Strange Bedfellows

As new blood flows into state and national politics, we are getting the pulse of things to come. New York’s Governor Andrew Cuomo and soon-to-be U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi are getting an earful from newly-elected Democrats of color.  The message is: the days of White rule are ending and scores will be settled.

Egged on by Census predictions of Euro-American demise and election success, these young revolutionaries want more than a say in government. They want the reins of power. The 78-year old Pelosi had to upend House rules to buy off Black and Hispanic newcomers who want key committee assignments so they wouldn’t oppose her Speakership.  Cuomo now has Black leadership in both the state Assembly and Senate to deal with.  Once, the state was ruled by “three men in the room” – A Jew, a Greek, and an Italian, the first two convicted of corruption.

For Italian Americans, the passing of the governmental torch will mean little. As a community, we never enjoyed the public largesse.  Our politicians had few “Italian” issues to champion nor ethnic-specific welfare charities to grace with discretionary funds like the Black, Hispanic, or Jewish communities.  Besides, our widespread assimilation frees our politicians to focus their attention on whatever group can sustain them in office.  In Pelosi’s case, it’s her San Francisco rainbow district and the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).  Cuomo’s is White liberal money and Orthodox/Hasidic votes.

Just how the old Euro-American guard will serve both their traditional base and the new wolves at the door will be amusing to watch. The first public show will be the competition for Donald Trump’s job.  Democrats already have an assortment of candidates ranging from old Whites to young Blacks and Hispanics.  President Obama took office in a sea of White.  The next Democratic winner of color will not be so alone.

Regardless of the complexion of victory, corporations and the wealthy will still rule behind the scenes. And, Hollywood and Madison Avenue will support any new racial agenda – Italian Americans will, of course, still be the exception to political correctness.

It will be interesting to see how Israeli-American relations will be affected. The Trump presidency has been a boon to the State of Israel and Zionists in America – moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem and cutting off aid to the Palestinian Authority – but revolutionaries don’t wear blinders. The U.S. still gives Israel about $4 billion each year (totally $135 billion since 1946), mainly spent here for American military gear (hence the “military-industrial complex”). In comparison, we give Italy a paltry $135,000 through the UN, mainly for foreign refugee relief.

Jewish politicians in both parties have a vested interest in playing ball with the new Congressional minorities. By last count, there are 7 Jewish senators and 22 representatives in key positions and with seniority.  Behind them are the electoral “resources” of the Jewish community, which can sway even the most reluctant politician.  Though they are divided between J-Street (liberal) and Zionists (conservative), with much overlap, Jewish Americans need to stay in the power game no matter the players.

A notable example is in Texas, where Zionists have managed – with the help of Evangelical Christians – to have a law passed to punish schools and corporations that participate in BDS (Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions) against the Israeli occupation of the West Bank. One such case involves Palestinian American school therapist Ms. Bahia Amawi, who personally refuses to buy Israeli products and was fired by her school district for violating the new state law. Of course, she is suing.  [Perhaps you haven’t heard of this case.  No doubt, Russian hackers – or others – have prevented it from appearing on televised news.]

Capping off the year was a quarter page ad in the NY Times by the Zionist organization FLAME (Facts & Logic About the Middle East) titled “Anti-Zionism is Racism.”  Quoting no less than Martin Luther King, the ad puts the public on notice that “targeting [Israel] is a form of racial bias.”

So much for traditional democracy. –JLM

1 thought on “Strange Bedfellows”

  1. If only our Italian American organizations could work in conjunction with the I-A caucus in the House and Senate to advance our interests, we might see some fundamental changes in the status quo. The idea that NIAF is our voice in congress is, however, nothing more than an idle boast. NIAF is impotent, irrelevant and inept – so we won’t be getting much help from them any time in the near future.

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