Mar 13,2018 – JORDAN TIMES – James J. Zogby
You need to prepare yourself for language shock before listening to speeches at the annual convention of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), the Israel lobby. Speaker after speaker will use words that you think you understand, but they will use them in ways that so distort their meaning that the experience will leave you exhausted or exasperated.
On the opening day, for example, the group’s new president, Mort Fridman and a former Democratic governor, Jennifer Granholm, wreaked havoc with the word “progressive”. Motivated by recent polls showing that Israel has lost support among Americans on the left, Fridman issued an appeal to progressives to recognise that “the progressive narrative for Israel is… compelling”. And Granholm, building on this theme, declared that “as a progressive” she supports Israel as “a nation that provides universal health care… protects women’s rights and LGBT rights. It’s a progressive’s paradise”.
What both speakers deliberately ignored is the reality that this “paradise” has become an apartheid state that occupies and oppresses millions of Palestinians whose rights are denied, lands are confiscated and daily lives have become a hell on earth.
Not only that, but as Israel’s government moves further to the right, it is mired in corruption, violates religious freedom and embraces Donald Trump. It is, at best, a stretch to call them “progressive”. The word means something and it does not mean Israel.
I was also struck by Ambassador Nicki Haley’s description of the United Nations as “bullying Israel” because the world body repeatedly passes resolutions condemning Israeli practices in the occupied territories. Once again, reality is being turned on its head.
It is not the UN that bullies Israel, it is Israel who bullies the Palestinians by repeatedly violating international law and conventions. Because the UN is the body that established Israel and set the terms for “a just and lasting peace”, it remains the address for complaints with Israeli behavior. Palestinian recourse to the world body then isn’t bullying; it’s appropriate.
It also takes more than a little chutzpah for speakers addressing AIPAC to call the UN a bully, since the Israel lobby has long relied on the US Congress to bully Palestinians with repressive and often humiliating legislation, while simultaneously arming and giving a blank check to Israel which it uses to systematically violate Palestinian rights.
Then there’s the Orwellian talk about “peace, two states and negotiations”, none of which bears any relationship with reality. Israel’s governing coalition no longer supports a two-state solution. For years, they pretended to endorse this outcome but did so with terms that made it impossible to achieve.
Israeli leaders claimed to want “negotiations without preconditions leading to two states,” but then proceeded to lay out conditions like settlements remain, no consideration of refugees’ right to return, no compromise on Jerusalem, and continued Israeli control over the Jordan Valley and access and egress on all borders. Meanwhile, …