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David Harris-Gershon
David Harris-Gershon
David Harris-Gershon's work has appeared in The Jerusalem Post, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Jewish Telegraphic Agency and elsewhere, and his memoir, What Do You Buy the Children of the Terrorist Who Tried to Kill Your Wife?, is forthcoming from Oneworld Publications (September, 2013).



White House Chief of Staff: Israel’s 50-year occupation must end

Mar23

by: on March 23rd, 2015 | 8 Comments »

Speaking before J Street conference attendees in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday, White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough amplified President Obama’s policy rift with Israel’s Prime Minister, Binyamin Netanyahu.

Responding to Netanyahu’s pre-election rejection of Palestinian statehood and subsequent attempts to walk back said rejection, McDonough had this to say:

“We cannot simply pretend that those comments were never made,” McDonough told the J Street conference in Washington, whose left-leaning audience received his remarks enthusiastically.

“Israel cannot maintain military control of another people indefinitely,” he said. “An occupation that has lasted for almost 50 years must end.”


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I am now a ‘Pro-Pressure’ Jew

Mar21

by: on March 21st, 2015 | 2 Comments »

Israel’s Prime Minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, has obliterated what it means to be ‘pro-Israel,’ setting Israel on a course towards national suicide which mainstream American Jewish organizations seem intent on enabling.

However, I and many others refuse to stand idly by as Israel self-destructs, understanding that to truly be ‘pro-Israel’ now means to be ‘pro-pressure’ – to champion nonviolent measures capable of forcing Israel to change from without, including those initiated by the Obama administration.

The phrase ‘pro-Israel’ over the years has come to signify supporting Israel as a Jewish, democratic state. In other words, it has been synonymous with support for the two-state resolution for Israel/Palestine and opposition to a single-state outcome. It has been synonymous with championing self-determination for both Palestinians and Israeli Jews.

However, in a 24-hour period leading up to and during Israel’s latest elections, Netanyahu concretized with his words what his actions already established: an Israel committed to perpetual occupation and discrimination. An Israel committed to a right-wing version of single statehood. An Israel committed to national destruction.

He did so by formally rejecting Palestinian statehood, embracing perpetual occupation and settlement expansion, and employing racists rants about Palestinian citizens “coming out in droves to the polls.” By doing so, he was rewarded with a striking victory and mandate which will likely lead to the most right-wing Israeli government in its history. It’s an outcome many in Israel’s own security establishment feared as more dangerous than any enemy, an outcome some think will inevitably lead to full, national apartheid.

Many Americans and diaspora Jews are, for the first time, realizing this, thanks to Netanyahu’s racist rhetoric and rejection of two states. Which is why ‘pro-Israel’ can no longer mean supporting Israel’s government. Indeed, for many it now means strongly opposing it, with being ‘pro-Israel’ meaning to be ‘pro-pressure,’ to back measures which will force Israel to change from without before it destroys itself from within.

As an American Jew invested in Israel and Palestine’s future, I now formally consider myself to be a ‘pro-pressure’ Jew. Allow me to explain:


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Netanyahu Rejects Two-State Solution Amidst Plummeting Poll Numbers

Mar12

by: on March 12th, 2015 | 1 Comment »

Israel’s Prime Minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, released a statement this week via Likud, his political party, making official what has been implied many times over: that he rejects the idea of two, self-determining states as the path toward peace between Israelis and Palestinians.

The statement made clear that Netanyahu now disavows a speech he delivered at Bar Ilan University in 2009 as “no longer relevant.” The speech’s topic? The path towards creating a Palestinian state alongside Israel. To hammer home Netanyahu’s rejection of Palestinian statehood, the statement threw in the following, just in case its intention wasn’t clear:

“Netanyahu’s entire political biography is a fight against the creation of a Palestinian state.”

Truer words have never been spoken.


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Massive anti-Netanyahu rally draws over 50,000 to the streets of Tel Aviv as elections loom

Mar7

by: on March 7th, 2015 | 3 Comments »

Days after Israel’s Prime Minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, claimed to be speaking for “the entire Jewish people” in his speech before Congress, tens of thousands of Israelis took to the streets, rejecting such a ridiculous notion by calling for his ouster.

The explicitly anti-Netanyahu rally, which organizers say drew 80,000 people, comes just 10 days before Israel’s elections, with most polls showing Netanyahu’s Likud vulnerable to being defeated by a center-left coalition.

At the rally, former Mossad Chief, Meir Dagan, blasted Netanyahu as more dangerous than any perceived enemy and the greatest obstacle to peace:

“Israel is a country surrounded by enemies, but the enemies are not scaring us. I am afraid of our leadership.”

[...]

“Benjamin Netanyahu has served as prime minister for six years straight, six years in which he has not led a single genuine process of change to the face of the region or the creation of a better future. On his watch, Israel conducted the longest [military] campaign since the War of Independence.”

aDagan’s voice is representative of those in Israel’s security establishment who both rejected Netanyahu’s speech before Congress and his attempts to derail President Obama’s Iran diplomacy. Indeed, Netanyahu organized the speech behind the back of his own National Security Advisor, knowing it would be rejected as dangerous and damaging to U.S.-Israel relations.

This week, Netanyahu defended himself from attacks on the right by claiming to be the greatest supporter of Israel’s settlement enterprise in Israel’s history, the only claim he’s made recently which rings true. In response to this and Israel’s continued occupation, multiple speakers at the Tel Aviv rally charged Netanyahu with pushing Israel toward full apartheid, including Dagan.

It remains difficult to determine whether Netanyahu’s foreign policy push and speech before Congress, one of the most elaborate election stunts in recent history, will end up helping or hurting his election chances.


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Jon Stewart on Netanyahu: “I speak for ALL Jews, including the ones who don’t want me to!”

Mar5

by: on March 5th, 2015 | 4 Comments »

On Tuesday, Israel’s Prime Minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, used the U.S. Congress to stage a most elaborate campaign commercial in the run-up to Israel’s elections in two weeks. He did so at the behest of GOP leaders, and damaged every conceivable metric he claims to be invested in save one: his own suddenly-rising poll numbers back home.

With his speech, Netanyahu damaged U.S.-Israel relations by turning Israel into a political football. He caused the collapse of Democratic support for the Iran bill in Congress he claimed to support. And he was abandoned as ‘dangerous’ by his own security establishment.

Additionally, by claiming to represent “the entire Jewish people” before Congress, Netanyahu fed into a dangerous anti-Semitic trope, conflating Israel and all Jews. It’s a conflation many American Jews rejected, including Senator Dianne Feinstein, who had this to say:

“He doesn’t speak for me on this. I think it’s a rather arrogant statement. I think the Jewish community is like any other community. There are different points of view. I think that arrogance does not befit Israel, candidly.”

Jon Stewart added his voice to the growing number of American Jews upset by Netanyahu’s proclamation by mocking the Prime Minister’s conflation:

Stewart

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Senator Feinstein on “arrogant” Netanyahu’s claim to represent all Jews: “He doesn’t speak for me.”

Mar1

by: on March 1st, 2015 | 3 Comments »

Senator Dianne Feinstein today blasted Israeli Prime Minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, for claiming that he will be speaking on behalf of “the entire Jewish people” before Congress on March 3, calling Netanyahu “arrogant.”

On Sunday, Netanyahu called his trip to Washington “a fateful, even historic mission” that he is undertaking as “the emissary of all Israelis, even those who disagree with me, of the entire Jewish people.”

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) knocked Netanyahu for suggesting that he represents all Jewish people on the topic of Iran.

“He doesn’t speak for me on this,” Feinstein said Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “I think it’s a rather arrogant statement. I think the Jewish community is like any other community. There are different points of view. I think that arrogance does not befit Israel, candidly.”

Netanyahu has repeatedly claimed, as Israel’s Prime Minister, to speak on behalf of all Jews. And it’s a claim he’s been articulating with troubling frequency as he prepares to attack President Obama’s Iran diplomacy before Congress. However, not only is his claim both preposterous and dangerous, it’s not even true with regard to the issue of Iran. Indeed, 52 percent of American Jews embrace Obama’s diplomatic efforts with Iran, the same efforts Netanyahu is coming here on Tuesday to undermine.


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NYT cartoon shows Netanyahu turning Congress into an Israeli settlement

Feb27

by: on February 27th, 2015 | 3 Comments »

Patrick Chappatte in The New York Times has destroyed Israel’s Prime Minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, in his latest political cartoon. The piece, entitled “Mr. Netanyahu Goes to Washington,” plays upon Netanyahu’s continued expansion of Israel’s West Bank settlements in critiquing his upcoming speech before Congress on March 3.

Witness:

a

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Netanyahu Hid Speech to Congress from His Own National Security Advisor

Feb23

by: on February 23rd, 2015 | No Comments »

It appears that President Obama was not the only one whom Israel’s Prime Minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, kept in the dark about his plans to address Congress on March 3. An Israeli outlet is now reporting that Netanyahu also concealed secret negotiations with John Boehner from his own National Security Advisor, Yossi Cohen.

This merely confirms what most observers have suspected: Netanyahu’s speech is not about security, but rather the two-fold chance to embarrass Obama while creating valuable political optics in advance of Israel’s March 17 elections.

Via i24news:

President Barack Obama and his top aides were not the only ones kept in the dark about the invitation extended by House Speaker John Boehner to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to address a joint session of Congress on Iran’s nuclear program.

i24news has learned that Netanyahu’s decision to address Congress on March 3 was made without consulting his own National Security Advisor, Yossi Cohen.

The invitation was orchestrated by Boehner and the Israeli ambassador to the US, Ron Dermer, but was not discussed thoroughly by a broader forum in Jerusalem. According to well-informed sources, just like the US administration, Cohen learned about Netanyahu’s plans only a short while before Boehner’s public announcement of the scheduled speech.

Cohen, a 30-year veteran of the Mossad spy agency, was appointed to his post by Netanyahu in 2013. According to the law governing the responsibilities of the National Security Council and its head, Cohen’s job includes providing advice to the prime minister and his government on Israel’s strategic relationships.


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Over 1,000 Muslims form ‘ring of peace’ around Oslo synagogue, chanting “No to anti-Semitism.”

Feb21

by: on February 21st, 2015 | 3 Comments »

a An anti-hate campaign launched by Norway’s Muslim community last week, after a tragic attack on a Denmark synagogue, culminated tonight with over 1,000 Muslims forming a ‘ring of peace’ around an Oslo synagogue. Citizens linked hands, chanted anti-hate slogans and offered a show of solidarity with Norway’s Jewish community, one of the smallest in Europe.

Via Reuters:

Chanting “No to anti-Semitism, no to Islamophobia,” Norway’s Muslims formed what they called a ring of peace a week after Omar Abdel Hamid El-Hussein, a Danish-born son of Palestinian immigrants, killed two people at a synagogue and an event promoting free speech in Copenhagen last weekend.

“Humanity is one and we are here to demonstrate that,” Zeeshan Abdullah, one of the protest’s organizers told a crowd of Muslim immigrants and ethnic Norwegians who filled the small street around Oslo’s only functioning synagogue.

“There are many more peace mongers than warmongers,” Abdullah said as organizers and Jewish community leaders stood side by side. “There’s still hope for humanity, for peace and love, across religious differences and backgrounds.”


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White House to Snub AIPAC Conference Over Netanyahu Speech Before Congress

Feb21

by: on February 21st, 2015 | 1 Comment »

A significant development in the ongoing rift between the Obama administration and Israel’s government: it appears White House plans to snub AIPAC’s upcoming policy conference are intensifying over Binyamin Netanyahu’s March 3 address before Congress.

AIPAC officials have known for weeks that neither President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, or Secretary of State John Kerry would likely attend, already a notable and unprecedented snub. Now, the Associated Press is reporting that the Obama administration may not even send a Cabinet-level representative to the conference:

The White House is mulling ways to undercut Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s upcoming trip to Washington and blunt his message that a potential nuclear deal with Iran is bad for Israel and the world in what has become a nasty grudge match.

[...]

Among them … a pointed snub of America’s leading pro-Israel lobby, which is holding its annual meeting while Netanyahu is in Washington.

The administration has already ruled out meetings between Netanyahu and Obama, saying it would be inappropriate for the two to meet so close to Israel’s March 17 elections. But the White House is now doubling down on a cold-shoulder strategy, including dispatching Cabinet members out of the country and sending a lower-ranking official than normal to represent the administration at the annual policy conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the officials said.


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