Trump for the NOBLE!

Once again   we were  treated to a clown shown in the Trumpian parallel universe. There they were  virtually all white unmasked men flouting  COVID 19 directives promoting an irrelevant “Middle East agreement” as the Second Coming almost akin to V-E Day. Of course  there were no no Palestinians on whom justice depends in attendance. But there he was the other outlier, the Israeli racist in chief Netanyahu preening for the cameras 

This of course was a pathetic attempt to “wag the dog” Trump’s bizarre attempt   to deflect attention from what  Bob Woodward termed his “homicidal” presidency. The shameless narcissist was also busy promoting a NOBLE peace prize as one of his press releases said.

Now it takes a real Israeli writer to put all this Noble nonsense in context.Michael Brizon of Haaretz  writes under B.Michael. Here’s his latest

Netanyahu’s Dream-come-true Kingdom

sign at airport as Netanyahu leaves

B. Michael

Despite all the superlatives being lavished upon it, the hoopla in Washington is nothing more than a double campaign ad by two unbridled narcissists. Both are currently suffering some election anxiety, and so they fabricated a “historic event” to please their base. It wasn’t hard. A pair of tyrannical emirates – no bastions of human rights – were persuaded by Uncle Sam’s purse-strings and weapons store to expose their shadowy ties with a third tyrannical state. What was kept hidden under the rug for years has now been pulled out to be shown off for all to see. This is the whole reason for the big fanfare.

The festive signing of Israel’s new agreements with the UAE and Bahrain will not bring about any significant benefit, will not lead to any important change, will not solve any problem. Some tycoons will get a little wealthier, some arms dealers will get fatter on more blood money, and some tens of thousands of Israeli tourists will have yet another destination to which to flee from their dying homeland. There, in the sparkling shopping malls of the UAE, their money will help to “oil the wheels of the local economy.” What greater joy can there be?

In short, these agreements are as important and historic as a normalization agreement signed between Israel and the Azrieli Mall

Still, there has been something instructive about the whole thing, too. As we’ve learned, Benjamin Netanyahu is a complete cynic without a drop of empathy in his soul, which is entirely dark, cold, twisted and selfish. Witness the family trip he arranged for himself to America while millions of Israelis are struggling to put bread on the table and to keep healthy. But something amazing happened here:

Amid all the cynicism and the spin, there was a glimpse of something human, something real, almost touching, in the way Bibi has referred to his new friends. You could tell that he genuinely likes them, genuinely respects them – maybe even envies them. And it seems that he likes their kingdoms even more.

It’s not hard to see why. These rulers and their countries represent his dream come true. This is exactly the sort of kingdom he envisions. It is just what he wants – a feudal, fawned-over family regime that controls an entire country. Rule that is forever held by one family. A kingdom in which a chosen people that is the minority rules over a majority whose rights are trampled. And in which halakha (traditional Jewish law) is the law of the state and is used to keep the subjects in line and to stamp out any enlightenment.

And that’s not all: At the head of this state is the omnipotent Emir. He appoints judges, certifies police officers, selects generals, controls the media and chooses most of the members of “parliament.” All the state coffers are at the disposal of the Emir and his family, and they can use it to buy themselves yachts and planes, to build lavish mansions, and to purchase as many cigars and as much ice cream as their hearts desire. Needless to say, the Emir and his family don’t have to ask twice to get a tax refund.

Spirit of cooperation…

Is it any wonder that Bibi’s eyes gleam with admiration and envy when he speaks about his new partners in normalization? Partners whose countries are also under investigation for committing war crimes and crimes against humanity? And who make their in-house enemies disappear while scoffing at the critics outside?

So it is in Abu Dhabi, in Bahrain and in the country of Bibi’s dreams – the Abu-Yair Emirate where he is the absolute ruler. No joke. This is where we are headed.

As Zionism is unmasked, hysteria explodes

Israeli Lobby Organizations Seek to Bankrupt Progressive, Pro-Palestinian Restaurant

On July 10, 2020 Yves Engler wrote

The pro-Israel community is engaged in a remarkable effort to bankrupt a small progressive Toronto restaurant. In their attack on Foodbenders, the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs and B’nai B’rith have once again allied with the violent, far-right, Jewish Defence League (JDL).

Over the past week the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs has tweeted no less than 25 times about a restaurant known for supporting indigenous rights, Black Lives Matter and other social justice causes. CIJA and associates have targeted Foodbenders’ delivery services, institutional customers, website host and social media accounts. They’ve also gotten the prime minister, premier of Ontario, mayor of Toronto and numerous other politicians to (directly or indirectly) denounce the small restaurant that has “I love Gaza” painted in its window.

A CIJA action alert to its members states, “antisemites MUST be held accountable. We will never hesitate to take strong legal action against business owners in our city who declare Zionists are ‘not welcome’. United Jewish Appeal’s advocacy agent, the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA) is “calling on the Ontario Human Rights Commission to hold Foodbenders accountable for its discriminatory stance against our community. 

B’nai B’rith has also put out dozens of tweets about the restaurant and different ways to bankrupt it. One statement calls on its supporters to “contact 311@toronto.ca to request that Foodbenders have its business license investigated. Be sure to mention section 27 of By-law No. 574-2000, which prohibits the use of a licensed business to ‘discriminate against any member of the public’ on grounds of ‘race, colour, or creed.’ Attach screenshots if you can.”

Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center and Honest Reporting Canada have put out dozens of tweets supporting efforts to bankrupt the social justice minded business. The Israel-based International Legal Forum filed a complaint with the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario against Foodbenders’ owner Kimberly Hawkins. In what is thought to be the first time the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition of anti-Semitism has been employed in this way, they are claiming that under its stipulations the restaurant owner should be charged with discrimination.

The more liberal end of the Israeli nationalist establishment has also joined the pile on. Former Canadian Jewish Congress president and current chair of the Canadian Anti-Hate Network, Bernie Farber, has repeatedly denounced the restaurant and so has the Canadian Jewish Record, a publication he recently established. In one tweet Farber denounced “the antisemitic tropes used by Food benders.”

Hawkins has being attacked incessantly since an Instagram post of hers began circulating last week that stated, “Open Now – 8 PM for non-racist shoppers #Bloordale #Bloorstreet, #Toronto, #Open, #ftp [fuck the police] #FreePalestine and #ZionistsNotWelcome.” The anti-Palestinian lobby pounced on the #ZionistsNotWelcome hashtag.

In response to Hawkins’ refusal to back down from her support of Palestinian rights, Jewish Defence League thugs held a rally in front of Foodbenders on Sunday. During their hate fest they scrubbed a Palestinian Lives Matter marking from the sidewalk and, similar to what Jewish supremacist settlers do to Palestinian homes in the occupied West Bank, someone painted the symbol on the Israeli flag onto the restaurant window. Alongside painting Stars of David on her storefront, Hawkins has faced a bevy of online abuse. The Foodbenders owner has been called a “dirty Palestinian whore” and told “Palestine sucks I will burn your business down” and “I hope your family gets trapped inside the restaurant when it burns.”

In the dozens of tweets and statements they’ve put out about the restaurant B’nai B’rith, CIJA, Wiesenthal Centre, Honest Reporting Canada and Farber have all stayed mum on JDL’s acts of hate, which were carried out in broad daylight and filmed (CIJA referred to “vandalism” in one tweet). This isn’t surprising. Despite the JDL’s racism and violence, the Jewish establishment has tacitly accepted or actively supported its often-violent targeting of Palestine solidarity campaigners.

After JDL supporters attacked peaceful pro-Palestinian activists protesting a presentation by Israeli military reservists at York University in November, the establishment Jewish organizations cried “anti-Semitism”. 

Last year JDL, B’nai B’rith and CIJA worked with Toronto City Councillor James Pasternak in a bid to have the city block Al Quds Day. Banned in the US and Israel, JDL participates in the annual Walk for Israel organized by United Jewish Appeal of Greater Toronto. JDL has also been allowed to recruit in Jewish high schools and during Israel’s 2014 destruction of Gaza the JDL and B’nai B’rith co-sponsored a counter-demonstration and the group provided “security” for a Canadians for Israel rally.

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On August 3, 2020, unknown individuals vandalized the rear of the store, spray painting, among other things, profanity and the Star of David. Police took a report and did not follow up.

September update

On the evening of Wednesday, September 2, 2020, vandals again attacked the Foodbenders store in Bloordale, this time smashing the storefront window. Responding to a vandalism report from Foodbenders’ lawyer, Detective Jason Crane of the Criminal Investigation Bureau has replied to Foodbenders that he has yet to assign anyone to investigate the incident.

Foodbenders is making a plea to supporters and the public at large to contact Detective Jason (Robert) Crane of the Toronto Police Service at (416) 808 1104 (Robert.Crane@torontopolice.on.ca) to inquire as to what they plan to do concretely to protect Foodbenders from vandalism.

A Clear Message From West Bank Mosque Burning: Palestinians Must Disappear

Ethnic cleansing has never stopped in Israel.This wobderful democracy built on the ruins of Palestine is an embarrassment to the rule of law. Settlers have carte blanche to make life miserable for the indigenous.

Jewish vigilantes below

Amira Hass a real Israeli journalist you can trust, writes for Haaretz

“Where is the El Bir Wa-el Ihsan mosque,” I asked the driver at the taxi stand in northeast El Bireh, a West Bank city, on Monday morning. “The mosque that was torched by the Jews?” he asked. “I have no idea.”

The mosque was opened in August 2016, and most of the people I asked, including other taxi drivers, had never heard of it. I assumed that it must be in a place that’s very accessible to anyone who wishes harm – with a convenient escape route. Near a settlement. Near military cameras. Near an Israel Defense Forces position.

My first guess was the El Bireh industrial zone, past the Beit El army checkpoint and the Civil Administration base. In October 2019 unknown individuals arrived there in a vehicle, punctured the tires of about 30 Palestinian-owned cars, and in order to remove any doubt regarding their identity – left behind graffiti in Hebrew.

But no. The mosque is not in the industrial zone. My second guess was correct: It’s situated in the city’s education complex, right next to the soccer stadium. Opposite it, to the south, less than a kilometer away as the crow flies, is the settlement of Psagot, in all its greenery.

As he does every day, muezzin Jalal Mahmoud Ayesh arrived at the mosque at 3:10 A.M. on Monday. Even before he got out of his car he noticed that the electricity in the building was off. Maybe there’s a short circuit, he thought. He entered the prayer hall via the western entrance, and immediately smelled fire. He followed the smell to the door of the eastern entrance. The handle was hot. When he opened the door, he saw flames climbing up the tiles on the mosque’s outer wall.

Ayesh wasted no time and called the local fire station. He assumed that it was a children’s prank – that perhaps they had set fire to the closet, made of wood and plastic, in which worshippers place their shoes before prayer. The firefighters, who arrived within a few minutes, said, “What are you talking about? It is not children,” and they pointed to graffiti in Hebrew, sprayed in black on a newly whitewashed wall. Later on people would come to translate the words for him: “A siege for the Arabs and not for the Jews,” with one exclamation point. “The Land of Israel for the People of Israel,” with two exclamation points.

A second locus of the arson attack was in the mosque’s bathroom. A carpet, under the sinks, was burned. The wall and floor tiles were charred, as was the windowpane, which was cracked.

At 9 A.M., when I was there, someone said that Palestinian police officers had arrived earlier, but they had been dressed in civilian clothing, because the site is located in what’s defined as “Area C”: under full Israeli security and civil control, where the Palestinian police are not allowed to operate. “C” is an artificial category, but the land belongs to the El Bireh Municipality, and the residential neighborhood in which it is located is within the municipal boundaries – a natural continuation of the city’s older neighborhoods.

In 2009 the settlement of Psagot and the Regavim pro-settler NGO demanded that the Civil Administration demolish the local stadium, then in the final stages of construction. They also warned that thousands of overexcited soccer fans were likely to throw “ballistae” (the term used in their petition to Israel’s High Court of Justice) at the settlement. But it turned out that already in the early 1980s, the military government had given the municipality permission to build in that area. The attempt at demolition was thwarted.

How did the arsonists arrive at the mosque? Perhaps on the road from the settlement to the city’s garbage-disposal site, and from there to the stadium near the mosque. They could have arrived in a car, if the guard at the site was not at his post then, or parked it on the slope of the hill and ascended on foot.

The arsonists’ indirect message is: Look at us, we do whatever we like and will continue to do it, because the police won’t bother to search for us and the army won’t turn us in. And if they do catch us, they won’t prosecute us, and if they do prosecute, the judges will find an excuse to acquit us. That’s how it’s been for years.

The direct message behind the arson attack is written on the wall: The Palestinians must disappear from here. And if they don’t disappear of their own free will then we, anonymous Jews, will force them to do so.

Israel’s culture of superiority and birthright entitlement

Before he was murdered by the Gestapo in April 1945, the Lutheran martyr Dietrich Bonhoeffer distilled this wisdom:

There remains an experience of incomparable value. We have for once learnt to see the great events of world history from below, from the perspective of the outcast, the suspects, the maltreated, the powerless, the oppressed, the reviled – in short, from the perspective of those who suffer 

In discussions with Palestinian Canadians, one quickly hears the deep pain not only  of what was lost in the Nakba of 1948 but the stunning inability or chosen blindness of the public to acknowledge the truth of their violent dispossession. Most Canadians  are incapable of cutting through massive Israeli propaganda and are terrified of being branded anti-Semitic.

For Canadian Jews, many highly educated, have resorted to an uncritical tribalism, devoid of authentic Judaic values.

The brilliant Israeli writer Amira Hass has internalised  Bonhoeffer’s ”history from below.” 

Israelis’ Shock at Police Violence at anti-Netanyahu Protests Is Quite Shocking

Amira Hass

For a moment I thought I would begin by writing that I welcome every blow delivered by a Jewish police officer to a Jewish demonstrator on Jerusalem’s Balfour Street. But I changed my mind. Violent police – who are arousing such shock among the mainstream media these days – are situated on the same continuum as individual and gang rapists, sexual harassers, nursery school teachers who abuse toddlers and social media bullies. I changed my mind because in my search for a lead for this article, this literary stratagem (“I welcome every blow,” etc.) does not apply to all parts of that continuum.

All those individuals are people with power and physical strength, who resort to violence in order to harm and cause pain to others – just because they can. To feel strong and superior, to scare and silence. And in order to enjoy themselves. Let’s not forget that dimension. Enjoyment and satisfaction are an important component in demonstrating superiority, in the act of causing pain to another person.

All the recent expressions of shock are encouraging: from the spontaneous demonstrations against rape culture and the forgiving attitude toward acts of rape and harassment, to the condemnations in the media that are putting the police on the defensive. Such shock is evidence of the health of a society.

That’s on the one hand. On the other hand, however, the shock at police violence on Balfour Street is surprising. Or to be more precise – it’s shocking. It demonstrates that Israeli society does not understand how deeply mired it is in a culture of superiority, of birthright entitlement and of the divine right to exercise our muscles to attain satisfaction, real estate and a cheap and submissive work force.

Or again, to be precise: Israeli society is living in a state of conscious denial. It refuses to internalize the scope of violence that it is nurturing. And I refer not only to police violence against Palestinian in East Jerusalem or against Palestinians who are Israeli citizens.

Fifty-three years of military, police and Shin Bet security service domination over about 5 million people are exactly that: violence. Supremacy. Satisfaction with the violence and the supremacy. Every floor tile in every house in every Jewish settlement is just that: arrogant, prolonged violence, which is defended day and night by brigades and generations of our delicate and armed children.

As part of their calling to garner real estate in the West Bank, they go out to make arrests every night, including of minors. They throw them to the floor of their jeeps, handcuff and blindfold them. In about 50 percent of the cases they hit minors. A slap here, a kick or shove there. Because they can.

Open the website of the B’Tselem human rights organization to the “Updates” section. You’ll find several examples there of kicking, laughter abuse by Israel Defense Forces soldiers in uniform. Yes, I know. The right-wing propaganda has succeeded. For you the testimony of an Arab about an attack – not documented in full in a video clip, from every angle, and preferably on the smartphone of the soldiers themselves – is worthless. By the way: That’s also violence, to first believe the version of events espoused by the ruler, the one in power. The strong one, which is us.

And still, maybe the physical blow delivered by a police officer did upset something in the collective denial mechanism, and you’ll realize the connection between it and the routine violence by soldiers, only an iota of which reaches the B’Tselem website. Not killing. Not serious injury. Just incidental violence, along the way. Because they can.

Jump from there to another website of bleeding hearts, that of Yesh Din rights organization. Read the statistics: The chances that a Palestinian complaint about a soldier’s violence against him will lead to prosecution are 0.7 percent. And is there any need to mention the extent to which Jewish Israeli citizens who harm Palestinians and their orchards, in most instances, receive immunity from a police investigation and prosecution?

From January through August 10, 2020, the United Nations counted 163 incidents of assault by Jewish Israelis, from the settlements, against Palestinians. Of them 49 were physical attacks that caused wounds and bruises. There were 114 attacks against orchards, crops, fields and other property. What is the systematic turning of a blind eye to these attacks, if not a blow delivered by Israeli society – again and again?

UAE Spacecraft Brings No Hope for the Palestinians

O Brave New world that has such people in it. And every country has such thoughtful, prophetic people like Hagai El-Ad the executive director of B’Tselem, Israel’s voice for human rights.Though a secular organization, B’Tselem was not able to run past or deny the authentic Judaic bedrock when Ben Gurion and the secular Zionist cabal created the stller colonialist state. This human rights organization takes its name from the bible: Genesis 1:27: “And God created humankind in His image. In the image of God did He create them.” The name expresses the Jewish and universal moral edict to respect and uphold the human rights of all people.Since the Nakba of 1948 israel has made a mockery of such a vision

Hagai El-Ad

The United Arab Emirates’ spacecraft heading for Mars is called Hope. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made sure to mention this in his announcement of the peace treaty with the UAE. After all, Startup Nation is happy to gaze into space, the heavens, the Persian Gulf or any other conceivable place, just as long as it doesn’t have to look straight at the Palestinians.

The Palestinians, unlike that spacecraft, didn’t merit a place of honor in the prime minister’s speech. The Palestinians, unlike that spacecraft, aren’t heading for Mars. The Palestinians, alongside us, live on the ground of reality.

The setting aside, at least for now, of the formal annexation of part of the West Bank allows us to direct our attention to that very place – the ground of reality. For in reality, with or without U.S. President Donald Trump’s backing, the ground between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River is home to 14 million people. And all of them are subject to the same authority.

Millions of them – all Palestinians – live without rights, vulnerable to state violence, dispossessed, displaced, killed and oppressed. Israel considered for a time whether to make this aspect of reality official by announcing an “annexation” or “applying sovereignty.” Some people questioned the practical implications of such a move, since Israel already acts as if this territory were its own.

In the end, Israel forged the deal announced by Netanyahu. The declarations will be put on the shelf for now, but the Palestinian people will not. With or without the UAE, and with or without annexation, there is already a consensus in Israel about continuing to rule over the Palestinians. The argument is only over the details and the amount of lip service to be paid.

Netanyahu simply announced his preferred alternative for continuing the existing situation – without formal annexation (for now), but with the UAE. Yet under any possible scenario, anyone who wakes up tomorrow morning in Ramallah or in Khan Yunis will wake up to the same reality, one in which they are subjects with no rights and in which almost every aspect of their lives is controlled by Israel.

Netanyahu wants to talk about Abu Dhabi, but life itself, to use a favorite term of his, is attached firmly connected to Hebron and Nablus, Gaza City and Jerusalem. Because even after the Hope enters Mars’s orbit in a few months’ time, all of us here – Jews and Palestinians alike – will remain in the same shared orbit.

Look straight into the eyes of the people living under a regime of checkpoints, permits, military orders and walls dividing us. What hope – not in space, but here on earth – do they have in the Gaza Strip, which has been under siege for 13 years; in the Jordan Valley, where dozens of communities have no water and are repeatedly expelled from their hopes; in the bantustan of Ramallah, whose residents are surrounded by settlements and checkpoints; or in the Jenin refugee camp?

The moral questions that must be answered are, first, how our life here on earth will look when millions of people are already in the sixth decade of this rotten reality. And second, how we can oppose a regime whose essence is one group’s supremacy over another so that we can live in a completely different reality, one with justice and rights for all.

The answers to these questions won’t be found on another celestial body or through disruptive technologies. They won’t be found in the prime minister’s speech or in Washington. They are simple, fundamental answers that all decent people can find when they look other people straight in the eye.

Look closely at them. Then look inward. You know the answers.

Hagai El-Ad is the executive director of B’Tselem.

Rashid Khalidi: Victory for Arab Reaction

As per usual it was Amy Goodman of Democracy Now who alone had one of the most thoughtful persons on the Middle East  Rashid Khalidi speak  to the announcement  that Israel and the United Arab Emirates have reached an agreement to fully normalize relations after years of secretly working together on countering Iran and other issues.The UAE is the first Gulf Arab country to normalize relations with Israel and just the third country in the Arab world to do so, after Egypt and Jordan.

Rashid Khalidi, is the Edward Said professor of modern Arab studies at Columbia University, author of several books his latest, The Hundred Years’ War on Palestine was interviewed  on August 14.

Rashid Khalidi       Edited

In a sense, this is  another campaign in the hundred years’ war on Palestine. This is a great victory for Arab reaction. It’s a great victory for the annexationist government in Israel. It’s also a boost for President Trump. The Trump regime, which is one of the most authoritarian in American history, has now gotten a diplomatic victory.

So, I don’t see that it has anything to do with peace, of course. The United Arab Emirates was never at war with Israel. On the contrary, it makes the chance of a just, equitable and sustainable peace much, much, much harder.

 Well, it came about partly because of the blowback against the Trump-Netanyahu plan to overtly annex territories, which, as Rashida Tlaib said, are already under Israeli control, and, as Netanyahu said, he still plans to annex. But the blowback was so severe that both Trump and Netanyahu were forced to recalibrate.

And this is something that has always been ongoing, the plan to bring the most reactionary, most absolute monarchies in the world into an open public alliance with Israel, as part of the Netanyahu-Trump obsession with Iran, which is something that these regimes are also obsessed with, given that they have — they do not depend on consent of the governed, they do not have any kind of domestic legitimacy, they’re anti-democratic. They are the forces that fight against democracy throughout the Arab world. The United Arab Emirates is not a force for peace. It’s at war with the people of Yemen. It’s at war in Libya. It has never been involved in a war with Israel.

So, this is making overt a relationship that was already covert. This is making even more salient an alliance against Iran, which is the wet dream of both Netanyahu and Trump, to dangle Iran in front of people’s eyes to distract them from the kinds of reactionary dictatorships or absolute monarchies. Those monarchies are so reactionary that they make Henry VIII and Louis XIV look like Tom Paine and Robespierre. They are the most absolute monarchies in the world today. The fact that the United States is supporting them is an absolute disgrace.

the United Arab Emirates has never been engaged in war with Israel. On the contrary, the United Arab Emirates’ air defenses, its missile defenses, are manufactured in Israel and are probably controlled from Israel. So, this is an ally of Israel in practice. It always has been. Now this has been made public.

Israel still  the coloniser

Whatever the president and his ambassador to Israel say, I would take Netanyahu at his word. There is no change in his plans. He said it. You ran a clip from him, speaking in Hebrew. They will continue the ongoing colonization of the West Bank. They will continue to control it absolutely. Israel will continue to be the only sovereign between the Mediterranean and the Jordan River. And it will continue its discriminatory policies whereby Israelis have one set of laws and Palestinians, under occupation, basically have the law of the jungle, i.e. military occupation, military courts, in which everybody is always guilty and in which about 20% of the Palestinian population has been sent to prison. So, we’re talking about a jackboot regime which is going to be sustained and continued by this deal. That’s not peace. That’s continuation of colonization and occupation, whatever the president says.

Conflict with Iran?

Rone of the greatest falsehoods that these people peddle is this idea that there is a conflict between the Arabs and Iran. There is a conflict between nonrepresentative, anti-democratic regimes and Iran.Arab public opinion considers Israel a great danger. There are polls every couple of years, run by the Arab Center, which show that across a dozen Arab countries, the Arabs, the people, most of them unrepresented by these dictatorships and absolute monarchies, consider Iran a minor threat. It’s a problem, but it’s not the number one problem.

For these regimes, which have no domestic legitimacy, which do not depend on consent of the governed, of course Iran is a problem. Moreover, they need the United States and Israel, because they can’t defend themselves, given the fact that — against their people, let alone against external threats, because they have no domestic legitimacy.

So, I think this is not something between the Arabs and Iran. This is something between unrepresentative and undemocratic Arab regimes, notably the absolute monarchies of the Gulf, and Iran.

US Leadership

I think that the leadership of the Democratic Party, from Biden to Senator Harris to the people who run it, the Schumers and the Pelosis and the Clintons and the Obamas, all of them are behind the times. The Democratic Party, its base, the people who are going to vote for the Democrats and will hopefully defeat Trump in November and take back the Senate and increase the progressive trends in the House, don’t feel that way. They strongly believe that Israel should be sanctioned for its violations of Palestinian human rights. They don’t have the position that the Democratic Party leadership has.

This is not new, and it’s unfortunately been further entrenched by Biden and Harris becoming the nominees for the party. There were several other candidates — obviously, Senator Sanders and Senator Warren, but others — who had more nuanced positions, much more in tune with the base of the Democratic Party on this issue, on the issue of Palestine. So, a lot of work is going to be necessary to force a leadership, that is, as I’ve said, completely blind to Israel’s faults and doesn’t see the Palestinians, to do the right thing.

Karcher on Weiss

Bari Weiss  is the very whiny former NYT editor who was catapulted into a cushy job based on her father’s AIPAC connections and her own hard right Zionist beliefs. She  has been caught out many times on her poor me “cancel culture” trope. Her own cancel culture activity included  her fanatical attempts to get Palestinian professors at Columbia fired, then her bigoted editorial work circumscribing progressive Jewish  and Palestinian voices voices from ever appearing in the NYT

The real significance of Bari Weiss’s resignation from the New York Times

Carolyn Karcher

Change is in the air and the Israel lobby can no longer stamp it out by using its gatekeepers to censor and malign opposing voices.

Bari Weiss’s letter of July 14 announcing her resignation as an editor of the New York Times opinion page has received considerable publicity and has won praise from prominent right-wing spokespersons, including Donald Trump, Jr., political commentators Ben Shapiro and Bill Maher, and U.S. Republican senators Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, and Kelly Loeffler.   In that letter, posted on her website, Weiss accuses her colleagues of “bullying” her and silencing writers whose views clash with the Times’s “orthodoxy.”  “Intellectual curiosity,” she claims, “is now a liability at The Times.”  These claims are breathtakingly dishonest, coming as they do from an editor who has herself engaged in systematically barring from the Times any op-ed or letter to the editor contrary to the orthodoxy of the pro-Israel establishment she represents.  

Although Weiss emphasizes the “necessity of resisting tribalism, and the centrality of the free exchange of ideas to a democratic society”—principles I fully support—nothing could better illustrate “tribalism” than the censorship of voices criticizing Israel or pointing out the inherently undemocratic nature of a state that privileges Jews over non-Jews. 

 A flagrant example of the tribalism that the Times opinion page exhibited under Weiss’s editorship is its publication of an op-ed titled “On the Frontlines of Progressive Anti-Semitism” by Blake Flayton, a sophomore at George Washington University, and its failure to publish a single one of the letters that poured in from Jewish students at George Washington and other universities contradicting Flayton’s allegations about both antisemitism among progressives and about quasi-universal support for Israel among young Jews.  Frankly, the Times is much better off without Bari Weiss.  Perhaps now the Op-Ed and letters to the editor page can finally begin reflecting the remarkable shift that has been occurring in Jewish attitudes toward Israel and Palestinians, as indicated by Peter Beinart’s two articles, “I No Longer Believe in a Jewish State”, and “Yavne: A Jewish Case for Equality in Israel-Palestine” and by Eric Alterman’s “In New York, Zionism and Liberalism Faced Off—And Liberalism Won.”

Both Beinart and Alterman describe a long process of grappling with the contradictions between their ideal of Israel as a haven for Jews that could also be a democracy for its Palestinian citizens and their growing awareness of the brutal repression Palestinians endure under Israeli rule.  Confronted by more and more evidence that “With each new election, irrespective of which parties enter the government, Israel has continued subsidizing Jewish settlement in a territory in which Palestinians lack citizenship, due process, free movement, and the right to vote for the government that dominates their lives,” Beinart concludes: “The painful truth is that the project to which liberal Zionists like myself have devoted ourselves for decades—a state for Palestinians separated from a state for Jews—has failed. . . .  It is time for liberal Zionists to abandon the goal of Jewish-Palestinian separation and embrace the goal of Jewish-Palestinian equality.” 

 Similarly, Alterman acknowledges: “As Israel grows increasingly illiberal—embracing not only annexation but also official racism, theocratic governance, and increasingly anti-democratic restrictions on the freedoms of its Arab minority . . . Liberal Zionism—a cause to which I have committed myself for my entire adult life—has come to look like a contradiction.” 

Alterman’s article actually comments on another example of what his subtitle calls “a sea change for American Jews”: the defeat of Eliot Engel, the powerful chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, by Jamaal Bowman, an African American former middle school principal.  As Alterman notes, Engel used his position to deliver “one hundred percent support for Israel” in lockstep with AIPAC and the ultra-conservative Zionist Organization of America, while neglecting the needs of his constituents, nearly 60 percent of whom are Black and Latino.

  Bowman, in contrast, balanced his commitment to “the right of Israelis to live in safety and peace” with an affirmation that “Palestinians are entitled to the same human rights, safety from violence and self-determination in a state of their own.”  Instead of his stand’s costing him the election, as it probably would have in years past, however, “Bowman won in a landslide,” and Engel did not even carry the district’s Jewish voters.  As Alterman explains, the result showed that “Israel had lost its centrality” among constituents who were “reeling under the threat of the pandemic and inspired by the politics of racial reawakening.”  They also showed that whereas in the past, liberals “chose just to make an exception for Israel while sticking with the rest of their left-leaning agenda,” this time liberalism had clearly won out over Zionism.

In short, change is in the air, and the pro-Israel lobby can no longer stamp it out by using its henchpersons to censor and malign opposing voices.  This is the real significance of Bari Weiss’s resignation from the New York Times.

Carolyn L. Karcher is Professor Emerita of English, American Studies, and Women’s Studies at Temple University. Her latest book is Reclaiming Judaism from Zionism: Stories of Personal Transformation,

Seth Rogen wakes from his sleep

Seth Rogen much like so many privileged Canadian and American Jews who have absolutely no idea  of how the indigenous Palestinians live, six years ago actually signed a petition supporting the  2014 IDF massacre  in Gaza.This was  an ignorant tribal action with absolutely no forethought or understanding. No thoughtful Jew in touch with biblical Judaic values would ever do such a thing. It was simply a reflex action. Now Rogen in this time of COVID has awakened from his ethical slumber.

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Jonathan S. Tobin writes in Haaretz

Like so many other celebrities who have gotten into trouble with wayward comments or tweets concerning the Jews and/or Israel, Seth Rogen now says he was misunderstood.

He may have been joking when he told host and fellow Jewish comedian Marc Maron on the hugely popular “WTF” podcast that the existence of Israel “doesn’t make sense to me.” But the response from much of the Jewish world was immediate and angry.

Coming on the heels of author Peter Beinart’s broadside published in The New York Times calling for replacing the Jewish state with a bi-national entity, a rant from an actor whose image and roles have generally portrayed him as a stereotypical Jew, seemed to be just one more indication of the growing divide between Israel and the Diaspora.

Critics of Israel couldn’t be faulted for jumping on the interview as proof of opposition to Zionism and the policies of the Netanyahu government. Rogen claimed that, “As a Jewish person I was fed a huge amount of lies about Israel my entire life! They never tell you that — oh by the way, there were people there. They make it seem like it was just like sitting there, like the fucking door’s open! … They forget to include the fact to every young Jewish person.”

Many of those pro-Israel voices that responded to Rogen emphasized what they rightly considered his seeming ignorance of the history that made a Jewish state a necessity.

A native of Vancouver, Canada, Rogen went to Jewish schools as well as a Jewish camp and his parents met while volunteering at a kibbutz in the 1970s.

The actor, says he doesn’t want anyone to think that he believes Israel shouldn’t exist even though that was the plain implication of his podcast comments. But his words resonated specifically because they are very much in tune with the opinions of the woke Jewish left that tends to predominate in Hollywood as well as among non-Orthodox Jews.

Despite the arguments of the Jewish left, the growing Israel-Diaspora divide has little to do with opinions about the settlers or even Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s closeness with President Donald Trump, who is despised by the vast majority of American Jews like Rogen. The difference between these two Jewish tribes goes far deeper than politics. The American Jewish problem with Israel is not with what it does but with what it is.

The two nations are bound together by support for the values of democracy and are natural allies in the context of the contemporary Middle East. But there is a profound difference between the American experiment in democracy, which is avowedly non-sectarian, and a nation state whose purpose is to provide a home and security for one specific people that had been persecuted for 20 centuries. Like most other nations on the planet, Israel is an expression of particularism. Its priority is to reconstitute and defend Jewish sovereignty in the ancient homeland of the Jews and not to be the last and best hope of all mankind.

The inherent tension between a state whose purpose is sectarian but which seeks to govern itself democratically and with respect for the rights of the religious and ethnic minorities within its borders is a perennial theme of Israeli debates. But even in its most idealized form, a particularist project such as Zionism has been a difficult sell for American Jews.

Having found a home in which not only were they were welcomed and granted free access to every sector of society but also in which the non-Jewish majority proved willing to marry them, it is unsurprising that many American Jews have always had difficulty coming to tP With non-Orthodox Judaism having embraced social justice as its primary focus, support for Jewish nationalism is at odds with the mindset of American Jewry’s leading activist and faith organizations.

The Holocaust and then the drama of Israel’s creation and early wars effectively squelched anti-Zionist sentiment as an active political force for a time. But that seeming consensus ended once the murder of six million Jews — who had no homeland to flee to before there was an Israel — was safely in the distant past.

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Next post, Phil Weiss laments that Seth Rogen’s serious concerns about human rights and Zionism have turned into dispiriting Jewish shtik

Young Jews breaking away

Inn the time of Covid 19 and Black Lives Matter and with no sports to keep us distracted, more people are unpacking  the settler colonial movement of Zionism and the dispossession of the indigenous Palestinian people. 

To the consternation of their elders many of whom traded in the authentic values of Judaism for Zionism young Jews are discovering a deeper truth.

Among the latest is the Canadian actor, comedian Seth Rogen who recently unloaded on a podcast.

His confession is very similar those who now have had time to analyse their less  than honest education.

Rogen whose parents met on a kibbutz in Israel, says when he was younger he attended Jewish camp.he was told  that the Jewish state was created on on land that became the Jewish state but the fact that  Palestinians were living there was omitted I was fed a huge amount of lies about Israel.

They never tell you that, ‘Oh, by the way, there were people there’. They make it seem like it was just like sitting there, like the fucking door’s open.”

More than 700,000 Palestinians were driven out of their homes or fled fighting in the 1948 war that led to Israel’s creation. Today, those families and their descendants make up around 5.6 million refugees

Younger than Rogen are Izzy Goldstein and Eli Green  who wrote

As 17-year-old Jewish-Americans, our formative experiences included our community trying to hide the ugly reality of Israel’s occupation from us. At Jewish Summer camp, we were told that Israel was the dream: a safe haven for the Jews, a democratic country with equality for all, a progressive oasis in the midst of a dangerous Middle East. But what about the Palestinians? 

Wedidn’t talk much about them, but when we did, we were told that the Jewish state was so committed to democracy that it even included Arabs in its Parliament. Conveniently left out of these conversations was the systematic and intentional denial or equal rights to Palestinian citizens of Israel and the brutal systems of occupation, siege, and apartheid that 5 million Palestinians in the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza live under.

But that was then. Now there are Jewish organizations that tell the truth. Since its small founding in 1996, today Jewish Voice for Peace has 60 chapters across the U.S. If Not Now holds regular training for young Jews on how to protest for Palestinian rights. CODEPINK and other organizations have been so effective in their campaigning that swaths of lawmakers no longer want to be associated with AIPAC.

Over 80% of Democrats believe that the U.S.-Israeli relationship should be questioned. Popular liberal Zionist Peter Beinart finally just embraced a one-state-solution. And Senator van Hollen — not known for being a leftist member of Congress — has legislation to condition U.S. military assistance to Israel so that it does not fund annexation.

on July 2, Van Hollen spoke on the Senate floor: “I do not believe that the United States government and the United States taxpayer should be aiding and abetting Prime Minister Netanyahu’s plan to unilaterally annex the West Bank.” he preached. That very same day, he introduced the amendment “Prohibiting U.S. Funds from Supporting Israeli Annexation of the West Bank,” adding it to the must-pass National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). 

 While applying to colleges right now, we are proud to proclaim that our Jewish identity requires us to support the Palestinian struggle for freedom, justice, and equality. As we do all that we can to build a future that disavows racism in America, we cannot ignore that Israel is an all-out apartheid state that is funded and supported by the U.S. The way the DNC is trying to hide the Palestinian struggle is shameful and we can’t allow it.

Levy on Beinart

The sky is falling in the Zionist world. One state, impossible? There will be terrible violence as if palestinians have not already borne the brunt of the last settler colonial state. The wise man Gideon Levy lays out some common sense.

The New York Times (a day after the piece appeared in the paper’s U.S. print edition): “I No Longer Believe in a Jewish State.” No, the significance of this cannot be overstated. Peter Beinart, one of American Jewry’s most prominent liberal intellectuals, an observant Jew who was raised in a Zionist home, who was 28 when he became the editor of The New Republic, and who later became a senior columnist at Haaretz, has said goodbye to the two-state solution and in effect issued a divorce decree to Zionism, at least in its current format.

In an impressive essay that has already made waves in the United States, he writes: “It’s time to imagine a Jewish home that is not a Jewish state.” Beinart is not a lone voice in the United States. American Jews are beginning, if belatedly, to take a clear-eyed look at Israel, its darling. The Democratic Party is also doing so, slowly. Now we can hope that Beinart’s op-ed will motivate more and more intellectuals and others to look honestly and bravely at reality, as he has done, and to say what is still considered heresy, a betrayal of Israel and not politically correct in the United States.

Beinart has seen the light. An end has come to years of a pleasant, intoxicating belief that it was possible to be a liberal Jew and still support Israel, by dint of the illusion of the two-state solution, which Israel and the U.S. never intended to carry out. Now Beinart too realizes that there is an inherent contradiction that cannot be resolved. As long as the occupation continues, no liberal, Jewish or not, can support Israel. Beinart realized that the die has been cast: The two-state solution died because of the irreversible number of settlers, to which the annexation plan was recently added. “The goal of equality is now more realistic than the goal of separation,” Beinart writes, expertly describing reality a moment before being attacked with the claim that the one-state solution isn’t realistic. (Anshel Pfeffer did so later  in Haaretz.)

Yes, the followers of the two-state solution are “realistic” and those who are for the one-state solution are delusional. It’s hard to think of a more delusional mirage. For 53 years there has been a single state here, its apartheid regime is becoming entrenched with sickening speed and to speak of regime changing in this single state is to speak unrealistically. When only two options remain, a single democratic state or an apartheid state, the democratic option doesn’t even come up for discussion in Israel, and barely does in the United States or the rest of the world.

The remnants of the imaginary possibility of a Palestinian state have long since been torn, but we must continue to hope for it, to long for it and to pray for its establishment. A Palestinian state? Where? How? Not here. Not now. Instead of launching the only struggle that offers a just vision – equality; one person, one vote – the liberals continue to sing paeans to a past that will never return, to a train that has left the station and will never return. Instead of taking the necessary conclusions, they continue to shut their eyes and scatter illusions. It’s more comfortable for everyone; for Israelis, for the Palestinian Authority and the world. A Palestinian state will surely come to be, just you wait and see.

The standard weapon of the “realists” for burying the last just solution is the threat of the terrible bloodshed that would occur in the binational state. The 53 years of the apartheid state generated the most terrible bloodshed of all. Things can only get better. Beinart, whose parents emigrated from South Africa, knows from history that when a government of equality is established in a binational state, and all its inhabitants win freedom and can exercise their rights, violence declines and even disappears. It happened in Northern Ireland as well as in South Africa. But the Zionist chorus will continue to paint a terrifying picture of the unknown and cling to the status quo, the steady, institutionalized situation of apartheid, which is the worst of all

Beinart misses the day when he saw Israel as a source of pride, like many Jews. Myself included. Now Beinart is himself a source of pride: an American Jew who heralds a change that gives hope.