You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘J Street’ tag.

American pro-Israel conservative, Ben Stein, made an interesting admission when he recently went to bat for Israel with respect to Israel’s desire to make a pre-emptive attack on Iran. Stein contends that since Israel is such a small country, even one nuclear bomb dropped on Israel would amount to another holocaust for the Jewish people. Hence Iran’s so called quest for nuclear weapons must be stopped at any cost.

This idea hardly fits with the popular notion that Jews are more safe from another Holocaust by living in Israel than by any other means. In pre-Zionist times the primary way that Jewish people fought against antisemitism was by ensuring that Jewish people did not “bunch up”. This strategy ensured that if danger arouse for Jewish people in one region of the world, they would have multiple routes to safety. No doubt this strategy was part of the reason that Hitler’s plan to wipe out the Jews of Europe was a failure. Surely Hitler’s evil plans to exterminate the Jews of the world would have been much easier if he knew that all the Jews of the world were located in one small country far away from the borders of Germany. Bunched up, they simply would have been an easier target.

The argument is then made that if the above proposition is true, then Israel should have a nuclear deterrent to stop it’s evil neighbors from attacking them first. But Israel does have nuclear weapons and this apparently is no deterrent to Iran! If it were then why would a pre-emptive strike be needed? While some argue that Israel’s military power is a stabilizing factor in the Middle East, it certainly has not brought and end to the conflict. Nuclear deterrents don’t bring justice on their own. Until Israel admits to it’s role in Palestinian dispossession and oppression, peace will be a dream for the future.

The following insightful article on Israeli apartheid, the real cause of the continued conflict in Israel-Palestine, was posted on the Mondoweiss website.

Mustafa Barghouti to US Jews:
“I know you don’t like the word apartheid, but what do you call a system that gives a settler 50 times more water than a Palestinian?”

 MONDOWEISS  –  17 April 2012

On March 26, at the J Street conference in Washington, DC, Palestinian leader Mustafa Barghouti described apartheid in Palestine to a largely-Jewish audience. As he spoke, you could have heard a pin drop in a room jammed with 500 people hearing about the one-state option. His comments have resonated in the weeks since. It is a marvel, and a tragedy, that this description of Palestinian conditions has not been published in America. Here is a substantial portion of his remarks. Halfway down is his description of apartheid and segregation. At the end is his explanation of why nonviolent resistance and international solidarity are the Palestinians’ only weapon today.  –  Philip Weiss

Let me remind you that back in the 40s, the Palestinians wanted a one-state solution. It was under lots of Israeli pressure and international pressure that the Palestinian national movement decided in 1988 to accept a compromise, and that compromise was, two state solution. When we agreed on that, we accepted to have a state in 22 percent of the land of historic Palestine instead of 44 percent which we should have had according to the Partition plan of 47. So this was a very painful compromise.

During the last 30 years maybe, or 25 years, what we’ve witnessed is a process where Israeli governments have been … compromising the compromise. And that’s why we find ourselves in a very difficult position today. To many Palestinians, after signing the Oslo agreement, today they feel that they have discovered that they were living in an act of deceit. That the two states option was not really meant to produce a two states option but to produce a system of segregation and apartheid.

The main factor that is destroying the two states option has always been there, which was the continuation of settlement activity. If Palestinians have made a mistake, their biggest mistake was to agree to sign an agreement in Oslo without insisting first on freezing all settlement activity. This was a mistake and should not have been done.

Today to ask Palestinians to go back to the table of negotiations again while settlements continue to happen is like asking two people to sit down around a table, negotiate over a piece of cheese, and one side is stuck behind bars and walls, that is the Palestinian side, and the other side is eating the cheese. At the end of the day there will be nothing left to negotiate about, that is the reality.

In one way or another, their Israeli government, their United States government, their majority of people in this game– are putting in the hands of the settlements the right to decide the future. That is the problem. With the continuation of settlements, the whole solution of two states becomes impossible.

What we are witnessing today is a creation, or a consolidation to be precise, of a system of segregation and Bantustans. The proposals to Palestinians to stick together in what is called an interim solution in less than 37 percent of the West Bank in the form of separate ghettos from each other– and having that as a solution.

Some people might not like the word apartheid, when we say that we live in a system of apartheid and segregation, and I understand why you wouldn’t like it. Because there is nothing to be proud about having a system of apartheid and segregation in the 21st century. But as Menachem [Klein] said, we actually live in that system. It’s one regime.

What is apartheid? Apartheid is a system where you have two laws, two different laws, for two people living in the same area. If you don’t like the word apartheid, give me an alternative to a situation where a Palestinian citizen is allowed to use no more than 50 cubic meters of water per capital year, while an Israeli illegal settler from the West Bank is allowed to use 2400. How would you classify a situation where the Israeli GDP per capita is about $30,000 while a Palestinian’s GDP per capita is less than $1400?

Yet we are obliged to pay the same prices for products as Israelis do. More than that: We are obliged to pay double the price for electricity and water that Israelis do though they make 30 times more than we do.

Segregation of roads is another issue. This is the last place on earth, actually the first place on earth where people have been segregated with roads. I’m talking about roads in the West Bank, major roads are exclusive to Israeli settlers or army or Israeli citizens.

I cannot describe to you to the level of violation of human rights.. we’ve left to see Israeli army using dogs against our nonviolent settlers in the most vicious way. Which reminds us of what happened during the Segregation system here in the United States.

So the problem is very clear. Of course it is either two states or one state. But the reality is, What we are witnessing today with the passage of time is that people will be [left] with one or two alternatives. Either it’s a segregation apartheid system, or one democratic state system. This is the choice we will all face unless some kind of a miracle happens and I don’t know what that miracle is.

The two state solution will not happen because the balance of power is so skewed in the interest of one side. That’s why we are opting today for nonviolent resistance and opting for a strong international solidarity movement, because we want to change the balance of power.

When do we decide that the two state solution is over? What is the time point at which we both decide that it is over and say, the two state solution cannot work anymore? I don’t know. Maybe we’ve crossed the line already. Maybe we’re about to cross it.

But the fact that you’re having this discussion at this conference this day in DC is an indicator that we have either crossed the line or are about to cross it.

Second, there is no way you can have a Jewish democratic state and keep occupation and oppression of another people. It’s impossible. We cannot have this operation. Not only because from a moral point of view it is inconsistent with your history and Jewish tradition, but because we as Palestinians, as people, will never accept to remain slaves of occupation. That has to be understood.

…If the two state option is dead, please understand me, this time it will not be Palestinian responsibility. As many of you would say, the Palestinians were responsible in 1947 for not having the two state option. This time it is an Israeli responsibility and no one can avoid that.

Original link:
AFP link:



People continually ask me how anyone can negotiate with a group like Hamas that vows to wipe Israel off the face of the map. What they don’t do is realize that it has never been a goal of Zionism to share the land of Palestine with an Arab state. Just take a look at the map that the World Zionist Organisation offered at the Paris Peace conference in 1919 for a Zionist state. Just take a look at the dozens of documented statements by influential Zionist leaders way back before 1900 that said that their intention was to dispossess the Arabs of Palestine in order to make room for the newly arrived Jewish population. Just read Ben Gurions statements about the Zionist attitude to the 1947 Partition Plan. Just look at the response made by the Israelis when in 1993 Yasser Arafat officially recognised the right of the state of Israel to exist with safe and secure borders. Just read the documentation made by Israeli historians showing the ethnic cleansing of 800,000 Palestinians in 1948. Just look how Israeli settlements have increased in the West Bank over the last 43 years. All of this and much more would lead any reasonable person to conclude that so far as a Palestinian state is concerned, Israel has never wanted it to exist. Israel has never needed to make a statement that they wish to wipe a Palestinian state off the map because they have simply done everything they could over the last 80 years to make sure that it never could come into existence in the first place. The Zionist desire to make sure that any Palestinian state will be still born is at the basis of the claims by groups like Hamas. Just look at the case of my homeland, Australia. Do you think the British ever came here to share the great South Land with an indigenous state?

The following article was published on the Mondoweiss website on July 29th 2011

What does secular mean? ‘J Street’ official says American Jews ‘ideally’ want the whole ‘land of Israel’
Jul 29, 2011 09:21 am | Philip Weiss

Last Sunday night I went to hear a J Street director speak in Cape Cod, in a community with many Jews, and I kept looking around the room for ones I knew from my childhood summers. Only one—and afterward I had a fight with my mother about the issue. Which is really all I’ve asked for, a battle inside the Jewish family over Zionism. I will get to the fight with my mama before long but meantime it is important to relate what Steven Krubiner, the young well-spoken J Street man had to say. For it speaks to the backwardness of the American Jewish community on the Israel/Palestine issue and underlines a theme here, we Jews fell in love with Zionism some time ago and it will take a long time to break up the romance, and it is very hard to make any progress if the conversation is only inside the Jewish community. No, we Jews must open our ears to the likes of Ali Abunimah and John Mearsheimer and Andrew Sullivan.

Krubiner’s message was the urgency of the U.S. pushing Israel to come to the two-state solution. The only way Obama will do so is if he feels political able, and the only way he will feel that political comfort is if the Jewish community doesn’t abandon Congress and the president over the issue. So Krubiner’s talk was directed at Jews: The hour is getting late, this is an existential crisis for the Jewish state, and you must allow Obama to pressure Israel or Israel is lost.

To make headway with his presumed Jewish audience, Krubiner began in a place of love and fear. He told us that he had been taught to love Israel as part of his Jewish identity – like all other Jews, he said and reader, I did not projectile vomit—and had not even realized there was a conflict over there till his 7th grade social studies teacher was killed in a bombing in Israel, evidently in the early 90s, and this had jarred him. Then Krubiner had helped lead a tour of Jewish communities in Europe and realized there were no thriving Jewish communities, they had been wiped out, an experience that convinced him that Israel was necessary for Jews. After college he had defied his parents to move to Israel. Again, not my storyline, nor the storyline of most American Jews. Zionism calls on a conservative impulse in the Jewish soul.

Krubiner is a liberal, surely thinks of himself as a liberal, but his messaging was very conservative. As I noted earlier here, he never talked about the occupation and didn’t mention settlements until the Q-and-A. Settlements isn’t J Street’s agenda. There was a lot of unpleasant demographic talk. If we make a 6 percent land swap, the state of Israel will go to 86 percent Jewish (yes, and what about the Palestinians dealt out of Israel into a Palestinian state, on ethnic transfer terms, will they dig that?). Or: If you put a GPS device on everyone in Jerusalem and made the Palestinian dots green and the Israeli ones blue, you would find that it’s very “clean,” Jews move around in West Jerusalem and Palestinians stay in East Jerusalem.

Mr. Clean! Not for me!

Krubiner said, “Ideally, especially for American and Israeli Jews they would want… all of the land… of Israel,” from the river to the sea. But they can’t have that without either sacrificing democracy or giving up the idea of a Jewish state. And therefore because J Street is “unconditionally” for a Jewish state in Israel, we must give up the land so that the inevitable Palestinian majority will have a place to go.

The revelation in these statements is that Krubiner is doing outreach to a very conservative community. You can talk all you like about secular Jews, but American Jews believe in a way that can only be called religious (because most have never seen the West Bank) in their right to the “Land of Israel.” And so when asked about settlements, Krubiner was somewhat apologetic about J Street’s backbone moment of February, when it criticized Obama for voting against the U.N. Security Council’s resolution opposing Israeli settlements. Yes, our position didn’t play very well in the Jewish community, Krubiner said. I.e., this community is behind the times, and it is driving policy.

Now as I have pointed out earlier, Krubiner is a smart guy who gets the story. He knows that the occupation is destroying Palestinian souls, as he stated in the one-on-one by the lectern after the speech. And when a questioner asked about democracy without regard to race in Israel and Palestine, Krubiner acknowledged that democracy was a virtuous thing, but he then said that it would take a “sad rollercoaster of violence” to get us to that place. A legitimate point of view of course. Though not in itself a justification for slavery. Remember: an American rollercoaster of violence, the Civil War, is justified historically on that basis, it was worth it to end slavery.

But generally speaking, Krubiner was addressing Jewish fears. He said that the longer we wait on the two state solution, the more frustrated Palestinians will come round to the view that we can just wait the Jews out, we will be the majority in this land in a few years, and “we’ll have the whole state to ourselves.”

I don’t know about that. I am not opposed to partition, but I don’t think that Palestinians want the whole place to themselves. The one-staters in our community want a democracy for the people who were born in that place–and for the people whose grandparents were born there. By playing the fear card, I think Krubiner is trying to get Jews off their butts and energize them politically.

Why doesn’t J Street take its teachings to a non-Jewish audience and try and energize them? The reasons are several. A, the Jewish community is where the Democratic money is and J Street is playing a Washington insider game, B, If you are a Zionist, well, you don’t fully trust the goyim with your fate– so how can you work with them, it goes against the Zionist understanding… C, And how could you trust American non-Jewish liberals anyway? The non-Jewish audience as soon as they become informed will question the right of Jews to have a Jewish state in a land that is not historically ours and at a time when Jews are way safer in the west and there are Jim Crow conditions across the West Bank and a ghetto in Gaza.

On the other hand, the problem for J Street in working inside the Jewish community is, their views are to the right of Atilla the hun. You can’t even talk about settlements. Krubiner made a point of bashing the neocons, saying they had driven policy in this area, so evidently neoconservative has high negatives even for Jews. But it’s not like liberal Jews are all that much better.

I want to conclude on the secular point. We grew up thinking that we were secular Jews. That’s the big category of Jewish cultural life: east coast secular Jews. But as Krubiner proves, there is a large percentage of secular Jews who believe in a religious idea: our right to the West Bank. Ed Koch believes it, it’s why he’s savaging Obama. David Mamet believes it, he doesn’t want to give an inch. We have the right to the Land of Israel. An idea we read in a book with leather covers and God inside, for which we have no evidence. A year or so back I heard that peace processor Aaron David Miller was speaking at a synagogue in Cleveland and said we have to give up the land and the rabbi said, But God gave us that land. Joke was on Miller.

I am saying that intolerant religious attitudes on Israel/Palestine are deeply embedded in the Jewish community. So what progressive would want to move policy forward by working only in that community? It would be like trying to wage the battle for abortion back in the 80s by organizing in the Catholic church. Or waging the battle for women’s lib by organizing in the Muslim community, which tends to be very traditional. All these communities can be moved on these religious questions. But it requires an outside force.


Israel-Palestine: A Christian Response to the Conflict

Order My Book

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 78 other followers

Share this page

Bookmark and Share
June 2018
« May