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MJ Rosenberg
MJ Rosenberg
MJ Rosenberg is a commentator on Israel and the Middle East who draws on thirty-five years of experience as a congressional aide, State Department political appointee under President Clinton, four years at AIPAC, ten at Israel Policy Forum, and three at Media Matters for America.



Kerry, Anti-Semites & BDS, AIPAC Decline

Mar14

by: on March 14th, 2014 | 3 Comments »

Time To Put Conditions On Aid

Secretary of State John Kerry told the House Foreign Affairs Committee yesterday that he doesn’t believe it is helpful for the Israeli government to keep bringing up the demand to recognize Israel as a Jewish state, He has concluded that all that demand does is make achieving a deal less likely.

I guess that kind of mental acuity is what made him Secretary of State. For future reference, Secretary, all Israeli demands not directly related to security are designed to make a deal impossible. Given that the United States is as zealous about defending Israel’s physical security as Israel itself is and demonstrates it continuously, it is safe to say that all demands that Israel puts to the United States are designed for no other reason except to kill negotiations.

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Neocons Now Pushing For War With Russia

Mar10

by: on March 10th, 2014 | 5 Comments »

President Obama is not, apparently, going to be steamrolled into acting as if Russia is the Soviet Union and Ukraine is Czechoslovakia. (Not that we did anything in 1968.)

And I’m grateful for that. Just imagine if that crazed warmonger John McCain was president or even Mitt Romney (although Romney is not unstable so I don’t suggest they are the same).

Instead, we have Obama who seems to understand that the United States is limited in what we can do about Ukraine. And not just logistically either.

We are also limited by the fact that the U.S. has acted precisely the way Russia has dozens of times in the last century alone. Ukraine is on the Russian border. How far are we from Guatemala, El Salavador or Chile? How far away was Iran when we overthrew its government in 1953? How far away is Iraq which we invaded and destroyed or Afghanistan where we provided the arms to put the mujaheddin in power who are now the Taliban, a curse from which that country is unlikely ever to recover?

Not surprisingly, the same people who promoted the Iraq war and now want the U.S. to bomb Iran (or let Israel do it) or pushing for action against Russia. You can call them the neocons or the Kristol-Joe Lieberman-Dershowitz-Krauthammer-Perle-Feith-Peretz gang, who always want us to be tough, lest someday we won’t defend Israel’s occupation of the West Bank. (These guys are all about Israel, nothing else.)

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Israel’s U.S Jewish Cheering Section Is Over Age 70, Writes Ari Shavit

Mar8

by: on March 8th, 2014 | 3 Comments »

Ari Shavit, the Israeli journalist, has been traveling the United States recently (promoting his book) and has discovered what those of us who live here already know: Israel is a cause for Jews over 70 (and not most of them either). Below that general cutoff, most Jews have strayed from the reservation. And that cutoff will slip even further back soon. In 2016, the first baby-boomers turn 70. At the point, Shavit will need to revise his age cutoff to 71, then 72, etc. The Woodstock/McGovern Jews/Viet war protestors are not that into Israel.

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Netanyahu Is Mostly Right About BDS — But BDS Is Not The Problem

Mar4

by: on March 4th, 2014 | 4 Comments »

As I have written before, I don’t much like the BDS movement for many of the same reasons Prime Minister Netanyahu doesn’t. It demonizes Israel, many of its leading proponents are anti-Semites, and its rage against Israel is entirely selective. I also believe (from reading its material) that the movement exists to eliminate the State of Israel by replacing it by “One State” in which Jews will be a minority. As one who supports the continued existence of a secure Jewish state, I have no choice but to oppose the BDS movement.

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Rabbis Defend Colleagues Against AIPAC

Mar1

by: on March 1st, 2014 | 3 Comments »

One of the first acts taken by New York’s Mayor Bill De Blasio was to convene a secret meeting with AIPAC to tell the lobby that he will always do whatever it wants. This is, of course, typical behavior for New York politicians but rather surprising coming from a progressive like De Blasio rather than the likes of Ed Koch, Al D’Amato or Chuck Schumer. The only indication that De Blasio knew that what he was doing was wrong was his insistence that the meeting be kept secret. This is also an indication of how toxic AIPAC has become for liberals. (Read the full story of the secret AIPAC meeting here)

Shortly after the meeting, the senior rabbis at Congregation Bnai Jeshurun In Manhattan, Rolando Matalon and Felicia Sol, signed a letter to De Blasio which stated that AIPAC does not speak for them. Within hours, a few of the congregational big shots (big money, AIPAC members) condemned the two rabbis and began organizing the congregation against them. This is, of course, what AIPAC types do. Prohibit free thinking on Israel. (They, of course, are all for free speech on all matters relating to the United States.)

The point of the AIPAC efforts is to make the rabbis fear for their jobs. (More than most, I know how that works.) And if the rabbis don’t back down, their jobs could indeed be in jeopardy, in theory at least.

But here’s the thing. Bnai Jeshurun is perfectly suited to its community and so are its rabbis. Located in the heart of Bella Abzug/Ted Weiss country, the congregation is known nationally as one of the safest places to be ethical, spiritual and Jewish especially for young people. I say safe because young people avoid synagogues in general because you never know when the rabbi will start ranting about Iran or reading from AIPAC talking points. That won’t happen at Bnai Jeshurun, which is why, unlike pretty much any other synagogue in America, it is actually a cool place to be on Friday nights. (My younger son lives right nearby so I’ve see the crowds of kids filling the place.)

In short, the rabbis not only did the moral thing in speaking out against AIPAC, it did the right thing for their business: keeping Bnai Jeshurun viable and appealing to Jews (especially the young) who simply cannot stand AIPAC or Netanyahu, if they think about them at all. In other words, the Jews of their community.

Nonetheless, AIPAC now has it in for the rabbis. But, happily, hundreds of other rabbis and Jewish lay leaders are pushing back. Read the letter below. Look at those names. (Hey, where are Rabbis David Saperstein and Eric Yoffie? Oh yeah, they are at the AIPAC conference.) And be hopeful about the future of Jews, at least at Bnai Jeshurun where Judaism trumps politics. Hang in there, rabbis. Judaism’s future depends on people like you. And Israel’s too.

Do not miss the best line in the letter which sums up how the organized “mainstream” Jewish community operates:

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The “Fat Lady” Sings For AIPAC

Mar1

by: on March 1st, 2014 | Comments Off

AIPAC’s annual conference that begins Sunday night promises to be less interesting than any in recent memory.

That is because the main event took place months ago.

Think about it.

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Why I Don’t Support The BDS Movement

Feb21

by: on February 21st, 2014 | 18 Comments »

This will be a short one as I only choose to make one point. I make it as someone who absolutely supports the boycott, divestment, and sanctions movement (BDS) as applied to the West Bank. Even if I deeply desired a seltzer machine, I would not buy the one manufactured in occupied territory.

However, I do not support boycotting Israel itself because, although I have no problem at all about applying collective economic punishment on settlers and the loathsome settlement enterprise, I do not feel that way about Israelis in general. I am not anti-Zionist. I am, for lack of a better term, a liberal Zionist. I want the Jewish state to survive and prosper which is impossible so long as it maintains its colonial and oppressive regime in the West Bank and its blockade of Gaza.

But all that is beside the one point I need to make today.

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Museum of Jewish Heritage Bans Discussion Of Truman & Israel: Too Controversial!

Feb19

by: on February 19th, 2014 | Comments Off

Credit: Creative Commons

It is almost laughable. The organized Jewish community, which claims to be worried about young Jews defecting in droves, just cannot help itself from doing things that drive Jews (not just young ones) away. Between supporting Netanyahu, advocating for war with Iran and maintaining the occupation, and keeping silent as Israel evolves into a theocracy, it also is in the business of preventing debate on all these things and more.

The latest is this. Phil Weiss reports that the Museum of Jewish Heritage in New York has banned an appearance by New Republic journalist, John Judis, who has written a book challenging the conventional wisdom about why President Truman recognized Israel. The book argues that Truman recognized Israel in 1948 not because he was a fervent Zionist but because it was May of an election year, he was trailing in the polls and he was heavily lobbied by Zionists to do so. Shocking, right. Who would think that politics would enter into a decision like that?

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AIPAC: Now Stuck With The GOP

Feb14

by: on February 14th, 2014 | 3 Comments »

Suddenly AIPAC is a lobby without a cause.

In three weeks thousands of delegates from all over the country will descend on the Washington, D.C. convention center to get their marching orders but, as of today, AIPAC hasn’t even drafted them.

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AIPAC Loses, Just As Its Former Executive Director Predicted

Jan31

by: on January 31st, 2014 | 3 Comments »

It didn’t take much. Just the power of the presidency, the State Of The Union, and the whole country watching.

Plus the president’s will.

And AIPAC’s entire campaign to destroy America’s chance to reach an agreement with Iran crumbled. Within hours, three senators announced they were no longer cosponsoring AIPAC’s bill to kill the Iran negotiations (Gillibrand, Coons and Manchin), and AIPAC’s hopes to override Obama’s veto ended with a whimper, AIPAC’s whimper. 

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