Weekly Briefing: Now everyone hates Israel
The unbelievable onslaught on a captive people in Gaza has at last cracked the conscience of the American Jewish community and sent American Zionists into complete crisis.

Philip WeissMarch 17, 2024
Chuck Schumer's historic speech to the Senate on March 14, 2024, stating that Netanyahu must go if Israel is not going to become a "pariah" state. Screenshot.
Chuck Schumer’s historic speech to the Senate on March 14, 2024, stating that Netanyahu must go if Israel is not going to become a “pariah” state. Screenshot.
This was a huge week in American Jewish political history.

First, the director of a movie about Auschwitz, Jonathan Glazer, accepted an Oscar in a speech saying that his Jewishness should not be used to justify the slaughter of Gazans.

Right now, we stand here as men who refute their Jewishness and the Holocaust being hijacked by an occupation which has led to conflict for so many innocent people. Whether the victims of October 7 in Israel or the ongoing attack on Gaza — all the victims of this dehumanization, how do we resist?

In saying “We,” Glazer spoke for his producer Len Blavatnik, a billionaire who stood silently behind him, and who just months ago had joined the Harvard donor revolt over alleged antisemitic — actually pro-Palestinian speech — on campus. A revolt that forced the resignation of the Harvard president.

Glazer’s speech was followed four days later by the “momentous speech” by New York Senator Chuck Schumer, who, speaking as a Jew, called on Netanyahu to hold new elections because his rightwing policies are hurting Israel. “As a lifelong supporter of Israel, it has become clear to me, the Netanyahu coalition no longer fits the needs of Israel,” said Schumer.

The Gaza slaughter figured largely. Schumer fears that the massive civilian death toll in Gaza, which causes him “anguish,” will cause Israel to become a “pariah” nation.

In coalition with far-right extremists like Ministers Smotrich and Ben-Gvir, and as a result, [Netanyahu] has been too willing to tolerate the civilian toll in Gaza, which is pushing support for Israel worldwide to historic lows. Israel cannot survive if it becomes a pariah.

The first thing to observe about both speeches is that Palestinian lives are finally counting in American politics. The unbelievable onslaught on a captive people that caused Susan Abulhawa to somehow get in there and come out to say there’s a holocaust in Gaza that language cannot describe has at last registered in American politics.

And just as Joe Biden said last week that Netanyahu “cannot have another 30,000 Palestinians dead”– as if the first 30,000 were mere table stakes — the genocide is also cracking the conscience of the American Jewish community.

Schumer is “a bellwether for the Jewish community, who has refrained from sharp criticism of the Israeli government” (as J Street put it)– and his speech has great significance.

American Zionists are in utter crisis. They see that Israel is a state in the eyes of the world. They see that you cannot force the hand of the U.S. president in support of the genocide, out of concern for his political donations, and topple Ivy League presidents who have not been supportive enough of Israel — without grave consequences.

Schumer acted out of pure desperation. Biden may lose Michigan if the Jewish community cannot pivot and come out against genocide. He sees Israel becoming a “pariah” state.

There is now no difference between right-wing and left-wing Zionists inside the Democratic Party. They have all now gathered around the Schumer/Biden delusion that if you just get rid of Netanyahu, Israel will be able to curb the slaughter, pursue the two-state solution, and save the Jewish state.

So, Zionism is entering an unending public crisis. Because Netanyahu won’t go. Or if he does go, he will be replaced by others who are equally or almost as warmongering and who will do nothing to end the occupation. And Israel will just continue to be a pariah state. And the tsunami of boycotts, long predicted by Israel lovers, will really be upon us. Even Schumer said that the U.S. must restrict aid to Israel if it cannot stop slaughtering civilians.

This is a crisis of Jewish identity. Schumer cited Jewish tradition and conscience as the impulse for his speech. “What horrifies so many Jews especially is our sense that Israel is falling short of upholding these distinctly Jewish values that we hold so dear. We must be better than our enemies, lest we become them.”

However cynical you are about Jewish values and conscience — and I’m as cynical as they come — his speech represents a great wake-up call for Jews who care about human rights to take on the genocide-enablers in the U.S. Jewish community. Despite the love Schumer expressed for Israel and the mythologies he espoused about its creation and democracy, his speech is historic on this ground.

Because as more than one critic of Schumer’s said this week, he is giving permission to others. The most powerful Jewish politician in U.S. history is saying, As a Jew I tell America, Israel is doing wrong. Yes, everyone hates Israel now.

Schumer has opened the doors on the Jewish discussion that I and others in the anti-Zionist community have long sought: How can we support a discriminatory, brutal state in our name over there when we absolutely oppose religious nationalism and persecution of minorities here?

Anti-Zionists will win this argument. Because the Jewish state will not be able to transform itself to suit American liberal values. And regardless of the political arrangements in coming years in Israel/Palestine — partition into two states, or one state — Israel’s move to pariah status is so well advanced now by its own actions that no Zionist will ultimately be able to save its racist apartheid constitution. And idealistic Jews here will help transform that land.

In directing Israelis what to do– go have another election!– Schumer exposed a great secret of Zionism: It is an international Jewish ideology that will always cause confusion about national interest. Schumer could well argue that he was justified in directing Israelis because Israel interferes in our politics all the time, as Netanyahu did in 2015 on the Iran deal. “Imagine if some foreign leader who was ostensibly an ally of the United States, came here and gave an address before Congress that threw the American president under the bus on their key policy item of the times,” a New York liberal Zionist said in praising Schumer’s speech. “Can you imagine it?”

I can imagine just that because Schumer himself admitted that he voted against the Iran deal because it was in Israel’s interest not the American one.

So Zionism has always been a huge asterisk on American Jewish liberal values. This week that asterisk began to fall apart.

Thanks for reading,

Phil


https://mondoweiss.net/2024/03/weekly-briefing-now-everyone-hates-israel/
Weekly Briefing: Now everyone hates Israel The unbelievable onslaught on a captive people in Gaza has at last cracked the conscience of the American Jewish community and sent American Zionists into complete crisis. Philip WeissMarch 17, 2024 Chuck Schumer's historic speech to the Senate on March 14, 2024, stating that Netanyahu must go if Israel is not going to become a "pariah" state. Screenshot. Chuck Schumer’s historic speech to the Senate on March 14, 2024, stating that Netanyahu must go if Israel is not going to become a “pariah” state. Screenshot. This was a huge week in American Jewish political history. First, the director of a movie about Auschwitz, Jonathan Glazer, accepted an Oscar in a speech saying that his Jewishness should not be used to justify the slaughter of Gazans. Right now, we stand here as men who refute their Jewishness and the Holocaust being hijacked by an occupation which has led to conflict for so many innocent people. Whether the victims of October 7 in Israel or the ongoing attack on Gaza — all the victims of this dehumanization, how do we resist? In saying “We,” Glazer spoke for his producer Len Blavatnik, a billionaire who stood silently behind him, and who just months ago had joined the Harvard donor revolt over alleged antisemitic — actually pro-Palestinian speech — on campus. A revolt that forced the resignation of the Harvard president. Glazer’s speech was followed four days later by the “momentous speech” by New York Senator Chuck Schumer, who, speaking as a Jew, called on Netanyahu to hold new elections because his rightwing policies are hurting Israel. “As a lifelong supporter of Israel, it has become clear to me, the Netanyahu coalition no longer fits the needs of Israel,” said Schumer. The Gaza slaughter figured largely. Schumer fears that the massive civilian death toll in Gaza, which causes him “anguish,” will cause Israel to become a “pariah” nation. In coalition with far-right extremists like Ministers Smotrich and Ben-Gvir, and as a result, [Netanyahu] has been too willing to tolerate the civilian toll in Gaza, which is pushing support for Israel worldwide to historic lows. Israel cannot survive if it becomes a pariah. The first thing to observe about both speeches is that Palestinian lives are finally counting in American politics. The unbelievable onslaught on a captive people that caused Susan Abulhawa to somehow get in there and come out to say there’s a holocaust in Gaza that language cannot describe has at last registered in American politics. And just as Joe Biden said last week that Netanyahu “cannot have another 30,000 Palestinians dead”– as if the first 30,000 were mere table stakes — the genocide is also cracking the conscience of the American Jewish community. Schumer is “a bellwether for the Jewish community, who has refrained from sharp criticism of the Israeli government” (as J Street put it)– and his speech has great significance. American Zionists are in utter crisis. They see that Israel is a state in the eyes of the world. They see that you cannot force the hand of the U.S. president in support of the genocide, out of concern for his political donations, and topple Ivy League presidents who have not been supportive enough of Israel — without grave consequences. Schumer acted out of pure desperation. Biden may lose Michigan if the Jewish community cannot pivot and come out against genocide. He sees Israel becoming a “pariah” state. There is now no difference between right-wing and left-wing Zionists inside the Democratic Party. They have all now gathered around the Schumer/Biden delusion that if you just get rid of Netanyahu, Israel will be able to curb the slaughter, pursue the two-state solution, and save the Jewish state. So, Zionism is entering an unending public crisis. Because Netanyahu won’t go. Or if he does go, he will be replaced by others who are equally or almost as warmongering and who will do nothing to end the occupation. And Israel will just continue to be a pariah state. And the tsunami of boycotts, long predicted by Israel lovers, will really be upon us. Even Schumer said that the U.S. must restrict aid to Israel if it cannot stop slaughtering civilians. This is a crisis of Jewish identity. Schumer cited Jewish tradition and conscience as the impulse for his speech. “What horrifies so many Jews especially is our sense that Israel is falling short of upholding these distinctly Jewish values that we hold so dear. We must be better than our enemies, lest we become them.” However cynical you are about Jewish values and conscience — and I’m as cynical as they come — his speech represents a great wake-up call for Jews who care about human rights to take on the genocide-enablers in the U.S. Jewish community. Despite the love Schumer expressed for Israel and the mythologies he espoused about its creation and democracy, his speech is historic on this ground. Because as more than one critic of Schumer’s said this week, he is giving permission to others. The most powerful Jewish politician in U.S. history is saying, As a Jew I tell America, Israel is doing wrong. Yes, everyone hates Israel now. Schumer has opened the doors on the Jewish discussion that I and others in the anti-Zionist community have long sought: How can we support a discriminatory, brutal state in our name over there when we absolutely oppose religious nationalism and persecution of minorities here? Anti-Zionists will win this argument. Because the Jewish state will not be able to transform itself to suit American liberal values. And regardless of the political arrangements in coming years in Israel/Palestine — partition into two states, or one state — Israel’s move to pariah status is so well advanced now by its own actions that no Zionist will ultimately be able to save its racist apartheid constitution. And idealistic Jews here will help transform that land. In directing Israelis what to do– go have another election!– Schumer exposed a great secret of Zionism: It is an international Jewish ideology that will always cause confusion about national interest. Schumer could well argue that he was justified in directing Israelis because Israel interferes in our politics all the time, as Netanyahu did in 2015 on the Iran deal. “Imagine if some foreign leader who was ostensibly an ally of the United States, came here and gave an address before Congress that threw the American president under the bus on their key policy item of the times,” a New York liberal Zionist said in praising Schumer’s speech. “Can you imagine it?” I can imagine just that because Schumer himself admitted that he voted against the Iran deal because it was in Israel’s interest not the American one. So Zionism has always been a huge asterisk on American Jewish liberal values. This week that asterisk began to fall apart. Thanks for reading, Phil https://mondoweiss.net/2024/03/weekly-briefing-now-everyone-hates-israel/
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Weekly Briefing: Now everyone hates Israel
The unbelievable onslaught on a captive people in Gaza has at last cracked the conscience of the American Jewish community and sent American Zionists into complete crisis.
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