The other day we did a post on rightwing Zionists in Philadelphia boo-ing Alan Dershowitz because he opposes some Israeli settlements in the “West Bank,” which those religious rightwingers refer to as Judea and Samaria.
Here are two more incidents highlighting the same fracture inside the Israel lobby, between rightwing red-hots and mainstream Zionists. The stories portend further ultra outbreaks as mainstream organizations shift to try and reflect liberal Zionist opinion. Notice in the second case that a campus Hillel is the bad guy.
First, Gary Rosenblatt in The Jewish Week reports that in a New York appearance, the New York Times’ Ethan Bronner — who is widely understood to be a liberal Zionist — came under criticism from young American Jews who have signed up for “Write-On,” a propaganda campaign for the Jewish state.
In an hour of frank discussion on Sunday afternoon at Park Avenue Synagogue, Bronner, clearly frustrated at times, appeared to have limited success in convincing about 100 high school juniors and seniors that the Times’ goal was to cover the conflict fairly rather than to “besmirch Israel.”
The teens were participants in Write On For Israel, the two-year Jewish Week-sponsored Israel education program with an emphasis on journalism….
“I believe my goal is to seek the truth and tell it in the most sophisticated way I can,” he said to the teens, who were joined for the day by 31 students from the Reali high school in Haifa, Israel. He noted that in responding to a woman who had questioned how he, as a Jew, could criticize Israel, he said that conveying the truth best serves the Jewish state.
Then there’s this story at a Jewish news site, of an event at Washington University in St Louis, featuring the Israeli dissident veterans group Breaking the Silence, sponsored by Hillel and J Street. Writer Hen Mazzig is an Israeli soldier conscripted by the rightwing Zionist group StandWithUs to bring propaganda about Israel to the U.S.
Mazzig is scary; he’s perfectly prepared to argue that black is white. Read his celebration of Palestinian human rights as an occupying soldier…
The former soldier [with Breaking the Silence], Oded Na’aman, claimed that Israeli soldiers are trained to oppress the Palestinians individually and as a people, that they maliciously mistreat Palestinians in the West Bank, and that they are taught to make Palestinians fear Israeli soldiers. He argued that there are no civil rights for Palestinians and that the Jewish people who now have a state use their power to oppress Palestinians.
I had no idea what he was talking about or what motivated him to lie.
He did not describe the Israel or IDF that I know so intimately.
As a reservist and a soldier, I had been stationed in the West Bank. My job was to protect the Palestinians’ human rights, coordinate humanitarian aid, and tend to the needs of civilians living in the West Bank. I always felt that Israel’s concern for the welfare of the Palestinians was impressive, and I was proud to be part of it…
[T]he organizers and sponsors made it very clear that there would be no dialogue. They handed out a list of rules that included not telling anyone what was said in the room, how we needed to allow our beliefs to be challenged, and how we should be accepting of the speaker’s comments. The sponsors didn’t even allow us to openly ask questions. We could only write them on a piece of paper, and then they would choose which ones to ask the speaker. Clearly, they did not want the speaker to be challenged.
It was very hard to understand how the speaker represented “Breaking the Silence” when I was being silenced.
I couldn’t understand why the speaker was being praised that night. I couldn’t understand why someone who was dedicated to misrepresenting Israel and its moral character was given credibility. I was hurt that I was silenced while someone lied about my experience. The organizations who invited this man, J Street U and Hillel, had no interest in how I helped uphold human rights. They didn’t want me to speak about it, though I openly made myself available to them that night.
The organizers said they love Israel. But by praising lies and misinformation, they made it clear that their “loving Israel” is only an empty façade.