Much internet attention has been given to the “Juicebox Mafia”, a group of very young, Jewish, liberal bloggers who have been sharply critical of Israel, especially in the wake of the recent Gaza incursion. The terms Juicebox Mafia was coined and popularized by ideological opponents of the group (Noah Pollack in Commentary, Marty Peretz in the New Republic); but like the terms “Tory” and “queer”, it’s an insult which fast became a badge of honor. The core of the Juicebox Mafia would include Matthew Yglesias, Spencer Ackerman, Ezra Klein and Dana Goldstein.
I myself (without using the phrase “Juicebox Mafia”) tried to contextualize the group by arguing that we’re witnessing the emergence of a post-Zionist moment, with Jews all over the Diaspora increasingly alienated from Israeli nationalism.
Noam Chomksy spoke about the current situation in Gaza to a packed audience at MIT on Tuesday. Among other things he said, “Supporters of Israel are in reality supporters of its moral degeneration.” For a report, you can go here and for a video of Chomsky’s talk here.
Chomsky turned 80 last month. He still seems in good health although he’s had his share of personal troubles lately. Not long after his last birthday Carol Chomsky, his wife of 5 decades, died after a long bout of cancer. Much can be said about Chomsky pro and con, but he’s an irreplaceable voice. When he’s gone, the world will be a poorer place.
One of the frustrating aspects of the media coverage of the current war in Gaza is the complete lack of context of most reporting, as if what’s happning now has no relations to the long occupation of Gaza and subsequent blockade. Thankfully, the New York Times has provided a helpful backgrounder by Rashid Khalidi.
Here is the key part of Khalidi’s op-ed:
THE OCCUPATION The Gazans have lived under Israeli occupation since the Six-Day War in 1967. Israel is still widely considered to be an occupying power, even though it removed its troops and settlers from the strip in 2005. Israel still controls access to the area, imports and exports, and the movement of people in and out. Israel has control over Gaza’s air space and sea coast, and its forces enter the area at will. As the occupying power, Israel has the responsibility under the Fourth Geneva Convention to see to the welfare of the civilian population of the Gaza Strip.
THE BLOCKADE Israel’s blockade of the strip, with the support of the United States and the European Union, has grown increasingly stringent since Hamas won the Palestinian Legislative Council elections in January 2006. Fuel, electricity, imports, exports and the movement of people in and out of the Strip have been slowly choked off, leading to life-threatening problems of sanitation, health, water supply and transportation.
The blockade has subjected many to unemployment, penury and malnutrition. This amounts to the collective punishment — with the tacit support of the United States — of a civilian population for exercising its democratic rights.