- Referring to Zionists as "belong[ing] to the era of their Friend Hitler"
- Contending that "every Zionist must be made to drink the bitter medicine they are feeding our broathers (sic) and sisters in Palestine," and
- Expressing his view that "Jews are arrogant, not from being told by any Palestinian, but from what I saw myself."
Friday, December 14, 2018
Wednesday, December 12, 2018
Others will no doubt offer more in-depth commentary, but I wanted to give some quick blush reactions to the main themes:
- This was, on the whole, a well-reported and professional piece. It was not a drive-by, and it was not a hit job. Kudos to the authors on that.
- I know the antisemitism portions of the article are the sexiest, but I think some are over-extending from the evidence presented. The claims of explicit, overt antisemitism by WM leaders tended to be thinly sourced -- either relying on inference or on accounts by persons unwilling to go on the record. The claims of implicit or negligent antisemitism -- or simple indifference to the needs and concerns of Jewish stakeholders -- were by contrast very well-supported. The latter, of course, is on its own well-worth criticizing.
- Despite diligent efforts by the authors, it was hard to follow the parts of the article focusing on where money was and wasn't going, or suggestions of improper organizational structures designed to benefit certain insiders. On the whole, the conduct described was the sort where I couldn't really get a bead on how abnormal it was vis-a-vis other like organizations. Were these the sorts of claims you'd could dig up on any decent-sized non-profit if you dug around long enough, or is WM a uniquely bad actor? I couldn't tell.
- The evidence that the Women's March was liked to Nation of Islam personnel for use in their personal security was relatively well-established. This linkage, of course, casts new light on why the Women's March was so markedly reluctant to condemn Farrakhan. And it is also striking given the conversations occurring on the left critiquing increased police presence in, e.g., synagogues, because of how such presence impacts communities targeted by police violence. The same argument, of course, applies to how queer or Jewish persons must feel knowing that Women's March security relies on a group like NoI. Either Women's March leaders thought about that parallel, or they didn't -- and neither option is all that great.
- We already knew about serious tension between Women's March national leadership and regional or "rank-and-file" operatives, and this article definitely provides additional support for those who think that some in the former category are really running the ship ego-first, if you will. It definitely seems that some of the leadership viewed Women's March more as their personal fiefdom and launching pad to greater personal glory than as a grassroots, member-led women's organization that wasn't About Them, per se.
A soon-to-be congressman from Tennessee told constituents Tuesday he believed vaccines may be causing autism, denying data from the Centers for Disease Control and other institutions disproving such a theory.
Not only did Republican Mark Green, a Congressman-elect from Clarksville who is also a medical doctor, express hesitation about the CDC's stance on vaccines, Green said he believed the federal health agency has "fraudulently managed" the data.
His remarks came in response to an audience question at a town hall meeting in Franklin from a woman identifying herself as the parent of a young adult with autism. The woman was concerned about possible cuts to Medicaid funding.
"Let me say this about autism," Green said. "I have committed to people in my community, up in Montgomery County, to stand on the CDC’s desk and get the real data on vaccines. Because there is some concern that the rise in autism is the result of the preservatives that are in our vaccines.Anti-vaxx conspiracies are actually tend to cross ideological borders, though the precise vectors are a little different. On the left, the conspiracies generally focus on greedy pharmaceutical companies selling a bogus product (or worse, infecting children so they can sell yet more bogus products). On the right, the tale usually is one of malicious government bureaucrats or sneaky elites -- this, obviously, is the approach that Green takes.
There's something else interesting about this story, though. You'll note that while Green was responding to a question from a woman whose child has autism, her query did not (at least as reported) mention vaccines at all. She was worried about cuts to Medicaid funding.
Needless to say, "cuts to Medicaid funding threaten the health of my child" is not terrain Republican congressmen particularly like to stand on. Green's pivot to vaccines is not just a random grasp at a conspiracy theory. It is a deliberate political move -- an attempt to change the conversation away from Green's own policy positions (which, of course, are brazen efforts to strip health care from vulnerable populations) and onto something else. Don't blame my votes on Medicaid for threatening your child's health -- blame those sneaky, untrustworthy government bureaucrats!
Anti-vaccine politics, in short, are by no means the exclusive redoubt of the right. But at the moment they have a particular tactical benefit for conservative politicians: they are a ready-made narrative, which unfortunately has attraction for a lot of people, that distracts attention from their own unpopular policies and instead diverts attention elsewhere. That it also (in its conservative iteration) helps spread suspicion of "government" and "elites" in the process is a bonus.
Of course, the raw political benefit of relying on anti-vaccine conspiracies has to be balanced against the Republican Party's commitment to truth, the common good, and adherence to basic moral principles over transient political advantage. In other words, expect right-wing Republicans to begin embracing anti-vaccine politics completely and without any hesitation whatsoever.
Perhaps the most striking revelation Ungar-Sargon manages to extract from Bennett is that his proposed ideal solution to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict is one where many Palestinians are denied full civil rights in perpetuity.
So you’re saying that the security issues, the threat posed by a potential Palestinian state is such that it’s impossible to grant them full civil rights.
Yeah. And another element is that we just have one tiny home — the land of Israel. They have I believe 200 times the size, the Arab world, the Muslim nation, the Arab nation, has 200 times the size. We don’t have another land. This is our tiny tract of land and I’m not about to sever it or divide Jerusalem, and 90% of Israelis would never do that.Bennett's proposed solution (leaving aside Gaza) is for Israel to annex "Area C" of the West Bank and grant citizenship to everyone (Israeli or Palestinian) who lives there (Area C encompasses most of the land in the West Bank, and most of the settlements, but not most of the Palestinian population. Basically, it comprises primarily Israeli settlements and empty space, including -- most critically -- the empty space between Palestinian population centers. Areas A and B are not territorially-contiguous with one another, Area C bisects them into many small chunks). In the rest of the West Bank, and for the remaining Palestinians (the majority of them), Bennett proposes limited self-government but not statehood -- in particular, he does not support granting the Palestinian Authority control over immigration or an independent armed force. Israel would remain the ultimate sovereign authority, but most West Bank Palestinians would be barred from citizenship or voting.
As you might recall from the Marc Lamont Hill debacle, much of the controversy over his UN speech was his call for a single state "from the river to the sea." Hill nominally backs such a one state solution only insofar as it promises equal rights and citizenship for all its denizens; there are quite a few reasons to be skeptical about the vitality of those commitments.
But Bennett's proposal is for a one-state solution, from the river to the sea, which does not even purport to provide for equal rights and citizenship. And here we have a problem that I think demands serious attention and reckoning: it cannot be the case that the call for one state from the river-to-the-sea is more controversial if it (however nominally) carries a promise of equal rights compared to calling for a one state solution without even the patina of equality. If Marc Lamont Hill is beyond the pale, then far more so must be Naftali Bennett.
Of course, the hypocrisy argument depends on the relevant forum: nobody considers Naftali Bennett to be a progressive in good standing. But, particularly in Jewish spaces, we have to be honest with ourselves: who gets policed harder, the Hill-type one-staters or the Bennett-types? We might "disagree" with both, but do we ostracize both? Do we say both violate our partnership guidelines? Do we call for firing both from their media perches?
Certainly, for many progressive Jews -- including many progressive Jewish critics of Hill -- the answer is yes, and kudos for that consistency. But for many more mainline Jews, the answer is not yes, and they'd do well to acknowledge how limp their objections to someone like Hill must sound as a result. They can't cry bloody murder ever implicitly inegalitarian overtones in the call for a secular state for all its citizens if our response to its explicitly inegalitarian cousin is a sort of limp "agree-to-disagree" shrug.
There's one more little tidbit about the interview that I think is clarifying in an interesting way. In his effort to duck and dive around the fundamental injustice of his position, Bennett at various points suggests that the refusal to grant Palestinians (outside Area C) Israeli citizenship is no big deal because they could receive Jordanian citizenship instead. A quick look at a map of where Areas A and B are in relation to Jordan provide some suggestion as to why that's not really a useful offer.
But let's suppose Bennett modified his proposal just slightly. Let's say that he proposed to not just give Palestinians in Areas A and B Jordanian citizenship, but outright agreed to cede those territories back to Jordan outright. We can gerrymander the borders so they're territorially-contiguous with Jordan and each other. The result would be that most settlers (and some West Bank Palestinians) are annexed into Israel, with everyone becoming Israeli citizens; while most West Bank Palestinians become Jordanians.
My bare minimum requirement for a just Israel/Palestine solution is "every permanent resident gets full citizenship and voting rights in the state exercising sovereignty over where they reside." A two-state solution satisfies that criteria, as does a single secular river-to-the-sea state.
Some go further and suggest that this minimalist criteria is, more or less, all that matters -- and in particular, that if this criteria is satisfied, that there are no non-racist or ethnosupremacist justifications for caring about the demographic distribution of the new state. This is the claim that "pro-Palestinian" one-staters often level against two-staters -- that they are exhibiting nothing more than illiberal tribalism insofar as they think it is important and preferable that a Palestinian state have a Palestinian majority and Israel retain a Jewish majority. They are ever-so-nonchalant over the fact that their preferred solution would result in a Palestinian majority over the whole territory and state. Oh it does? Well that's democracy for you. Anybody who has a problem with that might as well back apartheid.
But here's the thing: the hypothetical "divide the West Bank between Israel and Jordan" solution would also satisfy this minimal equal-citizenship criteria (putting aside, for the moment, Jordan's decidedly-less-than-fully-democratic character). In that proposal, everyone gets full citizenship in the state that exercises sovereign jurisdiction over its territory. It happens to result in an arrangement where Palestinians are likely not the governing majority anywhere -- but hey, we're not supposed to care about that, right?
In my experience, Is/Pal "one-state" backers divide into two groups:— David Schraub (@schraubd) December 8, 2018
1) Those who do not purport to care about equal rights;
2) Those who purport to care, but are exceedingly confident that their preferred side will effectively control the politics/demographics of the "one state"
Wrong, obviously. I think most of those who purport to care only of establishing a basically liberal order between the river-and-the-sea would not be keen on a gerrymandered solution where the West Bank and Gaza are divvied up between Israel and its neighbors, even if all the governing jurisdictions were appropriately liberal in character. Insofar as such a state would result in Palestinians getting citizenship but nowhere being Palestine, would it really count as respecting Palestinian self-determination?The first group are basically explicit fascists, but the second group are very big on sanctimonious lectures praising formal equality while fighting tooth and nail against any solution where their favored group ISN'T de facto dominant from the river-to-sea .— David Schraub (@schraubd) December 8, 2018
I think they'd say no. And I think they're right to say no! Palestinians qua Palestinians deserve a state -- they deserve a Palestinian state, where they exercise self-determination and they get to determine their own destiny. Rigging the borders so that one can claim formal neutrality but Palestinians happen to be minorities in every state is not actually a desirable option. And if I'm write, what this demonstrates is that pretty much everyone cares about demographics to some extent -- they care about collective liberation, they want to ensure that Jews and/or Palestinians as peoples get to self-determine. When they pretend like they're content with a sort of atomized individualism, where so long as everyone gets the ballot nobody has the right to complain, they're almost certainly counting on the assumption that their preferred class -- Jews, or Palestinians -- will be electorally dominant.
Again, I don't think that caring about the collective self-determination rights of Jews or Palestinians makes you a bad liberal. I think it is wholly compatible with liberalism, so long as you respect the rights of both groups to self-determination and your account of self-determination still provides for adequate protections for any minority groups in the state.
But the reason I'm a committed two-stater is that it's very hard to think of another outcome that simultaneously respects the self-determination rights of Jews and Palestinians while also satisfying the minimum equal citizenship threshold. The "make Palestine Jordanian again" proposal does, I think, a good job illustrating why even supposedly "secular" one-staters haven't fully drunk their own kool-aid.
Monday, December 10, 2018
- AirBnb was criticized for "singling out" Israel when it delisted West Bank settlements from its hosting services. But apparently, the company had already made a similar decision regarding listings in Russian-occupied Crimea; and it announced it would explore similarly delisting properties in Moroccan-occupied Western Sahara. The most likely upshot of the "singled out" protest against AirBnb isn't that it will restore West Bank properties but that it will omit other occupied territories.
- United States Rep.-elect Ilhan Omar (D-MN) made waves a few weeks ago when she announced she supported BDS, flip-flopping on a statement she made a synagogue prior to the election. But a month before she came out favoring BDS against Israel, she had tweeted under the hashtag #BDSSaudi, indicating her support for BDS-style measures against Saudi Arabia for its involvement in atrocities in Yemen and the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
- Everyone knows of BDS activity targeting Israel on University of California campuses. But it's less common knowledge that UC student governments have also passed resolutions calling on their universities to divest from Turkey. Several groups which had backed BDS against Israel also were vocal in advocating for the Turkey resolution, saying that they stemmed from the same basic moral commitments.
- Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey is being sharply criticized for "tone-deaf" tweets stemming from his bucolic descriptions of a recent trip to Myanmar, which hardly seemed even aware of the genocidal campaign the government is waging against the Rohingya minority.