Philip Weiss, 68, of Philipstown, is the founder of Mondoweiss, a site that “provides news and analysis unavailable through the mainstream media regarding the struggle for Palestinian human rights.” 

Philip Weiss (Photo provided)
Philip Weiss (Photo provided)

How did the site get started?
It began as a blog in 2005 at The New York Observer. My editor, the late Peter Kaplan, said: “You should just write about what’s on your mind.” He coined the name. What I cared about most at the time was the Iraq War and foreign policy. About 10 years ago, we began to focus on Palestine, largely with the inclusion of my partner, [executive editor] Adam Horowitz, who is more menschy than I am. I’m interested in the Jewish community and privileged America — the elites, the establishment. Adam is more of an advocacy, left-wing writer. He guided the identity but I approved his direction. There were people surprised and upset [at the focus on Palestine by Jewish writers]. I heard from friends — or former friends — who regard us as antisemitic.

How do you respond?
It’s foolish and unfortunate and a terrible smear against people who are concerned with human rights. I think Zionism, the project of Jewish nationalism in Israel and Palestine, is dangerous to the Jewish people and Jewish life. I love my American Jewish secular culture. I grew up in an academic but not religious Jewish family; my ethical, intellectual and cultural concerns began in a very Jewish place.

What is it like coordinating with reporters and sources in Gaza?
It’s an extremely desperate situation. I’m spared a lot of it because I live here, but it’s awful for the whole staff. The fact that 50 percent of Biden voters say [in a poll] that there’s genocide taking place is a reflection of the broad understanding within the progressive community. I find the grassroots protests in the Hudson Valley to be deeply admirable. But as someone who has been supporting a boycott of Israel for close to 18 years, it’s hard to say what will move the needle.

You published an opinion piece by a refugee who refers to “the determination and courage of those young people who returned to their land on Oct. 7.” Were you concerned that could be seen as a justification for the violence?
I am concerned by some of the left’s justifications for Oct. 7. Some of that is expressed on the site. I have a different attitude, which is harsh judgment. These are not actions I would have undertaken; I only support action that I would undertake, which is nonviolence. There’s a difference between publishing a certain attitude and embracing it. These views are widely held within the Palestinian community, and they’re also a reflection of how much violence has been visited on this community for decades. But there’s danger in some of those types of statements for the Palestinian solidarity movement.

At the same time, I think there is some ignorance about the causes of the Oct. 7 atrocities, this latest outbreak of violence, which is up there historically with the birth of Israel in 1948 and with the wars of 1967 and ’73. What Hamas did is horrifying but it must be understood in the context of apartheid. In that sense, our history of slavery and the slave revolts of the 1830s in the South are guides.

How do you see the current conflict ending?
Horribly. There will be a state of stasis that resolves none of the underlying and intractable and somewhat insurmountable issues. You have claims to the same land that appear to be irreconcilable. But stasis within a month, and then it will leave the front pages. My advice for [Secretary of State] Antony Blinken would be to not talk about big solutions. Let’s talk about enforcing violations of human rights in an international forum, standing by U.S. policy against human rights violations, standing by the rules-based order that has existed since World War II, call for investigations of war crimes by both sides and call apartheid what it is.

Behind The Story

Type: News

News: Based on facts, either observed and verified directly by the reporter, or reported and verified from knowledgeable sources.

The Skidmore College graduate has reported for The Current since 2014 and writes the "Out There" column. Location: Beacon. Languages: English. Areas of Expertise: Environment, outdoors

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2 Comments

  1. I applaud Mr. Weiss for his work on this ongoing genocide in Palestine. Before Oct. 7, I and millions of others did not know the extent of the horror the people in Palestine have endured for over 75 years. I want to thank Netanyahu for opening my eyes and the eyes of millions of people, not just in our country but around the world, that Zionism is a cult, not a religion. Zionists use and hide behind the atrocities of what happened to the Jews during the Holocaust, meanwhile using the same tactics on the Palestinians to steal land and imprison people in an open-air concentration camp. It’s not a war, it’s genocide against people fighting against an occupier, all being supported by the taxpayers of the U.S. We can criticize or boycott anything in America, but more than 30 states have laws saying you can’t do that to Israel?

    I want to thank the Current for interviewing Mr. Weiss. Zionism is a danger to world peace. An atrocity happened on Oct. 7, but out of this has come the realization that the attack on Israel opened our eyes to the lies and propaganda spewed by Netanyahu.

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