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


The Palestinian National Movement Has Reached a Point of Crisis

With Hamas having failed to achieve anything through several weeks of demonstrations and violence, and Mahmoud Abbas reduced to giving rambling anti-Semitic speeches, Palestinian aspirations seem to have hit a brick wall. Elliott Abrams explains:

[Neither] Fatah [nor] Hamas offers Palestinians a practical program for national independence. . . . [The current situation] leaves Palestinians high and dry, with no way forward at all. Whatever the criticism of the “occupation,” Israelis will certainly not abandon the West Bank to chaos or to a possible Hamas takeover. Today the establishment of a sovereign Palestinian state is simply too dangerous to Israel and to Jordan to be contemplated. . . . There are only two other options. The first is the “one-state solution,” meaning union with Israel; but that is a nonstarter that Israel will reject no matter who is its prime minister. The other option is some kind of eventual link to Jordan.

In polite diplomatic society, and in Palestinian public discourse, such a link cannot be mentioned. But younger people who visit there, Palestinians have explained to me, can see a society that is half-Palestinian and functions as an independent nation with a working system of law and order. Jordanians travel freely, rarely suffer from terrorism, and [can vote in regular] elections, even if power is ultimately concentrated in the royal palace. The kingdom has close relations with all the Sunni states and the West, and is at peace with Israel.

The fundamental question all this raises is what, in 2018, is the nature and objective of Palestinian nationalism. Is the goal sovereignty at all costs, no matter how long it takes and even if it is increasingly divorced from peace, prosperity, and personal freedom? Is “steadfastness” [in refusing to compromise with Israel] the greatest Palestinian virtue now and forever? These questions cannot be debated in either Gaza or the West Bank. But as Israel celebrates 70 years and the “occupation” is now more than a half-century old, how much longer can they be delayed? . . .

The catastrophic mishandling of Palestinian affairs by generations of leaders from Haj Amin al-Husseini (the pro-Nazi mufti of the British Mandate period) to Yasir Arafat and now to Mahmoud Abbas has been the true Palestinian Nakba.

Read more at Weekly Standard

More about: Gaza Strip, Hamas, Israel & Zionism, Jordan, Mahmoud Abbas, Palestinians