Both Aipac and the National Jewish Democratic Council are known for their highly partisan pro-Israel tours of Israel hosted for Congress members. They’re basically political junkets touting a hardline perspective on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Aipac subsidizes the tours to the tune of huge amounts of money, seeing it as a good investment in “tutoring” their charges on what the pro-Israel lobby group expects of them when they return to Congress and begin voting about Israel issues. I’ve written about the trips before here.
I just read an interesting report from Phil Weiss about a new Congress member, Rep. Michael McMahon, who promised a leader of the local Bay Ridge Brooklyn Arab-American community that he would visit Palestine during his term.
That got me to thinking: wouldn’t it be great if J Street could organize a progressive version of the Aipac Israel mission, by which members of Congress would do a progressive tour of both Israel and the Territories? Instead of shmoozing with Bibi and Natan as Aipac would have them do, they could meet with Tzipi, Yossi Beilin, David Grossman, Amos Oz, plus Mahmoud Abbas, Hanan Ashrawi, Mustafa Barghouti and other Palestinian leaders. I’ve passed along my idea to Jeremy Ben Ami of J Street. I hope something comes of it.
I hope any participants will pay out of their own pockets in order to avoid the unseemly “junket” charge that attaches to Aipac trips.
An excellent Idea.
It should be feasible,if not very wise. Not yet anyways.
Who will take over the democrats strongbox in Rahm Emanuels absence ? His punishment for apostasy is well known.
Maybe one day pro-Israel antizionists like me, or antilikiud zionists like you will be able to run for election in US, but we are not there…yet.
Alex Stein says
Amen to that. While doing my masters, I organised an Israel/Palestine study-trip with an Arab-American student, and it was extremely successful – I’d be happy to share my experiences and contacts with anyone interested.
Acai Berri says
pro-Israel antizionists like me… what is a pro-Israel antizionist?
A pro-Israel will cheer when an Israeli-arab scores a goal for the national soccer team, a Zionist will not
Most important is that I believe assimilation and secularization is our best hope for peace. Zionists oppose this.
In other words,Zionism is racist. Like nazism’ “Blut und Boden”is their aim to have as much land as possible,with as few non-Jewish people as possible.
I presume these open-minded J-Street people would meet with “Zionists” and what Richard calls “pro-Israel” people and will also meet with Haredi/Ultra-Orthdox people and most of all, will visit Judea/Samaria settlements and talk to the Jews who live there. After all, they are ‘progressives’ and ‘progressives’ are multi-cultural, pluralistic, tolerant of other opinions, etc, etc.
Interesting perspective Daga. I’m a Zionist and yet, I cheer “when an Israeli-arab scores a goal for the national soccer team,” as I cheer for the plucky Sachnin team. I take umbrage with your characterization of Zionism as being racist and similar in any way to Nazism. I supported the withdrawal from the Sinai and I supported the withdrawal from Gaza. You are free to run in any election you like in the US or anywhere else for that matter. Don’t expect my vote though.
As for the proposed JStreet trip – how would that be any less partisan than what already goes on?
Richard Silverstein says
Bar Kochba: If J Street calls itself “pro-Israel” why wouldn’t it meet with settlers, Likud leaders, and Haredi Jews? They’re part of the mix of Israeli society & a balanced tour would meet with them all. But as I wrote, a balanced tour would also meet with the Israeli left, Israeli Arabs and Palestinians. that’s something that Aipac tours do NOT do.
I don’t agree w. Daga that a Zionist can’t or won’t root for an Israeli Arab team. Some Israeli Jews certainly would despise such a team. Racism is deeply ingrained in Israeli society alas. But many would davke root for such a team as an expression of true Israeliness. You can’t make such blanket generalizations w/o doing an injustice to the complexity of Israel.