Rep. Eliot Engel maintains silence on Netanyahu’s Kahanist alliance and supremacist comments.

Rep. Eliot Engel (NY-16) is the Democratic chair of the Foreign Relations Committee. As such, he is the Democrat with the most power over foreign policy since the Senate and White House are controlled by Republicans.

Just a week ago, he spent significant chunks of his time working to pass another resolution aimed squarely at Rep. Ilhan Omar. Right wing media and Trump claimed Rep. Omar’s remark at the DC coffeehouse was anti-semitic or a “dual loyalty” allegation. Their hypocrisy on this issue was staggering, and misinformed, but Rep. Engel decided he would jump right into it without review, and condemned Rep. Omar’s remarks.

Which should lead us to ask where Rep. Engel’s loquaciousness is today. He’s previous waxed eloquent about Israel being a “true democracy”, blatantly ignoring the fact that for over 50 years it has ruled over millions of Palestinians who do not get a say in the oppressions visited upon them by the military occupation:

Now that PM Benjamin Netanyahu has clarified that Israel is a democracy, but really only for its Jewish citizens, Rep. Engel seems to have nothing to say. 

On Sunday morning, Netanyahu responded to Sela on his own Instagram. He uploaded a picture of himself against the backdrop of an Israeli flag, and wrote, “Dear Rotem, an important correction: Israel is not a state of all its citizens. According to the Nation-State Law that we passed, Israel is the nation-state of the Jewish People – and them alone. As you wrote, there’s no problem with the Arab citizens of Israel – they have the same rights as us all and the Likud government has invested in the Arab sector more than any other government.”

Likud only asks,” the post continued, “to sharpen the central point of these elections: it’s either a strong right-wing government led by me, or Yair Lapid and Benny Gantz’s left-wing government with the support of the Arab parties. Lapid and Gantz have no other way to form a government, and a government like this will undermine the security of the state and citizens. The decision – another month at the ballot box. Have a nice day.” — www.haaretz.com/…

Most of the commentary following these remarks has focused on Netanyahu’s statements that “Israel is not a state of all its citizens”. That will not come as news to non-Jewish citizens of Israel, they’ve lived under a supremacist system and policies all their lives. The explicit inclusion of such a statement in Israel’s supposedly democratic constitution, merely acknowledges what all observers have long known.

But the real political meat of Netanyahu’s statement is in the second paragraph.

In it, Netanyahu presents the mere prospect of a Blue-White/Labor coalition forming a government with the Joint list (consisting of Arab parties like Balad, Ta’al and the radical left-wing Hadash) as an apocalyptic outcome to be prevented at all costs. And it seems to be working. Netanyahu’s comments seem to have spurred his right-wing coalition into the lead, despite the fact that Netanyahu is likely to be indicted for corruption by July 10.

What Netanyahu is actually doing here is following his buddy Trump’s strategy of openly demonizing minorities and making an argument for supremacy. Supremacy of one group is antithetical to democracy, but that is exactly what Netanyahu says here is the sole acceptable outcome.

Of course, this is nothing new. Though Arab/non-Jewish persons make up over 20% of Israel’s citizens, not a single one has held any cabinet position in the 70 years of Israel’s existence. There have been several deputy ministers and a Labor MK who held the Science, Culture and Sports portfolio. Throughout the 70+ years of Israel’s existence, Arab/non-Jewish citizens have been shut out of wielding any actual power. This is one of the many reasons it is fair to say that Israel proper is a de-facto Jim Crow regime, and not, as Rep. Engel claims, a “true democracy”.

Worse yet, the specter of sharing power with their Arab/non-Jewish fellow-citizens is routinely presented as a dire, frightening prospect by Israeli governments. This is the context in which Benjamin Netanyahu said “Arab voters are heading to the polling stations in droves” before the last election. That is why no single Israeli government has ever accepted an Arab/non-Jewish party as a coalition partner.

Of course, all this side-steps the fact that 4.5 million Palestinians in the West Bank/Gaza and 150,000 in East Jerusalem do not get a say in these elections to choose a government that holds sway over every aspect of their lives.

So how in what world does Rep. Engel get away with saying Israel is the “one true Democracy” in the Middle-East unchallenged?

In fact, like the United States, Israel is at best a flawed democracy, and even that is only credible if you ignore the apartheid it practices in the West Bank (where settlers can vote and have their own roads), and ignore completely the Israeli government’s pervasive human rights violations in Gaza.

Other senior Democrats, even those without Foreign Affairs assignments, have spoken about Netanyahu’s comments:

Rep. Engel, in contrast, has maintained a studious silence, despite being the most important Democrat holding a foreign policy role right now.

Rep. Engel didn’t even have anything to say about Netanyahu’s open alliance with a Kahanist party. Compare that with his colleague, Rep. Jerry Nadler:

Rep. Engel frequently has positive things to say about Israel and applaud Netanyahu. He rarely misses an opportunity to smack down any criticism of Israel (for eg. here and here). His website says Israel is a “close strategic ally” that shares an “unbreakable bond” with the US. Rep. Engel is ready to lead the charge against statements made by junior members of congress when they criticize the US’s Israel policy. A few weeks ago, Rep. Engel jumped to criticize Rep. Omar for suggesting AIPAC driven contributions played a role in lawmakers’ views on Israel/Palestine. The Guardian has done an analysis that seems to bear out her contention. But he has nothing at all to say when this close strategic ally’s government openly allies with a racist party founded by terrorists.

To be fair, Rep. Engel has occasionally criticized the Israeli government and petitioned Netanyahu. He’s taken the time to do this publicly when the Israeli government disallowed non-orthodox led prayers at the Western wall, when it stopped accepting Jewish-status letters from an orthodox rabbi and after its decision to deport tens of thousands of African refugees. But Rep. Engel has never, to my knowledge, had the time or seen fit to criticize any of Israel’s policies that impact Palestinians. He consistently sees every discussion about Palestinians through the lens of a “security threat” to Israel. He consistently blames Palestinians and other nations in the region for Israel’s current discriminatory, oppressive policies towards Palestinians. His silence on the most recent issues simply adds to that deeply one-sided pattern of priorities.

In contrast, Rep. Engel seems to periodically offer unsolicited advice on Israel policy via his official Twitter account to Palestinians and even to the tiny nation of Grenada/St. Kitts.

Perhaps Rep. Eliot can spare a brief moment to give some advice to Benjamin Netanyahu, whom he has met several times?

Let’s reiterate, Rep. Eliot Engel, in his position as chair of the Foreign Relations committee, is the Democrat with the most power on foreign affairs. When it comes to foreign affairs, he effectively controls the actual policy of the Democratic party. On Israel-Palestine, Rep. Engel simply does not have the record to be considered an honest broker.

As we approach 2020, Democrats should consider whether Rep. Engel is the right person to steer our policy towards Israel/Palestine. I believe the time has come for him to either:

  1. Credibly follow a more even handed approach championing equal rights of all people in Israel/Palestine. Or,
  2. Step aside and leave this important House committee chair to someone who can credibly present such an approach.

Lastly, I’m going to share a Palestinian perspective on this fracas:

— @subirgrewal | Cross-posted to TheProgressiveWing.com

For a moment, let us think about the feelings of our Israeli brothers and sisters.

Let us, for a moment, consider the feelings of our Israeli brothers and sisters.

When a Jewish-Israeli woman remembers the shoah, can you understand her feeling? She knows that her ancestors were singled out for extermination with industrial, inhuman precision.  She remembers that a society her ancestors had inhabited for centuries, one whose language, science and culture they helped enrich immeasurably, turned on them.

It turned on those who had assimilated, seeking to make it their own. And it turned on those who had chosen to faithfully and visibly preserve the old ways. It turned on the young, on the old, on the infirm, and it mauled them all, including the strong who tried to resist.

None were safe, and few, painfully few promises of sanctuary were honored. When her people needed them most, none who held the power to turn back the threat chose to answer her people’s anguished calls.

When the great powers did rise up against the threat, they were driven by self-preservation, not out of regard for her ancestors.

She understands that turning back the threat came at an immense cost. Thirty million lives in Europe, and as many or more in Asia.

So perhaps you can understand her desire to never put her people, and the world, in that position again.

When she recalls that this happened a mere two generations ago, perhaps you can understand why she is unpersuaded by your argument that she trust in others for her people’s security.

When she looks at the world around her, she sees the great powers have spent the intervening decades chewing up vulnerable, powerless peoples in wars across Asia, Africa and South America. They have armed and financed vicious men, in pursuit of ideological hegemony and lucre. Perhaps you can see why she doesn’t necessarily trust your reassurances.

When she views her country’s immediate neighborhood, absorbed in a violent conflagration to upset the illogical boundaries drawn by great powers a century ago, you can understand why she questions the honesty, ability and good faith of their current leaders.

When she looks at the world’s most powerful democracy, which half her people call home, she sees people openly flaunt the flags, salutes and chants of the scourge that sought to destroy her people. 

Perhaps now you can sense why she trusts no one else with her children’s safety. Perhaps you can understand the solace in knowing that her people too have weapons of mass destruction, that she herself and those she calls her own are not so powerless, so vulnerable. 

When an observant Jewish-Israeli man ends the week at Shabbat dinner with his family in Israel, can you understand the depth of emotion this evokes? For two thousand years, when his ancestors have celebrated this ancient, sacred, weekly ritual, they have thought of this land. They have imagined this moment, this prayer, this breaking of bread made with grain flowering under this sun, planted in this earth, tilled perhaps by his nephews and nieces. His family’s presence here is the distilled realization of all their hopes.

Every aspect of his faith is grounded in the history of his people on this patch of earth. This land is evoked in innumerable prayers his ancestors have repeated over millennia as strangers in strange lands. Do you know what it means for him to know that he and his children are the fruit of their patience and perseverance. They are Sabra, of and from this earth, and god-willing only to this earth, this land they were promised, will they return. Perhaps you can understand why he finds it offensive that some question his belonging and see him as an interloper.

Perhaps you can understand the promise and draw of this precipice, which is also a portal.

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— @subirgrewal 

This diary should not be necessary.

No thinking person, with even a basic knowledge of history, should have to be told this. We should feel it in our bones. But it is necessary. The past week has seen numerous new participants in I-P debates, and some have a very mistaken sense of where we are coming from and what we understand and appreciate. Some have been careless when discussing topics that should be approached with the awe that is due the memory of the dead.

History and our animal natures have set out for us the dangerous trap of tribal allegiance. It is laid deep in our psyches and evolutionary development. To avoid falling into this trap, to resist the inclination for supremacy, to consciously avoid propping up the indefinite subjugation of millions of fellow human beings, requires careful and effective analysis.

We must start from first principles. We must define the political principles that are inviolable for us. For those on the left, we have to start from a position that places equal rights above all. When we start there, and conduct an honest analysis grounded in the principle of universal human dignity, coupled with the Kantian imperative to accept each person as ends unto themselves, we can make our way through the morass of history.

So we can see the suffering of the whole world, past, present and future, in a single child’s eyes.

And that realization is the only thing that can bring us from the darkness into the light of a new country. Into a world where both our hearts and minds recognize solidarity.

Lastly, this comment should not be necessary. It is painful to add it as a coda to this diary. This diary is a heart wrenching thing to have to write. Its sentiment should and does stand alone, without reservation.

For a moment, let’s talk about Palestinians’ feelings

Over the past few days, we have discussed how the wrong words used in service of advocacy for Palestinian rights may cause offense to some Jewish-Americans. It is right and proper to have this discussion. In the pursuit of a better world, in our search for the right path to a better foreign policy, we should not inadvertently cause harm to our allies and innocents. Nor should we further any form of bigotry.

Let’s also stop for a moment and consider the feelings of Palestinians, Palestinian-Americans and their allies. They have been largely absent from most commentator’s consideration during this week’s debate. By conjunction, let us also consider the feelings of all people our foreign policy has materially harmed and those who feel for them. 

How do you think a Palestinian in the West Bank feels when they see Israeli settlers zip past checkpoints they have to stop at when traveling to university in the nearest town?

What do you think a Palestinian in Gaza feels when their home is destroyed by a targeted bomb made in the US? Or when they cannot buy ice-cream for their child’s birthday because none has made it past the Israeli checkpoints? Or when they can’t go to their uncle’s funeral because some bureaucrat refused their permit to travel to the West Bank? Or when their neighbor’s entire family is killed in a “targeted assassination”? Or when their orchards are uprooted and their water diverted?

What do you think a Palestinian feels, when they look around them and see the actual, material, harm being done to their communities day in and day out, by a regime that enjoys virtually unqualified support from the US government? 

What do you think they feel when they see more ink spilled in US newspapers and more hours spent on TV talking about tweets and tropes than about hundreds of Palestinians, including dozens of children, killed at protests?

What do you think they feel when they compare this outrage over these words, with the faintly discomfited expressions liberals offer to talking heads who casually call their brethren terrorists?

Would they be wrong to conclude that their feelings don’t matter?

Would they be wrong to conclude that their lives don’t matter as much?

And let’s stop for a moment again. Let us broaden our lens further, beyond Israel/Palestine.

Let’s put ourselves in the shoes of a child fleeing a war funded and supplied by the US, as most wars across the globe are in some form. Would that child be wrong to believe that their feelings, their well-being, nay their life does not seem to matter?

And if that child were ever to enter the halls of the US Congress as a legislator.

Would the moral authority of her outrage not be righteous?

When she expresses solidarity with all children harmed by oppressive regimes our government supports, is that not awesome to behold?

When you hear her call for justice on behalf of the war-torn and those weary of oppression, does that not leave you, whoever you are, awash in feeling as well?

— @subirgrewal 

What we have learned from the attacks on Rep. Ilhan Omar

For now, House leaders have backed off from the presenting a resolution aimed at rebuking, or censuring Rep. Ilhan Omar.

Earlier in the day, Democrats, including some prominent African-Americans, confronted Speaker Nancy Pelosi at a testy closed-door meeting, demanding to know why they were being pushed to pass the resolution when bigoted comments by Republicans have gone unchallenged.

Representative Ayanna Pressley, Democrat of Massachusetts, said she told leadership that there must be “equity in our outrage,” noting that Ms. Omar, a Minnesotan and one of the first two Muslim women elected to Congress, was being attacked for her faith. — www.nytimes.com/…

The turnabout is the result of immense pressure from the left-wing of the party, including pro-Israel lobbying organizations like J-Street seeking to offer an alternative to AIPAC. In the age of Trump and Netanyahu, it has become increasingly clear that AIPAC’s “bi-partisanship” is really a fig-leaf for a far-right policy stance.

Over the past few weeks, it’s also become clear that far-right Republicans are focused on attacking Rep. Omar. They are doing this as a part of Trump’s xenophobic and misogynistic re-election campaign. People like Steve Scalise have openly disparaged Rep. Omar without facing any sanctions from the House. Their complaints are rank hypocrisy in the face of their close alliance with white supremacists and neo-Nazis.  

As we point out Republican hypocrisy, it is worth noting that the attempts to silence and intimidate Rep. Omar went as far as they did because several Democrats fell for and aided Republican attacks. Leading this charge was the chairman of the Foreign Affairs committee, Eliot Engel. Rep. Engel is the most powerful Democrat on Foreign Policy issues by virtue of his chairmanship. But, his views on foreign policy are diametrically opposed to those held by rank and file Democrats.

In order to frighten Americans into supporting a U.S. takeover of Iraq, Engel falsely claimed just prior to the 2002 war authorization vote to invade Iraq that the Iraqi government was still producing chemical and biological weapons. He was among a rightwing minority of Congressional Democrats who voted to authorize the illegal, unnecessary, and predictably tragic U.S. invasion of that oil-rich country. — progressive.org/…

In 2015, he was one of a handful of Democrats who opposed President Obama’s P5 nuclear deal with Iran.  Rep. Engel’s views are far closer to Trump’s than Obama when it comes to Iran.

In a recent poll, 98% of self-described liberals supported stopping arms flow to the Saudi and Emirati coalition bombing Yemen. Yet, in 2017, Rep. Engel helped kill a resolution that would have done what 98% of liberals wanted.

In 2014, Israeli forced bombed large swaths of Gaza. This included the targeted bombing of homes, which claimed the lives of hundreds of children. In a Gallup poll conducted during the bombing of Gaza, non-white voters called Netanyahu’s war unjustified by a 49-25 margin. 18-29 year olds called it unjustified by 51-25 margin. 20-49 year olds said it was unjustified by a 43-36 margin.

Overall, Democrats opposed it by a healthy 10% margin:

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In contrast, Rep. Engel unabashedly defended Netanyahu’s merciless war. In 2014, as today, Rep. Engel’s views were far more aligned with those of Republicans than with rank and file Democrats.

Which should lead us to ask why Rep. Engel holds the powerful position of chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. His views do not reflect those of most Democrats. His positions are far, far more hawkish than those of most Democrats. He also has terrible political instincts. By escalating unfair Republican attacks on a black, muslim Congresswoman, one who is herself a child refugee from a war, Rep. Engel is playing into Republican hands.

Why indeed, does he have the powerful chairmanship? That’s a question we should all be asking ourselves.

And as we do that, it absolutely must be stressed that these attacks are unfair, deeply hypocritical and part of a Republican strategy to appeal to their base. Why is any Democrat aiding them in this?

Paul Waldman has an Op-Ed in the Washington Post that is very much worth the five minutes it takes to read:

You may have noticed that almost no one uses “dual loyalty” as a way of questioning whether Jews are loyal to the United States anymore. Why has it almost disappeared as an anti-Semitic slur? Because, over the last three decades, support for Israel has become increasingly associated with conservative evangelicals and the Republican Party.

Not coincidentally, this happened at the same time as the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, or AIPAC, the most prominent and influential pro-Israel lobby, went from supporting Israel generally to being the lobby in the United States for the Likud, Israel’s main right-wing party. While AIPAC works hard to keep Democrats in line, its greatest allies are in the GOP, where support for Israel and a rejection of any meaningful rights for Palestinians have become a central component of party ideology. When the most prominent advocates for Israel are people such as Mike Huckabee and Sarah Palin, “dual loyalty” loses any meaning as a slur against Jews. […]

Ilhan Omar certainly didn’t say that Jews have dual loyalty. For instance, in one of the tweets that got people so worked up, Omar said, “I should not be expected to have allegiance/pledge support to a foreign country in order to serve my country in Congress or serve on committee.” You’ll notice she didn’t say or even imply anything at all about Jews. She said that she was being asked to support Israel in order to have the privilege of serving on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, which was true. Many on the right have called for her to be removed from that committee (see here, or here, or here, or here). Her argument, to repeat, isn’t about how Jews feel about Israel, it’s about what is being demanded of her.— www.washingtonpost.com/…

As usual, AOC gets to the heart of the matter.

It should come as no surprise that Republican politicians are consistently found supporting white-supremacy, racism, Islamophobia, xenophobia and actual anti-semitism. These forms of bigotry are related, and in a Trumpian Republican party, they have found a natural home. There is absolutely no reason powerful Democrats should be supporting hypocritical attacks by Republicans who do not have the interests of ordinary people at home and abroad, at heart.

Rep. Omar may have inadvertently caused hurt to some with a poorly phrased remark. She has apologized for that where warranted.

There is no doubt, in my mind though, that as former refugee whose life was torn apart by a civil war that the US had a hand in exacerbating, she has a unique and invaluable perspective in Congress. She has quite literally been in the shoes of millions of ordinary people caught in the horrors of war. Wars that are often perpetrated, financed and supplied by powerful people like Trump, who would never put themselves in harm’s way for anyone else.

We need more people like Rep. Ilhan Omar in Congress if we are to transform our foreign policy, which has rarely had the interests of the world’s most vulnerable people at heart. Thankfully, many Democratic leaders know this and have expressed it:

Senator Bernie Sanders, the Vermont independent who is again running for the Democratic presidential nomination, took the opposite tack and suggested House Democratic leaders were trying to tamp down legitimate discussion of the conduct of the Israeli government. […]

But that was not enough for many lawmakers, especially African-Americans who see Ms. Omar getting singled out as a woman of color, while Democratic leaders have let slide other racist and bigoted remarks — including those of President Trump. According to several people in the room, a number of African-American representatives stood up to challenge Ms. Pelosi. — www.nytimes.com/…

The Congressional Black Caucus and the Congressional Progressive Caucus, the two largest in Congress almost uniformly opposed the resolution targeting Rep. Omar. 

Finally, as usual, there’s a tape of Bernie pointing out the hypocrisy, way back in 1994.

Embedded video

ReasonablyAttractiveParent@KindAndUnblind

.@BernieSanders in 1994, calling out the hypocrisy of the House for condemning anti-Semitic remarks (by the Nation of Islam) while refusing to condemn any other kind of bigotry. #TheMoreThingsChange #Sanders2020 #IStandWithIlhan #NotMeUs1,84211:21 AM – Mar 5, 2019751 people are talking about thisTwitter Ads info and privacy

— @subirgrewal

AOC asks where the resolutions are against anti-blackness, Islamophobia, homophobia..

Numerous analyses of Rep. Omar’s comments at a bookstore last week rely on two mistaken arguments:

  1. Claiming it is anti-semitic to question the reasons that US policy de-prioritizes equal rights for Palestinians, while providing one-sided support to Israel..
  2. Willful blindness towards the fact that most reflexive support for the right-wing Israeli government comes from evangelical christians and the right-wing politicians they support.

Right-wing Republicans have weaponized this confusion and used it to mount bad-faith attacks on Rep. Ocasio-Cortez, Rep. Omar and Rep. Tlaib. They are doing this partly to obscure their own party’s tolerance and penchant for various forms of hatred. It’s a particularly Trumpian tactic, accusing others when criticized.

That’s right, a GOP member yelled “Go back to Puerto Rico” and there was no uproar to rebuke or censure for this person.

A senior member openly campaigned on “sending Obama home to Kenya” and there were no reprimands, no rebukes, no censures.

But all Rep. Omar has to do is raise questions about US policy towards Israel-Palestine and why it undermines equal rights for Palestinians, hey presto there’s a resolution every month to police her tone.

Ms. Omar questioned why it was acceptable for her to speak critically about the political influence of the National Rifle Association, fossil fuel industries and “big pharma,” but not the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.  — www.nytimes.com/…


Rep. Omar’s questions are having an impact, they have even prompted the NY Times to ask:

Ilhan Omar’s Criticism Raises the Question: Is Aipac Too Powerful?

“It is so disingenuous of some of these members of Congress who are lining up to condemn these questioning voices as if they have no campaign finance interest in the outcome,” said Brian Baird, a former Democratic congressman from Washington State, who became a vocal critic of Israel, and Aipac, after a constituent of his was killed by an Israeli Army bulldozer in Gaza while protesting the demolition of Palestinian homes in 2003.

“If one dares to criticize Israel or dares to criticize Aipac, one gets branded anti-Semitic,” Mr. Baird added, “and that’s a danger to a democratic republic.” […]

But in a recent article in The Nation, M.J. Rosenberg, who worked for Aipac in the 1980s and is now a critic of the organization, described how “Aipac’s political operation is used precisely as Representative Omar suggested,” including during policy conferences, when members gather “in side rooms, nominally independent of the main event,” to raise money and “decide which candidate will get what.” […]

But other lawmakers bristle at Aipac’s tactics. In 2006, Representative Betty McCollum, Democrat of Minnesota, who has advocated humanitarian aid for Palestinians, wrote an angry letter to Mr. Kohr saying Aipac would be barred from her offices until it apologized for the behavior of one of its representatives who had berated her chief of staff, Bill Harper, and said Ms. McCollum’s “support for terrorists will not be tolerated.”

— www.nytimes.com/…

Jeremy Scahill lays out why it is so important that we not fall for bad-faith attacks on Rep. Omar, who as a child refugee, understand the real world impact of our destructive foreign policies better than most.

And I’ll give Rep. Omar the last word:

ACT: Write your congressman and your senators.

— @subirgrewal

If this were really about anti-semitism…

If it were really about anti-semitism, the House would be censuring Rep. Jim Jordan for this blatant smear:

Rep. Nadler is Jewish, and so is Tom Steyer. Notice the $?

If it was about anti-semitism, the House would have censured Dan Quayle, who had a fondness for the 80s equivalent of “globalist”.

Vice-President Dan Quayle made his contribution with his now-infamous frontal attack on the “cultural elite.” Whatever one’s view on the issue, the vice-president’s tone as much as his phrasing made many people uncomfortable, clearly echoing the populist anti-Semitic rhetoric that began in the thirties and would for several decades wrap Hollywood, Jews, and Communism into a neat little anti-American package. Many people simply saw cultural elite as a euphemism for Jewish elite. Addressing a Clinton fund-raising dinner, in fact, director Mike Nichols opened by saying, “We can drop the Republican code for ‘cultural elite.’ Good evening, fellow Jews.” — nymag.com/…

If it were really about anti-semitism, the House would have censured Rep. Kevin McCarthy:

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and Rep. Steve Scalise:

Yet, in 2002, Scalise, then a Louisiana state representative, attended and spoke at a convention of the white supremacist European American Unity and Rights Organization, a group founded by David Duke. You remember Duke, right? The Holocaust-denying former grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan who has been described by the Anti-Defamation League as “perhaps America’s most well-known racist and anti-Semite.” — theintercept.com/…

and Rep. Matt Gaetz:

Florida congressman is under fire for inviting a Holocaust denier to the State of the Union on Tuesday.

Matt Gaetz, a first-term Florida Republican, insisted that he gave the ticket to Charles C Johnson only by happenstance, telling the Daily Beast that the notorious alt-right troll just “showed up at my office” on the day of the speech. — www.theguardian.com/…

and Rep. Paul Gosar:

Rep. Paul Gosar, the Republican who represents Arizona’s 4th Congressional District, has claimed that the far-right rally held in Charlottesville, Virginia, in August 2017 — at which marchers chanted “Jews will not replace us” — was “created by the left” and led by an “Obama sympathizer.” He has also suggested that Soros funded the event and falsely claimed that the Jewish billionaire “turned in his own people to the Nazis.” — theintercept.com/…

and Rep. Louie Gomert:

Gohmert spun a conspiracy theory about billionaire Soros with no evidence, claiming that the Jewish Holocaust survivor had stolen property from fellow Jews.

“George Soros is supposed to be Jewish, but you wouldn’t know it from the damage he’s inflicted on Israel and the fact that he turned on fellow Jews and helped take the property that they owned,” Gohmert said Thursday on “Varney & Co.,” hosted by Stuart Varney. — www.huffingtonpost.com/…

and Rep. Steve King. Wait you say, but Steve King was censured? 

No, he wasn’t. The censure resolution was blocked by Democratic leaders. Why? 

House Democratic leaders blocked an effort to censure Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) for racial comments, referring the measure to the House Ethics Committee for further review because of concerns that it might set a dangerous precedent for policing members’ speech. […]

“I don’t know that it’s a good thing for us to talk about censure for things that are done outside of the business of the House of Representatives,” said Clyburn, the highest-ranking African American congressional leader. “We should be very, very careful about doing anything that constrains, or seems to constrain, speech.

By doing so, you “open the window for anybody to attack speech, no matter if it’s Democrats or Republicans,” he added in a subsequent interview. — www.washingtonpost.com/…

Yep, that’s right, we wouldn’t want to set off a “dangerous precedent for policing members’ speech” when the members in question are white Republican men who repeatedly cast vile slurs.

On the other hand, if it’s a black Muslim woman, there’s no need to worry about setting “dangerous precedent”. Which is why:

Democratic leaders are still debating whether to mention Omar by name in the resolution, according to multiple sources. Staffers for Pelosi and top Democrats, including House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), began drafting the resolution over the weekend as the confrontation between Omar and her colleagues unfolded on Twitter.

Two of the House’s most senior Democrats — Foreign Affairs Chairman Eliot Engel and Lowey — called out Omar in public statements, demanding she apologize. — www.politico.com/…

What is the difference?

Is it that Rep. Omar has the temerity to question the US’s bias against equal rights for Palestinians? That’s what Rep. Omar’s Democratic colleague on Foreign Services, Rep. Juan Vargas thinks. He said it’s “unacceptable” to question the US’s lop-sided support for Israel :

Where were the outrage, rebukes and censure resolutions when Matt Gaetz invited an honest to goodness holocaust denier onto the floor of the House?

Why is Rep. Eliot Engel’s outrage reserved for comments about US policy towards Israel delivered by relatively powerless members like Rep. Ilhan Omar? Rep. Jim Jordan is a powerful ranking member of the oversight committee. Why hasn’t Rep. Engel said a single word about Rep. Jordan’s tweet from yesterday attacking his colleague Rep. Nadler by name?

Why didn’t Rep. Engel and Rep. Lowey scream from the rooftops about minority leader Kevin McCarthy’s refusal to apologize for his tweet? Especially when McCarthy made clear, weeks ago, that he would go after Rep. Omar?

Perhaps it’s just less risky to attack a black muslim woman, without seniority or power, rather than go after a Republican who might someday chair a committee you’re on. She’s an easy target, even the Saudis dislike her because she questions the devastation they have wrought on ordinary Yemeni people.

This isn’t about anti-semitism. If it were, the House would have censured powerful Republicans for their anti-semitic comments. Starting with the man in the White House.

Instead, many Democrats are choosing to enable Trump’s attacks on one of their colleagues.

It isn’t even about combatting hate. If it were, Rep. Engel and Rep. Lowey would have said something about the ruling Israeli faction’s alliance with an openly racist party created out of a banned terrorist organization. They have both maintained a studious silence on that.

And it definitely isn’t good politics to give in to the Republican attacks. If the House passes a resolution censuring Rep. Omar, do you believe Republicans will refrain from attacking Democrats as anti-semites in 2020? On the contrary, the ads will say “even Democrats like Rep. Engel, and Rep. Lowey agree, their party has an anti-semitism problem”. It’ll be played over a montage of black and brown faces, some in hijabs. It’s a four for one, an anti-black, anti-muslim ad that seeks to shave off Jewish voters from the Democratic coalition while pulling a cover over the Republican party’s open advocacy of white supremacy. Instead of recognizing and parrying this bad-faith attack on Rep. Omar, too many seem hell-bent upon enabling it.

ACTION: call your representatives and Senators. Let them know you stand with Rep. Omar, and that if they want a house resolution that actually combats anti-semitism (rather than conflate it with criticism of right-wing Israeli policy), it should name these Republicans: Matt Gartz, Steve Scalise, Kevin McCarthy, Jim Jordan, Paul Gosar, Steve King, Louie Gomert, Donald Trump.

— @subirgrewal 

Who we think about when we think about domestic policy

Childhood Poverty in the US: https://www.aft.org/growth-child-poverty-mapped-county-50-states

Who you think about when you think about domestic policy affects your priorities and the conclusions you reach.

We know who Republicans are thinking of, their country club buddies and billionaire masters.

For other politicians, it’s people like the fictional “Bailey family” of Long Island, who are relatively well-off and seem to obsessively worry about the price of gas.

I have a different point of view. I am completely oblivious to the concerns of the billionaire and country club set, they can take care of themselves and will always find a way to come out on top. I am a little more concerned about the Baileys as they try to make their way through a world where very little is assured for them.

But when I think of domestic policy, I focus mostly on the cares of a 15 year old who finds herself in difficult circumstances. Perhaps her family is mired in poverty. Her community might be struggling with environmental destruction, economic malaise, opioid crises or destroyed infrastructure. Her schools have a few great teachers who are underpaid, but not enough of them. There are few or no public resources for guidance or counseling. Facilities are crumbling everywhere she looks. Her limitless potential will be squandered, unless the right healthcare, education and support reach her in time.

It’s with this young person in mind that I evaluate domestic policy. Her needs are a thought experiment that reveal policy intent. For example, when I hear a politician offer “tax-advantaged accounts” as a policy solution, I know they aren’t on her side. They’re thinking of the country club set, who can hire accountants and advisers to leverage these structures into tax avoidance schemes. It might benefit the Baileys, if they have managed to scrounge together some savings or have a sharp tax preparer. They sure won’t do anything for her.

When a politician tells me they’ll “means test” a benefit and require applicants to fill out multi-page forms processed by an impersonal bureaucracy, I know they aren’t thinking of her. She knows enough about the world to recognize when people don’t like her or think she’s unworthy. Chances are someone will try to shame her as she applies, or dismiss her application for minor infractions. She won’t trade her dignity for this benefit today.

But when a politician proposes a simple, universal program, and frames it as a right, I know they are thinking of her.

If we can get the news to her that she has a right to health-care, she will be emboldened to ask for her rights. If we call it Medicare For All, she knows it covers her without question. It’s for everybody. The receptionist at the doctor’s office can’t try to shame her for being poor or using a “means tested” program. She’ll have the same card and coverage that everyone else uses to receive healthcare.

lunch_4_learning_selfie.jpg

If we get word to her that tuition free college education is just as much her right as public school is, she will find a way to exercise that right. She knows what a right is, it’s for her, it applies equally to everyone. You cannot be shamed for exercising your rights, you cannot be made to feel like you don’t belong when you have a right to be there. She will know others around her who have gone to college tuition free, it’s not just for rich people.

In 2017, New York City instituted Universal School Lunch to remove the stigma attached to school lunch. Every child in the country’s largest school system has the right to receive a free lunch at school. When they made the case for this policy, teachers with the UFT estimated that one-third of New York City students eligible for free or reduced-price lunch would rather not eat because of the embarrassment of taking a free meal.

Around the time NYC was considering this policy change, the Urban Institute and Feeding America conducted a study in ten communities impacted by food insecurity. In both urban and rural communities, they invited teenagers to relate stories of how hunger impacted them and their peers. The children related stories of kids going hungry so their younger siblings could eat, about saving school lunches to eat later during the day, hanging out at the homes of friends or neighbors hoping their families would invite them to dinner. And also this…

Teens in all 10 communities and in 13 of the 20 focus groups talked about some youth selling sex for money to pay for food.These themes arose most strongly in high-poverty communities where teens also described sexually coercive environments. Sexual exploitation most commonly took the form of transactional dating relationships with older adults. [Impossible Choices]

There’s a chance she has seen or experienced something like this. I want politicians who are on her side. I want leaders who say clearly and unequivocally, that in a country as rich as the United States, it is unacceptable for children to go hungry. When Republicans talk about the “undeserving” recipients of social programs, I want politicians willing to publicly shame them for corporate and country club welfare. I want politicians who are willing to fight for her dignity.

LBJ is a complicated figure. But early in his life he spent a year teaching in a segregated school for Mexican-American children in Cotulla, Texas. The students were poor, as was the community. After signing the landmark Higher Education Act of 1965, LBJ went back to San Marcos county and said this:

I shall never forget the faces of the boys and the girls in that little Welhausen Mexican School, and I remember even yet the pain of realizing and knowing then that college was closed to practically every one of those children because they were too poor. And I think it was then that I made up my mind that this nation could never rest while the door to knowledge remained closed to any American.

For all his faults, in his landmark Great Society programs I know LBJ was thinking of those kids. While he had control over the machinery of our government, he engaged in a mad, relentless, dash to use every lever he could for those kids.

Those kids were who he thought of when he thought of domestic policy. This is the best part of LBJ’s complex legacy.

So when I think about domestic policy, I think of her. I ask myself this:

Is the policy as simple to access and understand as Social Security?

Is it as universal as Medicare For All?

Is it a right like public school or college?

Is the law written for her, or was it written for the country club set?

 — @subirgrewal | Cross-posted at TheProgressiveWing and Bankers4Bernie.com

Why is Sen. Feinstein offering a competing Climate Change proposal when GND polls at 81%?

Senate Resolution 59 is the Green New Deal. It currently has 12 Senate co-sponsors(that’s over 25% of the Democratic Senate Caucus). The co-sponsors include Sen. Cory Booker, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, Sen. Kamal Harris, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Sen. Bernie Sanders and Sen. Elizabeth Warren.

Every single senator running for President is co-sponsoring this resolution. More importantly, the measure is overwhelmingly popular among voters. And when I say overwhelmingly, I’m not kidding:More than 80 percent of registered voters support the Green New Deal proposal being pushed by progressional Democratic lawmakers, a new poll found.

The survey conducted by the Yale Program on Climate Communication and the George Mason University Center for Climate Change Communication found that 92 percent of Democrats and 64 percent of Republicans back the Green New Deal plan. — thehill.com/…

Read that again, 92% of Democrats support the Green New Deal. 64% of Republicans support it. 88% of independents support it.

Survey respondents were given a brief synopsis of the GND and asked whether they supported it.

Some members of Congress are proposing a “Green New Deal” for the U.S. They say that a Green New Deal will produce jobs and strengthen America’s economy by accelerating the transition from fossil fuels to clean, renewable energy. The Deal would generate 100% of the nation’s electricity from clean, renewable sources within the next 10 years; upgrade the nation’s energy grid, buildings, and transportation infrastructure; increase energy efficiency; invest in green technology research and development; and provide training for jobs in the new green economy.  — climatecommunication.yale.edu/…

Which leads to the question, why is Sen. Diane Feinstein proposing legislation that is virtually guaranteed to divide Democrats when S.Res. 59 comes up for a vote? Also, why is she offering a proposal universally considered weaker than the GND, when the GND has enormous public support?

It’s not even everything the Obama administration instituted via executive orders! It’s kind of going backwards. It is really weaker than the GND, let me use one small example. Here’s the GND:

(4) to achieve the Green New Deal goals and mobilization, a Green New Deal will require the following goals and projects— […]

(M) obtaining the free, prior, and informed consent of indigenous peoples for all decisions that affect indigenous peoples and their traditional territories, honoring all treaties and agreements with indigenous peoples, and protecting and enforcing the sovereignty and land rights of indigenous peoples — www.congress.gov/…

here’s Sen. Feinstein’s proposal:

(3) The United States shall ensure a just and equitable transition for all communities, including by: […]

(D) respecting the needs and wisdom of local communities in planning infrastructure changes, especially communities that have historically been marginalized or oppressed, including indigenous peoples, communities of color, migrant communities, deindustrialized communities, depopulated rural communities, the poor, low-income workers, women, the elderly, the unhoused, people with disabilities, and youth — www.feinstein.senate.gov/…

There’s an enormous difference between “respect the needs and wisdom of” and “obtaining the free, prior, and informed consent of”. The first is a relatively content-free platitude, the second is a concrete requirement. There are several other examples. Sen. Feinstein’s proposal does not talk about union labor, the GND does. The GND requires a full-scale mobilization effort over ten years. Sen Feinstein’s proposal has softer targets over 30 years. The GND proposes a high speed rail network and public transit, to reduce reliance on air and car travel, Sen. Feinstein’s proposal does not. Don’t take my word for it, please read them side by side and ask yourself why anyone would want to squander the enormous political momentum GND activists have built (80% of voters support them!) by offering up a weaker version.

That twitter thread is worth reading in full (h/t MB). But here’s the critical bit for the purpose of this discussion. Mitch McConnell intends to present S.Res. 59 up for a vote, in an attempt to divide Democrats.

Forget the video for a bit. It was a remarkably effective piece of activism, but after four different rec listed diaries, the video it is not worth discussing further. Let’s talk about policy and what actually needs to be done here.

Why does Sen. Feinstein think her proposal is better than S.Res.59?

Why does she think offering it up in the Senate is going to result in more tangible progress than throwing her back behind the resolution proposed by Sen. Markey in the Senate? 

Perhaps  Sen. Feinstein has reached a secret deal with Mitch McConnell. Perhaps she has reason to believe her resolution will pass with strong Republican support. If so, that would be great progress under a Republican administration and Senate. I would welcome it.

If however, Sen. Feinstein does not have such an agreement, then as RL Miller notes, her alternative proposal merely serves to divide Senate Democrats on this issue. What then is the point of the proposal? Why offer a divisive proposal when the one on the table has 92% support among Democrats?

I’m genuinely curious as to what Sen. Feinstein is thinking with her alternate proposal.

— @subirgrewal | Cross-posted to TheProgressiveWing

Netanyahu welcomes extremist Kahanist party into his already far-right alliance

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu brokered a deal this week with the right-wing extremist party Jewish Power, which has roots in a violent, racist movement that Israel and the U.S. deemed a terrorist organization.

The agreement is Netanyahu’s effort to consolidate support before the country’s election in April. Although Netanyahu has long courted nationalist and religious parties as a means of undermining right-wing challengers and shoring up coalitions, his pact with Jewish Power goes beyond his previous alliances. One prominent Israeli diplomatic correspondent compared Netanyahu’s deal to an American president making a pact with the leader of the Ku Klux Klan.

Jewish Power, or Otzma Yehudit, is led by followers of Brooklyn-born Meir Kahane, an openly racist and ultranationalist rabbi who led extremist organizations in the United States and Israel. Kahane, who was assassinated in 1990, was also the founder of the Jewish Defense League ? a violent anti-Arab organization founded in the U.S. that the FBI refers to as a terrorist group.  — https://www.huffpost.com/…

That KKK reference would be striking if it weren’t for the fact that our current president has a relationship with tiki-torch carrying KKK/Nazis that can only be characterized as mutual admiration.

Almost exactly 25 years ago, a former member of the Jewish Defense League, carried out a terrorist attack in Hebron. When he immigrated to Israel, Baruch Goldstein joined Kahane’s Kach party and served in the IDF. On February 25, 1994, he walked into the Cave of the Patriarchs and opened fire on Palestinian protesters killing 29 people and wounding 125 people. 

In response, the Israeli government imposed a two-week curfew on all Palestinians living in Hebron. Jewish settlers were unaffected by the curfew. 25 Palestinians were killed by IDF forces in protests and riots following the attack, as were 5 Israelis.

In the 25 years since, conditions for Hebron’s Palestinian residents have become progressively worse as successive Israeli governments have continued clampdowns on Hebron, effectively shuttering its once thriving markets.

Goldstein’s grave in the settlement of Kiryat Arba has become a shrine for extremists. The Israeli government banned Kahane’s Kach party, but Netanyahu’s approval of the alliance all but guarantees Kahane’s followers a seat in the next Parliament and the ruling coalition.

Netanyahu’s Likud party announced it would reserve the 28th spot on its parliamentary list for the Jewish Home party and grant it two Cabinet ministries in a future government if it merges with the Jewish Power party.

Jewish Power is comprised of hard-line religious nationalists who have cast themselves as successors to the banned Kahanist movement, which dreamed of turning Israel into a Jewish theocracy and advocated forced removal of its Palestinians. — www.nytimes.com/…

The response to Netanyahu’s move among most on the left and Americans has been almost uniformly one of horror. I’ll let Chemi Shalev explain:

For U.S. Jewry, Kahanist Caper Casts Netanyahu as Prince of Darkness and Trump on Steroids 

Even AIPAC broke its usual silence after Netanyahu legitimized followers of the infamous Rabbi Kahane, who was a household name in America before setting foot in Israel — Chemi Shalev in Haaretz

Several US politicians have also spoken out against the alliance:

The first member of Congress to address the issue on Friday was Rep. Jerry Nadler, a Democrat from New York and the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee. Nadler shared a news story on the deal (from The Times of Israel) and wrote: “The promotion and inclusion of an avowedly racist party is a betrayal of Israeli democracy and of Israel’s friends and supporters around the world.” He added that the legitimization of racist views “is simply unacceptable.”

Hours later, Rep. Ted Deutch, a Democrat from Florida and the chairman of the House sub-committee on the Middle East, shared AIPAC’s criticism and wrote: “This racist and reprehensible party must not be legitimized. Otzma Yehudit’s hatred is not a reflection of the values of the state of Israel was founded upon, and it should be rejected.” — https://www.haaretz.com/…

In the broader sweep of history, the alliance makes perfect sense. After all, Likud, Netanyahu’s party was also founded by terrorists. 

Likud was created in 1973 by Menachem Begin and Yitzhak Shamir among others. It came to power for the first time in 1977, in an election that marked a  dramatic shift from left to right in Israeli politics. So much so, that it is often called “the revolution”. Begin became Prime Minister and Shamir served as Speaker of the Knesset. This was a remarkable change of fortune for the two, who had been virtual pariahs in Israeli politics.

In the late 1940s, Begin led the Irgun, and Shamir was part of the leadership of the even more extreme splinter group Lehi. During the 1930s and 1940s, the two groups bombed hotels, markets and bus stops, killing hundreds of civilians. They had also targeted British soldiers and policemen. Most notoriously, in 1947, they kidnapped two British sergeants. The parents of the two soldiers made personal appeals to Irgun leaders to release their children. Under Begin’s direct orders, both soldiers were hanged. The parallels with Hamas’ abduction of Israeli soldiers (which the current Israeli government decries in the strongest terms) is striking.

Lehi, under Shamir, assassinated the UN appointed mediator, Folke Bernadotte in 1948 when it was clear he would recommend the unconditional return of all Palestinian refugees and a re-assessment of the UN partition plan. Bernadotte, by the way, had rescued hundreds, perhaps thousands of Jews from Nazi concentration camps. That’s part of the reason Israel had agreed to his appointment as mediator. The nascent Israeli government branded Lehi a terrorist group and briefly imprisoned all its members. They were pardoned within months.

Lehi and Irgun were also responsible for some of the worst violence during the expulsion of 750,000 Palestinians from what was to become Israel. This included multiple instances where civilian homes were bombed while residents were inside.

The original platform of Likud does not accept Palestinian rights in the West Bank and has never been formally repudiated by the party:

Judea and Samaria will not be handed to any foreign administration; between the Sea and the Jordan there will only be Israeli sovereignty.

So in a very real sense, Likud’s alliance with Otzma Yehudit is a genuine meeting of the minds.

— @subirgrewal

Castro, Harris, Warren declare support for reparations. What does that mean in policy terms?

Here’s America’s first black president talking about reparations for slavery and systematic discrimination.

Obama: Theoretically, you can make, obviously, a powerful argument that centuries of slavery, Jim Crow, discrimination are the primary cause for all those gaps. That those were wrongs done to the black community as a whole, and black families specifically, and that in order to close that gap, a society has a moral obligation to make a large, aggressive investment, even if it’s not in the form of individual reparations checks, but in the form of a Marshall Plan, in order to close those gaps. It is easy to make that theoretical argument. But as a practical matter, it is hard to think of any society in human history in which a majority population has said that as a consequence of historic wrongs, we are now going to take a big chunk of the nation’s resources over a long period of time to make that right. […]

Obama: Yeah, yeah. I mean, I guess, here’s the way—probably the best way of saying it is that you can make a theoretical, abstract argument in favor of something like reparations. And maybe I’m just not being sufficiently optimistic or imaginative enough—

Coates: You’re supposed to be optimistic!

Obama: Well, I thought I was, but I’m not so optimistic as to think that you would ever be able to garner a majority of an American Congress that would make those kinds of investments above and beyond the kinds of investments that could be made in a progressive program for lifting up all people.

— Dec 2016 interview: www.theatlantic.com/…

In a sign of how far Democrats have come in a two years, several major presidential candidates are now on the record as saying they support some form of reparations for black Americans impacted by the legacy of slavery and discrimination.

In an interview on The Breakfast Club last week Sen. Kamala Harris agreed with a host when he asked whether government reparations were necessary. Her campaign followed that up with a statement released to the NY Times, Ms. Harris said:

“We have to be honest that people in this country do not start from the same place or have access to the same opportunities. I’m serious about taking an approach that would change policies and structures and make real investments in black communities.” — www.nytimes.com/…

But Senator Harris is not the only candidate saying this in 2019. So is Sen. Elizabeth Warren, and Rep. Julian Castro.

Ms. Warren also said she supported reparations for black Americans impacted by slavery — a policy that experts say could cost several trillion dollars, and one that Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders and many top Democrats have not supported.

The Warren campaign declined to give further details on that backing, but it came amid her calls for the federal government to provide special home-buying assistance to residents of communities that were adversely affected by “redlining,” the discriminatory practice of denying mortgages, usually in poor and nonwhite areas.  […]

That two leading Democratic candidates have embraced reparations — the concept that the federal government should both acknowledge the ongoing legacy of slavery and discrimination and provide compensatory payment to those affected — is a major shift from past presidential campaigns and a win for activists who have tried to push the issue into the mainstream for decades. Julián Castro, the former cabinet secretary who is also running for president, has also indicated that he would support reparations.

— www.nytimes.com/…

None of the candidates has outlined policies or proposals that would address the question of reparations, which is where the rubber is going to meet the road. As Obama noted, there are several considerations, including gaining Congressional support, and what form such reparations take. For example “investments in affected communities” could mean a whole lot of things that aren’t very different what general progressive proposals.

Sen. Bernie Sanders, who is widely considered to be the most progressive candidate in the race has thus far offered a different response to the question of reparations. Here’s Briahna Gray describing Bernie’s position:

Prior to the 2016 election, Ta-Nehisi Coates, who ultimately voted for Sanders, wrote, “Sanders’s basic approach is to ameliorate the effects of racism through broad, mostly class-based policy — doubling the minimum wage, offering single-payer health-care, delivering free higher education. This is the same ‘A rising tide lifts all boats’ thinking that has dominated Democratic anti-racist policy for a generation.”

But the Democratic Party has never backed anything approaching the redistributive goals contemplated by Sanders’s 2016 agenda. The party’s economic plan has historically focused on economic mobility, “access” to “opportunity,” and removing barriers to participating in a capitalist economy. Child care programs, paid sick leave, and job training initiatives are promoted as strategies to ensure that all Americans can participate in what most Democrats see as a fundamentally functional system. — theintercept.com/…

https://www.youtube.com/embed/pUFrErawm4c

She then goes on to note that the accumulated wealth disparity between black Americans and all others would take centuries to address under any “rising tide” approach. Here’s Bernie talking specifically about reparations two years ago, and this is the clip Coates was referring to.

Though in many ways, it appears Bernie is discussing the same sorts of proposals other candidates are alluding to, this was a dissatisfying response for many supporters (including me), and I am hopeful Sen. Sanders will have a better response in 2019.

In terms of concrete actions, we have one we can ask all candidates about.

For decades Rep. John Conyers had proposed H.R. 40, a bill to authorize a commission to explore the impact of slavery and the question of reparations. The bill’s summary reads:

To address the fundamental injustice, cruelty, brutality, and inhumanity of slavery in the United States and the 13 American colonies between 1619 and 1865 and to establish a commission to study and consider a national apology and proposal for reparations for the institution of slavery, its subsequent de jure and de facto racial and economic discrimination against African-Americans, and the impact of these forces on living African-Americans, to make recommendations to the Congress on appropriate remedies, and for other purposes. — www.congress.gov/…

In the current Congress, Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee (TX-18) has offered up the same bill. It currently has 25 co-sponsors, though in the past it has had as many as 48. Establishing a commission to study the issue is a simple, concrete first step that all our candidates should be able to get behind. It also allows us to have a more meaningful conversation around the kind of policies that would be effective at addressing the long-term, inter-generational impacts of slavery and systemic racism.

ACTIONPlease call your Representative and ask them to co-sponsor Rep. Jackson Lee’s H.R. 40.

This latest iteration of Democrats’ evolving views on reparations seems to have been sparked by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who said:

I will also note that any such discussion of reparations must include native american communities. Many native communities suffered under slavery, starting with the very earliest European settlement of these continents. Yet others were forced to perform labor or dispossessed, often directly by the US government. Democratic candidates will also have to address that. 

— @subirgrewal | Cross-posted at The Progressive Wing