Palestinian equal rights joins the progressive agenda on ‘The Daily Show’

Palestinian equal rights joins the progressive agenda on ‘The Daily Show’

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Throughout the day I had been hearing on the grapevine that The Daily Show was having second thoughts about doing the show as they had been getting pressure to cancel it. [continued…]

Editor’s Comment — During a week in which J Street — an organization that is attempting to break AIPAC’s stranglehold on the issue of US-Israeli relations — held its first national conference in Washington DC, it’s interesting that Jon Stewart took the opportunity to turn to the issue of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict not by inviting J Street’s Jeremy Ben-Ami onto the show but instead, as Adam Horowitz notes, “a Palestinian leader demanding equal rights and an anti-Zionist Jew calling for boycott, divestment and sanctions to pressure Israel towards peace.”

One of the disappointing features of the way the interview got edited for broadcast was that by cutting out much of the applause, the editors took out one of the most significant messages: the Palestinian issue, framed as one of freedom and human rights, resonated well with Jon Stewart’s audience.

While Stewart himself tended to stick to the well-worn tracks that this is a seemingly intractable conflict, that the Palestinians need to stop anti-Semitic incitement, that the Arabs need to do their bit, Barghouti’s constant refrain was that the core issue here is freedom.

That’s a message the J Street and its mainstream two-state-solution supporters really don’t want to see placed at the center of the conversation. They seem to view the conflict not in terms primarily of human rights but in terms of the need to preserve the Jewish state — a state in relation to which Palestinians pose a “demographic threat”. The urgency of implementing a two-state solution is that unless it can be done fast, Palestinians will demand equal rights in a single state — a state in which (thanks to the Greater Israel project that has been in motion for the last 42 years) Jews will be in a minority. That possibility is in the eyes of some, “horrific“.

Squaring the circle and erasing the margins

The mission to move US policy through reforming the Jewish community’s debate over Israel/Palestine has clear political implications. Ben-Ami ended the opening evening by saying the movement J Street is a part of is a “movement rooted in love of Israel,” and while all are welcomed to join J Street in its work, “the heart of this movement has to be in the Jewish community.” From this perspective, it was telling that Gaza was not mentioned once the entire evening (except by Rabbi Andy Bachman who said it was no longer occupied). There was only one panel during the entire conference dedicated to “Palestinian perspectives,” and even the closing panel called “Why Two States? Why Now?” only included speakers to explain Israeli interests and American interests in promoting two states. Two of the most moving parts of the conference for me was hearing Laila El-Haddad, from the Gaza Mom blog, describe life in still occupied Gaza on the unofficial blogger’s panel. She told a story about how her family was almost unable to leave Gaza to visit her in the US and she is totally unable to enter her homeland. Later, Bassim Khoury, the ex-Minister of National Economy for the Palestinian Authority who recently quit in protest to their reaction to the Goldstone report, demonstrated “Israeli apartheid” in Jerusalem through a power point presentation outlining the gross discrepancies in municipal funding between Jews and Palestinians in the city. Both presentation injected an intense dose of reality into a proceeding that seems to be chugging along more on vision and hope.

J Street represents a very important rupture and opportunity in the supposed American Jewish consensus over Israel/Palestine which should be celebrated. Pushing this wedge into the heart of the community could only be a good thing. But, the tenor and message of the J Street conference would seem to indicate that the struggle to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict can only be lead by Jews, after we conquer our own internal issues to reform our community, and on our agenda. Meanwhile, Palestinians will have to continue to catch the brunt of the Israel everyone loves so much. [continued…]

Elie Wiesel’s shocking stage appearance with mad preacher and anti-Semite John Hagee

On October 25, while an overflow crowd of 1,500 poured into the first convention of the progressive-leaning Israel-oriented lobbying organization J Street, Elie Wiesel addressed a crowd of 6,000 Christian Zionists at Pastor John Hagee’s “Night To Honor Israel.” According to the San Antonio Express News, while Wiesel sat by his side, Hagee trashed President Barack Obama, baselessly accusing him of “being tougher on Israel than on Russia, Iran, China and North Korea.”

Meanwhile, Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren, who appeared at Hagee’s Christians United for Israel summit earlier this year, rejected J Street’s request to speak at their convention, instead dispatching a low-level embassy official to “observe” the event. Oren then accused J Street of “impair[ing] Israel’s interests.”

In blessing Hagee while damning J Street, Wiesel and Oren chose an anti-Semitic group led by a far-right End Times theology preacher over a fledgling progressive organization that bills itself as “pro-Israel, pro-peace.” And both Wiesel and Oren seem to be embroiled in yet another controversy over involvement with the extremist preacher. [continued…]

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