This post has been available online for a while but it’s so good it’s worth giving another airing.
Blogger Philip Weiss introduces an important New York Times op-ed by Antony Lerman thus:
A hugely important piece in the New York Times this weekend is all over my inbox this morning. As it should be. It’s datelined London, not New York: and writer Antony Lerman declares “The End of Liberal Zionism : Israel’s Move to the Right Challenges Diaspora Jews.” (Yes we rang that knell here a few weeks back.)
Antony Lerman says that liberal Zionists are now a figleaf for rightwing Jewish supremacy in Israel and a dam on open discussion of equal rights in the United States. He celebrates the non- and anti-Zionist left– in the NYT:
Today, neither the destruction wreaked in Gaza nor the disgraceful antics of the anti-democratic forces that are setting Israel’s political agenda have produced a decisive shift in Jewish Diaspora opinion. Beleaguered liberal Zionists still struggle to reconcile their liberalism with their Zionism, but they are increasingly under pressure from Jewish dissenters on the left, like Jewish Voice for Peace, Jews for Justice for Palestinians and Independent Jewish Voices.
Along with many experts, most dissenting groups have long thought that the two-state solution was dead. The collapse of the peace talks being brokered by the American secretary of state, John Kerry, came as no surprise. Then, on July 11, Mr. Netanyahu definitively rejected any possibility of establishing an independent Palestinian state. The Gaza conflict meant, he said, that “there cannot be a situation, under any agreement, in which we relinquish security control of the territory west of the River Jordan” (meaning the West Bank).
Liberal Zionists must now face the reality that the dissenters have recognized for years: A de facto single state already exists; in it, rights for Jews are guaranteed while rights for Palestinians are curtailed. Since liberal Zionists can’t countenance anything but two states, this situation leaves them high and dry.
Read the rest here.
A bullying smear campaign which succeeded in pushing London community theatre the Tricycle into withdrawing its refusal of Israeli Embassy funding for a Jewish film festival reveals the lengths to which Israel’s supporters will go to destroy any small signs of independent thinking in the arts.
Intense pressure on Tricycle director Indru Rubasingham and her board included public denunciation from Israeli Ambassador Daniel Taub and British Culture Secretary Sajid Javid, a Conservative Friend of Israel. The Jewish Chronicle could hardly suppress its delight at the success of the Zionist campaign of blackmail and threats, including withdrawal of sponsorship funds and calls for Rubasingham to be sacked.
Blogger Mark Elf, analysing the affair in forensic detail, saw evidence that the the Arts Council may have been leaned on to threaten the Tricycle with loss of its main source of funds.
The Tricycle Theatre buckled to threats made by either the Israeli ambassador, Daniel Taub, the UK Culture Secretary, Sajid Javid or both. And, given the courage involved in their original stance, what threat would mean anything to them?
My guess is that the Arts Council threatened to close the theatre down by withdrawing its £760+k contribution. Now should an Israeli ambassador or even a UK culture minister be in a position to influence that for the sake of their own politics? I think not but I think that’s precisely what happened.
Thankfully for the many courageous people working in the arts in the UK, growing awareness of the legitimacy of cultural boycott as a means of acting in solidarity with Palestinians has prompted a generous, collective response from the theatre world.
A letter signed by more than 500 theatre professionals appeared in the Guardian on August 15 saying:
Punishing a small theatre for standing up for its principles is a big step backwards for anyone concerned with challenging prejudice or promoting freedom of speech.
Anyone who truly wants to stand against antisemitism needs to stand with the Tricycle theatre and challenge those who are accusing it in a disproportionate, unjust and ill-informed way.