Perspectives on Israeli Apartheid and Extremism from two Jewish Voices of Conscience

Dear friends,

I want to highlight two recent articles from American Jewish voices of conscience.

Along with The Electronic Intifada, Mondoweiss comes into my InBox every morning. It is a “must-read” for anyone involved in the ongoing struggle for civil, political, and human rights in Palestine and Israel. It identifies itself as “a news website devoted to covering American foreign policy in the Middle East from a progressive Jewish perspective.”

Two recent compelling articles have appeared in Mondoweiss that deserve our attention, both from friends.

Phil Weiss founded Mondoweiss in 2005-06. We’ll be interviewing Phil in May as part of our Indiana Center for Middle East Peace commemoration of “The Nakba @ 75: The Ongoing Palestinian Catastrophe.” And Michael Arria is the U.S. correspondent for Mondoweiss. His work has appeared in In These Times, The Appeal, and Truthout. He is the author of Medium Blue: The Politics of MSNBC.

Together, Bob Herbst and I are co-chairs of the ICAHD-USA board. He is also a civil rights attorney who was Chapter Coordinator for Westchester Jewish Voice for Peace from 2014-2017.

We’ll have more to say about Israeli forces’ targeted killings of Palestinians, the destruction of Palestinian homes and property, and trampling of their rights, but now, two powerful and incisive articles from these Jewish voices of conscience.

Biden's Policy on Israeli Extremism Is - Kiss Netanyahu's Ass

Phil Weiss and Michael Arria, Mondoweiss, February 28, 2023
image shows PM Netanyahu, US Ambassador Nides, and Senators Schumer, Warner, and Redd in a jovial group

 A picture says 1000 words, and this one is getting attention round the world: the Israeli government’s photo of a meeting between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the U.S. ambassador and at least three Democratic senators on February 24– two days after Israeli forces killed 11 Palestinians in occupied Nablus, many of them civilians.

The Democratic Senators– Chuck Schumer, Mark Warner and Jack Reed–are all jollying Netanyahu. While Nides celebrated bipartisan Senate delegations to Israel of at least 16 senators, saying "all the Senate leadership” had come to Israel, including Mitch McConnell and Schumer, who was “probably on his 500th trip.”

“Netanyahu and his far-right allies are leading Israel to the edge of the abyss. Sen. Chuck Schumer’s response was to provide him cover with a smile and a hug, stifling any momentum building toward real accountability,” Haaretz’s Ben Samuels commented on the photo.

The trip was praised on Twitter by U.S. Ambassador to Israel Tom Nides. “Bipartisanship is alive and well in Israel!!,” he tweeted, “What a great time having Senator Schumer and Senator McConnell along with their Senatorial delegations here.” … …

Biden is going out of his way to show that There Is No Daylight between him and Republicans in support of Israel. Just a week ago Secretary of State Tony Blinken was able to water down a U.N. Security Council resolution that would have condemned Israel over settlement expansion.

As usual, devotion to Israel (and its lobbying groups) transcends party. As Biden knows, the Israel lobby has even helped grow a conservative faction inside the Democratic Party. 

Read the entire article here.

American Jews Who Bought "Jewish Democracy" Label for Apartheid Need to Wake Up

Robert Herbst, Mondoweiss, March 1, 2023

We are all trying to wrap our heads around the political events happening in Israel now, and the speed with which they are happening. The latest is the transfer of governing authority over the West Bank from the Israeli military to Israeli civilian authorities, most notably headed by Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich, the right-winger who runs the office governing settlement activity newly-installed in the Israeli Ministry of Defense. Cutting the Israeli Supreme Court down to size may change the so-called “democratic” character of the Jewish State, but asserting civilian governmental authority over the West Bank is no less than a breathtaking act of de jure, or legal, annexation (as human rights attorney Michael Sfard explains).

Here is what I don’t understand about American Jews who still support a “Jewish and democratic state” – you know, the Zionist idyll where Jews can live authentically Jewish lives, largely among themselves, tout their democratic values, primarily for themselves, and pass laws and regulations assuring that “self-determination” is accorded only to Jews:

For my entire 75 years, we have lived in a secular state populated by lots of religious people, but with constitutional protections against the establishment of a state religion. During that time, Jews have triumphed over the antisemitic prejudice which kept us out of the professions and the executive suites to the point where we have achieved prominence, wealth and power clearly disproportionate to our numbers. 

There is now a movement by Christian right-wing fundamentalists to make the United States a “Christian and democratic” state. You can see it when some politicians invoke Jesus and proclaim their faith and even seek to pray at public events.

There is not one American Jew who would want to live in an America in which sovereignty was limited to Christians, in which self-determination was limited to Christians, in which state resources were reserved disproportionately to Christians, in which non-Christians were dispossessed of rights, lands, homes, and exiled for crimes, while Christians reigned with impunity and force of arms to fight Jewish “terrorism” — in short, a Christian and democratic state, a Christian apartheid state.  So why are there still American Jews who think Palestinians should tolerate a Jewish and democratic state?

Read the entire article here.

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