The term 'pro-Israel' should mean anti-occupation, support for human rights, equality, democracy for all peoples under Israel's control – not hard-line Zionism. Reflections and commentary on +972’s use of the term. My colleague Noam Sheizaf's article about the addition of David Makovsky to the American negotiating team for the Israeli-Palestinian peace process carries the following headline: 'A pro-Israel hawk to draft Kerry’s peace plan?' The subheading reads, with some indignation: 'That one must be a pro-Israeli Zionist in order to be eligible for the State Department’s Israel-Palestine team is indicative of the problem with U.S. policy in the region.' I disagree…Read More... | 53 Comments
A new initiative to market Israel to American Jews is expected to cost up to $300 million annually, three times the Birthright budget. But a cheaper project for both Americans and Israelis that could bolster Israel's image much more effectively is not on the table: Ending the occupation. The Jewish Agency is reportedly developing its priciest campaign ever to connect Jews and Israel and it's going to cost a lot of money. The budget is expected to reach $300 million per year in the next five years, The Forward reported. The massive operation is expected to launch in 2014 and…Read More... | 11 Comments
How can a community which so highly regards deliberation and dissent demand such unwavering unity on what is, perhaps, American Jewry’s most controversial issue? By Roi Bachmutsky Uproar recently broke out regarding world-renowned theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking’s recent decision to cancel his headline appearance at the fifth annual Facing Tomorrow Presidential Conference hosted by Israeli President Shimon Peres. Gil Troy penned an opinion piece in response, in which he argued that by boycotting the conference, “[Hawking] suggested that the dynamics of the conflict are mutually exclusive… to prove he is pro-Palestinian he had to act anti-Israeli.” My Facebook newsfeed is often filled…Read More... | 8 Comments
A lengthy Forward article by Nathan Guttman describes the makeover of The Israel Project (TIP) following the replacement of its founder and leader, with erstwhile AIPAC killer-shark Josh Block. The breathless description of his battering-ram personality almost had me swept along – almost. And when I say swept along, I mean that it is tempting to jump into the ring and do battle – fight fire with fire, stake out the liberal ground in the professional ring of image-peddlers for Israel (IPFI?). Just what we need. What really grates is the author’s description of Block’s self-image as a defender not…Read More... | 35 Comments
American comedy writers are discovering the wonders of the pro-Israel world. After this Onion piece, comes Saturday Night Live's version of the Chuck Hagel Senate confirmation hearing, which ended up not being part of the show, probably because the real-life event turned out to be just as absurd. Related: The Chuck Hagel affair and the American 'pro-Israel' litmus test The Washington witch trial of Chuck HagelRead More... | 4 Comments
While the mainstream debate over Israel in the U.S. is changing as more people challenge the traditional 'pro-Israel' paradigm, it must also be accompanied by a shift in rhetoric. Roger Cohen, one of the New York Times writers I like most, wrote an op-ed this week called "Israel's True Friends." In the piece, which is centered around the Chuck Hagel nomination, Cohen argues, as I and many have, that those opposing Obama's nomination of Hagel may consider themselves "true friends" of Israel, but in fact can only be accurately defined as friends of the Israeli right - those who, among other things, are dismissive of a two-state solution,…Read More... | 12 Comments
It is true that many in the U.S. Jewish community are not happy with current Israeli policies. But in the face of countervailing trends, it is not clear this will change the community’s overall levels of attachment and support. By Brent E. Sasley In a recent op-ed in Haaretz, Bradley Burston argues that U.S. Jews are moving away from Israel because of the government’s illiberal domestic politics and intransigent foreign policies. He believes that by 2013 they may just “secede” altogether from a country doing things they don’t want done in their name. There are certainly signs pointing in that direction. Peter Beinart…Read More... | 49 Comments
In the controversy over Obama's candidate for the next U.S. Secretary of Defense, the right-wing American Jewish elite has once again asserted that the term 'pro-Israel' is a code word in Washington for, among other things, a belligerent foreign policy on Iran and enabling Israeli occupation. The sheer volume of articles that have appeared in American media over the last few weeks surrounding Obama’s potential appointment of former Republican Senator Chuck Hagel as next U.S. Secretary of Defense is astonishing. Everywhere you turn, there are reports, op-eds, features and blogs about Hagel. It almost feels like the issue is making more noise…Read More... | 13 Comments
While happy to harp on U.S. President Obama at every opportunity if he veers from their demand for unconditional support for Israel, when it comes to U.S. elections, prominent "pro-Israel" American Jews prefer him to Romney because when it comes to everything else, Obama is more in line with their liberal ideals. With the U.S. election only 3 days away, a variety of high-profile American Jewish "pro-Israel" figures who have previously lambasted President Obama decided to come out publicly in support of his candidacy for a second term. Last week, former New York Mayor Ed Koch officially backed President Obama for…Read More... | 6 Comments
Some of you may have noticed the drama surrounding an ad that first appeared last month in several New York City subway stations that looks like this: Sponsored by the fanatic, Islamophobic, hate-mongering American Freedom Defense Initiative headed by Pamela Geller, the ads were initially rejected for being incendiary. But the AFDI sued on First Amendement grounds and won in a federal court, so the ads went up. The question of where the limits of free speech should be drawn is an interesting and important one - but what I'm consumed with is how this ad is being described in the…Read More... | 11 Comments
A report by a University of California advisory council threatens to limit free speech on its campuses by determining that dissent of Israel can amount to an attack on one's personal identification with the state. By Tom Pessah In February of this year three members of the Russian punk band Pussy Riot were jailed after they performed a song in a Moscow cathedral, calling on the Virgin Mary to “throw Putin out.” The performance was condemned by the Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church, who felt he was “under attack by persecutors” and called the song “blasphemy.” Charged with “hooliganism…Read More... | 45 Comments
The campaign to get American citizens in Israel to vote in the upcoming U.S. presidential elections claims it is nonpartisan, despite its candid agenda of electing the most 'pro-Israel' president, its refusal to divulge its donors and a campaign manager clearly identified with the right. A newly released video inciting against Arab-Americans makes it even more difficult to believe they are neutral. As some readers may have noticed, I have been following a campaign called "iVoteIsrael," which is essentially a well-funded nonprofit initiative lobbying American citizens living in Israel to vote in the upcoming U.S. presidential elections. The Times of Israel…Read More... | 22 Comments
By publishing an op-ed whose sole purpose is to demonize the editor of The New Yorker, the Jerusalem Post is positioning itself in direct odds with liberal values - not to mention journalistic integrity. The Jerusalem Post ran an op-ed yesterday (Monday) by a writer and attorney from Washington, D.C. explaining why he is canceling his 50-year subscription to the New Yorker magazine. The poorly-argued and belligerent article directly implicates the magazine's editor of 14 years, David Remnick, for being "unabashedly anti-Israel," and personally attacks him as being unfit for the job and its salary since his "only previous editorial…Read More... | 17 Comments
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