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De Blasio’s leftwing base is enraged by AIPAC moment

Israel/Palestine
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New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and Israeli President Shimon Peres in 2013.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and Israeli President Shimon Peres in 2013.

Last night I attended a jampacked event in New York for this book about imagining a socialist America. The event was taped for CSPAN; several speakers said socialism is in the zeitgeist.

As we milled around afterward, I heard many expressions of rage against New York’s progressive new mayor, Bill de Blasio, for his secret sucking up to AIPAC, his saying his “job description” was to defend Israel. Some of my friends’ comments:

–He’s insulting us. He is attacking Palestinian human rights. He needs to feel it, and he’s not going to get away with it. We’re his base.

–I knew I wasn’t voting for him when he said that the Park Slope Food Co-Op board measure for boycotting Israel goods came from a marginal group. He called us marginal. I really think he believes there is an epic struggle with Islamic radicalism. He’s deluded. But someone’s convinced him of that.

–I’m surprised but not shocked. It’s Matthew Hiltzik. The p.r. guy who worked for Hillary. He’s close to de Blasio and got him on the Iran Watch board, sucking up to Israel, long ago.

–He doesn’t know Jews well; he doesn’t understand that many NY Jews don’t buy into AIPAC. It’s unsophisticated of him. He’s used to the Brooklyn Jews in Crown Heights. But even some of them are anti-Zionist.

–His wife and son and daughter would be cavity searched at Ben Gurion if they weren’t with him on his trips. That needs to be explained.

–We have to organize but we also have to hit the American interest piece of this. I don’t particularly agree with it, but can you imagine signs saying, The mayor has said that his “job description” is supporting a foreign country?

I was cheered by the outrage, and also reminded of something important. The six people who angrily brought up de Blasio with me are all Jewish, and it’s not just a coincidence that all are sympathetic to the socialist ideas in that book. Socialism is a longtime current in Jewish life. It is older than Zionism. Both began as liberation stories, one in a desire to escape into one’s own tribe, the other the desire to radically reform society for all. These two “engines” of Jewish public opinion (as Steven Zipperstein put it in his speech on the Kishinev pogrom at Yivo earlier this month) have been competitive for a long time. Both frightened the rulers of Russia. Both were alive on the Lower East Side.

Zionism won inside Jewish life, even converting the formerly-socialist Forward newspaper. But Zionism has failed. The supporters we’ve had from inside Jewish life for this site– many come out of that socialist tradition. They opposed the tribal impulse; none of them ever said, Is it good for the Jews? None had to be schooled by me to criticize Israel; they got there on their own, long before I did.

And their fury makes me agree: de Blasio does not understand Jewish life. Anti-Zionism is a long tradition. We are angry, we are determined to make him regret his secret speech.

This of course touches on a central political question about the Israel lobby, is it the Jewish lobby? Certainly politicians have long understood it to be that; and afraid to alienate Jewish money and votes, they have staked out pro-Zionist positions. In turn, the Zionist Jewish organizations portrayed pro-Israel views as the heart and soul of the American Jewish community generally, to hold the politicians. They linked the Zionist story of deliverance in Israel to liberation movements in the U.S. that Jews were active in, civil rights, women’s rights, gay rights; and so everyone on the Democratic side believed that it was progressive to support Israel. And even if many Jews were never converted to Zionism, the American Jewish community was able to maintain a high degree of solidarity. The Union for Reform Judaism supported the neoconservatives on the Iraq war. Americans for Peace Now has stayed on the board of the Conference of Presidents, even as that group’s leader took rightwing stances that are entirely contrary to APN’s position on settlements. Barney Frank was lame on the settlements issue. de Blasio learned these lessons well. Just as Hillary is saying nothing to support the Iran deal because she needs AIPAC for 2016, MJ Rosenberg says.

This is changing. The Jewish community is beginning to diversify. Young people aren’t as interested in Israel, some are critical. Jewish Voice for Peace is vocally non-Zionist. And the Iran sanctions are publicly dividing the lobby: Peace Now warns that all the Jews trying to break the Iran deal could undermine Jewish safety in the U.S. (“The lobby’s actions, now more publicized than ever before, jeopardize the Jewish future in America, the safest home we have ever had,” MJ Rosenberg writes.)

That diversity has to be brought home to de Blasio. He insulted us.

philweiss
About Philip Weiss

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

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58 Responses

  1. joemowrey
    joemowrey
    January 28, 2014, 12:49 pm

    All anyone had to do (before the election) was take a cursory look at de Blasio, his background and his connections to the Clintons and Goldman Sachs, to know that he is anything but “leftwing” or “progressive.” Yet once again, so-called “liberals” who elected him feign outrage after the fact. Shades of Obamakinism here. People who choose willful ignorance deserve what they get.

    • puppies
      puppies
      January 29, 2014, 1:33 am

      @joemowrey – Such voters are arguably criminals, as they bring catastrophic damage to those who know better, see it coming and won’t be listened to.

      • adele
        adele
        January 29, 2014, 12:40 pm

        puppies,
        the choice of candidates was dismal, Llota a republican backed by Koch money or Quinn with a proven track record of fund misappropriation, bullying of NYC council members and her close ties to developers. The voters are not criminal, we are simply pawns of a corrupt political machine that is fueled and run by the money of Wall Street and other influential moneyed power brokers..

      • puppies
        puppies
        January 30, 2014, 10:16 pm

        @adele – When the same thing happens regular like clockwork every time one does the same thing, human beings have an alarm light up after a sufficient number of repetititions. Enough repetitions will do that to retarded people, too. So is there a concept of responsibility or not? When one knows what is to happen and cannot justify one’s catastrophic vote, are one’s emotions or loyalty or cowardice etc. legitimately used as a get-out-of-jail-free card?

  2. Daniel Rich
    Daniel Rich
    January 28, 2014, 12:53 pm

    Q: De Blasio’s leftwing base is enraged by AIPAC moment.

    R: That’s odd. Millions of years ago, even dinosaurs knew how to flap around using both wings. Guess back then, greenbacks were a yet to be extinct set of spineless species…

  3. tokyobk
    tokyobk
    January 28, 2014, 1:03 pm

    Glad to see you expressing ownership with and legacy from a Jewish community, Phil.

    Though I think you will agree on reflection that socialism and Zionism were not exactly oil and water and in fact fused from the decades just before and just after the establishment of Israel.

    • Krauss
      Krauss
      January 28, 2014, 1:33 pm

      And Marxism. Doris Lessing were inspired in her own anti-racism efforts by Marxist Jews in Rhodesia. But these same Marxist Jews were Zionists; proponents of colonization of Palestinians while advocating freedom from white gentile colonialism in Africa. This is the same kind of hypocrisy displayed today by liberal Zioinists. They advocate universalism in America because it benefits them(as a minority) but ethnonationalism in Israel… because it benefits them(as a majority).

      Doris Lessing never challenged those Marxist Jews on this kind of hypocrisy, and that’s something that will stain her legacy forever. She was simply too weak/afraid of the backlash, I highly doubt she didn’t understand was Zionism was about, could she have been that ignorant?

      But yes, nationalism and socialism isn’t as incompatible as we’d like to think. Most socialistic movements in the 20th century were nationalist movements. And the ugliest kinds of movements were often socialist movements, whether Stalinism or Nazism.

      Because nationalism at some level means organizing accoring to principles of race, such as Chinese socialism or at least a cultural group (“Cubans”).
      You can’t do that in the West without alienating a majority of the population because organizing white people on the basis of race is a taboo, still.
      So you get a version of socialism which is actually quite alien to how it really is elsewhere, and has been practiced elsewhere, in much of the rest of the world.

      • ritzl
        ritzl
        January 28, 2014, 2:06 pm

        Brilliant, Krauss. Concise and spot on.

        “This is the same kind of hypocrisy displayed today by liberal Zioinists. They advocate universalism in America because it benefits them(as a minority) but ethnonationalism in Israel… because it benefits them(as a majority).”

        If it (Zionism) maintains itself as all benefits and no costs, nothing changes the mentality.

      • Keith
        Keith
        January 28, 2014, 2:52 pm

        KRAUSS- “And the ugliest kinds of movements were often socialist movements, whether Stalinism or Nazism.”

        I don’t have a good operational definition of socialism, however, I doubt that Stalinism even comes close. As for Nazism, that and other forms of fascism are capitalist to the core. Just because the National Socialist Party had “socialist” in the name means nothing. Neither does Union of Socialist Republics. Frequently, labels which people apply to themselves are designed more to mislead than enlighten. Currently, look at Europe and all of the “socialists” implementing the neoliberal agenda.

      • Woody Tanaka
        Woody Tanaka
        January 28, 2014, 4:31 pm

        ” And the ugliest kinds of movements were often socialist movements, whether Stalinism or Nazism. ”

        Nazism wasn’t a socialist movement. In fact, it didn’t really have any socialist elements post-Night of the Long Knives.

      • Daniel Rich
        Daniel Rich
        January 28, 2014, 5:37 pm

        @ Woody Tanaka,

        Q: Nazism wasn’t a socialist movement. In fact, it didn’t really have any socialist elements post-Night of the Long Knives.

        R: How does that explain the People’s Car [VolksWagen], near full employment and Germany’s rise from pauper [1926] to prosperous nation [1936]?

        This link might be of interest.

        The history I was taught is not the history I learned/got to know during all my investigations and interviews I did over the years, that’s for sure.

        Not arguing, just saying.

      • Theo
        Theo
        January 29, 2014, 12:16 pm

        Daniel

        History is always written by the victors and if you read the history of WWII from american or russian writers you will see great differences. The truth may lie someplace in the middle. On the other hand germans and a few other western historians write a much different story, not as pleasing to american and british readers.
        Once I read in a rather dependable source that what you see and read online, to 80% either totally or partially untrue, that means you have 4:1 chance to get and spread wrong information when quoting such sources.
        This is to back up your statement on history taught in schools.

      • Woody Tanaka
        Woody Tanaka
        January 29, 2014, 1:56 pm

        Daniel, because it was, in part, a populist movement.

      • RoHa
        RoHa
        January 28, 2014, 8:07 pm

        “Because nationalism at some level means organizing according to principles of race, such as Chinese socialism or at least a cultural group (“Cubans”).”

        Not necessarily. It can be a matter of organizing people according to citizenship. The “official” nationalisms of Australia, Britain, France, and the USA do just that. Check our recent Australia Day celebrations. Quite explicit that Australian citizenship is the key element.

      • Theo
        Theo
        January 29, 2014, 12:21 pm

        RoHa

        When will Australia become totally independent and shake off the british chains. As long as a foreign citizens, the queen, is the head of your state, you are not really free. The same goes for Canada and New Zealand.

      • eljay
        eljay
        January 29, 2014, 12:39 pm

        >> As long as a foreign citizens, the queen, is the head of your state, you are not really free. The same goes for Canada and New Zealand.

        Monarchies are an elitist anachronism and should be abolished. That said, I (a Canadian) have never felt “not really free” because – for all intents and purposes – the Queen is essentially just a figurehead.

  4. Krauss
    Krauss
    January 28, 2014, 1:18 pm

    More than half of all young people in a Pew poll said that they are postive to socialism.

    I still don’t think Socialism will last. There will be a Bismarck-type realist in the system who understands you cannot parrot Reagan anymore. People are sick of it. Even Kristol is saying the GOP has to stop feeding Wall Street and millionaires.
    (But note: he says nothing about the neocons or foreign intervention. Wars abroad will be the last place to be reformed in both parties because of the lobby. Penny Pritzker is willing, although not perhaps in concrete terms, to support the voices of Occupy. She will never turn on AIPAC).

    As for this discussion, I’ve long said that I’ve been skeptical about the Jewish community’s ability to break free of AIPAC, the Conference of American presidents and so on. I’ve said so because while the Pew poll said that only 17% or so of American Jews said that settlements were “helping peace”, 43% or so said that they didn’t matter.

    So we have a clear majority of the American Jewish base that says that settlements either help or at least don’t hurt prospects to peace. This is a fact that many left-leaning anti-occupation Jewish groups just have to grapple with. If ADL/AIPAC/AJC/Conference of Presidents were as isolated as it is sometimes portrayed, then people would have revolted a long time ago.

    But yes, there is a growing chorus of younger Jews. I see it every day. I do, however, think that demographics simply mean that we won’t see a fundamental shift until the people born in the 1960s and later, who grew up with Israel as it is today rather than as they imagined it to be, will dominate the community. Right now, there are many people born in and around WWII and that colors their perspective. It’s always 1938 for these people.

    • Krauss
      Krauss
      January 28, 2014, 1:25 pm

      Finally, one more point.

      As important as the changes inside the Jewish community are to me, after all, it’s the community I am closest to, in terms of Israel there is a tendency within our community to close ranks, even among progressives.

      Publications like The Nation has picked up on these anxieties by mostly (and sometimes only) publishing Jews. If you read most critical things on Israel up until very recently in the Nation, it’s almost all written by Jews. It’s the Tony Judt rule, where the NYT editors insisted that he identified himself as Jewish in his Op-Ed about the future of Zionism.

      There are some strains of this pattern in your writing, too. I continue to maintain that the most important book on Zionism was actually not about Zionism itself, but about the Israel lobby, but the secondary effects on Zionism were so great that it became the most important book as consequence of that. I’m talking, of course, of Walt’s and Mearsheimer’s book in 2006. You couldn’t essentially talk about the influence of the lobby before the publication of that book without being attacked as an anti-Semite even by “progressives”(often folks like Alterman or Goldberg). The key point was that non-PEP liberals stayed silent, in fear.

      They weren’t driven by any feeling towards Zionism per se, but understood that Zionism requires slavish American military committment in order for Israel to expand its borders in perpetuity. They understood that Zionism is the primary force in the American discourse pushing for wars for the last 15 years or more.

      Zionism, Philip, is no longer a Jewish issue. It’s become an American issue. Most taxpayers who fund Israel’s military are not Jewish. Most of the Americans who would die in strikes in the aftermath of an attack on Iran wouldn’t be Jewish. Most of the people who would lose their jobs as the economy tanked as oil got to $150 dollars wouldn’t be Jewish. In fact, the Jewish community is very privileged economically, it would be shielded from these effects better than probably every other community in America.

      I understand the ethnocentric angle. I think about it in those terms a lot, too, because Zionism has affected the trajectory of Jewish life more than any other intellectual movement the last 100 years by a long shot. By a very, very long shot. So I had to focus on Zionism if I was serious about Jewish life, which I am. But I’m still saying, we need to balance this. We need to understand that Zionism’s effects are primarily affecting not just Palestinians but increasingly all Americans and people outside of America. And this needs to be reflected in our writing about this.

      Including among liberal/socialist Americans, especially the younger ones.

      • seafoid
        seafoid
        January 28, 2014, 3:33 pm

        “We need to understand that Zionism’s effects are primarily affecting not just Palestinians but increasingly all Americans and people outside of America. And this needs to be reflected in our writing about this.”

        I think we need to understand that real anti-Semitism is going to be the end product of a lot of this if nothing changes and that nobody is going to buy the poor-us-look-how-we-suffered schtick. Not when the proportion of goys looking for jobs in America is the lowest it has been since the 1970s. And Jewish look how wonderful we are bling is all over youtube.

        AIPAC /Foxman style Jewish lobbying is pernicious. I am fairly sure this is not the first time this sort of thing has happened.

      • Daniel Rich
        Daniel Rich
        January 28, 2014, 5:42 pm

        Q: real anti-Semitism

        R: Real anti Semitism would embrace all Semites, not just a selected few. Please , stop using this Apartheid word [in its current context] and stop supporting the Apartheid state trough its use [in its current context].

        Help in making a difference.

        Thank you.

      • tokyobk
        tokyobk
        January 28, 2014, 6:19 pm

        That is always the bigot’s premise. I did not hate X until Y. I did not hate Muslims till 9/11. same bs.

        Your phrasing is contemptuous, and your implication to how Jews have brought on their own hatred in the past telling. If you are noticing Jews gushing how wonderful we are, fine. I see a lot of Jews, and increasing number, saying look how we are f-ing up. Ditto your use of “goy,” a term I see more hear than I ever have heard among Jews (in a non liturgical fashion, since the word goy appears in the Torah meaning nation — a category in which btw Jews are included).

        The premise is that if Israel does not shape up than it will bring on Jews deserved hatred, but that is, excuse my Irish, plain Seafóid, Pearl Harbor did not bring on real (deserved) racism against Japanese Americans even though many did go back and forth, send money, print pro Japanese newspapers, have a Japan lobby etc… Geroge Takei was an innocent little boy as were the J-Americans as a group.

      • ritzl
        ritzl
        January 28, 2014, 8:11 pm

        @tokyobk- seafoid can speak for him/herself, but Yikes.

        Pearl Harbor did not bring on real (deserved) racism against Japanese Americans…

        It damn sure did. Of the internment camp variety. And btw what is “deserved” racism?

        The premise is that if Israel does not shape up than it will bring on Jews deserved hatred, but that is, excuse my Irish, plain…

        You’re free to construe things any way you want, but you have to include all the steps. In this case you leave out the step that Israel deliberately equates itself with “the Jews.” Israel is not “the Jews” and I think, unlike the Japanese-American experience, society has matured just enough to make and act upon that distinction. But seafoid points out, as do many others here, where that raw Israeli conceit leads.

        Israel says it kills people, starts wars, starves Gaza, in your name. Israel does that. Not me. Not seafoid. Israel. So despite the fact that you may get a chuckle or two about how so many here bemoan the strength of the propaganda machine as it steamrolls Palestinian rights, you yourself, as a Jew, are caught up in that very same propagandizing meat-grinder. Yet here you sit chewing on seafoid for simply pointing out the dangers of standing too close to a train wreck.

        But by all means, be angry at seafoid, not Israel. That’s probably very satisfying in something of a circular, self-victimization sense on a blog, but it sure isn’t where the real problems and dangers lie.

        Again, “deserved?” That’s either angry sputter-talk, or an accusation that people here actually believe that Jews (or any group as a group) deserve what they get when some societal switch flips. The former is forgivable, the latter is pure, indoctrinated (“Defamation”-style) BS.

      • seafoid
        seafoid
        January 29, 2014, 10:58 am

        “The premise is that if Israel does not shape up than it will bring on Jews deserved hatred, but that is, excuse my Irish, plain Seafóid, ”

        Accountability is what is comes back to. Foxman and Wall st are not “good for the Jews” and they never were. We don’t talk about what happened after 1870 when the global economy had the first massive spasm.

        No, it’s all totally random, has nothing to do with anything. Pure ancient hatred. And it isn’t.

        And it’s always the same Jews who get hurt. The ones without any connections. That shit is real tragic but it sure ain’t magic.

        And Kastner didn’t give a flying f*** about those poor Hungarian Jews as long as he got his family out. They handed over their own people as Arendt said. The history is so awful it’s no wonder they ended up with the IDF.

        I wish Israel could have been designed differently.
        Fink is right. Get rid of those scumbags in Miami and New York. Let them spin off their own religion devoted to mammon and power.

        Keep Judaism out of it.

    • RoHa
      RoHa
      January 28, 2014, 8:01 pm

      “I still don’t think Socialism will last.”

      What socialism?

  5. hophmi
    hophmi
    January 28, 2014, 1:18 pm

    “Zionism won inside Jewish life”

    You’re confirming what I’ve long said – many of the people inside of the pro-Palestinian movement, especially the older ones, are disgruntled over the fact that socialism failed, and that their fight against capitalism has failed, spectacularly. These same folks used to insist, in books like Zionism and Antisemitism, that there was no antisemitism in the Soviet Union.

    “Anti-Zionism is a long tradition. ”

    Not really. It’s a religious tradition borne out of the belief that Jews are condemned to live under oppressive exile until the coming of the Messiah. The intellectual part of the tradition is largely a reaction to modern Zionism, and grows out of a tradition of naivete toward Communist dictatorship. Neither one is worth preserving.

    “His wife and son and daughter would be cavity searched at Ben Gurion if they weren’t with him on his trips. That needs to be explained.”

    You mean, lied about?

    “That diversity has to be brought home to de Blasio. He insulted us.”

    Good luck.

    • Krauss
      Krauss
      January 28, 2014, 1:41 pm

      Hophmi if you think this is about capitalism all I can say is good luck to you.

      Phil’s point was socialism in the universalist sense. I agree with Tokyobk, however, that Phil’s views on Socialism is tainted by contemporary Western fashions. Socialism and nationalism were never incompatible, and frankly, almost all Jews were socialists back in Soviet Russia pre-revolution or in the early 1900s in America. We had to be, because it was in our interested as dispossesed minorities.

      So linking socialism to anti-Zionism doesn’t make sense, but neither does linking anti-Zionism to anti-capitalism.

      Nevertheless, your focus on capitalism is the inverse of Chomsky’s argument: that the occupation is the creation of capitalistic forces and if we just fight capitalism then the occupation will disappear. That was always a stupid argument.
      Your assumption that this – anti-Zionism – is about capitalism is similarily stupid. And actually even more so, considering how long you’ve been at this site. Have you learned nothing?

      • Keith
        Keith
        January 28, 2014, 3:22 pm

        KRAUSS- “Nevertheless, your focus on capitalism is the inverse of Chomsky’s argument: that the occupation is the creation of capitalistic forces and if we just fight capitalism then the occupation will disappear. That was always a stupid argument.”

        What Chomsky says and what you claim he says are so far apart that your claims are libelous. I don’t feel like getting into another dispute with the anti-Chomsky crowd, however, I would like to see you supply at least one quote where Chomsky says that “if we just fight capitalism then the occupation will disappear.” Apparently, there is much satisfaction derived from creating a straw man, naming it Chomsky, then attacking it for the stupid things which you falsely attribute to it.

      • bilal a
        bilal a
        January 28, 2014, 4:20 pm

        Chomsky’s first youthful impulses took him to Israel to live in a socialist kibbutz on stolen land.

        I can’t see any difference between this type of socialist theft and that of its more sophisticated variants such as printing money and giving it to your friends , moving your factories to slave colonies in China, or effectively forcing everyone’s children into usurious college debt. All of it can be justified in progressive language, eg monetary stimulus through funding civil society, assisting the world’s poor through free trade and globalization,
        and improving human capital through educational opportunity.

        The modern Left is a construct and handmaiden to a transnational parasitic clique. In reality , practice, it is the opposite of what it professes.

        Some of you will see this when Palestine becomes post apartheid south africa, a grinding poverty and economic Jim Crow inequality enforced by a corrupted colonial caste masquerading as natives.

        But most will just look away , as they do today when discussing their hero Mandela.

      • W.Jones
        W.Jones
        January 28, 2014, 4:44 pm

        Bilal,

        Your first sentence was right, and the rest went off the reservation, while containing a grain of salt.

        College loans have a good side, as do the changes in South Africa. For whatever reason, people have a tendency to groupthink, so they do not criticize lesser problems with something they agree with.

        Take the issue of Syria. Among some leftists there is a good goal to support democratic change there, yet among them some do not allow criticizing the problems of US-backed fundamentalists enough.

        Thus, it is an overgeneralization to condemn the Left for all this, but also as to some there really is a lack of addressing downsides. PEPs took the Israeli State as a good thing that somehow they try to incorporate with their left ideas, and they do not address the downsides of it.

      • Keith
        Keith
        January 28, 2014, 5:42 pm

        BILAL A – “Chomsky’s first youthful impulses took him to Israel to live in a socialist kibbutz on stolen land.”

        Yes, and he didn’t like what he saw and returned to the US (also stolen land) where he became a harsh critic of US foreign policy and of Zionist Israel. You appear to be illogically trying to tie Chomsky’s youthful stay at a kibbutz with neoliberal globalization and other disjointed rants, the purpose of which is unclear. Although I responded to Krauss’s anti-Chomsky misinformation, I generally avoid even bringing Chomsky up because of the anti-Chomsky hysteria it usually evokes.

      • W.Jones
        W.Jones
        January 29, 2014, 5:42 pm

        Keith,

        You wrote about Chomsky:

        he didn’t like what he saw and returned to the US where he became a harsh critic of US foreign policy and of Zionist Israel.

        Chomsky said that he came back to the US because of his MIT job and that otherwise he might have stayed. He said that he was a Zionist youth organizer in support of a binational state. Would you happen to know what year he became outspoken as a critic of the State, beyond his previous belief system?

        Chomsky refers to “the United States and its Israeli client”
        http://www.salon.com/2013/12/05/chomsky_israel_and_the_united_states_are_the_real_rogue_actors_in_the_middle_east/
        I remember him opposing BDS for the reason that the State was merely the client of the US.

        In Fateful Triangle, which you mentioned, Chomsky writes:

        Since these goals [taking over the territories] have long been obvious, there is little basis for condemning Israel when it exploits the position of regional power afforded it by the phenomenal quantities of U.S. aid… Complaints and accusations are indeed hypocritical as long as material assistance is provided in an unending and ever-expanding flow, along with diplomatic and ideological support, the latter, by shaping the facts of history in a convenient form.

        Then on page 46, Chomsky goes into detail about how the territories really do not provide a security benefit so much as an economic benefit, especially bringing in a labor force.

        One may conclude therefore that the main reasons for taking over the territories are economic benefits and profits as well as the facilitation that the US provides. In other words, capitalism and empire, not security. However, Chomsky does not say that capitalism is the problem, and rarely mentions capitalism in the book, and if it were up to me, I doubt that I would boil it down to that much. What do you see as Chomsky saying the cause of the Occupation is, and where does he say that?

        I like Chomsky’s general attitude of kindness toward people who suffer. And he is outspoken on the IP issue. Just in reading the book you mentioned I came across a quote that is on point with the issue with Johanssen.

        He does however say that he brings personal relations to the issue and that it may bias him. He rejects calling the IP situation Apartheid, in part because he says that in South Africa the society did relied on black labor. However, on page 46 he does describe Palestinian labor as a significant benefit from having the Occupied Territories.

        Thanks.

      • W.Jones
        W.Jones
        January 28, 2014, 4:38 pm

        Keith,

        Krauss is rephrasing his take on Chomsky’s arguments. Chomsky sees the Israeli state as a kind of US puppet, and he said that the Israeli State hurt itself in 1967 from his leftist POV by allying with the US.

        He talks about the Israeli state making a “semi-colonial” relationship to the West Bank, and notes in a different interview:

        the United States by late 1970 abandoned even a rhetorical commitment to a political settlement and was clearly supporting a very different program, namely, the Israeli program of developing and ultimately annexing substantial parts of the occupied territories…
        Israel’s development policies as well as numerous official and semi-official pronouncements make it clear that the goal is to [take over very much of the occupied territories]

        By talking about the Israeli state as a kind of puppet of the US colonialist empire, it suggests that Israeli policies are actually a reflection of US policies. To take away the imperial forces of the US would make the occupation end. (and perhaps there is limited truth in that last statement).

        I don’t know how much Chomsky gets into it, but there is a school of thought that the State is just a colony of the West. Herzl used similar language during the heyday of Europe’s spreading around the world.

        Next, Chomsky talks about how Israeli militarism is “playing the American game” (the interviewer’s term), saying that if the Israeli State does this:

        The effect on Israel will be very corrosive, both economically and psychologically… The psychological effect will be harder to estimate, but it is very significant. As long as the occupation persists, there will be an unconquerable temptation to use cheap Arab labor, which is what is happening.

        http://www.chomsky.info/interviews/197703–.htm
        Perhaps he is implying here or elsewhere that the occupation is a result of being married to the US empire, starting in 1967. Actually one may disagree and note that even in the 1950’s the Israeli State was attacking Egypt, trying to get land there, even when the US opposed the Suez war.

        Now would Chomsky actually say or admit that Israeli capitalism was the driving force for the occupation? I don’t know if he would be that clear, but I do think he would say it is a major factor. And I can see it being at least a factor. However I would be skeptical that the occupation was really something that the US is directly promoting with them. If they had the military power of the US but were not considered a puppet, wouldn’t they make the same decision to occupy the territory?

        I think it would be helpful to find more direct quotes about what Chomsky actually says about this, and whether its desire to control the territories is a decisive result of private, profit-seeking forces.

      • Keith
        Keith
        January 29, 2014, 2:15 pm

        W JONES- “By talking about the Israeli state as a kind of puppet of the US colonialist empire, it suggests that Israeli policies are actually a reflection of US policies.”

        I have never heard him refer to Israel as a puppet of the US colonialist empire. This is yet another misrepresentation of Chomsky. You should be aware that your quotes do not support your thesis. I have read a lot of Chomsky and his primary emphasis is on US foreign policy. It is an attempt to provide information to the citizenry not otherwise available in the mainstream media. His underlying analysis is that US foreign policy more or less reflects the consensus of domestic concentrations of power. This should hardly be controversial. He most certainly never said nor implied that “if we just fight capitalism then the occupation will disappear.” I suspect that he would be appalled by such advice. If you are actually interested in what Chomsky thinks, I highly recommend “Year 501: The Conquest Continues,” and specifically to the Middle East “Fateful Triangle: The United States, Israel & The Palestinians.”

      • marc b.
        marc b.
        January 28, 2014, 4:48 pm

        keith, I won’t get in on the Chomsky bashing, if that’s how you perceive it. he was certainly a formative influence in my intellectual development, such as it is. having said that, he has never been one for much in the way of prescriptive advice. he describes problems, analyzes them, mostly astutely, but I don’t recall anything like a blueprint for a solution.

      • Keith
        Keith
        January 29, 2014, 2:41 pm

        MARC B- “…he has never been one for much in the way of prescriptive advice. he describes problems, analyzes them, mostly astutely, but I don’t recall anything like a blueprint for a solution.”

        That is absolutely correct, therefore, I take it that you agree that Krauss has demonstrably misrepresented Chomsky by saying that Chomsky’s argument is that “if we just fight capitalism then the occupation will disappear.”? As for my perception of Chomsky bashing, perhaps you are not aware of how frequently I was labeled a “Chomskyite” for even suggesting that the US foreign policy was consistent with imperial power-seeking rather an exclusive result of an omnipotent Lobby? Or Phil’s orchestrated Chomsky bashing on the “Unfair to Chomsky” thread? Usually, when Chomsky is brought up by the anti-Chomsky crowd, it is to misrepresent him. Since I noticed that you didn’t comment on the “Unfair to Chomsky” thread, I am providing a link so that you can better understand my position.
        http://mondoweiss.net/2010/11/unfair-to-chomsky.html

      • hophmi
        hophmi
        January 29, 2014, 11:22 am

        “Hophmi if you think this is about capitalism all I can say is good luck to you.”

        It’s not just about capitalism, but the movers and shakers behind the pro-Palestinian movement in the West come out of that tradition, and that is one reason why they are obsessed with Israel, (and why the obsession started in 1967) but not with other, much worse human rights situations. Israel reminds them of everything they hate – it’s a state that chose the West over the USSR, and a state that is identified as the US’s ally in the region. Saddam Hussein could kill thousands of people with gas, King Saud could burn women in schools and forbid them to drive, and the Mullahs of Iran could hang homosexuals, when they’re not chopping people’s hands off for stealing, but hey, these are all countries that can claim to be victims of colonialism, so who cares?

        “Your assumption that this – anti-Zionism – is about capitalism is similarily stupid.”

        I’ve been around anti-Zionists much longer than this site has been around. I can well understand how Israel’s treatment of Palestinians in the territories, in a country with a high media presence, can make the Palestinians a cause celebre, but there’s a deeper root cause than that, because without the anti-capitalist background, it’s difficult to understand of the human rights community with this issue and the comparative non-focus on much more serious human rights situations.

      • philweiss
        philweiss
        January 29, 2014, 4:27 pm

        a lot of folks I run into came out of the LGBT Rights tradition, more than anti-capitalism. there are a lot of strains in The Palestinian Solidarity movement (more generally than the Jews in that movement).
        PS LGBT rights are now the consensus in the U.S., a few years after people said they wouldn’t have traction.

      • puppies
        puppies
        January 31, 2014, 8:25 am

        @Krauss – “Socialism and nationalism were never incompatible”
        To a lot of people, they are absolutely incompatible.
        Maybe you only paid attention to a lot of structures and people calling themselves Socialist while ignoring the most basic call of Socialism. Where it says “Workers of the world, unite”

    • Daniel Rich
      Daniel Rich
      January 28, 2014, 5:47 pm

      @ hopyou hopmi

      Q: … socialism failed …

      R: Socialism didn’t fail [watch what happens after each and every disaster or have a look all those sprawling food kitchens], the Banksters [and their handful of Wall Street henchmen| DC clowns] won.

  6. seafoid
    seafoid
    January 28, 2014, 1:26 pm

    De Blasio’s base should have known that anyone who wants to make it there and make it anywhere has to have their metaphorical front teeth removed so it’s a more pleasurable experience for AIPAC
    .
    Let the bots enjoy their time in the sun. Soon they are going to [email protected] everything up.
    Nothing screams doomed like AIPAC in sunlight

  7. doug
    doug
    January 28, 2014, 1:31 pm

    Phil,

    It may seem to you that Jewish sentiments are substantially left of center but where I live in California this is not the case. Commentary magazine, the neoconservative flagship, was published until the last decade, by the AJC. Yet it was always publishing pro Israeli articles even when Israeli social/economic culture was to the left of much of the World. You live in something of a bubble. Most of the Jews I know, upwards of 60%, lean to the right on American social issues. Yet they have long supported Israel with no regard to Israel’s culturally progressive aspects. These right of center folks rant and rave about aspects of American culture that is of, at best, tertiary importance when Israel exhibits similar liberal traits.

    I’d like to think your observations were more representative of Jewish opinion but there is a certain amount of self selection going on. What was the ratio between Commentary and Dissent readers at this event? That would be interesting.

    • philweiss
      philweiss
      January 28, 2014, 1:33 pm

      Didnt say substantially left of center. I agree with you re unanimmity that Commentary, which my liberal parents got, represented in the community for some time. But there were always currents. And this one is getting larger by the minute. It’s like Pete Seeger losing it for Communism in 56 when evidence of Stalin’s crimes became too much to bear…

      • W.Jones
        W.Jones
        January 28, 2014, 4:04 pm

        Phil,

        Seeger didn’t really lose it for Communism, although many of the more independent thinkers did leave the CPUSA at that time.

        Sure, I can see many of De Blasio’s more active and more leftist supporters, including those who are Jews, being disillusioned with him for saying that supporting the Israeli political system was practically a job description for him.

        Where you are often very optimistic seems to be about the pace at which attitudes are changing, especially in certain circles. The attitudes are changing in those circles, but whether one sees the pace as fast or slow depends on how one judges it.

        It does seem to be difficult to expect a rapid, vast change of attitudes in the Jewish community as a whole within a generation. According to Marx and others, people are motivated by self-interest. The idea of having a state dedicated to one’s own ethnic or religious identity in a place the religion focuses on seems to attract a self-interest, although I understand that self-interest may not be strong enough to make one emigrate.

        To give an analogy, it would be hard to organize Christians as a group or a Church in a European country around advocating for an end to having an official State Church, since the benefits of being a State Church are in their interests as a group. Of course, I am not saying that the attitudes of the Church or its strongest adherents are unimportant in deciding whether that happens. In a political sense, the Church would be acting as a Lobby to that end.

        Personally, although a Christian, I am fine with having a separation between Church and State. There are spiritual benefits to the Church as a result of that separation, and it helps the Church be more independent-minded.

        Also, if you lose all optimism or hope, then you have also lost something. Thanks for your work, my friend.

      • puppies
        puppies
        February 2, 2014, 5:16 am

        @Phil – The analogy with Seeger in 56 is good but shows the opposite of what you are saying. Pete made some noises that could have been interpreted as frankly critical of the (by then already former) Soviet leadership without opposing the current one; he remained committed to socialism more than ever. Just like the “currents” within the Jewish groupings and institutions now smell that something is burning and make noises somewhat critical –not of Zionism, not of Jewish fake-nationalism, but merely of “settlers”, while remaining committed to getting a Land Without (indigenous) People.
        Statistically speaking, those who count themselves as Jews still have the same big problem.

    • munro
      munro
      January 28, 2014, 2:48 pm

      Phil’s cup is always .001% full. More wishful thinking.

  8. pabelmont
    pabelmont
    January 28, 2014, 1:41 pm

    Let’s see if these AIPAC-types (or at least those that are billionaires and millionaires among them) support deB on raising taxes in NYC (or NYS) on those earning over $500,00/ann.

    An interesting quid pro quo if so.

  9. lysias
    lysias
    January 28, 2014, 2:02 pm

    Most of the American left was very much committed to the Israeli cause in the late 1940’s. Pete Seeger just died. I remember having a Weavers LP back in the 1950’s. There were a few mentions of the Israeli cause there, I believe. (I have no idea what Seeger thought of the I/P issue in later decades.)

    But the Republicans, most of them, were pro-Israel too. Dewey tried to use Israel as an issue against Truman (which is one reason Truman felt he had to support the creation of Israel). But not just Dewey. Isolationist Bob Taft, of all people, also supported the creation of Israel.

    • ThorsteinVeblen2012
      ThorsteinVeblen2012
      January 28, 2014, 2:48 pm

      I thought it was the prospect of liberal, third party candidate Henry Wallace who was vying for the New York Jewish vote that Zionist leaders said they would endorse if Truman didn’t fall in line.

      The greatest opposition Israel and a Jewish state that I am aware of was Secretary of State George C. Marshall, who’s “Marshall Plan” for the Middle East was a one state democracy.

    • W.Jones
      W.Jones
      January 28, 2014, 3:39 pm

      Arlo Guthrie and Seeger singing Tzena Tzena.
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=12FmPyEqXvc
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QZ5v651bQ1o

      What is this song?

      • jon s
        jon s
        January 28, 2014, 4:29 pm

        Tzena Tzena is a Hebrew song written during WW2 by Yehiel Hagiz (lyrics) and Issachar Meron.
        The words “tzena tzena” mean “come out, come out”, in the feminine. It’s a call to “the girls ” to come out and see the soldiers marching through the village or town (the soldiers being the men of the Jewish Yishuv who enlisted in the British Army at the time, to fight the Nazis).
        I suppose it would be considered sexist today.

      • philweiss
        philweiss
        January 29, 2014, 4:30 pm

        Thanks for that Jon, amazing video. That guy with the eyebrows has charisma

      • Light
        Light
        January 28, 2014, 4:41 pm

        What is this song?

        http://www.richardsilverstein.com/2004/01/04/tzena-tzena-an-old-hebrew-chestnut/

        Hebrew transliteration:

        Tzena, tzena, tzena ha-b’not u-r’eina
        Chayalim ba-moshava
        Al na, Al na, Al na, al na titchabeyna
        Mi ben chayil, ish tzava

        Translation:

        Go out, go out, go out young women and see
        Soliders from our moshav.
        Do not, do not, do not hide yourself away from
        A brave son, a man of the army.

  10. American
    American
    January 28, 2014, 2:09 pm

    ‘We have to organize but we also have to hit the American interest piece of this. I don’t particularly agree with it, but can you imagine signs saying, The mayor has said that his “job description” is supporting a foreign country?”..Phil

    Been telling you that is the way to go whether you agree with it or not.
    You need to go for the politicans on this foreign loyalty (sell out)…..’first’ and ‘before’ … it becomes aimed at and any more associated with the Jewish community.

    “He insulted us.”…Phil

    And if Jews do coalesce around this tactic , you cant make it about a defense of yourselves specifically, it has to be Jews making it about the country.

    Take some non Jewish advice for a change, this is the way to kill all three birds with one stone.

    • Daniel Rich
      Daniel Rich
      January 28, 2014, 5:53 pm

      @ American,

      Q: … this is the way to kill all three birds with one stone.

      R: Killing with Einstein? Are you sure?

  11. jon s
    jon s
    January 28, 2014, 5:00 pm

    Phil writes: “Zionism won inside Jewish life, even converting the formerly-socialist Forward newspaper. But Zionism has failed.”
    So what is it? Won or failed?
    I agree that Zionism won in the American Jewish community, in the sense that the vast majority support the concept of Israel as a Jewish state, though not necessarily every Israeli policy or action. Is that going to change? It will be a cold day in hell when it does.
    And Zionism isn’t a failure – it succeeded in it’s primary mission . It started as a small minority in the Jewish world and succeeded, against all odds, in establishing a Jewish state ,home to around half of the Jews in the world and supported the vast majority of the rest. Some failure.

  12. January 28, 2014, 5:01 pm

    May I please be allowed to give a plug? wsws.org. The World Socialist Website. One of the finest news/analysis sites on the web. Always fun to read their version of something vs. the Times. Good for many a laugh. Also excellent, if unduly harsh, arts reviews.

  13. adele
    adele
    January 28, 2014, 5:25 pm

    Phil referenced the book, “Imagine: Living in a Socialist USA” and thought I would share this video which I came across the other day when googling the book.

    Prior to the book’s launch the editors and contributors held a forum in NYC a couple of months back.
    Left Forum 2013: Imagine Living in a Socialist USA

  14. January 28, 2014, 8:04 pm

    Philip points out that the six people who angrily brought up de Blasio with him are all Jewish. This is notable but I think that a majority of Jews in NYC are happy that DeBlazio implied that he was working for Israel. Matthew Hiltzik was pointed out as the person who probably recruited DeBlazio for Israel. Of course Hiltzik is also Jewish. Is it anti-Semitic to point this out or is this identification only something that other Jews can get away with ? The dishonesty and distortion of all this is not lost on the US population. A similar distortion and dishonesty is noted in the case of the NY State legislature and their ASA bill. You would think that Jews should be the first people to support justice and fairness; but where the West Bank and Gaza are concerned there is a level of emotionality and irrationality that is totally over-the-top. This is not good for the Palestinians but it also not constructive for the Jews in the long term.

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