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Sanders, Warren, Harris, and O’Rourke take a stand on racism at AIPAC that Schumer and Pelosi ignore

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Have you followed the news from Israel? A rightwing society has been veering ever rightward during the election campaign, just about going out of its mind.

The Justice Minister is running an ad in which she samples a perfume called Fascism and seems to like it fine. Another member of parliament once allied with the ruling coalition put out a campaign video in which he is seen shooting dead a Palestinian lawmaker, because that Palestinian is anti-Zionist and said he’d rather die than sing the national anthem.

Oren Hazan ad showing him holding a gun, parodying the Good the Bad and the Ugly. Screenshot.

Then there’s the prime minister himself, Benjamin Netanyahu, who has made one racist move after another to solidify his base on the right. He’s argued that his opposition is going to make a deal with Arabs, he’s said that “Israel is the nation-state of the Jewish people, and not anyone else,” and he’s forged an alliance with the David Dukes of Israel, the Jewish Power party, to try and hold on to power.

It’s not as if there’s any counterforce in Israel. The latest opposition to Netanyahu is a centrist party that is also veering right, all but ruling out a Palestinian state, because there’s no political hay to be made by going left. The term Arab-lover really works as a political curse in Israel; the opposition’s last leader implored the party to shed its “Arab-loving” image. So the new opposition leaders are given to Jewish chauvinism and are falling over themselves to assure Jewish voters that they won’t make a governing coalition with Arab parties. That’s completely racist, and yet this party is now the hope of liberal Zionists.

Netanyahu, says Israeli political psychologist Eran Halperin. has successfully indoctrinated all of Israeli Jewish society in three emotions that now dominate political analysis: Despair, Fear, and Hatred. As for despair, “70 to 80 percent of the Israeli public, even left, believes that no matter what Israel offers, there will be no peace.” Fear: the region is changing so rapidly that “we cannot even consider taking risks in any way.”

And the Hatred is pure racism: Palestinians shouldn’t be considered part of the public discourse of Israel or the electoral system. Worse, everyone believes it, Halperin says. Even the so-called liberal opposition has embraced Netanyahu’s analysis, including the racism.

The last time Netanyahu ran, in 2015, he also used explicit racism, and the Obama administration at least denounced it; and Netanyahu had to apologize, all the way to the prime minister’s residence.

So you’d think that this time around there might be a forceful response from the liberal press and Democrats. But you’d be wrong. Apart from the progressive base of the Democratic Party, it’s all business as usual.

Typically, the New York Times covers the racism but doesn’t call much attention to it. Its story yesterday by David Halbfinger is titled, “Hectored by Netanyahu, Israeli Arabs Could Have the Final Say,” as if this is a debate in the House of Commons.

Mr. Netanyahu’s racial provocations may spur turnout among Arab voters motivated to usher him out of office.

It’s more than racial provocations. And even if they do usher Netanyahu out, none of those Arabs will be in the government.

Segregation ought to be a big issue for the Times, but the paper’s columnists have largely ignored the Israeli racism, the way they lined up behind Israeli massacres last year. Bret Stephens is fanning the flames of racism. Bari Weiss is engaged in her project to solidify the Jewish people behind Israel in a “shared sense of history and destiny.” Michelle Goldberg is good about Israeli racism, but she’s now more worried about Ilhan Omar. Roger Cohen worries about Jeremy Corbyn more than Netanyahu.

Netanyahu welcomed by AIPAC

AIPAC of course is celebrating Netanyahu’s appearance there next week with a bunch of Democrats. Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer and Steny Hoyer are all attending the conference, no questions asked, because they obviously think it’s good for fundraising.

There’s conjecture that Joe Biden will appear, too. And shockingly, a report that NY Mayor Bill de Blasio will also speak at AIPAC. So will Cory Booker. Ted Deutch and Nita Lowey will also be there.

The good news here is that many presidential candidates are staying away from AIPAC: Sanders, O’Rourke, Harris, Warren, Buttigieg, Castro, and Howard Schultz. They are all following the moral lead of the progressive Democratic base, which wants nothing to do with an organization that has supported colonization and massacres and the subjugation of citizens on a racial basis. Even Beto O’Rourke has the sense that needs to trash Netanyahu to gain traction with the base.

Chuck Schumer to appear at AIPAC's 2019 conference.

Chuck Schumer to appear at AIPAC’s 2019 conference.

Nancy Pelosi at AIPAC, earlier conference.

The responses from the liberal Zionist community are, as usual, tepid. The Israel Policy Forum, a liberal Zionist group, is proud of who it’s sending to the AIPAC conference! A bunch of young liberal Zionists has taken the lame step of writing a “Dear Bibi, We’re Concerned” letter that is frightening in its patience. Young people are supposed to believe in something! The young Jews call on Netanyahu to say at AIPAC that Israel “remains… a state of all its citizens” — or they’re going to have trouble standing up “for a strong US-Israel relationship.”

And while the liberal Zionist group J Street has been very good on Netanyahu’s racism, it too is avoiding anything with teeth, like say, a boycott call, and merely urging politicians who go to AIPAC  to call out “Netanyahu’s bigoted rhetoric and enabling of right-wing extremism” — or the pols will lose credibility when fighting Trump.

How hard should this be? Bernie Sanders won’t go to AIPAC, per his spokesperson, because of bigotry.

Sen. Sanders has no plans to attend the AIPAC conference. He’s concerned about the platform AIPAC is providing for leaders who have expressed bigotry and oppose a two-state solution.

MoveOn is calling on politicians to skip AIPAC, again, citing the real issue here, racism:

AIPAC conference is headlined by Benjamin Netanyahu––under whose leadership Israel may have committed war crimes.

Netanyahu also recently made a deal to bring the “Israeli KKK” ultra-racist party into the next government.


IfNotNow campaign against AIPAC.

IfNotNow gets the story. It will have a big ad in the streets of DC saying that Netanyahu, AIPAC and their racism are not representative of Jews.

While Jewish Voice for Peace is urging Congresspeople including Nancy Pelosi to skip AIPAC. “Don’t roll out a welcome mat for Netanyahu,” it says. “At a time when AIPAC’s power is clearly waning and we are watching change happen in real time – with groups like MoveOn coming out strongly in favor for Democrats to skip AIPAC – Nancy Pelosi is lending her legitimacy to [AIPAC].”

Again, how hard should this be?

As Allan Brownfeld writes, “It is not widely known in the U.S., but in recent years, religious fundamentalism and racism have come to dominate some sectors of Israeli society.” Sadly, that’s still a revelation waiting to happen for the liberal mainstream.

H/t Adam Horowitz, Donald Johnson, and James North. 

Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is senior editor of and founded the site in 2005-06.

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9 Responses

  1. JLewisDickerson on March 22, 2019, 11:18 am

    RE: Netanyahu, says Israeli political psychologist Eran Halperin. has successfully indoctrinated all of Israeli Jewish society in three emotions that now dominate political analysis: Despair, Fear, and Hatred. As for despair, “70 to 80 percent of the Israeli public, even left, believes that no matter what Israel offers, there will be no peace.” ~ Weiss

    “Israel’s Weird Elections” | by Uri Avnery | Counterpunch | January 4, 2013

    [EXCERPTS] . . . The Israeli media are already to a large extent neutralized, a creeping process not unsimilar to what the Germans used to call Gleichschaltung. [SEE: Gleichschaltung @ Wikipedia – J.L.D. ]

    All three TV channels are more or less bankrupt and dependent on government handouts. Their editors are practically government appointees. The printed press is also teetering on the brink of bankruptcy, except the largest “news” paper, which belongs to Sheldon Adelson and is a Netanyahu propaganda sheet, distributed gratis. [Naftali] Bennett repeats the ridiculous assertion that almost all journalists are left-wingers (meaning traitors.) He promises to put an end to this intolerable situation. . .

    . . . In the coming four years, the official annexation of the West Bank to Israel may become a fact. . .

    . . . If the government continues on its present course, this will lead to certain disaster – the entire country between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River will become one unit under Israeli rule. This Greater Israel will contain an Arab majority and a shrinking Jewish minority, turning it inevitably into an apartheid state, plagued by a permanent civil war and shunned by the world.

    If pressure from without and within eventually compels the government to grant civil rights to the Arab majority, the country will turn into an Arab state. 134 years of Zionist endeavor will come to naught, a repetition of the Crusaders’ kingdom.

    This is so obvious, so inevitable, that one needs an iron will not to think about it. It seems that all major parties in these elections have this will. Speaking about peace, they believe, is poison. Giving back the West Bank and East Jerusalem for peace? God forbid even thinking about it.

    The weird fact is that this week two respected polls – independent of each other – came to the same conclusion: the great majority of Israeli voters favors the “two-state solution”, the creation of a Palestinian state along the 1967 borders and the partition of Jerusalem. This majority includes the majority of Likud voters, and even about half of Bennett’s adherents.

    How come? The explanation lies in the next question: How many voters believe that this solution is possible? The answer: almost nobody. Over dozens of years, Israelis have been brainwashed into believing that “the Arabs” don’t want peace. If they say they do, they are lying.

    If peace is impossible, why think about it? Why even mention it in the election campaign? Why not go back 44 years to Golda Meir’s days and pretend that the Palestinians don’t exist? (“There is no such thing as a Palestinian people…It is not as though there was a Palestinian people and we came and threw them out and took their country away. They did not exist.” – Golda Meir, June 13, 1969) …


  2. Mooser on March 22, 2019, 11:33 am

    Trump On Dems Pulling Out Of AIPAC: ‘Frankly, I Think They’re Anti-Jewish’

  3. ckg on March 22, 2019, 1:25 pm

    Even Beto O’Rourke has the sense that needs to trash Netanyahu to gain traction with the base.

    Although Beto may have criticized Netanyahu, that isn’t a risky thing to do in the Democratic party today. Most pro-Israel Democrats loathe Netanyahu. Netanyahu is their scapegoat for Israel’s broader shortcomings which they still wish to deny.

    Furthermore, Beto went on to say “and on the Palestinian side, you have an ineffectual leader, in Mahmoud Abbas, who has not been very effective in bringing his side to the table either.” Beto’s charge is groundless. Abbas has many, many faults. But failing to bring his side to the table in contrived negotiations that are more show than substance is not one.

  4. JWalters on March 22, 2019, 6:22 pm

    Thanks for another great article. Felt like I was reading Netanyahu’s obituary. And that of the Zionist cover story. Maybe one day it won’t be so easy to buy the votes for leadership positions in the Senate and House.

    “Young people are supposed to believe in something!”

    In Zionism they’re supposed to stand for
    “Despair, Fear, and Hatred”

    That is a key part of the ancient belief system that holds the cult together.
    “Why I left the cult”

    • JWalters on March 23, 2019, 7:29 pm

      These features are not unique to Zionism. They are standard ingredients for keeping any cult isolated and controlled.

  5. genesto on March 25, 2019, 12:23 pm

    Bernie is, in all likelihood, the ONLY candidate that is boycotting the AIPAC convention based on principle. The rest have all expressed solidarity with the Israeli government in the recent past. In all likelihood, the rest of these candidates are boycotting because it is politically expedient, if not absolutely necessary, to do so to appeal to their progressive base.

    I trust Bernie’s sincerity and integrity. The rest – not so much!

  6. echinococcus on March 25, 2019, 1:26 pm

    He is “boycotting” the AIPAC meeting because he is opposed to the current brand of Zionist genocidaires but he is approving of (in fact more, part and parcel of) the earlier (“liberal-genocidaire”) version of the same, who have done most of the work of invading, occupying and ethnic cleansing! Did you just forget his defense of the 2014 Gaza massacre because “Azrael has a right to defend itself”? “Sincerity and integrity”, forsooth. A confirmed and insistent warmonger.

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