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Will AIPAC Learn From Its Big Mistake?

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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.

Evolution not Revolution

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There are eight reasons out of ten for me to like Bernie Sanders, vote for him, and recommend him to be our next president. And yet – I will vote for Hillary Clinton. Here’s why: While I feel the burn/bern of revolution still inside me; and while it fondly reminds me of my younger years, when I was rebel, with or without a cause; unfortunately, I don’t believe in revolutions any longer. I believe in evolutions. Even the French revolution had failed, to the greater degree. And Obama’s revolution, too. Remember “Yes we can!” (i.e. Feel the Bern!) We are all Americans; no blacks or whites; male or females; democrats or republicans. Etc. We will unite, in Washington and elsewhere. I voted for him twice, and I’m proud of it still. But this revolution failed miserably. And at least on this score, things are worse now than when Obama took office.

Yes, he did object to the war in Iraq, and so did Sanders (and so did yours truly). And he did bring our troops home, largely, if not entirely; especially not in Afghanistan. Indeed, I do trust Sanders more than any other candidate not to go head first into any foolish war again. As well, he might be the only candidate, regarding Israel, who will be able to cut Netanyahu down to size, and will not be afraid to stand up to the AIPAC-Adelson-Republican coalition, where even Obama – except on the Iran Nuclear Deal issue – has failed to live up to expectations. Hillary, as secretary of state, did give Netanyahu hell once. And to her credit even tried, though naturally failed, to negotiate a Two-State solution. But if elected, she might appoint someone named Bill Clinton to be her emissary to the Middle East, and maybe – just maybe – will finally bring a livable, even if not peaceful, resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I trust his chances better than anybody else on the planet in this regard.

I like that Bernie is older than me, and that his honesty and fiery rhetoric appeal to young people. And I like that he is Jewish, at least by birth and heritage, if not by practice. I don’t mind that he is an atheist, not at all, though for myself the definition of secular humanist will fit better. Unlike him, I am a member of a Jewish congregation, and at least observe and celebrate the Jewish Holidays. But I’ll give him a pass on that. And I like also that he’s defining himself as a Socialist Democrat. As I’ve defined myself for many years, since leaving the “socialist” kibbutz where I was born and grew up (and where, in a different kibbutz though, Sanders “lived the experience” for a couple of months). But I don’t believe a European Socialist Democracy will work here in America. Even more so, it has no chance whatsoever of ever becoming a reality. It’s a pie in the sky.

Furthermore: According to well-regarded economy scholars, if implemented, together with his tax and free collage plans, he will bring some 30 trillion-dollar deficit to out treasury. Topping even the three leading Republicans irresponsible economic plans. Staunch liberals such as Nobel Prize winner in economics Paul Krugman in the NY Times thinks so, too. “I… point out that this is a pretty big deal: Four former Democratic chairs of the Council of Economic Advisers have put out a letter warning that Bernie Sanders’s economic program contains a very worrisome amount of voodoo,” he wrote. He further cited Austan Goolsbee, formerly chairman of President Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers, now at the University of Chicago, as saying that Sanders economic “evolved into magic flying puppies with winning Lotto tickets tied to their collars.”

Yes, young people like to believe that if only they will bring down Wall Street, everything will be all right. (I suppose that the “Occupy Wall Street” movement ignited Sanders idea of running for presidency.) Free collage education – check. Single health care system – check. But I rather stick with Obamacare. It is his single most important internal achievement – to which, by the way, Hillary had put the groundwork – and it took a major fight to bring it about. (The battle not over yet, mind you.) It is proving economically viable, and helps millions of people get the healthcare they need. I trust Hillary to “move the football forward,” and improve on it.

I like that Sanders is not overly religious. It’s about time we extract religiosity – God help America and all that – from our political life and our leaders. And I have to admit, come to think of it, that I don’t remember Hillary mentioning God too often herself. Fits me. Like her husband, she’s too cleaver for that. And yes, I like that she is a woman. About time we have a woman president. It might improve a lot of things here. Bring much-needed progress to the workplace. Especially, I like her stand on the proliferation of guns in America. And dislike Sanders position on the matter. I dare say that for me, it is the single most important issue of all. With Hillary in the White House, maybe there are chances for better gun control laws.

And so, with Hillary can-do pragmatism and experience, both on foreign affairs and internal affairs, we at least get someone tasted, with scars to boot, but with a much better chance than Sanders of getting things done. Of moving the Republicans in Congress a step or two closer to reality, and towards sanity. And remember, come hell or high water, she has Bill on her side. That’s two presidents on one ticket. It’s a double-show. So for these reasons, and despite my affinity with Bernie Sanders’ personality and message, this blogger has supported, and now endorsing, Hillary Clinton as the Democratic candidate for President.

* The “Leave a comment” link is the last tag below, in blue.

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