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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.”

Abba Solomon

Abba A. Solomon is the author of “The Speech, and Its Context: Jacob Blaustein's Speech ‘The Meaning of Palestine Partition to American Jews.’” His website is

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19 Responses

  1. eljay on June 13, 2019, 12:55 pm

    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.

  2. JWalters on June 13, 2019, 8:13 pm

    “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 Prime Minister, and they had a meeting in London to review the whole history of the conflict. And in the process they informed the public about the true history. And in that context people were to ask, What does justice look like?

    “Now, an American politician is expected to be affirmatively “pro-Israel” if they wish to demonstrate their philosemitism to Jewish voters and donors”

    And media owners. That media can pack a punch. Bernie learned last time around he has to be careful. YouTube videos critical of Israel are being knocked out. He’s on the front edge of the mainstream discussion. He can’t be out there all alone. He needs other people across the front also moving the discussion forward, so it’s a group movement, harder to hit.

    Mondoweiss is great as far as it reaches, and to help Bernie and others move the discussion forward I encourage MW readers to post links at MSM sites.

    • LiberatePalestine on June 14, 2019, 8:37 am

      You have much more confidence than I in Sanders, and for that matter in electoral politics.

      • JWalters on June 14, 2019, 8:11 pm

        I agree that America (and all the western democracies) are controlled by a powerful, anti-democratic cabal (war profiteering banksters). But the drafters of the Constitution provided some tools to resist that, mainly freedom of speech and voting. Societies did not have those before. I believe we should use them and fight hard.

      • LiberatePalestine on June 14, 2019, 9:24 pm

        By all means exercise freedom of speech. Voting, however, makes no difference. In the US, the «two» parties are identical in all important respects. There’s noöne for whom to vote. And that «powerful, anti-democratic cabal» has far more influence over policy than the voting public does.

      • JWalters on June 15, 2019, 4:38 am

        Things can be changed in this world. Else why are you wasting your time posting here at MW?

      • LiberatePalestine on June 15, 2019, 8:35 am

        Perhaps I am wasting my time here. But I am not wasting my time at a ballot box.

    • echinococcus on June 21, 2019, 1:29 am


      ” 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[….]

      Let’s be our age, please. Sanders’ job was not ever that of becoming president but to keep the sheeple voting for the Democrat nominee of the Owners of the Country. If you didn’t get that in so many words in the last few years…

      Anyway, let’s just suppose for the sake of a crazy thought experiment that the “liberal” Zionist and rabid warmonger Sanders (check the record) becomes President. Now what tells you that politicians, who whatever their persuasion never keep the promises they made explicitly, will keep promises they “keep secret”? Any support for such an insane idea?

      Also, is the MW censor officially on the Sanders team?

      • JWalters on June 21, 2019, 6:52 pm

        I agree there are contradictions, and respect your position. I’d cite the example of Lincoln, who disavowed any intent of ending slavery while running for president. However, once president he took every opportunity and acted decisively to conclusively end slavery. But we can’t actually know for certain what another person is thinking, because mammals are born with the capacity to fake their intentions.

      • echinococcus on June 22, 2019, 3:35 pm


        Agreed –of course there is no way to know what’s inside skulls (especially those with little grey matter.) I can’t see that the Lincoln/slavery precedent is relevant, though. We have there an opportunist anti-abolitionist who had to use emancipation as a weapon against a formidable enemy (for all we know, it’s more than possible that he would also have planned to take back all rights in the postwar.)

        Basically though, past behavior is still regarded as the least worst predictor of future action, and I was wondering if there was any element in Sanders’ warmongering and Zionist past, of the J-Street variety, that would justify expecting what you wrote you expect him to do. Except, of course, his boundless, protean opportunism. The latter is only very exceptionally something that will encourage helping the Palestinian people.

  3. Citizen on June 14, 2019, 6:48 am

    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.

    • JWalters on June 14, 2019, 8:04 pm

      Agree. That is why control over the media is so important. And why it is so important to push the MSM to cover the story of Israel more completely and honestly – debunking Israel’s myth of its innocent victimhood, revealing its history of on-going ethnic cleansing, and the vast amount of money it pours into American elections. Common sense will kick in and Israel will be kicked out. The MSM appears to be taking baby steps in that direction. They need to be praised for that, and pressed to go further.

      • LiberatePalestine on June 14, 2019, 9:27 pm

        There is no «free press» in a country like the US. On the contrary, the mainstream media are bought and paid for. They dutifully serve the state and repeat its propaganda. For an alternative to the state’s position, you have to hunt through obscure small-time publications—but they are not mainstream media.

  4. JoeSmack on June 14, 2019, 11:56 am

    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 foreign policy. It is unheard of to expect a serious presidential candidate to weigh in on the existence/legitimacy of a foreign state’s sense of identity/nationalism, even when he is against the government in its entirety and sympathizes with attempts to isolate it. Sanders isn’t a lobbyist. He can’t say whatever he wants. J-Street, on the other hand, can and absolutely is: their function is to maintain Israel’s “normalcy” in the eyes of Democrats.

    A President Sanders has to accept the foreign policy landscape as it is: unreliable Arab “allies” of the Palestinians, a complete lack of Palestinian unified leadership, and an incredibly powerful bipartisan lobby for Israel attached to a state that has nuclear weapons. He simply can’t say whatever he wants. That he is able to condemn the Nakba, the occupation, the anti-BDS laws, the Prime Minister, the war campaign against Iran, the racist attacks on Ilhan — all of these things are already sticking his neck out. If he were to actually go forth and challenge not only Israel’s crimes, but the legitimacy of its internal sense of racist nationalism — something most politicians don’t even do with their own countries — what would we gain? He’d immediately come under attack from the pseudo-Left, the obstacles he faces as a Democrat would explode, the level of increase in support from the far-Left / his base would remain the same, and on top of that, he would have no meaningful policy proposal to implement it because things like challenging the legitimacy of the Zionist regime require support from other regimes — all of which oppose Palestinian liberation for their own corrupt purposes.

  5. Nathan on June 14, 2019, 3:11 pm

    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 the Palestinians demand the right to found a Palestinian state (in which there will be no Jews). You need a certain amount of haughtiness to present a plan for others while ignoring their aspirations and dreams.

    Anyway, it should be mentioned that the establishment of a multi-ethnic state in Palestine depends on one oft-overlooked condition: The two sides will have to agree to end their conflict through the establishment of this multi-ethnic state. What Abba A. Solomon cannot imagine is that the conflict will not be solved through the founding of such a state. The idea of a multi-ethnic state does not address the issue of conflict, and hence the conflict will continue within its framework.

    I would suggest that we think about a plan that (1) solves the grievances that brought about the conflict, and that (2) satisfies the aspirations of those who have to live with the plan.

    • eljay on June 14, 2019, 6:35 pm

      || Nathan: … The Jews are rather clear in their insistence that there be a Jewish state … ||

      The Zionists are rather clear about a “Jewish State”. “The Jews” are only rather clear about it if you anti-Semitically conflate Zionism with all Jews and all Jews with Zionism. Which, of course, is what you Zionists routinely do.

      || … and the Palestinians demand the right to found a Palestinian state (in which there will be no Jews). … ||

      Do you have any proof that “the Palestinians” – by which you surely mean all Palestinians – demand a state with “no Jews” in it?

      And if by “the Palestinians” you didn’t mean “all Palestinians”, please have the decency to specify which Palestinians demand a state with “no Jews” in it.

    • LiberatePalestine on June 14, 2019, 9:20 pm

      → Who is calling for a multi-ethnic state in the Jewish public or in the Palestinian public?

      Plenty of people. It’s known as the one-state solution.

      → The Jews are rather clear in their insistence that there be a Jewish state,

      «The Jews» do not speak with one voice. Many Jews on this very site are anti-Zionist. So are some Jews in occupied Palestine.

      → and the Palestinians demand the right to found a Palestinian state (in which there will be no Jews).

      That’s a disgusting, but typical, Zionist lie. Often it is even magnified with the Nazi term judenrein (‘free of Jews’).

      I’ve never met a single Palestinian who wants to drive all Jews out of Palestine. I have met many Jewish inhabitants of Palestine who want to drive all Palestinians out. The Zionist project has had the expulsion or destruction of the Palestinians as a founding goal.

      You know these things perfectly well. Why do you persist in denying them?

  6. [email protected] on June 14, 2019, 3:56 pm

    I believe in Israelis’ right to exist in peace and security — just not in a Jewish state

  7. RobertHenryEller on June 18, 2019, 9:50 am

    It’s not a contradiction. It’s an effing lie.

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