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29 April 2014

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Fred

A picture is worth a thousand words, which is why no one sees any pictures of the daily treatment of Palestinians by Israel. Has someone trade marked the word “Apartheid” to mean discriminatory conduct of black South African’s by white South Africans? Why do we even need to ask that question, other than to point out that racism is not something directed solely at people with black skin by those with white skin.

The Twisted Genius

Fred,

Apartheid is an Afrikaans word for apartness, but it has entered our vocabulary. The people trying to trademark apartheid are probably the same ones trying to trademark holocaust as something that only applied to Jews. Words do matter, but as you say, a picture is worth a thousand words. I wonder what the Israeli authorities do to limit images coming from the occupied territories besides keeping reporters out. Of course the MSM does its part to keep those images out of view.

ToivoS

After 911 I gave up on the US press for most of my news and began reading Haaretz and some European outlets for international news. What struck me immediately was that Israel had very open discussions about the plight of the Palestinians in the West Bank. They were saying things that would never appear in the NYT or WaPo. Now Kerry utters the word apartheid, which is freely used in Israel to describe the WB, and the American thought police come down on him like a ton of bricks.

DCA

Is Israel a "statutory ally"? There is no treaty--is this a technical term for some other kind of ally? A client, certainly, if an overmighty one.

David Habakkuk

Adam Silverman,

“The other possibility was to become a unitary state that relegates the Palestinians to second class status.”

The question as to whether or not this is ‘in Israel’s interests’ seems an interesting one.

In the warning made back in 2007 by Ehud Olmert to which you link, the argument that it was not was based upon an assessment of the likely reactions within the American Jewish community to the collapse of any prospect of a two-state solution. A critical paragraph in the account of Olmert’s reasoning is clearly the following:

“The Jewish organisations, which were our power base in America, will be the first to come out against us because they will say they cannot support a state that does not support democracy and equal voting rights for all its residents,” he said.

In a recent article in the NYT, however, Roger Cohen produced a quite different analysis. In what was quite clearly intended as a rebuttal of the kind of position put forward by Kerry, Cohen argued that:

“Behind its barriers and wall, backed by military might, certain of more or less unswerving American support, technologically innovative and democratically stable, Israel has the power to prolong indefinitely its occupation of the West Bank and its dominion over several million Palestinians.”

(See http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/25/opinion/cohen-israels-sustainable-success.html?emc=edit_tnt_20140424&nlid=36979882&tntemail0=y&_r=4:

Obviously, this difference of opinion raises a range of questions. One is whether in fact those American Jews – like Philip Weiss and Max Blumenthal – who find it impossible to identify with the kind of state Israel has now become are actually a tiny and irrelevant minority.

Another is whether sufficient non-Jewish Americans are prepared to put up with having their foreign policy run on the basis of an unquestioned deference to the views of people like Roger Cohen to validate his conviction that Israel is ‘certain of more or less unswerving American support’.

As an Englishman who has no pretensions to understand the United States – or indeed American Jews, who are clearly distinctly different from their British counterparts – I would be interested in your views on both these questions.

zanzibar

David

My anecdotal evidence is that the majority of Americans who I have had the opportunity to discuss the ME with would agree with Roger Cohen. IMO, people have been sufficiently conditioned by the "crazy Muslim" & "our little friend and stable democracy Israel" stereotype in the US that “U.S. policy toward Israel continues to be one of unconditional support and fawning sycophancy.” (h/t TTG's link to the Onion).

http://www.theonion.com/articles/government-official-who-makes-perfectly-valid-well,20499/

Margaret Steinfels

Change is in the air, but the course of actual change is fraught. Jewish Americans are themselves of different views (of course). The organized Jewish community is very much of one mind (as the debate over whether to allow J Street membership currently demonstrates). That one mind is focused on support for Israel; outliers like J Street are suspect (though it isn't that far out). The U.S. Congress is a disgrace on the subject (as even Rand Paul is now demonstrating).

The passionate support for Israel in the Jewish community is echoed in certain parts of the Protestant evangelical community. Other non-Jewish, non-Evangelical Americans, if they pay attention, feel bad about the Holocaust, don't concern themselves with the Palestinian situation, and dread ever being called an anti-Semite. The Americans who do pay attention, do care, and dread being labeled an anti-Semite have a quandary. How far in front of their Jewish friends and neighbors can they be. Not far!

For this to move anywhere there has to be a critical shift in the views and opinions of American Jews in order to allow non-Jewish Americans to speak out, to call their Congressional reps. to account, and to join coalitions that either force the two-state solution, or that insure equal rights for all of the citizens of a unitary state of Israel.

It's hard to see how this is going to happen.

Castellio

Peggy's response is thoughtful and informed.

However, as the clear rejection of J Street suggests, while there might be change in the air, no forward momentum has taken root on the ground.

My own reading is also quite negative: sectarian prejudice is increasing, and while racism is considered wrong, and antisemitism is identified as racism, anti-Islamic or anti-Palestinian beliefs are simply taken to be value driven staatements.

I do not think too many expectations should be placed on the progressive Jewish population, however correct their analysis, which is articulate but marginalized.

It is the continuing organization of Arabs throughout North America which holds the most promise.

Zionism was predicated on commitment to a religious war. That remains the case. The tentacles of that religious war are spreading. The genii will not go back easily into the bottle, if at all.

Castellio

Just to support my position: http://www.adc.org/

Their upcoming conference might be of interest to some. In Virginia... Arlington to be exact.

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