Issue #6 - "Progressives" against Palestine

How the Israel lobby is intervening in left-wing politics globally.

There’s a bit of a running theme in this week’s newsletter. Supposedly left-wing or “progressive” politicians who are increasingly prostrating themselves before Israel’s agenda. But there’s lots more too.

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Our “compromised” home secretary

This week for EI I wrote a piece about what Alan Duncan’s new book reveals about Priti Patel. It sheds new light on the 2017 pro-Israel lobbying scandal which led to her resignation from Prime Minister Theresa May’s cabinet. In 2019, Prime Minister Boris Johnson not only brought her back, but gave her a promotion to home secretary.

Former deputy foreign minister Alan Duncan — a critic of Conservative Friends of Israel — has written some particularly acidic things about her. Find out more here.

How Syria divided Palestine solidarity

In the latest episode of the EI podcast we got into the thorny and under-reported issue of how the war in Syria has divided the Palestine solidarity movement over the last decade. This episode’s guest is our friend Rania Khalek. Rania has reported from Syria, Lebanon and Iraq, as well as on the Palestine solidarity movement in the US.

We also discussed Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and why it’s important to pressure even left-wing politicians if we want to create change. Please do check it out: you can watch on YouTube or listen on all good podcast platforms.

Israel's pogroms in Jerusalem

In this week’s MEMO column I wrote about the terrifying scenes of state-backed Israeli violence that we’ve been seeing in Jerusalem this week. Religious Zionist extremists — backed to the hilt by the armed forces of the Zionist state — have been marching around the city chanting “Death to the Arabs” and attacking any Palestinian they can get their hands on. (A Belgium group has also translated my piece into French.)

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How the Israel lobby intervenes in progressive party politics

It was great to speak at IsraelApartheidCon, the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs’ and Institute for Research: Middle Eastern Policy’s annual conference on the Israel lobby. I discussed the similarities and differences between Labour Friends of Israel in the UK and Democratic Majority for Israel in the US.

This video is of my half-hour talk (without the Q&A, which is apparently to follow). But there’s also a far-longer video of the whole Saturday session, which is well worth checking out — so many great speakers with interesting topics.

What I’ve been reading

  • My EI colleague Michael Brown wrote about how Democratic Majority for Israel, a supposedly “progressive” group, has a board member, Archie Gottesman, who has called for outright genocide against 2 million Palestinians in Gaza. So far the group hasn’t even commented on the issue, let alone sacked her.

  • James Kleinfeld at the Al Jazeera Investigative Unit (yes, that James Kleinfeld) revealed on Friday that the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance misled the public about its now-infamous “working definition” of anti-Semitism.

    According to a confidential internal memo from an ambassador to the 2016 IHRA plenary meeting, seen by Al Jazeera, Sweden and Denmark objected to the definition being rushed through as well as to “the examples added to the definition”.

  • My EI colleague Ali Abunimah wrote about the recent conference of J Street, a “progressive” Israel lobby group based in Washington DC, and how it brought together supposedly left-wing Democrats with Israeli war criminals.

Tweet of the Week

Tweet of the Week goes to @OpenlyClassist for this great effort. It may require some context. It’s a comment on a video that went viral this week from the Jerusalem pogroms (on which see my MEMO column, linked to above). The video was from Israeli state TV. In it, a Palestinian reporter asked this young woman if the chants “Death to the Arabs” and “May your village burn” represented her. She replied that she preferred to speak in a “mannered and proper way,” in which, instead of saying she’d burn their villages, she’d tell the Palestinians that they should get out of the villages so that “we” (Jewish Israelis) could live in them instead.

This meme is a quote from Labour leader Keir Starmer, who told The Times of Israel last year that “I support Zionism without qualification” — any and all Zionism, he seemed to be being. Even this particularly crude form of Zionism? It seems so.

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