Sunday, April 22, 2012

MJ Rosenberg Eases Up a Notch

I haven't been reading MJ Rosenberg's new blog, but judging by his latest blog post on the Huffington Post, he seems to have dialed back the rhetoric just a tad. He's still ranting and raving about the lobby and the evil evil pro-Israel people, but he's also said some things that his readers at least need to hear. Let's take a look.

Rosenberg leads off by placing Israel in a box:
"The occupation and the Iran nuclear issue have swallowed up Israel. Unless you live there, the only sense you get of that country is that it is obsessed with Iran, maintaining the occupation, and exploiting the Holocaust to keep critics of its policies on the defensive. No wonder a billionaire-financed organization has to pay for college students to visit Israel. Without the "subsidy," who would voluntarily go to a place that its advocates portray as a combination war zone and Holocaust memorial?...
But one should expect that of Israel's advocates. However, few of them make any effort to present the real Israel. They are too busy selling Israel's policies toward Iran and in the West Bank, Gaza, and Jerusalem -- and trying to silence policy-makers, journalists, academics and others, who do not march in lockstep behind Binyamin Netanyahu's policies. "
This is an arrogant couple of paragraphs. Rosenberg is an American. He's visited Israel "some 35 times," but he's still an American. Why should we believe him when he talks about "the real Israel" over, well, practically any Israeli? Likewise, how can he speak for every single person's perception of Israel? Here's two examples of Israel in the mainstream American consciousness that has reached more people than all of Rosenberg's columns put together: Israeli technology on "Glee" and the character of Ziva David on "NCIS." Neither of those have to do with Iran, the occupation, or the Holocaust. I think Rosenberg is projecting. Since the only thing he does is read anti-Israel literature all day long, which complains about the occupation and Israeli "war mongering," that's how he believes everyone sees Israel. Like I said, arrogant.

Rosenberg then keeps the arrogance going by declaring how he would run Israeli hasbara:
"If I were running Israel's "hasbara" (public relations) efforts on campus or among people under 40, I'd use the slogan, "Israel, Yes: Occupation, No."
Unfortunately, that approach will never be adopted because the people involved in selling Israel care more about promoting the government's policies than the country itself. They are engaged in a political battle designed to garner support for Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's policies, not Israel. And, even more, advancing their own influence and power."
This is even more proof of why Mr. Rosenberg as an American should not try to speak for Israelis. The occupation in Israel is seen by the vast majority of people as a necessary evil. If the vast majority of Israelis wanted the occupation gone, it would be gone. They would elect a party that would end the occupation, and that would be that.

Now that you have been presented with that fact, you have three choices. 1. You can believe everyone in Israel is a racist and loves oppressing the poor suffering Palestinians (tm) 2. You can recognize the fact that there must be a pretty convincing reason why Israelis want the occupation around, and learn more or 3. You can just ignore it and pretend that everyone in Israel wants the occupation but the evil evil Likud government keeps the occupation around because it's so evil. Rosenberg chooses the last option because he doesn't hate Israel enough to go to option 1 but he would have nothing to talk about if he went with option 2.

Rosenberg then bashes pro-Israel foreigners for not knowing anything about "the real Israel" so more, which is hilarious since he just proved in the previous paragraph that he doesn't know anything either, but then he says something that he needs to say more of and louder:
"Tel Aviv, in all its rich color, is what Zionism is all about. It is a Jewish city (built in the 20th century by and for Jews) adjacent to the wonderful, ancient Arab, and now mixed, town of Jaffa....
I understand the contradiction here. I am saying that the best place in Israel is an all-Jewish city rather than a de facto binational city like Jerusalem. But this is not a political prescription.
It is, however, what I believe. There is nothing wrong about a Jewish city, just as there is nothing wrong (and plenty right) about a Jewish country (which the 20th century taught us is essential to Jewish life)."
For the anti-Zionists among Rosenberg's readership, they will find this paragraph "racist" because a Jewish state, unlike an Arab, Greek, Turkish, Russian, etc. state, is "apartheid." So I'm glad Rosenberg comes out and unequivocally advocates for the basic existence of a Jewish state. Unfortunately, when dealing with Israel haters, this kind of statement can't be said enough, as it separates the real crazies from the people that aren't totally gone.

Rosenberg then advocates for the two state solution (good) and against the one state solution (good) and then attacks the "pro-Israel" people he doesn't like (sigh).
"Those of us who want to preserve the Jewish state are determined to prevent the one-state solution coming about. In fact, those of us who fight against a status quo that will make one state inevitable are the ones entitled to claim the label "pro-Israel." Those others, the political apparatchiks, should find themselves a new one, like maybe "political player on Israel issues" because "pro-Israel" most decidedly does not apply. "
I'll say this about Mr. Rosenberg, he loves his labels and he's never afraid to come up with new ones!

So that's it. If this is a sign of the new MJ Rosenberg, I can definitely live with it. He still thinks he knows what's best for Israel, over all the Israelis and their elected leadership, but he's also standing strongly in support of a Jewish state and the two-state solution. You would think that wouldn't be a lot to ask, but based on what we've seen from Rosenberg in the past, I'm happy with it.

Now if only his next essay was about how there's not so much interest from the Palestinian side for the two state solution.

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