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Will AIPAC Learn From Its Big Mistake?

time.com

I wouldn’t bet on it, though there are signs of progress lately. But first what is, or was AIPAC big mistake? Let me tell you: It placed its loyalty, resources and absolute trust in one leader—Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu—above all else. Above all principles. Above all morals. Above all other considerations and obligations to its own country, the U.S.A., where the organizations and its leaders live and operate. This duel-loyalty, which AIPAC demonstrated in Netanyahu’s case, and was rightly condemned for, carried with it some responsibility, even if not directly, to the recent increase we are experiencing in anti-Semitism sentiments and incidents, and the rise of white supremacy forces in this country.

How come, you ask, I level such a strong accusation at AIPAC? I’ll answer that by reminding you of AIPAC’s mission, “to strengthen, protect and promote the U.S.-Israel relationship in ways that enhance the security of the United States and Israel.” By this standard, they failed miserably when they cooperated with Netanyahu and the Republican Party in Congress against a sitting American President, Barack Obama, trying to subvert his administration’s efforts to curtail Iran’s nuclear ambitions by striking a deal with it, together with our European allies. Helping and facilitating Netanyahu’s trip to America, and his speech in congress—while the President and Secretary of State were working so hard to accomplish that nuclear deal—was close to being an act of treason: Choosing the leader of Israel over the leader of America, your own country.

But wait, there’s more. I see AIPAC’s unqualified support of Netanyahu—who basically overwhelmed and subverted the organization to his own will—directly responsible, among other forces of course, to the rise of Mr. Trump, his disastrous withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal and, together with his American Ambassador to Israel and Netanyahu, the danger situation we find ourselves currently in the Middle East and in Israel. Its support of this Israeli leader—soon to be indicted on some very serious charges—without reservations, without questions, without critical thinking, is at fault here. Whoever is the prime minister, we support him/her they say; whatever is the policy of that prime minister, we support him/her; whatever war they are fighting there, we support it. We are not here to judge; we are here to support.

This is all fine on paper and speech, this unconditional support. Though one may ask what would AIPAC do, how it would react, if a dictator comes along in Israel? If Israel becomes an autocratic state, what then? As indeed many, yours truly among them, thought was Netanyahu and his party’s intent in the last two elections: avoid prosecution and solidify his strongman’s rule, by placing himself above the rule of law. And what if Israel would become, as many do fear—and some insist it already de facto is—an Apartheid sate? What then? Will AIPAC still support that leader, and the country unconditionally? No moral judgments? No regard to the rule of law? To human rights?

Case in point: Bibi Netanyahu. AIPAC didn’t just support him in all his endeavors, therefore solidifying the occupation of 3 million Palestinians; the building of settlements financed mainly by America and American Jewry money for 50 years now, and counting. If AIPAC is indeed in support of a “two-state solution,” as it states on his website, how was it possible that it continuously supported Netanyahu and his policies so diligently all these years? Netanyahu who did all he could—still does, in fact—to create “facts-on-the-ground” that will prevent such a solution from ever happening?

In actuality, AIPAC caved in and served as Netanyahu’s tool of solidifying his rule, agenda and West Bank’s occupation. Working without a moral compass to guide you is a dangerous way to go. And when it comes to the rise in antisemitic incidents and hatred in this country, as I pointed above, these are all contributing factors. The history of antisemitism a is long, painful, and complicated—as I pointed in my February post, titled Anti-Semitism: See Under Hate, Envy, and Israel -–but we cannot allow ourselves to overlook the sentiment, prominent especially in Europe, of animosity toward Israel and Jews for the mistreatment of the Palestinians, and for the failure to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. For which AIPAC, with its blindness and policies as pointed above, carries a significant responsibility.

In a Washington Post article (March 6, 2018) by Doug Rossinowin, “The Dark Roots of AIPAC,” he writes that “The group was formed to spin positive PR after Israeli atrocities.” Somehow, I’m not surprised reading that. Though lately there’s a sign that AIPAC may have learned its lesson. Just before the Israeli first-round election in April, when PM Netanyahu announced, in a lame attempt to win a decisive win, that should he win and stay in power his first act would be to annex most of the West Bank—in opposition to international law, and even to the hawkish Trump administration, to the Palestinian aspirations obviously, and to the European Union policy—suddenly, and rarely, AIPAC issued a statement of objection as well. Breaking, in so doing, its golden rule of not ‘criticizing,’ of not ‘interfering’ in Israel’s official policies.

Well… what a major change. Even if on a ‘onetime’ basis for now. But it does signify that AIPAC might have learned from its big mistake, and has come to the realization that indeed, as a political lobbyist organization, it does need to have a moral compass after all. One hopes that, if that’s the case, it might be able to continue its good work by not only supporting Israel and its strong relation with America, but also by not giving more ammunition to the forces of anti-Semitism, and by not dividing further the American Jewish community, which is mostly liberal and democrat, from Israel.

* The ‘Leave a Comment’ link is the last tag below, in blue.

The Big Lie

ynetnews,com

The last Israeli election and its aftermath, combined, has produced a big lie. Unfortunately, that big lie—in which the Israeli media, from left to right, and the international media as well, have participated willingly—is continuing to obscure the truth and outcome of that election. And in so doing, despite the results pointing clearly at a different direction, making it harder on the public at large to digest and understand the outcome, and on the forces of peace and democracy to unite and bring forth the desired change.

Here’s why and how, starting in the beginning. Before the election, the prevailing expectation was for Netanyahu to prevail, no matter the actual results, and form the new government. The politicians, journalists and other observers, based their assumption on two main reasons, or factors: One, the demographic factor, the shift in the Israeli population’s makeup that has been taking place for quite sometimes now. That shift to the right, they were correct to assume, would determine, to a significant degree, the result of the election.

The Sephardic/Mizrachi large segment of the Israeli public is still (almost) uniformly stands behind Netanyahu. No matter that he, and his party, are (mostly) Ashkenazim, and hardly represent Israeli Sephardim; no matter that the Likud party, traditionally, has been shying away from socio-economic issues, which are of significant importance to that population; and no matter that even on security issues—the city of Sderot, hard hit by rockets coming from the Gaza Strip, long demanding of Netanyahu to do much more to secure their peaceful existence—still voted for him in large numbers.

Add to that the large immigration of Russian Jews (and non-Jews) from the 1990s onward. This segment of the population is also solidly on the right, and values power, or the perception of it, above all else. However, they dislike another segment of the population, which contributes so prominently to the shift rightward in Israel. And that is the religious/orthodox segment of the Israeli population. Which is about 10% of the population and growing mighty fast, due to a large birth-per-mother rate. While they are solidly on the right, they are also very pragmatic: Whoever gives them more money to study the Torah, avoid the mandatory army service and the need to work for a living, get their support regularly.

So this trend is true, much in existence, and even growing. But what the politicians, journalists and pundits (to this day) got wrong, once the election results were certified, was the true meaning of that result. First, they declared Netanyahu a winner. He was reelected, with a big margin, etc.—even though he has failed to win the election. He, the leader of a party that is in power, give or take a few years, since 1977; he, the Prime Minister of the last ten years; he, the all-powerful politician, all-adroit manipulator, the ‘Magician; he, who met with Putin three days before the elections; he, Trumps favorite son, who gave him the embassy in Jerusalem and the Golan Heights as presents—was able to master only 35 Knesset seats in the election.

The exact number of Knesset seats that Benny Gantz, a general who was never a politician, running for office for the first time, was able—after creating a new party, no less—to master. It was a tie, at best; it was a loss, for Netanyahu, at worse. It was a loss obscures by the inevitable win of the center-right block, which consists of various, not at all the same parties. It was a loss that nobody wanted to see. And then it came crushing down. And it came crushing down because of that one big lie—the proof is in the pudding, as the Americans like to say—and because of the inability, and unwillingness, to face the truth. See straight what Israel is facing.

And what Israel is facing is a deep chasm. A war of the Jews. A war on democracy itself. A war on the character of the Jewish state. A war between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. A war between the rule of law and anarchy. A war between the secular, liberal, democratic Israel—which envisioned, created, and built the country—and the fervent religious, extremist segment, who want God, King, and Bible to rule.

That’s why Netanyahu has failed to build a governing coalition. That’s why in the last minute, indeed just before midnight, he avoided doing the right thing, as required by law and tradition—informing the president that he was unable to build a government—and has dissolved the newly elected Knesset. This has prevented the true winner of the election, Benny Gantz and his Blue-and-White party from getting a shot at building the new government. Which, though it seemed unlikely, they had at least an outside chance of accomplishing.

In the upcoming September election Netanyahu’s chances of success are even less certain. His looming indictment proceeding on charges of fraud, breach of trust and bribery, are looming larger now. And the fractions in his own party, his natural coalition partners, and the Israeli society at large grow bigger by the day. So fasten your seatbelts, to paraphrase the immortal words of Betty Davis, as it’s going to be a bumpy ride.

* The ‘Leave a Comment’ link is the last tag below, in blue.

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