On the Way to Oblivion, Democratic Socialists Endorse BDS

Aug. 10 2017

At their national convention last weekend, the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) voted to endorse the movement to boycott, divest from, and sanction Israel (BDS); after the vote, those present broke into a rousing chant of “From the river to the sea / Palestine will be free!”—suggesting that their dispute was with something other than Israeli policies. Paul Berman comments on the historical significance of this move by a now insignificant political party that once stood for Zionism and against anti-Semitism and Communism, and was very much shaped by its Jewish members:

The DSA resolution strikes me as a modestly sad event, . . . because of DSA itself and its meaning, faint but real, for American Jews. . . . [After its founding in 1972, DSA’s] leading intellectual was Irving Howe, the literary critic and editor of Dissent. . . . And DSA’s leading political figure was Michael Harrington, . . . who came from a fine Catholic background in the Catholic Worker movement. . . .

[Harrington] was. . . a valued participant in the Kennedy wing of the Democratic party—an influence on John Kennedy himself, if only indirectly. . . . And Harrington was, all the while, a reliable friend of Jewish causes, and a proper comrade of his Israeli counterparts. He was a friend of Jewish causes for all the obvious and normal reasons, but also because he stood for the historic socialist idea, which in [his mind] was distinctly hostile to anti-Semitism and sympathetic to the Zionist cause. . . .

Only, Harrington died in 1989, and Irving Howe in 1993, and DSA has been adrift ever since—capable lately of attracting young people out of a nostalgia for the class struggles of yore but no longer capable of generating a major leader. And now at last the organization has descended into anti-Zionism. Today the members of DSA chant about “from the river to the sea,” which is a rousing chant because it is a murderous chant, directed at any unhappy and terrified Jews who remain within those borders. A more pitiful development is hard to imagine. . . .

Earnestly I hope that, in 2020, DSA will run its own candidate for president, who will be this or that hero of the anti-Zionist cause, Linda Sarsour perhaps, or Cornel West, or Pat Buchanan, or Louis Farrakhan, or Angela Davis, or some guy with a sign board. [And] I hope that, in this fashion, DSA and its disgraced and chanting militants will float away ever more swiftly on the sea-waves of political failure—a not-unrealistic hope on my part.

Read more at Tablet

More about: American Jewish History, BDS, Irving Howe, Israel & Zionism, Louis Farrakhan, Socialism

Getting It Right in Afghanistan

Aug. 23 2017

While praising the president’s announcement Monday night that the U.S. will be sending 4,000 more troops to Afghanistan, Thomas Joscelyn and Bill Roggio express their “doubt [that] this will be enough to win the war.” They also warn against the dangers of a complete or partial American withdrawal and offer some strategic recommendations:

Al-Qaeda is still a significant problem in South Asia—a potentially big one. President Obama frequently claimed that al-Qaeda was “decimated” and a “shadow of its former self” in Afghanistan and Pakistan. That wasn’t true. The Obama administration’s counterterrorism campaign dealt significant blows to al-Qaeda’s leadership, disrupting the organization’s chain of command and interrupting its communications. But al-Qaeda took measures to outlast America’s drones and other tactics. The group survived the death of Osama bin Laden and, in many ways, grew. . . .

Al-Qaeda continues to fight under the Taliban’s banner as well. Its newest branch, Al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent, is deeply embedded in the Taliban-led insurgency. . . . There’s no question that Islamic State remains a serious problem in Afghanistan and Pakistan, but it still doesn’t threaten the Afghan government to the same degree that the Taliban/al-Qaeda axis does. . . .

Iran remains a problem, too. The Iranian government has supported the Taliban’s insurgency since 2001. Although this assistance is not as pronounced as Pakistan’s, it is meaningful. The U.S. government has also repeatedly noted that Iran hosts al-Qaeda’s “core facilitation pipeline,” which moves fighters, funds, and communications to and from South Asia. Any successful strategy for turning the Afghan war around will have to deal with the Iranian government’s nefarious role. The Russians are [also] on the opposite side of the Afghan war.

Read more at Weekly Standard

More about: Afghanistan, Al Qaeda, Iran, Taliban, U.S. Foreign policy