There were so many truly sickening staged events at the AIPAC Conference this year that I cannot even imagine keeping a detached journalistic perspective if I were actually in attendance. Maybe it is just as well that AIPAC does not give press credentials to those who are critical of its projects of threatening Iran and oppressing Palestinians.
It is more than enough to watch this vaudeville show on the Net where you can curse and mute it at will, and if you have the desire, you can report, tweet or comment with the comfort of the knowledge that you are hundreds of miles away from these Zionist lunatics. If these people make up the nation of the Jewish people that they insist the Palestinian Authority recognize, there could be no better argument for calling that nation’s very existence into question.
We all have seen this act before, so there is little I want to write about the shameless strutting and waving of banners of Israeli altruism, innovation, and democracy. This year’s version of the conference seems a bit slicker, and the political actors are a bit less hysterical than in previous versions. The persons of color are more polished and numerous than in the past. (As a type, at Tuesday, 9:10 AM EST, they have trotted out a Chicana supporter at the podium. She was soon followed by Donna Brazile.) The politicians are as cloying and as obsequious as ever.
As Phil Ochs sang, “Here comes the big parade, don’t be afraid, the price is paid, one more parade.”
I heard a rumor that some AIPAC organizers were bitterly disappointed that John Kerry did not dance while intoning “am yisrael chai” [long live the people (nation) of Israel] as he had promised. However, you cannot believe Net rumors and AIPACers tend to speak hyperbolically.
[The previous sentence is meant to indicate that this paragraph also should be understood as hyperbole and the author does not intend to state or imply that John Kerry actually promised that he would dance while saying “am yisrael chai.”]
See Kerry saying “am yisrael chai” from the AIPAC podium from 40:36.
The real entertainment for last night was David Broza. I actually find this more depressing than anything else about this year’s conference. In the seventies, Broza sang and wrote the music to lyrics composed by Jonathan Geffen for the haunting ballad Yihyeh Tov (It will be alright). That song became a peace anthem in Israel, and to a lesser extent among Jewish youth worldwide during the decade of the eighties. I remember listening to it and being assured (it turns out falsely) that Israel was more than a nation of war-crazed generals.
I do not know much about Broza, although I like his music. His songs are not political, although my understanding is that he is part of the so-called Israeli peace camp. I know he appeared at a peace event with Miko Peled in Utica, New York last year. The liberal Zionist American-Israeli writer Emily Hauser tweeted me that she “heard @DavidBroza talk about peace, & the truth is we should be glad he’s there talking to these [AIPAC] folks.”
The appearance of Broza at AIPAC elicits a number of strong emotions for me but gladness is not one of them. The two Hebrew phrases in my twitter post are my message to the Israeli entertainer. They are taken directly from his iconic song.
It is not alright.
The prophet has become a clown.
The song version above was chosen for my tweet solely because it contains English subtitles. A version from the 70s which presents the a much more humble, honest, less self-promoting performance of Broza’s song that captured the imagination of many, can be seen here.
English lyrics here.
Hebrew lyrics here.
Update: I just found this recent article on Broza in Phil’s old paper, The New York Observer. It is titled “David Broza on Peace, Politics and Playing Music.” The story by Matthew Kassel does not mention that Broza would be the main entertainment at this year’s AIPAC conference.