By Philip Weiss*
Thankfully, many American liberals are coming out strongly against Donald Trump’s Islamophobia. One of them is Neera Tanden, head of the Democratic-Party linked thinktank, the Center for American Progress. She sent out a note to staff congratulating the organization for its progressive undertakings against Trump, and extolling values of equal rights and countering bigotry:
As we have seen a dramatic rise of Islamophobia in the country in response to Donald Trump and others, I wanted to take a moment to thank those in our national security team, religion team, immigration team, the war room, government affairs, and of course, Think Progress, who have been leading the response within the progressive movement. I’m proud that our staff, building on work we’ve done over years on the issue of Islamophobia, have done so much – from issue briefs, articles, talking points, outreach – to articulate why these attacks run directly counter to the ideals of America. We are a country made afresh each generation by immigrants from around the world, with no set religion, but perhaps only a civic religion of belief in equality amongst people, dignity, fairness and freedom.
I know there is a lot of hate in the public debate right now. It is truly alarming. I am proud to work at an institution that stands against it, alongside all of you. I know we all stand in solidarity with those who are subject to these attacks.
Thank you for all you do to make progress. And to fight back against voices of intolerance.
Let’s not forget that a month ago Tanden feted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with a giggling “conversation” at the same Center for American Progress, which has censored ThinkProgress writers who criticized Israel. Tanden is hardly alone: she is one of many Democrats/liberals who have denounced Trump’s intolerance but have no problem with Israel’s ongoing, chronic, deep-seated discrimination against Palestinians.
Americans need to understand that Israel would not exist as the “Jewish state” if it weren’t for a highly-discriminatory immigration policy: Muslims are unwelcome there at the borders today, and were pushed out of the way in the 100s of 1000s so as to establish the state.
Here are two other examples of Israel’s deep discrimination against Muslims that Americans would never tolerate:
- The army is overwhelmingly Jewish. While there are also Israeli Druze in uniform, scarcely any Palestinian Muslims serve in Israel’s military. In sharp contrast to most Jewish teens, they are not called to serve, and they don’t. The army is reminiscent of the US army before it was desegregated in 1948 — even worse, because at least then there were blacks in U.S. uniform, albeit separate.
- The governing coalitions in Israel are built out of Jewish parties only. Arab parties are almost never invited into government coalitions– I believe that it happened one time, in the 1990s. This week the hugely impressive Ayman Odeh, a Palestinian member of the Israeli parliament, is touring the United States. I heard him speak. An awesome man with tremendous gravitas, built to lead. But Odeh can never be prime minister in Israel because of this discrimination. The practice recalls the Jim-Crow-affiliated Democratic Party that the Mississippi Freedom Democrats tried to liberate in 1964.
When President Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act, he said boldly that he was giving up the south to the Republican Party. He was right; and it was worth it.
Today Neera Tanden’s Democratic Party is also owned on a key foreign policy question by a Jim Crow faction, the Israel lobby, but the Party’s own liberal base is rebelling against that ownership. The Democratic base wants Palestinians and Muslims to have basic civil rights in Israel and Palestine; and it is becoming restless inside the party, and our country too. Tanden’s glaring hypocrisy should advance that movement.
*Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net, where this article appeared.