Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Does “Progressive Zionism” Stand for Anything?

Mike L.

(Cross-posted at Geoffff's Joint, Bar and Grill)

If so, it's hard to see just what.

Prior to Obama's ruination of whatever potential there may have been in the peace process, there was still a possibility that the Left's incessant demands for additional Israeli concessions might have been justified. While there was still a chance at a negotiated end of hostilities it made sense to compromise and to seek compromises. But those days are dead and Barack Obama helped kill them.

This being the case, the Progressive movement has nothing to say, or should have nothing to say, about the Arab-Israel conflict and the very last thing they should be doing is pressuring Israel to do anything. The likes of Peter Beinart and Thomas Friedman and J-Street (and anyone who suggests that the “Palestinian narrative” needs to be taught to little Jewish kids in Israel) have been discredited. Progressive-left American Jews, who seem to think that the real problem is not so much Hamas but Likud, are in no position to lecture Israelis about their own security needs.

Beyond propelling Palestinian-Arab propaganda and discouraging discussion on some very important issues to the Jewish community, and often in the nastiest manner possible, the progressive movement has nothing to say on the Arab-Israel conflict. They haven't had a fresh idea since the beginning of Oslo, but Oslo is long over.

Propelling Palestinian-Arab Propaganda:

“Progressive Zionists” propel Arab propaganda. They do not mean to do so, but do so nonetheless. They do so by discussing the issue within the frames set for them by the anti-Israel propagandists, themselves. There are all sorts of ways that this is done and we've only really begun to discuss some of them here at Israel Thrives. Language is hugely important. Progressive-left Jews who frame the discussion in such a manner that Israel is already guilty before the conversation even begins are framing the matter in ways designed by their enemies. Talk of “Occupation” with a capital “O,” for example, buries Israel before the conversation even gets started. But that is only one example that illustrates progressive-left framing that serves the purpose of anti-Israel propaganda. There are plenty more and we will be discussing them going forward.

That much I assure you.

Alan Dershowitz, who I very much respect, likes to tell audiences that he has opposed Israeli-Jewish building in the territories since 1973. If I had an opinion in 1973, I probably would have agreed with him, but this is no longer 1973. Before the Palestinians finally, really let us know that there would be no negotiated settlement anytime in the near future, with a little help in that direction from Barack Obama, giving in to their racist demands might have made sense if it were to actually result in peace. It didn't. That being the case there is no reason why Jewish progressives should continue to insist on the ethnic cleansing of their fellow Jews from Judea or to continue sucking up to non-Jewish political powers by telling other Jews where they may, or may not, be allowed to live.

Discouraging Necessary Discussion:

But perhaps the worst disservice that progressive-left Jews do to their fellow Jews is in the stifling of discussion and debate. Because progressive Jews have absorbed much of the Palestinian narrative they find all sorts of topics verboten. Anyone who transgresses the line gets lambasted, defamed, and ridiculed. I have a whole long list of things that one is not allowed to discuss on the progressive-left,including among most progressive-left Jews, unless one wants to have one's character dragged through the mud.

They won't discuss the centuries of Jewish dhimmitude under the boot of Islamic imperialism. They won't discuss the recent construction of Palestinian identity, its connection to Soviet Cold War politics, and how this is an Arab people with a Roman name that refers to Greeks. They won't discuss Arab and Palestinian Koranically-based racism as the fundamental source of the conflict. They won't discuss the Palestinian theft and appropriation of Jewish history. They won't discuss "Pallywood." They won't discuss the historical connections between the Nazis, the Muslim Brotherhood, and the Palestinian national movement. They won't discuss the perpetual refusal of the Palestinian-Arabs to accept a state for themselves in peace next to the Jewish one. They won't discuss the Arab-Palestinian indoctrination of children with Jew hatred. And they won't discuss human rights violations against women, children, and Gay people in the Muslim Middle East. And they would much rather discuss the virtually non-existent white supremacist threat over the real threat of the rise of radical Islam throughout the Muslim world under the false banner of "Arab Spring."

And, thus, “progressive Zionists” say virtually nothing and stand for virtually nothing.

No wonder the Israelis have moved on.


  1. Agree with your post, and it prompted me to expand at my site with regard to the the chill on expression and inquiry.

    But why mention Obama? It's a much larger issue than him.

    1. It's all of a piece, school.

      Think about Obama's muzzling of any discussion within his administration of the Jihad.

    2. Heh.... Do you mean where he muzzled himself saying this:

      "And that's why we're partnering with a coalition of 46 countries. And despite the costs involved, America's commitment will not weaken. Indeed, none of us should tolerate these extremists. They have killed in many countries. They have killed people of different faiths -- but more than any other, they have killed Muslims. Their actions are irreconcilable with the rights of human beings, the progress of nations, and with Islam. "

      Or perhaps when he muzzled himself saying this:

      "Threatening Israel with destruction -- or repeating vile stereotypes about Jews -- is deeply wrong, and only serves to evoke in the minds of Israelis this most painful of memories while preventing the peace that the people of this region deserve."

      Perhaps you mean when President Obama muzzled himself when he said this:

      "Palestinians must abandon violence...

      ...It's a story with a simple truth: that violence is a dead end. It is a sign neither of courage nor power to shoot rockets at sleeping children"

      Oh wait.. you must be talking about this:

      "And finally, the Arab states must recognize that the Arab Peace Initiative was an important beginning, but not the end of their responsibilities. The Arab-Israeli conflict should no longer be used to distract the people of Arab nations from other problems. Instead, it must be a cause for action to help the Palestinian people develop the institutions that will sustain their state, to recognize Israel's legitimacy, and to choose progress over a self-defeating focus on the past."

      Congrats sir... you just outdid the "Stopped Clock" rule. It might be true that even a "stopped clock" is right twice a day, but apparently you can't be right even once. Well no, let me correct that. You did spell Israel correctly. My bad.... You're a winner and don't ever let anyone tell you otherwise.

    3. heathco,

      welcome to Israel Thrives.

      Now did Obama, or did Obama not, demand "total settlement freeze"?

      I am pretty sure that he did and I am positive that Abbas used that demand as an excuse not to negotiate.

      I am also certain that the Obama administration has defined "the enemy" as Qaeda, rather than radical Islam. In this way, Hamas and Hez and the Brotherhood, are accepted by this administration, despite their Jew killing policies.

      I do not know who you are, or if I have seen you before, but I certainly believe that you make a mistake when you conjure apologetics for an administration that believes that it has the right to dictate to Jewish people where we may be allowed to live in Jerusalem.

      That Obama, this late in the game, is kissing a little Jewish tuchus by paying lip service means nothing.

    4. I agree that Obama has made some poor decisions regarding the issue of expression, but these are part and parcel of the larger phenomenon, of which he, too, is a product.

      As for heathco, you failed to address the specific instance of muzzling referred to, the cleansing of political Islam from scrutiny? Why make it seem like Obama is a champion against Arab intolerance when he partners with the MB and OIC, the latter of which want to muzzle any criticism of Islam by making it a criminal offense?

    5. btw, heath, also notice that Obama refuses to actually name the problem.

      The words "Islamist radicals" or "radical Jihadis" do not emerge from his lips.

      Why is that?

    6. Ummm.... You did see the quote: "Palestinians must abandon violence"? Right?

      I think that applies to Hamas AND Fatah, yep... Pretty sure that it does.

      The thing about the rockets - that def. applies to Hezbollah and Hamas. Since that is their preferred method of attack. (Well that and kidnapping).

      Oh and these quotes are NOT from President Obama of late, but directly taken from the Cairo Speech of June 4, 2009 - http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/remarks-president-cairo-university-6-04-09

      As for Abbas and a settlement freeze - I would not blame President Obama for that. That had been a long standing Palestinian demand NOT as you imply one created by President Obama. Here, from before the President was even a nominee - this from 12/27/07:

      JERUSALEM — Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will demand Israel commit to a freeze on all settlement construction at a peace summit Thursday, the first since the two sides agreed to resume peace talks at a U.S.-sponsored conference last month.

      On Wednesday, Abbas appealed to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to press Israel on the construction issue, Abbas aide Nabil Abu Rdeneh said. A State Department spokesman said Rice called both Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and urged them to make progress toward an agreement.

      BUT even as late as 9/23/09:

      "Prodding Israel and the Palestinian Authority to restart talks aimed at a permanent resolution of their decades-old conflict, President Obama dropped a demand for an Israeli settlement freeze, U.S., Israeli and Palestinian officials said.

      "Simply put, it is past time to talk about starting negotiations. It is time to move forward," Obama told reporters before a meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu


      Sorry, but I don't see what you are talking about at all... The facts don't seem to either.

    7. Well, I am sorry, my friend, but it is far too little and far too late.

      But you need not worry, I still maintain that an Obama reelection is a shoo-in.

      Do you honestly think that Romney has much of a chance?

      I don't.

      You are, of course, also entirely wrong to suggest that Obama's racist demand for "total settlement freeze" was anything other than racist and counterproductive.

      Why in this world should Jewish people support an American government that is comfortable telling us where we may be allowed to live?

    8. heathco,

      Once Obama made it a precondition, how could it be expected that the Palestinians would be more lenient, even after Obama backed away.

      And what of the recent partnership with the OIC that seeks to quash expression, which is very similar to what happens when issues of Muslim intolerance and violations of human rights are brought forth?

      As Ron Prosser said at the UN yesterday:

      Myth number three: settlements are the primary obstacle to peace.

      How many times have we heard that argument in this chamber?

      Just this month, the Human Rights Council proposed yet another “fact-finding” mission to Israel. It will explore…surprise, surprise…Israeli settlements.

      Today, I’d like to save the Human Rights Council and the international community some time and energy.

      The facts have already been found. They are plain for all to see.

      The fact is that from 1948 until 1967, the West Bank was part of Jordan, and Gaza was part of Egypt. The Arab World did nothing – it did not lift a finger – to create a Palestinian state. And it sought Israel’s annihilation when not a single settlement stood anywhere in the West Bank or Gaza.

      The fact is that in 2005, when I was the Director-General of Israel’s Foreign Ministry, we took every settlement out of Gaza and only got rockets on our cities in return.

      The fact is that this Israeli Government put in place an unprecedented ten-month moratorium on settlements. The Palestinian leadership used the gesture as an opportunity to take Israel and the international community on another ride to nowhere. For nine out of those ten months, they rejected the moratorium as insufficient – and then demanded that we extend it. As former U.S. Special Envoy George Mitchell said “what had been less than worthless a few months earlier became indispensable to continue negotiations…[for the Palestinians]."

      Care to address these matters?

    9. Sure... Prosser is generally right EXCEPT for his mentioning that Israel froze settlements. It did not - it continued "natural growth construction" around Jerusalem which is still in dispute. I didn't know that Israel had set borders that were accepted by anyone around Jerusalem.

      That said, I am not sure what any of that has to do with my original commentary addressing the point that the President was muzzling commentary about the Jihad. Clearly he is not and has never unless you are maintaining that he muzzled himself in 2009 and that wasn't him that spoke those words in Cairo?

      As for the President making the settlements a "pre-condition" and that is what stopped the peace process... that is sheer nonsense.

      First of all, as was already proven that demand has been in place by the Palestinians for long before President Obama even took office.

      Second of all, the President dropped the demand before the "10 month deadline" so it was NOT a "pre-condition" before the end of the deadline hit.

      Thirdly, That position about he settlements has been the stated U.S. position for years. President Obama had merely articulated it and tried to enforce it, it is not like he came up with that on his own.

      Fourth, the Peace Process did not die in Sept. 2009. Even as late as Jan. of this year, The Israelis and Palestinians met in Amman. So I am not sure how the Presidents demanded fulfillment of U.S. policy and then his subsequent retraction of said demand resulted in the end of the Peace Process.

      Of course, it didn't. Oh well... there goes that. The two sides are still talking it's just under the table and very quiet. That addresses that.
      Can we stick to the subject at hand please

    10. heathco,

      Flippant dismissals are not persuasive as you imagine.

      Prosser was more than generally right. In fact, Oslo was established while there was settlement construction, was it not?

      Of course, the point can be argued from either side. If you do not want to believe that Obama made a mistake, so be it. But it created a tangible obstacle where it did not exist before. And if what you are saying is accurate, then why did he do an about face?

      As for the attempted talks in Jordan last January, there was this:

      Most people in the West believe the main reason the talks are not going anywhere is because of Israel's refusal to compromise on its settlement building programme. But while the Netanyahu government's insistence on building settlements is certainly an obstacle, I am told by Western diplomats close to the exploratory talks that are currently taking place in Jordan between the two sides that the real reason they are running into difficulty is because the Palestinian delegation, led by the veteran Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat, is refusing to take the talks seriously.

      For example, I am told by a Western diplomat working for the Quartet that when the Israeli delegation arrived for a meeting last weekend in Amman, the Jordanian capital, to present their latest security proposals, Mr Erekat simply refused to enter the room.

      My man in the Jordan conference room says that he was surprised at Mr Erekat's behaviour, especially as the topic under discussion was supposed to be one of the two main topics the Palestinian delegation wanted on the agenda for the Jordan talks


      Further, you failed completely to address at all the Administration's partnership with the OIC that categorically seeks to muzzle ANY criticism of Islam, which is congruent with the aims of most who cry Islamophobia at the mere mention of Muslim atrocities against human rights. For anyone that believes in freedom of expression, such a move to quash it should be very troublesome.

      Obama's Cairo speech, as events have transpired, seems to have been ignored.

  2. Obama's state dep't has just announced that the war on terror is over.

    "The war on terror is over," one senior State Department official who works on Mideast issues told me. "Now that we have killed most of al Qaida, now that people have come to see legitimate means of expression, people who once might have gone into al Qaida see an opportunity for a legitimate Islamism."


    "Legitimate Islamism." Yeah, ok. Hopefully someone will inform the terrorists.

    1. It should be pretty obvious by now that this administration is not particularly opposed to genocidal Jew hatred.

      Obama pays lip-service to Israeli security, even while protecting Iran's nuclear program and bolstering the rise of the Jihad.

      What accounts for it is not stupidity, nor malice, but ideology.

    2. But...but...but THAT would mean he's a secret....naaaaaah, can't be!!!

  3. They are opposed to genocidal Jew hatred, but tend to minimize the growth of the existential threat. Conversely, many would likely validate the Muslim claim of an existential claim from the Jewish people. Such is the world of relativity.

    It is ideology being practiced, sometimes with instances of ignorance and malice intertwined. In its own way it is just another form of religion.

    I think Obama is not loathe to fight terrorism (no matter what it is called) because that is his responsibility as president. That does not mean he discriminates in favor of Israel because it's obvious he does not as he tries to cultivate Islamists. I believe he is mistaken to think they will change their beliefs, give up their values, and want to be be like us. They state the opposite. What does he believe are their intentions?

    It will not be much different under the Republicans. The path for the Arab world is the path they are on. It is their own. The repression from which they must escape is deep. Regular people see the widespread mistreatment of individuals and groups in places like Iran, Syria, Libya and Sudan. The Arab spring shows clear signs that it will result in a more radical world and less free and democratic region. The affinity for Israel and what it represents will continue to grow, even more if Arab states run true to their histories. Both Democrats and Republicans know the strategic importance of Israel to American security.

    I wish American policy was more supportive of democratic forces and less afraid to name, shame and oppose actors that abuse democracy, human rights and the name of human rights.