On The Monitor this week:
- Is the Obama administration’s Climate Change legislation hit or miss? We talk with Daphne Wysham
- Last week Israeli PM Netanyahu addressed American Jews about the Iran nuclear deal. What does this tell us about Jewish American identity? We discuss the implications with Abba Solomon
More about this week’s guests:
Abba Solomon (@Abba_A_Solomon) is a writer, visual artist, historical researcher and programmer living in Seattle. He is the author of The Speech, and Its Context: Jacob Blaustein’s Speech ‘The Meaning of Palestine Partition to American Jews’. The book is the outcome of his research, started in 2007, when he lived for the summer in Manhattan and, in the New York Public Library, and was looking into his grandparents’ life in New York City after immigration as teenagers from Lithuania, Poland and Russia in the Nineteen-oughts. In the Jewish history division at the New York Public Library, he came across a Zionist American leaflet from the 1920s, enlisting American Jews to the building of a Jewish home in Palestine. That sparked his interest in the appeals to American Jews for the Zionist project, and the choices his grandparents and their children made, to Socialism, to religion, to secular education, to American civic beliefs of equality. To learn more of the 1950 Blaustein-Ben Gurion agreement setting “ground rules” for relations between the “Jewish State” and American Jews, he visited the Jacob Blaustein papers at Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore where he researched the American Jewish Committee (AJC) chairman Jacob Blaustein’s February 1948 speech, “The Meaning of Palestine Partition to American Jews,” and speech draft. He then spent a year in New York at the AJC archives and at the Center for Jewish History archives. His interest was the process of the non-Zionist AJC and other American Jewish organizations adjusting to and co-existing with the Jewish nationalist idea and the Jewish State.
Quote: “As with valorizing American naval intelligence spy for Israel Jonathan Pollard, this decision shows the Israeli government’s chronic confusion about the status of Jewish Americans. It’s the end result of Zionism’s 100-plus year assertion of Jews as a nationality. Prime Minister Netanyahu’s reckless plan for an address to American Jews highlights the Israeli government’s obsession with Jewish identity that has proved historically dangerous to gentile residents of Palestine, and is alien to the American ideal of shared citizenship regardless of race or creed. Together with his March address to the U.S. Congress on an unprecedented mission to destroy President Obama’s Iran negotiations, Netanyahu is forcing re-examination by American Jews of the sympathy they’ve maintained for Israel because Israeli Jews are co-religionists. Netanyahu’s behavior, the 48-year military occupation ruling over non-Israelis, and increasingly reported instances of Jewish extremist violence, are bringing the majority of American Jews — if not major Jewish institutions yet — to a wary relationship with the volatile, nuclear-armed State of Israel.”