The legitimacy of the delegitimizers

Matthew Taylor writes:

When North American Jews gathered in New Orleans for their annual General Assembly earlier this week, the mainstream Jewish establishment unveiled a new initiative to counteract the growing international condemnation of Israel’s policies of occupation and land theft. The big plan: delegitimize the delegitimizers.

The Jewish Federations of North America announced at the conference that over the next three years they will invest $6 million to launch an “Israel Action Network.” Based on speakers’ comments at the GA, the strategy seems to be to tar and feather virtually anyone who supports any form of boycott, divestment or sanctions (BDS ) as a “delegitimizer” who is participating in an alleged plot to “destroy the State of Israel.” Instead of spending millions to persuade Israel to change its path, the JFNA prefers to shoot the messengers.

Meanwhile, a few days before the assembly, the U.S.-based advocacy group Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP ) convened a gathering of young Jews from the U.S. and Israel to explore difficult questions that the mainstream leadership seems eager to avoid, such as: How does the occupation delegitimize Israel? When Israel bulldozes Palestinian homes, uproots olive trees, and builds roads designated for settlers only, is that consistent with the Jewish value of respecting your neighbor?

This young group of Jewish activists seems to be an embodiment of Peter Beinart’s recent essay in The New York Review of Books, which explored why Israel’s oppressive policies cause young American Jews to feel alienated. “[Many American Jews have] imbibed some of the defining values of American Jewish political culture … a skepticism about military force, a commitment to human rights … They did not realize that they were supposed to shed those values when it came to Israel,” Beinart wrote in his piece, “The Failure of the American Jewish Establishment.”

Emily Ratner writes:

There’s no getting around it: What we did during Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech was shockingly rude. We interrupted a head of state, repeatedly, shouting from the tops of chairs into a darkened hall of largely like-minded people, who most likely thought their space was safe from the ever-increasing disruptions of “Israel’s delegitimizers,” as some would call us. Worse still, we did this in my community. Neighbors, co-workers, professors, and fellow students were in attendance, or they’re otherwise finding out what we’ve done. My cheeks are still burning at the thought of what’s to come. And, of course, there’s family. Family. Family.

But each time I think about the hurt I’ve caused with my actions, I’m reminded of the hundreds upon hundreds of New Orleanian Palestinians who have marched this city’s streets, demanding justice in a nation that isn’t listening. I’m reminded of the dozens of Palestinians who stood outside of the Jewish Federations General Assembly on Sunday, braving the cameras of Israeli and US security, facing the very real possibility that because of their protest they’ll be permanently denied entry the next time they attempt to visit their homeland. Their demonstration was featured for fifteen seconds on a single local news channel, and those Palestinian protesters have far more to risk than I do. I am ashamed of the hurt I have caused people that I love, but I am overcome with the bravery of the millions of Palestinians who struggle daily to carve justice into a global structure that finds their very existence inconvenient and inappropriate. I am doubled over by the reality of more than sixty years of displacement, of the state-sanctioned murder of so many mothers, sisters, brothers, and fathers; of homes destroyed, rebuilt, and destroyed again. Of checkpoints. Of landlessness. Of criminalized identity. Of siege. And I am pulled to my feet by the steadfastness of the people who are at the heart of this struggle. From the Palestinians who remain incarcerated for the crime of protest, who have found themselves barred from home forever for the truths they’ve spoken, who have been shot down by soldiers as they held a rock, a Palestinian flag, a child.

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3 thoughts on “The legitimacy of the delegitimizers

  1. Norman

    One question, “Why is it that the Jews that back what the Government in Israel is doing to the Palestinians, don’t live there in Israel? Are they contributing out of guilt? It just boggles my mind that this is taking place now, in the 21st Century. I don’t know what the percentage of those who are not aligned with the hardliners, but the ones that are, should remember that they are committed to the security of the United States as long as they are citizens here. If they want to support Israel at the expense of the United States, then they should go live in Israel.

  2. DE Teodoru

    The money bags and power seekers that met in New Orleans are in no position to commit the Jewish American people, especially not the youth. As admitted in the FORWARD, it will be hard to bring them in line with the racist militarism of the Likudniks that have hijacked Netanyahu’s brain. He is no more self-directing than comatose Sharon is now. All Israeli leaders had a vision like Jabotinsky’s of an “Iron Wall” that crushes half the Palestinians so the survivors become docile and can be told where to go. BUT NAKBA AIN’T NO MORE AND WILL NEVER BE AGAIN. That docile period never came because the more Israel massacred Palestinians, the less Palestinians ran and the more they fought back.

    Now Israelis are afraid as they always had been whenever it became a more even fight. Netayahu had a novel idea: become one with Palestinians economically so that political issues will seem less insurmountable, after all, they all draw from one stock. This is a big change from Israel’s “final solution” of mass massacre in retaliation for the killings of a few, exactly as Hitler did: mass massacre of Jews excused by the actions of a few leftist radicals of Jewish ontogeny, but not practicing Jews themselves.

    So long as Arabs don’t fight back, Israeli massacre of many to avenge a few, is tolerated by the Americans thanks to Zionist hasbara. But since 1973 the Arabs stood their ground and fought back with skill and courage. In 1973 Israel blackmailed Nixon threatening that if he doesn’t fully re-arm the Israelis they will nuke Egypt. Fearful that this would drag the US into a war with the Soviets, Nixon was forced to take arms destined for South Vietnam, per the Paris Accord, and reroute them to Israel. Hanoi took this as a signal of weakness and put its full Soviet arsenal against logistically crimped South Vietnam.

    But now the issue is not Israel taking arms from the Iraq/Afghan Wars but rather Israel demanding $10 billions/year as gift– more than any other country– on the assumption that the guilt trip of American Jews can be worked into a political force to squeeze Congress. To compensate, Obama is requesting several hundred millions of dollars for the Palestinians. That only adds debt on debt.

    But the Palestinians have decided to demand recognition by the world as a state. At the same time, the Teabaggers in Congress insisted– and Bainer and Obama agreed– on no more ear marks. That’s the only way how $billions upon billions could havr gone to Israel is the darkest of night, year after year. Told that they’ll have to make major sacrifices to save America from debt, most Americans will not allow Israel to get $10 billion/year in US aid in broad daylight while so many millions of Americans are unemployed so that Israelis can live like kings, relatively speaking.

    This raises the question of Israel as the “STATE OF ALL JEWS.” Most Jews live in Diaspora, unwilling to live in Israel’s oppressive atmosphere. More Israelis are trying to get out than outsider Jews are trying to get in. In fact, Israel’s military and political leaders all have a second passport (usually US) in their back pocket just in case.

    With Israel’s massacre of Palestinians becoming ever more expensive and the US economy in radically ever worse shape, Americans will deeply resent so many Israelis living so much better than them on American welfare. This will raise many questions about the legitimacy of the Israel expense among Americans, wondering whether the “Holocaust-debt” can still be invoked by a “Jewish State” to which most Jews wish no concrete attachment and whose leaders have houses and bank accounts for themselves abroad where they have dual citizenship and passports.

    It is sad to see Israel commit suicide as a Zionazi country seeking lebensraum to build settlements for Diaspora Jews who in no way wish to move there. As circumstances crimp the umbilical cord through which Israel is lavished with dollars more Israelis will emigrate and fewer will immigrate. The crooked leaders will move out just like leaders of failing African countries. Till the internal collapse of Zionazi Israel Palestinians will die in ever greater numbers, yet they will outlive the massacre because they’ll become ever better at fighting back, making kiling them that much more expensive.

    I can only see Israel legitimized as a SEMITIC FAMILY MEMBER sharing its skills with its Arab cousins as mutually supporting nations. But the current effort at an anti-Semitic scare campaign to force Americans to kill Muslims and scare American Jews to emigrate is one that can only end in total rejection of the Zionazi state. There’s still time for Israel to become a “normal” country that helps modernize its Arab cousins. Anything less will mean an ever more hypoxic future as the American placenta dries up and Diaspora Jews are forced into a final solution as to whether they are of the nations of birth or of the alleged nation of Jews.

    War myths never out-survived reason. I hope Israel stops being run by the 10% that gets the Right Radicals over the top to where they are legitimized to delegitimize the majority of World Jewry.

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