The Times They are a-changin'
October 21, 2009 2:42 AM   Subscribe

American Jews Rethink Israel: The US-Israeli relationship is largely unparalleled in history, with a monolithic Lobbyist . This is changing.
J Street, a decidedly more liberal Jewish lobby than AIPAC, seems to be having a hard time making friends. ( self loading video) Perhaps, as the comment suggests, it is being thwarted by the religious right?
J Street And World Order - an analysis.
What’s Driving the Jihad Against J Street - Matthew Yglesias
Mondoweiss thinks J Street is scaring the shit out of the old Israeli lobby.
posted by adamvasco (58 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
 
"increasing signs of "Europeanization," where Palestinians and Arabs can do no wrong, Israel no right"

as opposed to the current American Jewish doctrine of Israel can do no wrong and Arabs no right?

Interesting. Stopped reading.
posted by Laotic at 5:10 AM on October 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


Client states are valuable. Client states in oil-rich regions especially so.

As long as America needs oil, I think she and Israel will get along just fine.
posted by Joe Beese at 6:40 AM on October 21, 2009


Flagged this post for being kind of bloggy, but in case it sticks around, Jay Michaelson's piece in the Forward about Israel and lefty Jews is good and relevant.
posted by escabeche at 7:32 AM on October 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


Hey, thanks for posting this. J Street and Jeremy Ben-Ami are making a smart, strategic effort to shift the dialogue and have other voices get heard in the halls of Congress and elsewhere.
posted by foxy_hedgehog at 7:34 AM on October 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


Client states are valuable. Client states in oil-rich regions especially so. As long as America needs oil, I think she and Israel will get along just fine.

But what about "client states" (whatever that means...) who consistently piss off the people in the oil rich regions and thereby shut down the flow of the oil you need so badly? With "friends" like that...
posted by MarshallPoe at 7:37 AM on October 21, 2009 [2 favorites]


MarshallPoe: " what about "client states" (whatever that means...) ...."

Specifically:

The term might also arguably be used for those states extremely economically dependent on a more powerful nation.
posted by Joe Beese at 7:53 AM on October 21, 2009


Oh, this was posted by adamvasco -- surprise surprise. Go grind your axe somewhere else.

Or better yet, GYOFB. I'm pretty sure this is exactlty what YOFB was invented for.
posted by Afroblanco at 7:59 AM on October 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


Go grind your axe somewhere else.

This was an interesting and well-crafted post. I would recommend Googling the blackness of kettles and perhaps stop trying to derail the thread.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 8:04 AM on October 21, 2009 [20 favorites]


The bigger question is, has the Israel-America relationship been played out? It feels like Israel is a very capable cyclist who still has their training wheels on.

on a side note, does GYOFB mean "get your own fantastic blog" (fantastic can alternatively be replaced by an expletive)?
posted by dearsina at 8:11 AM on October 21, 2009


The bigger question is, has the Israel-America relationship been played out? It feels like Israel is a very capable cyclist who still has their training wheels on.

When I saw this post I thought it was going to be a wreck and the only thing that could make it more of a wreck was if it somehow involved cycling and circumcision...oh wait....
posted by srboisvert at 8:50 AM on October 21, 2009


This was an interesting and well-crafted post. I would recommend Googling the blackness of kettles and perhaps stop trying to derail the thread.

It's an interesting topic that, sadly, should really be in a better post. The poster has derailed it himself by editorializing in the FPP.

This is a contentious topic. Although I realize that adamvasco has a history of grinding this particular axe and apparently has something to prove, this post is constructed in GYOB territory. He's trying to bias the reader before they've had a chance to read the links. That's not the way it's supposed to work. A post should at least attempt to be objective.

I'm a fan of J Street. I like what they're doing and love that they're being discussed on the Blue. But I certainly wouldn't have posted them to Metafilter in this manner.
posted by zarq at 8:52 AM on October 21, 2009


I'm a fan of J Street. I like what they're doing and love that they're being discussed on the Blue. Apart from escabeche I see little discussion just "piss and wind" from the normal culprit in an attempt to derail or close down the thread. As 90% of you are Americans I am sure someone has something interesting to say; especially in view of the vast sums of taxpayer money involved and I find the fact that the right wing Washington lobbying faction is being challenged by a more liberal mindset to be interesting and I thought some readers of Metafilter might as well. Should foreign agents be allowed to work as a domestic lobby?
posted by adamvasco at 9:23 AM on October 21, 2009 [2 favorites]


The conference is sure to combine culture, youth and politics in such a way as to make AIPAC look about as à la mode as the former Soviet Union.

Yum! I loved that Russia with ice cream on top, back in the day. Looking forward to the Jewish lobby-flavoured one!
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 9:26 AM on October 21, 2009


This post seems pretty tame for the sort of reaction it's getting.
I'm young but the American Jews that I know while probably more hawkish about Israel than I would expect given their opinions on other issues are far less hawkish than the AIPAC. It's a complicated and contentious issue, I get that, so it makes sense to me that there ought to be a lobby to represent the opinions of the many American Jews who are substantially to the left of the AIPAC. Jews don't agree on a number of questions; opinion is divided. It only makes sense that in the public sphere people understand that there exist a substantial Jewish population that does not believe that everything that the Israel government does is in their interests and that disagreeing with specific actions on the part of an elected government is not a betrayal of the Jewish people. In fact many Jewish people in Israel strongly disagree with their governments actions just like many people in America disagree on American foriegn policy.
posted by I Foody at 9:42 AM on October 21, 2009


Thank you for the post. I found it informative, intellectual and in line with what I have seen on Metafilter over the years. It is posts like this that make Metafilter my favorite site.

It seems to me, though, that the comment section here is swarming with Likud... ;)
posted by GratefulDean at 10:04 AM on October 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


6 million Jews died in the holocaust. Your argument is invalid.
posted by clarknova at 10:14 AM on October 21, 2009


Thanks - interesting stuff.

Comparison piece in yesterday's Times by HRW former Director Robert Bernstein about how Human Rights Watch is being overly partisan against Israel.
posted by n'muakolo at 10:15 AM on October 21, 2009


Comparison piece in yesterday's Times by HRW former Director Robert Bernstein about how Human Rights Watch is being overly partisan against Israel.

Here's a transcript of the speech by Col. Kemp mentioned in the Times article.
posted by Behemoth at 10:22 AM on October 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


Grab Your Own Funky Butt.
posted by Saxon Kane at 10:37 AM on October 21, 2009 [2 favorites]


A post should at least attempt to be objective.

On metafilter? Since when?
posted by blucevalo at 10:41 AM on October 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


He's trying to bias the reader before they've had a chance to read the links.

Perhaps you'd get that from knowledge of AdamVasco's previous posts on the subject, but I'm not getting it from the words in this post.

What is it exactly that he's supposed to be biasing us against? Jstreet? AIPAC? Israel? Lobbyists?
posted by PeterMcDermott at 11:03 AM on October 21, 2009


It seems to me, though, that the comment section here is swarming with Likud... ;)

No, at least one of us is annoyed to see that the post is completely one-sided and lacking any sort of counterbalance. This debate needs honest-to-goodness, constructive discussion, not mindless cheerleaders for a single ideological position. I'd have objected to a similar ultra-hawkish post on the same grounds.

This FPP links to two lefty blogs and a left-wing magazine, and an anti-zionist extremist whose opinions seem pretty far outside what J Street is working towards, as well as mainstream American Jewry's attitude towards Israel. (J Street is not an antizionist organization. They define themselves as "pro Israel, pro peace".

So we have an FPP that gives half the story, several left-wing editorial links announcing that conservatives are concerned and no links to any conservatives who are in fact concerned. In addition, it was posted to the Blue by someone who, (from his previous (deleted and not) posting history) seems to have a serious axe to grind against Israel.

*shrug* Disagree if you want, but I think this site deserves better.
posted by zarq at 11:06 AM on October 21, 2009 [6 favorites]


This debate needs honest-to-goodness, constructive discussion; now's your chance stop bloviating and do it.
posted by adamvasco at 11:17 AM on October 21, 2009 [2 favorites]


Regarding AIPAC and the advent of J Street:

Three anti-Israel lobbying groups exist that I'm aware of. All have been around for at least 20 years.

AMIDEAST, who were founded in 1951. Wikipedia

CNI has been around since 1989. Wikipedia says they market themselves as anti-AIPAC.

and the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) founded in 1980. Wikipedia.

American taxpayers and "foreign agents" fund all three. Any discussion of whether AIPAC should be allowed to lobby domestically should clearly include a focus on them as well.

Why is J Street different? It's pro Israel and was formed by Jews.

AIPAC has been more successful as a lobbying group than the other three for many reasons, including inexplicable religious beliefs of American Christian fundamentalists. But they're certainly not the only game in town.
posted by zarq at 11:26 AM on October 21, 2009


This debate needs honest-to-goodness, constructive discussion; now's your chance stop bloviating and do it.

Buddy, that ball's in your court when you create an FPP. I don't have any obligation to try and fix your flawed post for you.

It's interesting that you'd try to dismiss my points rather than address them, though.
posted by zarq at 11:42 AM on October 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


escabeche, I missed that Michaelson piece. It's excellent. Thank you for posting that link.
posted by zarq at 11:55 AM on October 21, 2009


Apart from escabeche I see little discussion just "piss and wind" from the normal culprit in an attempt to derail or close down the thread.

I hope my contribution didn't distract you from the fact that I, too, thought your FPP sucked.
posted by escabeche at 12:56 PM on October 21, 2009 [2 favorites]


This post seems pretty tame for the sort of reaction it's getting.

Par for the course. Anything except slavish devotion to Israeli expansionism is antisemitic and must be silenced.

dismiss my points

"You should shut up" isn't a point.
posted by Jimmy Havok at 1:07 PM on October 21, 2009


As 90% of you are Americans I am sure someone has something interesting to say; especially in view of the vast sums of taxpayer money involved and I find the fact that the right wing Washington lobbying faction is being challenged by a more liberal mindset to be interesting...

The story here is not that the J Street PAC is being attacked by AIPAC. That was inevitable. It is that non-left wing Jews by and large have not rushed to jump on the J Street bandwagon. That isn't AIPAC's doing. No, it's J Street's fault.

Since 1953, AIPAC has retained power for a reason: it is a single issue group which ostensibly fights for Israel's survival, and that's a very real concern to many American Jews and non-Jews. Whether the justification behind it is emotional, cultural, religious, political, economic and/or simply anti-Arab, there is strong support for Israel in America. To casually blame that on "foreign agents" is to misunderstand the entire issue.

Most Jews are liberals, moderates and independents, not conservatives. In survey after survey across a wide range of issues, we've said so. It's reflected in our voting record: we vote Democrat, rather than Republican. American Jews traditionally support the Democrats for a number of reasons but perhaps most importantly, as a group we tend to fear anyone who curtails freedoms. The Republican party line is staunchly pro-Israel, but when it comes to social issues, by and large we disagree. Most Jews are pro-choice, strongly favor the separation of church and state and are in favor of gay marriage.

So why aren't American Jews rushing to support J Street -- a group that is more in line with their values than AIPAC?

Since its founding, J Street has had an uphill battle. They needed to convince Americans that a peaceful two state solution would not mean the end of Israel. It is pretty much accepted as fact that the Hamas and Hezbollah terrorist organizations are supported by Israel's enemies, including Iran. Hamas in particular fights for Israel's demise, rather than détente. Israel's American supporters remain unconvinced that the Palestinians and other MidEast operators are operating in good faith. There's a saying that I've heard a few times: "If the Palestinians had no weapons, there'd be no war. If the Israelis had no weapons, there'd be no Israel." As far as I've seen, that effectively sums up how many Jews feel about the Israel / Palestinian conflict. This is why debates about the supposed moral superiority of one side or another miss the point. To Jews, this is yet another battle for survival.

What has J Street done to convince anyone that peace will work? For that matter, what have the Palestinians done? Unfortunately, not much. I meant what I wrote, above. I support J Street and am thrilled they exist. But their lack of success isn't the result of pressure from the religious right. It's that until now, they've failed to prove to the majority they're promoting a viable solution.
posted by zarq at 1:12 PM on October 21, 2009 [2 favorites]






"You should shut up" isn't a point.

If I had actually said that, I'd agree with you. I didn't say that or imply it.

"It's an interesting topic that, sadly, should really be in a better post" was my point.
"The poster has derailed it himself by editorializing in the FPP" was another.
"A post should at least attempt to be objective" was yet another point.

I didn't tell him to shut up. I told him (at length, now) what would have made a better, less axe-grindy post.
posted by zarq at 1:18 PM on October 21, 2009


oops: wrong link: try again:
U.S. Scientist Accused of Spying For Israel Jailed Without Bail; May Face Life
Which still isn't the actual title of the linked article, or an accurate summary of its contents.
posted by kickingtheground at 2:28 PM on October 21, 2009


...[not] an accurate summary of its contents...

You must read the English language differently than I do.

US scientist may face life
6:15AM Thursday Oct 22, 2009
A US scientist who allegedly tried to sell classified secrets to Israel has been jailed without bond.
Stewart David Nozette, looking dishevelled after spending the night in jail, gave his name but otherwise did not speak.
If convicted, the 52-year-old scientist would most likely have to spend the rest of his life in prison, a federal prosecutor said.

posted by HP LaserJet P10006 at 2:32 PM on October 21, 2009


selling classified secrets to someone he thought was an Israeli agent ≠ spying for Israel

The latter implies that the Israelis requested that he do so.

Did they?
posted by zarq at 2:36 PM on October 21, 2009


And just to head off the quibble that "selling secrets" is not technically spying: yes it is. He was arrested on espionage charges.
posted by HP LaserJet P10006 at 2:37 PM on October 21, 2009


From your last link: "The complaint does not say the government of Israel or anyone acting on its behalf violated United States law."

So he wasn't spying for Israel, meaning "on their behalf, and at their request." He tried to sell secrets to someone he thought was an Israeli agent.
posted by zarq at 2:40 PM on October 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


He might not be a clear-cut Israeli spy like Larry Franklin or Jonathan Pollard, but it's also worth pointing out that according to court papers [he] worked for more than a decade as a technical consultant for Israel Aerospace Industries, a government-owned defence firm during which he was paid $225,000 to answer "the company's questions and, in return, Nozette received regular payments from the company".
posted by HP LaserJet P10006 at 2:53 PM on October 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


"the company's questions and, in return, Nozette received regular payments from the company".

That's such a weird phrase. They could have said he was a consultant, but obviously, deliberately chose not to.

It's as if someone wanted to say he was working as a spy for Israel Aerospace, but knew they couldn't prove it. Or something.
posted by zarq at 2:58 PM on October 21, 2009


adamvasco has a history of grinding this particular axe

I certainly wouldn't have posted them to Metafilter in this manner.

Read between the lines. You don't like adamvasco's political position, and so you carp about his FPP style. Just as you carp about the style of a news article about a guy who thought he was spying for Israel, and who would have spied for Israel if he'd contacted the right person, and who, based on the fact that he was getting money from the Israeli aerospace establishment, most likely was spying for Israel. Not that Israel has ever employed spies against the US, of course...

It's muzzle tactics all the way down.
posted by Jimmy Havok at 3:26 PM on October 21, 2009 [3 favorites]


It's muzzle tactics all the way down.

Obviously, I don't see it that way. Advocating for less biased fpp's, disagreeing with someone or offering an alternative point of view is not "muzzling" people.

We don't know each other, but I'm not a subtle person. If do tell someone to shut up, I'm not gonna be ambiguous about it.

Instead, I made a couple of comments in this thread in direct response to adamvasco. If I didn't expect him to respond, I wouldn't have taken the time to write 'em. Hopefully he will at some point.
posted by zarq at 3:42 PM on October 21, 2009


...and who, based on the fact that he was getting money from the Israeli aerospace establishment, most likely was spying for Israel.

That wasn't brought to my attention until the end of the conversation. And when it was, I addressed it and didn't argue the point any further.

What was posted by HP Laserjet was still not an accurate summation of what his first linked article said.

Not that Israel has ever employed spies against the US, of course...

Of course they have.

But the mere fact that they have in the past doesn't automatically prove that this guy is also one of theirs. Right now we have a likely chain of events that points to his potential guilt. It also raises additional questions. He was working for Israel Aerospace. Assume that he was already selling them secrets. Why didn't he simply continue to do so? Why was a new connection to a Mossad agent suddenly necessary?

We can speculate, sure. But until proof is unearthed we can't be sure what happened.
posted by zarq at 3:55 PM on October 21, 2009


"If the Palestinians had no weapons, there'd be no war. If the Israelis had no weapons, there'd be no Israel."

The obvious implication here in this sentence is that "No Palestine"="No War".

In precisely the same manner that a Hamas extremist would posit that "No Israel"="No War"

Unless, that is, you think that the occupation of Palestine would suddenly end just as soon as those silly Palestinians stop resisting it.
posted by moorooka at 4:31 PM on October 21, 2009 [5 favorites]


We can speculate, sure. But until proof is unearthed we can't be sure what happened.

Or that anything happened, or would have happened. If all the facts reported are true then the guy's a security risk, but that doesn't mean that he committed a crime.

It's an odd story, and frankly a rather scary one. The government must have been searching him regularly if they knew that he had lost or disposed of two thumb drives while overseas. I wonder how many people are under similar surveillance?
posted by Joe in Australia at 5:57 PM on October 21, 2009


The obvious implication here in this sentence is that "No Palestine"="No War".

Why not read the entire comment, rather than giving a knee jerk reaction? You've completely misunderstanding what it was I actually said, and are taking it out of context.

The Palestinian leadership has stated that they are committed to the destruction of Israel. American Jews (reasonably, I might add,) view this as a clear threat to the Israeli state and are concerned about a potential genocide of Israeli Jews. It seems apparent that most American Jews believe that Israel is not committed to a similar genocide of Palestinians. Because of this, American Jews do not believe that the Palestinians are acting in good faith.

I brought the statement up to reflect the difficulties that face J Street in their attempt to convince American Jews why Israel should sue for peace.

Whether you or I believe the Palestinians are being oppressed by an occupying force is besides the point. Their treatment does not seem to matter more to the majority of American Jews than Israel's survival. If it did, they would be joining J Street en masse. They're not.

J Street needs to eliminate American concerns that Israel is in jeopardy before it can be an effective force for change.

Oh, and in response to your knee-jerk reaction.... for the record, I do think Israel is oppressing the Palestinians. I disagree with their recent, overwhelming use of force in Gaza, their blockades and sanctions, and any actual human rights violations. I also strongly disagree with their policies towards the settlements. The settlements should not exist, period. But at the same time, as far as I'm concerned, nothing justifies murder through suicide bombings. No act makes targeting civilians acceptable. Both sides have blood on their hands. But they need to work towards peaceful coexistence, not bullshit "kill them all" rhetoric.
posted by zarq at 6:16 PM on October 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


This might have been a lot more interesting of a conversation (i.e., addressing J Street and their efforts) if zarq wasn't wet-blanketing it.

So, I guess he's achieved his purpose.
posted by odasaku at 7:27 PM on October 21, 2009


No, at least one of us is annoyed to see that the post is completely one-sided and lacking any sort of counterbalance....So we have an FPP that gives half the story, several left-wing editorial links announcing that conservatives are concerned and no links to any conservatives who are in fact concerned.

Political balance for information is a form of fake objectivity, most recently popularized by the Fox News tagline. The whole truth, as far as we know it, is not defined by everyone's side thrown in, but by that which is most factual and reasonable. It is usually "balanced" by lies and propaganda. Furthermore, throwing the kitchen sink into an FPP does not round it out. What makes a controversial topic post worth learning from is an honest attempt to present a sound and convincing argument that we haven't considered yet, or otherwise stick to a fresh theme. Of course, the more old stuff thrown in to "balance" it would just make it worse from there.
posted by Brian B. at 7:44 PM on October 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


The jstreet Twitter feeds could use some help, in case anyone uses Twitter.
posted by JoeXIII007 at 7:55 PM on October 21, 2009


*sigh* If you'd prefer I not contribute further to the thread, then fine. I've said my piece. I'll leave and remove this post from my recent activity feed.
posted by zarq at 8:05 PM on October 21, 2009


"The Palestinian leadership has stated that they are committed to the destruction of Israel."

By which you mean the Gaza leadership, and yes, they don't want a "Jewish State" in historical Palestine. The Israeli leadership does not want a "Palestinian State" in historical Palestine - which is why there isn't one. If you're saying that the Israelis don't want to suffer the same fate that they are currently imposing on the Palestinians; fair enough, I believe that.
posted by moorooka at 8:57 PM on October 21, 2009


okay zarq, I obviously read your comment too quickly, you're not quite saying what I thought you were saying. since you've exited the thread I will too.
posted by moorooka at 9:36 PM on October 21, 2009


The Palestinian leadership has stated that they are committed to the destruction of Israel.

Disingenuous to the end, I see. Hamas's current position is that they will leave Israel in peace if it will be satisfied with the '67 borders.

Hwever, since Israel has a history of assassinating Palestinian peace activists (including the founder of Hamas, Ahmed Yassin, after he proposed a 100-year truce), calling for its destruction may be a survival tactic.
posted by Jimmy Havok at 4:02 AM on October 22, 2009


Messed up that "assassinating" link...here's the real one.
posted by Jimmy Havok at 4:05 AM on October 22, 2009


Excellent, acerbic opinion piece in the Politico on J Street.
But what is the message [conservative Jewish lobbyists are] so afraid of?

It is that negotiation, not war, is best for Israel. Even worse in the lobby’s eyes, J Street is telling President Barack Obama and Congress that being pro-Israel requires supporting diplomacy, not thwarting it. [...] They’re afraid that J Street’s success will strengthen Obama in his determination to achieve “two states, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security.” And then what would the right-wingers of the lobby do?
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 9:39 AM on October 22, 2009


Interesting piece gnfti.
Here is HuffPo on The Man Behind the J Street Smear Campaign. Also
Tzipi Livni lauds J Street conference. Meanwhile the infighting continues.
posted by adamvasco at 1:22 PM on October 22, 2009


moorooka: Do you acknowledge Palestine's right to exist?

*ducks*
posted by ZenMasterThis at 7:26 PM on October 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


For those who are still interested The Guardian has an a special report: Who speaks for America's Jews? In summing up I would just like to say to certain members here that it doesn't matter how much you shout or try to close the debate down it will still go on either with you, or without you; so you may as well contribute rather than froth.
posted by adamvasco at 10:26 AM on October 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


Yes indeed. Let us all debate who speaks for America's Jews. Particularly those of us who are not American Jews because, you see, they're not known for being especially articulate and they would be saddened and confused if someone asked them to express an opinion.
posted by Joe in Australia at 3:10 PM on October 25, 2009


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