With its new nation-state of the Jewish people law, Israel is now officially an apartheid state, with secondary rights for non-Jews. Liberal Zionists who have said they only boycott the occupation but not Israel are now challenged by this law to take action against discrimination inside the state of Israel (which the BDS boycott program has long targeted).
Category Archives: American Jewish Community
“I saw conviction and hope in the Knesset this week,” Mara Lee, head of a liberal Zionist organization, said yesterday in a fundraising letter even as Israel passed the law stating that it is the nation-state of the Jewish people, and Palestinians are officially second class.
A week after five young Jews walked off a “Birthright” tour of Israel, eight more left two groups. “I was shaking. It felt like a big risk,” one says. Then the group met Palestinians and understood their risk was nothing compared to what Palestinians face every day.
Rabbi Brant Rosen responds to Jewish community leaders who praised Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s win in the Democratic primary but chastised her for tweeting about a “massacre” in Gaza: “I’m also troubled that you chose not to respond to her actual words, opting instead to give her a tutorial on the history of Zionism.”
Hasbara has died. The era of Israel being able to “explain” its actions to the world is over. The fair-minded have all made up their minds; Trump’s embrace of the country and its massacres have seen to that. So Israeli explanations are reserved for hard-core supporters. The hasbara is pure propaganda, aimed at rallying the base.
Assimilation is decimating the diaspora, Miriam Adelson warns young American Jews in Israel. They should become “more committed Jews, have Jewish babies,” and become “soldiers” for Israel, lobbying governments and swaying public opinion “in favor of Israel.”
Ilise Benshushan Cohen writes an open letter, on behalf of The Jews of Color, Sephardi and Mizrahi Caucus, to the organization Bend the Arc on its willingness to criticize the Trump Administration but refusal to criticize Israel for very similar practices.
Forward editor Jane Eisner provides new head of Jewish Agency Isaac Herzog an easy way out of his claim that inter-marriage between Jews and non-Jews is a “plague”. “I didn’t mean it in any negative terms,” Herzog tells her in an interview. But he declines to apologize for the statement, and pretends that Hebrew-speakers won’t know what magefa means. A plague!
“It’s not acceptable in any way, to be the largest Jewish educational institution in the world and not talk about Palestine, and not engage with any Palestinian speakers” –Bethany Zaiman explains why she and four other Jewsh women deserted a Birthright trip to Israel after repeatedly challenging the program to talk about the occupation.
Eric Goldstein, the head of one of the largest Jewish philanthropies, calls on Jews to support the refugees who are coming to America’s borders. But when it comes to Palestinian refugees in Gaza, who are being shot at by Israeli forces, Goldstein expresses contempt, showing sympathy only for Israelis on the other side of the border whose fields are threatened by burning kites.
Tom Friedman once gave me permission to believe in Israel and believe it wanted peace with Palestinians. That liberal Zionist world is over, and Friedman needs to grapple with the fact that liberalism stands not just against Trump but for Palestinian human rights, Liz Rose writes.
Jewish Agency chairman Isaac Herzog’s comment that Jewish intermarriage in the U.S. is a “plague” shows his ignorance of U.S. reality. Jewish and non-Jewish Americans interact with no consciousness of religion. In many cases, couples become intimate before partners even know the religious preference of their counterparts. And that’s progress. When Robert Lord was younger, he saw friends and relatives lose once-in-a-lifetime relationships because family members shunned their non-Jewish partners.
Isaac Herzog, Israeli left leader now head of the Jewish Agency: In the U.S., “I encountered something that I called an actual plague. I saw my friends’ children married or coupled with non-Jewish partners!… It’s every [Jewish] family in the U.S.A.! And we are talking about millions. And I said there must be a campaign, a solution.”
Phil Weiss visits Warsaw and Treblinka in Poland and feels a deep connection to the Jewish homeland that was erased: “For a long time I have had the words echoing in my mind, ‘Where were the Jews supposed to go?’ said by a friend with Polish roots, and have wanted to go to Poland to face the question. On my latest trip to the Middle East I threw in two days in Poland on the return. And now I want to go back.”
Progressive Democratic politicians and organizations are losing their fear of AIPAC and Haim Saban and starting to be openly critical of Israel. Few Democrats have defended Israel’s actions at the Gaza border, Rebecca Vilkomerson of Jewish Voice for Peace points out. While 13 senators have been critical.
Progressive Mal Hyman, in a South Carolina runoff for a Congressional nomination, has been outspoken about Israeli human rights violations. He blames the U.S. for supporting colonialism and sees U.S. failure in the Middle East as giving progressives an opening to bring in humane ideas. AIPAC has asked for a meeting and Hyman says, “Wonderful,” but we’ll disagree. His boldness on these issues is a sign of things to come in Democratic races.
Liberal Zionist scholar Shaul Magid served in the Israeli army but he has had enough of Israel. Ben-Gurion miscalculated the nature of Jewish relations to the world, and that’s why Israelis are now flocking to Berlin and L.A. Magid left for Indiana and says if he had to live in Israel now, “It would actually drive me insane.”
In an article criticizing the intersectional left at the Forward, Batya Ungar-Sargon continuously reinforces the false and dangerous notion that to oppose Zionism is to be against Jews: “Jews feel that when they do show up, there’s always something wrong with them.” Zionism is an ideology, Donna Nevel asserts; and even if Jews adhere to it, it is not “anti-Jewish” to oppose it.
Most of the big Democratic donors featured in a NYT article on presidential hopefuls raising money in NY are pro-Israel. Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren need $30 million for a campaign war chest, so they are unlikely to say anything critical of Israel. Both progressives have demonstrated as much during the Gaza massacre.
“There is no Judaism without Zionism,” Yossi Klein Halevi states flatly in his new book; and Jewish Voice for Peace and anti-Zionists are not part of the Jewish community. This intolerance has not stopped many liberal Zionists from embracing him, including J Street, Jodi Rudoren, David Gregory and Cokie Roberts.
Netanyahu’s famous lecture to President Obama in 2011, warning him not to have “illusions” about making peace, worked. It galvanized the leadership of the American Jewish community against the president, former Obama aide Ben Rhodes says in his new book. After the lecture, Rhodes was “given a list of leading Jewish donors to call, to reassure them of Obama’s pro-Israel bona fides.”’
Congressional candidates Leslie Cockburn in Virginia, Scott Wallace in Pennsylvania and Mal Hyman in South Carolina have all been critical of Israel or supported Israel critics. And the progressive Democratic base wants to hear that criticism. Aaron David Miller fights back, saying that supporting Israel is mom and apple pie, and Israel support must stay bipartisan.
The generational break among Jews that is happening in the US has moved to Britain. About 50 mostly young people called ‘Jews against the killing in Gaza’ have slammed British Jewish leadership for blindness to Israeli human rights violations. The next step is recognizing that Zionism is a morally defunct ideology.
A new documentary film, “Israelism,” nearing completion and scheduled for release over the next year, chronicles the changing attitudes among young American Jews toward Israel, in which they at last engage their liberal values with an intolerant country.
Organized Jewish groups have offered mealymouthed statements on the slaughter of more than 100 Gazans at the border; but the horrific events have shaken loose a segment of the Jewish community in outright criticism of Israel. Debra Shusahn of Peace Now, the non-Zionist group IfNotNow, and the foreign policy writer David Rothkopf are among those who call the killings immoral.