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Why aren't Jews outraged by Israeli occupation? Antony Loewenstein

Last update - 16:50 17/06/2009


Why aren't Jews outraged by Israeli occupation?

By Antony Loewenstein

Tags: Israel News, West Bank



During this year's AIPAC conference in Washington, Executive Director Howard Kohr warned the 7,000-plus crowd that the global movement to "delegitimize Israel" was gathering steam.

"These voices are laying the predicate for an abandonment," he said. His sentiments were almost apocalyptic: "The stakes in that battle are nothing less than the survival of Israel, linked inexorably to the relationship between Israel and the United States. In this battle we are the firewall, the last rampart."

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he age of Barack Obama has unleashed a global wave of Jewish unease over Israel's future and the Diaspora's relationship to the self-described Jewish state. It's a debate that is long overdue.

Zionist organizations in Australia campaigned loudly in May against the allegedly "anti-Semitic" play Seven Jewish Children, a ten-minute think-piece written by an English playwright accusing Jews of complicity in violence against Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.

A Jewish columnist for The New York Times, Roger Cohen, argued in June that the key word among Palestinians now is "humiliation."

"It's not good for the Palestinians, the Israelis or the Jewish soul," he wrote. The Jewish Week editor chastised him for such views - for "the anger, blame and one-sidedness of his argument" - and wondered "whose heart?has grown brutal?"

An upcoming academic conference at York University in Toronto exploring the "one-state, bi-national solution" to the conflict was slammed last week by Gerald M. Steinberg, chair of the Department of Political Science at Bar Ilan University, for fueling "the vicious warfare and mass terror" against Israelis and Palestinians.

The decades-old ability of Zionist groups to manage the public narrative of Israeli victimhood is breaking down. Damning critics has therefore become a key method of control.

But, writes Salon.com's Glenn Greenwald, a leading Jewish-American blogger, "whereas these smear tactics once inspired fear in many people, now they just inspire pity. They no longer work."

He may be overly optimistic, but alternative Jewish voices are rising who are less concerned with being accused of "self-hatred" or treachery. They see it as their duty to damn what is wrong and not simply support Israeli government policies.

A thinking, more enlightened Judaism is emerging, a necessity in the face of apartheid realities. The cause is human rights, not Zionist exclusion.

Obama's recent speech in Cairo reflected the new Jewish consciousness. American Jews were certainly an intended audience because if it this group that must challenge their conservative spokespeople to undo years of following Likudnik thinking. As a candidate in 2008, the then Illinois senator said that, "there is a strain within the pro-Israel community that says unless you adopt an unwavering pro-Likud approach to Israel that you're anti-Israel and that can't be the measure of our friendship with Israel."

Many Jews in the Diaspora have never imagined anything else; it's been an imagined Israel in their minds for decades. Lawless behavior in the occupied territories is ignored through willful ignorance. Tellingly, the most reliable information about these truths in the West is found online, through blogs and activist Web sites, and not generally in the mainstream media. The gate-keepers are clinging on to the Exodus myths for dear life.

Defining a humane Judaism in the 21st century means condemning the brutal military occupation in the West Bank and resisting the ongoing siege of Gaza.

Jewish-American blogger Phil Weiss, who recently returned from the Strip, quoted a young Gazan saying in dismay: "We are being experimented on."

The Palestinian narrative is routinely ignored or dismissed in the U.S. and beyond. This must change quickly for any chance of peace to break out in the Middle East. However, peace without justice is guaranteed to fail.

After Obama?s speech in Cairo, where which he almost acknowledged the Palestinian "Nakba" without mentioning it by name, most major Jewish-American groups reacted with caution.

The Anti-Defamation League said it was "disappointed that the President found the need to balance the suffering of the Jewish people in a genocide to the suffering of the Palestinian people resulting from Arab wars."

This was code for "Nakba"-denial, as pernicious as Holocaust revisionism.

But the liberal J Street lobby, still clinging to the delusion of a viable two-state solution and a "democratic, Jewish homeland," praised Obama?s "active diplomacy" and claimed that the "overwhelming majority of American Jews" supported an end to the West Bank colonies.

Consistent polls suggest they are right, but the devil is in the detail. Is there real will to back the necessary steps, namely the removal of hundreds of thousands of Jewish settlers in the West Bank?

Co-Author of The Israel Lobby, Stephen Walt, said recently that he couldn't understand why more American Jews didn't realize the cliff Israel was running toward. Did they not see that repression in the occupied territories had defined Israel in the eyes of the world? Perhaps apartheid didn't bother them. Out of sight and out of mind. Benjamin Netanyahu's recent speech at Bar-Ilan University suggested he wasn't too fussed, either.

I recently attended the Salute to Israel parade in New York ? picture 100,000 American Jews marching to celebrate the state, waving flags in praise of the IDF. It was a thoroughly depressing affair. Palestinians didn't exist; they were invisible. The world's biggest public display of pro-Israel feeling had no room for 20 percent of the Israeli population (let alone the millions in the West Bank and Gaza.)

These events are actually a sign of desperate projection, not strength. Mainstream Zionism wants to completely shield Jews from the uncomfortable facts of the Israeli occupation and Palestinian self-determination. Jews were a proud people, a clever people and a victimized people. There was no time to indulge in frivolous Arab trivialities.

But facts have an uncomfortable way of seeping back into view. Colonel Itai Virob, an IDF brigade commander in the West Bank, recently told an Israeli court that, "a slap, sometimes a punch to the scruff of the neck or the chest, sometimes a knee jab or strangulation to calm somebody [a Palestinian] down is reasonable."

Where is the Jewish outrage over this?

Antony Loewenstein is a New York-based journalist and author of My Israel Question.

http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1093667.html

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I am outraged!

It outrages me to see how easily Jews, who suffered from the worst form of racist discrimination and persecution, can do the same kind of thing to another people, without too many qualms!...
It happens that I am Jewish, but I don't care much about it... I don't feel the need to participate to any kind of Jewish tribal chauvinism. I see humanity as one single race and the ethnic divides as pretty artificial and irrelevant... Human rights must be the same for everyone.
Sami: you appreciate that but don't practice it, Sami the bedouin.
in fact your tribal distinctions are quite pervasive, right down to the "nigger" Ethiopians.

From Rivka the jewess!
I'm an authentic nobody but just wonder sometimes if you, and other righteous "justice "seekers, got your own way, if we'd have another unjust situation to replace the current one.

I don't have any power, especially over you!! YOU are in charge of you feelings, deary.

btw: I was told, by a Palestinian who explained to me why he would never want to live in Jordan,that the country'sruling elite is bedouin; is that correct?
Rivka and Sami.

I know you two for some time, I think you should be more flexable with each other as you both emotional you got into clash that do not serve anyone

please stop attack each other as I see here.

please try again
It's not an attack. I do have grave doubts as to the justice that will ensue if changed is governed by anger.
I will refrain from calling your exchanges attacks and it would seem to me, INMO, that your arbitration is miss placed here.
I do actually have a point to make and I believe that Sami does too.
Rivka,

So please see that I just to informed you that from the out side it look like two people who are critisizing each other.

as I said, I have good impression of you and of Sami so I think you should find a way to state your difrences in a better way


Enjoy

Neri
I have no intention of being any way instrumental in jews being 2nd or 3rd class citizens again.
I want to be sure that I help, in the little I can, those oppressed who don't want to oppress me back.
Dear Rivka,

I do not think that our forms will dictate the solution for the conflict.

It is fair to say that such and such idea is not working from your prespective as it suggests jews being 2nd or 3rd class citizens again.
Thanks for the info, Basil.
I like the Said quote.
Shaul

That is you choice but please do not try to impress other Jews with that. I for one feel the need to participate and feel a kinship with by brothers and sisters and a rage agianst the warfare inflicted on Jews by the Arabs.

There was no reason for you to come to Israel from affluent Switzerland as you knew full well that Jews and Israelis would not find your "human" qualities that welcoming.

The most pressing question that I must ask is why did you move to Jerusalem when you believe that we stole that land and are in occupation. From a moral and business standpoint this is simply stupid. It would therefore be a good idea if you found the owner of your land and returned it to them, after an proper apology of course, and than moved back to Switzerland where there is no stolen lands or occupation.

Lets see you lead by example otherwise you are simply a demagogue without any backbone, convictions and your words are just empty utterrings.

I am looking for a house in Jerusalem and I have no qualms about stolen land or occupation. Perhaps we can start negotiations and we can conclude when I am in Israel ar the end of June 2009.
Hey Basil!
Well I am outraged by the Israeli occupatoion!

I feel that with the recent events and castrophe that happened in Gaza, I feel that there has been a radical shift in the Jewish community about being passive towards the occupation, towards being against it.
I feel that a lot of my Jewish peers (like myself) have become more and more against the occupation.

I feel that this article is more referring to the older generations.

Again, this is just my two cents :)

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