How to Create Consensus: Fire the leftist columnists

In my latest piece for Babylon Times, hosted by Souciant, I look at the firing of columnist Larry Derfner of the Jerusalem Post, what he did wrong and how it drowned out some very important and insightful points that he made.

UPDATE: Derfner was not permitted to publish his defense of himself against the scurrilous piece by radical right-wing columnist Isi Liebler. You can see what he wanted the JPost to publish here.

Ready, Aim, Failure: Bibi Blows It Again

In my latest piece for Babylon Times, hosted by Souciant, I examine the responses to the terrorist attack near Eilat and the subsequent Israeli incursions into Gaza and Egypt. The title says a lot: Ready Aim Failure: Bibi blows it, again.

J14 and American Jewry: Removing the veil of silence

In my latest piece for Babylon Times, hosted by Souciant, I explore the reactions and potential impact of the massive Israeli economic protests, for Israel, the occupation and American Jews.

New Knesset Bill Magnifies the Attack on Democracy in Israel

Here in the United States, we have become only too familiar with the paranoid rantings of those who warn of “creeping sharia.” Sharia, of course, is the body of religious Muslim law. Neo-conservatives and their fellow travelers have had a good deal of impact scaring Americans about this non-existent threat.

Thankfully, numerous analysts and reporters, such as Matt Duss at Think Progress, have done outstanding work exposing this fear-mongering propaganda for what it is.

From Meretz USA's web site

Maybe, though, it’s time we American Jews, and our Israeli counterparts, woke up to the real threat in Israel of “creeping halakha.”

The Knesset is considering a bill now that would change Israel’s Basic Law defining Israel as a “Jewish and democratic state,” to promote Israel’s “Jewish character” as superior to its democratic nature.

In other words, as Likud MK Ze’ev Elkin, a leading figure in the anti-democracy movement in Israel, explains, the new law would frame “the state as the Jewish nation state in (court) ruling(s) in situations in which the Jewish character of the state clashes with its democratic character.”

Can we be any more blatantly anti-democratic than that? Actually, yes.

Because the bill contains another provision, one which would provide that “If the court sees a legal question requiring a ruling, and finds no solution in legislation, custom or clear analogy, it will rule in light of the principles of freedom, justice, integrity and peace in Jewish heritage.” In other words, as Ha’aretz puts it, the “…clause states that Jewish law will be a source of inspiration to the legislature and the courts.”

It may well be that this clause will not be part of the law that will be passed. It does have the whiff of a clause that was put in to stir up controversy so it can be removed and the rest of the legislation will be less targeted.

But even if that is the case, and one hopes that it is, the inclusion of this clause is a warning to us all of the increasing religious influence in the Knesset. This is a cause for grave concern for a number of reasons.

As Jews, we must all be concerned that the world’s only Jewish state would represent not a national state, but a religious one. We, better than any other people, know the dangers of religious states. Contrary to the dissembling on the right, most progressive Jews are very concerned about human rights abuses in theocratic countries, including, though not limited to, Muslim countries (we just don’t like it when those concerns are cynically used to shield Israel, or other countries, from legitimate criticism of their own human rights violations). Continue reading

Book Plots J Street’s Coordinates on Map of U.S.-Israel Politics

Inter Press Service has published my review of Jeremy Ben-Ami’s new book, A New Voice for Israel. Please check it out.

His Own Private Fantasy

My latest piece for Babylon Times is up at Souciant. In it, I examine a YouTube video put out in July by Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon. The video generated a good deal of controversy, but it seemed to me it was so silly that no one took the time to address his specific points. Yet people who don’t know better might believe all or some of Ayalon’s line. So, I offer this direct response to Ayalon’s racist and nasty propaganda.