Stalwart Zionists David Ben-Gurion and Golda Meir often said that Zionism had only one immutable goal relative to Israel’s relations with the US: To never allow support for Israel to become a partisan-divisive or electoral issue. In this they were mimicking the political philosophy of, among others, labor giant George Meany who said: “Democratic or Republican…I don’t care which candidate wins so long as I did all the nominating”. Ben-Gurion and Meir understood the subtle, fragile, complex nature of American support for Israel and they understood that while a majority of Americans may well be “pro-Israel” that did not mean they were “pro-Zionist”. They believed that Zionism is best served so long as Israel remains an invisible and ideally, taboo, political topic. A Zionist wag once famously said: “Zionism is like a mushroom, it grows best in the dark”. His horticultural wisdom is being ignored by today’s professional Zionists.
David, Golda and George must all be besides themselves as they watch the clowns behind the “Democratic Majority for Israel” gear up to not only make Israel a very public, very partisan and very electoral issue but to actually lay the groundwork for it to become a permanent element of all US elections going forward. Do they think that the Republicans will not respond with a similar, and similarly counterproductive-to-Zionism-but-good-for-their-re-election, group? Do they not understand that the resulting party-versus-party competition to prove which is more obsequious in the quest for Zionist benediction will lead inexorably to Israel becoming a standard campaign issue? Do they know nothing (still) about how mushrooms grow?
They have opened the door to the possibility, more likely inevitability, that voters, town hall attendees, students and even candidates will publicly and vocally challenge candidates on their positions on Israel? What might some of those challenging questions sound like?
“How do you explain your support for the US government’s annual tribute of 3+ billion dollars to Israel which it uses to maintain its Occupation and oppression of the Palestinian people?
“Why did you support the Anti-Israel Boycott Act which stripped from us our cherished right to boycott-as-we-wish which had always been part of our Constitutional persona?”
And so on. Once the “Democratic Majority for Israel” opens the door to this kind of normalization of political Zionism’s agenda and history on the campaign trail they will not be able to shut it again. It will have been memed into the discourse. Forever. Candidates are not prepared for any of this and none of them, not even schooled Zionists such as Speaker Nancy PEP-losi are going to welcome this new dynamic. Watch the videos of Tom Cotton being raked over the coals – by his own constituents – for his votes against Obamacare and his opposition to establishing the Special Prosecutor to get a sense of the minefield I think might be in store:
Moreover, a major focus of the “Democratic Majority for Israel” is to combat the spread/popularity of BDS. Good luck with that. That genie is out of the bottle and a grand irony to watch unfold is how domestic political Zionism has become the major media vehicle for raising the visibility, and I would say legitimacy, of BDS in the US. IOW it would be much better for political Zionism to not mention/attack/lampoon/legislate against/smear/intimidate and otherwise raise the profile of the BDS movement. Zionists simply do not comprehend that the MSM, tutored as it is to be ever-mindful of how delicate and precious Zionist sensibilities are, repeats, reports and replicates all of organized Zionism’s denunciations of BDS and in the process mainlines it into the American cultural bloodstream which otherwise might never even heard of BDS. Ironically, however it has the opposite effect they desire. Instead of learning about BDS via MSNBC and opposing it…the public embraces it and sees it for the opportunity to weaken political Zionism that it is. This reactive, combative response is a direct parallel to how the Southern states responded to the publication of Uncle Tom’s Cabin in 1852: Southern post offices were empowered to intercept and destroy all copies of UTC carried by the Federal post; newspapers across the South published screed after screed denouncing the book (and later the play) as anti-Southern, abolitionist incitement. Sound familiar? We have trod this path before. The upshot was that the South created an immediate, nationwide demand for the book. This response was recently referenced by Sen. Chris Van Hollen of Maryland – “Nothing– nothing– will motivate Americans to exercise their rights more than efforts to suppress them. Trying to suppress free speech, even unpopular speech, even conduct that we don’t support here… that will only add momentum”. Zionism is actually feeding/spreading/popularizing/promoting/legitimating the very movement it says it wants to abolish.
Palestine solidarity should welcome the emergence, and broad success of the “Democratic Majority for Israel” and any countering Republican project. I will send them a contribution: its called a tactical donation. I learned it from political Zionism.
Final point: There seem to be two aspects about BDS that most Zionists seem incapable of grasping:
1) BDS has atomized solidarity with Palestine and resistance to political Zionism.
By this I mean that the actual point-of-purchase act of solidarity – to not buy Sabra hummus, Soda Stream or any of the myriad other Israeli-produced goods targeted by BDS – is a private, intimate, personal act that cannot be recorded, reversed or penalized. Zionism is helpless to counter the consumer decision to not buy Israeli goods. This creates a safe zone within which people can support Palestine, oppose Zionism, keep their good names intact and out of the news and not become a target of hasbara or Zionist bullying.
2) Support for BDS is historically cumulative.
By this I mean that it is popular not only among woke millennials but it is also valued and practiced by the entire population of people who have opposed Zionism for decades but who had no safe-from-the-smear way to express their opposition. For example, activists who where involved in opposing Israeli nefariousness in serving the CIA Central America in the 1980’s or its support for the Vietnam War, as well as those who resent Israel’s dumping of firearms in the US gun market as well as the entire history of Israeli insults to American culture (including those wanting to send an untracable-but-unmistakable message to their Congressperson for applauding Netanyahu in Congress) IOW all the people whom Zionism has insulted/hurt/marginalized since back in the day are being introduced to BDS and the emergence of the “Democratic Majority for Israel” will only accelerate that process.