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Defending Ellison, Jewish writers publish ‘apartheid’ description of Israel in ‘Slate’ and ‘Washington Post’

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In the last 24 hours the Keith Ellison story has changed again. Ellison has agreed to leave Congress if he is elevated to the chair of the Democratic National Committee (thereby removing Ed Rendell and others’ objection that the job needs to be fulltime); and he is getting a tsunami of support for his bid from center-left Jews. These Jews are remaking the Democratic Party base before our eyes on the Israel issue, getting the word “apartheid” into the Washington Post and Slate. The Israel lobby is sweating!

The tide has shifted to the point that Jeremy Ben-Ami of J Street and Chemi Shalev of Haaretz are both warning the Israel lobby not to knock out Ellison because if it does, there will be a backlash against Jews.

Let’s go through the ticker. First Michelle Goldberg, a liberal Zionist, posted an earnest piece at Slate saying that Democrats need Keith Ellison, an African-American Muslim, in order to counter the “existential” threat of Trumpism: “if we’re to survive Trump, it will only be through a united front of all the people his administration threatens,” she writes.

The political news in this piece is that while Goldberg sells Ellison to liberal Zionists as “no anti-Zionist,” and assures them that he opposes Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS), she is obviously willing to dump Israel to build that united front.

Goldberg includes the tweet below by Ellison with a photograph of an apartheid poster in Hebron; and Goldberg says that she has been to Hebron herself and was horrified, and while she used to obey liberal Zionist taboos against the use of the word apartheid, she is not going to quarrel with that term. “We are in a moment when political taboos are exploding.”

That is progress: getting “apartheid” into Slate, a reliably pro-Israel publication. Ten years after Jimmy Carter was slammed for using the word, by Wolf Blitzer and Terry Gross.

Apartheid is also in the Washington Post! Jesse Myerson manages to slip it in while offering the same coalition-building calculus under Trump that Goldberg does, in a piece praising Ellison:

For Jews to be safe, we will need to build a resistance in partnership with other communities under threat, not prop up an apartheid state in the Middle East.

In a further shattering of taboos, Myerson explains that the Israel lobby does not speak for young Jews, it speaks for rich donors “who care foremost about Jewish ethno-supremacy in the Holy Land.”

He warns the older Jews that the young Jews are changing the community’s values, with groups like IfNotNow and Jewish Voice for Peace, but the mainstream media is ignoring the young Jewish trendline, because of money:
[B]ecause young Jews do not make up a wealthy donor base, mainstream media outlets don’t tend to treat our organizations as spokespersons for Jews writ large, nor our policy positions as indicative of Jewish views in general.

J Street is surely hearing the footsteps of all these young Jews. Jeremy Ben-Ami continues his valiant defense of Keith Ellison in the Washington Post and says just what Myerson does, the ideological tide is turning:

Recent polling makes clear that Ellison represents the policy views of the significant majority of Democrats and of Jewish Americans. Leaders with similar views and values are going to be the future of the Democratic Party, of our country and of the American Jewish community.

Then Ben-Ami warns that the Jewish organizational “witch hunt” of Ellison will backfire for Jews:

It is time for those who disagree to halt the personal attacks and smears. These tactics do not win friends for the Jewish community or help ensure that American policy will be pro-Israel in the long run. Frankly, they may have the opposite effect.

Chemi Shalev echoes that warning in Haaretz.

If [Ellison] doesn’t [get to be chairman of the DNC], that will truly be bad news for Jews. They will be blamed for having blocked Ellison’s appointment. They will be viewed as targeting Ellison because of his Muslim religion. They will be accused of putting the interests of Israel above their own party’s. If Ellison is as rabidly anti-Jewish as his detractors claim, he could become the standard bearer for a wave of anti-Jewish sentiment on the left…

That’s a wee bit alarmist. But Shalev knows that Ellison is not going to help Israel in the United States. He warns that Ellison’s religion and Israel-critical statements will be used against him and will hurt the party politically:

On Israel, at least, Ellison occupies a space that is far away from the American center, which is where elections are won and lost. So it is legitimate to think that he is not the best man for the job.
I think Myerson is right and Shalev is wrong: Ellison is actually closer to the American center than anyone in the MSM realizes. Shibley Telhami of Brookings is telling us as much.

Finally, let me note how obnoxious it is that this discussion is so dominated by Jewish voices. As if Jews are the gatekeepers on the American consideration of Middle East policy, even among the young. But: that’s the physics of our policy, right now.

James Zogby of the Arab American Institute affirms that truth in the story he tells of the Democratic Party’s migration on the Israel issue from 1988 to 2016. In his account you can see the dead hand of donors controlling the Democratic position. Zogby also mentions the force of the young, and of young Jews:

There is a movement among young people for justice that is simply not going to go away. But… there is this onslaught attempting to roll back the change that has occurred in the consciousness of young people, in the consciousness of progressives, whether they be Black or White or Latino, in the consciousness of labor folks who were central to this debate in many cities, and of course, in the consciousness of a network of American Jews that have become as central to this debate, and in some cases more central to this debate, than Arab Americans.

More central than others, including Arab Americans? No. Everyone has a role to play in this conversation; and the Ellison battle will liberate us.

Thanks to James North, who says that “the organized Jewish community now faces its greatest crisis in decades.”

Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of

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28 Responses

  1. pabelmont on December 7, 2016, 3:15 pm

    Sounds better and better, Phil. In the past I’ve thought your happiness at change within Am-Jewry was a bit early. Not any more.

    Ellison comes on the coat-tails of a DNC which saw and heard Bernie Sanders and voters who Felt-the-Bern, but (deafened by the noise in the DEM echo chamber) ignored him in favor of a same-old same-old candidate who seemed almost determined to ignore both the Feel-the-Bern rebels within DEM and the Trumpists outside DEM. If there is a political equivalent of tone-deaf, Clinton surely exhibited it.

    Now comes Ellison, with Sanders and Warren I believe, to create a new DNC and a new DEM. And somehow he has attracted the opprobrium of BIG-ZION and — here’s the surprise — BIG-ZION seems to be losing to young-or-liberal Jews who find Ellison eminently desirable. And the internecine war among Jews seems to be protecting Ellison by showing all Americans that old-DEM’s pro-Israel-ism ain’t necessarily true forever and ever amen.


    Of course, there is likely to be an important consequence. New-DEM will need to discover either that the usual DONOR CLASS will continue giving or else find a Sanders-style large class of small-donors. That would be wonderful, bring in all Americans, labor, young, lively, all but the BIGs.

  2. amigo on December 7, 2016, 3:39 pm

    “Finally, let me note how obnoxious it is that this discussion is so dominated by Jewish voices ” .PW

    Have to agree but if a few mega wealthy Jewish Israel firsters , (Saban/Adelson et al ) can dictate/buy US FP , then it is appropriate that patriotic American Jews should retrieve it for their fellow Americans , if that is what it takes.

  3. wondering jew on December 7, 2016, 3:43 pm

    Michele Goldberg recognizes the trumpist antisemitic problem. Phil Weiss does not.

    • Mooser on December 7, 2016, 4:34 pm

      “Michele Goldberg recognizes the trumpist antisemitic problem.”

      And she thinks Ellison is the answer to it:

      “…to counter the “existential” threat of Trumpism: “if we’re to survive Trump, it will only be through a united front of all the people his administration threatens,” she writes”.

  4. annie on December 7, 2016, 4:04 pm

    jesse myerson knocks it out of the ballpark in his wapo article:

    What about Ellison’s ability to represent a traditional Democratic position on Israel? In reality, Ellison’s political attitudes toward Israel are no different than that of his party. That some 60 percent of Democrats favor imposing sanctions or other penalties on Israel due to the nation’s occupation of Palestine and 51 percent favor the establishment of a Palestinian state would mean, by Greenblatt’s calculus, that the majority of Democrats hate Jews.

    • captADKer on December 8, 2016, 9:03 am

      “the establishment of a Palestinian state would mean, by Greenblatt’s calculus, that the majority of Democtrats hate Jews.”

      regardless, state or no state, you sure got that right.

      • Mooser on December 8, 2016, 3:47 pm

        “regardless, state or no state, you sure got that right.”

        Is that why wealthy Jewish donors have to donate so much to Democratic candidates? Sort of a protection racket to protect Jews from ‘the majority of Democrats’?

        And it’s the Republicans which are “good for the Jews”?

      • captADKer on December 8, 2016, 9:53 pm


        “And it’s the Republicans which are “good for the Jews”?

        you got that one even “Righter”

      • Mooser on December 9, 2016, 12:15 pm

        Well than, “Jews” should trump all their opponents! Do you think we will get the credit for repealing the ACA and Medicare?

    • Maghlawatan on December 8, 2016, 9:38 am

      Ellison and the Dems challenge one of the core elements of Zionist identity. That doesn’t mean they hate Jews. It just means Zionist identity is bullshit.
      Palestinians are also humans. Get over it.

      • Talkback on December 9, 2016, 5:33 am

        When Zionist psychopaths hide behind Jews/Judaism one can expect the accusation of Jew hatred in every second sentence.

  5. pabelmont on December 7, 2016, 5:30 pm

    Phil, Where does “[Michelle] Goldberg sell[] Ellison to liberal Zionists as “no anti-Zionist” ? Not in the *article you linked to*. Be nice to tack down all the corners of this hopeful carpet.

    • peterfeld on December 8, 2016, 7:39 am

      It’s much better if she does *not* sell Ellison to liberal Zionists as “no anti-Zionist.” The best outcome is if Ellison wins without the support of, and over the objections of, Zionists including liberal Zionists. That will show the end of their death grip over the Democratic Party and an end to the “bipartisan consensus” over Israel.

  6. JWalters on December 7, 2016, 6:41 pm

    Reading this article I’m extremely optimistic that the balance has tipped, the trajectory has turned. Numerous incisive descriptions of reality by these writers. This is all great news!

    “that’s the physics of our policy”

    The physical reality is indeed what matters. A related part of the physical machinery that needs correcting with respect to donors is discussed here:

    The Mondoweiss archives, documenting and analyzing, will be an invaluable resource for historians of the future.

  7. joemowrey on December 7, 2016, 7:20 pm

    Always sad to see the Palestine issue be the only barometer of support for someone. What about Ellison’s war-mongering? Shouldn’t that at least be mentioned in any article discussing his views on any subject? Not to mention that his views on Israel are tepid at best.

    Just as there is the PEP (Progressive Except for Palestine) designation, there should also be a PEW (Progressive Except for War) label for people like Ellison. Though since the age of the Obamakins, many so-called Progressives have forgotten all about our Empire’s rampages around the globe. And now too many faux-liberals are looking at Ellison as some kind of Leftist hero. He’s little more than a toadie for the corporate Dems. As co-chair of the Progressive Caucus he has proven time and again the he will fold under pressure, putting his own political interests ahead of the interests of peace and social justice.

    David Swanson does a good job of documenting Ellison’s thirst for war. I’ve posted the link for this article here before, but judging by Phil’s article and the comments so far no one bothered to read it.

    Just because he makes a few “bold” remarks on the issue of Palestine doesn’t make him a progressive, or a decent human being either. I’ll bet not too many of the Libyans he was so anxious to bomb would support him for any reason. Or Syrians for that matter.

    • Sibiriak on December 7, 2016, 10:02 pm


      Thanks for drawing attention to Ellison’s warmongering (aka, liberal interventionism), especially regarding Syria.

      Keith Ellison in 2013:

      …30 anti-war activists mobilized on very short notice and succeeded in speaking.

      Representative Ellison opened the meeting by explaining his decision to vote for bombing Syria. His reasons follow the administration’s line. He said, “ Every country has an obligation to defend its citizens from mass atrocities and when they don’t the U.S. has the responsibility to do it by force if necessary.” [emphasis added]


      A concise statement of American exceptionalism. No doubt Ellison would not recognize the same “responsibility to protect” (R2P) for Russia or other states not on board with Western global domination.


      Ed Felien cited the reports which dispute the claims the Syrian government used sarin gas and asked, “How’d you get your evidence?” Ellison replied that he got it from the Syrian American community.

      John Kolstad called on Ellison to call for the release of the documents which the administration claim shows the Syria government is guilty of using chemical weapons. He recalled Representative Alan Grayson’s (Democrat from Florida) Sept. 5 questioning of Secretary of State John Kerry, at the House hearing on releasing the communication report of the Syrian generals, which some sources say contradicts the administration version.

      One activist asked, “Are we going to drop DU [depleted uranium], white phosphorous and cluster bombs – all weapons of mass destruction – to deal with weapons of mass destruction?”

      * * *

      […] Bruce Nestor from the National Lawyers Guild of Minnesota noted that it’s against international law to go to war without authorization from the UN.

      He said, “Would it have been OK if Russia or China had shot missiles at U.S. troops to stop the slaughter of 100,000 Iraqis by the U.S. and NATO?”

      • rosross on December 8, 2016, 8:58 pm

        The concept of American exceptionalism remains source of amusement for anyone who spends time in the US. Being exceptional is not about military power or aggression, it is about how citizens live. It is about being a great place to live as opposed to a ‘great’ i.e. powerful militaristic nation.

        And given the track record of the US for assassinating democratically elected leaders and supporting tyrants to serve its own agendas, a world without Americans ‘stepping in’ would be a better world.

    • echinococcus on December 7, 2016, 10:42 pm

      Joe Mowrey,

      Fact is, the moment we don’t fully concentrate on Palestine here and start talking about anything else, of course US warmongering and aggression rears its rather ugly head, as there are no anti-war Democrats, and none among the Republicans either. Also an impression that the few who were so before Obama and will again start making noises about war in general, now that a surprising Republican has been elected, will again be shamed by their party representatives (who will be pushing Trump for more war.)

      But then we do sorely need everybody to support the Palestinian side and at least do a little boycott.

      • Keith on December 8, 2016, 10:45 am

        ECHINOCOCCUS- “…US warmongering and aggression rears its rather ugly head, as there are no anti-war Democrats, and none among the Republicans either.”

        Yes, and isn’t that a sad commentary on the times when one is hard put to come up with the name of even one high ranking government official at the federal level who consistently advocates for peace. And now, instead of pulling out all of the stops to eliminate nuclear weapons, the US is going to spend $1 trillion over thirty years to modernize the arsenal. We are ruled by militaristic psychopaths. Will the species survive?

  8. Maghlawatan on December 7, 2016, 10:26 pm

    “He warns the older Jews that the young Jews are changing the community’s values”

    don’t hold your breath

  9. Maghlawatan on December 7, 2016, 10:30 pm

    It doesn’t matter what the Israel lobby wants. The US is now the game. The only way to defeat Trump is to build a coalition of minorities, ladies, workers, GLBT, etc. The train is going to leave the station and if the bots aren’t on it tough titty.

    The Zionist nightmare is here. Real politics

  10. AddictionMyth on December 7, 2016, 11:39 pm

    Ellison is terrible for Israel – and I support him for that reason. He will discredit Netanyahu and the Hasbara culture. However he also supports anti-BDS hate speech laws – meaning he is eager to use those laws to protect Muslims as well. (It’s only fair!) Meaning he wants to start up new witch hunts and wars, and give Trump/Flynn/Sessions the same tools. But it’s self-discrediting – Americans will stand against further erosion of our free speech rights. I know this is complicated – I explain it better on my blog.

  11. Maghlawatan on December 8, 2016, 9:30 am

    The Zionist state has been an unmitigated disaster. It’s not just apartheid, torture, assassinations or Jews in the US en masse abandoning the religion. It’s also the endless wars.
    Netanyahu was one of many Zionists who lobbied for the war in Iraq.

    What did the Yazidi people ever do to Jews ?

  12. gingershot on December 8, 2016, 7:08 pm

    We want a quick hard flip of Israel and the Israel Lobby at this point – shocking frontpage news of Obama and the US supporting the UN Sec Co Resolution against Israel in reponse to the Palestine Annexation Law, Apartheid, etc

    We of course want frontpage lobby-strangled media busting news of American Recognition of Palestine as well – straight down the line like Jimmy Carter’s recommendations in the NYTimes

    We want Wolf Blitzer, Andrea Mitchell, David Brooks, Tom Friedman, Chuck Todd whitefaced with shock as the words ‘Apartheid Israel’ escape their clenched lips. We want them SEEN, and exposed in overexposure. We want the Nightflower drug out in the sun and roasted like a Santa Fe poblano pepper on my grill

    This is the time for ‘Shock and Awe’ of Israel and the Lobby – let’s make it unrecoverable

    We want the American media who has been in on the fix for Israel and the Neocon war machine to be in CHAOS and eating their words as new journalists breakthrough and start to examine the Lobby’s stranglehold on American media and career destruction of those that tried to stop Israel and the Lobby

    We want to GO BIG and take them down to the mineral level of the political landscape

    Like roped mountain climbers crossing a crevasse without belay, we want the Lobby going down with the Apartheid ROPED TOGETHER – the momentum of one carrying the other with it – ZipZipZip!

    The Neocons and Apartheid Israel TOGETHER – which is the only way it ever was going to work. Both members of the Tagteam going down TOGETHER, unable to rescue the other.

    There IS no Israel Lobby of 1P1V1S – we’ve got the Neocons/Lobby and the Apartheid in ONE BIG BAG

  13. JLewisDickerson on December 9, 2016, 10:29 pm

    RE: Goldberg includes the tweet below by Ellison with a photograph of an apartheid poster in Hebron; and Goldberg says that she has been to Hebron herself and was horrified, and while she used to obey liberal Zionist taboos against the use of the word apartheid, she is not going to quarrel with that term. “We are in a moment when political taboos are exploding.” ~ Weiss

    MY COMMENT: Judging from the photo in Ellison’s tweet ( incorporated by Michelle Goldberg into her piece at Slate), that residence in Hebron (with the apartheid poster in the window) looks a bit drab. The owner might want to sally forth to the nearest Home Depot and and ask the man in the orange apron for help in sprucing the place up.

    On second thought,* it might be best to go to Lowes.

    * ■ “Home Depot Billionaire Cofounder’s Endorsement Of Trump Triggers Call To Boycott The Retailer”, by Dolia Estevez,, 6/21/16
    The Home Depot took the unusual step of disassociating the company from its cofounder’s endorsement of Trump. “Bernie Marcus retired from the company 14 years ago, so he is not speaking on behalf of The Home Depot. The company does not endorse Presidential candidates,” Stephen Holmes, Director of Corporate Communications at The Home Depot, told Dolia Estevez with Forbes magazine.
    LINK –

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