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Taking On AIPAC: How to Support Palestinians AND Israel and Peace and Justice

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Supporters of the Palestinian people need to start thinking smart tactically as well as strategically. Simply demonstrating against the Israeli invasion, occupation and abuses has proven to be a failed tactic for helping the Palestinians.

Going to the streets and protesting the invasion of Gaza and the humanitarian violations and war crimes of Israel is an understandable and noble response. Attacking Jews is, of course, wrong and will actually strengthen AIPAC by giving its supporters PR ammunition in the media battle.

The fact is, AIPAC currently has a vise-grip on congressional legislative policy built upon the support of a 20% minority of American Jews and from support of Christian Zionists-- evangelicals who want to see violence because that is part of the predicted series of steps that will lead to the return of the Messiah and the "rapture," which will yank all good Christians into heaven. These two groups have given AIPAC immense money, power and influence..

Protesting has not loosened it, except for a tiny fraction of the most radical legislators. And AIPAC has shown all of congress how they viciously work to defeat those legislators when they run for re-election. Cynthia McKinney is the latest victim of AIPAC's assault.

To get Congress, and Obama, as well, to change their approach to Israel, they must be convinced that there are alternate paths they can safely take.

I've been interviewing the leaders and spokespeople of the Jewish alternatives to AIPAC-- J-street, Rabbi Michael Lerner's Tikkun and his Network of Spiritual progressives , and Brit Tzedek v Shalom;, Jewish Alliance for Justice and Peace-- which have all called for stopping the violence, the invasion and who describe themselves as supporting Israel AND peace.

We need to empower these progressive, pro-peace Jewish groups, as a means to diluting AIPAC's currently virtually unassailable influence on congress and the White House.

All of the pro-Israel, pro-peace groups spokespeople I interviewed told me, in different words, that Israeli policy had lost the vision of its founding values, and that it is controlled by the Israeli equivalent of neocons-- radical conservatives. The problem with Israel is they have a parliamentary system where inclusion of small, extremist conservative groups has, historically, been necessary to build a majority. We have similar problems in the US, where, in the senate, one senator may represent 200,000 voters, while another may represent 10 million or more. Both the Israelis and we in the US are stuck with flawed democratic systems that give non-democratic power excesses to extremist right wing minorities.

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Now, with liberals running the congress, well, at least center and left of center legislators, we have a unique opportunity to re-frame what it means to support Israel. What's that? You say stop supporting Israel altogether? Stop sending any funding? Sorry. That's not going to happen. Here's why.

There are over 5 million Jews in the US. Jews vote at the highest level of participation, so 5 million Jews might, because of their proclivity towards voting, might represent ten million average Americans. And the Jews are influential. Conservative Jews, through direct contributions, give a lot of money to conservative politicians and, according to Chris Hedges, through AIPAC, give a lot of money to almost all politicians, even ones with very few Jewish constituents. The conservative Jews make up just 20% of Jewish voters.

Eighty percent of Jews tend to vote for Democrats. Ninety percent of the Jews I know oppose the combative policies Israel has taken in recent years. They DO support Israel and its right to exist, but they are angry, frustrated, embarrassed, even ashamed by Israel's recent actions. But the liberal Jews, the vast majority, have not had a strong voice until recently.

Regardless of ideology, the vast majority of American Jews consider Israel their homeland, more so than the land their parents emigrated from. That same vast majority want to see a safe, secure Israel at peace. They want to see the US maintain a strong alliance with Israel, but they are willing to see the US take a more active role in making peace happen-- an approach that is very different from the AIPAC approach, which has, for the most part, taken a rubber stamp approach to extreme right wing Israeli leaders.

The bottom line is that the Jewish vote is highly influential. But it is not necessarily devoted to AIPAC.
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Finally, with the development of the three organizations mentioned above, Jews and others who want to weaken the vise-grip AIPAC has on congress have a focus and some organizational resources and places where they can contribute energy, support and funds that can really make a difference in what counts-- changing the unquestioning, unchallenging support of Israel's arch-conservative driven policy.

If legislators can be persuaded that there are nuances in the positions American Jews have toward Israel, they (congress and Obama) will be able to take a more directive role with Israel. They'll be able to do what George Herbert Walker Bush tried to do-- insist that new settlements by the furthest right wing Jews-- almost always Orthodox extremists-- be halted, even shut down. They can demand that Israel use some of its US funding to help Palestinians-- to take a Three Cups of Tea approach.

This does not mean that the US will lower it's support for Israel. That would not work. A tiny majority of Jews might accept this, but even the liberal, peace-wanting Jews would not accept reductions in support. From the perspective of supporting Israel, almost all Jews are Zionists, just as most Muslims support Mecca as a place for Muslims, where no Christians or Jews are allowed.

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Rob Kall has spent his adult life as an awakener and empowerer-- first in the field of biofeedback, inventing products, developing software and a music recording label, MuPsych, within the company he founded in 1978-- Futurehealth, and founding, organizing and running 3 conferences: Winter Brain, on Neurofeedback and consciousness, Optimal Functioning and Positive Psychology (a pioneer in the field of Positive Psychology, first presenting workshops on it in 1985) and Storycon Summit Meeting on the Art Science and Application of Story-- each the first of their kind.  Then, when he found the process of raising people's consciousness and empowering them to take more control of their lives  one person at a time was too slow, he founded which has been the top search result on Google for the terms liberal news and progressive opinion for several years. Rob began his Bottom-up Radio show, broadcast on WNJC 1360 AM to Metro Philly, also available on iTunes, covering the transition of our culture, business and world from predominantly Top-down (hierarchical, centralized, authoritarian, patriarchal, big)  to bottom-up (egalitarian, local, interdependent, grassroots, archetypal feminine and small.) Recent long-term projects include a book, Bottom-up-- The Connection Revolution, debillionairizing the planet and the Psychopathy Defense and Optimization Project. 

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Over 200 podcasts are archived for downloading here, or can be accessed from iTunes. Rob is also (more...)

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91% of Israelis back the invasion, because 26,000 ... by Jason Paz on Sunday, Jan 18, 2009 at 12:09:49 PM
The sad thing is, all those people waiting for the... by Rob Kall on Sunday, Jan 18, 2009 at 12:18:56 PM
Hi Rob,I think there is much to be learned by comp... by Jane Schiff on Sunday, Jan 18, 2009 at 5:05:50 PM
Religion is show business. It provides a few diver... by Jason Paz on Monday, Jan 19, 2009 at 6:31:11 AM
Well if Israel cared about its people it would not... by Elsie Brenner on Sunday, Jan 18, 2009 at 12:20:54 PM
Your bio is an insult to the community. Post a rea... by Rob Kall on Sunday, Jan 18, 2009 at 12:24:32 PM
I'm currently in no man's land so have no ... by Elsie Brenner on Sunday, Jan 18, 2009 at 4:26:29 PM
I have read that the reason the Israeli public is ... by Shelly Thomas on Monday, Jan 19, 2009 at 10:03:43 AM
In western countries we understand that our govern... by Elsie Brenner on Monday, Jan 19, 2009 at 8:44:12 PM
When Jason says 91% of Israelis back the war, this... by Mac McKinney on Sunday, Jan 18, 2009 at 1:20:50 PM
On occasion my local bomb shelter may house Holoca... by Jason Paz on Monday, Jan 19, 2009 at 4:04:57 AM
The latest polls show that more than 94 per cent&n... by Mac McKinney on Monday, Jan 19, 2009 at 9:47:15 PM
I think the American Jewish peace movement and the... by Nancy Tobi on Sunday, Jan 18, 2009 at 1:50:49 PM
The fact is, Israel has a right to defend itself, ... by Rob Kall on Sunday, Jan 18, 2009 at 2:22:33 PM
' When Israel acts it affects all Jews'. O... by Mark Sashine on Sunday, Jan 18, 2009 at 5:26:36 PM
What you have said here is laid out very well.&nbs... by Jade P. on Monday, Jan 19, 2009 at 8:36:53 PM
Jade: "It seems that some peoeple here are st... by Elsie Brenner on Monday, Jan 19, 2009 at 9:13:14 PM
Very interesting spin. How conveninently you ignor... by Mac McKinney on Sunday, Jan 18, 2009 at 2:28:51 PM
Hi Nancy,Please tell me if you are saying that Ame... by Jane Schiff on Sunday, Jan 18, 2009 at 5:14:30 PM
*************WHY ARE THE PALESTINIAS REFUGEES?****... by William Whitten on Sunday, Jan 18, 2009 at 7:06:13 PM
A few days before Israel’s attack on Gaza, Y... by William Whitten on Sunday, Jan 18, 2009 at 8:36:38 PM
You call it a good will gesture that israel withdr... by liberalsrock on Monday, Jan 19, 2009 at 10:02:37 AM
Nancy: "The difference arises when the Hamas ... by Elsie Brenner on Monday, Jan 19, 2009 at 9:09:06 PM
but Rob Kall ignores a lot.  Israel is merely... by Helen on Sunday, Jan 18, 2009 at 4:40:54 PM
"Israel is merely another country"I wish... by William Whitten on Sunday, Jan 18, 2009 at 7:11:53 PM
We were asked on another Article comment thre... by William Whitten on Sunday, Jan 18, 2009 at 7:59:55 PM
with the gripe about Elsie B.'s bio.  Fro... by Helen on Sunday, Jan 18, 2009 at 4:50:04 PM
It's a community.  A flip bio like hers i... by Rob Kall on Sunday, Jan 18, 2009 at 5:51:05 PM
-... by Elsie Brenner on Monday, Jan 19, 2009 at 8:52:49 PM
There is a missing integer in all of these discuss... by William Whitten on Sunday, Jan 18, 2009 at 6:56:51 PM
We should stop supporting it period.  We need... by John Hanks on Sunday, Jan 18, 2009 at 9:37:55 PM
 Britain will send warships to the eastern Me... by William Whitten on Sunday, Jan 18, 2009 at 11:06:31 PM
for the ongoing efforts to deconstruct the propaga... by Jim Eldon on Monday, Jan 19, 2009 at 6:44:43 AM
When you have something that they want they will f... by Elsie Brenner on Monday, Jan 19, 2009 at 8:23:37 PM
I'm not wating for any myth of a rapture but s... by Michael Dewey on Monday, Jan 19, 2009 at 7:00:32 AM
Nations may not have rights in William's world... by Rob Kall on Monday, Jan 19, 2009 at 9:21:48 AM
I guess I'll have to add what Jackson Browne s... by Michael Dewey on Monday, Jan 19, 2009 at 10:50:50 AM
Sign Our Open Letter to President-Elect Obama We N... by Eileen Fleming on Monday, Jan 19, 2009 at 8:01:50 AM
What did the Arab World do before you showed up? H... by Jason Paz on Monday, Jan 19, 2009 at 9:34:16 AM
 Israel and the USA and UK are nuclear p... by Elsie Brenner on Monday, Jan 19, 2009 at 7:55:46 PM
On 9/11 the vaunted US military could not stop 19 ... by Jason Paz on Wednesday, Jan 21, 2009 at 7:57:46 AM
Juan Cole had a similar idea on his blog Informed ... by Shelly Thomas on Monday, Jan 19, 2009 at 9:54:16 AM
Jason, how many times a day does your nose grow? H... by Mac McKinney on Monday, Jan 19, 2009 at 9:42:55 PM
On Laos the Americans dropped one bomb every eight... by Jason Paz on Tuesday, Jan 20, 2009 at 4:23:42 PM
It's a great article and very helpful to those... by James Hadstate on Tuesday, Jan 20, 2009 at 2:41:23 PM
  Political Power It may seem to some, a... by William Whitten on Wednesday, Jan 21, 2009 at 7:36:13 AM