Saturday, October 24, 2009

American Jews Rethink Israel

J Street Project could evolve into a replacement for AIPAC.

J Street This year has seen a dramatic shift in American Jews' attitudes toward Israel. In January many liberal Jews were shocked by the Gaza war, in which Israel used overwhelming force against a mostly defenseless civilian population unable to flee. Then came the rise to power of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, whose explicitly anti-Arab platform was at odds with an American Jewish electorate that had just voted 4 to 1 for a minority president. Throw in angry Israelis writing about the "rot in the Diaspora," and it's little wonder young American Jews feel increasingly indifferent about a country that has been at the center of Jewish identity for four decades.

These stirrings on the American Jewish street will come to a head in late October in Washington with the first national conference of J Street, the reformation Israel lobby. J Street has been around less than two years, but it is summoning liberal--and some not so liberal--Jews from all over the country to "rock the status quo," code for AIPAC (the American Israel Public Affairs Committee).

aipac_2007_cheney Sure sounds like a velvet revolution in the Jewish community, huh? Not so fast. The changes in attitudes are taking place at the grassroots; by and large, Jewish leaders are standing fast. And as for policymakers, the opening has been slight. There seems little likelihood the conference will bring us any closer to that holy grail of the reformers: the ability of a US president, not to mention Congress, to put real pressure on Israel.

First the good news. There's no question the Gaza conflict has helped break down the traditional Jewish resistance to criticizing Israel. Gaza was "the worst public relations disaster in Israel's history," says M.J. Rosenberg, a longtime Washington analyst who reports for Media Matters Action Network. For the first time in a generation, leading American Jews broke with the Jewish state over its conduct. New York Times columnist Roger Cohen said he was "shamed" by Israel's actions, while Michelle Goldberg wrote in the Guardian that Israel's killing of hundreds of civilians as reprisal for rocket attacks was "brutal" and probably "futile."

Even devoted friends of Israel Leon Wieseltier and Michael Walzer expressed misgivings about the disproportionate use of force, and if Reform Jewish leaders could not bring themselves to criticize the war, the US left was energized by the horror. Medea Benjamin, a co-founder of Code Pink, threw herself into the cause of Gazan freedom after years of ignoring Israel-Palestine, in part out of deference to her family's feelings. In The Nation Naomi Klein came out for boycott, divestment and sanctions; later, visiting Ramallah, she apologized to the Palestinians for her "cowardice" in not coming to that position earlier... [emphasis added]

Inserted from <The Nation>

Change will not come overnight, but I’m thoroughly gratified to see a more appropriate and more representative group for Jewish Americans than AIPAC.  Under the guise of representing American Jews, AIPAC is far more representative of American neocons, like Dead-eye Dick Cheney, and theocons like Paul Hagee.  The most beneficial development I can see for Israel is peace in the middle east.  The policies of the current government of Israel, supported by AIPAC, virtually assure the continuation of the conflict.


The Moose said...

AIPAC is Zionist, which is the Mid-Eastern chapter of Neo-Conservatism.

Robert Rouse said...

This may take some time before any visible changes are made. The Israel lobby has actually been going strong since the state was first started at the end of WWII.

RealityZone said...

google ----jinsa----

ivan said...

I'm having a second look at Naomi Klein. Could it be, could it just be that she has substance?

TomCat said...

Thanks to all