criminal, and not because these crimes harm the well-being of the victims.

    • Pamela Olson
      Pamela Olson
      October 1, 2013, 2:26 pm

      “They only reject (some of) Israel’s crimes because these crimes harm the reputation of the criminal, and not because these crimes harm the well-being of the victims.”

      Sadly apt…

  9. Xpat
    Xpat
    October 1, 2013, 1:58 pm

    Thank you Phil for these great reports. I find it encouraging to see the range of opinion that J Street is presenting and the enthusiastic response. J Street is moving us forward even though they have positioned themselves behind the vanguard.

    • kalithea
      kalithea
      October 1, 2013, 3:01 pm

      Oh bruuuuther…I feel like I entered the twilight zone on this thread.

  10. Dan Crowther
    Dan Crowther
    October 1, 2013, 2:06 pm

    “The communal lobby worked. It stopped the conversation in the U.S. long enough for the settlements to be entrenched, and Israel is now an intolerant rightwing society with a cultural politics out of the Jim Crow south.”

    ——————————

    Lobby or no Lobby, it was always going to be that way, Phil.

    • seafoid
      seafoid
      October 1, 2013, 2:17 pm

      It looked like it was going to end up like Norway for a while there, Dan.
      But those pesky kids got in the way.

      • miriam6
        miriam6
        October 2, 2013, 11:52 am

        seafoid;

        It looked like it was going to end up like Norway for a while there, Dan. But those pesky kids got in the way.

        Yet another tasteless comparison by you.

        Unfortunately because the world is full of murderers like Anders Breivik / Jeffrey Dahmer etc. you won’t be running out of material to make more of your tasteless comparisons any time soon.

        And you have no shame..

      • seafoid
        seafoid
        October 3, 2013, 1:44 am

        Norway is one of the most progressive countries in the world, honey. I guess in hasbara uni they don’t teach that. Galut is full of hate , right?

      • Cliff
        Cliff
        October 3, 2013, 3:22 am

        Anders Breivik was a Zionist, miriam666. Just like Baruch Goldstein.

        Both mass murderers who killed tons of people.

      • miriam6
        miriam6
        October 3, 2013, 4:12 am

        [email protected];

        Sigh..

        I just assumed you were referring to the murder of all those youngsters by A. Breivik..
        Given your history of drawing tasteless comparisons in your comments are you really surprised I wouldn’t imagine that – yet again – you were implying the very worst in sheer bad taste ?!

        Classic Seafoidisms such as comparing Israel to Ariel Castro and implying that on top of all of Israel’s faults , problems, brutality and discrimination towards Palestinians etc. – that Jeffery Dahmer style racist cannibals are now running amok in Israel as well ?! http://mondoweiss.net/2013/09/friend-preserve-jewish.html#comment-59674 )

        Norway is one of the most progressive countries in the world, honey. I guess in hasbara uni they don’t teach that. Galut is full of hate , right ?

        Sigh.. I LIVE in the Galut as you call it.
        On the contrary seafoid – I feel perfectly safe here in the U.K.

        However – it is a fact that a more intolerant mood towards religious freedoms as practiced by both Jews and Muslims has become apparent in Europe in recent years – an mood of intolerance also present in ever so liberal Norway too.
        There have been moves in European countries to ban ritual slaughter as practiced by both Jews (Schecita) and Muslims ( Halal).
        Likewise freedom of religion for Jews and Muslims to perform circumcision has also been under attack in various European countries such as Germany and Norway – although, thankfully, both of those countries rejected a ban or restrictions on these religious freedoms.

        Minister of Health Anne-Grete Strøm-Erichsen is reportedly not going to ban ritual circumcision of boys in Norway.

        A Cologne District Court Judge recently ruled against ritual circumcisions, arguing the procedure constitutes physical harm against infants. The ruling, which southern Germany’s Passau University law professor Holm Putzke stated he thinks is a delay rather than a ban, angered Muslim, Jewish, Catholic, and Protestant religious leaders.

        http://theforeigner.no/pages/news/norway-minister-discounts-anti-circumcision-move/
        https://humanism.org.uk/2012/05/08/news-1034/

        The French have attacked the religious freedoms of Muslims in France;
        http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/8480161.stm

        The Belgians banned the face veil a few years ago;
        http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-14261921

        In the Netherlands and Germany there are restrictions on the face veil.
        There is to be a review into whether NHS staff in England should be allowed to wear full face veils, according to the Department of Health.
        http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-24158041

      • Cliff
        Cliff
        October 3, 2013, 4:26 am

        it is a fact that a more intolerant mood towards religious freedoms as practiced by both Jews and Muslims has become apparent in Europe in recent years – an mood of intolerance also present in ever so liberal Norway too.

        Yep – intolerance by allies of Zionism. The EDL for example.

      • Woody Tanaka
        Woody Tanaka
        October 3, 2013, 8:20 am

        “However – it is a fact that a more intolerant mood towards religious freedoms as practiced by both Jews and Muslims has become apparent in Europe in recent years – an mood of intolerance also present in ever so liberal Norway too.
        There have been moves in European countries to ban ritual slaughter as practiced by both Jews (Schecita) and Muslims ( Halal).
        Likewise freedom of religion for Jews and Muslims to perform circumcision”

        Good for them. These aren’t moves of intolerance toward religion; it’s intolerance toward barbaric acts where “religion” is used as an excuse. There is nothing intolerant in banning preventable cruelty to animals while they’re being slaughtered, nor in banning male genital mutilation. Rather, they are a sign of a mature, humane society.

      • seafoid
        seafoid
        October 3, 2013, 9:25 am

        Very revealing, Miriam , that you don’t know much about either Norway or irony. I suppose the education money goes to the settlers, doesn’t it?

        And how fascinating that you are so interested in my oeuvre. Such a compliment .

        Zionism is abuse. And there are so many ideas to explain the concept. Stand by for more. I hope you enjoy them.

    • Keith
      Keith
      October 1, 2013, 8:10 pm

      DAN CROWTHER- Have you been on sabbatical?

      • Dan Crowther
        Dan Crowther
        October 2, 2013, 11:22 am

        Ha – I guess so. Haven’t seen much here lately that is of interest…..world events are sort of throwing a big monkey wrench into the MW collective wisdom and so it’s not been very relevant recently…Hope you’re well, Keith.

  11. hophmi
    hophmi
    October 1, 2013, 2:08 pm

    Well, it’s nice to have this summary. It’s a good idea of how a pro-Palestinian activist viewed the conference. I’d like to hear what more neutral people thought of it.

    • Walid
      Walid
      October 1, 2013, 2:35 pm

      “I’d like to hear what more neutral people thought of it.”

      In case some here are wondering what he means by “neutral people”, Hophmi is talking about pro-Israel/pro-2 state fans.

      • seafoid
        seafoid
        October 1, 2013, 3:16 pm

        Walid,

        Normal people think the Nazis were bastards but neutral people appreciate their passion for motorway construction.

      • German Lefty
        German Lefty
        October 1, 2013, 3:26 pm

        How very true, seafoid!

      • annie
        annie
        October 1, 2013, 4:39 pm

        omg, can’t stop laughing. seafoid, you are so bad. better watch out, you’ll get on one of ms m’s embed lists.

        ‘more neutral’ is like kinda pregnant, doesn’t exist.

      • miriam6
        miriam6
        October 1, 2013, 5:53 pm

        [email protected];

        Seafoid:

        Normal people think the Nazis were bastards but neutral people appreciate their passion for motorway construction.

        Yes, you do find seafoid’s blasé , content free comments ever so amusing – especially when he is – yet again – comparing Israel to the Third Reich.

        Turns out you really don’t mind hearing about the Nazis yet again when someone is slagging off Israel.

        who’s crutching on the nazis again miriam?

        Apparently you and seafoid are..

        http://mondoweiss.net/2013/09/rwanda-cooper-union.html/comment-page-1#comment-598361

        http://mondoweiss.net/2013/09/rwanda-cooper-union.html/comment-page-1#comment-598412

        You ms robbins are a giant hypocrite and coward.

      • Cliff
        Cliff
        October 2, 2013, 5:46 am

        Nothing hypocritical about it.

        The Israel-Nazi Germany comparison is perfectly reasonable within the context it’s used in (ethnic nationalism/ethnoreligious supremacy).

        Being a racist, Jewish supremacist, liar and thief – you should be able to relate , miriam666.

      • seafoid
        seafoid
        October 2, 2013, 3:49 pm

        The thousand year reich and israel’s eternal indivisible capital must be cousins.

    • Cliff
      Cliff
      October 1, 2013, 4:28 pm

      There’s no such thing as a ‘neutral’ person attending a Zionist event, you hasbarat.

  12. seafoid
    seafoid
    October 1, 2013, 2:19 pm

    “J Street’s achievements”

    Got me thinking about the benefits of banking self regulation in the US . Sure they took down the economy with them but Citibank etc did produce some fancy spreadsheets.

  13. Kathleen
    Kathleen
    October 1, 2013, 2:21 pm

    J Street, Peter Beinart etc all part of the better late than never crowd. But I don’t believe for one second that Beinart’s recent discovery of the brutal apartheid government of Israel and his speaking out about the human rights of Palestinians. For Beinart it is all about saving Israel because he and J Street know the push for the one state solution is growing. People are really understanding that Israel’s persistent refusal to stop building illegal settlements has closed that door.

    J Street even has the completely inaccurate map of Israel, illegal settlements and what is left to call Palestine on their add. Telling

  14. James Canning
    James Canning
    October 1, 2013, 2:45 pm

    I think Israel indeed would do well to try to fit into its neighborhood and not aspire to become a member of the EU or Nato etc.

  15. kalithea
    kalithea
    October 1, 2013, 2:48 pm

    “I sense that he is moving toward cultural Zionism himself, though it will take a few years for him to declare.”

    Baloney!

    This was all very painful to read. Zionists immerse themselves in the warm luxury of time with fatuous, patronizing meanderings on the fate of Palestinians while Palestinians are living a cold, hard reality every day and DENIED THEIR RIGHTS INDEFINITELY. Is this right??? This is all so staggeringly delusional, hypocritical and unjust, it doesn’t deserve the time of day.

    As I stated previously:

    The problem is most of you care more about ISRAEL than you do about all the countless lives it destroys along the way, even though you know it’s headed for inevitable disaster. But you just can’t help selfishly buying time and talking about everything endlessly, because when push comes to shove you’re unwilling to do what it takes because ya just can’t let go of the cause of all the injustice – ZIONISM.

    Netanyahu spent 95% of his U.N. spiel on Iran and 5% on the Palestinian issue, and also robbed Palestinians of that time with victimhood and bullshet. And his views are those of the majority in Israel with an even more radical faction growing every day! And there’s time to indulge in yet more vacuous J Street, “Liberal”, cultural Zionist talk!

    If the tables were turned, Jews would patiently wait around for their rights and their suffering under such oppression to end while everyone gets in their last self-righteous word, riiiight? NOT!

    ” J Street deserves endless credit for helping that process.” – Aye…

    Go ahead, pat yourselves all on the back – you’ve accomplished “so much”. Snail’s pace is okay when the victims are not part of the tribe as long as Zionism survives another day; who cares if this day claims yet another Palestinian life and the rights of millions.

    • marc b.
      marc b.
      October 1, 2013, 4:22 pm

      ” J Street deserves endless credit for helping that process.” – Aye…

      aye yi yi indeed. that’s the sort of silly, undefinable superlative that Weiss likes to heap on undeserved co-religionists. what exactly is ‘endless credit’? jstreet is the 21st century finger in the dike. someone had to come up with it because the likes of AIPAC and the ADL are too comfortably settled in the slip stream of Congress to notice the changing currents surrounding them.

    • irishmoses
      irishmoses
      October 1, 2013, 6:38 pm

      Kalithea said:

      ***”As I stated previously:

      The problem is most of you care more about ISRAEL than you do about all the countless lives it destroys along the way, even though you know it’s headed for inevitable disaster. But you just can’t help selfishly buying time and talking about everything endlessly, because when push comes to shove you’re unwilling to do what it takes because ya just can’t let go of the cause of all the injustice – ZIONISM. “***

      Good point. Lot of talk on this site but very little real action that I can see. Lots of words and calls for signing petitions but little else. It would be nice to see a lot of this verbal energy converted to picket signs held by people protesting Israel and lobby policies in front of every synagogue every Saturday. American Jews were very active and influential in the US civil rights movement, some losing their lives. I suspect there are some among us that participated in that 60s struggle.

      Any effort to change Zionism and Israel will need to be a lot more in your face to be successful. Otherwise, most American Jews will continue to be intentionally oblivious to the problem. J Street and Mondoweiss operate at the margins. Real change will require real struggle, real action, not logic and words.

      Phil’s piece last week, “Violence Works by Ending Complacency” (http://mondoweiss.net/2013/09/violence-works-by-ending-complacency.html) seems apt. Maybe all the actions don’t have to be violent, but it will take aggressive non-violent actions and activity to end the complacency of American Jews and Americans in general.

      Words alone, whether on websites or in fancy conferences, aren’t going to cut it.

      Words! Words! Words! I’m so sick of words!
      I get words all day through;
      First from him, now from you!
      Is that all you blighters can do?

  16. W.Jones
    W.Jones
    October 1, 2013, 3:38 pm

    Israel was a “miracle in the Middle East and it still is,” and she knows that some young American Jews “feel alienated” from it — well thank god, they are not here with us tonight. “They don’t understand what Israel is… they don’t understand the goal and the vision of the state of Israel.

    Is it a state for a religious community that focuses on nationality and that is not strictly governed by religious law, with many of its members not following the religion?

  17. Citizen
    Citizen
    October 1, 2013, 3:39 pm

    RE: “He is bustling and friendly (and “the Jewish height,” as a friend put it to me, 5-10)…”

    “Jewish men are often shorter than men from other racial groups, according to an article by Joseph Jacobs and Maurice Fishberg for the “Jewish Encyclopedia.” The average height for a Jewish man ranges between 5 feet 2 inches and 5 feet 4 inches, states Jacobs and Fishberg.”
    Source:
    Jewish Encyclopedia: Jews Compared with Non-Jews; Joseph Jacobs and Maurice Fishberg
    More Information:
    Klaus Hoedel: Physical Characteristics of Jews; Klaus Hoedl
    Judaism 101
    Read more: What is the average height of Jewish males | Answerbag http://www.answerbag.com/q_view/1996683#ixzz2gUwcO57m

    Stature of Jew: http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/13993-stature

  18. kalithea
    kalithea
    October 1, 2013, 4:01 pm

    “J Street deserves endless credit…”

    What for??? For the “endless” occupation no doubt. These “Liberal” Zionists can’t help cleansing their conscience and guilt and trying to rescue their image and that of their precious Zionism; their precious paradise on stolen land, Israel, that’s nothing short of hell for millions of others. And in doing so, attempting to cleanse the Zionist image that is, a few crumbs of compassion (if you can call it that) happen to fall off these “Liberal” Zionists’ table in the U.S. and Palestinians must then pretend to be humbled and grateful for these puny morsels and then keep enduring their Zionist masters’ whip back home on their own land.

    What am I to think of this? Oh yes…”endless gratitude”. I can hardly contain such a thought with the glaring injustice that still lives on thanks to these hypocrites who do nothing but talk themselves out of their guilt!

  19. W.Jones
    W.Jones
    October 1, 2013, 4:06 pm

    he took a shot at Arabs, saying that Palestinians are “the least ideological and the least – the least sectarian group of Arabs in the entire Middle East.”

    So here you have a candidate who probably sympathizes with Jewish dissenters, whom Ellis would call those “of conscience”, and he has come to support the human rights side of the community…

    There is a parallel in the Ecumenical movements for Palestinians’ rights. There are writers who care alot about what people are going through. However in the course of it, they feel so compelled to show they are not “anti-Semitic”. Why?

    This brings to mind Ellis’ thinking. Namely, he has a Liberation theology… And how can those Ecumenists engage in the debate?

  20. Steve Macklevore
    Steve Macklevore
    October 1, 2013, 4:17 pm

    The 2 Campaign = 2 late.

  21. dbroncos
    dbroncos
    October 1, 2013, 6:47 pm

    “But J Street is part of the Israel lobby, and the Israel lobby draws its power from tribal politics.”

    …and tribal money. J Street’s financiers put their idealogical stamp on the organization. However, it seems that many of the members aren’t so happy about their agenda and that shows progress.

  22. Nevada Ned
    Nevada Ned
    October 1, 2013, 7:51 pm

    Phil, thanks for this article.

    Has J Street ever invited Rashid Khalidi (or someone like him) to speak?

    Just curious.

  23. just
    just
    October 1, 2013, 7:53 pm

    A great essay and analysis,

  24. kalithea
    kalithea
    October 1, 2013, 8:54 pm

    On the surface my words appear angry but they translate into this: hope is understanding backed up with unrelenting resistance to injustice. Thank you for posting my “angry” words.

  25. Kathleen
    Kathleen
    October 1, 2013, 11:12 pm

    Was the coastline so disproportionately given to Israel in the first division of land in 48?

  26. wondering jew
    wondering jew
    October 3, 2013, 9:37 pm

    Phil- Words of praise for Beinart earns you only disdain from your most “loyal” followers here in the comments section, but I object to something else.

    You write, “Beinart makes them feel OK about hearing a pro-Palestinian narrative. I sense that he is moving toward cultural Zionism himself, though it will take a few years for him to declare.”

    What does this even mean? Cultural Zionism was a relevant concept in the time of Ahad Ha’am, but is it really relevant today? What does it mean today? I suppose it certainly must mean that Zionism would connote nothing political- therefore the IDF will have to (no longer represent a Jewish army, but represent a nonsectarian “Israeli” army and) induct Palestinian Muslim Arabs into its forces before political Zionism can give way to cultural Zionism. Do you really think Beinart is merely a few years away from coming out in favor of that? I highly doubt that. If you can think of political policies that would follow from the abandonment of political Zionism and give way to cultural Zionism, please give me an example.

    Until then I think it’s safe to assert: Beinart is a political Zionist and there’s no reason to believe that anything but radical changes on the ground would seriously alter his stance. (Which will earn the hoots and catcalls of most of the gang here.)

    • Xpat
      Xpat
      October 3, 2013, 10:33 pm

      In British office training school, the mature sergeant majors had to address the young office cadets respectfully. But they also had to deliver the humiliation of boot camp training. So when the sergeant major spoke to a cadet, so long as he began with “Mr” and ended with “Sir!” he could fill in the middle with whatever string of swear words he wanted.
      Yonah Frriedman is just the opposite. He starts and ends with insults and fills in the middle with reasonable comment.

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