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US Policy in the Middle East

Trump has the Jewish establishment at each other’s throats (and that’s a good thing)

Philip Weiss on

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.

On many occasions, our website has relied on ‘Wikileaks’ revelations to report depth of U.S.-Israel relationship

Philip Weiss on

Journalists have relied on Wikileaks for years to show readers in riveting detail the extent of the State Department and the Democratic Party’s catering to Israel, for instance to undermine the Iran deal. Whatever you think of him personally, Julian Assange has been a critical journalistic source, allowing news organizations to show the public how our leaders actually make policy.

Booker and Buttigieg launches are disrupted by Palestinian protest, while Harris spox says ‘supporting Israel is central to who she is’

Philip Weiss on

The Palestine issue is going to be hot on the Democratic campaign trail. Solidarity activists disrupted Booker and Buttigieg launch rallies, while Beto O Rourke congratulated Netanyahu but said his alignment with “hateful” parties threatens two-state solution. And Kamala Harris is doubling down on her AIPAC support, her spox saying support for Israel is “central to who she is.”

Supporting Israel is now ‘liability’ for Democrats, but ’60 Minutes’ doesn’t trouble Pelosi about it

Philip Weiss on
Nancy Pelosi meets with three former UK Labour MP's who left the party over Israel and alleged anti-Semitism. April 14, 2019. From Twitter.

On “60 Minutes,” Nancy Pelosi called herself a progressive and dismissed leftwing congresswomen as a mere “five people,” and Lesley Stahl never challenged her about the fissure in the party over Israel. Though more and more commentators are saying that Israel support has become the battleground among Democrats, and Pelosi is busy catering to AIPAC and Netanyahu.

Leading House Dems warn Netanyahu against promise to annex West Bank settlements

Allison Deger on
Jewish youth hold Israeli flags at the beginning of a rally march in the West Bank settlement of Itamar, near Nablus September 20, 2011. (Photo: REUTERS/Nir Elias)

Taking the unusual step of publicly criticizing Israel and Netanyahu, today Eliot L. Engel, Nita Lowey, Ted Deutch, Brad Schneider, all affiliates of the pro-Israel lobby AIPAC, issued a statement cautioning against any “unilateral steps” to declare occupied Palestinian territory part of the state of Israel.

‘Things could move very quickly’ — Dems are now the anti-annexation party, taking on Netanyahu and Pompeo

Philip Weiss on
Trump signs at Likud/Netanyahu victory party, April 9-10, 2019. Tweeted by Donald Trump.

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?”

For Palestinians, it doesn’t matter who wins the Israeli elections

Mohamed Mohamed on
Then-IDF chief of staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz, left, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at a Navy ceremony on September 11, 2013. (AP Photo/Dan Balilty)

It is time that Americans recognize the true nature of the Israeli Jewish polity, Mohamed Mohamed of the Jerusalem Fund writes. Regardless who wins Israeli elections, the daily lives and political situation of Palestinians are unlikely to improve. As for the two-state solution, a tiny minority of Israeli Jews actually support real Palestinian sovereignty.

Liberal Zionists must drop the Zionism if they really want to build an Arab-Jewish political partnership

Philip Weiss on
Liberal Zionists discuss Israeli election, on April 10. From left to right, Yael Patir of J Street Israel, J Street President Jeremy Ben-Ami, and Israeli journalist/pollster Dahlia Scheindlin.

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.

Trump brags he blew off calls from world leaders to give Adelsons the greatest gift: Jerusalem

Philip Weiss on
Sheldon Adelson at the RJC, from Amichai Stein's twitter feed. April 6, 2019.

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.

Amos Oz’s daughter offers ‘the best possible justification of Zionism’ at DC memorial

Philip Weiss on
Fania Oz-Salzberger at her father's memorial in Washington, March 31. Temple Sinai, Washington. Photo taken from J Street's twitter feed.

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.

‘Stop lying to young Jews’ — IfNotNow blocks Birthright office in NYC

Philip Weiss on

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.

Demotion of NY pol who slurred Palestinians is a wakeup call for Democrats nationwide

Philip Weiss on
Kalman Yeger. (Photo: New York City Council)

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.

After Gaza slaughter, Buttigieg praised Israeli security responses as ‘moving’ and faulted Democrats for easy judgment

Philip Weiss on

Rising Democratic star Pete Buttigieg went to Israel at the height of Gaza killings last May on an Israel-lobby-sponsored trip and came home praising the country for its “clear-eyed” decisions on security. He faulted fellow Democrats for making snap judgments of the country based on “90-second cable news versions of what’s going on over there.”

Cory Booker says there’s no ‘greater moral vandalism’ than abandoning Israel (and he’ll cut off his hand first)

Philip Weiss on

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.

Israel’s Palestinian problem and the Diaspora’s Israel problem

Abba Solomon on

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.

‘The New York Times’ runs Israeli propaganda on ’67 War: It was ‘defensive’

John V. Whitbeck on

The New York Times parrots claims by Benjamin Netanyahu and Mike Pompeo that Israel owns the Golan Heights because it was taken in a “defensive war” in 1967, ignoring the historical record. Israel launched the war, the Arab states did not want war. “We chose to attack them,” former premier Menachem Begin said.

‘New York Times’ reports that Jewish donors shape Democrats’ regressive position on Israel

Philip Weiss on

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.

Rafi Eitan, spy at center of Israel’s great uranium heist from the U.S.

Jefferson Morley on
Rafi Eitan at an Israeli cabinet meeting in 2006 (Photo: Yoav Lemmer-Pool/Getty Images)

Israeli spymaster Rafi Eitan died last week and the New York Times obituary mentioned suspicion that he had played a role in diverting enriched uranium from a US facility owned by Zionists in the 1960s so that Israel could get the bomb. When a pro-Israel group complained the Times removed the assertion though the evidence is overwhelming in the eyes of experts, Jefferson Morley reports.

Democratic leaders’ use of AIPAC to bash Omar and ignore Netanyahu just gave progressive Dems a giant boost

Philip Weiss on

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.