Website policy


We provide links to articles we think will be of interest to our supporters, informing them of issues, events, debates and the wider context of the conflict. We are sympathetic to much of the content of what we post, but not to everything. The fact that something has been linked to here does not necessarily mean that we endorse the views expressed in it.
_____________________

Action Alerts


The BEDOUIN

We have posted more than 30 articles on The Bedouin of the Naqab/Negev over the last three years

See the JfJfP briefing note on Bedouin Palestinians of the Naqab and download our 2013 leaflet on the Prawer plan
_____________________

Did you know?



Settlements Generate Virtually No Economic Activity
"A recent Israeli government report estimated there are…$250 million in annual exports — [only] 0.55 percent of the national total — from the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights, territories the international community generally considers illegally occupied."
Jodi Rodoren cited by Richard Silverstein, 22 Jan 2014

Daily acts of violence committed by Jewish Israeli citizens against West Bank Palestinians
"These incidents — now particularly heightened during the olive harvest season — are not the aberration from the norm, but a regular feature of life in the occupied West Bank. In 2012, over 7,500 Palestinian olive trees were destroyed. In the 5-year period between 2007 and 2011, there was a 315 percent increase in settler violence."
Mairav Zonszein, Israel Must Stop Settler Violence, 8 November 2013
______
Police impunity
After their own investigations establishing a prima facie violation, Btselem has lodged over 280 complaints of alleged police violence in the oPt since the start of the second Intifada: "we are aware of only 12 indictments" Btselem April 2013
______
Runners in the first ever Bethlehem Marathon were forced to run two laps of the same course on Sunday 21 April 2013, as Palestinians were unable to find a single stretch of free land that is 26 miles long in Area A, where the PA has both security and civil authority. See Marathon report
______
30th March, land day.
On 30 March 1976, thousands of Palestinians living as a minority in Israel mounted a general strike and organised protests against Israeli government plans to expropriate almost 15,000 acres of Palestinian land in the Galilee.The Israeli government, led by prime minister Yitzhak Rabin and defence minister Shimon Peres, sent in the army to break up the general strike. The Israeli army killed six unarmed Palestinians, wounded hundreds and arrested hundreds more, including political activists. All were citizens of Israel.
______
* Out of 103 investigations opened in 2012 into alleged offences committed by Israeli soldiers in the occupied territories, not a single indictment served to date
Yesh Din, 3 Feb 2013
______
* In total, out of an area of 1.6 million dunams in the Jordan Valley, Israel has seized 1.25 million − some 77.5 percent − where Palestinians are forbidden to enter.
Haaretz editorial, 4 Feb 2013
_____________________

Posts

Why jokes about the ‘Israel lobby’ get a warm reception



GETTY IMAGES: Not Funny: Seth MacFarlane’s Jewish joke at the Oscars was a sign of a bigger phenomenon.

Seth MacFarlane, Oscars host, told a string of offensive jokes, of which one was about Jews controlling Hollywood. This was as well, or badly, received as his other jokes but appears a sign that the popular perception of Jewish power can now be aired in  public.

Walt and Mearsheimer Are Ready for their Close-Up

The Idea of an “Israel Lobby” Has Entered the Realm of Pop Culture

By Gal Beckerman, Jewish Forward
February 28, 2013

So far this year, the Anti-Defamation League has felt compelled to issue press releases in response to a belligerent talking teddy bear, a mildly funny Saturday Night Live sketch, and a fictional character portrayed by Kevin Spacey.

You might think the trigger-happy ADL was responding in these cases to anti-Semitic slights (its bread and butter, if you will). But that’s not what’s going on. It’s the depiction of the ADL itself, along with other American Jewish organizations, that is causing the offense.

It’s been nearly seven years since political scientists Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer published their controversial paper,* “The Israel Lobby,” which alleged, in short, that the United States’ strong support for Israel could not be explained “on either strategic or moral grounds,” and that therefore something else must be at work. That nefarious something else was the “Israel Lobby,” a broad network of “individuals and groups that seeks to influence American foreign policy” in ways that don’t really serve American interests.

There’s no need to rehash all the recriminations and arguments and counter-arguments that flew around in the months and years that followed. In my mind, the editorial judgment of this paper seems to have been correct, that Walt and Mearsheimer had captured an important truth about the outsized power of the small-L lobby, but their argument was hopelessly marred by terrible scholarship and, most damningly, overgeneralization and exaggeration to the point of caricature. They turned the efforts of an aggressive and organized group of advocates into a cabal. American Jewish leaders expressed outrage about Walt and Mearsheimer (and some even alleged that they were engaging in anti-Semitism) but as long as the conversation stayed in the exalted realm of academia and on the pages of journals with circulations in the low five figures, there didn’t seem to be much to worry about.

But something has changed. Two years ago, Glenn Greenwald at Salon described the “mainstreaming of Walt and Mearsheimer.” His evidence was that New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman had explained the U.S.’s blocking of the Palestinians’ statehood bid at the United Nations as “the powerful pro-Israel lobby” having forced “the administration to defend Israel at the U.N., even when it knows Israel is pursuing policies not in its own interest or America’s.”

Two years have passed, and that mainstreaming has continued apace and now, I’m afraid, we are seeing the pop-culturizing of Walt and Mearsheimer.

My examples are all from February, but just in that one month, we had, at the Oscars, that talking teddy bear named Ted (a creation of Seth MacFarlane, the host), who chatted on stage with the actor Mark Wahlberg, about the necessity of pretending to be Jewish if he wanted to survive in Tinseltown. Ted showed him how it was done: “I was born Theodore Shapiro and would like to donate money to Israel and work in Hollywood forever. I am Jewish.” “You’re an idiot,” Wahlberg answered. “We’ll see who the idiot is when they give me my private plane at the next secret synagogue meeting,” the stuffed bear shot back.

Just some good old Protocols of the Elders of Zion humor, you say? Well, now consider a sketch from SNL (which never aired but appeared online) that mocked the Senate confirmation hearings of Chuck Hagel. As everyone knows, the nomination of Hagel as defense secretary was held up by Republican senators, backed by a vociferous and aggressive right-wing attack squad, which accused him, among other things, of insufficient respect for Israel. The sketch mocked the fealty of the senators to the Jewish State, with each trying to outdo the other with increasing absurdity. It ends with Senator John McCain asking Hagel a hypothetical question: “You get an urgent call from the prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, who is truly one of the greatest men of this or any age. And he says to you, ‘It is vital to Israel’s security that you go on national television that night and perform oral sex on a donkey.’ Would you do that for Israel?” When Hagel eventually says no, McCain declares that he can’t vote to confirm him.

I’m not making this up — it’s on You Tube. And Abe Foxman of the ADL was upset enough to write an open letter to Lorne Michaels, the legendary SNL producer, telling him that the sketch would fit right in with “anti-Semitic conspiracy theorists and anti-Semites.”
It was a busy month for Foxman because just a few days earlier he had to fire off another press release in response to the Netflix series “House of Cards.” In one episode, the House minority whip, played by Spacey, manages to torpedo the White House’s nominee for secretary of state by siccing the ADL on him for remarks he’d made about Israel. (Sound familiar?) Once a thinly veiled Foxman character starts calling the nominee an anti-Semite, the White House withdraws his nomination. The real Foxman was peeved at the depiction, which, he wrote, “dis­torts who we are.”

What should strike us all about these casual pop culture references is that in order to resonate with the vast millions watching they have to be based on a shared assumption: that is, the disproportionate power of American Jews over the country’s political life. The joke, the cultural wink, wouldn’t hit its mark without this shared assumption. Does this mean that American culture is simply picking up on something true, that American Jews really do possess now this supreme influence? I don’t think so. Witness the results of the actual Hagel nomination fight to see the limits of this supposedly expansive power.

So where is this notion coming from and why is it now so well accepted that it’s a laugh line? It’s hard to say definitively, but if I had to guess at one factor it would be the shift among American Jewish groups over the past few years into an only-Israel-matters agenda, projecting the idea that the Jewish community has no other priorities or interests (say, civil rights or immigration reform or health care). Add to that the unabashed quality of “pro-Israel” groups on the right, like the Emergency Committee for Israel, who have used this perception like a cudgel. In past years, they have broken all the unspoken rules, like taking out full-page ads in The New York Times accusing the president of being a traitor to Israel and running television commercials demanding an American military strike on Iran. Is it naive to wonder whether their blanketing the media with these messages might have given Americans the impression that Walt and Mearsheimer were maybe on to something?

Gal Beckerman is the Forward’s opinion editor and writes a monthly column about the media. Contact him at beckerman@forward.com or on Twitter @galbeckerman

* Book: Mearsheimer, John J. and Walt, Stephen (2007). The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
Working Paper,published in LRB 23 March 2006
For the discussion on Mearsheimer and Walt, see The ‘Israel lobby’: US aid to and support for Israel

Print Friendly
Be Sociable, Share!

Comments are closed.