J Street — and Bernie Sanders — are loyal to the ‘democratic and Jewish homeland’ contradiction

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The liberal Zionist group J Street continued its attempts to resuscitate the endless “two-state solution” process after U.S. Ambassador David Friedman was quoted accepting that Israel may exercise its “right” to absorb some or all West Bank territories in addition to its annexation of Jerusalem.

“Under certain circumstances, I think Israel has the right to retain some, but unlikely all, of the West Bank,” Friedman said. “Certainly Israel’s entitled to retain some portion of it.”

Dylan Williams, J Street Senior Vice President of Government Affairs wrote to supporters June 11,

The interview puts the Trump administration on record condoning a course of action that violates international law, tramples Palestinian rights and endangers Israel’s future as a democratic and Jewish homeland. [Emphasis added.]

“As the saying goes, it is ‘Jewish’ for Arabs and ‘democratic’ for Jews,” scholar Ran Greenstein commented about Israel in 2010.

Before Israeli statehood, it was necessary to describe the planned Jewish homeland as a liberal democracy in the period of gaining American Jewish support for the Zionist project.

In a series of meetings with Chaim Weizmann in 1941-42, American Jewish Committee president Sol M. Stroock and successors worked out an agreement to generally support Zionist plans in Palestine.

The  AJC agreed to support

the original purposes of the Balfour declaration whereby there shall be established, for such Jews as now reside there and for such others as choose to go and remain there and for their descendants a legally secured  national home in Palestine where they may expect to constitute a majority of the population and may look forward to self government, it being clearly  understood that

a)  in such a self-governing community…all  the inhabitants…shall  enjoy complete equality of rights, and

b)  the  establishment of this self-governing community shall in no way  affect the political and civil status or allegiance of Jews who are citizens of any other country, nor shall any effort at any time be made to effect such status or allegiance and

c)  only such Jews or non-Jews who are or become inhabitants of Palestine may be eligible to become citizens thereof.

Clauses “b” and “c” fulfilled the AJC’s goal of protecting in some manner Jews in the diaspora from Jewish nationalism, which many of its members felt was a menace to Jewish life.

In 1942, Manhattan lawyer and AJC Executive Committee member James N. Rosenberg angrily objected to the formula being developed for AJC cooperation with the Zionist plans to make Palestine a Jewish state. He noticed what supporters of a Jewish homeland in Palestine were willing to avert their eyes from: that the fate and rights of non-Jews were unimportant in Zionist planning, even before the Nakba.

You set up a kind of democracy which I do not recognize as a democracy; one which begins to work as a democracy only when Jews become a majority there, and only when operating their sole direction (except perhaps for a sovereign policeman to protect you from the surrounding Arab countries). You profess to protect ‘equality of rights’ for Arabs and Christians though you give them no immigration rights, deny them any part in forming the autonomous commonwealth and demand that Palestine immigration should be conducted to bring about a Jewish majority. Your demand that the exclusive power to set up the ‘autonomous commonwealth’ be in Jewish hands refutes democracy because it cancels out the rights of others.

J Street still clings to the contradiction of “Jewish and democratic” Israel that Rosenberg foresaw.

Even Bernie Sanders, in his latest admirable advocacy for Palestinian rights, is “someone who believes absolutely and unequivocally in Israel’s right to exist in peace and security.” Support for Palestinian rights to exist is progress, but his stance seems to include support for the survival of political Jewish primacy in Israel/Palestine that non-Jews must work around.

Most observers of Israel/Palestine would be happy with any resolution that doesn’t leave people seething with revanchist goals, so that normal life can resume. The half-century of “Troubles” that Ireland suffered after the amputation of the northern counties warns against a solution that perpetuates an injury.

In this case, Israeli identity is predicated on perpetual Jewish domination, or at best custody, of Palestinian lives.

These are thoughts in a different dimension from the American political stage in which Sanders is performing. It’d be too much to expect Sanders to mention the idea of negating the partition and allowing Palestine to be a democratic multi-ethnic state.

It may be that an American politician, or “mainstream” J Street, cannot question political Zionism, or even call it fanaticism or implicit antisemitism as some Jews did before the declaration of the state in 1948.

Now, an American politician is expected to be affirmatively “pro-Israel” if they wish to demonstrate their philosemitism to Jewish voters and donors, and J Street’s reason for being is to have its counsel accepted as reasonably conventional.

Sanders’s declaration of support for Israel means protecting the dream of ingathering/return and Jewish self-rule, validating the displacement of and 71-year stateless vulnerability of a population only because of their handicap of not being Jews.

J Street’s distaste is with Ambassador Friedman’s vulgarity in openly approving what must be only implicit in “Israel’s future as a democratic and Jewish homeland.”

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Every Zionist believes that the religion-based identity of Jewish grants to those who choose to hold it the “right”:
– to be supremacists;
– to have a religion-supremacist state; and
– to do “necessary evil” unto others.

J Street and Sanders are Zionist. ’nuff said.

“J Street still clings to the contradiction of “Jewish and democratic” Israel that Rosenberg foresaw.” This shows clearly the power of emotion to derail reason. It also shows clearly the result of decades of intense emotional conditioning. ” It’d be too much to expect Sanders to mention the idea of negating the partition and allowing Palestine to be a democratic multi-ethnic state. “ Right now it would. But suppose Bernie were President and Corbyn were… Read more »

Mainstream media owners & controllers know that if they allowed the public audience a full factual account of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the context of each latest “breaking news” in that area, via interviewing objective journalists in primetime news hours, the American public would demand equal rights for the non-Jews living in the land controlled by the state of Israel, the beneficiary of such lavish US taxpayer funds.

The primary problem with equating J-Street and Bernie Sanders is not their views in the abstract, but the roles that they play. J-Street exists solely to provide progressive cover for Israel and Zionism by adding nominal criticisms of Israeli settlements while undermining boycotts of Israel and any defense of Palestinian liberation. In contrast: Sanders is running for President. Keep in mind that even Donald Trump, when running, avoided going too far in laying out his… Read more »

I can’t imagine why Abba A. Solomon would expect Sen. Sanders to negate the partition or to call for a multi-ethnic state in Palestine. Generally, in polite conversation, one tends to take into account the will of the people about whom we are debating. Who is calling for a multi-ethnic state in the Jewish public or in the Palestinian public? The Jews are rather clear in their insistence that there be a Jewish state, and… Read more »