A Sanders supporter makes the progressive’s case for Israel
Surfers retreat to a sandy cove as the sun blurs into the horizon. I’m on vacation in an artsy city with beaches for miles and tattooed locals. Could be Austin-by-the-Sea. The are no historic gay neighborhoods here because the whole town is LGBTQ friendly. Solar-powered signs count the minutes until the next bus arrives. Giant public recycling bins collect water bottles. There’s widespread, bipartisan passion for farm-to-table cuisine. So why would Lana Del Rey and Lorde refuse to play here?
I’m in Tel Aviv in the Middle East’s only functional democracy. Even with the region’s low bar of dictatorships and violent theocracies, Tel Aviv is an extraordinarily liberal oasis in this nation founded by socialists and social democrats. As a Bernie Sanders progressive who’s counting on a Blue Wave this fall, I feel right at home here, and so should you. This country is a progressive exemplar worth singing about.
Later, while drinking a hoppy local ale, I wished more people would see this country for what it is, and less for how it appears to be. Like, for example, a rehashing of the American Civil Rights Movement, where Arabs are black and brown victims and multiethnic Israelis are … white Dixiecrat oppressors?
The truth isn’t so neat. Most Israelis are Middle Eastern and African; Americans would call them people of color. Palestinian nationalism is not the story of a minority once bound in slavery now advocating for equality. It’s a zero sum fight for sovereignty. Jews will not be granted citizenship in a future state of Palestine, even in biblical towns like Hebron or Jericho. Yet 20% of Israelis are Arabs and their citizenship is not up for debate. Making things more inverted, Israel has roughly 6 million Jews, most of whom fled here and are unwelcome in former homes in Baghdad, Cairo, Tunis and beyond. The surrounding Arab world has over 400 million souls. To this day, Israelis are barred from most Arab states. Who is the disenfranchised minority?
Current Palestinian politics bear no resemblance to a nonviolent integration movement. Hamas embraces a radical Islamism linked to Al Qaeda, the Muslim Brotherhood and ISIS. They are intolerant fundamentalists with social policies that make The Handmaid’s Tale look like a rom-com. And Hamas controls fully half of Palestine so when they say they’re resisting the occupation, they mean all of Israel. Their struggle ends with the annihilation of the Jews. Not exactly a civil rights dynamic.
Across the divide, the Palestinian Authority rejects peace when it isn’t stealing from its own people. It supports terror groups that compete with Hamas for brutality and it’s far from democratic—the last time there was an election was in 2005, when Facebook was limited to college students.
Israel is not blameless. It created the occupation in the first place, builds far flung settlements to frustrate future Palestinian sovereignty, deploys harsh security tactics and perpetuates internal racism against citizen Arabs.
It’s tempting to equate photos of racist police beating nonviolent black protesters with teenagers throwing rocks and Molotov cocktails at well-armed Israelis, but Ramallah is no Selma. Goals and context matter. Confusing America’s brutal legacy of slavery and white supremacy with Israeli security policy is about as as insightful as conflating Northern Irish politics with the Boston Celtics.
Beyond bus loads of super friendly Holy Land tourists, I wish more Americans would visit here for fun, but Israel suffers from polarized reviews in the TripAdvisor of our minds. The country is seen as either too dangerous or too controversial to risk discovering 15th-century Mamluk architecture, or the joys of a Yemenite breakfast with its slow-bake pastries and chili tapenades.
I find myself going back to what people here call “The Land” once or twice a year. I like playing my bit part in the epic saga of Jewish survival. When I think about my grandparents escaping conscription and murder in Odessa, I’m amazed by my luck: There’s a Jewish homeland, right now, in my lifetime. American Jews shouldn’t need an exit strategy, it should be paranoid to consider a retreat after all these years, but then came Charlottesville chants of “Jews will not replace us” and Holocaust deniers winning Republican primaries. If America falls further to the right, where do we go? France with its unrelenting anti-Semitism? The U.K. where the head of Labour supports Hamas? Canada is an option, until it isn’t. Rich fields of plenty suddenly seem arid compared to the land of milk and honey.
Beyond the literally biblical significance of a long-sought refuge, with citizens of every shade of human from every corner of the world, this country is a plucky example of democratic socialism. Yes, there’s now a right-wing administration that cozies up to an ultra-religious swing vote, but whichever party is in charge, universal health care, free tuition, muscular labor unions, public arts funding and a strong safety net are secure. Israel boasts medical, cultural, academic, and technical innovations of a far larger and less vilified country. These are the very achievements progressives like me strive for back home, vote after vote, rally after rally.
Published in Tablet magazine
Zachary Thacher runs a boutique digital marketing, Thacher Interactive. He is a frequent visitor to Israel and leads the Friday night minyan, Kol haKfar. He’s published in the HuffPo, the NY Post and Tablet. Zachary graduated with an MA in Communication from Stanford in 1996.
At the same time, the Trump administration is readying further possible sanctions on Venezuela, the official said.
Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro attends a military exercise in Maracaibo. (photo credit: MIRAFLORES PALACE/HANDOUT VIA REUTERS)
WASHINGTON, Feb 8 – The United States is holding direct communications with members of Venezuela’s military urging them to abandon leader Nicolas Maduro and is also preparing new sanctions aimed at increasing pressure on him, a senior White House official said.
The Shalva Band following their final performance on “Rising Star.” Photo: Screenshot.
The Shalva Band has removed itself from the race to represent Israel in this year’s Eurovision competition because some of its members observed Shabbat and would not be able to partake in mandatory rehearsals, The Jerusalem Post reported on Tuesday.
The group, made up of eight musicians who have special needs, was one of four finalists in the “Rising Star” singing contest — the winner of which will represent Israel in Eurovision, set to be held in Tel Aviv in May.
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As Birthright Israel reaches its 700,000th participant, certain voices in America have done their best to slander the organization and force it to make drastic changes. Having staffed multiple Birthright trips as a madrich (youth leader), I have had the amazing opportunity to pass on some of the love for Israel that helped change my life.
Local police in Manchester’s Whitefield neighborhood declared the vandalism a criminal act rather than antisemitic.
Protesters hold placards and flags during a demonstration, organised by the British Board of Jewish Deputies for those who oppose anti-Semitism, in Parliament Square in London, Britain, March 26, 2018.. (photo credit: HENRY NICHOLLS/REUTERS)
The Philips Park Jewish cemetery in Manchester, England, was vandalized on Saturday, during which the tomb of Rabbi Yehuda Zev Segal, who died last year, was desecrated.
Protestors call for the severing of diplomatic ties with Israel during a march in Cape Town. (photo credit: MIKE HUTCHINGS / REUTERS)
A proposed multi-million dollar deal between Israel’s Central Bottling Company (CBC) and South Africa’s biggest dairy producer Clover could be in serious trouble due to heavy pressure from the anti-Israel lobby.
Newly-formed consortium Milco, in which Israel’s Central Bottling Company (CBC) holds a majority, is offering to buy 59.5% of the South African dairy producer.
We need to give the Likud Party some credit for not destroying itself in Tuesday’s internal elections. Given that primaries are the very embodiment of deal-making, political machines and big worker unions voting in lockstep, the results could have been far worse.
When it came to casting a secret ballot, the Likud Party’s registered voters did display some maturity. They weren’t the obedient foot soldiers of Benjamin Netanyahu, who has failed again and again in his machinations.
With elections barely two months away, the greatest challenge facing Israel’s Right emanates neither from the Center nor the Left, but, rather, from within.
Indeed, if recent polls are accurate, several small parties on the Right, most of which may not individually pass the minimum threshold to make it into the next Knesset, could nonetheless win a combined total of 10 to 12 seats, all of which would end up in the dustbin if they fail to run together.
August 2017, white supremacists marched in Charlottesville shouting, “Jews will not replace us”. October 2018, one white supremacist posted on social media that “Jews are taking over the white house”, and that Trump is a puppet of the Jews. Shabbat, the same month, a man enters a synagogue during a Bris celebration and butchers Jewish people who are praying. December 2018, Women’s March leader and Louis Farrakhan (“I’m not an antisemite, I’m an anti-termite”) fan, Tamika Mallory says: “White Jews, as white people, uphold white supremacy…”
Henry Ford devoted his life to two passions: making cars and demonizing Jews. When Hitler said, “I regard Henry Ford as my inspiration,” he wasn’t referring to his car manufacturing. He was referring to Ford’s anti-Semitic ideology that eventuated in the genocide of six million Jews.
Henry Ford does not deserve to be honored. The question the good people of Dearborn should ask themselves is: What would you do if the performing arts center were named after Jefferson Davis? If the answer is that you would remove Davis’s name, then you should remove Ford’s.
It was reported recently that the USA and the Taliban have reached a peace agreement on Afghanistan that will allow US forces to leave that country 17 years after they invaded it on October, 2001, less than a month after 9/11.
Al Qaeda had used that dysfunctional state as a safe haven and, while there, was able to plan and execute the attacks that took the lives of over 3000 people in. After the West invaded, the Taliban