The Washington Post published a poll this month showing Jewish Americans supporting the “Iran Deal” by larger margins than the general population. A similar poll was published in the L.A. Jewish Journal, a pro-Israel publication two weeks ago, with results varying 2% to 3%.
Syllogism: Israel represents all Jews. If someone objects to Israel’s policies, they hate Israel, and therefore they hate all Jews. If they’re Jewish and they object to Israeli policies, they are “self hating Jews”. Back that up with millions of dollars in the Democratic and Republican parties and you’ve got a problem.
As usual, the Israeli government and the Israel Lobby, which are big American Jewish organizations like AIPAC (the “American-Israel Public Affairs Committee"), the Anti-Defamation League, the Jewish Federations, all misrepresent most American Jews on this issue, according to the polls cited at the top of this article. Their consistent warmongering is seamlessly in line with people like Lindsey Graham, John McCain, and the most pernicious Tea Party billionaire-endorsed candidates against the Iran disarmament deal. This uniformity applies to every major American Jewish organization falling in line with a Republican strategy to cast President Obama as a reckless enemy of Israel, even though his administration has doled out more billions of dollars to Israel and even sheepishly mouthed Israeli falsehoods about its need to “defend itself” last year, as it massacred 2,200 defenseless Gazans, including over 500 children, and left over 100,000 people displaced and homeless. (Israel lost six civilians in that “war”.)
Someone said anti-Semitism used to be about people who hated Jews, and now it means people who some Jews hate. Like President Obama, who according to many is disdainful of Israel’s existential threats.
Even as this Iran deal is proving to be another defeat for the Israel lobby after losing on invading Syria and the Saudi arms deal, Israel continues to thumb its nose at the so-called “Peace Process”, and refuses let up on dispossessing Palestinians of land and rights by means of Jewish-only settlements and military force.
After Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu squeaked by in his last election by warning his base that the “Arabs” (voting citizens of Israel proper, not the Occupied Territories) were going to the polls in droves. At about the same time days before the election he renounced the possibility of a Palestinian state, contrary to what he had been saying for years, and still the American Jewish organizations rallied around him when it came to battling “Hussein Obama”, as he’s often known in Israel, on a deal that would protect Israel against Iran (!), but deprive Netanyahu of a standard whipping boy with which to inflame his xenophonic base. First things first.
Now that Iran is on its way out as a convenient scapegoat for Netanyahu, he blames the surging international BDS movement (Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions against Israel called for by Palestinian civil society) as the new boogieman or “Existential Threat” to Israel. Why? Because even for Jewish Israelis, Israel has the worst distribution of wealth of any of the richest countries (along with the U.S.) and the most extreme rightwing Israeli regime in history can only keep the very disgruntled Jewish Israelis at bay by scapegoating the“Other.” Yes, fear works, as far as keeping Jewish Israelis afraid that the fictional Hitler-of-the-month is at their doorstep and it’s 1938 again….and again, and again. Now that Iran is being defanged as a believable threat what’s left to target if not the BDS movement, ISIS being militarily insignificant to Israel.
As miserable as most Jewish Israelis like to make Palestinians, they themselves suffer from serious domestic difficulties such as lack of affordable housing, high commodity prices, high youth unemployment, internecine tensions between secular and religious, European (Ashkenazi) Jews versus Middle Eastern Jews, along with recent rioting by Ethiopian Jews against police brutality. Government-led riots against African refugees in Tel Aviv last year led to the mass incarceration of Africans in an Israeli desert prison.
We all know of the stabbing death of a Jewish girl at a gay rights rally in Jerusalem by a Jewish religious fanatic last month, and the burning to death of the Palestinian infant and parent by other Jewish terrorists. Everyone paying attention knows that these acts follow the Netanyahu government inciting escalating levels of xenophobic hysteria, particularly leading up to and after the 2014 assault on Gaza.
All this seems profoundly similar to the Southern U.S. White folk of a few years ago who were sorely oppressed, but acted out of “at least we ain’t no N***s!”, commensurate with ritual slaughters (lynchings) of underclass people. Colonial settler states do that. They did it here, in South Africa, in Rhodesia, and they are doing it now in Israel. But what does a progressively more fascist Israel mean for the U.S. and American Jews?
It means a few things, one being that the more extreme Israeli demagoguery gets the more distasteful it is to American Jews, and the more they organize against it. Then comes the push-back, which translates into progressive organizations in the U.S. like Jewish Voice for Peace, along with the U.S. Campaign to End the Occupation, and Students for Justice in Palestine becoming the target of Jewish the Jewish one percent.
Billionaires like Sheldon Adelson (who gave Netanyahu his own daily newspaper) and Haim Saban (Power Rangers magnate and top donor to lagging candidate Hillary Clinton) are targeting the success of BDS on U.S. campuses, where their millions can produce more of the campaigns like at UCLA, where they backed a candidate for a student council that had been heavily funded by pro-Israel groups (“Stand With Us”/Hillel) given free trips to Israel for indoctrination, who then provoked an otherwise sensible question from fellow students on the election board, “will your Jewish background bias you on issues relating to the Middle East?” (I’m paraphrasing, but it’s very, very close; I spoke with people who were in the room days after it happened.)
Bingo! The cry goes out; “Anti-Semitism!" It’s picked up and reported on the wire services, including in the L.A. Times and the N.Y. Times as anti-Semitism at U.C.L.A., and she’s elected. This was accompanied by swastikas painted on the dorm doors of members of UCLA’s Students for Justice in Palestine.
American Jews, being the most progressive voting ethnic or religious minority in the U.S., are beginning to assert their own values vis-à-vis Israel-Palestine and push back elite funded and anachronistic national Jewish organizations that demand dogmatic allegiance.
All that happened, with variations copied on various campuses within days and weeks of each other and before the billionaires’ summit in Las Vegas called for for mega-donations by Adelson. What do the millions poured in portend? One campaign has already been launched by the Israel Lobby to legislate against BDS by making it illegal to support such boycotts, for example. That means suspension of the First Amendment if the speech supports a boycott against Israel- and get this; it will be written into the TPP! This is supported by pro-Israel legislators such as Ben Cardin (D-Md) and Orin Hatch (R-Ut). .
The biggest game changer in all this is that now American Jews finally have alternative organizations such as JVP and J-Street to voice their opposition to the occupation and Israeli state terrorism performed in the name of Jews, and they are flocking to these organizations in significantly increasing numbers. JVP has already out-scored AIPAC in Facebook hits and has doubled its membership and chapters in the last 2 to 3 years.
American Jews, being the most progressive voting ethnic or religious minority in the U.S., are beginning to assert their own values vis-à-vis Israel-Palestine and push back elite funded and anachronistic national Jewish organizations that demand dogmatic allegiance to a segregationist Israel bent on war and ethnic superiority, in favor of their own American progressive values of peace, justice, and equality, and yes….for all.
If the Obama Administration is successful in winning American participation in a nuclear agreement with Iran, it will be in part because of the widening split in an American Jewish community whose values are no longer governed by a taboo against disagreeing with the dictates of Israel.