On this Yom Kippur, Marc Ellis reflects that the historical damage done to Palestinians and the occupation of Palestine itself is permanent, making it difficult to read Jewish theologians who were optimistic about Israel as at best simplistic. It is becoming more and more difficult to read hopeful interpretations of Jewish life and Israel.
Category Archives: US Politics
Financier Seth Klarman has long given to rightwing pro-Israel causes, but NYT’s Bari Weiss doesn’t mention Israel in an article on Klarman turning on the Republican Party and Trump. A pro-Israel advocate herself, she’s protecting the Israel lobby from scrutiny.
Internationally, the two-state settlement between Palestinians and Israelis has been a pivot and shorthand for the entire post-World War II US order: offering lip service to international law while substantively ripping it to pieces. Max Ajl writes that order is done. The Trump administration’s decision to close the PLO Embassy in Washington DC, along with John Bolton’s attack on the ICC, reveals “a desire for a shift from multilateral instruments of hegemony to unilateral instruments of simple dominance.”
The Jewish tribalist culture that sees Jews as heirs to a sacred macho victimhood and Israelis militarism as the answer was promoted by Jeffrey Goldberg, the leading American Jewish journalist. It created Netanyahu’s Israel, which Goldberg and his friends are now trying to flee as they try to take on Trump.
In a sermon decrying anti-Semitism, Central Synagogue rabbi Angela Buchdahl calls out the left for demonizing Israel by demanding that young Jews renounce Zionism in order to take part in social justice causes. But Israel is a liberal ideal, she says, “Jews have always been at the forefront against oppression.” And Israels killings of unarmed Palestinian protesters at the Gaza border is “complicated.”
After 24 years the Palestinian Liberation Organization’s diplomatic mission in Washington DC closed yesterday, following orders from the Trump administration to shutter their operations in the U.S.
The Department of Education’s new anti-Semitism standard that bars calling Israel a racist endeavor shows the sheer arrogance of the Trump-Netanyahu axis. They are going for broke. And the liberals who obsess about Putin’s supposed control seem unable to spot which groups really have influence on Trump.
In his new book, Bob Woodward says that Donald Trump’s efforts to undermine NATO and NAFTA and agreements with South Korea were threats to American national security and Trump was heroically foiled by his own aides. But when it comes to Trump’s destruction of the Iran deal, Woodward all but approves it, portraying Iran as a “malign” threat to world order and an “existential threat to the Jewish state.”
“My signing the letter had nothing to do with the appropriateness or inappropriateness of their performing there,” Cynthia Nixon says of 2010 letter supporting Israeli artists boycotting Ariel settlement. She misrepresents the letter, which describes Ariel as “clearly illegal” by all standards of international law and calls the artists “courageous” in the face of “wrongful acts,” concluding, “We stand with them.”
Guatemala won U.S. approval by moving its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. Now America is silent as Guatemala abolishes an anti-corruption probe. Thus do foreign countries seek to cultivate the US government by doing favors for Israel.
The Trump administration threatened to sanction the International Criminal Court and its staff yesterday on the eve of an impending announcement where The Hague-based tribunal will decide if it will investigate American soldiers for war crimes committed in Afghanistan dating back almost two decades. Speaking at a Federalist Society event in Washington DC, National Security Advisor John Bolton outlined a series of retaliations the U.S. would take if the investigation is opened. “If the court comes after us, Israel or our other allies, we will not sit quietly,” he cautioned.
If the Oslo peace process between Israel and Palestine had succeeded, Donald Trump would not have been elected, says the eminent Israeli journalist Akiva Eldar. He surely imagines a scenario in which neoconservatives did not push the Iraq war, which helped Trump defeat Clinton in 2016.
The Trump administration ordered a Palestinian representative office to close today, ending the near 25-year diplomatic presence of the PLO Mission in Washington DC. “This is yet another affirmation of the Trump Administration’s policy to collectively punish the Palestinian people, including by cutting financial support for humanitarian services including health and education,” PLO official Saeb Erekat said in a statement.
NY State Democratic Party mailer smearing Gov. Cuomo’s challenger Cynthia Nixon as an antisemite cites a real difference between the two, Nixon has backed boycott of a West Bank settlement, while Cuomo has been outspoken against the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions, BDS campaign.
Andrew Gillum, the progressive star who is running to be Florida governor, supports McCarthyite legislation to restrict BDS. Ayanna Pressley, a MA progressive running for congress, also disappoints. But there’s good news too: the New York Times and NPR have both run stories with positive references to the movement for equal rights.
Ronen Bergman’s pageturner on the history of Israeli assassinations, Rise and Kill First, revels in the jokes the killers make about their targets. “That man died of natural causes by swallowing a pillow.” “No dog, no rabies.” “Someone who deserves his ticket on the train to elimination.” The language is morally degrading and serves to justify killing Arabs, who are voiceless in the book.
Everything that Trump is doing in Israel/Palestine, from moving the embassy to telling Palestinians to accept Jordanian sovereignty, is in line with the agenda of his biggest backer, billionaire Sheldon Adelson, who thinks Palestinians don’t exist and they should never have a state. The pattern is clear. But the press ignores the story.
Support for the Israeli government no matter what still defines the official American Jewish community. Just look at this long list of rabbis celebrating AIPAC, the Israel lobby group, from their altars, despite AIPAC’s support for the Iraq war and fierce opposition to the Iran deal. AIPAC might as well be a Jewish holiday!
After taking the Jerusalem issue off the table, Trump wants to do the same with Palestinian refugees by denying their right to return. The fiat is not only dangerous and reckless, James Zogby writes, it is cruel and insensitive, and violates international law and covenants.
In his memoir The World As It Is, Ben Rhodes documents that Netanyahu and his American friends had access to President Obama at every turn. Rahm Emanuel nicknamed Rhodes “Hamas” for advocating for Palestinians, and after Netanyahu humiliated Obama in the Oval Office lecture of 2011, Rhodes had to call “leading Jewish donors” to assure them Obama still supported Israel.
This April, the Durham, NC City Council unanimously passed a policy that made it the first city to bar its police from engaging in international military-style training. This past Sunday, the Jewish Federation of Durham-Chapel Hill hosted an event called “Durham City Council Statement Singling out Israel: Jewish Community Responses” which ignored Jewish support for the policy and when Esther Mack and Abby Weaver tried to share their perspective they were removed by police. Mack and Weaver write, “Cops may have removed us from the Jewish Community Center, but we cannot be removed from the Jewish community. Whether our community leaders are ready to acknowledge and accept us is up to them.”
According to multiple reports, in early September the Trump administration will issue a report recognizing no more than half a million Palestinian refugees, will reject any right of return, and ominously will ask Israel to ‘reconsider’ UNRWA’s mandate to operate in the West Bank. Marilyn Garson writes, “Trump and those around him have spent the year trying to obviate – rather than solve – Palestinian claims. Now they wish to deny the refugee status of 90% of Palestinians. If Trump has his way, only a few elderly refugees will remain. The Right of Return will be moot. It would not exist now, he says, if UNRWA didn’t keep it alive. He will make the right disappear by de-funding UNRWA and de-registering its five million phantom refugees. The realization of Palestinian rights may be a marathon, but right now, it is also a sprint. The race is on, to be made to vanish or to be seen and heard.”
Jerry Merriman reviews the case of the Holy Land Five – five Palestinian-American men convicted in November 2008 of giving humanitarian aid to Palestinians that indirectly benefited Hamas – and writes, “Not one of the five humanitarians should have spent a single day in prison. Their good names must be cleared, and they must be released from prison. It cannot happen too soon.”
Ilene Cohen defines ‘Ziosplaining’ as “the efforts of Zionists of so-called moderate stripe, who are endlessly pained by reality, to explain to Palestinians (and the world) that they have no choice but to support the Israeli occupation of Palestine.” She says the latest effort in the genre is Yossi Klein Halevi’s Letters to My Palestinian Neighbor. “That neighbor, by the way, is the author’s imaginary neighbor—the only one possible for such an exercise, because few and far between would be the Palestinians who wouldn’t gag at this patronizing effort to have their situation ‘explained’ to them,” Cohen writes.
In May the benign-sounding Anti-Semitism Awareness Act appeared before the U.S Congress “to provide for consideration a definition of anti-Semitism for the enforcement of Federal antidiscrimination laws concerning education programs or activities.” Sheldon Richman writes that if the Anti-Semitism Awareness Act passes and is signed into law, it would threaten free speech in the academy and beyond.