Pres. Trump and the Jews [ssba]

Pres. Trump and the Jews

The following is being published in French in “Cahiers Bernard Lazare,” the publication of Le Circle Bernard Lazare, a French affiliate of the World Union of Meretz:

The astounding victory of Donald Trump is the most significant of a wave of recent electoral upsets that have been riling the world — beginning with Netanyahu’s triumph in 2015 and continuing in the past year with the British “Brexit” vote to leave the European Union, the rejection of a peace deal in Colombia, and the election of the murderous maverick Rodrigo Duterte as president of the Philippines.  These results mostly contradicted the polls and confounded widespread expectations. 

Like the other disturbances, Trump’s election reflected deeply-felt anxiety, anger and unhappiness with the status quo.  And they all targeted scapegoats against whom to vent these feelings. 

Most American Jews are uneasy about what to expect.  Hillary Clinton earned a clear majority of Jewish votes (about 70%) that usually goes to the Democratic nominee.  Neoconservatives, the heavily Jewish Republican-aligned movement of hawkish internationalists and social moderates, deserted the Republican nominee en masse, with most either voting for Clinton, a third party candidate or with a write-in protest ballot. 

Trump’s explicit scapegoats were Muslims and illegal immigrants (mostly Hispanics), but antisemitism also showed its face during this campaign in vicious attacks on social media (especially Twitter), by some of his supporters, against Jewish journalists who dared to criticize — or simply honestly report on — Trump’s record as an individual and the conduct of his campaign.  Neoconservative views on Trump especially angered his supporters.  A report of the Anti-Defamation League counts 2.6 million tweets “containing language frequently found in anti-Semitic speech” from August 2015 to June 2016.  These include more than 19,000 “overly anti-Semitic” tweets directed against 800 journalists. Read More »

Trump: The Israeli Interest [ssba]

Trump: The Israeli Interest

The Israeli journalist Tal Schneider noted today on the Hebrew Trump campaign.

“This is quite strange… How many US citizens whose residential address is in one of the key states live in Israel? Even if all eligible voters participate, the numbers cannot influence the final result.”

In short: Trump’s campaign in Israel is strange, but it ranks low on Trump’s strango-meter.


A Letter to Detroit’s Walk for Israel Steering Committee [ssba]

A Letter to Detroit’s Walk for Israel Steering Committee

This is the letter Partners for Progressive Israel submitted along with our Petition to Detroit’s Walk for Israel organizers, Ms Orly Zinkow of AIPAC and Andre Douville, the Executive Director of Temple Shir Shalom.

The support we received was phenomenal. We want to thank everyone who signed. We were particularly touched by the comments. Your support means the world to us.  Read More »

Why Detroit’s “Walk for Israel” excludes progressives? [ssba]

Why Detroit’s “Walk for Israel” excludes progressives?

May is a celebratory month for supporters of Israel: Israel’s Independence Day, the Israel Day Parade in New York, and smaller Walks for Israel in cities all over the United States. Detroit is one such city poised to host its eleventh annual Walk for Israel.

We at Partners for Progressive Israel wished to join this year’s Walk for Israel in Detroit. But for the second consecutive year the Detroit Walk for Israel steering committee unilaterally decided to prevent us and Americans for Peace Now from participating. They say their mission is to “unite the metropolitan Detroit community to celebrate the establishment of the modern Jewish State of Israel and support its right to live in peace and security.” So why are they dividing the community by deeming who is and isn’t an adequate supporter of Israel’s “right to live in peace and security?” Read More »

Tomer Persico, The Duality of Israeli Existence [ssba]

Tomer Persico, The Duality of Israeli Existence

The following is a translation of a Facebook post, Dr. Tomer Persico published today. In the eight hours since it was published, it received over 1,700 likes. By the time you read it, it will have many more. Persico is a Research Fellow at the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem, and teaches at the department for Comparative Religion in Tel-Aviv University. But more than that, he is an astute observer of Israeli reality.

Translator: Maya Haber

The story over the last few weeks is the collapse of the delicate duality the Israeli government has been trying to preserve for years. It is the duality of occupation at home and democracy for abroad, religious coercion at home and a booming high-tech industry abroad, the stabbing at a Jerusalem Pride parade and pinkwashing for abroad. This is a strategic duality. It allows Israel to play a part in the community of enlightened nations. It has enormous benefits like trade agreements, the ability to purchase advanced weaponry (and silent permission to possess nuclear weapons) and the right to participate in the coalition of the virtuous allies fighting against jihadist Islam. Read More »

The Right-Wing Tactic All Jewish Leftists Should Be Stealing [ssba]

The Right-Wing Tactic All Jewish Leftists Should Be Stealing

Maya Haber published an op-ed in the Forward today capturing a little of Partners for Progressive Israel’s new Strategic Plan.

In the early 1990s it felt as if the Israeli Left had won. In 1992, the first election I ever voted in, Meretz won 12 Knesset seats. A year later Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin signed the Oslo agreements. At that time, my IDF unit was working on a just and fair distribution of water resources between Israel, the Palestinians, Jordan and Syria. We believed the conflict was about to end.

The Right did not accept defeat.

The Left often argues that the Right murdered Rabin and with him our progressive future. But this a partial and biased narrative. The truth is that even before Rabin’s murder, the Right had devised a strategy to win back public opinion. Read More »

Crossing the Bridge with Dr. King [ssba]

Crossing the Bridge with Dr. King

Last Sunday we crossed the Ford Street Bridge, three Jewish women in a car with a GPS looking for Mt. Olivet Baptist Church. We were on our way to join a prayer service to celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. King. Our visit would be the second part of a get-together that had begun on Friday at Temple B’rith Kodesh, welcoming the Reverend Rickey Harvey and members of Mt. Olivet Church. Magnificent music had infused our Sabbath service as our two choirs joined. We sang, bodies swaying and hands clapping in the presence of oneness of Jews and African Americans praying without borders and with boundless joy. The service defied histories of divisions, refused acrimonies and produced a “we the people.”

“We,” the collective voice I use, represents the spirit of the joint prayer and those who were there on Friday would recognize that the category was beautifully crafted by Reverend Harvey in his eloquent message of the making of community. The pastor’s sermon outlined a distinct we/us people who remembered that joy comes with social obligations, that joy wraps itself around and inside the ethics of equality. Read More »

American Jews and Violent Settlers [ssba]

American Jews and Violent Settlers

There is a connection between Anglo Jewry and rowdy settlers. There is a particular connection between American Jews and the settlers committing Price Tag attacks – and worse.

Anglos are a minority in Israel – of this, there is no doubt. However, Anglo olim are a noticeable presence in one particular Israeli community: settlers. And the settlers, and their Religious Zionist supporters, are causing big problems.

They are by no means the majority, but at approximately 15% of the settler population, they are a sizeable minority with a noticeable impact on the settler enterprise and culture. “This provides hard evidence that this constituency is strikingly over-represented, both within the settler population itself and within the total population of Jewish American immigrants in Israel,” Sara Yael Hirschhorn, the author of the forthcoming book “City on a Hilltop: Jewish-American Settlers in the Occupied Territories Since 1967,” said during a presentation at Jerusalem’s Limmud conference, as reported by Haaretz. Read More »

Chanukah, Trump and Refugees (Syrians and Jews) [ssba]

Chanukah, Trump and Refugees (Syrians and Jews)

Chanukah seems like a good time to reflect upon things that have been in the news lately — including phenomena that parallel Jewish experiences.  Whereas the Joseph story in this week’s Torah reading (Parshat Miketz) is clouded in Biblical legend — because its historical accuracy is unknown — Chanukah is based on real historical events; the Maccabees’ revolt against the Syrian-Greek Seleucid dynasty did happen.

But while we like to think of it as a struggle for freedom and religious liberty, this is only partly true. It was a national revolt that eventually created the Kingdom of Judea under the rule of the Hasmonean dynasty.  It was also a “clash of civilizations,” with traditional Jews triumphing over the Hellenists (Jews and Syrians) who ruled in Jerusalem; and so it was likewise a civil war among Jews. Read More »

Reflections on the World Zionist Congress [ssba]

Reflections on the World Zionist Congress

This article was contributed by Rachel Sandalow-Ash. Rachel is a co-founder of and national organizer for Open Hillel, a grassroots movement of Jewish students and young alumni working for pluralism and open discourse on Israel-Palestine in Jewish spaces on college campuses and beyond. She was a delegate to the 37th World Zionist Congress as part of the World Union of Meretz faction, having run on the Hatikvah Slate.  A 2015 Harvard College graduate, Rachel grew up in Brookline, MA and now lives in Philadelphia. The views presented here are Rachel’s own and do not represent the views of Open Hillel, Partners for Progressive Israel, or the World Union of Meretz.

October 22, 3:00PM, West Jerusalem. The large auditorium at the International Convention Center is in chaos. “We’ve run out of time,” says the chair of the meeting. “All further resolutions will go to the Zionist General Council.” Delegates left, right, and center are rushing the stage. But the chair won’t budge on the schedule. Lacking other options, we vote to conclude the 37th World Zionist Congress. Maybe 70% of our votes are processed by the electronic voting machine; the chair deems the vote good enough. Delegates, alternates, and party staff stream into out of the room, hugging each other goodbye and making plans for shabbat.

A few miles to the North, East, and South, East Jerusalem Palestinians wait behind blockades and checkpoints to reach their homes and neighborhoods; the “united city” is more divided than ever. Several people have already died when these checkpoints prevented them from getting to the hospital.


first world zionist congress

When Hatikvah, the US progressive Zionist slate first asked me to join their list for the World Zionist Congress, I was deeply confused (wait, wasn’t that Herzl’s thing from 1897? That’s still around?) and deeply conflicted. As a candidate, I would have to sign the Jerusalem Program, a Zionist loyalty oath of sorts, when I had spent the past two years leading a campaign against Jewish communal loyalty oaths. I would be required to donate to the Jewish National Fund, which maintains discriminatory land use policies in Israel and is instrumental in building settlements beyond the Green Line. And perhaps worst of all, I knew that the World Zionist Congress makes decisions involving Israeli government money (a large portion of the World Zionist Organization’s multi-million dollar budget comes directly from the government) and impacting Israeli society; yet non-Jewish citizens of Israel are not allowed to vote or participate in the WZC.  

And yet, in the end, political pragmatism won me over. The World Zionist Organization controlled over $50 million on its own; along with the Jewish Agency, it oversaw an additional $470 million or so.  That was real, tangible money that could be spent on building settlements and maintaining the Occupation — or, alternatively, on fighting poverty and promoting racial and economic justice. Not that many people voted for the World Zionist Congress. If I ran and got my friends to vote, we could make a real difference. At least so I hoped.

Read More »