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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.



Palestinian Unity Will Be A Big Step On Path To Peace

Apr29

by: on April 29th, 2014 | 1 Comment »

The New York Times devoted a few thousand words on Tuesday to telling us what we already know: the peace process is dead and Prime Minister Netanyahu killed it.

Of course, it hems and haws, apportioning blame to both sides but, it is clear that the Times knows that the sole reason there was no chance that Kerry’s fool’s errand would succeed is because the Israeli right has no intention of giving up the West Bank.

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Kerry Peace Plan Insults Palestinians & Israeli Peace Camp

Apr1

by: on April 1st, 2014 | 11 Comments »

It is possible that the details of Secretary of State John Kerry’s peace proposal (as reported in the New York Times) are wrong. However, assuming the reports are correct, the Palestinians would be out of their minds to accept it. It is bad for Israelis and Palestinians and demeans the United States by reducing us to the role of Binyamin Netanyahu’s stenographer.

Here are the key points as reported in the Times.

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The Official Goal Of BDS Is Ending Israel, Not Just The ’67 Occupation

Mar26

by: on March 26th, 2014 | 39 Comments »

Early Wednesday morning the University of Michigan’s student government voted down a resolution that would have begun the process of divesting from companies doing business with Israel. It was the latest defeat for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement which is dedicated to fighting Israel by isolating it, particularly in the cultural and economic sectors.

Other than Prime Minister Netanyahu’s decision to devote a full 25% of his recent speech to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) to condemning the BDS movement, it hasn’t got very much to show for its efforts. And I don’t expect it ever will.

The reason why BDS keeps failing despite the almost universal recognition that the occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem, and the blockade of Gaza, are illegal and immoral is that the BDS movement is not targeting the occupation per se. Its goal is the end of the State of Israel itself.

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Lobby Fights To Boycott, Sanction & Divest From Free Speech

Mar17

by: on March 17th, 2014 | Comments Off

I wonder what would have happened back in the 1960′s if fat cat donors to U.S. universities demanded that school administrators ban anti-Vietnam war action on campus or else lose donations. Judging by the way some universities are caving to donors on the Israel-Palestine issue, it is just possible that the donors would have succeeded in crushing antiwar activity, cutting the legs out from the movement that ultimately forced the end of the Vietnam war. Fortunately the donors of the 60′s didn’t care as much about Vietnam as many of them do now about Israel so they did not threaten to tear up their donations. Today it is something else Donors across the country, organized by AIPAC and other components of the Netanyahu lobby, are threatening to cut university funding and administrators are caving.

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Mondoweiss & Is Anti-Semitism Dead?

Mar16

by: on March 16th, 2014 | 14 Comments »

Lately I have been struck by the raw anti-semitism evinced on anti-Israel websites (most egregious example, Mondoweiss). http://mondoweiss.net/

There is nothing novel about it. It’s not “the new anti-semitism” that the Anti-Defamation League likes to talk about. But the old kind, masquerading as anti-Zionism but manifesting itself as support or, at least, sympathy for every group or individual hostile to Jews: from Pat Buchanan to Hizbullah.

The only difference between this anti-semitism and the old-fashioned kind is that it has no impact. If you don’t visit Mondoweiss or other websites like it, you won’t know it exists. It threatens no one. It is just ugly. But ugly and irrelevant.

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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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