Lets be honest, the Democratic party isn’t all that liberal most of the time and even the so-called “base” of the party won’t touch Israel-Palestine with a ten foot pole. And why would that be? We know the reason but it’s impolitic to speak about. But I’ll speak about it- Liberal members of the Jewish community are liberal and pro-human rights until it comes to Palestinians. Then the blind spot kicks in. There’s even a catchy name to describe these folks”LEIs”- Liberal Except Israel. To speak out on behalf of Palestinian rights still earns the label “self-hating Jew,” “traitor” and can literally be a career killer. And if one isn’t Jewish and raises the issue of Palestinians, well, don’t expect to get that tenured faculty position at Yale, no matter how prestigious a scholar you are. Just ask Juan Cole. Actually, there dozens of people who have been blackballed out of academic positions for their views on not just Israel, but the Middle East in general. And then there’s Judge Goldstone- he was willing to stand up for legal principles being applied consistently in international law until the Lobby and the media and other members of the community went after his family. Then he caved and offered up his sad, public mea culpa- a mea culpa which was preposterous in light of the legal evidence showing that he had been right the first time around.
Look at groups like J-Street- J Street is an uber-moderate pro-Israel group which advocates a two state solution and believes that in order to make that happen, Israel may have to make some compromises. And for that they have been vilified by members of the Jewish community who claim to believe the exact same thing. No one worth note in the Obama administration would be caught dead at a J-Street annual conference despite the fact that J-Street is perfectly in line with this administration’s policies. No, instead, Hillary and Obama dutifully show up at AIPAC, an organization that has consistently undermined their efforts to resolve the current Israeli-Palestinian impasse.
Phil Weiss, who is willing to speak out about these issues in the Jewish community every single day on his blog Mondoweiss, has a post up about how at Netroots Nation, he feels totally out of place- Israel-Palestine is his signature issue but no one wants to talk about it and lets be honest, Netroots Nation IS the base of the democratic party.
This is my second day of Netroots and I need to register the fact that I feel like an outsider here and sense common cause only with the many Asians who are here. Though they are not included entirely either.
The simple physics of it are: My issue is Israel Palestine and the Democratic Party’s leftwing base, the netroots, is not sure how it feels about Israel and Palestine. Jews are simply too important to the Democratic party and Jews are still largely Zionist, and that’s the deal, kid. I haven’t heard the word Palestine mentioned in a plenary session yet, even when they brought out an inspiring Pakistani blogger who mentioned atrocities.
Hey: It’s still too costly on the Democratic left to care about this issue.
You can say that people don’t care about foreign policy and I would agree. I gather there were two questions about foreign policy at the Republican presidential debate the other night. 2006 was the rare foreign policy election, but the country avoided the subject in 2008 and it will surely try and do so again in 2012. Except for Ron Paul.
Still I think the situation is unsustainable. Netroots is out of touch with the grassroots at a certain level, and you cannot see the urban destitution on University Avenue without reflecting that America’s wars have a lot to do with it and that the empowered elite that support the Israeli occupation has something to do with the Bush-Obama wars in the Middle East. That populist strain in the American discourse is largely absent here, amid all the talk of economic justice.
I think he’s right on all fronts- Zionism is still pervasive in the U.S. and at the end of the day, no one really gives a sh*t about foreign policy. Our media and our government keep us in a permanent state of stupid. Most people who supported the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan couldn’t even point to those countries on a map. Many who support these wars can sleep well at night knowing their kids will be going to Yale, not the Helmand Province. It’s easy to support wars in far-off places that you can’t even point to on a map when you have no skin in the game.
I know I bang on about the media endlessly but there is a reason- until the media, which largely supports and promotes any cause deemed “patriotic” or pro-Israel, starts reporting on what is actually happening in the Middle East, no one is going to question anything. And I’m not just talking about Israel-Palestine either. 40% of Americans think Saddam was behind 9/11 and I bet a large number of Americans also think we actually “liberated” that country and made it better. And why not? It’s not like the media shows us what is really going on- the U.S. actively bombed Al Jazeera offices in Iraq- a war crime by the way- because AJ was showing people what “liberation” looks like. What do we get here in the U.S.? Embedded soldiers who become psychologically and physically dependent on the military and who can be counted on to report exactly what the military wants them to report. Never underestimate the military’s Psy-Ops capability. By embedding in Iraq and Afghanistan, the media ceases to be an objective observer and instead becomes part of the story and keeper of the military’s secrets.
Why is no one “embedding” in Gaza? Israel doesn’t allow international media into Gaza but have any of the brain-trusts in the media questioned why? Has the U.S. government? It’s interesting that when Iran, Libya or Syria place restrictions on international media, we cry foul, but when Israel does it, well, no point bringing it up- there simply must be a good reason or they wouldn’t have done it! In fact, most journalists will defend just about anything Israel does and other liberal journalists/commentators like Anderson Cooper, Rachel Maddow and Keith Olbermann almost completely ignore Israel-Palestine.
Maybe if more people knew the facts, they’d be more interested in Palestinians? Or maybe not.