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Here are the headlines from Mondoweiss for 11/05/2011:

Strategic asset or rogue state? Israel’s threats to Iran ‘concern’ Pentagon
Nov 04, 2011 06:29 pm | Philip Weiss

More drumbeats of an Iran attack. AP is reporting that Israeli president Shimon Peres says the "international community is closer to pursuing a military solution to the standoff over Iran's nuclear program than a diplomatic one."

This won't help the Israeli relationship with the U.S. Today on CNN, Fareed Zakaria deplored the "huge cost" to the U.S. of a possible Israeli attack on Iran, and Barbara Starr, who is said to be a mouthpiece for top Pentagon officials, expressed concern about it. From her online piece: 

The United States has become increasingly concerned Israel could be preparing to strike Iran's nuclear program, a senior U.S. military official told CNN on Friday.

 In the past, the U.S. officials felt they had assurances from Israel that it would give warning to the United States of any attack.

"Now that doesn't seem so ironclad," the official said...

The official underscored long-standing U.S. military concerns about the risk of hostilities to American troops in the region, both those still in Iraq and U.S. naval forces and ground forces throughout the Persian Gulf.  The official also strongly emphasized the United States has no current intention of striking Iran.

Daily Beast's Bruce Riedel deplores the idea. Rick Perry loves it. Herman Cain thinks Israel is attacking China.


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They were sailing for us
Nov 04, 2011 01:03 pm | Medea Benjamin and Robert Naiman

Two boats full of courageous passengers were on their way to Gaza when they were intercepted on Friday, November 4, by the Israeli military in international waters. We call the passengers courageous because they sailed from Turkey on November 2 with the knowledge that at any moment they might be boarded by Israeli commandos intent on stopping them—perhaps violently, as the Israeli military did in 2010 when they killed nine humanitarian aid workers on the Turkish boat named Mavi Marmara.

The boats—one from Canada and one from Ireland—were carrying 27 passengers, including press and peace activists from Ireland, Canada, the United States, Australia and Palestine. They were unarmed, and the Israeli military knew that. They were simply peace activists wanting to connect with civilians in Gaza, and the Israeli military knew that. Yet naked aggression was used against them in international waters—something that is normally considered an act of piracy.

The passengers on the boats were sailing to Gaza to challenge the U.S. - supported Israeli blockade that is crippling the lives of 1.6 million Palestinian civilians in Gaza. They were sailing to stand up against unaccountable power—the power of the Israeli government—that has been violating the basic rights of the 5.5 million Palestinians that live inside Israel’s pre-1967 borders or in the Occupied Territories. They were sailing for us, civil society, who believe in human rights and the rule of law. 

The Arab Spring - which has now spread to cities across the United States in the form of the "#occupy" movement, and has been echoed in protests against economic injustice in Europe and Israel as well - has fundamentally been a challenge to unaccountable power. Some countries experiencing this protest wave are dictatorships under military rule or ruled by monarchies; others are generally considered "democracies.” But in all instances the majority feel that they have been shut out of decision-making and have been harmed by policies benefiting a narrow elite with disproportionate power. 

The blockade of Gaza's civilians is an extreme example of unaccountable power. Palestinians in Gaza aren’t allowed to vote for Israeli or American politicians. But due to political decisions taken in Israel and the United States, Palestinians in Gaza are prevented from exporting their goods, traveling freely, farming their land, fishing their waters or importing construction materials to build their homes and factories. 

We have been to Gaza before, where we have seen the devastation firsthand. We have also been to Israel and the West Bank, where we have seen how the Israeli government is detaining Palestinians at checkpoints, building walls that cut them off from their lands, demolishing their houses, arbitrarily imprisoning their relatives and imposing economic restrictions that prevent them from earning a living. We have seen how Palestinians, like people everywhere, are desperate to live normal and dignified lives. 

A UN Report released in September found that “Israel’s oppressive policies [in Gaza] constitute a form of collective punishment of civilians”, that these policies violate both international humanitarian and human rights law, and that the illegal siege of Gaza should be lifted. The International Committee of the Red Cross also called the blockade of Gaza a violation of international law because it constitutes "collective punishment" of a civilian population for actions for which the civilians are not responsible. The Red Cross is a neutral humanitarian organization. It doesn't usually go around making pronouncements on matters of public policy. The fact that it has done so in this case should be a strong signal to the international community that the blockade of Gaza is extreme and must fall. 

History has shown us again and again that when political leaders decide it's in their interest, then peace, diplomacy, negotiations are possible. Recently, Israel and Hamas - with the help of the new Egyptian government - successfully negotiated a prisoner exchange that had eluded them for five years. In speeches, the Israeli government "opposes negotiations with Hamas," and in speeches, Hamas "opposes negotiations with Israel.” But when they decided it was in their interest, they had no problem sitting down at the table and hammering out an agreement.

If Israel and Hamas can negotiate an agreement to release prisoners, then surely Israel and Hamas can negotiate an agreement to lift the blockade on Gaza's civilians. 

But the people of Gaza can’t wait for political leaders to decide it’s in their interest to negotiate, so it’s up to us—as civil society—to step up the pressure. That’s what these waves of boats are doing. That’s what the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement is doing.

More than a year ago, President Obama called the blockade unsustainable. "It seems to us that there should be ways of focusing narrowly on arms shipments, rather than focusing in a blanket way on stopping everything and then, in a piecemeal way, allowing things into Gaza," he said. That hasn't happened. Why not? Why shouldn't it happen now? What does blocking Palestinian exports from Gaza to Europe or keeping people from getting medical treatment abroad have to do with arms shipments?

The Israeli military stopped these two small ships carrying peace activists to Gaza, but they won’t stop the Palestinians who are demanding freedom, and they won’t stop the solidarity movement. We won't stop challenging the blockade on Gaza's civilians—by land and by sea-- until the blockade falls. And we won't stop challenging the denial of Palestinian democratic aspirations until those aspirations are realized. 

Medea Benjamin is the cofounder of CODEPINK and Global Exchange. Robert Naiman is the Director of Just Foreign Policy.


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‘We will continue to challenge the blockade w/ more boats’
Nov 04, 2011 12:46 pm | Philip Weiss

The Canadian and Irish boats may not have reached Gaza but "they're reaching the public," Medea Benjamin, part of the support team for the Gaza flotilla, said in a briefing by the Institute for Middle East Understanding this morning.

Benjamin, said that representatives of 12 countries are now meeting in Turkey with an eye to sending more flotillas to Gaza as well as challenging the Israeli blockade by other means.

The countries represented include Germany, France, Canada, Sweden, Norway, Malaysia, the U.S., and Palestine. The group will, she said, "continue to challenge the blockade by sending boats." But they will also pursue other methods of bringing the blockade to international attention.

Below, video this morning from Democracy Now!


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Breaking: Gaza flotilla stopped by Israeli warships
Nov 04, 2011 10:05 am | Adam Horowitz

From the US Boat to Gaza:

At 7:43 am (east coast time) ground support crew lost contact with two ships, the Saoirse of Ireland and the Tahrir of Canada, carrying 27 civilian passengers, medical supplies and letters of support for the people of Gaza. On board the Tahrir is one American, Kit Kittredge.

At 7:30 am the Tahrir was interrogated, via radio, by the Israeli Navy. The ships were approximately 48 nautical miles off the coastline, well into international waters. Asked by the Israeli Navy for their destination, Canadian activist Ehab Lotayef replied, "The conscience of humanity." When they repeated the question, asking for final destination, Lotayef said, "The betterment of mankind."

Israel has maintained a naval blockade of Gaza since June 2006. Numerous international organizations, including committees of the United Nations, have concluded the blockade is in violation of international law. 

---

http://ustogaza.org/

To follow on Twitter go to: @palwaves or @usboattogaza


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Flotilla controversy within Occupy Wall Street shows Palestine continues to be a fault line
Nov 04, 2011 10:00 am | Ben Lorber

At about midnight Palestinian time, all was quiet on the Mediterranean Sea. All reports coming from the Tahrir and Saoirse indicated that the two unidentified (possibly Israeli) ships and planes, which had been trailing the humanitarian vessels an hour before, had receded into the distance, and posed no immediate threat. The international activists aboard the Canadian and Irish vessels announced they were heading off to sleep, as journalist Hassan Ghani, aboard the Canadian Tahrir, tweeted that “I remember these feelings a year ago onboard the Mavi Marmara; the tension but also the hope of reaching Gaza the next morning”. Folks eyeing the Twitter-sphere found themselves “praying that this is not the calm before the storm”, and encouraging the 27 crew members to “stay steady in your tracks and strong in your minds”.

In the midst of this calm, the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) movement posted a surprising and exhilarating tweet:

“We support and would like to express #solidarity to #FreedomWaves  #Palestine #ows”. 

Moments later, the Twitter representative of the Canada Boat to Gaza posted an appreciative response, “We are thrilled to receive the support of  #OccupyWallStreet  Looks like only the 1% support the Israeli blockade of Gaza.” The Twitter-sphere flared up with expressions of praise and affirmation, proving that the 99% naturally link the struggle for the Occupation of Wall Street with the struggle against the Occupation of Palestine as two facets of a single universal liberation struggle.

Approximately four hours later, however, Occupy Wall Street’s tweet mysteriously disappeared from its home page on Twitter. The Twitter-sphere was instantly taken aback- “didn't realize #OWS is non-political!!” remarked one tweeter, while another insisted that “If #OWS can not support #FreedomWaves and #Gaza then they should not compare themselves to #ArabSpring or #Tahrir." The Canada Boat to Gaza, who earlier had nodded in satisfaction, now, shook its head in disappointment, offering, in the face of Occupy Wall Street’s fear of involving itself in the Israel-Palestine conflict, a few words by Desmond Tutu: "If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor."

Many tweeps asked “Why did @OccupyWallSt delete a tweet showing solidarity with #FreedomWaves?” or “@OccupyWallSt Did you seriously delete the tweet supporting #FreedomWaves WHY?" The closest official answer came from Daniel Sieradski, a new media activist who has been central to the OccupyJudaism activities. Sieradski explained, the "#FreedomWaves tweet was unauthorized, did not have reflect #OWS community consensus and was subsequently deleted." He added, "#OWS does not have a position on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict," and "#OWS is a consensus based movement. The GA has never discussed the I/P issue & even if it did, it would never reach consensus." Sieradski acknowledged he was not speaking as a spokesperson from Occupy Wall Street but he had "heard what happened from people close to it." I was not able to receive an official explanation from the Occupy Wall Street movement about why tweet being deleted.

As the controversy blazed across Twitter, it opened a space for the 99% to express the obvious connections between the Israeli occupation of Palestine and the global dominance of the 1%- “#OWS is inseparable from #Palestine. 1% funding Israeli settlements and extremist settlers? Priceless.”; “#OWS is inseparable from#Gaza. The 1% diverts resources from the 99% by Israel's blockading and shelling 100% of Gaza”;  “The Tear Gas used in #Oakland is the same tear gas used in#Palestine, when protesters demonstrate non violently”, to cite a few among the myriad examples. Not everyone on twitter was upset however. The tweeter ‘Fatima600’, who had been using this racist name to fire verbal attacks at the flotilla throughout the night, responded, “They are tired of having their movement hijacked!!!!! I love you #OWS!!!!”

Hours later, @OccupyFortWorth expressed its support for Freedom Waves for Gaza- “Our support for #Gaza and #Freedomwaves is limitless. It emanates and echoes from the deepest purest regions of our heart. Love. Solidarity”, asserting, in contrast to #OccupyWallSt’s hesitancy, that “we don't mind losing followers who are uncritical or unwilling to engage the issues (Or who are reflexively pro-Zionist.)”.

Ben Lorber is an American activist with the International Solidarity Movement in the West Bank and a journalist with the Alternative Information Center in Bethlehem. Visit his blog at freepaly.wordpress.com.


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Ultrazionists have met the enemy and he is… Tom Friedman!
Nov 04, 2011 09:09 am | Philip Weiss

Friday morning funnies. Thomas Friedman goes to Yale and is assailed by Yale Zionist wingrider as an anti-Zionist for backing the '67 borders. This guy has a big budget for fancy signs. I think it's the same guy who held up a printed banner when Richard Goldstone went to Yale.

At the conclusion of his talk at Yale University last week, Friedman was faced with a banner which read: “With friends like Chomsky, Soros, Mearsheimer and Thomas Friedman, does Israel need enemies?” The banner was held up by Rabbi Shmully Hecht, the rabbinical advisor to Eliezer, the Jewish Society at Yale. It was meant to express his dissatis...


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Times readers respond to Goldstone
Nov 04, 2011 09:05 am | Adam Horowitz

The New York Times has published four letters in response to Richard Goldstone's "Israel and the Apartheid Slander" Op-ed. The letters are split, with two opposing the judge. Here is a passage from John Dugard:

Mr. Goldstone and I knew apartheid in South Africa. We knew apartheid as a discriminatory, repressive system accompanied by the seizure of land belonging to blacks for the use of whites.

We know something about Gaza, as we investigated Israel’s actions there in 2009 and concluded that Israel had committed war crimes. I know the West Bank better than Mr. Goldstone, as from 2001 to 2008, I was special rapporteur to the Human Rights Council, a United Nations body, on human rights in the Palestinian territories and visited there regularly.

There are distinctive similarities between apartheid in South Africa and Israel’s practices in the West Bank. Israel discriminates against Palestinians in favor of settlers. Its restrictions on freedom of movement resemble the pass laws of apartheid South Africa.

Israeli practices in the Palestinian territories are repressive. Torture of Palestinians is rife; houses are destroyed, and there are more political prisoners in Israeli jails than there were in South Africa under apartheid. Israel seizes Palestinian land for settlements and for the construction of the wall.

There are sufficient similarities between the two systems to justify an investigation into whether or not Israel commits the crime of apartheid in the Palestinian territories.

David Markowitz of Pound Ridge, NY had a snappier response:

Why is it “important first to distinguish between the situations in Israel ... and in West Bank areas”?

If Alabama had segregated in Montgomery but not in Birmingham, would it have been responsible for discrimination or not?

But the most appalling insult to logic is the claim that there can be no apartheid because Israel has no “intention of maintaining” its regime of “domination by one racial group.”

It’s a fact on the ground, but we can’t call it by its name because Israel means well?

I'm sure the Times was inundated with letters, and surely could not print them all. Here are two more that were shared with us after being sent to the Times:

To the Editor: Re "Israel and the Apartheid Slander":

It was disheartening to see former justice Richard J. Goldstone seek to defend Israel's continued occupation with distortion and half-truths. He claims the West Bank security barrier and and other measures are designed to "stop unrelenting terrorist attacks," but fails to mention that the 26-foot high wall slices through the West Bank well inside the 1967 borders, leaving a considerable amount of Palestinian land on Israel's side. He claims that Israel has "agreed in concept to the existence of a Palestinian state," but fails to mention that the "state" Israel is offering is a truncated entity, having limited access to Jerusalem and with no control over its borders or air space. The fact is that West Bank Palestinians are living under military occupation, surrounded by often violent settlers, forbidden to use the main roads, subject to humiliating waits at checkpoints,and in constant danger of having their homes demolished to make way for new settlements. Whether of not we choose to call this "apartheid," it is wrong, and regarded as so by most of the world.

Rachelle Marshall,  Mill Valley, CA

In his op-ed Richard J. Goldstone seeks to dispel the notion that Israel practices apartheid both in Israel and the West Bank. Aside from the fact that no one ever claimed that the type of "apartheid" practiced by the Israelis is identical to that of pre-1994 South Africa, the similarities are more than demonstrable, even if one employs the 1998 Rome Statute that Mr. Goldstone cites in his piece. For instance, how would Mr. Goldstone explain West Bank settlements and the underlying Jewish-only infrastructure used to maintain those settlements? In Israel proper, how would Mr. Goldstone explain, just to name a few things, the bulldozing of Bedouin villages in the Negev, the inability of non-Jews to immigrate to Israel to live with their non-Jewish relatives, the inability of Arab citizens to serve in the military or the fact that since 1948 not a single new Arab village has been created in the whole country while literally thousands of Jewish ones have been? These discriminatory practices can not be explained away by Israel's legitimate security needs. Something else is at play and it is not surprising that Mr. Goldstone did not make mention of even one of these issues.

Scott Roth, New York, NY


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Goldstone needs a reality check
Nov 04, 2011 09:00 am | Jerome Slater

As disingenuous and pernicious as was Richard Goldstone’s previous Washington Post oped, in which he essentially retracted the Goldstone Report’s fully-substantiated finding that Israel committed war crimes in its attack on Gaza at the end of 2008, Tuesday’s NY Times oped is perhaps even worse. Goldstone writes that to characterize Israel’s policies as “apartheid” is an “unfair and inaccurate slander against Israel,” one among other “assaults that aim to isolate, demonize, and delegitimize” Israel. 

Other commentators have pointed out that the characterization of Israel’s policies towards the Palestinians as one of apartheid is now quite common among serious observers--definitely including Israel’s own dissenters, including among many others Haaretz, Israel’s most prestigious newspaper and B’Tselem, Israel’s leading human rights organization. What is even more striking, however, is that both Ehud Olmert and Ehud Barak—neither of whom are likely to be accused of seeking to delegitimize Israel—have also warned, in just that language, that Israel is on the road to apartheid.

Even so, Goldstone’s defense against the apartheid charge must be examined on its merits. Goldstone wishes to distinguish between Israel’s policies within its own borders, towards the Israeli Arabs, and its policies in the occupied territories. Inside Israel, he asserts, “there is no apartheid,” and “nothing there comes close” to the international legal definition of apartheid: “systematic oppression and domination by one racial group over any other racial group…” 

True, the situation of the Israeli Arabs is not nearly so bad as that of the South African black population under apartheid—but (as others have pointed out) the argument is a straw man, since few if any serious critics of Israel have claimed that its policies and behavior towards its own Arab minority—as opposed to those in the occupied territories—is equivalent to apartheid. Nonetheless, while Goldstone concedes that there is too much “de facto separation" between the Jewish and Arab populations, and some Israeli “discrimination,” he ignores the proven facts that the Israeli Arabs are distinctly second-class citizens, systematically denied equal economic, social, cultural, and increasingly even legal rights.

“The situation in the West Bank is more complex,” Goldstone allows, but—and this he obviously believes is his trump card—“there is no intent to maintain an institutionalized regime of systematic oppression and domination by one racial group” (my emphasis), a “critical distinction” in Goldstone’s view, because “South Africa’s enforced racial separation was intended to permanently benefit the white minority,” whereas “by contrast, Israel has agreed in concept to the existence of a Palestinian state in Gaza and almost all of the West Bank, and is calling for the Palestinians to negotiate the parameters.” 

Here and elsewhere, close attention must be paid to Goldstone’s language: characteristically he asserts something that is clearly designed to give a certain impression, but at the same time, if read literally and the ambiguities are ignored, might provide him with an out when he is challenged on the facts, allowing him to claim he has been misunderstood. 

In the first place, one may suspect that Goldstone's emphasis on the racial component of apartheid--as opposed to systematic oppression that may not be essentially racial in intention--is designed to support the argument that Israel's behavior towards the Palestinians does not constitute apartheid. Even if not, of course, it doesn't necessarily follow that Israeli oppression is less onerous than was that of South Africa--or indeed, even worse, as a number of former South African antiapartheid activists have written. 

Perhaps my suspicion of Goldstone's true intentions in this case is mistaken--but surely not in other cases. For example, consider again Goldstone's bald statement that “Israel has agreed in concept to the existence of a Palestinian state in Gaza and almost all of the West Bank, and is calling for the Palestinians to negotiate the parameters”--a perfect example of a statement that is literally true but in all essentials a lie. Yes, Israel has agreed to the “concept” of a two-state settlement, but as every serious observer of the conflict understands, not the reality. Further, of course, the statement is clearly designed to convey the impression that it is only the Palestinian refusal to negotiate that is blocking a settlement—another lie embedded in a perhaps technically and narrowly true statement. 

In another example of Goldstone’s polemical techniques, he writes: “The security barrier was built to stop unrelenting terrorist attacks; while it has inflicted great hardship in places, the Israeli Supreme Court has ordered the state in many cases to refute it to minimize unreasonable hardship.” You almost have to admire the technique, for in one literally true statement it tells three lies. 

First, as everyone knows, another and probably the main purpose of the “security barrier” was to grab more Palestinian land and to protect the illegal Jewish settlements beyond Israel’s accepted boundaries. Second, if the Supreme Court “in many cases” ordered a change in the route of the barriers, it follows that in other cases--probably most other cases--it has refused to do so. Third, in any event the Israeli government and military have often ignored Supreme Court rulings or "interpreted" them in such a way as to essentially defeat their purpose.

In characterizing the overall Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Goldstone also makes technically true statements that nonetheless embody false symmetries and conceal the real truths. For example, he characterizes the conflict as one in which there “are claims and counterclaims,” where “attacks on one side are met by counterattacks from the other,” where there is “hostility and suspicion on both sides,” and in which Israel “sees” its behavior as “necessary for self-defense,” whereas the Palestinians “feel” oppressed. No realities then—no Israeli oppression, no Palestinian victimization, just conflicting perceptions.

Finally, and perhaps worst of all, Goldstone clearly wishes to provide an excuse for Israel's occupation and repression of the Palestinians when he writes that "Israel, unique among democracies, has been in a state of war with many of its neighbors who refuse to accept its existence. Note that he doesn't say that Israel "is" in a state of war, just that it "has been;" yet he says Israel's neighbors "refuse"--as opposed to "refused"--to accept its existence. The characteristic trickery is obvious: if he had put everything in the past tense, that would lead to the conclusion that Israel would no longer have any excuses—even assuming that in the past it had--for its occupation and repression of the Palestinians. So, there's scarcely any doubt that Goldstone once again is being deliberately misleading---and that's a polite way of putting it.

Surely Goldstone knows the facts. Israel's closest neighbors are Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and Lebanon. The Israeli-Egyptian conflict ended with the 1979 peace settlement, and the Israeli-Jordanian conflict ended in 1994--in any case, both conflicts were not primarily over any refusal to accept Israel's existence. For the last thirty years, Saudi Arabia has been attempting to settle the overall Arab-Israeli conflict on terms which not only fully accept the "existence" of Israel but call for full normalization of diplomatic and economic relations between Israel and the Arab world--and all 20 states of the Arab League are now on record as supporting the Saudi plan. As for Lebanon, of course it is Israel which has engaged in repeated massive attacks on that country, not the other way around.

In short, other than Iran every state in the entire Middle East region now accepts the existence of Israel, and to the extent that Arab-Israeli conflict remains, it is overwhelming a consequence of Israel's behavior towards the Palestinians.

This is a crosspost from Jerome Slater's site.


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JTA wonders why ‘Jewish influence’ is so ‘pervasive’ in our politics
Nov 04, 2011 08:52 am | Philip Weiss

Ron Kampeas of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency is a good journalist to acknowledge the murmur in the discourse, Why is "Jewish influence" so "pervasive" in our political culture? But his answer (below), that Jews are engaged constituents who go out into the freezing rain to leaflet, is pure mystification.

Kampeas purports to be dealing with Middle East policy-- "The lobby-- a crash course" is his headline.

This is a legitimate and important question, and any honest answer would first engage the matter of our wealth, that we are the richest group by religion in the U.S., as Ynet has shown. And that we give more than half the Democratic presidential donations, per the Washington Post, and now the Wall Street Journal warns that the Republicans are peeling off "Jewish donors" from Obama. Over Israel.

An honest answer would also speak of Jewish numbers in the media. Consider: An American politician is told that Jews love Israel, and then he wanders out into a media terrain heavily populated by Jews, from Andrea Mitchell to Howard Fineman to Tom Friedman to David Brooks to Rob't Bazell (I'm guessing) to both hosts of All Things Considered, and so forth-- well that politician is going to love Israel too!

The problem, I insist, is not Jewish numbers. Societies have elites, they always have. The problem is that there is not an open discussion of Jewish attitudes on the Jewish state, that war has not broken out inside that elite over two simple questions: Do you feel unsafe in America? Do you feel a need for a Jewish state to escape to if things get too hot over here? That is an essential conversation for Jews to have. In the meantime, we are simply in denial about our success inside American society, and our safety. And Kampeas, who owns property in the Israeli occupation, is hardly a reliable guide on these questions. His take: 

I'm forced to deal with, more frequently than anyone could possibly stand, theories of why Jewish influence is so pervasive in the United States.

Is it money, is it threats of ostracism, or is it just that America loves Zion?

A little of each, maybe, but the answer is so wonkish, it defies sexiness: Jews are involved politically.

We join together as a community and we contribute a chunk of our earnings to pay folks to insert themselves into the political process through lobbying and activism. Beyond that, we volunteer our hours to activism and lobbying.

AIPAC is persuasive, above all, because it can get 6,000-plus people up to the Hill each year.

But the key is the holistic quality of the involvement: Every election, every decision is important.

And not just about Israel, about everything: Immigration, health, religious freedoms, the economy.

None of it is made up, or faked.

Politicians listen to Jews because Jews tend to ask them incisive questions, on just about everything.

As anyone who has leafleted a suburb in a freezing November rain will explain to you, there is no better match made than that between a pol and an involved constituent.


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‘The Forward’ embraces neoconservatives
Nov 04, 2011 08:37 am | Philip Weiss

This is shocking. A transformation is taking place inside Jewish life, all the sociologists say that young Jews are increasingly dissociated from Israel, and the Forward 50, its list of the most impactful (their word, I think) American Jews of the year includes no anti-Zionist-- though certainly the great Tony Kushner has been a regular critic of Israel. But where are our leading liberal voices, the popular Cecilie Surasky, or Rebecca Vilkomerson? Richard Silverstein? Jerry Slater? Jeff Halper? Daniel Levy who dared to question the two-state solution at J Street?

I do see the great activist Michael Sussman on this list, but the list is notable for all its ultra-Zionists: Jennifer Laszlo-Mizrahi, David Yerushalmi, Jennifer Rubin, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Anthony Weiner, Sheldon Adelson, and William Kristol. Oh my god. You ask why neoconservatism is alive in our political culture, it is because allegedly progressive organizations in Jewish life continue to embrace them. And why do they embrace them? Because these neocons represent the hawkish response to the perceived threat to Israel. And out of community allegiance, liberals cowering in the cave will defer to them as tough realists. It is the same reason that the Reform Jewish biennial will feature Bill Kristol.


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