Word is out, Hillary Clinton will join the list of prostrating luminaries at the March 2016 AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee) Convention, a love fest for the powerful Israel Lobby and its diverse and frenzied supporters. The website boasts attendance by 15,000 “pro-Israel” Americans, (a term I use guardedly since support of the current Israeli government could be considered a relatively suicidal action if you consider the intolerant bordering on fascistic trends in the country. I’m thinking of polls showing major support for taking away the vote from Palestinians with Israeli citizenship, “compatibility committees” that keep Arabs out of Jewish towns, an education minister who refers to Arabs as monkeys, and so forth. Real friends (as opposed to enablers) might actually be the folks who are trying to steer the country away from leaping off that ugly cliff, but that I suppose is a long and painful semantic conversation). And the other attendees include more than two thirds of our less-than-thoughtful congress including Speaker of the House Ryan, 3,600 students from 630 campuses, 283 student government presidents from all 50 states and 275 synagogue delegations. I can only wonder who foots the bill for all of those flights and hotel rooms and lox and Pinot Grigios. Mr Saban and Mr Adelson, have you written your checks yet? I mean, of course, after the checks for Hillary and the wide selection to her right.
Netanyahu is reportedly appearing via live satellite; I suspect he wants to get in his last snub of the Obama administration, despite the more than $3 billion per year that continues to flow his way and the endless hasbara junkets (check out the gift packages for the Oscars this year), and the thousands of US police men and women training with the Israeli military in our mutual “fight against terror,” and the trade deals with our start up nation little sister. It is the details that really count here.
Hillary will join VP Biden and The Donald on the speakers roster, so what’s the risk of singing kumbaya with all of those liberals who don’t see the racism in Jewish exceptionalism, the suffering of 1.9 million Gazans living in an ongoing humanitarian catastrophe, the injustice of 50 years of occupation, and the neoconservatives and evangelicals who actually think this is all a good idea?
I would suggest that despite the power of what many call “the Jewish vote,” (all 8 million of us in a population of 322,762,018 give or take) while mainstream Jewish organizations march with Hillary, the actual voters have much more independent minds and I would remind you, actual voters are the ones who actually vote. I am fully aware, particularly since Citizens United, that elections are largely bought, but consider the following:
Increasing numbers of younger Jews are challenging their fathers and mothers around their uncritical stand with Israel due to concerns about the lack of democracy, the intolerance, racism, and Islamophobia that undergirds the current state of the state.
The Boycott, Divestment, and Sanction movement is growing in power despite the multi-million dollar efforts to destroy it and the spreading legislative efforts to criminalize the advocacy of BDS in the US as a strategy against Israeli policy. Look at the recent victories: Ahava, Veolia, G4S. Even Airbnb’s rentals in Israeli settlements got hit this week with the headline: “Airbnb’s profits on Israeli settlements” with five supportive letters in the San Francisco Chronicle. A poll in November 2015 found that 49 percent of Democrats support either imposing economic sanctions or engaging in some other form of action against Israel over settlement construction. In more than 25 colleges and universities, resolutions have passed calling for divestment from Israeli and other companies that profit from the Israeli occupation. The Presbyterian Church (USA) and the United Church of Christ have voted to divest from corporations implicated in the Israeli occupation and the United Methodist Church divested its pension fund from several Israeli banks over their ties to settlements. Human Rights Watch recently released a report advising businesses to end operations in the settlements and the European Union is demanding that settlement products be labeled as such. This is not a marginal political campaign, and in fact, given the long and slow death of the famed “peace process,” it is one of the few campaigns that is actually having an impact.
If there is a consistent message from the befuddled and reactive electorate these days it revolves around anger that the old ways of doing things have not worked, that the rich and powerful only get richer and more powerful, leaving the rest of us voiceless and covered in proverbial dust. It may just be that more and more folks are finding the old ways of doing US foreign policy (translation: defending capitalism and the profits of powerful multi-national companies and military interests) unacceptable, that kissing Netanyahu’s you-know-what despite his temper tantrums and willingness to humiliate and berate our leaders, not to mention his hysterical advocacy for attacking Iran, seems like a really bad idea, that despite the glittering fanfare at the AIPAC convention more and more people are noticing that the emperor is not wearing much of anything.
So yes, Hillary, there are minefields here. Bernie, are you listening? Did anyone notice that this old Jewish guy from Brooklyn got the “Arab vote” in Michigan and won? Who knows what will happen next?