The pall of Israel — some liberal defenders have nothing to say about the Jenin attack

When Israel launched a devastating attack on Jenin refugee camp this week, obliterating roads and houses and killing a dozen Palestinians, and causing thousands to flee, the stalwarts of the Israel lobby in the United States rushed to its defense, as usual.

The good news is that there were fewer voices this time, with some Jewish advocates seeming to avoid the subject. They know that such onslaughts have changed Israel’s image among American Democrats– witness a scathing report from Jenin on the PBS NewsHour last night almost entirely from the perspective of defenseless Palestinian civilians. “Missiles rained down.”

The right-wing Israel lobby group showed up as usual. AIPAC dispensed Israeli talking points about Palestinian terrorists. So did the American Jewish Committee, calling the raid “a necessary response to ongoing terrorism threats that have been plaguing the region for months.

The ADL also spoke of “terrorism” and called the Jenin attack a “defensive action.”

Rep. Josh Gottheimer soldiered on for Israel, publishing a thread caricaturing Jenin, as a hub of Iranian-sponsored terrorism aimed at destroying the “Jewish State” from its doorstep.

While Michael Koplow of the centrist Israel Policy Forum promoted Israeli propaganda, describing the attack as prudent strategy — though he also voiced despair over Israeli strategy. Does “the IDF [want] to go into Jenin and potentially other cities repeatedly with no end in sight”? he wondered.

The fact that Israel has no answer to Palestinian resistance to occupation except killing Palestinians is a subject of satire at the Onion — and it is openly discussed in mainstream media. On the PBS News Hour last night, host Amna Nawaz said the U.N. accused Israel of an “excessive use of force” and introduced Leila Molana-Allen, who offered a harrowing view from a Jenin family, showing wanton destruction of infrastructure and the indiscriminate shelling of homes. “This is a barbaric act…Look at this,” Jihad Mohammad Yassin told her.

Such reports are plainly a concern for liberal American Jewish supporters of Israel.

Maybe that’s why Rep. Jerry Nadler, a good friend to Israel, said nothing about Jenin on his Twitter feed. Chuck Schumer– who used to brag to AIPAC that his name in Hebrew means he is the “guardian” of Israel– was silent too.

A couple of leftwing Jewish groups outright condemned the latest onslaught. And liberal Zionist groups like J Street and Americans for Peace Now seemed highly uncomfortable with the raid. Americans for Peace Now criticized Israel’s methods. J Street simply avoided the issue.

Let’s review some of the good statements.

Jewish Voice for Peace said Israel murdered 12 Palestinians in a war crime:

The details of this attack qualify it as a war crime under international law.

The lobbying arm of the same group– Jewish Voice for Peace Action– put the onus on the American government:

Palestinian lives, families, and communities are being destroyed because of the unwillingness of U.S. politicians to find their courage and morality. …

Write to your member of Congress now and demand they condemn the Israeli government’s invasion of Jenin and take steps to end U.S. complicity in Israeli apartheid. 

JVP’s rabbinical statement on Jenin is also great. It describes pogroms that terrorize children and ethnic cleansing in the name of “Judaization”:

The devastation of Jenin is the true face of the Israeli government and an expression of Israel’s endgame: the depopulation of Palestinians from historic Palestine, along with the total pacification of those who remain. This has always been a main component in achieving the Zionist goal of complete Judaization of eretz yisrael, and the callous disregard of Palestinian life. Israel’s Jewish supremacy is an ongoing and imminent threat to Palestinian life… 

[Israel] is quite literally enclosing people in a kill zone… The children of Jenin are crying out to us from behind the Wall. What shall we do? 

The non-Zionist Jewish youth group IfNotNow attacked the Jenin raid as a part of a policy of Israeli “apartheid.”

The ultimate responsibility for these attacks lies with the Israeli government for maintaining its system of apartheid and continuing to escalate its assault on the West Bank.

IfNotNow retweeted Peter Beinart’s comment that the root of the issue is that Palestinians can’t “vote for the government that determines if they live or die. Can’t return to the lands from which their families were expelled.” (A point Scott Roth made emphatically.)

The progressive group Jews for Racial and Economic Justice retweeted IfNotNow’s comment

We are watching in horror as the Israeli military ratchets up its deadly assault on Jenin, cuts off the water supply to the city, and prevents ambulances from tending to the wounded.

The liberal Zionist organization Americans for Peace Now positioned itself closer to the center. It said Israel had a right to root out weapons caches used in “recent terrorist attacks against soldiers and West Bank settlers” but deplored the methods:

APN is alarmed at the harm caused to Palestinian civilians and calls on Israel to exercise extra care in protecting noncombatants. Using bulldozers and armed drones in such a small, cramped area multiplies the risk to noncombatants and to civilian infrastructure. 

J Street was as usual caught in the middle– and seemed to be hoping that everything just ended. It issued no statements on the attack, though it offered some retweets related to the news.

In one, J Street cited the danger to civilians of Israel’s raid.

UN envoy calls to protect civilian population during IDF Jenin raid

And it deplored settler violence aimed at Palestinians.

But J Street’s chief focus was on the violent threat to Jews. It said of a July 4 car-ramming attack by a Palestinian in Tel Aviv:

A terrible terror attack in Tel Aviv today. Our thoughts are with the wounded as we hope for their full and swift recovery.

(IfNotNow also expressed sympathy for the civilians targeted in the car-ramming.)

J Street seemed to want to change the subject to the occupation and the anti-government protests in Israel aimed at saving “democracy.”

Oh and J Street keeps the faith, that the Abraham Accords will be a big win for Palestinians and the two state solution. (Delusional.)

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