On the Campus Left, There Is No Place for Jews Who Won’t Abjure Israel

Nov. 15 2019

When he arrived at George Washington University last year, Blake Flayton assumed that he would continue to be involved in left-wing activism. But now he has come to find himself “pushed to the fringes” of campus progressive circles and labeled a racist for being a Zionist—the fact that he is a Zionist of the liberal variety being no help. He writes:

Given that almost all American Jews identify as “pro-Israel,” even as the majority of us are also critical of Israeli government policy, this intolerance affects huge numbers of young American Jews. . . . The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is repeatedly dragged into discussions ranging anywhere from LGBTQ equality (where to mention Israel’s vastly better record on gay rights compared with that of any other country in the Middle East is branded “pinkwashing”), to health care, to criminal-justice reform.

At a recent political club meeting I attended, Zionism was described by the club’s leaders as a “transnational project,” an anti-Semitic trope that characterizes the desire for a Jewish state as a bid for global domination by the Jewish people. . . . The next month, on May Day, I eagerly attended a student rally for higher wages for the university’s custodial staff, excitedly carrying a “Fair Wages Now” poster I had made. The rally attracted dozens of students. We all gathered in the quad where we chanted for fair wages, cheered for speakers, and booed the names of [university] executives.

Then the organizers of the rally invited speakers from the organizations Jewish Voice for Peace and Students for Justice in Palestine. . . . [A]s they began to speak, the gathering suddenly transformed from a “fair wages” rally to a “Free Palestine” rally. The speakers railed against the oppression of Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank, which, according to them, had everything to do with janitors making less than their fair share. The students saw no reason to decry labor conditions or human-rights violations in any other university, city, state, region, or country.

This is our new normal. On college campuses and in progressive circles across the country, it does not matter if you strongly oppose the right-wing leadership in Israel; if you are a Zionist, you are seen as the enemy.

Read more at New York Times

More about: Anti-Semitism, Israel on campus, Progressivism, University

Saudi Arabia Should Open Its Doors to Israeli—and Palestinian—Pilgrims

On the evening of June 26 the annual period of the Hajj begins, during which Muslims from all over the world visit Mecca and perform prescribed religious rituals. Because of the de-jure state of war between Saudi Arabia and the Jewish state, Israeli Muslim pilgrims—who usually number about 6,000—must take a circuitous (and often costly) route via a third country. The same is true for Palestinians. Mark Dubowitz and Tzvi Kahn, writing in the Saudi paper Arab News, urge Riyadh to reconsider its policy:

[I]f the kingdom now withholds consent for direct flights from Israel to Saudi Arabia, it would be a setback for those normalization efforts, not merely a continuation of the status quo. It is hard to see what the Saudis would gain from that.

One way to support the arrangement would be to include Palestinians in the deal. Israel might also consider earmarking its southern Ramon Airport for the flights. After all, Ramon is significantly closer to the kingdom than Ben-Gurion Airport, making for cheaper routes. Its seclusion from Israeli population centers would also help Israeli efforts to monitor outgoing passengers and incoming flights for security purposes.

A pilot program that ran between August and October proved promising, with dozens of Palestinians from the West Bank traveling back and forth from Ramon to Cyprus and Turkey. This program proceeded over the objections of the Palestinian Authority, which fears being sidelined by such accommodations. Jordan, too, has reason to be concerned about the loss of Palestinian passenger dinars at Amman’s airports.

But Palestinians deserve easier travel. Since Israel is willing to be magnanimous in this regard, Saudi Arabia can certainly follow suit by allowing Ramon to be the springboard for direct Hajj flights for Palestinian and Israeli Muslims alike. And that would be a net positive for efforts to normalize ties between [Jerusalem] and Riyadh.

Read more at Arab News

More about: Israel-Arab relations, Israeli Arabs, Palestinians, Saudi Arabia