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A Nation Awakening: Boycott Against Israel Is the Top Story in … Israel


by: on January 20th, 2014 | 23 Comments »

Something remarkable has happened in the last 24 hours in Israel, with two of the country’s most popular media outlets, one television and one newspaper, making the growing effectiveness of boycotts against Israel as their top stories.

Perhaps more remarkable? Neither outlet sought to demonize those leading the European and Palestinian boycott efforts as anti-Semitic, as so often happens in America. Instead, the focus was on these boycotts’ growing impact on Israeli businesses and their root causes: Israel’s settlement enterprise and continued conflict with the Palestinians.

It all started on Saturday night with an in-depth, primetime expose by what is easily Israel’s most watched news program: Channel 2′s “Weekend” (סוף השבוע). This is how Larry Derfner at +972 Magazine described the moment:

On Saturday night the boycott of Israel gained an impressive new level of mainstream recognition in this country. Channel 2 News, easily the most watched, most influential news show here, ran a heavily-promoted, 16-minute piece on the boycott in its 8 p.m. prime-time program. The piece was remarkable not only for its length and prominence, but even more so because it did not demonize the boycott movement, it didn’t blame the boycott on anti-Semitism or Israel-bashing. Instead, top-drawer reporter Dana Weiss treated the boycott as an established, rapidly growing presence that sprang up because of Israel’s settlement policy and whose only remedy is that policy’s reversal.


When Did Cory Booker Become Such A Likudnik?


by: on January 19th, 2014 | 4 Comments »

I received an email over the weekend from a woman in northern New Jersey who says she was “shocked” to see Senator Cory Booker’s name on the list of Democratic senators who are backing AIPAC over the president on the issue of Iran sanctions. “I don’t get it. He has been a friend of Muslims during his entire career. Why did he change?” The answer is simple: he didn’t. His support for the local Muslim community has nothing to do with his position on matters AIPAC cares about: the Israeli-Palestinian issue and Iran. As far as the lobby is concerned, Booker can march 24-7 in front of the FBI building to protest profiling of Muslims, so long as does not deviate an iota from Netanyahu’s line on Israel, Palestine or Iran. In fact, being good on Muslim civil rights serves as a good cover for being terrible on Middle East matters.

Booker is a more complex case than, say, Chuck Schumer, Lindsey Graham, or Bob Menendez. They are obstructionists on Iran and Israel entirely for the campaign funds. For Booker, that is a large part of it. Remember how, back in the 2012 presidential campaign, he publicly broke with President Obama on whether or not Mitt Romney’s work at Bain Capital — buying up and then dismantling companies — was a legitimate campaign issue? Obama thought it was because it showed Romney not as a job creator but the opposite. But, just as the Bain issue was getting traction in the polls, Booker went on Meet The Press and called the Obama’s use of it “nauseating” and “ridiculous,” damaging Obama but delighting Booker’s own Wall Street donors.


American Dream Deferred: Wealth of Richest 400 Equals that of Nation’s 44 Million African Americans


by: on January 19th, 2014 | Comments Off

We honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. not just for his heroic championing of social justice, but economic justice as well. Indeed, income inequality was always a central focus for Dr. King, who in 1951 told Correta Scott that “a society based on making all the money you can and ignoring people’s needs, is wrong.”

Which is why, in 1967, Dr. King launched the Poor People’s Campaign, which championed economic justice for black Americans and poor minorities (including whites) alike, aiming to give them the collective power to “assert and win their right to a decent life.”

As Bob Lord notes in his op-ed, “Dr. King’s Nightmare,” Dr. King’s activism was always squarely focused on economic justice. His historic March on Washington was for “jobs and justice,” and at the time of Dr. King’s assassination in 1968, he was advocating on behalf of striking sanitation workers in Memphis. In fact, some of his last words were to those sanitation workers on the need to fight, in the face of intense opposition, for their economic justice:

“We’ve got to give ourselves to this struggle until the end. Nothing would be more tragic than to stop at this point in Memphis. We’ve got to see it through.”


You Must Remember This, A Kiss Is Just A Kiss, An Executive Order Is NOT A Law


by: on January 18th, 2014 | 4 Comments »

Photo courtesy of WhiteHouse.gov

YesterdayPresident Obama spoke about much-needed reforms to how the NSA and other intelligence agencies target, gather, store, sift through, and disseminate “intelligence” information. As president, he can issue executive orders which must be obeyed by those within his chain of command, and that gives him significant power to change the way things are done.

That’s very nice, but those executive orders are NOT laws, and they can be set aside faster than the blink of an eye by this president or any president in the future.

The Constitution that President Obama mentions in his speech, which guarantees our freedoms, created three branches of government, a balance of powers, to protect those freedoms, and those branches have not been doing much since 2001. Meanwhile, the executive branch has been going wild.


Minimum Wage: Rare Case of Moral Consensus


by: on January 17th, 2014 | Comments Off

Picture a world where politics is not so polarized. Imagine that the American people are flat out in favor of a plan that could lift more than a million of their neighbors out of poverty. And they’re arriving at this position not out of narrow self-interests—most Americans aren’t poor—but for essentially moral reasons. Actually, not much imagination is required. At least not when it comes to public opinion on a perennial issue: the minimum wage.

For decades, polling has shown support for a higher minimum wage ranging somewhere between unambiguous and unbelievable. In November, a Gallup survey found that 76 percent of the people would vote for a hypothetical national referendum lifting the bottom wage to $9 an hour. That’s $1.75 more than the current federal minimum; it would also be more than any increase ever passed by Congress. Last summer, a less independent poll conducted by Democratic-leaning Hart Research Associates found eight in ten Americans flocking behind a $10.10 per-hour minimum wage.

Try to identify a considerable subgroup of American opinion that’s content with the $7.25 regime. You’d think, for example, that self-identified Republicans would want to either freeze the wage or tamp it down. You would be mistaken, according to the Gallup breakdown: Republicans favored the $1.75 hike by an unmistakable 58-39 percent margin. Meanwhile, in a previous Gallup poll, the support among self-identified “moderates” was rather immoderate (75 percent).


Tide Turning For AIPAC?


by: on January 17th, 2014 | 2 Comments »

It’s Friday and things seem to be breaking our way. According to National Journal, Majority Leader Harry Reed is strongly resisting demands from AIPAC Senators to bring its sanctions bill to the floor for a vote. John McCain says that the game will be to get Jews to put the pressure on their senators and, if Reed resists, to keep bringing the bill up and forcing Reed to block it. That way the Democrats will be exposed as anti-Israel and the Republicans will benefit in November. AIPAC and its deputy, Chuck Schumer, are giving Reed the same message: if we don’t do this,  AIPAC donors will boycott us and will lose our majority. But Reed is good at standing up to special interest pressure. So the old boxer may very well stand tough. We’ll see. But so far, so good. Especially with some in the media finally addressing AIPAC’s bum rush to war.


When Jon Stewart and Diane Feinstein Both Blast the Israel Lobby, You Know the Game Is Changing


by: on January 16th, 2014 | 5 Comments »

This week, something unprecedented has occurred: politicians, mainstream media outlets, and political satirists have uniquely joined forces to identify AIPAC – and the ‘pro-Israel’ lobby – as the political force threatening the Obama administration’s historic, diplomatic breakthrough with Iran.

Jon Stewart did so. The New York Times, in an extremely rare moment of candor, did so. Even Diane Feinstein, in a double-take-worthy address on the Senate floor, did so.

How has this happened? How has such seeming synchronicity occurred when just last week, mentioning AIPAC as an influential lobby would likely earn one shouts of anti-Semitism?

What’s happened is that the Israel lobby, and AIPAC specifically, has wildly overplayed its hand in a country where Americans back President Obama’s diplomatic efforts with Iran by a 2-1 margin.

So much so that, for the first time I can remember, the Israel lobby is being being publicly singled out by both staunch allies and critics for trying to push the United States toward a war Israel’s leaders want, but a war Americans don’t.

Perhaps it’s no surprise that Jon Stewart highlighted AIPAC’s influence over those senators who are supporting a sanctions bill which could railroad the White House’s agreement with Iran. However, when Jon Stewart mockingly yells, “The Senators from the Great State of Israel are against [Obama's diplomacy]” while an AIPAC logo appears in the background, it’s more that noteworthy.

It’s evidence of a potential sea change.


Chris Hayes Rips AIPAC & Its Senators & Senator Dianne Feinstein’s Brilliant & Brave Speech


by: on January 16th, 2014 | 4 Comments »

It has started. The media is waking up to the AIPAC crusade to get us into a war with Iran.

Last night Chris Hayes, the very young, very brilliant, MSNBC reporter called out both AIPAC and the 16 Democrats backing its Iran war bill with a directness never before seen on that station or anywhere else on television. Watch it here. Best part: when he reminds Cory Booker and the others of the last time Democrats (like Hillary Clinton) voted for a war because they were afraid not to: Iraq. But watch the video. It’s brilliant and trenchant.


Don’t Let AIPAC Kill Obama’s Iran Agreement


by: on January 13th, 2014 | 19 Comments »

Credit: Creative Commons

On Sunday, the United States, China, Russia, Britain, France and Germany (known as the P5+1) reached full agreement with Iran on the next steps in the process of freezing Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for the easing of economic sanctions.

This is great news.

Nonetheless, Democrats in Congress are moving to terminate the agreement by imposing new sanctions on Iran despite our government’s signed promise to lift sanctions. They are joining the Republicans who, as on health care, will sabotage anything the President supports.


A Young Hero


by: on January 12th, 2014 | 4 Comments »

What is a hero? In our violence-ready culture, a hero can mean many things. Fire fighters, soldiers, teachers, even volunteers – all have been called heroes many a time, and with full confidence. Wherever there’s tragedy, there are always heroes. We applaud them, pray for them, give them the best of wishes and accolades. When a hero loses his or her life saving someone, we feel their family’s pain, shed tears for them, wish there had been another way. But last week in Pakistan, a young hero – a child himself – gave up his life in a manner that made his family and his nation proud.