Frank van der Linde, a Dutch political-social activist who spent a long time in Israel and has dozens of friends in the country, is the face of the BDS campaign in the Netherlands. In a special interview to Yedioth Ahronoth, he explains why he doesn’t recognize Israel as a state, dismisses claims of hypocrisy in light of the other injustices taking place in the world, and says he supports the rights of both Palestinian and Jewish refugees.
This is a clip from a long but excellently written article in The Atlantic by Ta-Nehisi Coates.
Politicians are suddenly eager to disown failed policies on American prisons, but they have failed to reckon with the history. Reconsidering Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s report on “The Negro Family,” 50 years later.
Cornell West this guy ain’t. A whole lot of what he says seems to me egregious nonsense. But I take from this interview that the rhetorical utility of #blacklivesmatter as a slogan is rapidly coming to an end. It crumbles in the face of “lives matter”.
For anyone familiar with how hard ball politics is played it’s easy to believe that some of the more odious chants at blm rallies, “fry ’em”, “pigs in a blanket”, etc, are being shouted by “false flag” plants working for the FBI, Tea Party, FoxNews or the Koch brothers. I readily acknowledge blm has served a useful role since Ferguson in rallying and focusing the energy and online attention of people outraged by the killings of Michael Brown and others. But it looks like the slogan’s 15 minutes are about up. The rallying cry “livesmatter” necessarily includes our darker ones and that, sez me, is the best way forward.
Jeffery Goldberg of The Atlantic is a respected and well-connected American commentator on U.S.-Israel affairs and regional issues such as the nuclear deal with Iran. His access to top Administration officials like President Obama and Secretary of State Kerry is among the best in the business.
When he wrote a few months ago that a senior Administration official had described Benjamin Netanyahu as “chickenshit,” it caused gigantic waves in both Washington and Jerusalem. People in the know take Goldberg seriously.
So what is one to make of his latest effort, which propels the Iranian regime’s attitudes to Jews and Israel into the forefront of the ongoing debate (or virtual war) over getting the nuclear deal through Congress?
Goldberg’s confusion is evident from the start. The article is headlined “Why Iran’s Anti-Semitism Matters,” while the sub-headline is “A close read of Obama and Kerry’s comments on whether Iranian leaders seek Israel’s destruction.”
In other words, seeking Israel’s destruction—if that indeed is what the Iranian regime is after—is synonymous with anti-Semitism. But is it? And is there a consequential difference between anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism (or anti-Israelism,) or is it OK to conflate the two, as Goldberg does?
(Being a journalist I know that writers are very often not responsible for the headlines attached to their article and are at the mercy of less-stringent copy editors. But that’s not the case here. Anti-Semitism and anti-Israel are used interchangeable by Goldberg throughout the piece, as in “Does the Iranian leadership seek the elimination of Israel? I had already discussed the nature of Iranian-regime anti-Semitism with Obama in a May interview.”)
Thanks to the Iran nuclear deal, something remarkable is happening in American politics: the irreconcilable conflict of interest between most Americans on one side and Israel and its American supporters on the other is on full display and impossible to ignore. In the past the conflict could be papered over with grand empty rhetoric about the two sides being in “lock-step” and the absence of “daylight” between them. But no more. The conflict is out in the open where everyone can see it. Iran should be thanked for this valuable service.
War with Iran would be a catastrophe not only for the Iranians, including thousands of Jewish Iranians who openly practice their religion in their ancient community, and other people in the Middle East; it would also be a catastrophe for Americans—hence the conflict of interest between most Americans and the war party. Those, like Tom Cotton, Norman Podhoretz, Bill Kristol, and John Bolton, who think an attack on Iran would be a cakewalk, are either liars or fools. These are the same people, of course, who said the Iraq war would be easy and would usher in a new liberal Middle East. The result has been unspeakable sectarian violence throughout the region, culminating in the Islamic State and a reinvigorated al-Qaeda
Suppose a client walked into my office and told me that police officers in his country had choked a man to death over a petty crime. Suppose he said police fatally shot another man in the back as he ran away. That they arrested a woman during a traffic stop and placed her in jail, where she died three days later. That a 12-year-old boy in his country was shot and killed by the police as he played in the park.
Suppose he told me that all of those victims were from the same ethnic community — a community whose members fear being harmed, tortured or killed by police or prison guards. And that this is true in cities and towns across his nation. At that point, as an immigration lawyer, I’d tell him he had a strong claim for asylum protection under U.S. law.
What if, next, he told me he was from America? Black people in the United States face such racial violence that they could qualify as refugees if they didn’t already live here.