Chasm on the Left: Blame Israel vs. Blame Both

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Vosizneias

Many leftists "unfriended" each other this summer over the Gaza War, and Myriam Miedzian gives background on the conflict abroad and at home. (Eds.)

By Myriam Miedzian

It's that time again when I am careful not to utter the words “Israel, Palestinians, Gaza” to a certain number of my leftwing friends and acquaintances. We agree on just about everything going as far back as the Vietnam war, which we all vehemently opposed — as we did the Iraq war. We supported equal rights for blacks, women, and gays, rooted for single-payer, universal healthcare, support living wages for all Americans and access to college education for all, etc.

So why are we so at odds when it comes to this one issue? Well, we do agree on one thing — we all reject AIPAC’s “Israel Can Do No Wrong” perspective.

But that still leave us with a chasm. On one side there is the Blame Israel (B.I.) group — represented by Jewish Voice for Peace and Code Pink, among others — and on the other side the Blame Both (B.B.) group, represented by Americans for Peace Now and J Street, among others.

Like most categorizations, this one simplifies — the lines are not always entirely clear cut; there are disagreements within each group and people on the fringes of both. Nevertheless the rift is striking. Frustrated by it, I have spent  hours visiting websites on both sides, gone back to key books — Noam Chomsky, Benny Morris, etc. — and gleaned key, underlying, opposing assumptions, perspectives, interpretations, and historical understandings from these documents. I have also relied on lectures and conferences I have attended, as well as conversations with friends and acquaintances.

What follows is first an outline of some divisive underlying issues, and then links to a few of the books, articles, and blogs which have influenced my understanding of what divides the two groups.

 To read more, click here.


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The DSA position on the current conflict is here.

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Film Discussion: Union Maids

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Join DSA member and labor historian Susan Hirsch in discussing Union Maids (1976). Nominated for an Academy Award, this documentary follows three Chicago labor organizers (Kate Hyndman, Stella Nowicki, and Sylvia Woods) active beginning in the 1930s. The filmmakers were members of the New American Movement (a precursor of DSA), and the late Vicki Starr (aka Stella Nowicki) was a longtime member of Chicago DSA and the Chicago Women's Liberation Union. It’s available free on YouTube, though sound quality is poor. 8ET/7CT/6MT/5PT.

 

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