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Lessons from Israel on how to build resistance in the U.S.

American liberals in despair over the presidential election would do well to look at Israel, where setbacks at the ballot box brought left-wingers together and drove them to think bigger.

By Matt Duss and Dahlia Scheindlin

As the initial shock of the presidential election fades, American progressives are left struggling with disturbing implications beyond the mere fact of being on the losing side. We ponder the apparent declaration that America rejects its religious and ethnic minorities, LGBTQ community, the immigrants who have made this country great, its independent women, and even its equality-supporting men. What looked like a historic march toward greater equality and inclusiveness seems to have ground to an angry halt. Our thinking, activism, and writing apparently reached only “ourselves,” insufficiently at that, and failed to win over enough of “them.” Despair is a looming option.

Sadly for the world, but luckily for us, this isn’t our first time around. The two of us are both deeply involved in Israel, professionally and personally. For Israeli progressives, Netanyahu’s fourth re-election in March 2015 also felt like a local version of a grand-scale collapse. Just over a year later, with the Brexit vote, a slim majority of British voters said to hell with that massive structure symbolizing the values of the interconnected world we desire.

So why are we lucky to have lived this bitter reality before? Because we have one distinct advantage in facing America’s new reality: experience. We’ve had time to absorb the blow and think about what to do next. And these experiences can only lead in one direction: More commitment to the values of openness, more progressive engagement, more assertive leveraging of the tools necessary for those of us who have been kicked out of the ring and into the back rows of opposition.

This brings us back to 2009 in Israel, long before Benjamin Netanyahu’s infamous 2015 statement about Israel’s Arabs “voting in droves.” In 2009, Netanyahu made his great “comeback,” returning to the political scene and becoming prime minister a decade after he was first routed by voters with no small amount of disgust in 1999. Netanyahu’s return was seen by many as a deathblow to the progressive, outward- and forward-looking vision of peace and equality already eroded by the violence of the aughts. Many were left shattered — and scared.

But, then, a strange thing happened. The election, along with the Gaza...

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LISTEN: Lessons for Israel-Palestine from a divided Cyprus

Is conflict management sustainable? A closer look at a similar conflict should serve as a stark reminder for all Israelis who care about peace.

Living the Israeli-Palestinian conflict day in, day out, one often feels suffocated by a thicket of obstacles to peace. Wherever one looks for solutions, the doors seem to slam shut. It is easy to conclude that no conflict has ever been so stubbornly intractable, and that no one faces so many layers of complexity. What I’ve noticed from years of international work and close observation of other protracted conflicts is that the people in those other places feel just the same.

This year, I began a project at a think tank called Mitvim: The Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies to try and learn more systematically from other conflicts with comparable problems. No two situations are exactly alike, but I firmly believed from my experiences that much can be gained from such comparisons by way of lessons, new thinking, and also warnings. In a recent paper, I focus on our close neighbors, Cyprus, to see what Israelis and Palestinians can learn. Divided since 1974, the leaders of the Turkish Cypriot north and the Greek Cypriot south (Republic of Cyprus) are currently negotiating towards a peace and reunification deal.

Whether they will succeed cannot be known. Still, a close analysis leads me to conclude that conflict management is a poor option — something that Israelis and Palestinians should take to heart. In this interview with Gilad Halpern of TLV1 radio, I discuss the comparison of conflicts generally, and Cyprus in particular, hoping to shed new light on old problems.

Read more:
How thousands of Palestinian and Israeli women are waging peace
The two-state solution is dead. Let’s move on
It’s 2016 — let’s say goodbye to Zionism once and for all

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UNESCO's mistake on Jerusalem

The resolution was yet another shallow attack on identity elements, the same type I reject every time Israel does it to Palestinians. It was also a setback to the kind of UN action that could actually move the bar in a region that desperately needs it.

UNESCO has made a startlingly bad move in voting to affirm “Item 25,” a hodgepodge of condemnations and calls for Israel to stop policies that harm religious or cultural sites in Jerusalem, Hebron and Gaza. On Jerusalem, the text conspicuously referred to the holiest site by its Muslim name only: Al-Aqsa Mosque/Al-Haram Al-Sharif, pointedly neglecting – denying, many feel – the Jewish history of the site Jews call the Temple Mount. The declaration specifically noted the importance of the Old City to the three monotheistic faiths, a contrast which actually highlighted the excision of any Jewish connection to the actual holy site itself.

UNESCO can claim an ignoble feat of making me agree with Danny Danon, Israel’s ambassador to the UN, and maybe for the first time in living memory, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu himself. Both thrashed UNESCO for taking a blunt hatchet to ancient and modern sensibilities of the Jewish people.

Why did I take it so personally? I am not religious. But I hold degrees in both comparative religion and ethnonationalist conflict; I am also a practitioner working to untangle them. So I can say for certain: one doesn’t need any of those credentials, only common sense, to know that human beings hold their religious beliefs and ancient national mythology extremely dear. Many will kill and die for these things.

Israel and every other human society should evolve beyond physical violence for the sake of holy sites. But to deny spiritual connections is deeply disrespectful to those who simply feel connected to our history and tradition. I fasted on Yom  Kippur, as one of my few outward expressions of tradition. A day later, UNESCO trampled on my heritage – rather the opposite of its mandate.

There is a more sinister historic and political implication to such language. The resolution dances close to the narrative that Jews have no connection to this land, but arbitrarily chose to settle here and colonize the rightful, exclusive, owners. It is a theme that is both incorrect and dangerous.

Beyond the bigger themes, this move was also a surefire way to empty the resolution of...

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Why Israel's Arab statesman boycotted Peres' funeral

By refusing to attend the funeral, leader of the Joint List Odeh was protesting the myth of Shimon Peres, who enjoyed the global brand of peacemaker after Oslo, but walked away when things didn’t exactly work out.

The death of a towering statesman is an occasion for an outpouring of oratory about his or her meaning in the country’s life. Rivers of memory and interpretation flow and converge to form that leader’s mythical legacy in the story of the nation.

Shimon Peres was an elder statesman who evolved late in life, with no small difficulty, into a figure of national consensus. Though the obits sweeping the country contain some critical recollections, there is no controversy over what he is supposed to mean now: Peres, the man of peace, dialogue, optimism.

So when head of the Joint List Ayman Odeh demonstratively stayed away from Peres’ funeral, he kicked through the dams and upset the whole narrative flow.

Why did Odeh do it? Since becoming leader of the unified Arab party prior to the 2015 elections, he has gained a following among progressives in Israel and abroad, inspired by his humanist, universalist values. He has linked the struggle of Arabs in Israel to the struggles of Jewish minorities, such as Ethiopians, against discrimination by the Israeli establishment. He touts solidarity and shared civic identity. For these, he earned a place on Foreign Policy’s list of 100 top global thinkers in December 2015.

But he is walking a fine tripwire. If he digs into the partnership theme, he risks being seen as a sellout who trots after Israeli Jewish power-brokers with hand outstretched. Israel will always marginalize Palestinian citizens, some say, and so this lovey-dovey Odeh talk is just humiliating. If he reverts to national identity questions, narratives of Palestinian history — and most toxic of all, the occupation — the right brands him an extremist anti-Israel Arab upstart as surely as the sun shines. It is easy to imagine Odeh calculating an alternating routine of bold coexistence messages and Palestinian national rhetoric, to please all.

Except that he is so darned earnest.

When Odeh speaks, he looks his interviewer in the eye. He is calm but not arrogant, projecting conviction and focus. Even when he speaks forcefully, as he did at points in a mostly hostile panel interrogation on Israeli Channel 2 Friday evening after the funeral, he seems driven by a technical need for volume rather than by...

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Netanyahu is right: Settlements aren't the biggest obstacle to peace

The prime minister published a video accusing the Palestinians — and the world — of ethnic cleansing for opposing Israeli settlements. Not so fast.

Almost as if for sport, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu released an English video on Friday. It is just two minutes long but packed with chatter-rich material: the Palestinians are guilty of ethnic cleansing. The world is complicit. Nobody stands up for the Jewish victims of this crime except for Netanyahu. Therefore, settlements are no obstacle to peace.

These are grave charges. Why describe Netanyahu’s video as a game? It’s not his smirking self-righteousness. Rather, the clip is the latest in a growing list of “oh no he didn’t!” statements, spit out with Trump-like regularity (though Bibi has nothing on Trump’s pace). The trajectory is now familiar: Netanyahu says something offensive, incendiary, or almost entirely inaccurate. Headlines and commentary rage (mea culpa), while right-wing Israeli audiences laud his sass. He kicks down emerging political threats by proving his singular role in promoting “our” side on the global stage. Only Netanyahu speaks Israeli, and in such beautiful English!

It is a double karate-chop. Netanyahu cleans up on the right, but he also paralyzes the left. The idea that settlements are sandbox-dotted Disneylands of peace and that Palestinians are committing ethnic cleansing while choking under violent martial law for two and a half generations is crazy-making. One has to choose between arguing the truth or losing one’s mind for stating what is “in front of your nose” again and again.

I couldn’t manage it, so I’m fortunate that Jeremy Ben-Ami and Matt Duss doggedly remind readers of the policy facts – again. And again.

Netanyahu also managed to pack nails in for the far-left. The charge that Palestinian longing for a state equals ethnic cleansing while the Jewish Israeli government demolishes Palestinian homes, stifles livelihood, tears families apart, backs theft of private land, and makes all travel a nightmare unless it’s to leave for good – is a trap. It is an obscene invitation for the more outraged among us to give Israel’s behavior a name, so that the right can crow about left-wing extremism. I won’t play, but I will give readers credit for being able to know that Israel makes regular Palestinian people miserable every day, whatever anyone calls it.

That’s three points to his one-man Bibi team for galvanizing the right, flummoxing...

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Everything we don't know about the World Vision in Gaza story

How the Israeli media reports a story spoon fed to it by the security services. And are government officials and the courts capable of acting any differently?

The story of a Gaza man indicted for diverting millions to Hamas from a major international charity for terror activities is roiling headlines in Israel. The incident is important both for how it is being portrayed, and used, and what it says about the actual situation.

Mohammad el-Halabi worked for World Vision, an evangelical Christian charity that collects funds from the U.S., UK, and Australia among other countries for humanitarian projects in dozens of the world’s most troubled places, including the Palestinian territories. Much of its activity focuses on relief for children.

The Shin Bet, Israel’s domestic intelligence agency, says that in addition to working for World Vision, Halabi was simultaneously working for Hamas and systematically siphoning off up to 60 percent of all funds for humanitarian projects to support its terror activities. Israeli authorities publicized his arrest on Thursday, 50 days after he was apprehended, following his interrogation and alleged confession, which led to the charges.

It is nigh impossible for even seasoned journalists to report on the story independently. The Guardian’s correspondent Peter Beaumont explained why on his Facebook page when posting his story:

Therefore even my first thoughts here should be read with the advisory that there’s much we just don’t know. But that doesn’t seem to bother the Israeli media and authorities; they have embraced the story with gusto and barely controlled vindication.

Channel 2 covered the event on Thursday without bothering to include even a journalism 101 response of anyone involved. If they had asked World Vision, they would have found, as The Guardian did, that the head of the group in Australia expressed shock, cited scrupulous forensic auditing processes, and the both the Australia Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) and Germany suspended their aid to World Vision in Gaza pending further developments.

Coincidentally, a recent story indicates that World Vision does not always portray its programs meticulously to donors, but these combined responses don’t support “the whole world is complicit” approach Israel promotes.

Not all media approached the story this way. Interestingly, Walla! News ran a piece about Hamas denying that Halabi was even a member of the organization, and about World Vision’s denial. But overall the Israeli media projected facts and a conviction, rather than allegations...

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Black Lives Matter should change 'genocide' language — proudly

The movement can set a precedent by displaying commitment to self-criticism, accuracy, and partnership — values sorely needed in America right now.

The policy platform released by the Movement for Black Lives represents an exciting milestone for a grassroots social movement. But like all first drafts, it gets some things wrong. If the movement is committed to the long haul, it will accept criticism from supportive observers as part of the process, and create a better, more inclusive product in the future.

The MBL movement swept aside fears of clicktivism and slacktivism, in its remarkable evolution from the “Black Lives Matter” hashtag to a swirling conversation of ideas and voices, culminating in real-world action. This looks like human empowerment in the making.

The platform reflects intense organization, investment and commitment of many authors. Its publication itself says, we are not just about tearing down, but re-building. We believe in an America that is capable of changing and serving all of its people fairly, and here are the alternatives we offer. That shows great optimism and faith in the country.

The content of the document itself is uneven, which from my experience with such ambitious group efforts, is only natural.

The detailed analyses are not systematically sourced. One example of information I tried to verify – median wealth held by black and white households – was completely credible, but the document would be stronger if the sources were transparent.

The wide array of proposals, precedents and painstaking lists of background sources are a fascinating mega-supermarket of ideas. Like any good market, some products look more or less appealing, or feasible. The proposals for law enforcement and incarceration reforms, a Constitutional guarantee to free education and racial aspects of environmental policy, contain some hugely important ideas. On the other hand, the Universal Basic Income – a guaranteed income not conditioned on work for all American adults with a supplemental sum for black people as reparations – strikes me as a bad and unfeasible idea that would undermine the basic human and economic principles. But I admit this is the first time I’ve thought about it.

The section on investment and divestment is similarly complicated. It shows a valuable change of thinking about foreign policy. But it contains at least one major flaw, on the Israel-Palestine problem, that is making waves.

The authors link U.S. foreign policy with its consequences on domestic priorities...

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What Israel can learn from wave of global terror

What’s happening in the world is far from the antiquated ‘the world vs the Jews’ paradigm. ‘Us’ and ‘them’ doesn’t work anymore. We – Jews, Christians, Muslims and every other grouping of peaceful persons – need new categories to understand the violence.

Beheadings in the desert, terror in major cities of the East and the West, racial and police shootings, mass shootings, an ax rampage in Germany and perhaps one thing – only – is clear: no part of the world is safe.

The New York Times wrote that Israelis can teach France a few things about getting used to terror. But it’s Israel and the Jews who must now confront a radical new truth: The unique existential threat against Jews in the past is gone. Crazies hate us, but they hate everybody else too. In the past the world betrayed Jews; in the present, governments and cultural norms support them. It is dishonoring the dead of Orlando, Istanbul, Nice and Baghdad to claim that Jews are more targeted than anyone else right now.

Ironically, Israeli leaders regularly help Jews realize this. Prime Minister Netanyahu loves to conflate ISIS with Palestinian terror, to justify why Israel must occupy Palestinians in perpetuity. But ISIS aims at everyone. If we’re all in the same crosshairs, Jewish persecution does not make us chosen.

This will be a terrible blow for some people. Many Israelis and Jews are steeped in the notion that violence against them is unique. It’s understandable given our past but it does no favors to our understanding of the present. I have heard Jews refer to the Hyper-Cacher anti-Jewish attack in Paris as if there was no massacre of French journalists two days before. Israelis count every body lost to the conflict, but far more Palestinians are killed daily and in each new war. Jewish self-perception is clouding Jewish vision.

What’s happening in the world at present is far from both the parochial old “Islam against the Jews” and “the world against the Jews.” The empty fallacy of Islam against the West can be laid to rest as well. Terror in the name of “Islam” kills far more co-religionists than non-Muslim Westerners: most terror attacks take place in Muslim and Arab countries, and the victims of ISIS-related violence in Iraq alone and the Muslim victims of al-Qaeda before that dwarf those groups’ attacks on Westerners. And as Amira...

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Jewish, Palestinian activists try to build a cinema in Hebron

As soldiers and settlers look on, dozens of foreign Jews join Palestinians in the segregated city of Hebron try ‘to make the unbearable a little more bearable.’ Police detain six Israelis among the group, prevent others from even joining.

The streets in the Israel-controlled section of Hebron were sunny and silent at 9 a.m. on Friday. The Palestinian shops on the main streets were all shut, as most of them have been for over 20 years. Jews were home preparing for Shabbat.

On a sloping street rising through the Tel Rumeida neighborhood where, in April, a Palestinian stabber was wounded, then executed, there is a small commotion. A scattered group of Israeli soldiers, blue-uniformed police, and a few local Israeli settlers are hovering around a battered fence, peering inside as if looking into a cage at a zoo.

Inside there is a group of a few dozen diaspora Jews, many of them American, and a few Israelis. They are singing songs and their shirts say, “Occupation is not our Judaism!” In between protest songs from the 1960s civil rights struggles in the U.S., they chant: “Diaspora Jew say: ‘dai l’kibush!’” [end the occupation], and in accented Hebrew, a chant that translates as: “You have no shame! There’s nothing holy about an occupied city!” Occasionally they sing traditional Jewish melodies, such as the anti-war “lo yisah goy el goy herev” and “hineh ma tov u’ma naim.”

But their main activity is cleaning. The fenced-in plot of land where they are working contains a few dilapidated structures, filled mostly with trash – twisted metal objects, rocks, rusted barrels and ancient piles of natural detritus. With their bright blue shirts and long yellow rakes, the activists project cheer as they rake, shovel, and pass heavy debris along a line of activists.

The group, called “Center for Jewish Non-Violence,” (CJNV) was invited by Youth Against Settlements, a Hebron-based Palestinian organization to help establish a movie theater in Palestinian Hebron, because the city doesn’t have one. “We want to make the unbearable a little more bearable,” said one of the Jewish participants, who asked not to be named due to professional sensitivities. “We will work until we can’t work anymore.” Their intention, she says, is to work until the day is done, or until they are stopped.

The CJNV group has been in the Palestinian territories for a week of activities, helped planned with another activist group, All That’s...

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Teen's murder is a reminder that we are all settlers

Just as we must mourn Hallel Yaffa Ariel as a human being and a slain child, we must also mourn her as a settler — because all Israelis are responsible for her presence in the West Bank.

Superlatives are inadequate to tell the sorrow of recent weeks. Thirteen-year old Hallel Yaffa Ariel was stabbed to death in her bed in the West Bank settlement of Kiryat Arba Thursday morning. Forty-four people were blown up in Istanbul’s airport, nearly 50 shot to death in Orlando. Mahmoud Badran, a 15-year old Palestinian boy, was killed by Israeli forces, “by mistake,” coming back from the pool with his friends.

I can’t keep up enough to write about each one, but nation, identity and politics mean little to me when faced with innocent deaths.

Some think the Israeli and the Palestinian killings are different, somehow less innocent than the others. Mahmoud was mistaken for a stone-thrower, as if this justifies his death. Hallel was a settler. Yet she was a civilian and a child — no more guilty than Mahmoud.

I’ve written in the past that Israelis on the left must sympathize with such victims as human beings. Now I want to emphasize that we must also mourn Hallel as a settler, for her presence in the West Bank is the responsibility of all Israelis.

The Left blames much on settlements. Many view the settlement enterprise as the heart of the occupation – those who live in settlements actively choose to steal land and resources from Palestinians, to enforce apartheid rule over people living next door, through military law.

After all, settlements are a tangible, visible manifestation of occupation. Just look at those perfect new housing units in tidy rows, perched on hills overlooking vast and underdeveloped Palestinian cities or parched clusters of tents and shacks.

Getting outraged is rewarding because it lets the outraged party off the hook. If it weren’t for those darn wild-eyed-religious-messianics, many on the Left feel, Israel would transform into a Jewish and democratic state and all would be right with the world.

But people who think like that are actually sitting on an outrageous hilltop of their own. From their perch they look down on the settlers and say, we’re the good guys. We’re not complicit.

For some Israelis, settlers are becoming the main...

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Brexit and the Israel-Palestine problem

More and more people are stuck with each other in this world, even as rejectionists pretend — if only for a minute or two — that we’re not.

I wasn’t much of a political junky as a kid, and I was certainly no wunderkind at foreign relations. The Cold War was a fact of life, as solid as the skyscrapers of New York. The world was divided by ideologies of life or death — the bad guys threatened to take over, “and that’s the way it is.”

The war just ended one day when I was 17. Peace was suddenly a real possibility, not just an abstraction in my mind, and right away it felt far superior to both hot and cold wars.

Soon to follow was the belief that exposure to people who are different is healthy and leads to discovery of human similarities. This might seem natural for someone growing up in the big city. It was not. Violent crime rode on the backs of constant class and racial rage. Stereotyping and self-segregation were an easy recourse even in a city as diverse as New York, and many took it. My dreamy ideals about people knowing, appreciating and learning from each other earned me little more than condescension, or painful derision.

But when the wall fell, I saw things differently; maybe I felt vindicated before I truly knew the word. This new world became a place I was excited to enter, having learned that huge things could change — for the better.

An experiment in openness

I entered university just in time to have those early days of post-Cold War euphoria blasted by ethno-nationalist hell: Yugoslavia, Rwanda, post-Soviet wars and bitter racial violence in the U.S. My professors told us that nationalism, stifled for a short century, was rearing its bloody head.

It was no time for illusions or cockeyed optimism. The only conclusion to reach, we were told, was that human beings contain a great and a terrible instinct to hurt each other.

Yet how to explain, I wondered, the equally powerful human urge to do good, to be kind, to cooperate, to connect? Are these less important? Children can make friends before they even share a language. Adults fall in love. And countries cease to be at war. The dueling urges to draw boundaries and break them is the contradiction that defines humanity.

In that confusing decade of the...

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Go ahead Herzog, join the coalition

The fact that the head of Israel’s opposition could soon join forces with Netanyahu may actually bode well for the Israeli Left and Palestinian citizens alike.

The Israeli media has been beside itself this week with the possibility that the head of the opposition Isaac Herzog, leader of the Labor Party cum Zionist Union, may join Prime Minister Netanyahu’s governing coalition, the executive branch of the Israeli government.

Roughly two weeks of chatterbuzz about Herzog-Netanyahu negotiations have yielded the usual five stages of rumors: from denial (“there are no negotiations”); to low expectations (“they’re just talks, they won’t lead to anything”); to portfolio handout speculation (“it’s a done deal, he’s about to get justice minister and communications”); followed by the classic bait and switch (“we didn’t mean it, looks like Lieberman will join instead”); and then finally acceptance (“Herzog can’t turn back now”), as two radio political commentators decreed this morning.

I am not sure why anyone is surprised. Labor has never shied away from sitting in the rightest of right-wing governments in recent years. I remember how many in the Labor camp were shocked when the party joined Ariel Sharon’s government in 2003. Amir Peretz led the party into Kadima’s government in 2006, taking charge of the Defense Ministry and nearly ruining his political rise. The party then joined Netanyahu’s government in 2009 (among the most extreme in Israel’s history) under Ehud Barak, prompting the loss of one of its more promising members, and eventually splitting the party. Labor/Zionist Union actually has some committed people and fresh faces in its faction, but the party as a body seems to have a mind of its own – one with suicidal inclinations.

The failure of this “can’t beat em so join em” move — every single time it is tried — makes apathy an extremely tempting response. Until I realized that there are several excellent reasons Labor should do it (disclosure: In my day job I am a pollster and political consultant, and I have advised on four national election campaigns for Labor, including in 2015):

Be you. Labor should stop pretending to either its voters, members or legislators to be anything other than what it is — a status-quo preservationist institution. If the party breaks (again) – well, when a waiter drops a glass in a Tel Aviv café it is...

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ADL's Armenian genocide recognition sends powerful statement — to Israel

A major Jewish-American organization breaking with Israeli policy, especially regarding Jewish universalism and the Holocaust, is a statement in and of itself.

The Anti-Defamation League, American Jewry’s foremost civil rights organization, has made a powerful statement recognizing the Armenian genocide by the crumbling Ottoman regime in the early 20th century. Last Friday, CEO Jonathan Greenblatt posted a blog on the organization’s website in which he stated:

The statement will certainly be cathartic for Armenian advocates in the diaspora who have made genocide recognition absolutely central to their national identity – even to a fault, as the highly thoughtful Armenian-American writer Meline Toumani has written. But the vast majority of Armenian activists have been frustrated for years by the reticence of ADL’s longtime previous director, Abe Foxman. Greenblatt ended years of just such equivocation under Foxman’s leadership (though the latter eventually used the word in a 2014 speech). The public support of a major Jewish organization could lend clout to the Armenian attempts to attain Congressional recognition, a cause generally stymied by the sensitivity and importance of U.S.-Turkey relations. That’s why Armenian activists watch for such statements with extreme play-by-play attention.

But the recognition may prove to be more important for Jews and for Israel than for Armenians themselves. It symbolizes a crack, and together with similar developments, perhaps seismic shifts in the relationship between diaspora Jewry and Israeli society.

First, the move breaks with Israeli policy. Israel’s government has long resisted formally acknowledging the term “genocide” for the Armenian experience, for what is widely understood to be political interests in Turkey and Azerbaijan, including powerful economic ties.

Foxman mostly mirrored this resistance. He was apparently disinclined to compromise the Jewish monopoly on the Holocaust, and held purported political concerns for relations between Turkish Jews and their government – these are the reasons given by a former ADL regional director and powerful advocate for recognition, who was ultimately fired for his stance on this issue. Or perhaps Foxman didn’t want to expend political capital on the Congressional recognition campaign. Either way, the ADL today is no longer aligned with Israeli policy on this matter.

Next, Greenblatt not only changed course – he did so just over a week after Israel’s commemoration of Holocaust Day. In recent years, the commemorations in Israel have erupted into debates about whether the experience of genocide belongs uniquely to the Jews or has universal lessons or comparable precedents. Rising nationalism has...

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