The detention of Peter Beinart, an American Zionist writer, for an hour of political questioning at Israel’s main airport yesterday is causing alarm in Zionist circles about the country they love. “This is crazy,” writes a prominent neoconservative. J Street says the Beinart treatment is part of an Israeli government pattern of targeting American Jews, which is politically dangerous for Zionism. Of course Palestinians have experienced way worse for a long time.
Category Archives: American Jewish Community
Bret Stephens says there’s nothing alarming in new law giving Jews the exclusive right of self determination in Israel. But as David Bromwich points out, the law is very much like Stephen Douglas’s argument in debating Lincoln, that “this Government was made. . .by white men for the benefit of white men and their posterity forever.”
The Museum of Jewish Heritage in NY has an overpowering exhibit of photographs of the Lodz ghetto in Poland taken by Henryk Ross. Among the most disturbing pictures are those of happy Jewish policemen who collaborated with the Nazis, evidence of the socialized acceptance that any people will have of injustice.
Northwestern University Hillel’s tour of Israel for student leaders is the same old propaganda trip to promote the country, but with a little more realism thrown in. Like a flyby in Ramallah with “Palestinian leaders,” on the same day that the students drink beer at Taybeh brewery in the West Bank and do three other events.
David Rothkopf, Carnegie scholar and former editor of Foreign Policy, calls for “all manner of pressure,” including “boycotts” of Israel, because its new nation-state of the Jewish people has rendered it an “apartheid society,” an “un-Jewish state,” and undermined its “legitimacy.”
WNYC host Brian Lehrer rationalizes Israel’s nation-state law by saying that Israel under Netanyahu is in the same pickle as the U.S. under Trump. While guest Rabbi Farber says that the Israeli army is a “moral armed services… committed to preserving life.”
The new Israeli nation-state law makes racism “the national character,” foreign policy maven David Rothkopf says, and Israel is no longer in his heart. “American Jews have gone from a duty to support Israel to a duty to oppose Israel,” he writes.
Salim Joubran, the first Palestinian justice on the Israeli Supreme Court (2004-2017), earlier this year derided the law the Israeli parliament passed this month declaring Israel the nation state of the Jewish people.
“This law is a very, very, very bad law for the state of Israel… The only thing is to cause damages to the Arab population.”
Israel’s leading newspaper, Haaretz, today published an editorial titled “The apartheid prime minister” that states flatly that thanks to the new “nation state of the Jewish people” law that Netanyahu spearheaded, Israel under Netanyahu is an apartheid regime. Would that US media would follow the newspaper’s lead.
Head of the US Union for Reform Judaism calls deportation by Israel of Ariel Gold “disgraceful”. US religious leaders are trying to delay the day when they will have to say that Israel is disgraceful, though they never want to say that about Zionism.
Alan Dershowitz calls the new Israeli law declaring Israel “the nation state of the Jewish people” a mistake that was unnecessary and that will give ammunition to Israel’s critics and alienate American Jews. Israel lobby groups the ADL and J Street also say the law was unnecessary, and Israel’s Finance Minister calls it a “mistake.”
A Birthright participant who walked off the free trip for American Jews to Israel says the tour is like visiting the Jim Crow south and not hearing about segregation. Meantime, tour guide justifies map that doesn’t show Palestine by saying West Bank is “part of Israel” just like Tel Aviv.
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).
“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.”