and they wonder why amerikkkans are racist

DMFI board member Archie Gottesman wanted to “burn” Gaza
Michael F Brown, Electronic Intifada, Apr 19 2021

Archie Gottesman, a board member of Democratic Majority for Israel and president of the board of directors of Zioness, was exposed Wednesday as an advocate for genocide directed at Palestinians in the Israeli-occupied Gaza Strip. As first noted on Twitter by Eli Valley, a writer and artist, in Jun 2018 Gottesman tweeted:

Gaza is full of monsters. Time to burn the whole place.

Nearly as disturbing is that Gottesman acknowledged it “won’t matter.” She then contended:

The UN will just give another meaningless sanction.

For all the anti-UN vitriol from advocates for Israel and the Israel lobby, she is recognizing that the international body really doesn’t protect Palestinians at all.

Gottesman has deleted both her Twitter and her Facebook accounts. As of this writing, no statement has been issued by either DMFI or Zioness. Neither organization responded to questions from The Electronic Intifada. At the time of the tweet, Gottesman had a daughter serving in the IDF, the very military Gottesman is presumably calling on to commit genocide. Both mother and daughter regard such service in an occupying army as “badass.” DMFI’s biography for Gottesman describes her as a “Democratic activist and the co-founder of JewBelong, a groundbreaking organization focused on rebranding Judaism.” For nearly 30 years, the biography continues, she was the Chief Branding Officer/Principal of Edison Properties. With such branding expertise, it’s impossible to think she didn’t understand the import of her words. Her statement clearly must be branded as a call for Israel to carry out a genocide directed at two million Palestinians in Gaza living under Israeli occupation and siege. For his part, Valley rebrands DMFI as Democratic Majority for Genocide. So far, Gottesman remains on the board of both DMFI and Zioness, an astroturfing organization that describes itself as “unabashedly progressive,” even though it also calls itself “unapologetically Zionist.” Indeed, Brooke Goldstein, asserts Zioness was “funded and incubated” by The Lawfare Project, a right-wing organization. Goldstein, the executive director of The Lawfare Project, holds the bizarre and bigoted opinion that “there’s no such thing as a Palestinian person.” Twitter responses were highly critical of the 2018 tweet from Gottesman:

Valley also highlights that in Dec 2018 Gottesman directed her vitriol at Rebecca Vilkomerson, accusing the then executive director of Jewish Voice for Peace of being an “anti-Semitic bitch.” For the record, I know Vilkomerson as an advocate for equal rights for Jews and Palestinians. Gottesman is leveling a cruel and false charge of anti-Semitism.

Vilkomerson told The Electronic Intifada:

Archie Gottesman is saying the quiet part out loud. Her hatred for Jews who speak out for Palestinian rights is probably only second to hatred of Palestinians themselves. Despite trying to dress it up in more palatable language, this is exactly what the DMFI stands for.

In Dec 2020, DMFI approvingly cited the work of Regavim, a right-wing settler group connected to Bezalel Smotrich, an MK who supports segregation and expulsion for Palestinians, ideas that have been called potentially genocidal by Daniel Blatman, a prominent Israeli scholar of the Holocaust. Anti-Palestinian racism pervades DMFI, an organization that worked unstintingly to prevent Senator Bernie Sanders from winning the Democrat presidential nomination in 2020. Congresswoman Ilhan Omar of Minnesota tweeted her concern, though it’s not just anti-Muslim hate, but anti-Palestinian hate being voiced by Gottesman:

Such hate “should have no place in our party,” Omar wrote. It’s long past time for veteran leaders of the Democrat Party to ask some basic questions about the racism of the DMFI. But they won’t. And that failure to respond will be the same whether Gottesman stays on the DMFI board or is removed before the week is up.

J Street brings together progressives, Israeli war criminals
Ali Abunimah, Electronic Intifada, Apr 19 2021


J Street has been holding its annual conference online this Sunday and Monday. The liberal Israel lobby can boast of an impressive list of speakers, including so-called progressives in Congress, Biden administration figures and even a few Palestinians. They are appearing alongside hardened Israeli war criminals with much Palestinian and Lebanese blood on their hands. This comes the same month that Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, perhaps the most influential progressive in Congress, put on a remarkable display of pandering to a right-wing Israel lobby group in New York. In recent years, more Democrats have shown reluctance to go to AIPAC, the powerful Israel lobby group that is increasingly seen as aligned with the hard right both in the US and Israel. Representative Betty McCollum, who is not attending J Street, has even denounced AIPAC as a “hate group.” Speaking at J Street, the kinder, gentler AIPAC, has therefore become a way for Democrats to pay tribute to Israel and its lobby, while attempting to soften criticism from a party base which is becoming ever more supportive of Palestinian rights. Taking the virtual stage at J Street this week are progressive House members Ro Khanna, Ayanna Pressley, Pramila Jayapal, Barbara Lee and Jamaal Bowman, as well as the boss they all voted to re-elect, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren are speaking, as is the Rev Raphael Warnock, a former supporter of Palestinian rights, who quickly and completely sold out to the Israel lobby as part of his successful campaign to win one of Georgia’s US Senate seats. His fellow senator from Georgia, Jon Ossoff, who has never pretended to be anything but a pro-Israel hardliner, is there too.

Prominent among J Street’s speakers is Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, who has denounced the BDS movement as “anti-Semitic,” and believes that God sent him to the Senate to protect Israel. Schumer often claims his name comes from the Hebrew word shomer, guardian. Schumer has said:

I believe Hashem, actually, gave me the name as one of my roles that is very important in the US Senate, to be a shomer for Israel, and I will continue to be that with every bone in my body.

The Biden administration is represented by US ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield, who also recently smeared the BDS movement as anti-Jewish while reiterating her government’s opposition to it. They are joined by House member Tom Malinowski, a hawkish supporter of US military intervention and yet another opponent of BDS. There are several representatives of Israel’s vestigial Zionist left at J Street, including Labor Party leader Merav Michaeli and Nitzan Horowitz, the head of Meretz. And representing the alliance between Israel’s apartheid regime and US-backed regional dictatorships is Yousef Al Otaiba, the long-time ambassador of the UAE in the US. Much like the Democrat and Republican parties, despite differences in style and rhetoric, J Street and AIPAC represent two wings of essentially the same interests. When it comes to the substance of Palestinian rights, J Street and AIPAC agree much more than they differ. Both J Street and AIPAC claim to support the defunct “two-state solution” with the goal of perpetuating Israel as a “Jewish” state. Like other pro-Israel hardliners, J Street fully supports Israel’s racist refusal to allow millions of Palestinian refugees to return to the homes from which they were ethnically cleansed solely and exclusively because they are not Jews. J Street has even published vile racist propaganda about “the demographic threat from a stateless Palestinian population,” as if the mere existence of Palestinians is an act of violence against Israel. And also just like AIPAC, J Street maintains its staunch opposition to BDS, a movement modeled on the international solidarity campaign that helped end apartheid in South Africa. J Street does try to sugarcoat this opposition by claiming that it does not oppose boycotts “that explicitly support a two-state solution, recognize Israel’s right to exist, and focus only on occupied territory.” But J Street regurgitates habitual Israeli government smears, without providing any evidence, that leaders of the BDS movement have “trafficked in unacceptable anti-Semitic rhetoric.” There was no clearer demonstration of J Street’s commitment to these anti-Palestinian positions than when the group withdrew its endorsement of Representative Rashida Tlaib when she first ran for Congress in 2018. J Street pulled its backing for Tlaib after the Michigan Democrat expressed support for BDS and for a single democratic state where Palestinians and Israeli Jews would be equal before the law.

It is true that J Street has shifted some of its views. While remaining a strong advocate for billions in annual US military aid to Israel, the group is endorsing a new bill that would block Israel from using US funds for violations including detaining Palestinian children and demolishing Palestinian homes. But J Street had nothing to do with the hard, grassroots work of bringing this bill to Congress. That the group is jumping on the bandwagon is a sign it knows the ground is shifting and it needs to act to maintain its “progressive” credibility even as it continues to hold fast to deeply anti-Palestinian positions. Notably, while J Street says US aid to Israel should not be used to foot the bill for annexation or “trample on Palestinian rights,” it does not believe the annual $3.8b in US taxpayer money should actually be cut, conditioned or ended, only that its use be “restricted” to specific purposes. Undoubtedly, if challenged, many of the Democrats speaking at J Street would claim they are doing so in the name of “peace.” But appearing with unrepentant war criminals is a strange way to show that. They are sharing J Street’s virtual stage with Ehud Olmert, who as Israel’s prime minister ordered the Operation Cast Lead attack on Gaza in Dec 2008, killing more than 1,400 Palestinians, the vast majority civilians, among them 300 children. Olmert was also in charge when Israel invaded Lebanon in 2006, carpet-bombing the country with cluster munitions and killing more than 1,100 people, mostly civilians. There is also former Israeli foreign minister Tzipi Livni, who has evaded attempts by judicial authorities in several countries to question her about her role in the 2008-2009 massacre in Gaza. Livni, it must be recalled, bragged in Jan 2009:

Israel demonstrated real hooliganism during the course of the recent operation, which I demanded.

J Street’s esteemed speakers also include retired Major General Yair Golan, who participated in Operation Cast Lead and commanded the occupation forces that impose Israel’s oppressive military rule on Palestinians in the West Bank. As commander of Israeli forces on the borders with Lebanon and Syria’s occupied Golan Heights a decade ago, Yair Golan played a significant role in Israel’s support, which ultimately included weapons and funding, for al-Qaida-linked jihadist armed groups in Syria.

Another cog from Israel’s machine of oppression finding a welcome at J Street is Ami Ayalon, a former head of Israel’s domestic spying and torture agency, the Shin Bet or Shabak. One of the J Street conference’s sponsors is Commanders for Israel’s Security. This group represents more than 300 retired Israeli generals, as well as veterans of Shin Bet and Israel’s international spying and assassination agency Mossad, who are committed to “Israeli separation from the Palestinians” in the name of preserving “Jewish democracy.” These occupation administrators worry about Israel’s “demographic predicament” in precisely the same way as South Africa’s white rulers once did. Commanders for Israel’s Security refers to the prospect of giving Palestinians, which it refers to as “Muslims,” full and equal rights as a “plague.” Among the racist arguments the group advances for not giving Palestinians under Israeli rule full rights is that “Israel will be responsible for medical services for millions of annexed Palestinians” and that “our health will be affected” as a result. Under international law, Israel is already legally responsible for the health of Palestinians it occupies, but it chooses to flout that obligation, including by denying Palestinians COVID-19 vaccines. Such segregationism is what often passes for “progressive” politics when it comes to Israel. Israeli organizations including Ir Amim, which documents settlement activity in Jerusalem, and Breaking the Silence, a group of veterans critical of the occupation, are also backing the conference that is giving the stage to unrepentant Israeli military officials.

In a masterful display of hand-wringing, J Street said in March that it could “take no position” on the recent International Criminal Court decision to open a formal investigation into war crimes committed in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip. At the same time, J Street asserted that it cannot support “total impunity” for Israel’s actions. But if J Street does not have the courage to support the ICC investigation, opposes the nonviolent BDS movement, opposes cutting US aid to Israel, and, needless to say, condemns any form of Palestinian armed struggle, then, in effect, it does support total impunity for Israel. It cannot have its cake and eat it too. At least by refusing to back the ICC investigation, J Street spares itself the awkwardness of hosting guest speakers who it believes may one day be required to account for their actions in a court of law. Sadly, some Palestinians and Muslim activists have chosen to give cover to J Street and its deeply anti-Palestinian policies. It is obviously no surprise that Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas was among the major speakers. J Street correctly sees Abbas as an ally in their joint quest to abrogate the right of return for Palestinian refugees. Other Palestinians taking part, despite J Street’s opposition to BDS and refugee rights, are Palestinian MK Ayman Odeh and Palestinian-American entrepreneur and activist Sam Bahour.

Also speaking is Rawan Odeh, a Palestinian recently revealed to be involved with “Heart of a Nation,” a new “progressive” pro-Israel initiative launched by a former senior AIPAC staffer. They are joining Salam al-Marayati, director of the Muslim Public Affairs Council and a staunch defender of Emgage, the Muslim American group that endorses and fundraises for pro-Israel candidates. Another J Street participant is Yehuda Kurtzer, president of the Shalom Hartman Institute of North America. It is part of the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem, which works closely with the Israeli army and hosts the Muslim Leadership Initiative. MLI brings so-called Muslim American leaders on junkets to Israel as part of an effort to co-opt them as mouthpieces for Israeli propaganda under the banner of so-called interfaith dialogue. J Street, with the help of progressives and some Palestinians, continues to market itself as the acceptable face of the Israel lobby, the one that Democrats can embrace without feeling guilty. Perhaps the clearest sign of where J Street really stands is its silence about the January report by noted Israeli human rights group B’Tselem declaring at long last that Israel operates an apartheid regime against Palestinians in all the territory between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea. As Phil Weiss and Joshua Gold observed:

B’Tselem put Israel lobby groups in a bind, because in the wake of the report it’s all but impossible to call yourself both progressive and pro-Israel, as J Street and many other groups do. If you acknowledge that Israel is practicing apartheid, you are in essence endorsing BDS. Because apartheid is a crime against humanity, and as was the case with apartheid South Africa, one’s duty is to support boycott, divestment and sanctions.

J Street can’t acknowledge Israeli apartheid, because by opposing the rights of Palestinian refugees it supports racial segregation, supremacy and discrimination. J Street won’t endorse BDS because it doesn’t want Palestinians to have power, leverage and equal rights, or be in control of their fate. J Street remains an enemy of Palestinian rights whose mission is to put a softer, “progressive” face on apartheid. No-one should fall for it or assist in the charade.

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