Gaza Through A Distorted Lens

Palestinian officials say at least 58 people have been killed in the latest round of protests. More than 2,700 Palestinian demonstrators were injured on Monday—at least 1,350 by gunfire—along the border fence with Gaza, the Health Ministry reported. The mass protests began on March 30 and had already left dozens dead.

Those words appeared in The New York Times on May 14, 2018. On that day, the protests in Gaza had the added inspiration not only of the anniversary of the naqba the following day—which Israel celebrates as its independence day—but also the infuriating sight of Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump, joined by a bevy of Republicans, anti-Semitic preachers, and Israeli settlers with their American supporters celebrating the move of the U.S. embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Two days ago, as the latest spike in violence in Gaza wound down, the Times stated, “It was the worst violence between the two sides since a 50-day war in 2014.” The Jerusalem Post had reported the day before that “Four Israelis died during the continued rocket attacks.” The Post also stated that, “234 patients have been treated” at local hospitals in Israel, and that “25 Palestinians were killed…and 154 others were injured” in the fighting.

The comparison of these tragic tallies led Yousef Munayyer of the US Campaign for Palestinian Rights to ponder, “Worst violence since 2014? Israel shot 1,100 Palestinians and killed 60 in Gaza, including 7 children on May 14th, 2018. That was just last year. What makes this worse? Go ahead, I’ll wait.”

Of course, what makes it worse is that in May of 2018, no Israelis were hurt. The Times might just as well have said outright that Palestinian lives are worthless. But it was far from alone. Many other outlets echoed the same callous point.

Ilhan Omar, AIPAC, And Denial

Discussing the role of the pro-Israel lobby in forming US Middle East policy is perilous. I’ve heard hundreds of stories from fellow advocates, colleagues on Capitol Hill, and journalists who have learned that lesson the hard way. Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) has once again brought that peril on herself.

Responding to journalist Glenn Greenwald’s comments about the amount of energy Congress spends defending Israel, Omar tweeted, “It’s all about the Benjamins baby.” When the Forward’s opinion editor asked her who she thought was “paying off” members of Congress to support Israel, Omar tweeted “AIPAC.”

The backlash was swift and powerful. Criticism and denunciation of Omar’s tweet as anti-Semitic came from all directions, left and right. It culminated with leading Democrats denouncing the new congresswoman and Omar’s apology. Omar’s initial comments evoked for many the image of Jews nefariously controlling a political agenda with their money, an old and sordidly familiar anti-Semitic trope.

Having been through this sort of thing before when she had to apologize for a tweet evoking the trope of subtle Jewish power by saying that Israel had hypnotized the world, Omar might have known better than to tweet so flippantly on a subject that requires significant nuance.

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

One State Or Two, A New Peace Process Is Needed

This article originally appeared at LobeLog.

J Street President Jeremy Ben-Ami, champion of the two-state solution

J Street President Jeremy Ben-Ami, champion of the two-state solution

In a debate recorded by the Institute for Palestine Studies, human rights lawyer Noura Erakat squares off with Hussein Ibish, a senior fellow at the American Task Force on Palestine, about the current peace talks and the prospects of a two-state solution. There was a lot in the exchange that was interesting, and it’s worth your viewing. But one point in particular caught my attention. Continue reading

Mr. and Madame Senator, Have You No Shame?

There have been several very good pieces written about the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) hearing to confirm Chuck Hagel as Secretary of defense. Here’s a

Chuck Hagel with President Obama

Chuck Hagel with President Obama

partial list:

My own early piece on the lunatic right’s opposition to Hagel, a Republican former Senator from Nebraska: http://www.muzzlewatch.com/2012/12/27/chuck-hagel-and-israel-the-wrong-question/

A brief but brilliant piece by Stephen Walt: http://walt.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2013/02/01/id_like_to_thank_the_senate_armed_services_committee

Yousef Munayyer on the number of appearances, or lack thereof, of various words: http://blog.thejerusalemfund.org/2013/02/the-hagel-hearing-snapshot.html

John Judis in The New Republic http://www.newrepublic.com/article/112306/chuck-hagel-confirmation-hearings-ted-cruz-john-mccain-grill-him

Matt Duss in The American Prospect https://prospect.org/article/senate-hearing-circus-session

And Jim Lobe at Inter Press Service http://www.ipsnews.net/2013/02/its-all-about-israel/

That’s plenty of good stuff. I want to throw in one more point, which some of these folks touched on. Continue reading

Setbacks Push Mideast Peace to Back Burner

My report for Inter Press Service on how the options, or lack thereof, are shaping up for renewing the lifeless corpse called the “peace process” between Israel and the Palestinians in Obama’s second term.