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‘NYT’ editor hails Jewish community for ‘maintaining political support for Israel’

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Jonathan Weisman, deputy Washington editor of the New York Times, this month praised the American Jewish community’s role in “maintaining political support for Israel” because it “is a very small country in a very hostile neighborhood.” Weisman’s definition of that Jewish community was all Zionist organizations, leaving out the anti-Zionists of Jewish Voice for Peace. In fact, he gave credit to the view that anti-Zionists are anti-Semites.

Weisman spoke at a Jewish center in Seattle on January 17 with KUOW’s Kim Malcolm (broadcast on that public radio station a week later) to promote his book, “(((Semitism))): Being Jewish in America in the Age of Trump.” He said it contains a chapter, called The Israel Deception, about how the American Jewish argument over Israel gets in the way of our seeing anti-Semitism.

The point being that American Jews– we have AIPAC and J Street, we have the New Israel Fund, we have the American Jewish Committee. We have these large institutional presences now, and we argue over Israel. We argue incessantly over Israel. Even — I wrote this book and I go around the country, and I say, We spend so much time arguing over Israel, I’m just begging the Jewish community to look around at the world right around it. Because I feel like part of the reason that we didn’t see the rise of the white nationalist movement and the threat that it represents is because we were sitting there busily arguing over Israel.

And even when I say we argue over Israel too much, the fight always devolves into a fight over Israel, to this day, to this moment! When we open up the questions, I’ll probably get questions about Israel…

I got pushback in multiple ways. I certainly got pushback from the American Jewish Committee, which is very angry at me. Organizations like the American Jewish Committee believe that Israel is that important, it is the safe haven, it is the Jewish state.

Now my counter argument was always this, that Israel is obviously born of the greatest tragedy in Jewish history, the Holocaust, and its existence is a testament to the desire to keep Jews safe. But it lives in the national security umbrella of the United States. The Israeli Iron Dome missile shield was created out of remarkable Israeli ingenuity but with a lot of American help and a lot of American money. The joint strike fighter was actually designed in part by Israeli engineers, but when it comes off the assembly line, it will be coming off an assembly line in Fort Worth, Texas, not Tel Aviv. And that to maintain Israel as that safe haven for Jews, American Jews need to be paying at least as much attention to the United States and maintaining the United States as a friendly country to Judaism, as it does maintaining political support for Israel. Because ultimately Israel is a very small country in a very hostile neighborhood and it still relies on the United States.

I’d still make that case.

Now other pushback came from small Jewish social justice organizations that felt like I didn’t give them enough credit for the kind of organizing that is already happening, and another big pushback came from politically conservative Jews who felt, and still feel to some extent, that the real threat to American Judaism is not white nationalist far right bigotry but leftwing anti-Semitism…. Then came Pittsburgh. We can talk about it. Pittsburgh has changed that conversation quite a bit.

It is unfortunate that in relating the Jewish argument over Israel, Weisman’s entire range of Jewish organizations is Zionist organizations. He never acknowledges the existence of the anti-Zionist Jews of Jewish Voice for Peace, which issued a historic statement opposing Zionism on January 14, three days before his talk, let alone the existence of the non-Zionist Jews of IfNotNow.

And meantime, Weisman implicitly credits the view that anti-Zionism is “leftwing anti-Semitism,” while failing to say a word about Israel’s persecution of Palestinians (which is surely fostering anti-Semitism, as even a J Street speaker acknowledges; and which Weisman did mention in a recent article he wrote on the great schism occurring between American Jews and Israel).

I suppose it is not surprising to get such a conventional rundown from a New York Times editor, but the endorsement of the aims and methods of the Israel lobby is breathtaking. It recalls Times Magazine writer Ronen Bergman praising AIPAC, also to a Jewish audience. It recalls the fact that Max Frankel was once Israel’s proud backstop at the Times editorial page, that four New York Times reporters have had children serving in the Israeli army, and that the regular Times columnists include a battery of Zionists, only lately joined by Michelle Goldberg (who has stated emphatically that anti-Zionism is not anti-Semitic and it has long pedigree in the Jewish community.)

Weisman was even more concerned about leftwing views in Europe than here. He said, “The leftist party in France is actually pretty virulently anti-Semitic” and “The Labour Party in Britain has become conducive to anti-Semitic feelings– it scares me.” And he said that Trump supports Israel because of evangelical Christians in his base, a dubious assertion that fails to mention Trump’s biggest donors).

 

Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net.

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10 Responses

  1. eljay on January 28, 2019, 2:20 pm

    It’s strange that an obviously staunch Zionist like Mr. Weisman didn’t get the memo that the colonialist, (war) criminal and religion-supremacist “Jewish State” is “Captain Israel” strong and doesn’t need anything from anyone* in order to survive a Thousand Years! (and maybe even forever).
    _____________________
    (*Aside from “unshakeable” financial, political, military and economic support from at least one world superpower.)

    • Misterioso on January 29, 2019, 9:53 am

      @eljay, etal

      File this under “Theatre of the Absurd.”

      The Zionists are so desperate to improve Israel’s plunging international image, including the U.S., that they arranged a “Gong Show” in Jerusalem featuring Roseanne Barr, a genuine nut bar and pathetic opportunist.*

      https://www.jpost.com/Israel-News/Culture/Roseanne-Barr-BDS-is-a-Nazi-style-boycotter-of-Jews-578865

      “Roseanne Barr: BDS is a Nazi-style boycotter of Jews”

      “At Jerusalem event, actress is defiant over her racist tweet and calls for anti-Zionist Jews to be censored.”

      BY AMY SPIRO Jerusalem Post, Jan. 27/19

      EXCERPTS:
      “Roseanne Barr railed against foes of the Jewish state in a sweeping and defiant speech in Jerusalem on Sunday night.

      “Barr said anti-Zionist Jews should be censored, said Hamas has representatives in Congress, called for Jews to pray on the Temple Mount and said BDS is a Nazi-style boycott during her address.

      “The actress spoke at an event titled ‘Hollywood and Hasbarah’ at the Begin Center in Jerusalem, alongside her friend and mentor Rabbi Shmuley Boteach and Labor MK Hilik Bar.”

      “At times emotional and at times outraged, Barr used her speech to recount moments from her childhood, spoke about her love of studying Torah and her conversations with God, and slammed ABC for firing her from her hit TV show, Roseanne, last year.

      “‘I was silenced because I was defending Israel,’ said Barr on Sunday, repeating something she told The Jerusalem Post earlier this month. ‘It was one tweet, one line out of a three-month conversation with people all over the world, specifically people in Iran… the most important freedom we have which is freedom of speech, and freedom to explain your tweet.’

      “Her voice shaking, Barr added: ‘I have in my life, stood up for what is right, and what is so painful to me is that I would have my tweet misconstrued…. it hurt me very badly that anyone would think that I would make a racial slur at someone, because that is in no way what I ever intended.’”

      “Speaking in Jerusalem on Sunday, Barr said BDS is ‘an actual boycott of Jewish businesses worldwide. It’s a Nazi boycott…. and they never stop. If they don’t win for a while, they take 70 years off and they always come back. That is our history – every 70 years a generation will rise up against us.'”

      “Later, while sitting and speaking to Boteach and Bar, the conversation turned toward American politics. When Barr said she voted for Trump (‘he’s good for the Jews’), the Jerusalem crowd erupted with applause. She also, in a conversation referencing two new congresswomen – Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib – said they were ‘Hamas in Congress.’ She then, despite Boteach’s protests, said that there are no Democrats in Congress who support Israel.”

      *BTW, Roseanne used to be pro-Palestinian:
      https://www.jpost.com/Jewish-World/Jewish-News/Roseanne-Barr-Israel-is-a-Nazi-state

      The Jerusalem Post, January 2, 2009 by Michael Freund.

      “ROSEANNE BARR: ISRAEL IS A ‘NAZI STATE’

      “Jewish actress says destruction of the Jews in Israel ‘assured with this inhuman attack on Gaza.'”

      EXCERPT:
      “Former television star Roseanne Barr has denounced Israel’s military campaign against Hamas in Gaza, labeling Israel a ‘Nazi state. In a post on her personal blog, which appears at her Web site, Roseanne World, the comedienne, who is Jewish, wrote on December 30 that she had planned to travel with pro-Palestinian activists on a protest boat sailing from Cyprus to Gaza. After an encounter with an Israel Navy vessel, the boat was turned back and sailed into a Lebanese port on Tuesday. ‘I said Israel will attack any boat carrying doctors and medical supplies, Barr wrote on her blog, adding that, ‘Israel is a NAZI state.'”

      • eljay on January 29, 2019, 10:37 am

        … “Her voice shaking, Barr added: ‘I have in my life, stood up for what is right …

        … and I have undone that good by standing up for the wrongs that are Zionism, its “Jewish State” project and the unjust and immoral “right” of Jews to do evil unto others.

  2. pgtl10 on January 28, 2019, 2:57 pm

    Hostile neighborhood huh?

    Egypt and Jordan have peace agreements with Israel. Lebanon has no air force and has been invaded by Israel. Israel occupies Syrian sovereignty and Syria is wrecked by foreign intervention. Much of the issue in the Middle East tend to be exasperated by Israel’s ally the US.

    Who’s being hostile here?

    • RoHa on January 28, 2019, 9:48 pm

      Nearly everyone is exasperated by the US.

      But Middle Eastern problems are frequently exacerbated (or out-and-out caused) by the US.

    • James Canning on January 29, 2019, 11:36 am

      Yes, what nonsense re: “hostile neighborhood”! Syria has been trying to make peace with Israel for decades, and a deal was nearly achieved in 2008.

  3. RoHa on January 28, 2019, 9:46 pm

    “Israel is obviously born of the greatest tragedy in Jewish history, the Holocaust, …”

    Not so. It was born from the Zionist movement, which started long before the Holocaust.

    “The joint strike fighter was actually designed in part by Israeli engineers,”

    And yet it doesn’t work very well.

    “Because ultimately Israel is a very small country in a very hostile neighborhood”

    The neighbourhood is hostile because Israel has attacked and made enemies of its neighbours.

    “and it still relies on the United States.”

    If Jews want a safe haven, wouldn’t the United States itself be better than this tiny, dependent, country in the hostile neighbourhood?

    • Misterioso on January 29, 2019, 10:46 am

      Must read:

      https://www.commondreams.org/views/2019/01/28/michelle-alexander-opened-door
      “Michelle Alexander Opened a Door”

      “Opponents will be working hard to slam it shut, so we must redouble our efforts to build the movement that challenges Israel’s history of oppression.”

      ByJames Zogby, Common Dreams, Jan. 28/19

      “This past Sunday, The New York Times featured on the front page of its ‘Week in Review’ section a major column by Michelle Alexander: ‘Time to Break the Silence on Palestine.; It was, by any measure, an important article because of who wrote it, where it appeared, and its breathtaking indictment of both Israel’s history of violations of Palestinian rights and the silence of U.S. policymakers to address these outrageous behaviors.

      “As a renowned civil rights attorney and author of the best-selling The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, Alexander has a voice that matters. Although in the past the Times has run a few opinion pieces critical of Israel, the placement and promotion given to this article guaranteed that it would gain national attention. And it did. Millions read it, tens of thousands commented on it, and scores of others wrote columns favorably reviewing Alexander’s observations.

      “The reaction in Israel and among the American Jewish establishment was immediate and predictably hysterical. A former Israeli Ambassador to the United States said that Alexander’s article ‘dangerously delegitimizes us. It is a strategic threat…’ The Anti-Defamation League, B’nai B’rith, and the American Jewish Committee in tweets and statements called the article: ‘dangerously flawed,’ ‘anti-Semitic,’ an ‘anti-Israel rant…filled with errors,’ and ‘a shameful appropriation’ of the memory of Martin Luther King.

      “This panicked reaction to Alexander was unsurprising because it represents just one more indication that hardline Israeli propagandists are losing their ability to shape political discourse on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. As Alexander notes in her article, in recent years we have seen: major U.S. churches divesting from Israel, the growing support of young African American activists with the cause of justice for Palestinian; the backlash over the firing of a CNN commentator over his pro-Palestinian positions; and the election of pro-Palestinian Members of Congress.

      “Polling shows that Israel has lost significant support among the young, the educated, and minority communities.

      “Because these developments only scratch the surface of the change that is underway, the nervousness demonstrated by the Jewish establishment was to be expected. Polling shows that Israel has lost significant support among the young, the educated, and minority communities (African American, Latino, and Asian American – who together comprise about a third of the U.S. population). As a consequence, there is a debate on Israel/Palestine underway on campuses, among major Protestant churches, in the Black community, and in the Democratic Party. And, in this debate, arguments demanding justice for Palestinians are being heard and winning.

      “In challenging this drift, pro-Israel propagandists have drawn all their weapons. Pro-Palestinian activists and commentators have been smeared, intimidated, and threatened with dire repercussions. While some voices have been silenced, the movement away from accepting the Israeli line continues to grow.

      “If I were to identify two main reasons for this erosion of support for Israel and increased support for Palestinians, I would point to the role that alternative media has played in making it possible for the reality of what is happening in the occupied territories to be better known and the role played by the virtual marriage of President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

      “My brother, John Zogby, observed in his important study of the changing attitudes of American demographic groups that as a direct result of the Internet, young people and minority communities have developed a global consciousness: they are less tied to narrow parochial concerns. They have access to more sources of information and are more questioning of the ‘accepted dogma’ of political elites. As Israel continues its rightward drift, with ultra-nationalists in control now and for the foreseeable future, and as the Christian right-wing and nativists continue to dominate the Republican Party, it is to be expected that alliances would be formed in opposition to this bonding of U.S. and Israeli hardline ideologues.

      “As I noted, this change has been brewing for some time now, but it was the Michelle Alexander article in The New York Times that has helped bring it to the surface. As important as this moment may be, I must admit that my delight was tempered by the feelings of regret that all of this change has come too late for so many.

      “I thought of the Nakba and the uprooting and dispossession of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians from their homes and how for decades they have been denied the right to return. I thought of the horrors of the now 70 year occupation of the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem: the theft of their land, the economic strangulation to which they’ve been subjected, the demolition of their homes, the brutal unreported acts of collective punishment, the torture, the prolonged imprisonment of thousands without charges, and the daily humiliation they have endured at the hands of soldiers and settlers. And I thought of the courageous intellectuals and activists, Arabs and Jews, here in the United States and in Israel and Palestine, who over the decades paid a dear price for their efforts to elevate Palestinian rights in a less welcoming time.

      “And then I thought of the brilliant Palestinian Fayez Sayegh, who decades ago gave us hope that one day change would come – that the tide would turn when we didn’t expect it and we would discover that despite the power of our opponents, change was afoot and we would see a way forward.

      “Here it is: the moment he predicted. A door has opened, but knowing that our opponents will be working hard to slam it shut, we must redouble our efforts to build the movement that challenges Israel’s history of oppression. We owe this much to those victims of the past and to those who are still suffering from dispossession and occupation. Alexander has shown us an open door. We have to have the courage and commitment to continue to keep it open.”

  4. Citizen on January 29, 2019, 2:44 am

    So how many NYT reporters, say since 1967, have had children serve in the US Army?

  5. James Canning on January 29, 2019, 11:34 am

    The “American Jewish community” has enabled Israel to continue its relentless illegal colonization program in the occupied West Bank. Does Jonathan Weisman see this a good thing?

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