What ties the U.S. and Israel together? Our arrogant, doomed mythology of exceptionalism

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U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyah in Jerusalem, Nov. 19, 2020. (Photo: Amos Ben-Gershom / GPO)
Our two nations are headed for doom, driven by the power of the Zionist right and a conviction we can do no wrong.

By Doug Neiss | Salon |  Apr 17, 2021

American exceptionalism and Israeli exceptionalism go hand in hand. One hand washes the other.

As bad as Republican bloc voting is on domestic issues, what may be even worse are the near-unanimous bipartisan votes on military spending and unconditional support for Israel. It goes without saying that does not reflect the diversity of opinion among American Jews, Israeli Jews or the American public at large, although the pretense that unqualified support for Israel is the dominant view among Jewish Americans — and among Americans in general — is strictly maintained.

This cannot be justified by straightforward concern for Israel’s survival — Israel has long since assured its own survival with nuclear weapons, an open secret for decades — nor by the supposedly all-powerful Israel lobby. Invoking the “power of the Israel lobby” protects the myth of American innocence at the risk of perpetuating the myth of Jewish evil: Innocent, trusting America, no match for those crafty, scheming Jews!

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US firms said using Israeli tech for controversial facial recognition

Israeli startup AnyVision uses artificial intelligence to recognize faces, bodies and objects for security and other purposes. (photo: YouTube screenshot)
AnyVision system touted as improving security and preventing crime, but social rights activists say practice infringes on privacy, could hurt marginalized groups

By TOI staff | Times of Israel | Apr 21, 2021

“Private use of facial recognition by corporations, institutions and even individuals poses just as much of a threat to marginalized communities as government use,”
 open letter from 25 social justice groups calling on governments to ban corporate use of facial recognition.

An Israeli company that makes facial recognition technology has gained several big-name clients in the US, even as rights groups increasingly raise concerns over the use of such surveillance methods, Reuters reported Wednesday.

AnyVision, a Holon-based startup founded in 2015 by Neil Robertson and Eylon Ethstein, uses artificial intelligence technology to recognize faces, bodies and objects for security, medical and business purposes, among others.

Facial recognition technology as a whole has come under fire by civil liberties activists who say the tools are biased against people of color and infringe upon citizens’ privacy.

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Donors who agreed with me on every other issue cut me off when I called for investigation of Rachel Corrie’s killing — former Rep. Brian Baird

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Former Congressmen Brian Baird, center, and Keith Ellison, right, in Gaza in 2009.  (photo: screenshot from Israel Lobby Conference, April 17, 2021)
Former Congressman Baird said the Israel lobby is able to exert such control because of money, mythology and millenarian Christian beliefs.

By Philip Weiss | Mondoweiss | Apr 19, 2021

“It is generally assumed that members of Congress must all support Israel without question and take what they are told at face value and accept that version of the facts and vote as we are told, or asked.”
— Brian Baird, former US Representative, Washington State

On Saturday former congressman Brian Baird described the ways that the Israel lobby exercises control over foreign policy in the Middle East, at the conference organized by the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs. Baird’s main points:

–More Congresspeople go to the AIPAC conference than any other event besides the State of the Union address because they need money for their campaigns.

–When a congressperson dares to challenge Israeli claims, Israeli officials express condescension and disdain for the United States and say the U.S. did worse with its indigenous population so no one in the U.S. has a right to question Israeli actions even as Israel gets billions in aid.

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Abbas to address J Street confab as group seeks to top DC’s Israel lobby scene

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Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas wears a mask upon his arriving to head the Palestinian leadership meeting at his headquarters, in the West Bank city of Ramallah, Thursday, May 7, 2020. (AP Photo/Nasser Nasser, Pool)
PA president expected to thank Biden for restoring aid while urging further steps, and to express continued support for two-state solution while castigating Israel over settlements.

By Jacob Magid | The Times of Israel | Apr 16, 2021

“We’re pleased to host President Abbas at our conference this year, as the Palestinians seek to move on from the nadir of the Trump era and repair the bilateral relationship with the United States under President Biden,”
— Jeremy Ben-Ami, J Street’s president

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas will address J Street’s national conference on Sunday as the once marginal left-wing, pro-Israel group seeks to position itself as the leading lobby on Middle East policy in the post-Trump era.

Abbas’s remarks will be pre-recorded and played for the more than 4,000 registered attendees at the virtual confab’s first day.

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Support Rep. McCollum’s Bill, H.R.2590, to protect Palestinians

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Rep. McCollum’s bill will ensure that U.S. tax dollars are not used by Israel to detain Palestinian children, destroy Palestinian homes, or steal Palestinian land.

By Friends of Sabeel North America (FOSNA) | Apr 16, 2021

The U.S. budget is immoral. It gives exorbitant amounts of money for militarism, while underfunding needed programs in our communities.

Support Rep. McCollum’s Bill, H.R.2590, to Protect Palestinians.

Rep. McCollum’s bill will ensure that U.S. tax dollars are not used by Israel to detain Palestinian children, destroy Palestinian homes, or steal Palestinian land. Israel imprisons around 700 Palestinian children a year; it routinely destroys Palestinian homes in the West Bank, especially East Jerusalem, leaving thousands of Palestinians homeless; and it illegally annexes more and more Palestinian land and water. All of this is being funded by our taxes!

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The illusion of a Palestinian kingmaker in Israel

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MARCH 3: Head of the Joint List Ayman Odeh (2nd L), the members Heba Yazbak (R), Mansour Abbas (L), Mtanes Shehadeh (3rd L), Aida Touma (4th R), Ahmed Tibi (4th L) and Ofer Cassif (2nd R) attend a program in Israel’s northern city of Shefa-Amr on March 2, 2020, after polls officially closed in Israeli general elections. (photo: Mostafa Alkharouf. Anadolu Agency)
As we look forward, we shall see yet another Israeli government dedicated to destroying Palestine and its people led once again by Benjamin Netanyahu.

By Miko Peled | Politics Today | Apr 14, 2021

One of the strangest misconceptions that has risen immediately after the results of the elections were announced is that Mansour Abbas, who leads the Islamic United Arab Party will somehow become “kingmaker.”

There are two things that are certain after Israel’s fourth election in two years: the first is that Benjamin Netanyahu will continue to be Israel’s Prime Minister. The second, that no Arab party will have any part in Netanyahu’s continued reign as PM. These elections had given an undeniable victory to Benjamin Netanyahu. In a strategy that can be seen as divide and rule, Netanyahu has been very successful at dividing his opposition and now he may rule over them as they come begging him for a piece of the pie.

One of the strangest misconceptions that has risen immediately after the results of the elections were announced is that Mansour Abbas, who leads the Islamic United Arab Party will somehow become “kingmaker.” They claim that his vote in the Knesset will tip the scales and that the next Israeli prime minister will be in his debt. This claim stems from a lack of appreciation for the racist Zionist ideology and how, like a thread, it runs through all of Israel’s Zionist political parties, left, right and center.

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In Conversation with Peter Beinart

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Join Jewish Currents Editor at Large Peter Beinart in a conversation with Kenneth Stern, Prof. Susan Neiman, and Prof. Saree Makdisi about how to define anti-semitism.
Date: Friday, April 16, 2021
Time: 9:00 am (PDT) / 12:00 pm (EST)
Location: On-line
Information: Event information here →
Tickets: Free, must register
Event Details

Jewish Currents Editor at Large Peter Beinart will be joined by several panelists to talk about how to define anti-semitism.

The first guest is Kenneth Stern, director of the Bard Center for the Study of Hate, who drafted the controversial International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition of anti-semitism, but has criticized its misuse. The second guest will be Professor Susan Neiman, Director of the Einstein Forum, one of the signers of the new Jerusalem Declaration on anti-semitism. The third guest will be UCLA Professor of English Saree Makdisi.

More information here →

Israel, Palestine & the Role of Congress: An Accelerated Learning Series

Co-hosted by FMEP’s Lara Friedman and MEI’s Khaled Elgindy, this learning series takes a deep dive into 8 key topics in the U.S. relationship with Israel and the Palestinians. 

By Foundation for Middle East Peace and Middle East Institute | Apr 9, 2021

The Foundation for Middle East Peace (FMEP) and the Middle East Institute (MEI) and are proud to release “Israel, Palestine & the Role of Congress: An Accelerated Learning Series.” Co-hosted by FMEP’s Lara Friedman and MEI’s Khaled Elgindy, this learning series takes a deep dive into 8 key topics in the U.S. relationship with Israel and the Palestinians. These series – which ran during February to March 2021 – was originally presented exclusively for members of the House and Senate and Congressional Staff, and is now being released as an educational tool for the public at large.

You can listen to a podcast with Lara and Khaled introducing the series here.

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‘The settlers brought caravans and put them on a hill next to us’

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A new outpost in the South Hebron Hills, March 2021. (photo: Basil al-Adraa)
Israel makes it easy for settlers to take over our land. Meanwhile, Palestinians who’ve lived here for generations are attacked and evicted.

By Basil al-Adraa | +972 Magazine | Apr 9, 2021

This is how it happens. Settlers bring in caravans and take over land with ease. Before they even move in, they have their own paved road and are connected to electricity and water, with the support of the regional council.

Last Monday night, I received a phone call from a friend. “Two large trucks just passed me,” he said. “They were carrying caravans. They just passed right by the road under your home.”

I live in a Palestinian community called A-Tawani in the South Hebron Hills. After my friend called me, I immediately got into my car to look for the trucks. I drove until I found them, and began following them, wanting to understand what was going on.

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The tormented dance of the colonizer: Peter Beinart, liberal Zionism and the battle for Palestine

Peter Beinart speaking at an event hosted by the Center for American Progress on February 3, 2009. (photo: The Center for American Progress / Flickr)
Peter Beinart’s call for equality seeks to reform Israel as a Jewish project instead of repudiating its system of racial supremacy, placing Jewish identity above Palestinian rights.

By Mark Braverman | Mondoweiss | Apr 6, 2021

Today, with the possibility of a Palestinian state foreclosed by successive waves of colonization and annexation, Beinart has turned to unification as the answer.

Earlier this year Jerusalem-based journalist and analyst Nathan Thrall called out the Zionist left for promoting the fiction that as long as Israel refrains from annexing occupied Palestinian land, it does not cross the line into apartheid. The essay, “The Separate Regimes Delusion: Nathan Thrall on Israel’s Apartheid,” was published by the London Review of Books on January 21, 2021. “The premise that Israel is a democracy,” he wrote, “rests on the belief that one can separate the pre-1967 state from the rest of the territory under its control.” The “separate regimes delusion” has been a key component of the almost five-decades long political theater of the peace process to establish a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza. As Israel has continued to take land and impose a system of control and fragmentation that has made the creation of a sovereign Palestinian state impossible, liberal Zionists have clung desperately to the fiction of the two-state solution as all that stands in the way of the now undeniable reality that Israel and its occupied territories comprise a single apartheid state. Accordingly, a storm of protest erupted in response to the government’s espoused intent to annex 30% of the West Bank in early summer 2020. It was in the midst of this controversy that Peter Beinart’s “Yavne: A Jewish Case for Equality in Israel-Palestine” appeared on July 7, 2020 in Jewish Currents. Cutting the Gordian knot of a Jewish and democratic Israel, Beinart endorsed the idea of a single state for Jews and Palestinians.

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