Prominent Democrats form pro-Israel group to counter skepticism on the left

Former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm spoke at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee policy conference in Washington last March. (photos: Sipa via Associated Press)
Some Democrats have suggested that the new group represents a Democratic arm of AIPAC.

By Jonathan Martin | The New York Times | Jan 28, 2019

‘My generation sees the occupation and what’s happening in Israel-Palestine as a crisis the same way we do climate change. Too many in the American Jewish establishment and the Democratic establishment have let [Israel] off the hook.’
— Simone Zimmerman, co-founder of IfNotNow

‘The idea that the Democratic Party should just support the Netanyahu government, right or wrong, is out of line with where American Jews are at and where Jewish Democrats are at.’
— Jeremy Ben-Ami, president of J Street

Several prominent veteran Democrats, alarmed by the party’s drift from its longstanding alignment with Israel, are starting a new political group that will try to counter the rising skepticism on the left toward the Jewish state by supporting lawmakers and candidates in 2020 who stand unwaveringly with the country.

With polls showing that liberals and younger voters are increasingly less sympathetic to Israel, and a handful of vocal supporters of Palestinian rights arriving in Congress, the new group — the Democratic Majority for Israel — is planning to wage a campaign to remind elected officials about what they call the party’s shared values and interests with one of America’s strongest allies.

“Most Democrats are strongly pro-Israel and we want to keep it that way,” said Mark Mellman, the group’s president and a longtime Democratic pollster. “There are a few discordant voices, but we want to make sure that what’s a very small problem doesn’t metastasize into a bigger problem.”

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Film: Sky and Ground (Mar 1)

Please join our brothers and sisters at the Mideast Focus Ministry for their First Friday Film series.
Date: Friday, Mar 1, 2019
Time: 7:00 – 8:30 pm
Location: St. Mark’s Cathedral
Bloedel Hall
1245 10th Ave E
Seattle, WA 98102
Information: Event information here →
Tickets: Free Admission
Event Details

A compelling, ground-level immersion into the greatest humanitarian crisis of our time, Sky & Ground accompanies the Nabi clan, a large, extended Syrian-Kurdish family, as they painstakingly make their way from their home in Aleppo, bombed out by the war, to the Idomeni refugee camp on the border of Greece and Macedonia. Their goal is Berlin, where they will reunite with family members and seek asylum but first they must make the arduous and dangerous journey through Serbia, Hungary and Austria.

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Michelle Alexander is right about Israel-Palestine

Author and civil rights lawyer Michelle Alexander attends the Harlem Women’s Round-Table Conversation at Row House on Apr 1, 2016, in New York City. (photo: Slaven Vlasic / Getty Images)
There is a false equivalency between criticizing Israel and being anti-Semitic.

By Marjorie Cohn | Truthout | Jan 25, 2019

[We need] to honor our deepest values in times of crisis, even when silence would better serve our personal interests or the communities and causes we hold most dear. It’s what I think about when I go over the excuses and rationalizations that have kept me largely silent on one of the great moral challenges of our time: the crisis in Israel-Palestine.
— Michelle Alexander

As a progressive Jew, I find that many of my family members and friends are still what we call “PEP” — progressive except Palestine. Amid ever-worsening injustices created by the Israeli system of apartheid and Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestinian lands, it is past time for this to change.

I am hopeful that the firestorm sparked by Michelle Alexander’s recent New York Times column, “Time to Break the Silence on Palestine,” will finally generate the heat necessary to force more people and groups on the left to overcome the fundamental hypocrisy of the “progressive except Palestine” approach.

I was deeply inspired by Alexander’s column and her decision to speak so honestly about the difficulty of overcoming the fear of backlash over taking a public stand against the Israeli occupation of Palestine.

Striking a comparison between the risk taken by prominent critics of Israel and the risk Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. took by publicly criticizing the Vietnam War, Alexander observes, “Those who speak publicly in support of the liberation of the Palestinian people still risk condemnation and backlash.”

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Gaza: Advanced care needed for complex gunshot wounds

An MSF surgeon at Al-Awda Hospital examines X-rays from a patient shot by the Israeli army during protests in Gaza in Jul 2018. (photo: Jacob Burns / MSF)
For the most serious cases, the necessary treatment is very difficult to obtain in the Gaza Strip, which is isolated by a blockade.

By Staff | MSF Doctors Without Borders | Jan 25, 2019

MSF has increased its capacity in the Gaza Strip, performing 302 surgeries in December 2018 and caring for about 900 wounded patients. The needs of wounded patients, however, are overwhelming both MSF and other health care actors, and much more remains to be done to ensure adequate treatment of these serious and complex injuries.

Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) medical teams in the Gaza Strip have the arduous task of treating bone injuries in patients who were shot by the Israeli military during protests. Limited resources make it impossible to provide adequate treatment in many cases, making it necessary to refer patients to hospitals outside the Gaza Strip. However, legal obstacles complicate referrals outside of the territory, and MSF was only able to make its first referral this month.

Treating gunshot wounds is complicated. At al-Awda hospital in Jabalia, northern Gaza, MSF surgeons operating on the shin of Yousri [name changed] who was shot in July 2018, found that the bullet had left a large gap in the bone just below his knee. They took bone from Yousri’s hip to fill the gap and help him walk again. “It will take at least two or three months for the bone to fuse, and could be longer,” said MSF surgeon Hiroko Murakami. “After that time we will see if everything is OK, and, if it is, then we can remove the external fixator and the patient can start physiotherapy. So it’s still going to take him a long time to recover.”

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