Walking on Eggshells: Talking about Israel and Palestine

I.          After January’s Martin Luther King Day celebration at Detroit’s Central Methodist Church, a couple of friends, my wife, and I joined the march going further into downtown in order to show our support for continuing action against racial inequality and especially for Black Lives Matters’ mobilization against police violence against African Americans. Within a few minutes we four, politically “progressive” Jews, found ourselves in the midst of a loud and energetic chant: “From the River to the Sea, Palestine Will Be Free.”  I suppose some of those chanting, certainly the leaders, knew that their words were calling for the destruction of the state of Israel. But perhaps some weren’t even aware of that, and wouldn’t have understood why the four of us dropped out. Later that day I happened to go the J Street website for some advice on how to think about the differences and possible links between anti-\Zionism and antisemitism and I was instantly confronted by the words on their banner: “The Political Home for Pro-Israel, Pro-Peace Americans.” Know it or not, those chanting earlier were certainly “anti-Israel,” but it was J Street’s language that stopped me in my tracks. “Pro-Israel” was no doubt a way of rebutting those who had called J Street “Anti-Israel” for opposing some current Israeli government policies, notably the West Bank settlements and the occupation (a word that J Street seems shy about using).

Social Hope in the Time of Trump

In this article Ronald Aronson reports that, contrary to what many may have expected, there has been an increase in social hope––what he defines as “the disposition to act collectively to improve our situation”––since Trump took office.