If you’re one of the supposed hard-core haters of Zion who’s attempting to turn J Street into a Manchurian Candidate of anti-Zionism, I’ve got news for you. Jeffrey Goldberg has your number:
…The group [J Street] runs the risk of being hijacked by haters of Israel. I don’t doubt that most people who join J Street are motivated by love for the Jewish state, as a Jewish state, and anguish over its government’s decisions. But there are those who would like to use J Street to weaken the bonds between the U.S. and Israel. The challenge to Jeremy Ben-Ami, the founder of J Street, over the next year, is to keep the group pro-Israel in the face of concerted efforts to move it in the direction of the hardcore anti-Zionist left.
The level of paranoia in this statement reminds me of the fear with which anti-Communist liberals greeted the New Left during the 1960s. They seemed to be fighting the battles of the 1930s to avoid allowing such groups to be hijacked by the Communist Party. Instead of reacting to contemporary reality, they were acting out an old script. Goldberg too seems to see enemies of Israel everywhere, even hiding out in the dark corners at the J Street conference.
I don’t know what Goldberg is nattering about. Who’s trying to hijack J Street? All of those so-called radicals, even some who attended the conference, are expressing skepticism about J Street. They’re not attempting to bore their way in and take over from the inside. Specifically, those bloggers at our I-P session who he’s attacked so intemperately have no desire to fulfill Goldberg’s paranoiac nightmare scenario.
I fear that Jeffrey Goldberg, along with J.J. Goldberg and other Jewish liberals like them are sinking further and further into dyspeptic irrelevance.
You fear it? Welcome it!
Unlike Jeffrey Goldberg, I was at the J Street conference. I haven’t seen so many kippot since the last time I attended High Holiday services. I even met an Orthodox woman associated with the excluded Tikkun people.
Progressives, for sure. Israel haters, hardly.
It’s one thing to question progressive Jews; but Goldberg apparently also has a problem with the Obama administration officials and congressmen and -women who attended and sent greetings. J Street’s leadership went out of its way to draw a line in the sand of firm but real support for the existence of Israel.
All the attendees want peace and an end to the settlements and the occupation. Probably 95% agree with J Street’s prescription of a Two State Solution; a small number doubt whether this is any longer possible given the encroachment of massive settlements like Maale Adumim.
Even those who are significantly farther left than J Street’s leadership seem to find their goals worthwhile and their tactics at least understandable.
Finally, one doesn’t even have to be a Zionist to support these goals. Here’s what Arthur Koestler, a quirky, secular Jew, said about Israel:
“[The State of Israel’s right to exist] is not based on the hypothetical origins of the Jewish people, nor on the mythological covenant of Abraham with God; it is based on international law -i.e., on the United Nations’ decision in 1947 to partition Palestine, once a Turkish province, then a British Mandated Territory, into an Arab and a Jewish State. Whatever the Israeli citizens’ racial origins, and whatever illusions they entertain about them, their State exists dejure and defacto, and cannot be undone, except by genocide.”
So, yes, even post-Zionist Jews should be able to find a home in J Street.
RE: “Whatever the Israeli citizens’ racial origins, and whatever illusions they entertain about them, their State exists dejure and defacto, and cannot be undone, except by genocide.” – Arthur Koestler
MY COMMENT: Excellent comments by Mr. Koestler! However, I must add a “their State” can possibly be “undone” (at least, defacto) by the actions of extremist settlers and/or extremist, right-wing governing coalitions.
The Jew-hating goyim that hang out at Mondo and here, of course! 😉
The situation is quite comparable to what we have in Europe re. the ‘Eustonite Left’. This is the only part of the European Left that remains staunchly pro-Zionist (many claim they’re centre Right rather than Left). This then leads the Eustonites to claim they’re the only ‘decent Left’, the rest having succumbed basically to anti-Semitism and pro-Islamism in their eyes.
J Street too (whatever I personally think of them) has already been slanderously linked to ‘anti-Zionist’ forces, such as ‘A-rab donors’!
“…The group [J Street] runs the risk of being hijacked by haters of Israel.” – J Goldberg
“The level of paranoia in this statement reminds me of the fear with which anti-Communist liberals greeted the New Left during the 1960s. They seemed to be fighting the battles of the 1930s to avoid allowing such groups to be hijacked by the Communist Party.” – R Silverstein
FROM IMDB: PLOT SUMMARY FOR “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” (1956)
Miles Bennell returns his small town practice to find several of his patients suffering the paranoid delusion that their friends or relatives are impostors. He is initially skeptical, especially when the alleged dopplegängers are able to answer detailed questions about their victim’s lives, but he is eventually persuaded that something odd has happened and determines to find out what is causing this phenomenon. This film can be seen as a paranoid 1950s warning against those Damn Commies or, conversely, as a metaphor for the tyranny of McCarthyism (or the totalitarian system of Your Choice) and has a pro- and epilogue that was forced upon Siegel* by the studio to lighten the tone.
*the director of the film, Don Siegel – J.L.D.
IMDB SOURCE – http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0049366/plotsummary
ALSO SEE MY RELATED COMMENTS (October 30, 2009 at 1:07 PM / October 30, 2009 at 1:30 PM / October 30, 2009 at 1:42 PM) UNDER “LIKUD LUNACY: GOLDSTONE LIABLE FOR SYNAGOGUE SHOOTINGS”
J Street is controlled opposition. And in what way is Goldberg a Liberal? Is that a title now? Like the Queen of England? Does it have any meaning?
Goldberg’s empty rhetoric plays on the vapid ‘New Anti-Semitism’ narrative promulgated by right-wing and fake liberal (right-wing) apologists for Israeli oppression of the Palestinians. Instead of dealing with the arguments and content of people as socio-politically diverse as Noam Chomsky, Tony Judt, John Mearsheimer or Richard Silverstein, they make this hysterical claim that these people are the gullible front for a conspiracy web of shadowy anti-Semites lurking somewhere back in the dark. You could call this paranoiac narrative the ‘Protocols of the Elders of Anti-Semitism’. Goldberg’s whole game is basically a discourse of avoidance, how do we deflect the best we can from honest discussion of Israel’s systemic breaches of international law. Considering Goldberg was an Israeli prison guard and given the notorious reputation of Israeli prisons, maybe he doth protest too much.
The fact is that crimes against humanity were commited by Israel against the innocent civilian population of Gaza. The world gets this quite well, just look at Gaza coverage in Europe and the rest of the Western and non-Western world. The cat’s out of the bag, sorry. A good number of Americans also get it.
Unfortunately, a significant portion of the American Jewish community doesn’t seem to get it, neither do our bought off and heavily lobbied U.S. government and establishment media, as well as a goodly portion of the American population propagandized daily by said media.
The American establishment media has become so bad, it’s really beyond satire. You couldn’t even fictionally accomplish satire the way these chumps satirize themselves. Also, let’s face it, the intellectual, er, capacity of much of the American media is, well, rather debilitated. I bet few of them would even be able to tell you who the ‘inventor’ of the automobile was.
Yaacov Lozowick says
Have you seen Goldberg’s interview with Hussein Ibish?
SO we’ve arrived at a lace where a prominent Palestinian American talks far more sense than some Jewish Americans.
Me, I could make peace with Ibish in about four minutes flat, including a two minute discussion of the weather. Most Israelis could.
Richard Silverstein says
Unlike you, I heard Ibish speak at the J St. conference. You would have a problem w. many of his views. But Ibish is detested by many in his own community, has an incredibly prickly personality that is quick to take offense at any perceived slight, & represents no one but himself & whatever think tank he works for. He is smart no doubt. But he has no capacity to build a sustained following or movement for his views which are straight Fatah/2 state solution w. nothing but bile for the hundreds of thousands of Palestinians throughout the world who don’t share his views.
Yr embrace of Ibish is typical of Israel’s embrace of those it can control best & its rejection of those who are too independent to control.
Yaacov Lozowick says
Oh come on Richard. It’s a bit rich of you, isn’t it, to gauge the correctness of someone’s views by the size of their constituency. The small corner of the world you inhabit: is there anyone in it with the ability “to build a sustained following or movement”?
Anyway, you might wish to note that most Israelis, and myself certainly among them, have no wish to control the Palestinians at all. If it was up to us, they’d have their state, we’d have ours, and each could go its separate way without troubling the other. That is the position of a majority of Israelis, and has been for many years.
We’re all J Streeters, huh?
Richard Silverstein says
You don’t have a clue, do you? My Alexa ranking is 150,000. Phil Weiss’ is even higher at 100,000. Our respective rankings are even higher than almost all right wing Jewish blogs that I know of. We both have sustained followings. And the progressive Jewish peace movement we’re a part of that includes J Street & other groups has an even larger circle of influence.
I am completely uninterested in what you claim to wish or not wish. If wishes were horses then beggars would ride. What you & Israel do or don’t do is all that matters. The Occupation continues. Injustice continues. War & bloodshed continue. This is what you are DOING & that’s what matters. So don’t tell me what you believe or think or wish. That’s all bulls(&t as far as I’m concerned. Tell me what you & Israel are DOING.
No, you’re not a J Streeter. J Street is actually taking concrete positions on issues that drive you & the Israeli right wing gov’t slightly crazy. That’s to the good.
Yaacov Lozowick says
Sure, I read both you and Mondo. Regularly. Also CiF, Juan Cole, and all sorts of other folks I don’t agree with. Lots of us do. So we’re pushing up your reader stats, but not the number of people who go along with you.
Let’s say there are a million people who agree with you. There are, what, 200 million voters in America? That comes out to 0.5%. Not impressive, if you want to have an effect on policy – and going by the comments, not all your readers vote in America.
What Israel is doing is thriving. True, we’re surrounded by enemies who reject every offer we make, most recently last September, but we still thrive. Or numbers are growing, our economy wasn’t much affected by all the recent turmoil, and things are good. We’ve got almost 20% of our populace who are Arabs, and every poll taken these past two or three decades shows they’d never want to live in a free Palestine, rather in Israel alongside Palestine.
Is it possible, by the way, that you deleted a comment I made earlier today on the Goldstone thread? Not nice of you, Richard. But I saw your readership eventually started swooning about Kucinich: I rest my case. How many of him are there?
Richard Silverstein says
More bull. 55% of Americans disagreed with the war on Gaza. That’s a helluva lot more than 1 million. So redo yr math. Even among Amer. Jews many of my views are in the majority or certainly in the mainstream.
They’re playing that hasbara song…
Sorry but a nation embracing evil as Israel’s Occupation is cannot thrive no matter how you define this.
Oh, you must mean that offer neither Bibi, nor Ehud, nor Ariel made to accept the Saudi peace initiative.
As for yr economy, I read an instructive research study that says that Israel has expended a huge amt. of national treasure on maintaining the Occupation. The study estimates that Israel’s economy would be exponentially larger if it did not have such a burden. And perhaps you’re forgetting the 1/4 or Israelis in poverty & 1/3 of children. Are they thriving?
Your 20% of Arabs as you call them are not happy campers whether or not they’d prefer living somewhere else. They want Israel to be a state of all its citizens, not just the Jewish ones. It’s not that now.
Snark like this makes me angry. I’ve already told you to lay off it. I approve yr comments as I see them. If you click Submit that doesn’t mean it is published. It means it goes to my comment moderation queue. I’ve already explained this to you so don’t waste my time on this again.
Yaacov Lozowick says
Snark, it seems, is your word for things you really don’t like. Not an objective definition – but then, there’s very little about what you do that is objective. You’re an ideological fanatic preaching to likewise-minded people, living in a small echo chamber. Quite a number of people warned me, before I started posting comments on your blog, that it would be but a short time before you inevitably banned me, as you have banned them.
I’m not looking to convince you of anything – that would be futile – though I do enjoy the experience of intellectually playing fox in a yard of hens. Rather, I read your blog so as to decipher your mindset -to see what makes you tick. Unlike you, I don’t need blogging to prove my worth to myself, to generate an income, or to position myself in a community. I draw all those things from more valuable sources. I do it -on my own blog, and on other peoples’ blogs – as a way of creating an index of interesting things, which I may someday incorporate into a book. (I’ve been published in five languages, three of countries where there are effectively no Jews, so it wasn’t the local Elders of Zion who foisted the decision – now that’s snark for you).
As for Israel: we’re not perfect. No one is, or ever will be. But we’re here, we’re definitely thriving, and it’s one of the most exhilarating times to be a Jew in, oh, 2000 years, I’m comfortable in saying. One of the things that interest me about you – in contrast, say, to the ignoramusi at Mondoweiss – is that you may actually have a reasonable awareness of Jewish matters. Yet you quite miss out on the fundamentals. So I’m probing a bit.
I’ll be able to probe, of course, whether you ban my comments or not. Banning will merely underline how intolerant of ideas you really are – which is also part of the mindset Im trying to identify.
Richard Silverstein says
Golly, my Alexa ranking is 150,000 and I attract nearly 1,500 unique visitors each & every day. Your blog’s ranking is 1.3 million. I’d say my views & my blog are a lot more popular than you & yours. And isn’t it funny how someone whose views are opposed to yours can become an “ideological fanatic” about as fast as you can snap yr fingers??
This may disappoint you but if you don’t violate my comment rules you don’t get banned. You haven’t done so yet. But if you would like to be banned you can review the comment rules & do something that violates them. But I won’t give you the satisfaction of banning you for no reason and certainly not because I disagree w. yr views. That’s not why I ban people.
Wow, that rules out the Exodus, revelation of the Torah on Mt. Sinai, the medieval Spanish era. This is what I mean about you being just plain dumb to make such vacuous claims. I’m glad you’re having such a fine old time being a Jew and enjoying the fruits of Israeli Occupation. As for me, it’s not such a fun time being a Jew and knowing there are Israelis like you oblivious to the suffering of others and violating Jewish moral precepts in doing so.
Your condescension is quite evident. I’d venture to say that my Jewish upbringing, background & education is equal to anything you can muster. So don’t condescend to me.
This will be the 3rd time I’ve asked you politely to stop whining about comments. It makes you look pathetic & petty. But hey, feel free. YOu’re only making yrself look like an ass.
alex schindler says
“Golly, my Alexa ranking is 150,000 and I attract nearly 1,500 unique visitors each & every day. Your blog’s ranking is 1.3 million. I’d say my views & my blog are a lot more popular than you & yours. And isn’t it funny how someone whose views are opposed to yours can become an “ideological fanatic” about as fast as you can snap yr fingers??”
I think you’re deliberately avoiding his point. He referred to Hussein Ibish, a respectable character interested in basing a lasting peace on compromise– imperfect as compromise inevitably is, and it’s certainly understandable to disagree with his terms– and you trashed Ibish as a guy “too small to build a sustainable movement”.
He questioned whether that’s a good reason to be dismissive, citing you as an example of people who know the difference between “what lots of people think” and “what I believe to be true”. Not that lots of people don’t think like you, or like him, or like Ibish, or like me– that is not the point. The point is that you can get behind someone on the basis of things other than the belief that they are at the helm of a mass movement.
I found your citation of blog statistics immature, but then, I also found it immature when guys compared anatomy in the locker room in high school and they were in the majority. So maybe I’m a bad judge of immaturity.
I submit that Lozowick was in fact correct, that your general attitude towards Israel, regardless of whether it is or is not laudable, is not something that will “catch” in American politics, to say nothing of Israeli politics.
The other thing I wanted to comment on wasn’t particularly important, but here we go.
“it’s one of the most exhilarating times to be a Jew in, oh, 2000 years”
“Wow, that rules out the Exodus, revelation of the Torah on Mt. Sinai, the medieval Spanish era. This is what I mean about you being just plain dumb to make such vacuous claims.”
By my count, and I realize I’m questioning a true master of Jewish History here, neither the revelation on Mt. Sinai (supposing it happened) nor the Exodus (supposing that happened) happened in the Common Era. Using the Jewish date, the Exodus began in the “First Month” (Nissan, if you like Babylonian months) of 2448. I’m willing to acknowledge that the dating system might be off a few hundred years, but you’re not gonna find a way for it to have happened under Roman Occupation in the Year of Our Lord 9 AD.
Unless by “Exodus” you meant the boat? Or an Otto Preminger film you no doubt dislike as an example of American Hasbara?
Richard Silverstein says
Hussein Ibish is a very smart man with a very large ego who does not speak to a very large circle of supporters or have much traction for his ideas because he so easily takes offense when criticized by others even in respectful ways. Not to mention that Ibish is an intolerant 2 state supporter, rabidly pro Fatah and anti-Hamas. Anyone among Palestinians or others who sees things differently than Ibish gets trashed by him. This is NOT the way you build a movement.
I happen to support a 2 state solution as well. But I’m broad enough to realize that no one has the perfect solution & that all reasonable solutions have a place in the debate.
Non sequitur. He accused me of not having an audience. I referred him to the actual statistics which prove otherwise. If you had yr own blog you would realize that one’s blog stats are actually very important & have nothing to do w. teenage locker rm jocularity.
My “general attitude towards Israel” is actually one held by hundreds of thousands of Israelis. So it appears to have “caught” there as well as in America, where I have a sizable blog audience. My views are even more moderate in the context of Israeli politics than American Jewish politics.
alex schindler says
Oh, I understand you have a large audience in terms of people who read your stuff. But he was talking about you inhabiting “a little corner of the world” as a retort to your own claim of Ibish’s irrelevance. So blog statistics aside, your corner of Israeli politics (Meretz, by my estimation) is rather miniscule and shrinking.
In America, of course, it is represented by Kucinich, and I have to think hard to add to the list (Ron Paul? Not at all the same even if you’d vote along similar lines. McKinney? I suspect her of actual anti-Semitism, so that doesn’t work very well).
And do you actually claim that because your blog gets far more hits than Lozowick’s your views are more widely held? I mean, you’re likely right in your conclusion (outside Israel, that is, where I think you’ll find your way of thinking is a lot less popular off Schenkin Street and outside a few universities) but the methodology is, shall we say, flawed.
Richard Silverstein says
No, I’m not at all referring to party politics which I find bankrupt & no I do not support Meretz regarding issues around the IP conflict. I’ve gone over this time & again w others & it’s tiresome to tell you that polls show that approx. 80% of my views on the IP conflict find agreement among a majority of American Jews. If you do through a checklist of my views on major issues they’re largely in accord w what polls show of Amer. Jewish opinion. Likewise, with Israeli opinion (esp. when you include Palestinian Israeli citizens as well in the polling). Yes, there are some differences. But the views of someone like him are on the far extreme of opinion here & in Israel.
I supported Barack Obama, not Dennis Kucinich & I’d appreciate you not telling me who I supported when you don’t have a clue. Esp. when you attempt to associate me w. figures I despise in order to disparage me. It’s really snarky & annoying so stop doing it.
My views ARE more widely held than his & my blog is much more widely read. It’s the simple truth. Methodologies have nothing to do w. the measurement of such things.
alex schindler says
Lozowick strikes me as a moderate Likud voter, though I don’t like pigeonholing him on someone else’s blog (or as you call it, a far-right likudnik extremist, ignoring just how far right it gets from there). Now, I might not be the genius pollster that you consulted with, but I’m gonna base my evaluation of Israeli politics on their elections… in which the right wing solidly won.
“On the major issues” sounds to me like a clever way of mainstreaming yourself. Yes, it’s true. After all, you, me, Mahmoud Abbas and Bibi Netanyahu, if polled, all would support a 2-state solution. Hell, Avigdor Lieberman supports a 2-state solution, doesn’t he? Population transfer included, sure, but at the end of it there are two states. But where the vast majority of Labor Zionists (or any Zionists of the non-Magnes variety, which is quite uncommon) differ from you, is that they WILL.NOT.COUNTENANCE a “one state nightmare”, as the saying goes. Whereas you express a “preference”, not unequivocal, for the 2-state solution.
There are other examples that clarify why I said “general attitude” rather than referring to your views on “the major issues”. Poll Israelis about whether they feel unfairly singled out by international bodies. Poll them, in fact, on all sorts of opinions that you assign to Hasbara-niks. Poll them on whether Mearshimer and Walt are nice guys, for crying out loud, or Jimmy Carter. Do you not see the divide between yourself and the bulk of Israelis, including those who identify as left-wing?
But let’s think of some major issues. The overwhelming majority of Israelis, from left to right, supported Operation Cast Lead (and no, they didn’t support it as some sort of police operation in which terrorists would be arrested one at a time, at great risk to soldiers but at minimal risk to civilians). They support targeted assassinations of leaders like Saleh Shahadeh. THEY SUPPORT THE WALL (which most will refer to as a fence, as for me, I don’t particularly care to be a pawn in a propaganda war. The parts that are wall are wall, the parts that are fence are fence, and I don’t give a rat’s ass what someone calls it). Ask what the majority of Israelis feel about Iran sanctions?
Ask what they think about the “Iranophobia” thesis? I mean, this could go on forever if I actually take a good look at your favorite books list. I see “The Truth about Camp David” is up there, there’s a nice example. Do you think anyone but an echo chamber of leftists feels that the Agha/Malley analysis of Camp David is the correct one? Do you doubt that the vast majority feel that Ehud Barak was rebuffed on a remarkably generous offer? I know my own opinion on the matter, I’m perhaps more familiar with the nuances of the negotiations than the average member of their electorate, as you surely are as well. But do you think our likely shared opinion on this matter is remotely mainstream between the Mediterranean and the Jordan? Hell no.
So I submit that, right or wrong, it is you who, at least in Israel, holds views that will not sustain any mass movement, least of all as demographics continue to shift the electorate to the right.
I apologize for aligning you with politicians you dislike. I meant to say that you would vote along Kucinich lines (your other numerous differences notwithstanding) only regarding matters concerning Israel and Palestine. For example, would you have joined Congress in nearly unanimously condemning the Goldstone Report? I know President Obama, whom we both voted for and supported, would have. I believe that motion passed by about 350 to about 30, give or take no more than five from either side. Who is in the majority, and who is “alternative”, here?
Richard Silverstein says
That’s a fatal mistake. Israeli coalition politics is like making sausage: it’s ugly, messy & pretty disgusting. Determining the views of Israelis based on whose in power is totally false. BTW, Kadima won more seats than Likud & was the largest single party.
People vote in elections for parties or candidates for all sorts of reasons many of which might have little or nothing to do w. what their most heartfelt political views might be. Look at me, I voted for Barack Obama, who I genuinely did support, beginning with the primaries though other candidates might’ve reflected my views more closely.
I wasn’t just talking about a 2 state solution. I was also referring to Israeli polls showing support for negotiations with Hamas (yup, but you won’t see that reflected in any Israeli gov’t). Polls showing Israeli support for sharing Jerusalem & E. Jerusalem being ruled by Palestinians. Polls showing support for W. Bank settlement withdrawal. Polls show strong opposition to the settlement movement. I could go on.
That’s like saying the pope is Jewish because he wears a yarmulke. I don’t know how I would describe what he supports. Maybe a more subtle version of population transfer w. a dollop of Palestinian sovereignty thrown in there somewhere? I’d call it Kahane lite.
ONce again (is this the 5th or 8th or 100th time?) you’ve got my views wrong. I actually support a 2 state solution. It’s written in my About page & about 500 other times throughout this blog. But you missed it. Where I differ from most Israeli liberals is that I’m in favor of full & complete equality for ethnic minorities in the current Israeli state. And for constitutional protection for their rights. Most Israeli liberals are liberal when it comes to the rights of Jewish citizens, but rightist when it comes to the rights of all others. I remain true & consistent to my convictions & they abandon theirs when it comes to their fellow citizens they’d rather forget exist.
That’s not a political position. I was referring to my views on specific political issues affecting the IP conflict. You’re being sloppy once again.
Once again, a war is not a political position. It doesn’t deal with how to resolve a conflict, which are the pts. with which I claim agreement w. many/most Israelis.
As for the war, yes the majority supported it. But on this particular issue it doesn’t matter to me whether that’s the case. I & millions around the world (including many Israelis & Jews) knew this war to be not just morally despicable, but pragmatically useless in terms of advancing whatever Israel’s claimed objectives were. Besides, wars are not the best way of judging whether you’re in the mainstream of a society’s views. When a war happens in Israel everyone rallies round for atavistic political & historical reasons having to do w. the Holocaust & other national identity issues. It takes a very strong Israeli soul to run against this consensus & express views that are despised by so many regardless of whether your views turn out to be correct.
Books are not any way of indicating whether my views about resolving the Israeli Palestinian conflict are supported by most Israelis. Opinion polls are the best way of doing this.
Again, I’m not a mass movement & never claimed I could sustain one or wanted to. I merely claimed that many of my views on specific issues related to resolving the conflict are in agreement with Israelis as reflected in numerous polls. Don’t make a straw man. Argue fr. what I actually wrote, not what you prefer I would’ve said for yr own convenience.
Except that I didn’t vote for Kucinich & did vote for the man who won the presidency & still support his work on the IP issue (though that support is wearing might thin I admit).