Wednesday, May 16, 2018

The war for the minds of the diaspora

The UN’s top human rights body will hold a special session to discuss “the deteriorating situation in the occupied Palestinian territories” after the killing. The office of the prosecutor of the world’s permanent war crimes court on Wednesday expressed “grave concern” about escalating violence in Gaza, and said alleged crimes could be investigated.

According to a report in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, Israeli military spokesman Lt Col Jonathan Conricus, told members of the Jewish Federations of North America: “We haven’t been able to get that message out of how it is from our side, what we are defending – and the ‘winning picture’ overwhelmingly, by a knockout, unfortunately, have been the graphics from the Palestinian side. The amount of casualties has done us a tremendous disservice, unfortunately, and it has been very difficult to tell our story.”
An in-depth 2013 Pew Research study found a decline in attachment to Israel among non-religious American Jews. Only 38% of Jewish-American respondents overall said the Israeli government was making a sincere effort to establish peace with the Palestinians.
The massacre by Israeli soldiers of dozens of Palestinians in Gaza this week has prompted a new round of protests by progressive Jewish-American groups who object to the relocation of the US embassy to Jerusalem – and who lump the Donald Trump and Benjamin Netanyahu administrations together as enemies of peace in the region. Groups such as IfNotNowJewish Voice for PeaceJ StreetJews for Racial and Economic Justice and others began to step up protest activity – marches, vigils and community meet-ups. American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and other influential US-based institutions are increasingly being taken to task by groups with younger members and different views on what it means to support the Jewish state.
 Ethan Miller, a spokesman for IfNotNow said, “We’re actually going to be taking action and building a movement within our communities to make sure that we’re no longer part of supporting the occupation, and our community is actively working against it...What we’ve realized is that on the one hand the American Jewish community teaches its people about the values of social justice, of looking out for your neighbor – and on the other hand there are large institutions that do a lot of work to support and uphold the occupation. And that’s a hypocrisy that we’re no longer willing to accept. We know that we have to put our values first.”
Rebecca Vilkomerson, executive director of Jewish Voice for Peace, said, “Monday I thought was one of the most disgraceful days in the history of the Israeli relationship to Palestinians, with the celebration of annexation – even as Palestinians, the vast majority of whom are refugees, were being gunned down, just for protesting their basic rights to live in dignity and freedom. The idea that this is being done in our name, or being justified in our name, is absolutely unacceptable...there’s a lot of people who feel alienated from their Jewishness, because of the way that Jewish institutions are mindlessly supporting Israel. People are finding their way back to us, and back to their Jewishness, through places like JVP.” 
“For several decades, the Jewish establishment has asked American Jews to check their liberalism at Zionism’s door, and now, to their horror, they are finding that many young Jews have checked their Zionism instead,” the writer Peter Beinart warned in 2010.

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