IPF calls for Israel not to be part of America’s problem

By Ted Belman

The Israel Policy Forum, a decidedly Peace Now kind of organization, comments on American Jews and the Peace Process. Based on a recent study and perhaps other inputs, it counsels,

    [..] As the Bush era draws to a close, and “change” is the buzzword of the presidential campaign, the moment may well have arrived for American Jews to clarify their position on the peace process and speak out. Great numbers of liberals and moderates among Israel’s supporters may refuse to be eclipsed any longer by those who have until now gripped the gavel of authority on this critical issue. Those who oppose Israel’s need to compromise on territory in order to end the conflict, those who bang relentlessly on the doors of Congress in the name of a united Jerusalem, those who use political or financial threats to command political support—simply do not reflect the plurality of American Jews who, like the majority of all Americans today, are seeking compromise.

    Stanley Greenberg’s survey revealed that Americans identify with Israel’s democratic character, Western orientation, and efforts to protect human rights and freedoms. Most significantly, the study concluded that Israel’s commitment to work toward a peace accord with the Palestinians by the end of 2008 and its withdrawal from settlements from Gaza and part of the West Bank were among the most “convincing reasons to be more sympathetic toward Israel.”

    In short, Americans like an Israel that is in search of peace. Americans support an Israel that actively pursues peace. Americans want to know that Israel can be part of the solution to America’s global problems rather than part of the cause. Support for a two-state solution is solidly within the consensus of American thinking. Advocates for peace should ride the wave of moderation and create a shared language of compromise that will resonate with their fellow Americans and will energize the silent majority of American Jews who seek a peaceful resolution of the conflict.

    In addition, the pro-peace Jewish community must go beyond such traditional allies as like-minded peace groups, and reach out to non-political grassroots organizations in the American Jewish community, especially among the Reform and Conservative movements, Federations and other communal organizations. It must also seek new coalition partners among the American mainstream. With targeted outreach to powerful lobbies and interest groups who are concerned about America’s global challenges—relations with the Muslim world, rising oil prices, the sinking dollar—liberal Israel advocates should explore joint efforts with Chambers of Commerce, the AFL-CIO, the Democratic Party and other proactive American interest groups.

    Finally, and perhaps most important, the prime minister of Israel must declare directly to American Jewry, as he has to the American government and the Palestinian Authority, his unwavering intention to aggressively pursue a negotiated two-state solution that will require painful compromises on all sides. Now is the time for the government of Israel to ask its powerful Jewish supporters in the U.S. to endorse unequivocally this historic move, to work with and not against the people of Israel at this potentially decisive moment.

    Mobilizing America’s Jews around a peace agenda is no easy task. With the holy city of Jerusalem on the table—and all of the emotions and sensitivities that arouses—the challenge becomes even more daunting. The troops of the right wing and ultra-Orthodox are aligned with Christian fundamentalists in a formidable coalition of obstructionists. It will take determined leadership and new partnerships to win the battle. By transforming the fundamental liberal humanism of American Jews into the predominant voice of the community, Israel will gain the critical ally it needs in its pursuit of peace and security—now, in 2008.

Obviously it is calling on all American Jews of the “liberal Humanist” strain, to mobilize to counter-balance the right wingers and argues that Israel needs their support.

The issue for them is compromise, “compromise to in order to end the conflict”. What is not discussed at all is whether compromise will in fact end the conflict. That’s their blind spot.

But there is an insidious message here too.

    “Americans want to know that Israel can be part of the solution to America’s global problems rather than part of the cause.”

Thus they are adopting the line that when Israel fights for its rights. it causes America problems. In other words Israel must yield to US demands. The idea that the elephant, America, is burdened by what the mouse, Israel, does, is ludicrous. What is immoral also is the call for Israel to be sacrificed for American interests.

This is all part of the Democratic mindset that wants to make nice rather than war. It is a mindset that is blind to the threat of Islam and is not prepared to defend against it.

But there is a lesson us “obstructionists” can learn here. Israel should also pursue peace. It should participate in the process even while at the same time driving a hard bargain. Presently Israel is playing defense. She should go on the offense by making demands for a final settlement. She can make demands for all of Jerusalem for keeping the settlements and for recognition as a Jewish state. If a deal isn’t arrived at so be it. But she should not abandon the process.

She should make a huge effort to convince the world that Jerusalem belongs to the Jews and therefor will not be given up. It should not be too difficult to convince Americans of this and therefore gain their support.

But don’t abandon the peace process.

January 23, 2008 | Comments »

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