No easy task, with all that’s flying. But we need to try. It means telling it like it is.
Caroline Glick has written many excellent columns over the years, but in my opinion the one she released last Friday – “The Ellison Challenge” – was exceptional for its direct and incisive analysis. This is precisely what is needed in these times of great political turmoil.
She wrote (emphasis added):
“The Democratic Party stands at a crossroads today. And so do the Jewish Democrats.
“Out of power in the White House and both houses of Congress, the Democrats must decide what sort of party they will be in the post-Obama world.
“They have two basic options.
“They can move to the center and try to rebuild their blue collar voter base that President-elect Donald Trump captivated with his populist message. To do so they will need to loosen the reins of the political correctness and weaken their racialism, their radical environmentalism and their support for open borders…
“The second option is to go still further along the leftist trajectory that President Barack Obama set the party off on eight years ago…It is being played out today on the ground by the anti-Trump protesters who refuse to come to terms with the Trump victory and insistently defame Trump as a Nazi or Hitler and his advisors as Goebbels.
“For the Democrats, such a populist course will require them to become more racialist, more authoritarian in their political correctness, angrier and more doctrinaire.
“It will also require them to become an anti-Semitic party…
“Jews, and particularly the Jewish state, along with evangelical Christians and cops are the only groups that you are allowed to hate, discriminate against and scapegoat in the authoritarian PC universe.
“From the party’s initial post-election moves, it appears that the Democrats have decided to take the latter path.
“Congressman Keith Ellison from Minneapolis is now poised to be selected as the next leader of the Democratic National Committee. This position is a powerful one…When a party is out of power, the party chairman is treated like its formal leader, and most active spokesman.
“Ellison is the head of the Democrats’ Progressive caucus. His candidacy is supported by incoming Senate minority leader Senator Chuck Schumer and outgoing Senate minority leader Harry Reid. Obama has indicated his support for Ellison. Senator Bernie Sanders is enthusiastically supporting him.
“Ellison made history in 2006 when he was elected to serve as the first Muslim member of Congress…
“As Scott Johnson, a prominent conservative writer who runs the popular Powerlineblog website reported extensively in 2006, Ellison is an anti-Semite. He also defends cop killers.
“As Johnson reported, Ellison was a long standing member of the anti-Semitic Nation of Islam. During his 2006 Congressional campaign, the local media gave next to no coverage to this association. But when it did come up, Ellison soothed concerns of Minneapolis’s Jewish community by sending a letter to the local Jewish Community Relations Committee.
“In the letter Ellison claimed that he had only been briefly associated with Louis Farrakhan’s outfit, that he was unfamiliar with its anti-Semitism, and that he had never personally expressed such views.
“The local media and the Jewish community were happy to take him at his word.
“But as Johnson documented, [he] was lying on all counts…
“Ellison’s association with the Nation of Islam dated back at least since 1989 and stretched at least until 1998. During that period, he not only knew about the Nation of Islam’s Jew hatred, he engaged in it himself…
“As a member of Congress, Ellison has been among the most hostile US lawmakers towards Israel. He has close relations with Muslim Brotherhood related groups like the Council on American-Islamic Relations and Islamic Society of North America. Both groups were unindicted co-conspirators in the Holy Land Foundation terror funding trial, implicated in funding Hamas and al Qaida…
Glick then gets to the heart of the matter when she discusses the difference between Trump’s populism and Democratic populism. And it is here that I ask you to pay particularly close attention:
“Trump’s populism stemmed from his willingness to say things that other politicians and authority figures more generally wouldn’t dare to say. Trump’s allegation that the political system is rigged, for instance, empowered Americans who feel threatened by the authoritarianism of the politically correct Left.
“Trump’s opponents insist that his populism empowered white power bigots. But that was a bug in his ointment. It wasn’t the ointment itself. Trump’s willingness to seemingly say anything, and certainly to say things that were beyond the narrow confines of the politically correct discourse, empowered tens of millions of voters. It also empowered white bigots at the fringes of the Right.
“Whereas empowering white bigots was a side effect of Trump’s populism, empowering bigots is a central feature of leftist populism.”
This situation, then, says Glick, brings us to the matter of the Jews, “who voted 3:1 for the Democrats, and to the American Jewish leadership whose support for Clinton was near unanimous.
“When anti-Semitic, populist voices…began taking over Britain’s Labour Party, British Jews began heading for the exits. When push came to shove they preferred their individual rights and their communal rights as Jews above their partisan loyalties.
“So far, this doesn’t appear to be the case among Jewish Democrats.
“Consider the Anti-Defamation League’s unhinged onslaught against Trump’s chief strategist, former Breitbart CEO Steve Bannon.
“While ignoring Ellison’s record of anti-Semitism and support for Israel’s enemies, as well as his ties to unindicted co-conspirators in funding Hamas, the ADL launched a scathing assault on Bannon accusing him of being an anti-Semite.
“The ADL’s assault on Bannon follows its absurd claim in the final days of the campaign that Trump’s ad criticizing George Soros was anti-Semitic…
“As many prominent US Jews on both sides of the partisan divide have made clear, the accusation that Bannon, whose Breitbart website is one of the most pro-Israel websites in the US, is anti-Semitic is appalling on its face. The allegation is simply unsubstantiated.
“So why do it? Why allege that a friend of the Jews is a Jew hater while ignoring the actual anti-Semitism of another man?…
“The ADL appears to be trying to give cover to the rising forces of anti-Semitism in the Democratic Party. By falsely accusing Bannon and through him Trump of anti-Semitism, the ADL defuses the real problem of Democratic anti-Semitism. And if the ADL doesn’t think there is a problem with Ellison taking over the DNC, but alleges that Republicans hate them, then rank and file Jews will stay put…
“The ADL of course isn’t alone in sending this message.
“Following the election, Conservative and Reform congregations in major cities throughout the US organized communal ‘shivas,’ to mourn Clinton’s defeat as if it was a death in the family. Such actions, along with characterizations of Trump and his advisors as Nazis or Hitler or white supremacists, work to bind Jews to a party that is inhospitable to their communal interests while blinding them to the fact that Republicans do not hate Jews or the Jewish state.
“For decades, American Jews have been at the forefront of every major social movement on in the US. But the Democratic Party’s move towards anti-Semitism, a move made apparent through Ellison’s rise, is one movement the Jews mustn’t lead.”
Unfortunately, it appears that there are Jews willing to lead this new Democratic party. Witness the shamefully self-serving support of Ellison by Senator Chuck Schumer.
I believe Glick’s article is one that should be seen by every left wing Jew in America. I have had enough of hypocritical, intellectually dishonest, smugly arrogant Jews on the left who challenge right wing Jews to “deal with” the alleged anti-Semitism of Bannon while they blithely close their eyes to the reality of Ellison’s radical Muslim affiliations.
Before I move on to news about this part of the world, I want to share a brief CSpan video from 1995. This is President Bill Clinton speaking before Congress – clearly this was a State of the Union address – about illegal immigration and the need to stop it.
It shows us precisely how far left the US has moved in the last 21 years, how politically correct it has become. Clinton, a centrist president, is saying, to applause, much what Trump now says and is vilified for proposing.
(I thank the reader who sent this to me. But since I’ve been inundated with emails, I hope he/she will forgive me, that I do not recall who it was.)
While the political tone here in Israel is certain not nearly as turmoiled as it is in the US right now, matters are not exactly smooth. (Yes, I know, you might rightly ask, when do political matters go smoothly in Israel, and yet…)
At the heart of current concerns right now are issues of the legality of certain “settlements” – i.e., Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria. With a particular focus on Amona, which is scheduled for demolition by the end of this year.
Amona is a community of more than 40 families in the Binyamin region of Samaria. Founded in 1995, it is an offshoot of the larger nearby community of Ofra.
It was established with assistance from various government ministries, which is something the residents cannot forget. They didn’t sneak on to the land in the dark of night. According to one report, the Ministry of Housing alone invested perhaps $500,000 into Amona. “They put us here,” declared one Amona resident angrily. “If they made a mistake let them deal with it.”
Credit: Amona PR division
But because the community did not have full government sanction, it is considered an “illegal outpost.” And because of claims of Arab ownership, the High Court has ordered that it be taken down.
The story of Amona is in many ways a paradigm for what happens to certain Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria. The situation is far too complex for me to deal with it in all its particulars here, but I do want to make a few significant points.
The Arab ownership claims are dubious and complicated, with incomplete documentation, some reputed owners unknown, etc. There is no evidence that all of Amona is Arab-owned – not at all! – even though the media sometimes claim this. There are issues of financial compensation for the reputed Arab owners, but for a variety of reasons this has been unacceptable, until now.
The pattern we tend to see is a High Court decision to remove Jews from the land once there is claim of Arab ownership, sometimes even before the claim is adjudicated. And there is a certain irony – if that is the right word – in some of these rulings: situations in which Arabs claim ownership of land inside a Jewish community on which a block of Jewish homes stands, and the homes are ordered demolished even though there is no possibility that the Arabs would ever build there.
Keep in mind that players here are left-wing, pro-Arab NGOs in Israel (Peace Now, Yesh Din, etc.), that bring claims to the High Court ostensibly on behalf of Arabs. These are organizations that believe Jews have no business living beyond the Green line. As MK Shuli Mualem (Habayit Hayehudi) put it: “all the petitions to the court filed against Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria are a foolish means of circumventing the democratic process and advancing a political agenda by means of the court system.”
Israel is very different from the US in this respect. Here, an organization or individual without standing in a case – that is, without vested interest – can bring an issue to the High Court. This is what Mualem is referring to.
For my readers who would like more information, I provide this link:
The High Court order for demolition has been on-going for some years, with stays each time. Now it has reached the end. On the one hand there is the legitimate position that Israel is a nation of law, and so the order must be obeyed even if it unpalatable.
On the other hand, there is great distress at what is felt to be an injustice in this ruling – a manipulation of the system that works against Jewish residents. Thus have there been determined efforts to find an alternative solution – a solution that would change the status of Amona such that demolition would not be required. In fact, the prime minister had appealed to the Court for one more six-month delay in order to find another solution. That request was denied by the Court.
One response to this situation on the part of the right wing of the government – with MK Mualem, Education Minister Naftali Bennett (Habayit Hayehudi), Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked (Habayit Hayehudi) and others actively involved – has been promotion of what is being called the “Regulation Law.” This would regulate building in Judea and Samaria as well as matters of forced evacuation. This would not apply specifically to Amona, but to a whole category of communities. None the less, the thought is that it would save Amona if it could be enacted quickly enough. My best understanding is that this involves the possibility of compensation to Arabs for land.
This action is an attempt to circumvent the meddling of the left-wing NGOs. It is intended to assert the final authority of legislation enacted by the Knesset over the rulings of the very activist High Court. There are issues of a profound importance with regard to how Israel operates at the core of this dispute. We are looking at a question of balance of powers, with it being the opinion of many that the Court dominates excessively.
At a bare minimum, my opinion and the opinion of, I believe, most on the right is that the rules should be changed so that organizations without standing on an issue would not be permitted to approach the Court to request a ruling on that issue.
The legislation has passed its first reading in the Knesset, with two more readings required.
The Land of Israel Caucus in the Knesset is preparing three legal experts to defend the bill in deliberations as it moves forward in the Knesset. A special joint panel of the Law, Constitution and Justice, and Foreign Affairs and Defense Committees, and headed by MK Nissan Slomiansky (Habayit Hayehudi) will be working on the legislation.
I am not in a position to predict what will happen if it passes. That is, will it stand, or will some NGO challenge it in the Court, so that it ends up being nullified. The attorney-general has said he could not defend it in court.
Needless to say, the US government has expressed its displeasure at this move, supported by the ministers of the government.
Another solution being discussed now, parallel to the Regulation Law, is what is being called the “Cyprus Solution.” This involves arbitration on matters of land ownership, and would be modeled after what was done in Cyprus. Netanyahu – who is under huge pressure to find a way to save Amona – is leaning in favor of this solution. A committee to consider it has been formed, and American Professor Joe Willer, who is known for his expertise on this solution, will be consulted. Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit and Minister of Justice Ayelet Shaked are involved.
As I understand this, it involves absentee ownership issues. That is, cases in which the Arabs claiming ownership had not been using the land they are claiming. And it too, I believe, addresses the possibility of compensation.
I have only preliminary thoughts on this, and will hold them until I learn more. But what I clearly see is progress in fighting the good fight.
Plans are being reactivated for building of 1,400 new housing units to be built in Ramat Shlomo, a mostly ultra-Orthodox neighborhood in northeastern Jerusalem. The plans had been put on hold because of objections by the Obama administration.
I find it laughable when this neighborhood and other neighborhoods such as Gilo, all thoroughly part of Jerusalem, are referred to as “settlements,” because they are (shock!) over the Green Line.
“Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely (Likud) has big plans for next year, the 50th anniversary of the Six Day War. She seeks to alter what she terms ‘the false paradigm’ that has taken root in the international community, claiming that Israel is an illegal occupier…
“’The Foreign Ministry needs to lead the battle against the term “occupation,”’ she said. ‘It is my flagship project to try to break this myth.’
“The deputy minister lamented the persistent idea that ‘everything starts and ends with “the occupation.”
“’It’s not correct legally and it doesn’t make sense. We can’t be occupiers in our own land.’”
ALL RIGHT! This is an example of getting it straight.
I am proud to be working with Co-Chair Jeff Daube on the Legal Grounds Campaign, which has a close relationship with Tzipi Hotovely. We are actively promoting Israel’s rights in Judea and Samaria. And we are seeing movement forward.
Anyone who would like a copy of the Legal Grounds Campaign annual report, just out, please contact me. And please visit our website, and join:
And last, just for fun:
I’ve run this before, but it fits here, and is a song of hope – which we have in considerable measure right now. Judy Garland singing “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” “Where dreams really do come true.”
© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by Arlene Kushner, functioning as an independent journalist. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution.
If it is reproduced and emphasis is added, the fact that it has been added must be noted.