Ralph welcomes Allan Brownfeld from the American Council for Judaism to discuss, along with our resident constitutional scholar, Bruce Fein, the history of Jewish anti-Zionism and how Judaic principles can conflict with the Zionist project. We also review how university presidents recently responded to questioning from a congressional committee about free speech on campus.
Allan Brownfeld is the Editor of Issues, the publication of the American Council for Judaism (an 80 year-old organization that has opposed Zionism since its inception) and a syndicated columnist who has worked as associate editor of The Lincoln Review and a contributing editor to such publications as Human Events, The St. Croix Review, and The Washington Report on Middle East Affairs. Mr Brownfeld has served as a staff aide to a U.S. Vice President, Members of Congress, and the U.S. Senate Internal Subcommittee.
Everybody is afraid of this label “antisemite” if they criticize Israel. Israel has succeeded—in fact, it's a tactic used by the Israeli government. The former Education Minister [Shulamit Aloni] said it very clearly—when someone in Europe attacks us in any way, we bring up the Holocaust. In America, if anyone attacks us, we call them antisemitic. That's silencing criticism.
What has happened in recent years can be compared to idolatry. Just as in the Bible when we have people worshiping the golden calf, we have Jews now worshiping not the universal God, but the state of Israel has become the focus of attention—has become almost the object of worship. And I think that this will change as Israel's behavior continues as it is now, and as Jewish Americans slowly come to realize that the values they hold dear—religious freedom, separation of church and state—are exactly the opposite values that the state of Israel promotes.
It's good in any criticism to criticize the Netanyahu regime rather than Israel. There's a lot of opposition to Netanyahu in Israel [and he doesn’t represent all Israelis] any more than Trump represents Americans. And we're seeing here—as Allan has pointed out—the most extreme right-wing, militaristic, jingoistic government in the history of Israel, headed by Netanyahu. And he's let the military run riot in Gaza. It’s out of control.
Bruce Fein is a Constitutional scholar and an expert on international law. Mr. Fein was Associate Deputy Attorney General under Ronald Reagan and he is the author of Constitutional Peril: The Life and Death Struggle for Our Constitution and Democracy, and American Empire: Before the Fall.
What speaks volumes about [the Harvard Board of Overseers] statement is that it pretends that the only thing that has happened is October 7. Suddenly the world stopped. Nothing happened afterwards. It ignores completely what's ongoing in Gaza, which I think speaks volumes about the bias and the prejudice there.
In Case You Haven’t Heard with Francesco DeSantis
1. On Tuesday December 12th, the Senate Judiciary Committee held the first congressional hearing on Corporate Crime since 1980. This hearing consisted of two panels, one made up of government witnesses and another featuring civilians, including Professor Brandon Garrett – architect of the Corporate Prosecution Registry. The main focus of the hearing was the decades-long decline in corporate criminal prosecutions at the Department of Justice, and what the Department needs to pursue a more expansive vision of corporate criminal justice. The full hearing is available at the Senate Judiciary Committee website.
2. On December 7th, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres invoked Article 99 of the UN Charter, in light of the mounting civilian death toll in Gaza. Article 99 is a rarely used provision of the UN charter which allows the secretary-general to bring to the attention of the Security Council “any matter which…may threaten the maintenance of international peace and security,” per AP. The last time Article 99 was invoked was nearly half a century ago, and was triggered by clashes between India and Pakistan that eventually led to the creation of Bangladesh.
3. However, the United States again vetoed the UN Security Council resolution demanding a ceasefire in Gaza. The United States was the sole member of the council to vote against the resolution, with even close allies like France and Japan voting in favor. The United Kingdom abstained from the vote. According to AP, “Riyad Mansour, the Palestinian U.N. ambassador, told the council that Israel’s objective is ‘the ethnic cleansing of the Gaza Strip’ and ‘the dispossession and forcible displacement of the Palestinian people.’”
4. The Mayor of Burbank, California, Konstantine Anthony has endorsed Representative Barbara Lee for Senate. Anthony had previously endorsed Congressman Adam Schiff – whose Congressional district includes the city of Burbank – but withdrew his endorsement and switched over to Lee because of her principled position in favor of a ceasefire in Gaza. In a statement, Mayor Anthony said “We are in a moment of great reflection in this county…Congresswoman Barbara Lee is the progressive choice for our time.” Barbara Lee has been an extremely progressive and consistent voice on foreign policy issues, famously being the only member of Congress that did not vote for the 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force, which she called a “blank check for endless war,” per KTLA.
5. Semafor’s Joseph Zeballos-Roig reports Senate Banking Committee Chair Sherrod Brown is claiming that Democrats and Republicans are “making progress to expand the child tax credit” in a deal which would “revive R[esearch] &D[evelopment] [tax] deductions + accelerated depreciation for businesses.” This bipartisan gang hopes to push this through by mid-January, so Americans would see the benefit by the next tax season. Brown himself is facing a steep reelection challenge in his state of Ohio next year.
6. Two major unions in Hawaii – UNITE HERE and the International Longshoremen and Warehouse Union – are calling on the state of Hawaii to take unprecedented action to ensure locals are able to stay on Maui. In short, they are demanding, via the Honolulu Star Advertiser, that local governments take over vacation homes and convert them into permanent housing for Hawaii residents. The housing shortage in Maui has become particularly acute following the disastrous fires on the island earlier this year.
7. In Guatemala, Bloomberg reports the Public Prosecutor's Office has announced its intention to nullify the 2023 general election results, citing vague “irregularities,” in an escalation of the legal coup the corrupt ruling clique has been attempting to pull off against President-elect Bernardo Arevalo and his Semilla Party. The Electoral Supreme Tribunal has stated that the elections “won't be repeated.” For its part, the United States State Department is opposing attempts to subvert the elections, characterizing these attempts as “anti-democratic actions…constitut[ing] evidence of…clear intent to delegitimize Guatemala’s free and fair elections and prevent the peaceful transfer of power.” The U.S. has also announced that it will impose visa restrictions on the individuals involved in “undermining democracy and the rule of law.”
8. Finally, back in 2021 the National Retail Federation released a report claiming that “‘organized retail crime’ was responsible for half the $94.5B in store merchandise” stolen. This finding was widely reported and served as a bedrock claim for cities increasing their policing budgets and backlash against reform prosecutors after the 2020 Black Lives Matter protests. Now, the Federation is retracting this claim, admitting “organized retail crime” was only responsible for about 5% of stolen merchandise. The Federation further admits that “in most major cities, shoplifting incidents have fallen 7% since 2019,” per the New York Times. In a just world, this would lead to quite a few mea culpas, but I won’t hold my breath.
This has been Francesco DeSantis, with In Case You Haven’t Heard.