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Jewish critics are an existential threat to Israel — so they must be labeled as bad Jews

Media Analysis
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Lately we’ve seen a great deal of institutional effort to show that American Jews are all for Israel, except the lunatics.

–The American Jewish Committee says the Jewish group, IfNotNow, is a “radical fringe.”

–The Jewish Federations in Seattle actually blocked a $1000 gift to IfNotNow from a family fund it advises because it would damage the goal of building “a cohesive Jewish community” and undermine Israel as a Jewish state.

IfNotNow are young Jews generally with strong communal upbringing who are demanding an end to Palestinian occupation after 52 years.

–Next week Bari Weiss’s book comes out saying that All good Jews celebrate the rebirth of Jewish sovereignty in Israel, except for a handful of enemies within: “a very small but very vocal group of Jews seems as deeply opposed to Jewish interests as many of our community’s enemies.” Anti-Zionist Jews, she says, are anti-Semitic.

–Batya Ungar-Sargon of the Forward has been promoting Bari Weiss’s book and stating that 95 percent of American Jews are Zionists. “We are all still pro Israel,” she says, but now we’re not unconditionally pro-Israel.

–And this week the Jewish Democratic Council of America jumped on a Pew poll to say Jews are for Israel, and forget about the dissenters:

Recent polling confirms what we already know: the vast majority of Jewish Americans are Democrats, and the vast majority of Jews are committed to Israel.

Jews are Democrats, Democrats are pro-Israel, and a small handful of members of Congress whose views on Israel are outside the mainstream do not represent our party. This is the truth.

The reasons for the insistence that the Jewish community is monolithic go to a central understanding: Israel would be lost without American Jews. That understanding shapes Jewish identity today, what it means to be Jewish, and it has produced the tenets of the American Jewish relationship to Israel:

  1. American support is an existential question for the Jewish state, because it is isolated in its bad neighborhood and at the U.N.
  2. That American support depends on Jews. Jews lead the American discussion on Israel, notably with Jewish orgs lobbying in the Congress, the thinktanks and mainstream media.
  3. There aren’t many Jews in the U.S., 2.5 percent of the population. So we must speak with one voice in order that our influence will be effective. If politicians hear differing Jewish voices, then they’ll throw up their hands and say, Jews lead the discussion here, so I guess I can vote any way on this I want to.

Thus the First Commandment of US Zionist institutions: We must stick together and smash dissent, because it is an existential threat to Israel. In a word, the “cohesive”-ness the Seattle Fed cited when it denied money to IfNotNow.

This has long been a Stalinist diktat that Jews have accepted. I have written often of my own agreement to muzzle myself when a neoconservative informed me 40 years ago that I didn’t understand the issue well enough to speak out. Then when I finally did start speaking out, my good friend and editor told me that I was naive and being used and my views were dangerous.

I had the feeling that I was threatening Jewish survival merely by criticizing the Jewish state openly. I could have been anti-abortion, pro-gun and a Republican, and my community would merely have smiled and said, He’s an outlier. But when it came to Israel, it was no laughing matter. I got fired by Jared Kushner

The commandment is observed in countless liberal Jewish institutions. Americans for Peace Now, for instance, has stayed on the executive committee of AIPAC, the rightwing Israel lobby group that supports settlements and tried to kill the Iran deal, because it thinks that it’s important that in the corridors of power, Jews should speak in one voice on Israel and maintain bipartisan support (as I understand Peace Now’s thinking).

The 92d Street Y simply does not allow anti-Zionists on its stage, let alone Palestinians (Sayed Kashua is the exception proving the rule).

J Street is very big against Netanyahu, but it does not allow anti-Zionists to speak at its annual conference. Though it will allow a militant Israeli who justifies the slaughter of Palestinian protesters to speak.

All these institutions are obeying the first commandment of Zionism: We really need to stick together to be effective, and that means isolating Jews who criticize Israel as lunatics. Big liberal publications also obey the diktat, inasmuch as they might publish Palestinians arguing against Zionism, but rarely if ever an anti-Zionist Jew. Jeffrey Goldberg once called anti-Zionist Jews non-Jews: “anti-Zionists with Jewish parents.”

The big threat to this orthodoxy is changing awareness. American progressives are starting to side with Palestinians over Israel: 56 percent of Democrats support imposing sanctions on Israel if it doesn’t stop its illegal settlement activity. Those Democrats make J Street seem like a very conservative organization.

And of course those Democrats include many Jews. The Jews of IfNotNow, which is non-Zionist, and Jewish Voice for Peace, which is anti-Zionist.

A JVP member named Milt struck a blow at the First Commandment of Jewish life recently when he sought to give his congressman permission to go against Israel by saying I know you listen to Jews on this issue, well Jews disagree. Milt challenged Rep. Stephen Lynch of Massachusetts to support Rep. Betty McCollum’s Palestinian children’s rights legislation because many Jews support it.

Now I noticed earlier you were very sensitive around… Jewish issues in this country and I assume abroad also, you talked about the different places you’ve been and you talked about balance.

Well, as you well know the Jewish community is quite split on many of these issues about Israel and Palestine. It’s a fact that our community is split and I’m looking for some balance on your part in terms of who you’re supporting and not supporting, what you can do in your leadership role.

That statement is anathema. No! American Jews support Israel and we need that wall-to-wall support to maintain the bipartisan political support for Israel.

Because look at the immediate result of Milt’s intervention: Lynch said he’d support McCollum’s very sensible bill to strip American funds from detention of Palestinian children. A bill that J Street doesn’t want anything to do with, because it’s the thin end of the wedge.

For the same reason, the new Israel lobby group Democratic Majority for Israel, went haywire when IfNotNow began asking Democratic political candidates a very reasonable question, Will you come out against the occupation. Democratic Majority, which has roots in AIPAC, called IfNotNow “strongly anti-Israel” in a memo it sent out to warn politicians. Notice Democratic Majority’s hatred for the democratic process:

A strongly anti-Israel organization, IfNotNow, which has refused to acknowledge Israel’s right to exist at all…  is asking young people to run up to candidates and ask some variant of, “will you push Israel to end the occupation.”

They then trumpet a quick “yes” as a major foreign policy statement by the candidate and a victory for anti-Israel forces.

The context for all these calls for unanimity is the fear that Israel will become politicized and then everyone will be allowed to form an opinion, and a lot of Americans will support Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions or some variant.

This is actually an existential issue for Israel: real division inside the American Jewish community. When the monolith cracks, it will allow US politicians to stray off the reservation, and Israel will finally feel real pressure to reform along lines sought by its oppressed minority population.

It’s mortal combat (as John Mearsheimer explained to me years ago), and that’s why the pro-Israel side is resorting to smashmouth politics: labelling critical Jews as bad Jews.

Philip Weiss

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

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29 Responses

  1. eljay on September 6, 2019, 6:51 pm

    Shame on the majority of Jews for being hateful and immoral supremacist hypocrites.

    And shame on them and on all non-Jewish (pro-)Zionists for anti-Semitically insisting that all Jews should be hateful and immoral supremacist hypocrites.

    • Misterioso on September 7, 2019, 10:21 am

      Breaking news guaranteed to drive Netanyahu and his ilk crazy:

      “European court removes Hamas from world’s terrorism list”
      By َQudsN / September 6, 2019

      Luxembourg (QNN)- “The European Court of First Instance in Luxembourg has removed Hamas and its military wing, the Qassam Brigades, from terrorist lists on Thursday.

      “Lawyer Khaled al-Shuli said in a press statement on Friday that the European Court in Luxembourg made an important decision in favor of Hamas in a public hearing held on the fourth of September.

      “Al-Shuli added that the court overturned all the decisions issued against Hamas and its military wing, the Al-Qassam Brigades.

      “The decisions that were annulled are: Decision No. 2018/475, and 2018/1084 and the decrees issued by them numbers 2018/468 and 2018/107, according to Shuli.

      “The Hamas resistance movement hailed the decision. Abdillatif Qanu’, Hamas spokesman in Gaza said that the decision to remove Hamas and its armed wing from the world’s terrorist list ‘is positive and a right step in the right direction.'”

  2. DaBakr on September 7, 2019, 1:10 am

    Foolish jews, not bad jews. But some say the dream of America the US is just a nightmare illusion. So, who knows really. Just time.

    • Misterioso on September 7, 2019, 9:30 am


      Wake up!! For Judaism, Zionism is another “Golden Calf.” It is rotting within and being abandoned by ever increasing numbers of Jews everywhere, especially youth. No surprise!!

      Richard Cohen, US columnist:
      “The greatest mistake Israel could make at the moment is to forget that Israel itself is a mistake … the idea of creating a nation of European Jews in an area of Arab Muslims (and some Christians) has produced a century of warfare and terrorism of the sort we are seeing now. Israel fights Hezbollah in the north and Hamas in the south, but its most formidable enemy is history itself.”

      Rabbi Michael Lerner, editor of Tikkun Magazine:
      “If a Jew today goes into any synagogue in the U.S. or around the world and says, ‘I don’t believe in God or Torah and I don’t follow the commandments,’ most will still welcome you in and urge you to become involved. But say, ‘I don’t support the State of Israel,’ and you are likely to be labeled a ‘self-hating Jew’ or anti-Semite, scorned and dismissed.”

      • DaBakr on September 7, 2019, 10:45 pm


        How many times do you have to be told that Israel is approx 50% sephardi or Mizrahi jews. Or, as the woke crowd prefers, people of colour

      • Misterioso on September 9, 2019, 4:23 pm


        Zionism was conceived in Europe by Herzl, et al., in the 19th century and by means of monstrous violence, its Askenazi Jewish adherents eventually dispossessed and expelled the vast majority of the essentially defenselss indigenous Palestinians from their ancient homeland and thereby created the borderless, racist, expansionist entity known as “Israel” or “Jewish State” in 1948.

        For the record:
        While the situation for Jews in Arab countries did deteriorate as a consequence of the Zionists’ expulsion of what became well over one million Palestinians and its ongoing territorial expansion, their emigration to “Israel” was prompted for the most part by Israeli recruiters sent to Iraq, Yemen, throughout North Africa and elsewewhere along with terror attacks by Israeli agents (e.g. bombing of Jewish synagogues and businesses by “The Movement” in Iraq, the Lavon affair in Egypt – Israeli agents bombing US and British concerns in Cairo) and the Cohen spy affair in Syria as well as worsening economic conditions and a desire by some to fulfill their perceived duty of aliyah.

        To quote Yehouda Shenhav, of Iraqi Jewish heritage and professor of sociology and anthropology at Tel Aviv University: “Any reasonable person, Zionist or non-Zionist, must acknowledge that the analogy drawn between Palestinians and Mizrahi [Arab] Jews is unfounded. Palestinian refugees did not want to leave Palestine….Those who left did not do so of their own volition. In contrast, Jews from Arab lands came to this country under the initiative of the State of Israel and Jewish organizations.” (Ha’aretz, 8 October 2004.)

        Renowned Israeli historian Avi Shlaim, born in Baghdad, concurs: “We are not refugees, nobody expelled us from Iraq, nobody told us that we were unwanted. But we are the victims of the Israeli-Arab conflict.” (Ha’aretz, 11 August 2005)

        BTW, unable to bear their circumstances and the blatant racism directed towards them by the Ashkenazi/white European Jewish establishment, about 5,000 Moroccan Jews promptly returned to Morocco after arriving in Israel in the late 1940s. In recent years thousands more have returned home and continue to do in order to live a meaningful, peaceful and prosperous life among their Arab/Muslim/Christian brothers and sisters. Morocco is benefitting greatly from their return.

      • jon s on September 10, 2019, 3:44 pm

        Commenter “Misterioso” will endlessly recycle his comments, even after errors and falsifications have been pointed out. Misterioso just copy/pastes them again. So 5000 Jews returned to Morrocco and Josephus regularly referred to the country as Palestine and the Jews left Iraq because of Zionist bombings and so forth…

      • Mooser on September 11, 2019, 1:04 pm

        “Commenter “Misterioso” will endlessly recycle his comments, even after errors and falsifications have been pointed out”

        Really? And when has that happened? Got a single example?
        I say you are lying.

        Or do you intend to start relying on “Jackdaw” for your Zionist history?

  3. davisherb on September 7, 2019, 11:47 am

    OK to name call me.

  4. Joshua Laskin on September 7, 2019, 11:57 am

    I disagree with the, ‘central understanding,’ that Israel would be lost without American Jews. Israel benefits from that support; but the seeming necessity of which, is simply a method of sustaining it.

    1. Palestine was chosen as the location for the Jewish state, simply from nostalgia. In considerations of defense and industrial self-sufficiency, almost impossible to have chosen a more stupid spot. So yes, of course, Israel’s vulnerable. And it’s true, the US has subsidized Israeli defense; but Israel can and would pay for its own defense, regardless. Their high taxes would just get a little bit higher. As for the UN, Israel would continue to ignore UN resolutions, even were the US disinclined to run interference.

    2. US support doesn’t depend on a united Jewish consensus. It depends on rich and powerful lobbies, thinktanks, media, etc; funded by a handful of billionaires, and a hatful of millionaires; and doesn’t require the support of even a simple majority of American Jews. Jewish Zionists are dwarfed by the number of Christian Zionists, so it’s Jewish money, and Gentile votes, that Israel’s banking on; not Jewish votes.

    3. It’s the campaign-benjamins, and other perks, that will continue to influence those politicians w/out spines. There may be a few who would feel more space to differ, if there wan’t a united front; but not enough to make much difference in policy.

    Israel is finding plenty of allies and trading-partners, out in the world, less ideologically democratic, so more naturally sympathetic, than the US. No, Israel doesn’t need the USA; but only wants to keep the milktrain running, as long as possible; knowing that Western nations, however naive, will eventually catch on. What’s really at stake, is the loss of status, of American Zionist Jews, in the eyes of Israeli elites. Zionist Jews fear losing in importance, to their foreign homeland.

    • echinococcus on September 7, 2019, 1:39 pm


      Most likely analysis, thank you for summarizing it.
      I’ll suggest that it would be entirely correct if you replaced “Israel” by “Zionism/Zionists”, as the head of the Zionist conspiracy seems to be distributed between occupied Palestine and the plutocratic haunts of the US. I’d further suggest that the fraction in Palestine takes its orders from the US.

    • JohnSmith on September 7, 2019, 7:55 pm

      “Israel can and would pay for its own defense, regardless.”

      Excuse me, but that is an utterly ridiculous idea. Without US aid … money … assistance … interference-running … economic support…Israel would not remotely be able to support the same level of vicious military abuse of its subject peoples.

      The US has poured essentially infinite funds into what otherwise would be a tiny economy equivalent to, or smaller than, that of Ireland or New Zealand.

      I don’t see other nations entering the breach to provide anything like the same level of crazy support, or Israel being able to support the same level of military waste.

      The bullets alone must cost a vast fortune, and Israel isn’t paying for them….

      It’s easy for Israelis, or others talking up their claims, to say what big, impressive, mightily wealthy people they are and how they’ll do whatever it takes. It’s quite another thing to have to come up with the money on your own and then keep flushing it down Israel’s toilet of hate.

      • Sibiriak on September 8, 2019, 2:24 am

        JohnSmith: “Israel can and would pay for its own defense, regardless.” Excuse me, but that is an utterly ridiculous idea.

        Not really. Reductions in U.S. aid, if they ever come, will be gradual and Israel mostly likely will have sufficient time to adjust.

        The US has poured essentially infinite funds into what otherwise would be a tiny economy…

        Total aid to Israel currently amounts to 3.8 billion annually. Israel’s gross domestic product is around 390 billion. So, U.S. aid amounts to less than one percent of Israeli GDP. That’s not to say that a total cutoff of U.S. aid wouldn’t be a serious blow. It would. But it would hardly be a fatal one.

        U.S. aid to Israel is of course a huge subsidy for the U.S. military industrial complex.

        Prior to the Obama administration, 73.7% of all military aid had to be spent on procurements from U.S. companies. That “offshore procurement” (OSP) provision was changed– by 2028 one hundred percent of Israel’s military aid will be recycled back to US corporations.

        U.S. military aid to Israel has always been, to a large degree, a government subsidy to U.S. weapons and military equipment industries. Under the Bush MOU [Memorandum of Understanding], that subsidy was 73.7 percent of $3 billion each year, or $2.211 billion. Now, it will be 100 percent of $3.8 billion by 2028.

        There is also the aid money to Egypt and Jordan, which derives from their respective peace agreements with Israel. Arms sales to the Gulf states also rise as Israel’s own military capabilities improve.

        These factors will mean even more intense lobbying from the defense industry to maintain the status quo and, therefore, the perceived need for a heavily armed Israel.

        * * *

        […] Congress is bound by law to ensure that Israel maintains its “qualitative military edge” (QME) in the region. This was defined, in the Naval Vessel Transfer Act of 2008, as “the ability to counter and defeat any credible conventional military threat from any individual state or possible coalition of states or from non-state actors, while sustaining minimal damage and casualties.”

        The same act requires the president to judge any arms sales to other countries in the region, whether they are in conflict with Israel or not, in light of maintaining Israel’s QME. All of this was reinforced by legislation passed in 2012 and 2014.

        Before even getting to the point of a congressional challenge to the MOU’s commitment of annual aid to Israel, Congress would first need to revise or reverse these laws.

        These obstacles mean that any challenge to U.S. aid to Israel requires a much larger political lift. But that doesn’t necessarily argue against a campaign that shines a spotlight on that aid. There are exploitable areas, such as regulations in U.S. law governing arms exports and human rights violations.

        Although it is not clear how often Israel uses U.S.-made weapons in the occupied territories, advocates have made accusations of their use, with supporting evidence, from time to time. Sustained efforts at investigating these violations will not change Israeli practices, but the additional publicity would have obvious benefits for advocates of Palestinian rights.

        A campaign to reduce or eliminate U.S. aid to Israel, or narrower campaigns to tie that aid to specific policy demands, could do a lot to promote dialogue about U.S. policy toward Israel, even if it doesn’t achieve its broader objectives. If advocates undertake campaigns with that understanding, they may find the collateral benefits worth the effort.

      • Misterioso on September 9, 2019, 5:12 pm


        Bottom line: “Israel”has been massively financially subsidzed by American tax payers for over 71 years and is still begging for more.

        Some perspective:
        “Israel is the largest cumulative recipient of U.S. foreign assistance since World War II. To date, the United States has provided Israel $134.7 billion (current, or non inflation-adjusted, dollars) in bilateral assistance and missile defense funding. Almost all U.S. bilateral aid to Israel is in the form of military assistance, although in the past Israel also received significant economic assistance. At a signing ceremony at the State Department on September 14, 2016, representatives of the U.S. and Israeli governments signed a new 10-year Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on military aid covering FY2019 to FY2028. Under the terms of the MOU, the United States pledges to provide $38 billion in military aid ($33 billion in Foreign Military Financing grants plus $5 billion in missile defense appropriations) to Israel. This MOU replaces a previous $30 billion 10-year agreement, which runs through FY2018.” (“Congressional Research Service, U.S. Foreign aid to Israel, Jeremy M. Sharpe, Specialist in Middle East Affairs, April 10, 2018.”)

        You state: “U.S. aid to Israel is of course a huge subsidy for the U.S. military industrial complex.”

        In short, the “huge subsidy” is comparable to a guy walking into a furniture store and telling the owner/manufacture that he really likes the furniture and would like to buy some. Not being very bright, the owner agrees to provide the potential purchaser with sufficent funds from his own pocket to buy the furniture and continues to do so regularly at an ever increasing rate for what is now over 71 years.

        Face reality!! American taxpayers are being conned by the entity known as “Israel” with the conivance of bought and paid for American politicians in the pocket of Zionists.

  5. Arby on September 7, 2019, 2:24 pm

    “And this week the Jewish Democratic Council of America jumped on a Pew poll to say Jews are for Israel, and forget about the dissenters…” etc in a transparent act of demonstration thinking and behavior. “Here’s how you’re to think American Jews…” would be the message that stupid Jews will be receptive to and caring and therefore knowledgeable Jews would see through right away.

  6. brent on September 7, 2019, 11:09 pm

    Many Americans, including Jews and Christians, have been persuaded Israel’s right to exist is in play. Takes will be significantly different when the issue is seen as discrimination under the law.

    • Mooser on September 8, 2019, 1:47 pm

      “Takes will be significantly different when the issue is seen as discrimination under the law.”

      Which law?

    • echinococcus on September 9, 2019, 11:27 pm

      “Many Americans, including Jews and Christians, have been persuaded Israel’s right to exist is in play”

      And damn right they are. Also, you’re not a good actor. That clueless virgin role has been played superbly by many others.

      • brent on September 10, 2019, 2:27 pm

        echinococcus…..perhaps you’d be willing or able to articulate or delineate an approach that will lead to co-existence or advanced Palestine’s or anyone’s interest…. or has the potential to do so. I see a sad history that justifies a different approach. Hoping to understand what I’m missing.

        Seems to me the seeking of fairness is best done by reasoned moral argument and tactics.

      • Mooser on September 10, 2019, 3:52 pm

        “done by reasoned moral argument…”

        And whose “morality” are we appealing to?

        “Brent”, why are you doing so much pretending?

      • RoHa on September 11, 2019, 12:15 am

        “best done by reasoned moral argument and tactics.”

        The Zionists are impervious to moral argument. They have no moral sense.

        Appealing to the rest of the world requires going past the journos and pollies, who are similarly unconcerned with morality.

  7. JaapBo on September 8, 2019, 3:16 am

    Very good analysis, especially the third tenet, that Jewish dissent is seen as very threaening treason.
    Regarding the first tenet that US support is essential to Israel. I think Israel would also still do well with a neutral US, but the issue is that the alternative can also be US hostility towards Israeli apartheid. Israeli apartheid (like South Africa’s) would most likely not survive that.

  8. Mooser on September 8, 2019, 3:31 pm

    “pro-Israel side is going to resort to smashmouth politics: labelling critical Jews as bad Jews.”

    ‘Bad Jews’ are a lot like the weather.

  9. Rosetta on September 9, 2019, 3:48 am

    It is never explained why Judaism should have rights which are accorded no other religion. Surely if principles matter they should be applied equally?

    If followers of Judaism have a right to colonise Palestine because some members of the religion wandered in thousands of years ago and set up camp, then surely all religions should have the same right. If not, why not?

    If followers of Judaism can claim homelands and land rights then followers of all religions must be able to do the same.

    Why would, could or should Jews be singled out in this way?

    • Nathan on September 9, 2019, 8:41 pm

      Rosetta – It’s hard to believe that your real concern is that “all religions should have the same right”. Like many of the participants in the comments section of Mondoweiss, your supposed grievance is just a way of presenting your political view that the State of Israel shouldn’t have been founded. You might find it interesting to find out that the events that brought about the birth of Israel happened quite a long time ago. One can debate for years about the pro’s and con’s of bringing a child into this world; however, when that child is having his bar-mitzvah (and surely when he’s about to finish his MA degree), one might consider changing the topic of debate.

      • RoHa on September 10, 2019, 2:03 am

        But we are not talking about a child. We are talking about an organization. The circumstances in which that organization came into being can well be relevant to the question of whether that organization should continue to exist.

      • eljay on September 10, 2019, 7:44 am

        || Nathan: … Like many of the participants in the comments section of Mondoweiss, your supposed grievance is just a way of presenting your political view that the State of Israel shouldn’t have been founded. … ||

        There was no moral reason the State of Israel to have been carved out of geographic Palestine. There was even less of a moral reason for Israel to have been founded as a religion-supremacist “Jewish State”.

        || … One can debate for years about the pro’s and con’s of bringing a child into this world; however, when that child is having his bar-mitzvah (and surely when he’s about to finish his MA degree), one might consider changing the topic of debate. ||

        You’re right: Let’s stop talking about whether or not the child should exist and focus instead on the fact that he has always been an unapologetic (war) criminal and supremacist whose parents and siblings refuse to stop supporting, justifying and/or defending his (war) criminal and supremacist behaviour.

        When will his parents and siblings consider changing his – and their – evil ways?

    • DaBakr on September 12, 2019, 1:05 am


      Muslim Arabs have 22 nations they refer to as Islamic. And eternally Arab land even though they conquered most and colonized it.

  10. Kay24 on September 10, 2019, 9:03 am

    Bari Weiss peddling her book, with the victim attitude, and outraged that everyone is picking on Israel, about anti-semitism, and an interview that makes you want to barf, on Morning Joe. Of course, no push back from Mika or Joe. Weiss is quite an expert now in pretending to be the avenging angel and fighting for poor ole’ Israel. I guess she will be making the rounds now, and will get the usual easy pass.

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