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Can the US Congress bring justice for the Palestinians?: A response to Robert Naiman

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The United States Congress has been placing obstacles in the path of a just resolution of the Arab-Israeli conflict since the 1956 Suez War.

In that conflict, Israel, in collusion with France and Britain, attacked Egypt and occupied the Gaza Strip and the Sinai Peninsula.  President Eisenhower demanded that Israel withdraw from those territories and sought to impose sanctions if it did not.  In terms that sound positively naïve today, Eisenhower asked, “Should a nation which attacks and occupies foreign territory in the face of United Nations disapproval be allowed to impose conditions on its own withdrawal?”  Lyndon B. Johnson, then Senate Majority Leader, and Minority Leader William F. Knowland strenuously opposed the president’s policy.  Eisenhower rebuked them, saying, “America has either one voice or none, and that voice is the voice of the President – whether everybody agrees with him or not.” [1]  Israel resisted for several months, and finally, under U.S. and Soviet pressure, withdrew.

Since then, Congress has consistently, and often more successfully, obstructed Palestinian-Israeli peace, in both symbolic and material ways.  Most egregiously, it annually votes, with only scattered nays, to provide Israel with some $3 billion in military aid.  During Operation Protective Edge – Israel’s assault on the Gaza Strip in July-August 2014 – the Senate, by unanimous consent, adopted Resolution 498 announcing that, “The United States firmly and resolutely stands with Israel.”  This extraordinary statement obliterates any distinction between the interests of Israel and those of the United States.  On August 14, before leaving for recess, the House voted an additional $225 million in aid for Israel.  The Senate had unanimously adopted the measure two weeks earlier.

Robert Naiman’s Truthout op-ed, “Attacking J Street Won’t Bring Justice for Palestinians” is based on the fundamentally flawed premise that appealing to Congress can bring about a just resolution of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.  Naiman is impatient with those who argue that, “because of its conduct during the recent Gaza war, J Street should die and be supplanted by Jewish Voice for Peace.”  He does not identify anyone who has actually posed the issue in these terms, and I am not aware of anyone who has.  It is not the stated policy of JVP.

Naiman goes on to criticize JVP for not engaging with Congress effectively.  But his “explanations” for this supposed “failure” are all false.  JVP does not ignore Congress because it is based in California; it is a national organization with 65 chapters and offices in Oakland, CA and New York.  JVP does not underestimate the importance of engaging with Congress because of its membership in the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation.  Many JVPers have lobbied members of Congress for years.  The San Francisco Bay Area has a longstanding relationship with Representative Barbara Lee (D-CA), although it cannot claim to have moved her much on this issue.  What is the evidence for the claim that some JVPers “seem to have an existential hatred of J Street”?  Is Naiman qualified to render a psychological diagnosis?  J Street has consistently lined up with the American Jewish establishment to exclude JVP.  Has that in any way undermined joint action on occasions when it might be possible?

The issue is not, as Naiman poses it, whether J Street or JVP is “more progressive.”  JVP opposed Operation Protective Edge.  J Street supported it.  Was there any basis for collaboration between the two organizations in the summer of 2014?

If J Street’s influence wanes, it will be because its strategy has failed.  After six years, its congressional lobbying has resulted in zero concrete results.  Despite J Street’s vigorous supported for a Democratic president who entered office verbally committed to Israel-Palestine peacemaking, congressional obstruction has become more obdurate.  During his May 2011 visit to Washington Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu testily rejected President Obama’s position that the 1967 borders should be the basis of an Israeli-Palestinian peace.  Despite his insulting public dismissal of the president’s views, Netanyahu went on to receive 29 standing ovations during his address to a joint session of Congress.

Given this history, counting on Congress to make a positive contribution to Palestinian-Israeli peace without changing anything else fits Albert Einstein’s definition of insanity: doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.  The point is not that we should ignore Congress, but that we should understand that Congress will likely be one of the last institutions to move on this issue.  The way to get Congress to move is to emphasize a grassroots movement building strategy to change the balance of forces so that Congress will feel compelled to pay attention.  Attempting to influence Congress without sufficient street heat is a proven failure.

Notes

1 Robert Divine, Eisenhower and the Cold War (New York: Oxford University Press, 1981), 64-66.

Joel Beinin
About Joel Beinin

Joel Beinin is the Donald J. McLachlan Professor of History and Professor of Middle East History at Stanford University.  His most recent books are Social Movements, Mobilization, and Contestation in the Middle East and North Africa 2nd edition (Stanford University Press, 2013), co-edited with Frédéric Vairel and The Struggle for Worker Rights in Egypt (Solidarity Center, 2010).

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31 Responses

  1. just
    just
    September 29, 2014, 2:44 pm

    ” The point is not that we should ignore Congress, but that we should understand that Congress will likely be one of the last institutions to move on this issue. The way to get Congress to move is to emphasize a grassroots movement building strategy to change the balance of forces so that Congress will feel compelled to pay attention. Attempting to influence Congress without sufficient street heat is a proven failure.”

    Exactly. Thanks Joel.

    (btw, are we so used to war now that it’s a foregone conclusion and nobody cares?)

    • RoHa
      RoHa
      September 29, 2014, 8:08 pm

      Yes. We have always been at war with Eastasia.

  2. Horizontal
    Horizontal
    September 29, 2014, 5:46 pm

    Agreed.

    The Vietnam war didn’t end when congress suddenly “got it.” It took years and thousands of people in the streets, college “teach-ins” and body count victories leading the evening news.

    Of course, we also had the draft, so sooner or later it became a very personal decision whether or not fighting in Vietnam was worth your own skin. Those in congress today never have to face that particular decision, which allows them to inflict all sorts of bad decisions on us little people . . .

    But, yeah, you need some sort of heat to pierce that bubble those elites have made for themselves. Otherwise, it’s no soap.

    • Gene Shae
      Gene Shae
      September 29, 2014, 11:10 pm

      Wrong. The protests stopped when the draft stopped. Years before the war ended and the Americans came home. The protestors were protesting against being drafted. Once that fear ended, their concerns about the war abated.

      • annie
        annie
        September 30, 2014, 9:30 am

        The protests stopped when the draft stopped. Years before the war ended and the Americans came home.

        nope. tho the war ended w/the fall of saigon, american troops, for the most part came back in 73. and POW’s were released in ’73.

        the draft ended Jan. 27, 1973. on that same date:

        timeline http://www.historyplace.com/unitedstates/vietnam/index-1969.html

        January 27, 1973 – The Paris Peace Accords are signed by the U.S., North Vietnam, South Vietnam and the Viet Cong. Under the terms, the U.S. agrees to immediately halt all military activities and withdraw all remaining military personnel within 60 days. The North Vietnamese agree to an immediate cease-fire and the release of all American POWs within 60 days. An estimated 150,000 North Vietnamese soldiers presently in South Vietnam are allowed to remain. Vietnam is still divided. South Vietnam is considered to be one country with two governments, one led by President Thieu, the other led by Viet Cong, pending future reconciliation.

        January 27, 1973 – Secretary of Defense Melvin Laird announces the draft is ended in favor of voluntary enlistment.

        January 27, 1973 – The last American soldier to die in combat in Vietnam, Lt. Col. William B. Nolde, is killed.

        February 12, 1973 – Operation Homecoming begins the release of 591 American POWs from Hanoi.

        March 29, 1973 – The last remaining American troops withdraw from Vietnam as President Nixon declares “the day we have all worked and prayed for has finally come.”

        …..

        June 19, 1973 – The U.S. Congress passes the Case-Church Amendment which forbids any further U.S. military involvement in Southeast Asia, effective August 15, 1973. The veto-proof vote is 278-124 in the House and 64-26 in the Senate.

        The Amendment paves the way for North Vietnam to wage yet another invasion of the South, this time without fear of U.S. bombing.….

        July 1973 – The U.S. Navy removes mines from ports in North Vietnam which had been installed during Operation Linebacker.

        July 16, 1973 – The U.S. Senate Armed Forces Committee begins hearings into the secret bombing of Cambodia during 1969-70.

        July 17, 1973 – Secretary of Defense James Schlesinger testifies before the Armed Forces Committee that 3500 bombing raids were launched into Cambodia to protect American troops by targeting NVA positions. The extent of Nixon’s secret bombing campaign angers many in Congress and results in the first call for Nixon’s impeachment.

        August 14, 1973 – U.S. bombing activities in Cambodia are halted in accordance with the Congressional ban resulting from the Case-Church amendment.

        Vietnam War http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vietnam_War

        Direct U.S. military involvement ended on 15 August 1973 as a result of the Case–Church Amendment passed by the U.S. Congress.[40] The capture of Saigon by the North Vietnamese Army in April 1975 marked the end of the war, and North and South Vietnam were reunified the following year.

        ……

        On 15 March 1973, President Nixon implied that the United States would intervene militarily if the communist side violated the ceasefire. Public and congressional reaction to Nixon’s trial balloon was unfavorable and in April Nixon appointed Graham Martin as U.S. ambassador to Vietnam. Martin was a second stringer compared to previous U.S. ambassadors and his appointment was an early signal that Washington had given up on Vietnam.[citation needed] During his confirmation hearings in June 1973, Secretary of Defense James R. Schlesinger stated that he would recommend resumption of U.S. bombing in North Vietnam if North Vietnam launched a major offensive against South Vietnam. On 4 June 1973, the U.S. Senate passed the Case–Church Amendment to prohibit such intervention.[257]

        ……. The Viet Cong resumed offensive operations when the dry season began and by January 1974 it had recaptured the territory it lost during the previous dry season. After two clashes that left 55 South Vietnamese soldiers dead, President Thieu announced on 4 January that the war had restarted and that the Paris Peace Accord was no longer in effect. There had been over 25,000 South Vietnamese casualties during the ceasefire period.[258]

        Gerald Ford took over as U.S. president on 9 August 1974 after president Nixon resigned due to the Watergate scandal. At this time, Congress cut financial aid to South Vietnam from $1 billion a year to $700 million. The U.S. midterm elections in 1974 brought in a new Congress dominated by Democrats who were even more determined to confront the president on the war. Congress immediately voted in restrictions on funding and military activities to be phased in through 1975 and to culminate in a total cutoff of funding in 1976.

        ….

        Evacuation of CIA station personnel by Air America on 29 April 1975.

        The war ended April 30, 1975, with the fall of saigon and south vietnamese surrender.

      • Horizontal
        Horizontal
        September 30, 2014, 9:46 pm

        @ Gene ~

        Generally, you can’t just say crap and leave it at that. At least, not on this site. And not to someone who actually lived through those times.

        You said:

        “The protestors (sp) were protesting against being drafted.”

        And why were they protesting against being drafted?

        Because they were spoiled, self-centered cowards.

        Well, maybe some, but mainly because they felt that the reasons for fighting the war were bogus and that it was immoral. Who wants to die for a lie? Many of these same protesters were also at the forefront of the early protests for equal rights, women’s rights and the environmental movement. Do you think that these same movements sprang up at the same time out of nowhere? The Vietnam War was just one front in a rapidly changing landscape which featured questioning previous assumptions about privilege, wealth, corporate power and American’s larger role in the world.

        To dismiss all this as you attempted to do only makes your comments look as if they are attempting to address shallow and uniformed concerns. And I’m wondering why you’d want to do that?

    • RoHa
      RoHa
      September 30, 2014, 8:53 pm

      Americans never seem to remember that from 64 to 73 South Korea sent 300,000 troops to Vietnam.

      There were thousands (don’t know how many in total) of Thai soldiers.

      Australia sent a total of. 60,000 troops to back up the Americans in their stupid war. (Total disaster. We’ll never do that again, right?)

      (And, of course, they were more effective than the Americans, but the Americans refused to learn from them.)

    • Gene Shae
      Gene Shae
      October 1, 2014, 3:26 pm

      Dear Horizontal,
      Thank you for the detailed and emotive response.
      My point was not to judge or even qualify those who protested. They are brave people who stood for a cause. We always need people like that.
      My point was that it was not the protesters who changed the will of the powers that be who decided to end the war. I believe that other factors had more influence.

      • annie
        annie
        October 1, 2014, 7:31 pm

        The protestors were protesting against being drafted. Once that fear ended, their concerns about the war abated…… My point … it was not the protesters who changed the will of the powers that be who decided to end the war.

        that’s not very convincing gene. one doesn’t follow the other, logically. nor does claiming they were “brave people” standing for a cause. #Fail

        btw, i was there. i wasn’t protesting the draft, i was protesting the war. and we made it very uncomfortable for politicians/powers.

        it was the climate and the exposure. watergate added to that climate we had criminals in charge. you can’t divorce the protesters from the climate in america during vietnam. and what would be the point? to send the message public opinion is irrelevant? if that were the case, in today’s world, israel wouldn’t be engaged in the war of public opinion. bush wouldn’t have forbid the viewing of dead american troops coming back from iraq. of course it matters.

      • Gene Shae
        Gene Shae
        October 1, 2014, 7:59 pm

        “By 1971, changes had been made to the draft to make it more fair and the protests subsided.”

        I know that the protestors want to take more credit, that is a human bias.

        Public opinion is extremely important. The protests, however, were not

        Maybe you can educate me. Why did Nixon win in such a landslide?

  3. EChandler
    EChandler
    September 29, 2014, 6:44 pm

    ” JVP does not ignore Congress because it is based in California; it is a national organization with 65 chapters and offices in Oakland, CA and New York. JVP does not underestimate the importance of engaging with Congress because of its membership in the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation. Many JVPers have lobbied members of Congress for years. The San Francisco Bay Area has a longstanding relationship with Representative Barbara Lee (D-CA), although it cannot claim to have moved her much on this issue. ”

    It was surprising and bewildering to see a piece that on examination, lacked any credibility on JVP’s positions and work from Robert Naiman. Nice to have someone who is familiar, or took the time to research JVP’s positions, Congressional work and paid attention to how each organization reacted to Israel’s Operation Protective edge writing about it.

  4. American
    American
    September 29, 2014, 8:31 pm

    On September 8, Rep. Danny Davis from Chicago became the third Member of Congress to issue a public statement calling for an end to the blockade of Gaza, joining Reps. Keith Ellison and Barbara Lee. [1]

    The Davis statement came as a result of grassroots engagement led by the Chicago-based Committee for Just Peace in Israel and Palestine (CJPIP). Their story is an inspiration to us all, showing us that, with perseverance and persuasion, it is possible to turn Members of Congress out in favor of justice in Israel/Palestine. [2]

    The Israelis and Palestinians are scheduled to begin their next round of talks in late October. With Hamas and the Palestinian Authority’s announcement of a unity agreement and the transfer of control of Gaza to the Palestinian Authority, the ground is set for an agreement to end the blockade. All that’s left is to build political will.

    We at Just Foreign Policy are trying to build off the momentum generated by the Ellison, Lee, and Davis statements by supporting local groups in targeted districts to push their Reps to come out in favor of an end to the blockade. With Congress in recess until November, now is the time for us to act.

    Here’s what you can do to help:

    1. Share our graphic promoting the statements of Ellison, Lee, and Davis.

    http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/act/moc-end-blockade

    2. Help us provide support to local groups in targeted districts by making a $15 tax-deductible donation.

    http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/donate

    Thanks for all you do to help end the blockade of Gaza,

    Megan Iorio and Robert Naiman
    Just Foreign Policy

    References:

    Read CJPIP’s account of how they persuaded Rep. Davis to come out in favor of lifting the blockade: http://mondoweiss.net/2014/09/congressman-lifting-blockade

    • merlot
      merlot
      September 30, 2014, 2:09 pm

      Naiman’s promotion of this CJPIP initiative at the same time that he is attacking JVP and calling for support of these three congress persons from attack by “AIPAC and the far left” in another message shows his lack of awareness. CJPIP was pragmatic in its approach to Davis but it must also be recognized that some of its key members come from JVP and AFSC. It is a member of the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation. It supports BDS and calls for an End to US Military Aid. It now runs a campaign focused on the detention of Palestinian children by Israel and previously started the “Two Peoples, One Future” campaign which also called for an end to military aid. It is based in Chicago and therefore disconnected from D.C. and would align itself with JVP and not J Street. How does this match with Naiman’s position that only advocacy found kosher by J Street will be acceptable in D.C.? When was the last time J Street pushed forward a campaign like this and got results? Naiman shows a complete lack of self awareness.

  5. fayez chergui
    fayez chergui
    September 30, 2014, 8:16 am

    What a question. Is this a joke? It’s so obvious that the US are muppets in israeli’s hands.

  6. seafoid
    seafoid
    September 30, 2014, 10:25 am

    The US is a waste of time as Nathan Thrall pointed out recently in the NYR

    http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2014/oct/09/israel-us-delusions-our-diplomacy/

  7. Vera Gottlieb
    Vera Gottlieb
    September 30, 2014, 10:56 am

    ‘Knesset’ Hill bringing justice to Palestinians??? Is this some kind of a sick joke? The US is everything BUT an honest broker.

  8. Kay24
    Kay24
    September 30, 2014, 11:10 am

    Of course Congress can bring justice for the Palestinians, and even end the occupation, but since alien lobbies are allowed to interfere in our elections, and use their zio clout in the US to make sure the media and others support their candidate, this will never happen in our lifetime.

    All they have to do is threaten to stop the flow of aid and weapons, and Israel will be singing a different song.

    • Horizontal
      Horizontal
      September 30, 2014, 9:53 pm

      @ Kay24 ~

      I disagree that this can’t happen in our lifetime. I bet I’m older than you, but I’m hoping that before I die, I see get to see Israel receive all the Kharma it can handle, the Palestinians get justice and we Americans get our government back. Is that too much to ask?

      Should be a hell of a show.

  9. jsj
    jsj
    September 30, 2014, 12:00 pm

    Joel makes an excellent but not sufficient recommendation. Changing Congress does not follow building robust grassroots support it accompanies it. Because of support inside Congress the anti-apartheid movement was able to get an annual Congressional hearing on the negative impact of apartheid . This accompanied the huge international campaign. To wait is fools folly. Ask Chicago.

    And did those hearings alone change US policy? No. But did they matter, ask the folks who were involved. It’s how we learn by asking the former US leaders of liberation movements what worked.

  10. Nevada Ned
    Nevada Ned
    September 30, 2014, 12:05 pm

    It can sometimes get discouraging looking at the enormous power of the Israel Lobby, compared with the puny power of our side. So I was delighted to read Alison Weir’s piece in yesterday’s CounterPunch. Weir documents that Evangelical Christians, previously mindless supporters of Israel, are increasingly sympathetic to Palestinians. What is causing the change? Israel’s oppression of Christians, including Christian Arabs (e.g., Palestinians). A long time ago, about 20-25% of West Bank Palestinians were Christians. I think it has since declined to abut 4%, but it is still substantial. Christians have long played an important role in Palestinian activism, from George Habash to Edward Said.

    • ritzl
      ritzl
      October 1, 2014, 10:49 am

      Wow. Great article by Weir, Nevada Ned.

      Christian Zionism is all so contrived AND eroding. The “Moral Arc of the Universe…” and all that.

      You have to believe that only maybe 10% of [potential?] CUFI-types are hard core, Israeli-style, “lawn-mowing” racists. The rest probably do have the smidge of morality that enables them to evaluate the situation based on actual facts and make a moral judgement that Palestinians are oppressed — and act accordingly and of their own minds.

      House of cards. Has support for Israel peaked? The examples of changing (from just one visit to Israel) evangelistic perspectives coming out of Wheaton College, ORU, and Bethel are profoundly hopeful.

      Thanks. Tweeted.

  11. Michael Levin
    Michael Levin
    October 1, 2014, 10:13 am

    The Committee for a Just Peace in Israel and Palestine [CJPIP] appreciates all the expressions of support for its ongoing efforts to engage our elected representatives on issues related to Israel/Palestine. We would also like to note that 1] CJPIP not only strongly endorses the work of Jewish Voice for Peace, but a number of the members of its steering committee are also members of Jewish Voice for Peace, 2] CJPIP is proud to be one of the member-groups of the US Campaign, 3] CJPIP actively approves of and takes part in the #BDS movement, 4] CJPIP finds J Street’s support for the Israeli war on Palestinians in Gaza to be both outrageous and shameful.

    Michael Levin, for The Committee for a Just Peace in Israel and Palestine

  12. Rusty Pipes
    Rusty Pipes
    October 2, 2014, 10:35 pm

    J Street was founded primarily as an alternative political Jewish lobby to AIPAC. Its name, J Street, in contrast to business lobbies in DC on K Street, reflects that primary mission. But J Street also has a mission of organizing local chapters in Jewish communities and on campuses, J Street U.

    Progressives have criticized both of those missions of J Street; some of those criticisms overlap, but some of them are distinctive. Part of the problem with Naiman’s article stems from conflating the criticisms of J Street, as well as overlooking some of the obstacles from the zionist establishment for JVP (which J Street enables). Beinin’s defense of JVP doesn’t really get at the crux of the problem with Naiman’s article.

    I may not have heard or read from progressive activists,“because of its conduct during the recent Gaza war, J Street should die and be supplanted by Jewish Voice for Peace” — but it is a fair paraphrase of some of the sentiments I have heard and read. In regards to the DC mission (beyond the ISS argument that the 2SS, if it was ever really viable at all, is dead, so J Street’s mission is a waste of time and resources), J Street has been criticized for betraying its alleged mission. It is criticized for not representing a progressive alternative to AIPAC because in supporting 2 States, it is willing to compromise on Democracy for Israel in order to privilege its “Jewish character.” It uses scare tactic language about “Arabs” to rally support for a “Jewish State.”

    Further, it has been criticized for being unwilling to support any real pressure on Israel to bring it to sign an agreement to bring about a just resolution, creating 2 viable states with Palestine. This criticism goes beyond purity concerns — everyone knows that DC is a sausage factory. J Street has not been willing to use the muscle it does have to push its agenda or to risk breaks with the right-wing of the Jewish community to mobilize for real change. Consequently, it has left the few politicians who have been willing to risk its agenda high and dry.

    Even those progressives who have not given up entirely on their congresscritters have questioned whether continuing to support J Street’s lobbying is a productive use of their time and money. If it died tomorrow, would prospects for a just peace be any worse off?

    What J Street does on the local level is where I have heard the most criticism from progressives — as well as the most comparisons with JVP. J Street chapters police the boundaries of acceptable criticism of Israel, whether to stay acceptable to the local synagogue or to avoid risking any affiliated groups being defunded by the local Jewish Federation. Lip service to Liberal Zionism is acceptable — any contact with the BDS movement is not.

    J Street chapters cut themselves off from the BDS-affiliated JVP, not the other way around. Individual progressive Jews may choose to belong to J Street chapters; but many prefer to invest their limited time with JVP, as well as to cosponsor events with the variety of religious and ethnic groups that support BDS.

    • Rusty Pipes
      Rusty Pipes
      October 2, 2014, 10:38 pm

      “Its name.” Eats, Shoots and Leaves. Still waiting for the edit button.

    • annie
      annie
      October 2, 2014, 11:49 pm

      J Street chapters police the boundaries of acceptable criticism of Israel, whether to stay acceptable to the local synagogue or to avoid risking any affiliated groups being defunded by the local Jewish Federation. Lip service to Liberal Zionism is acceptable — any contact with the BDS movement is not.

      J Street chapters cut themselves off from the BDS-affiliated JVP, not the other way around.

      to me they are a mainstream zionist group, completely un-daring. i can understand why they are upset w/jvp and why they consider jvp a threat. because there’s nothing really appealing about jstreet. it’s kind of a ‘safe’ zone for zionists (or something), but it’s not progressive really. i don’t see the allure to young people because ethnic nationalism and supporting slaughter is not really alluring. what’s the appeal? meanwhile jvp will keep skimming the cream of the kids from the jewish community. on campuses, it’s jvp or sjp.

      edit: just saw this jstreet campaign, it’s effective http://www.shalomlife.com/news/26056/netanyahu-meets-beyonce-in-new-j-street-campaign/

      • silamcuz
        silamcuz
        August 2, 2016, 6:08 am

        meanwhile jvp will keep skimming the cream of the kids from the jewish community. on campuses, it’s jvp or sjp

        This is an excellent point that demonstrates the wisdom of JVP’s non-overt political activism in the current election season. As Hillary’s win of the DNC nomination has proved, there is absolutely nothing that can be done at this moment to bring about a change in status quo short of an overthrow of the entire government. The political system is a rigged game, with predetermined results favoring a select group of people, while most of the elected representatives have little or no power to fight for the genuine interests of their voters.

        There is no point for participating in the system if we are looking for change. We need to focus on the new generation, while tolerating the current generation enough until they die. The new generation of leaders for a new generation of people, which is what JVP, along with SJP and many other activist groups are tirelessly working to nurture and stimulate into the path of peace and justice. Once we have well-balanced, intelligent and spiritually-fulfilled leaders pulling the strings, the system will inevitably self-correct itself, and amplify a positive change through all layers of society.

      • Mooser
        Mooser
        August 2, 2016, 11:10 am

        ” Once we have well-balanced, intelligent and spiritually-fulfilled leaders pulling the strings, the system will inevitably self-correct itself, and amplify a positive change through all layers of society.”

        Would you prefer Bavarian, Black Forest, or Swiss?

  13. JoeSmack
    JoeSmack
    August 1, 2016, 5:45 pm

    Beinin is confusing a substantive disagreement with a formal one. It is true that JVP takes substantively better stances than J-Street. In fact it should not even be up for debate.

    But as Beinin points out, JVP also lobbies Congress. In fact, both groups, despite their substantive differences, have pursued similar strategies: courting donors, working within the liberal elements of the Jewish community, and so on. If anything, J-Street’s position is less contradictory. It is a liberal Zionist group, and it is aware that it is a liberal Zionist group, which is why it can lobby Congress successfully, being able to claim powerful donors and a network of interests on its behalf by refusing to challenge Israel on substantive issues.

    JVP on the other hand takes an “anti-racist” stance while effectively operating as a Jewish communal organization. Their website used to contain content suggesting that their Jewishness made them “more legitimate” and Rebecca from JVP uses the same tokenizing rhetoric in much of her advocacy. Any attempt to point out the contradiction between rejecting a Jewish state while operating on the basis that Jews have a greater say in resolving the situation is ignored. They also purposely side-stepped the issue of Zionism which left them open to criticism when they went after Alison Weir. JVP is trying to be too many things. It wants to be anti-racist, but it also wants ethnic legitimacy. It wants to be a grassroots movement, but it also wants to affect those in power. It wants to be for the liberation of Palestine, but it cannot use “anti-Zionist” (read: anti-colonial) rhetoric.

    So what Naiman says is about JVP’s current position is accurate. It is not a serious contender for power in Congress. It is a grassroots movement that is internally contradictory and that struggles to find itself within a climate of racism.

    I think JVP is trying to put a more professionalized, Congress-friendly spin on, but of course that is easier said than done. Even assuming they are able to raise enough money to form the kind of network that can seriously affect Congress, it is usually at the cost of taking the kinds of stances that achieve the more progressive goals that they have aligned themselves with, which would explain why it took JVP so long to endorse BDS and why it is still afraid of critiquing Zionism.

    If there is a time that JVP’s positions will be mainstream enough to take it into Congress successfully it will likely be due to the activities of groups that take less contradictory stances.

    • silamcuz
      silamcuz
      August 2, 2016, 6:16 am

      They also purposely side-stepped the issue of Zionism which left them open to criticism when they went after Alison Weir

      Ms. Weir set herself up for breaking of professional relationships. She agreed to be interviewed by proven white supremacists, and engaged them in a friendly manner without calling out their problematic ideals and racism. JVP made the right move here. Anyone else who is serious about the fight for justice, which racial justice is an integral component of, would’ve done the same.

    • silamcuz
      silamcuz
      August 2, 2016, 11:00 pm

      So what Naiman says is about JVP’s current position is accurate. It is not a serious contender for power in Congress. It is a grassroots movement that is internally contradictory and that struggles to find itself within a climate of racism.

      I disagree, JVP in my view is perfectly placed in a position of strength within the climate of intense racism that has been the norm in America since its inception centuries ago. To start with, they actually acknowledge that America is a white-supremacist, settler-colonial regime that was founded through the violent dispossession of Native American land, the genocide of Natives, and the inhumane exploitation of black Africans as slaves. Just by recognizing the fact, they have placed themselves in the side of justice and on the winning side of future history.

      • Mooser
        Mooser
        August 3, 2016, 11:53 am

        “To start with, they actually acknowledge that America is a white-supremacist, settler-colonial regime…”

        So it should be simple for you to link to that statement from JVP.
        Love to see it.
        And there are plenty of JVP members here who can back you up on this.

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