New York Jews Blast De Blasio Over AIPAC Speech

A group of prominent Jewish leaders in New York have sent a letter to the city’s new mayor, Bill De Blasio sharply criticizing him for the fawning and kowtowing speech he secretly made to AIPAC. It’s short and to the point–AIPAC doesn’t speak for these Jews and, I’ll add, AIPAC doesn’t speak for most Jews or Israelis. It’s high time these people, who are not only causing immense harm to Palestinians but are also determined to lead Israelis over a cliff and US Jews to the end of the era of our history most free of anti-Semitism were confronted in no uncertain terms. They have money and hate, and nothing else. They represent no one but themselves.

Here is the letter: Continue reading

Israelis and Palestinians Moving Apart, Not Closer

This article originally appeared at LobeLog.

It’s a busy week for Secretary of State John Kerry. On Monday, he received Israel’s top two negotiators, Tzipi Livni and Isaac

John Kerry boarding a plane for Switzerland for the bug meetings in Geneva and Davos.

John Kerry boarding a plane for Switzerland for the bug meetings in Geneva and Davos.

Molho. Then he packed his bags and headed off to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Kerry will have any number of important tasks in Davos, but perhaps the highest profile of them will be a sideline meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. These meetings, it is said, are meant to “bridge the gaps between Israel and the Palestinians.”

If anyone was holding out hope that these talks were anything more than a sham, those words should end such hopes. The framing of the United States bridging the gap between Israel and the Palestinians belies the reality of Israeli anger and Palestinian disappointment bordering on feelings of betrayal in terms of the US’ relationship with both sides. Let’s just look at where things stand. Continue reading

Netherlands Businesses Cutting Ties With Israel’s Occupation

This article originally appeared at LobeLog.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte receives Israeli President Shimon Peres on September 29, 2013

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte receives Israeli President Shimon Peres on September 29, 2013

In recent weeks, Israel and especially advocates for its right-wing in the United States have been scrambling to lash back at a boycott resolution passed by the American Studies Association (ASA). This was an initiative of an academic group in the United States directed at all of Israel in support of the Palestinian civil society call for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel. But all of this activity against the ASA has overlooked a much more important act of economic pressure against Israel — this one from Europe.

The ASA boycott has divided peace activists, some of whom support economic actions against settlements and the occupation but not against Israel as a whole. Others have been reluctant to support the ASA action because they support certain actions against Israel but not an academic boycott. While there has been a good deal of support for the ASA action from the broader BDS movement, these questions have left the ASA action more open to attack from those who oppose any sort of action that might compel Israel to change its policies. Continue reading

Jewish Letter Opposing Balfour Declaration, 1919

My friend, Yousef Munayyer unearthed this remarkably prescient letter from 1919, ahead of the post-WWI peace conference. It was published in full by the Times, in the wake of its having been presented to President Woodrow Wilson. It was brought to Wilson by Julius Kahn, a Jewish Congressman from San Francisco.

The objections raised to the Zionist enterprise and the disagreement with the recently presented Balfour Declaration are interesting. They are, primarily, rooted in concern for the welfare of Jewish people around the globe, although due consideration is given to the Palestinian population. The case they made was a pretty powerful one, though it did not sway Wilson or the other world leaders of the day, who, as history has well noted, were tantalized by the ideas of fulfilling biblical prophecy with the Jewish return to Zion, having a permanent European presence in what was quickly becoming the most important region of the “oriental” world, and ridding their own countries of Jews. Continue reading

Learning from Syria

It seems the overwhelming opinion, from across the political spectrum and around the globe, is that we must stand aside and let Syria

A US protester in support of the late, lamented Egyptian revolt. (photo courtesy of Sasha Kimel, published under a Creative Commons license)

A US protester in support of the late, lamented Egyptian revolt. (photo courtesy of Sasha Kimel, published under a Creative Commons license)

burn, offering a bit of humanitarian aid but doing nothing else substantive. This arises for a variety of reasons, including the sordid history of outside intervention and a binary bit of thinking where the only options are to support Assad or to support the dominant militias like al-Nusra and ISIL (sometimes referred to as ISIS, the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant/Syria). Personally, I’m not satisfied with any of the options being proposed, but I also recognize why we are so limited and why the international community is stymied.

Rather than simply bemoan the horror, I propose a new idea for how such tragedies might be addressed. If it, or something like it, were even attempted, it would be too late, at this point, for it to help Syria, more than likely. But the world needs some new system, some new entity, that provides a third choice, that addresses both regional and great power interests that are causing the current paralysis. I describe my ideas in Souciant today.

Transferring The Arabs As If They Were A Herd Of Sheep

Tal Schneider is an Israeli journalist and blogger. At her blog, she recently published this excellent piece by Afif Abu-Much, who lives in the community of Baqa Baqa al-Gharbiyye in Israel. Afif’s village is one of those that would be handed over to the Palestinian Authority in the sorts of land swaps that Avigdor Lieberman champions and all too many other Israelis support. The legitimacy and morality of such an action is often debated, but actually hearing from an Israeli citizen who would be directly affected by such a move is sadly rare. I am very grateful that Tal has permitted me to reprint this piece here, in full, as she and Sol Salbe translated it from Hebrew.  Continue reading

Israeli Leaders Place More Obstacles in Kerry’s Path

This article originally appeared at LobeLog

US Secretary of State John Kerry was shuttling between Jordan and Saudi Arabia on Sunday, shoring up support for his efforts to

Kerry with Saudi King Abdullah (photo courtesy of State Department)

Kerry with Saudi King Abdullah (photo courtesy of State Department)

find some kind of framework for negotiations that Israel and the Palestinian Authority could both sign on to. But back in Israel, the difficulties Kerry faces became even more apparent.

First, Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman stated that, while he believed the deal Kerry envisions is the best Israel is likely to get, he would not support any peace deal that did not involve transferring Arab towns in Israel to the Palestinian Authority. In other words, Lieberman is insisting on a condition he has long held that forces the expulsion from Israel of some significant number of its Arab citizens. That is something that even the United States will find difficult to endorse, although most in Congress probably would have no problem with it (as long as AIPAC pushes them in that direction). The PA is not going to accept that condition, so Lieberman is basically putting a poison pill inside conciliatory language.

By the end of the day, Yuval Steinitz, a far right wing member of Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud coalition and Minister of Intelligence, Strategic Affairs and International Relations, stated that Israel could not accept anything less than a sole Israeli military presence for an indefinite period in the Jordan Valley, a clear non-starter. Steinitz made this statement despite the insistence of the former head of the Mossad that the Jordan Valley was not a vital security concern or Israel, so one has to wonder about the motivation for Israel’s insistence on this point. Continue reading