Van Jones on Israel, the Palestinian ‘Right of Return,’ U.S. Foreign Policy, Etc.
White House green jobs adviser Van Jones resigned this weekend after an avalanche of revelations about — and conservative criticism of — his past rhetoric and associations. The stalwart of the San Francisco Bay Area’s left-wing activist scene achieved considerable mainstream cred after jumping on the green bandwagon and attempting to bridge the divide between two key liberal constituencies: environmentalists and racial minorities. He wrote a bestselling book, was profiled in The New Yorker, made the Time 100 (where the write-up on him was penned by Leonardo DiCaprio) and had Nancy Pelosi describing him as “one of the most innovative and strategic thinkers of our time” and California Republican gubernatorial hopeful Meg Whitman proclaiming herself a “huge fan.”
But Jones’s radical past caught up with him on his ascent into the political establishment. And he wound up paying a price for his use of an expletive to describe Republicans, his signature on a petition alleging a 9/11 conspiracy (though several other signatories say they were misled by petition organizers) and his past involvement in a group known as “Standing Together to Organize a Revolutionary Movement.”
Now, a blogger has dug up evidence that Jones may not be such a great admirer of Israel. Interviewed on the campus of the University of California at Berkeley (apparently sometime between 2002 and 2006, and apparently at a pro-Palestinian event), Jones said:
What we want to see at this point is the rights of the Palestinian people being respected. And at this point, the end of the occupation, the right of return of the Palestinian people — these are the critical dividing lines, global dividing-line questions of human rights. We have to be here. No American would put up with an Israeli-style occupation of their hometown for 53 days, let alone 54 years. We see violence against poor people and poor people of color within the U.S. border, at the U.S. border and beyond the U.S. border, and you see U.S. tax dollars funding all of it. And so we have this now global struggle against a U.S.-led security apparatus and military agenda that impacts people here and impacts people around the world, and I think that we need to see our problems as linked.
The blog Verum Serum found the recording and has the audio and some background. (Hat tip: Gateway Pundit)
Now that Jones has resigned, Glenn Beck is kvelling. And Howard Dean, NAACP chief Benjamin Jealous and some others on the left half of the political spectrum are arguing that Jones has been wronged. And right-wing Israeli news outlet Arutz Sheva is crediting Jerusalem-based journalist (and dogged Obama critic) Aaron Klein with breaking the story of Jones’s past back in April.
UPDATE: This 2006 profile from the East Bay Express offers a look at Jones’s ideological evolution in recent years. Also, here’s a Huffington Post column by Jones praising fellow grand-ideas-spouting Bay Area leftie activist Rabbi Michael Lerner. Jones spoke a few years back to Lerner’s Network of Spiritual Progressives, and video of the speech strongly suggests that he’s no longer particularly into Marxism, except perhaps as a punchline.