What happened today in Congress was a disgrace. I really don’t know any other word for it.
The Israeli Prime Minister comes to our Capitol, thumbs his nose at a two-state solution and receives no less than 29 standing ovations from Congress?
A few pieces that speak my heart perfectly right now. First, Akiva Eldar, writing in Ha’aretz:
Netanyahu’s peace plan, if that is the right phrase for the collection of unrealistic terms he presented to Congress yesterday, leads straight to the burial of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, an international crisis and a UN declaration of a Palestinian state.
Netanyahu today essentially returned to the policies that Israel pursued before Yitzhak Rabin and Yasir Arafat agreed on mutual recognition and the joint pursuit of peace.
And the worst part is not the appalling things Netanyahu said, but how Congress received them. Even Netanyahu’s declaration that there is no Israeli occupation was met with thunderous applause with the Democrats joining the Republicans in ecstatic support. Every Netanyahu statement, no matter how extreme, was met with cheers.
Gideon Levy, also in Ha’aretz:
How can an Israeli prime minister dare to say his country “fully supports the desire of Arab peoples in our region to live freely” without spitting out the entire bitter truth – as long as they aren’t Palestinian. Suddenly Netanyahu marvels at the Arab Spring, but where was he when it began? He was on his standard scare campaign, warning of the dangers of an extremist Islamic regime and rushing to build a fence along our border with Egypt. And yesterday, suddenly, it’s “the promise of a new dawn.” Apparently there is no end to hypocrisy.
And finally, please read Justin Elliot’s invaluable piece in Salon, where he counts 29 standing ovations for Bibi (more than Obama got in his State of the Union Address) providing important commentary for each and every one.
At this point, I’d usually urge you to call your senators and congresspeople, but I really don’t see the point any more. Today the overwhelming majority of Congress – Republicans and Democrats alike – have made it embarrassingly clear that they are utterly irrelevant to the search for a just peace in Israel/Palestine.
If there were any redemptive words uttered in that chamber at all today, they came from my friend Rae Abileah – a courageous young Jewish activist – who interrupted Bibi’s speech from the gallery with “No more occupation, stop Israeli war crimes, equal rights for Palestinians, occupation is indefensible.” Rae was immediately assaulted by spectators who caused serious injuries to her neck and shoulders. She was then taken to George Washington Hospital where she was promptly arrested.
Said Rae from her hospital bed:
I have been to Gaza and the West Bank, I have seen Palestinians homes bombed and bulldozed, I have talked to mothers whose children have been killed during the invasion of Gaza, I have seen the Jewish-only roads leading to ever-expanding settlements in the West Bank…
As a Jew and a U.S. citizen, I feel obligated to rise up and speak out against stop these crimes being committed in my name and with my tax dollars.
Amidst the abject hypocrisy demonstrated in Congress today, Rae’s courage should be an example for us all.
Said Rae : “I have seen the Jewish-only roads” …
History has seen this kind of thing many times , and eventually judges it rather badly. we have seen it in the South of the US (just exchange “jewish” by “white”), in South Africa (idem), in Nazi Germany …
In all theses cases the signs indicating “only!” have been abolished, but it took many years, blood, sweat and tears. Netanyahu has made sure that there will be more tears and blood – – – .
Said Rae again:
“I have talked to mothers whose children have been killed during the invasion of Gaza” .
The tears will continue to flow.
Kol Hakovod and Mabruk Brant, your voice gets stronger and stronger.
Some will disagree with your statement about lobbying members of Congress — maybe even me who has voiced the feeling you just expressed a lot over the years. And I suppose we need to continue to rattle their cages, as Americans we have a responsibility to do that. But I so understand your statement, made in righteous anger, disgust and horror at the spectacle we witnessed, and at Netanyahu’s execrable performance.
The fact remains that no amount or form of legislative advocacy or participation in the political/diplomatic process means anything in the absence of grassroots efforts to change the politics. And it’s global. Watch for my blog on my time with the church people in South Africa. Viva BDS.
Netanyahu is the sandman. His words about peace are unctuous. Have not the Palestinian people the same rights in life as others? America’s Congress can only be characterized as being submissive to a foreign government that they would defend Netanyahu despite everything, because without him they would be without a job. They have turned into a laughing-stock. 29 standing ovations?!Totally absurd.
Very tough sentiments to sit with, although, sadly, spot on. I think our hope lies in the stark contrast between the public images projected by Obama on the one hand and Netanyahu on the other. On the one, you have a man who, although perhaps flawed and at times too conciliatory, works to project an image of acceptance, humility and peace. On the other stands an intolerant, cynical and mean-spirited human being. We can first pray that, in the end, the former wins out (in the face of our lower house’s abject stupidity and synophancy). We must also redouble our efforts, as Braverman points out, to transform the polity and ensure that those who carry a presence like Obama are strengthened and emboldened.
Shortly after watching our legislators’ obsequious welcome of Mr. Netanyahu and his deft exploitation of an embarrassingly servile Congress, I joined a small group visiting the Washington office of Illinois Senator Mark Kirk. I cannot recall a lobbying exercise that felt more futile. When asked when Senator Kirk would next be traveling to Israel, we were told “next week.” The follow-up question of who was financing the trip was left unanswered.
Thank you for your reflections on this event Rabbi!
I was wondering who this brave soul was who interrupted the Prime Minister yesterday. At that point he said something about how this is real democracy which they don’t have in Tehran and Tripoli. It looks like we might not be that different if she was beaten by others and arrested afterwards.
Let her courage indeed be an example for us!
Thanks be to whatever gods there are for the Rabbi Brants and Rae Abileahs
of this world. With such as them we will stand firmly against and ultimately prevail over the likes of Benjamin Netanyahu and Rabbi Shmuley Boteach.
In the interval, I will call on my congressman and two senators to register as agents of a foreign power — on penalty of prosecution for failing to comply with federal law.
This shows that the American people are proud to have Israel as an Ally. Netanyahu is popular here and in Israel with good reason.
The only way for a peace process to go forward is for the Palestinian leadership including Hamas to reach out to the Israelis. They must convince Israeli Joe Six Pack that the peace process is good for them in a friendly way.
your views disgust me you self hating jew. your worse than those who try to kill us. you mean to humiliate us and drag us through the mud first. So easy for you to puff your chest and make these comments from the comfort of your safe home. try living in threat in israel.
And what on earth is reconstructive judaism??
it seems you wish to make up the rules to everything in life then. No wonder your blogs are distorted
Simply too depressing for words. How did this happen, and where is the courage among our elected representatives? How about Bernie Sanders? This is truly tragic.
This shows nothing of the sort. It merely shows that the US congress, concerned only with getting re-elected, will forever fawn on an Israeli leader, no matter how disgusting a person, so long as the campaign contributions keep rolling in. Can you say “prostitution”?
thank-you, rabbi rosen for your ongoing brave, true and principled stance– we stand with you (and not in name only!) lia lynn rosen