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AOC Backs Out of Rabin Event

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A Blow to The Lobby

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was scheduled to participate in an event honoring the legacy of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin this month. The memorial had been organized by the group Americans for Peace Now (APN), who tweeted that AOC would “reflect on fulfilling the courageous Israeli leader’s mission for peace and justice today in the US and Israel.” News of the event quickly spread on Twitter and the congresswoman received a barrage of backlash over her involvement, from Palestinians and advocates for the Palestinian cause. Soon after, AOC backed out of it.

While Rabin (who was assassinated by an Israeli right-wing extremist in 1995) has been reimagined by liberal Zionists as a symbol of peace, that’s certainly not how most Palestinians view him. He was an operations officer during the 1948 war and signed the order to expel over 50,000 Palestinians from their homes in the “Lydda Death March.” He instructed the Yiftach Brigade to show no mercy during the ethnic cleansing, telling them “the inhabitants of Lydda must be expelled quickly, without regard to age.” During the First Intifada, Rabin allegedly told soldiers to break the bones of any Palestinian who resisted.

Groups like APN champion his connection to the Oslo Accords in 1993, but if you’re reading this newsletter you probably already know that the whole thing was a sham. The late, great Edward Said called the agreement, “an instrument of Palestinian surrender.” In his book The End of the Peace Process, Said wrote, “No negotiations are better than endless concessions that simply prolong the Israeli occupation. Israel is certainly pleased that it can take the credit for having made peace, and at the same time continue the occupation with Palestinian consent.”

Twenty-seven years later, all of Said’s warnings have turned out to be true. Here’s what Jon Schwarz and Alice Speri wrote at The Intercept on the 25th anniversary of the agreement:

Who was right? Who was wrong? The answer is obvious from the silence this week of Oslo’s proponents — on the 25th anniversary of the accord. There are no op-eds from former State Department officials congratulating themselves on their hard work and diligence. Bill Clinton has not taken to Twitter to reminisce about that hallowed day.

They all realize, of course, that it would be ridiculous if they did. Today there is no Palestinian state, no peace — and no sign there ever will be either. Since Oslo, about 10,000 Palestinians have been killed by Israel, several thousand of them women and children, and more than 1,500 Israelis have been killed by Palestinians. The West Bank and Gaza have been politically severed from each other, even as the number of Israeli settlers has grown from about 250,000 in 1993 to 600,000 today. And the Israeli government and populace have grown more and more extreme, to the point that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who once was seen as occupying the far-right of the political spectrum, now is part of the sensible center.

It’s unclear why AOC (or the people around her) believed it was a good idea to participate in the event, or how they possibly didn’t see the reaction coming. However, the fact she backed out is extremely important. It’s a huge victory for the Palestine Solidarity Movement and a big blow, not just for the Israel Lobby, but for liberal Zionists.

The online reactions from the pro-Israel crowd were predictably apoplectic. “For my part, I will just say that if Yitzhak Rabin, a guy who changed his worldview and literally died for peace, fails your purity test, it’s possible your purity test isn’t aimed at actually brokering real world peace and is bad,” tweeted Tablet’s Yair Rosenberg. Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt tweeted, “Yitzhak Rabin was a heroic Israeli leader, a Nobel Laureate who gave his life for peace. Backing out of this event, hosted by dovish [APN] no less, is sad, wrong and truly a missed opportunity for AOC to show support for peace & reconciliation.”

The Democratic Majority for Israel (DMFI) put out a statement condemning her decision:

Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez’s decision to renege on her agreement to speak at a memorial to Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, who was slain trying to make peace, is wholly wrong and deeply regrettable.

It is also offensive to those who support a two-state solution to the Israeli Palestinian conflict and, sadly, gives aid and comfort to the enemies of peace.

Fortunately, her fundamental disrespect for Israel and for peacemakers is not shared by the vast majority of Democrats in Congress or at the grassroots.

As we’ve pointed out dozens of times in this newsletter, if not hundreds of times on the Mondoweiss site, DMFI’s point about grassroots Dems is a verifiable lie that can be refuted in the amount of time it takes to run an online search. Every single recent poll on the topic points to the fact that Democratic voters are becoming less pro-Israel, more receptive to conditioning military aid to the country, and developing a deeper concern for Palestinians. DMFI is right that congressional Democrats remain very pro-Israel, but the group also has to know that the (purposely dormant) two-state consensus is beginning to rupture and the BDS movement is gaining ground. Can anyone honestly envision a politician being successfully pressured into pulling out of such an event just a few years ago?

In the last installment of The Shift we covered the controversy over San Francisco State University hosting an online event that featured Leila Khaled. That stream, and information about it, ended up being censored by Zoom, Facebook, and YouTube. DMFI tweeted in support of the suppression: “This is the right decision. Terrorists—and members of U.S.-designated terrorist groups—should not be given a platform to spread their hate.”

Of course Khaled never killed anyone, while Rabin was a war criminal. The lack of moral consistency from pro-Israel groups is hardly surprising, but you rarely see such a nice distillation of their hypocrisy within the span of just a few days.

Scientific Journal Rejects False Geographic Labeling

Molecules is a chemistry journal that recently released a special issue edited by a professor at Ariel University, Dr. Mindy Levine. The school is located in illegally occupied Palestinian territory, but the issue was set to incorrectly refer to it as being in Israel.

A group of academics sent a letter to the journal, calling on the editors to correct the publication. “It seems to us reasonable to insist that, at the very least, the professor’s affiliation should correctly and factually be indicated as ‘Ariel University, illegal Israeli settlement of Ariel, Occupied Palestinian Territory’ in all related material,” it read. “In addition, all potential contributors should be explicitly made aware of Ariel University’s status as an illegal institution and of its role in perpetuating a war crime, given that the editor, not merely a contributor, is from that institution. We are confident that a considerable number of them would be equally disturbed by this choice.”

As a result of the letter, the editors asked the professor to correct her affiliation. She refused, so now they are withdrawing the issue. Here’s George P. Smith, 2018 Nobel Chemistry Laureate and Ariel University Non-Recognition Campaign Advisory Board member, on the news:

“All we asked in the original petition was for Professor Levine to correct the address of her university to comply with international law: Ariel is an Israeli Jewish settlement in Occupied Palestinian Territory, not a town in Israel. Sadly, she has refused, effectively choosing pro-occupation propaganda over her own academic freedom and the larger interest of the global science community in unfettered publication of scientific ideas and results. The editors of Molecules are to be commended for taking the only responsible course of action in the circumstances.”

Odds & Ends

💻 Neve Gordon has a good piece at Al Jazeera on the danger of Facebook potentially adopting the IHRA definition of antisemitism: “Soon, it became clear that no army of trolls can cope with monitoring the massive amount of content on Facebook. That is why, right-wing Zionist organisations have recently begun pressuring Facebook to include criticism of Israel as part of its own definition of hate speech. Their objective, in other words, is to force Facebook to alter the algorithms it uses to detect hate speech so the company’s own algorithms will automatically remove any criticism of Israel from the platform. Algorithms, they realised, are more efficient than trolls.”

🇾🇪 A Sky News investigation found evidence of a potential war crime in Northern Yemen where the Saudi-led coalition killed 9 civilians, including 6 children. The attack was carried out with a bomb made in the United States. There were only 3 survivors. One of the survivors, Nora Ali Muse’ad Mujali, was breastfeeding her son when the bomb hit. “I was in shock. The house was destroyed,” she told them. “I was searching for my daughter, but she was dead. Then I saw my sister-in-law and she was dead too. I just picked up my son and screamed for help.”

🇺🇸 Last month, the Washington Post reported that a $1 billion Pentagon fund, that was created to build up the country’s medical supplies, ended up being largely funneled to defense contractors. The Armed Services Committee has now announced that there will be no congressional investigation into this.

🏫 A couple big campus victories in recent days. Students from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) and Columbia University both passed historic resolutions calling for divestment from Israel. “These campus BDS victories are indicative of the rapidly changing tide we’re seeing across the United States,” the BDS Movement’s North America coordinator Olivia Katbi Smith told me. “Despite the escalating campaigns of repression on campuses and in the halls of government, it is becoming impossible to be ‘progressive except Palestine’, because it is becoming impossible to silence our movement. The Palestinian struggle for freedom, justice and equality so clearly intersects with all other struggles of oppressed peoples everywhere.”

💩 Foreign policy was not really mentioned at all during the repugnant presidential “debate”, but the Quincy Institute put together some questions that should have been asked. Here’s a good one from their executive vice president Trita Parsi: “The Middle East has progressively become more unstable and violent under American military hegemony. In 1998, the region suffered from five armed conflicts. By 2019, 22 violent struggles engulfed the area. This has made America less safe and cost countless American lives. America’s posture of military dominance in the Middle East is precisely why the US has become entangled in so many conflicts there, including the region’s endless wars. Will you commit to not only ending the endless wars but also ending the strategy that gave birth to these wars, by bringing U.S. troops home and ending our military hegemony of the Middle East?”

I’ll be off next week, so newsletter duties will be handled by Mondoweiss senior editor Phil Weiss!

Stay safe out there,

Michael

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I do not expect people who are pro Palestinian to be fans of Rabin. But the Oslo peace process for which Rabin gave his life was not something to be sneezed away if only because he gave his life for it. To assess the Oslo process and to judge Rabin of 1995 with the outcome of 2020 is propagandistic and not analytical. The Oslo process failed partially because it depended on a single personality: Rabin… Read more »

Deeper thinking regarding the AOC and Rabin memorial brouhaha: (2 of 2) Yair Wallach (Senior Lecturer in Israeli Studies, SOAS University of London): Rabin’s involvement in military violence against Palestinians is rightly pointed out—from the 1948 expulsions of Lydda and Ramleh, through his role in 1967 to the suppression of the First Intifada. It would also be naive to suggest that as prime minister in 1992, he went through a total transformation into a “man… Read more »