American liberal Zionists and rightwing Zionists wrote opposing letters to Trump this week over Netanyahu’s plans to annex West Bank settlements. The open squabbling is a result of Trump’s extreme support for Israel and also the 52-year-long occupation, which has at last brought a crisis to the Jewish establishment’s consensus, that to be Jewish means to support Israel.
Category Archives: American Jewish Community
A plan for an alternative Passover seder which is a reaction to the Israeli occupation and the Jewish religious rites deployed in its support: Ira Glunts’s Seder lo b’seder: the seder that skips the traditional seder, and supports BDS.
What motivates the criticism of Israel by Jews in the diaspora? Bruce Robbins talks with Bonnie Honig, one of the most insightful and original political theorists of her generation, who argues by targeting the Jewish diaspora in order to manufacture uncritical solidarity, Israel created, paradoxically, a sense of obligation to criticize Israel.
“Anti-Zionism is anti-Semitism. That will be our rallying cry as we fight this ancient scourge that sadly is on the rise today,” says Elan Carr, State Department anti-Semitism envoy. The Trump administration has officially lost its mind and is playing into the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign.
Since Netanyahu’s reelection, mainstream Democrats have taken up ardent opposition to his plan to annex parts of West Bank. Sec’y of State Mike Pompeo won’t say what Trump will do, but MD’s Chris Van Hollen dares to imagine one state with equal rights: “Would you agree that in a one state solution Palestinians should have full and equal political and legal rights with other citizens of that state?”
The Jewish left in Israel “received the fewest votes that it’s ever received and shows real signs of potentially going extinct,” says Jeremy Ben-Ami of J Street. While other liberal Zionists call for leadership to build a liberal partnership with Palestinian voters. There is only one way to do so. Liberal Zionists must drop the Zionism, which is obnoxious to Palestinians, based on 100 years of exposure to the ideology.
Five Democratic presidential candidates criticized Netanyahu for his election tactics, and Israel lobbyists have jumped into the breach to prevent the two countries from dividing politically. Elliott Abrams calls on Democratic Party leaders to break bread with Netanyahu if he wins. And you thought Abrams was a Republican!
Before Donald Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in 2017, he says he got calls from “presidents, dictators, prime minister, kings, queens– everybody” and didn’t take the calls. Similar pressure kept previous presidents from making the move, he told the Republican Jewish Coalition in Las Vegas yesterday, but moving the embassy made his biggest donors, Sheldon and Miriam Adelson, very happy.
The late Israeli author Amos Oz thought that Palestinians who wanted to return to the homes their grandparents were forced to flee in Israel suffered from a disease called “Reconstritis,” as did settlers who sought a biblical transformation of the West Bank. At a Washington memorial service for the author, his daughter Fania Oz-Salzberger cited the malady in extolling Zionism as a force that saved millions of Jewish lives.
Police arrested 15 members of IfNotNow outside Birthright HQ in NY today after 100s of Jews demonstrated against the organization’s propaganda tours of Israel. Protester Yonah said that when he asked questions about Palestinians on his trip, his tour guide sat him down and said, “If you keep pulling this shit, I’m going to have to report you.” Yonah was “terrified” and shut up.
The polls from Israel are dispiriting. Netanyahu is the most popular leader, the young adore him; and even if the opposition wins, its government will be rightwing. And the occupation will not end. So the election will challenge Americans to stand up at last for Palestinian rights.
Anti-Palestinian racism is at last moving the needle in US politics. The demotion by leadership of NY City Councilman Kalman Yeger for his anti-Palestinian comments this week sends a message to the Democratic Party nationwide, that the profound political shifts that the left is generating on a host of issues, from sexual harassment to economic inequity, will include Palestine, too.
Cory Booker’s secret speech to AIPAC is so fulsome it’s hard to believe. Booker would cut off his right hand before abandoning Israel. There is no “greater moral vandalism” than seeking to divide the US and Israel. Booker lobbied black congresspeople not to boycott Netanyahu’s 2015 speech because we need to show a “united front” with Israel. And Donald Trump is endangering Israel’s security in Syria.
American Jewish organizations cultivated Zionism as a bulwark of Jewish identity and against assimilation, but the success of the indoctrination has created problems for American Jews. “Public antipathy toward Israel would all too likely spill over into hostility toward American Jews,” the American Jewish Committee warned in 1953.
Netanyahu’s latest ad bashing President Obama is making liberal Zionists angry, but it’s a reminder of a simple truth: Israelis dislike Obama and love Donald Trump. So there is good reason that the bipartisan consensus on Israel is breaking up here.
This weekend the New York Times breaks one of the biggest taboos, describing the responsibility of Jewish donors for the Democratic Party’s slavish support for Israel. Nathan Thrall’s groundbreaking piece says in essence that it really is about the Benjamins, as Rep. Ilhan Omar said. The donor class of the party is overwhelmingly Jewish, and Jews are still largely wed to Zionism.
The big story coming out of AIPAC is every one in the Democratic leadership dumping all over the first term Muslim congresswoman from Minnesota, Ilhan Omar, while having nothing to say about Benjamin Netanyahu. In the process they have clearly damaged their own standing inside the progressive wing of the party, including among liberal Zionist advocates. When House Majority leader Steny Hoyer said Omar should accuse him of dual loyalty for his support for Israel, he seemed to confirm what she had said.
Israeli politician Benny Gantz raised the specter of dual loyalty of Jews in other nations when he said yesterday, “If there is one Jew in danger, anywhere in the world, then our mission is unfinished.”
On countless occasions House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has called Israel’s creation the “greatest political achievement” of the 20th century. Today at AIPAC she said that it is just “one of the greatest political achievements” of that century! She must be feeling pressure from the Democratic base.
Under the Trump administration, AIPAC has maintained a strong relationship with Republican members of congress, far right-wing Israeli politicians, and Christian Zionist groups. But the organization is facing a serious challenge: It increasingly has no cred with young Jews.
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio gave the “simple, clear, progressive case for the state of Israel” at AIPAC this morning. He touched again and again on the Jewish history of persecution and “exclusion” and “expulsion” and never acknowledged that 750,000 Palestinians had been expelled from their lands at the birth of Israel in 1947-49. As such, his speech was a monument of Democratic denial of the Palestinian Nakba, or catastrophe.
The AIPAC policy conference in Washington began Sunday on a defensive note, with the Israel lobby organization’s chief executive saying that Israel’s friends face a terrible new challenge: taking on “the scurrilous charge of dual loyalty” and declaring “The intense hatred of Israel is now creeping from the margins to the center of our politics.”
Many Democratic candidates for president are skipping the AIPAC conference because it’s offering a red carpet to a racist, Benjamin Netanyahu. The Israel prime minister’s explicit slurs of Arabs have alarmed American progressives. But Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer, Bill de Blasio and the New York Times haven’t noticed.
A new Bernie Sanders ad highlights his criticism of Israel. Just as Sanders spoke out against South African apartheid ahead of others, says activist Shaun King, “today he speaks out against apartheid-like conditions in Palestine even though it’s not popular.” The progressive base wants that message.
Jonathan Greenblatt of the ADL will always cut Zionists a break on the standards he applies to others. Today he said of New Zealand mosque killings, “This act of violence really doesn’t have a precedent as far as we know, murdering people in a mosque.” He conveniently forgot the slaughter of 29 Muslims in Palestine by a Jewish settler in 1994.