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DC Jewish Comm’y Center to stage panel on 1948 history — without Palestinians

Israel/Palestine
on 15 Comments

Embracing_Democracy_Banner_-_low_resIn two weeks, the Washington DC Jewish Community Center is holding an event about the new history of the creation of Israel:

Embracing Democracy: Examining the History of 1948

The creation of the State of Israel and its subsequent victory over the assembled Arab armies arrayed against it was widely regarded as a modern miracle in 1948. The War of Independence, coming after the trauma of the Shoah and fulfilling an ancient longing for a return to Zion, made for a heroic moment in Israeli and Jewish consciousness. In the years since, different historians have helped to uncover the more complex history of the war and its aftermath, even as that history has become an object of political debate. Our panel will discuss the developments in the historical research of 1948, the uses of that history and its impact on contemporary political discussions.

The historical research the community center refers to is the work  of the new historians, and the growing awareness in the west that 750,000 Palestinians were ethnically-cleansed during the Nakba. Those Palestinians fled or were expelled, then were not allowed to return to their homes in the new country of Israel lest they dilute the nation’s Jewish majority.

Here’s the panel:

Moderator, Dahlia Lithwick, senior editor at Slate

Panelists include:

Professor Donna Robinson Divine, Morningstar Family Foundation Professor of Government and Director of Middle East Studies at Smith College
Shay Hazkani, Visiting Scholar at Berkeley Institute for Jewish Law and Israeli Law, Economy and Society
Dr. Yehuda Kurtzer, President of the Shalom Hartman Institute of North America

Lithwick lately went to Israel on a celebrate-Israel tour. Donna Robinson Divine is a serious scholar, and very pro-Israel; see this post deriding Israeli apartheid week and bragging about Brandeis University’s support for Israel. Hazkani is an Israeli, per Berkeley. Kurtzer’s institute is a pro-Israel organization that works with the Israeli army.

And that’s your panel, to address ethnic cleansing of Palestinians before a Washington DC audience? Hazkani is impressive, but do the victims get to narrate?

One of our big themes on this site is that the requirement to support Israel has made American Jews stupid. This is further evidence. It’s almost worth paying the $15, to hear how they deal with the Nakba.

P.S. Speaking of the Jewish cocoon, the night before the Nakba event, Ari Shavit, author of My Promised Land, will be at a Washington, DC, synagogue for a conversation with Leon Wieseltier, who is somewhat to Shavit’s right. Shavit’s book has gained attention because he discusses the Nakba (The New Yorker published that chapter). But again, expect no real openness to the victims’ perspective.

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15 Responses

  1. Talkback
    Talkback
    January 8, 2014, 6:23 pm

    Presented to you by “Jews for History” in association with “Jews for Earth rotation” and “Jews for linear time concept”.

    • annie
      annie
      January 8, 2014, 8:56 pm

      in association with “Jews for Earth rotation” and “Jews for linear time concept”.

      ok, i had to choke on my evening cocktail, it made me swallow the wrong way. that’s too funny.

      • Talkback
        Talkback
        January 9, 2014, 8:56 am

        Glad you “took” it this way, Annie :D

  2. just
    just
    January 8, 2014, 6:28 pm

    There’s another polar vortex in the air.

    I smell desperation. They’re circling the wagons as never before. It’s flop sweat.

    FLOP SWEAT
    : nervous sweat (as of a performer) caused especially by the fear of failing

    (merriam- webster)

    “One of our big themes on this site is that the requirement to support Israel has made American Jews stupid. This is further evidence. It’s almost worth paying the $15, to hear how they deal with the Nakba.”

    LOLOL!

  3. traintosiberia
    traintosiberia
    January 8, 2014, 8:16 pm

    It reminds me of the conference on Holocaust in Iran.

  4. pabelmont
    pabelmont
    January 8, 2014, 8:21 pm

    Quote from Announcement: “In the years since [1948], different historians have helped to uncover the more complex history of the war and its aftermath, even as that history has become an object of political debate. ”

    If the historians had to “uncover” the “more complex history”, then someone was covering it up. [Ahem; well, duh!] What I meant to say was that the covering up of the full story has always been a political-manipulative thing, a story-telling aiming at developing support for Israel among diaspora Jews by exposing Israeli heroism and bravery and by covering up any crimes, treachery, cruelty, and so forth that were [ahem; may have been] committed by Jewish/Israeli forces along the way.

    My first guess is that this conference is PROPERLY a Jews only meeting, because its real topic is not the I/P history but, rather, the manipulation of diaspora Jews by Israel and its hasbaristas.

    My second guess is that this meeting will not go very far toward revisionism, will not demand BETTER story-telling by the Jewish Establishment, the Hebrew Schools, the synagogues, the BIG-ZION organizations, etc. Imagine what might happen (for the discussion of the announced topic) if Blumenthal were on the panel, or Phil, or Finkelstein, or Chomsky. No: they are playing it safe. Baby steps.

    Remember: every one of them hopes that a good-for-Israel two-state-solution will be resolved (no matter how Palestinian arms are twisted to get there), and that the real stories need not be told — in full horror — until AFTER success has crowned and ended the I/P conflict. So looking at revisionist history in a deep way will — if my guesses are right — wait until the PA signs on the dotted line adn BDS is a dead letter, perhaps “not in my lifetime.”

  5. Taxi
    Taxi
    January 8, 2014, 11:38 pm

    “The creation of the State of Israel and its subsequent victory over the assembled Arab armies arrayed against it was widely regarded as a modern miracle in 1948”

    A “miracle?!!! So that’s what they call the secret amassing of western guns and firepower?

    Do them DC jews even know how to spell ‘Nakba’? Do they know how to even spell ‘Truth’?

    Eff ’em! Boring, boring, boring LIARS! I’m sick of them!

  6. PeaceThroughJustice
    PeaceThroughJustice
    January 8, 2014, 11:47 pm

    “Professor Donna Robinson Divine, Morningstar Family Foundation Professor of Government and Director of Middle East Studies at Smith College”

    The SPME bio gives a slightly different title for Prof. Divine: “Morningstar Family Professor of Jewish Studies, and Professor of Government Smith College.”

    “I began to undertake serious work on the Middle East as an undergraduate at Brandeis University. … I found my way to SPME as I watched what was happening at Columbia because when I studied at the school, there was an environment that placed a high value on analysis and scholarly rigor and attached no importance or respect to arguments in the classroom based on personal political viewpoints. Moreover, Israel was fully integrated into the study of the Middle East with Israelis and Palestinians sitting around the same seminar table in discussions not accusations. My commitment to the work of SPME is a commitment to restore the study of the Middle East to the scholarly status it once possessed.

    (This anonymous testimonial gives a taste of SPME’s appeal: “My interest in SPME stems from looking for resources for combating anti-semitism and anti-Israel sentiments at my college. It is my solitary battle as the only Jewish employee (and faculty member) on campus. The articles that I have read on the SPME site have helped educate me and given me objective information for discussion, presentation material in the classroom and for library displays.Unfortunately, in order for me to not worry about job retention I cannot post for public viewing the reasons for my involvement with SPME as of yet. Hopefully one day soon my work environment will be more hospitable.”)

    I can appreciate the sense of embarrassment, and Divine may indeed be a “serious scholar,” but hiding the fact that someone is Jewish serves no constructive purpose.

  7. Citizen
    Citizen
    January 9, 2014, 4:00 am

    There are up to 250,000 Palestinian Americans, and most of them are Christians. 46% have a least a college degree, as compared to 18% of the American population. Why not invite one of them when you plan a panel to discuss the history of the creation of the state of Israel?

  8. Peter in SF
    Peter in SF
    January 9, 2014, 4:33 am

    The title of this series, Embracing Democracy, is curious.
    http://washingtondcjcc.org/center-for-arts/israel.html

    Join the Washington DCJCC in a community-wide conversation with leading experts exploring the relationship between the American Jewish community and Israel, its history and its politics. Through panels, literary, film and theater programs, we will begin to bridge the polarization that has beset the American Jewish community around Israel.

    Is the DCJCC proclaiming its advocacy of embracing democracy in Israel? Or is the title intended to suggest that this is a series about how Israel is embracing democracy? Or maybe it’s about embracing democracy in “the American Jewish community”?
    A sidebar on the page says, with boldface in original:

    The Washington DCJCC stands firmly in support of Israel as an independent Jewish state.

    Adding to the mystery:

    The programs of Embracing Democracy are sponsored by an anonymous donor who has provided a challenge grant to generate support for this community undertaking.

  9. Krauss
    Krauss
    January 9, 2014, 6:13 am

    Phil, the Jewish Daily Forward has put up a video about a panel discussion on Jewish debate/censorship surrounding Zionism that their editor-in-cheif, Jane Eisner, moderated:

    http://video.forward.com/video/Our-Relations-with-Israel

    (The event was about a month ago but the video was very recently uploaded)
    As it happens, the event was also from D.C.

    It’s about the Jewish discussion on Israel and censorship. Curiously, it gets into the issue of dual loyalty and they talk about Walt/Mearsheimer as well as Max Blumenthal.

    The debate surrounding dual loyalty is centered around the Iranian issue. Robert Wexner says he doesn’t even want to have the debate after a liberal rabbi raises the issue.

    What happens next is interesting. Makovsky, the conservative, echoes Wexner (the democrat) but Weintraub then backpedals but end up in the same place. After all, if the two countries’ objectives are different and you become antagonistic towards the U.S. government, what exactly happens?

    The discussion panel is little under 50 minutes, but it’s really a very potent encapsulation of the current debate climate inside the Jewish community. Tobin, of Commentary, hyped Blumenthal a lot. He fears the new discourse on the left.
    Makovsky went a step further, equating David Duke to Stephen Walt.
    Rabbi Melissa Weintraub frankly talkes about the donor pressures that her rabbis face on Israel and that many are unafraid to talk about any issue from guns to abortion but that Israel is off the map, because they could easily lose their job.

    (Also, fun fact, Makovsky the Likudnik/pro-settler Zionist talked about how a few years ago, PBS actually bent to his will when he was scheduled to appear on a debate when he found out that Walt was to be on the same panel and insisted that Walt would be removed.

    So let’s that straight: PBS, a supposedly liberal TV station, removesWalt the liberal academic in favour of a pro-Apartheid pro-settler ethnic nationalist because the racist’s feelings are hurt. This is an amazing thing, if you think about it, about the state of American discourse – and the extent to which non-Jewish media is willing to bend over backwards and attack even liberal Americans in favour of pro-Apartheid Likudniks.)

    • Citizen
      Citizen
      January 10, 2014, 7:03 am

      @ Krauss
      Thanks for that video link. The discussion is all you say it is and more. Makovsky not only equated Walt to Duke, but he threw in Mearsheimer too. There was not a single bit of discussion about their POVs, just that they all crossed the line in terms of being acceptable as participants to be given a Jewish forum or Jewish funding. When he told his little story about getting PBS to disinvite Walt, nobody asked any questions; instead Weintraub brought Blumenthal’s name into the discussion as an example of who some Jews say should not be given an entry ticket to the Jewish community internal debates about Israel and Israel-US comparative interests.
      Wexner said one should be able to point out differences in US versus Israeli interests, if memory serves.

      Makovsky got upset at the thought if he said he supported Bibi’s POV on Iran, not Obama’s, somebody might suggest his dual loyalty was showing.

      As you say, “After all, if the two countries’ objectives are different and you become antagonistic towards the U.S. government, what exactly happens?”

      Nobody spoke plainly. For example nobody outright said Bibi wants to bomb Iran, and wants to increase sanctions on Iran to grease the way, and is that in USA’s best interests? Would it be good for USA to engage in another war in the Middle East, especially with as big a player as Iran over there?

      Similary, Blumenthal’s name was tossed around, but nobody touched the contents of his book, following it up with US values versus Israeli values at ground level.

      The more I think about it, the only meat on that long video bone was Weintraub stating that rabbis can’t even talk with a critical eye about Israel or they will lose their jobs. So, that’s the state of Judaism in America today. Pretty bleak.

      • annie
        annie
        January 11, 2014, 1:06 am

        Weintraub was awesome,and they cut her at around 45 min, cut to Makovsky who then says no one should be censored! so what did she say that was so out of bounds.

        check out the men’s expressions on either side of Weintraub @ 52 min or thereabouts. she was awesome. the men, yuk. also Weintraub at the beginning “death by israel sermon”.

        ;) i loved her. women are the solution.

      • Citizen
        Citizen
        January 11, 2014, 8:54 am

        @ Annie Robbins
        I agree, she was better than the men. My quibble with her was that when Makovsky trotted out his smug little story about how he got PBS to drop Walt, in keeping with her otherwise persistent objective to get the men to address the subject, she didn’t respond to him by saying something like, “Well interesting little story, so maybe it’s an example of what some say is a successful attempt to block full discussion on the matter of Israel-US relations within our community?

        Women are the solution? How about Sarah P? Or Bachmann? Historically, Golda Meir? Thatcher? The test of virtue is power. Hillary?

      • annie
        annie
        January 11, 2014, 11:20 am

        i didn’t mean all or every women citizen. those men should not be marginalizing her. eisner ask her to frame the debate, and then the guys poop all over her ideas, which make total sense.

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