Change of plan

Philip Weiss of Mondoweiss:

I told this story the other night at Brecht Forum when Antony Loewenstein and I spoke about the book he and Ahmed Moor edited, After Zionism. My essay in the book is about the constraints on the Israel conversation inside the Jewish community and my determination to break those constraints because my community has such power over the discourse on this matter. But after the incident with the darkhaired woman, I began agreeing with people who have said to me, You spend too much time worrying about that community. It’s a waste of time. They don’t want to know. I love many Jews, and they have an important role to play in the movement for Palestinian freedom, but it’s a waste of time to go into the Jewish community and organize when you’re dealing with such ignorance. Consider that even Peace Now, which has worked for years against the occupation, has to include in its messaging respect for the statement, “God gave us the land,” because it’s dealing inside the Jewish community.

Joseph Dana talks about this issue in his essay in the Loewenstein/Moor book. There are lots of great Israelis involved in the nonviolent protest movement inside the West Bank. But they’re a fringe of the collective: “[a]t the core of the conflict remains the Zionist dilemma… the need of the Jewish population of Israel to adhere to an exclusivist national ideology.” Dana says the ballgame is upping pressure in the international community.

I want to spend more time talking to Americans period. The recent uprising against the Jerusalem plank at the Democratic convention shows that liberal Americans are getting hip about this issue. The recent politicization of the Iran attack by Netanyahu was also helpful; it put the matter on our front pages, it allowed Obama to come out more strongly against war, because he knows that the American people are deadset against it. Barbara Boxer told Netanyahu to mess out; so did a former ambassador in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. These are the people my wife should be bringing that backgammon set to.

One reason I spent time in the Jewish community was compassion. I thought I could help to save my own group by giving them the news. I worry about people losing their lives. I think about the community I grew up in and try to imagine a way to get out of the current situation without anyone else dying; and I imagined that if I could convince American Jews that some Jewish kids in Israel won’t die if they would just wave the wand and declare, We don’t need a Jewish state, they’d wave that wand. I think that’s an illusion. There’s little I can do to end that belief, and at some level I’ve given up caring.

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