Reframing the Israel Debate

By
Tuesday, April 15, 2008 at 3:45 pm

Beginning today, a band of liberal Jews intends to transform the terms of the American debate over Israel — among the most delicate, controversial and combustible topics in politics. And right on time for Passover, the Jewish holiday marking deliverance from bondage.

Two young, leading liberal Jews — the former Clinton administration domestic policy adviser Jeremy Ben-Ami and the former Israeli peace negotiator Daniel Levy — plan to unveil the first-ever political action committee dedicated to promoting political candidates in the United States who support a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Known as the J Street Project, the effort intends to raise millions of dollars even at this late date in the 2008 election cycle.

It has an even grander ambition: to reframe the terms of the debate over what it means for America to support Israel, and recast them in a progressive direction. Currently, support for Israel is often seen as backing Israeli militarism against its Arab adversaries; liberal Jews believe that the only lasting security for an Israeli democracy is through a negotiated peace. But “our side gets cowed into silence,” said Ben-Ami, a former policy director for Howard Dean’s 2004 presidential campaign. “They’re afraid to say, ‘No, we are more pro-Israel than you, our path is better.”

That side is, in Ben-Ami’s telling, the “substantial group” of American Jews who identify as liberal — and who identify with the Jewish state. Their contention is that after 40 years of Israeli military occupation of the West Bank, and the subsequent demographic threat to Jewish democracy posed by the population growth rate among Palestinians who live under Israeli control, the real threat to Israel is not the creation of a Palestinian state, but its absence.

According to this new group, the proper role for Washington is to broker actively the birth of an independent Palestine and settle the conflict — something it identifies as a first-order national interest for a U.S. in the war on terrorism. The Israeli occupation of Palestine, supported by the United States, is regularly cited as a catalytic driver of anti-Americanism throughout the Middle East, exploited by jihadist demagogues for radicalization and terrorist recruitment.

An irony of the American-Israeli relationship is that, while J Street’s perspective is controversial in the U.S., it commands a good deal of support in Israel. “We’ve been dealing with this in Israel since the late 80s and the 90s, from [assassinated Prime Minister Yitzhak] Rabin to the Kadima phenomenon,” said Levy, who negotiated peace accords for multiple left-wing Israeli governments. “If you understand security only as the war on terror and you’re not dealing with the occupation, you’ll never solve the problem. That fundamental change [in perspective] never took place here. We want to be a catalyst in closing that gap.”

According to J Street’s mission statement, the organization “represents Americans, primarily but not exclusively Jewish, who support Israel and its desire for security as the Jewish homeland, as well as the right of the Palestinians to a sovereign state of their own — two states living side-by-side in peace and security. We believe ending the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is in the best interests of Israel, the United States, the Palestinians and the region as a whole.” News of J Street was first reported last month by the New York Jewish Week.

J Street’s founding principles include a negotiated settlement to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict; an “enduring relationship between the U.S. and Israel that promotes their common interests” and that recognizes “Israel as the homeland of the Jewish people;” a multilateral approach to U.S. policy-making in the Middle East; and the negotiated creation of a “viable Palestinian state.” Its advisory council includes prominent American Jewish political, business, religious, academic, media and cultural leaders, including Stride-Rite corporation founder Arnold Hiatt, ex-state department official Morton Halperin and American Jewish University rector Rabbi Elliot Dorff. Additionally, 20 prominent Israelis, including former top officials of the Shin Bet, Mossad and the foreign ministry, have signed a letter supporting J Street.

Ben-Ami sees J Street as an extension of the new liberal mood of decentralized, bottom-up political action — a development in which the Jewish community, in his view, has lagged behind. “There is a change, really, in the way political conditions [exist] in this country,” he said. “From the million donors to Obama, to MoveOn, to the Dean campaign, there’s been a radical sift in American politics in the way power is accumulated and distributed. And that’s a wave of change that has yet to hit the Jewish community.” Ben-Ami envisions a move away from “a small number of large donors essentially holding the community hostage” to its right-wing political views and instead moving toward “an online, netroots feel to endorsements and activism.”

Hovering over J Street is a specter: the specter of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, or AIPAC.

AIPAC, which calls itself “America’s Pro-Israel Lobby,” is considered among the most powerful lobbies in America. It raises money to promote an conservative definition of American “support” for Israel, one in which Israeli interests and Arab interests are defined in opposition, particularly pressing its case to members of Congress and successive administrations. It is close to many influential donors and organizations who raise and spend hundreds of thousands of dollars each election cycle to fund candidates with the same view. It also possesses an intimidating number of members — more than 100,000 — whom it has cultivated over its 30-year history. Against J Street’s $1.5 million budget for 2008 — for which it has only raised half so far, according to Ben-Ami, from mostly wealthy donors — is AIPAC’s operating budget of nearly $100 million.

More substantially, AIPAC and its occasional allies, like the Zionist Organization of America, are not above intimating that its political opponents are anti-Semetic — as with the campaign against John Mearshimer and Stephen Walt’s critical book “The Israel Lobby” — something that causes politicians to hew to a circumscribed discussion of Israel policy for fear of being labeled as prejudiced or offending the lobby.

Right-leaning Jewish political action committees raised and spent at least $5 million in every federal election cycle since 1990, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, with 35 distinct entities and many more individuals spending $10 million in the 2006 cycle alone. That has contributed to an ugly cycle of debate, where some who question the lobby’s influence suggest that Jews play an out-sized and nefarious role in U.S. politics; and the lobby’s allies in the media — a right-leaning group that includes Fox News, The Wall Street Journal editorial page, the New York Post, the Weekly Standard, Commentary and New Republic magazines, as well as a bevy of commentators — often counter-suggest that criticism of Israel is prima facie anti-Semetic.

Jews are not immune to the charge of anti-Semitism emanating from AIPAC or its allies. Last month, the Zionist Organization of America denounced the director of Hillel at Harvard University, Bernie Steinberg, for “violat[ing] the Jewish law of not bearing false witness, and play[ing] into the hands of Israel’s enemies.” Steinberg had allowed Hillel to display an exhibit on human-rights violations committed by the Israeli military.

Even liberal Jews can feel uneasy by the vitriol directed at Israel by many on the left — a concern that J Street will have to address. “Peace-making has acquired a very bad reputation over the years in the Jewish community,” Martin Indyk, a former U.S. ambassador to Israel, told The Washington Post, “and there is a widespread fear that U.S. intervention on behalf of peace will lead to pressure on Israel.”

AIPAC’s allies have already suggested that J Street may not achieve much. “Let a thousand flowers bloom,” its former executive director, Morris Amitay, told the leading Jewish newspaper, The Forward, for today’s edition. “The question is, will they have any effect on pro-Israel initiatives in Congress? I’m guessing they won’t.”

Others go further than that. Asked on the phone if J Street would add any value to the debate about Israel, Morton Klein, president of the Zionist Organization of America — which some consider more hard-line than AIPAC — responded simply, “No.”

Klein said he sees little difference between J Street’s statement of principles and the positions that AIPAC already supports. “All you’re doing is creating yet another Jewish lobby group supporting major concessions to the Palestinian Arabs, giving statehood to the Palestinian Arabs, before there’s a cultural change that makes that state viable,” Klein said. “All they’re telling me is that they want a Hamas-like state in Judea and Samaria like the one in Gaza. My eyes are open. Their eyes are closed.” Judea and Samaria are the Jewish biblical names for the West Bank of the Jordan River.

Levy and Ben-Ami insist that they’re not working in opposition to AIPAC specifically. But they feel that the terms of the debate over Israel set, in part, by AIPAC, end up alienating many pro-Israel American Jews. “A not-insignificant constituency says, ‘I care about Israel, but wait a minute: I have to support [evangelical conservative pastor] John Hagee, and this administration’s crazy neo-con agenda, and Doug Feith, and Ann Coulter, and Fox News? And my alternative to that is being anti-Israel?’” said Levy, who served as a peace negotiator in the Rabin and Barak Israeli governments, as well as an aide to dovish Israeli politician Yossi Beilin.

Levy’s contention is that that cohort of liberal American Jews — a breakaway 45 percent plurality, according to the American Jewish Committee’s 2007 study — instead believe that “My Jewish values and my universal values tell me that Israel should be secure, but doesn’t need to be in an occupation” of Palestinian territory.

Other Jewish pro-peace organizations have existed for years: the Israel Policy Forum, Brit Tzedek v’Shalom and Americans For Peace Now, to name three. But none of those organizations raised money for U.S. politicians. “Liberals are loath to be single-issue,” observed M.J. Rosenberg, a former AIPAC official now with the Israel Policy Forum, something he said works to the peace movement’s disadvantage. “For members of Congress under the current system, the only way to prove you exist is to give money.”

AIPAC and other right-wing Jewish groups opened their wallets, yet liberal Jewish groups did not. As a result, Rosenberg continued, the majority of members of Congress are “inflexibly hawkish on Israel, because it’s the safe position. But that can change. Take the fear away of those there — the fear that the lobby is gonna get them.”

AIPAC representatives did not return a request for comment for this story.

Ben-Ami and Levy intend to change the debate by raising money for candidates and lobbying for and against legislation. In June, according to Ben-Ami, it will make its first wave of candidate endorsements, one for Senate and also for “a handful of house races.” While no funding goal has been set for this year, J Street launched its website, jstreet.org, Tuesday morning, and began registering members. Ben-Ami expressly models it on MoveOn.org, the Internet-era “netroots” liberal powerhouse that boasts more than 3 million members nationwide.

The two founders are expecting their actions to attract a backlash from right-wing Jewish groups and the media outlets who present a conservative line on Israel. Already, The New Republic is reportedly preparing an article attacking J Street.

But Ben-Ami and Levy welcome the attacks. Levy, though a long-time peace negotiator, is eager to debate what it means to be pro-Israel, and draws a comparison between AIPAC and the hard-liners who ended up compromising the Jewish future millennia ago. “We’ll say, ‘Zealots like you led to the destruction of previous Jewish commonwealths,’” Levy said. “We’re not going to be intimidated.”

Note: This piece has been corrected to clarify that AIPAC does not give money to political candidates.

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Categories & Tags: National Security|

Comments

43 Comments

whyshouldtruthhurt
Comment posted April 18, 2008 @ 10:00 pm

yeah, they did offer a lot to arafat. so much, in fact, that he couldn’t accept it 1) because he was unprepared for israel to go so far and had not prepared his own people for the "end of conflict" that he was offered, including jerusalem as a shared capital, and 2) he was beholden to the despotic leaders of the surrounding arab states who used and played him like a puppet, and it obviously was not in their interest for an end to the conflict that they could use and manipulate for their own ends. you obviously know nothing about the proposals and have not even looked at the maps used at taba or else you would not fall into the idiotic, stereotype of labeling the proposed palestinian state a swiss cheese like bantustan. you are not a student of this conflict, you are a sensationalist and provocateur, so stop posing as a friend of the palestinian people and learn the truth. no serious person accepts palestinian right of return as a possibility, and to raise it is destructive to genuine negotiations, simply using the palestinians as a tool for political propoganda. yes, a limited number of palestinian refugees will be allowed to settle in israel, but palestinians living outside the territories of a new palestinian state will be welcomed into palestine. wow, is that so hard to understand? yes, thousands have died. why? because their leadership at every turn has abandoned them. two-state solution? like the one proposed in 1947 that palestinian jews accepted and palestinian arabs rejected. they could both be celebrating a 60th anniversary but for the maximalist positions always taken foolish leaders. they don’t know when their homes will be demolished? of course they do. palestine remains illegally occupied? do you mean the so-called west bank? did you decry the jordanian occupation and demand a palestinian state then. not even the plo did so at its inception in 1964, focusing its attention on liberating the territory the jews made a state. why didn’t the world insist on a palestinian state before israel took the west bank territories in 1967 — after literally begging king hussein not to listen to egypt and syria, then getting their butts kicked, and begging hussein not to jump belatedly into the 6-day-war? hussein, toward the end of his life, acknowledged it was the single biggest mistake of his life. so, yes, israel defended itself after hussein rejected their pleas and ended up with the west bank territories. and then arafat never could figure out how to take "yes" for an answer. as for roy as your guide, she’s done such a superb job of solving the problems of the subcontinent, why shouldn’t she meddle in the middle east? as someone who decried the u.s. war in afghanistan following 9-11, and attacked the u.s. for its efforts to eliminate the taliban and al qaeda in afghanistan, you might want to search for a more credible source.


fcukbsuh
Comment posted April 18, 2008 @ 7:45 pm

Gee, yeah, they offered so much to Arafat…A noncontiguous state of checkpoints that made a ‘state’ look like Swiss cheese…Nevermind no Right of Return for what the Amnesty International has listed as the single greatest refugee crisis in the world, the Palestinians who have been displaced.

And Israel has never kept any of the ‘promises’ or accords they’ve agreed to making them the most disingenuous state on the planet.

Fortunately, not all Jews are this narrowly and demonically focused.

"Over the decades there have been uprisings, wars, intifadas. Tens of thousands have lost their lives. Accords and treaties have been signed. Cease-fires declared and violated. But the bloodshed doesn’t end. Palestine still remains illegally occupied. Its people live in inhuman conditions, in virtual Bantustans, where they are subjected to collective punishments, twenty-four hour curfews, where they are humiliated and brutalized on a daily basis. They never know when their homes will be demolished, when their children will be shot, when their precious trees will be cut, when their roads will be closed, when they will be allowed to walk down to the market to buy food and medicine. And when they will not. They live with no semblance of dignity. With not much hope in sight. They have no control over their lands, their security, their movement, their communication, their water supply. So when accords are signed, and words like "autonomy" and even "statehood" bandied about, it’s always worth asking: What sort of autonomy? What sort of State? What sort of rights will its citizens have?

What lessons should we draw from this tragic conflict? Is it really impossible for Jewish people who suffered so cruelly themselves – more cruelly perhaps than any other people in history – to understand the vulnerability and the yearning of those whom they have displaced? Does extreme suffering always kindle cruelty? What hope does this leave the human race with? What will happen to the Palestinian people in the event of a victory? When a nation without a state eventually proclaims a state, what kind of state will it be? What horrors will be perpetrated under its flag? Is it a separate state that we should be fighting for or, the rights to a life of liberty and dignity for everyone regardless of their ethnicity or religion?"

-Arundhati Roy


whyshouldtruthhurt
Comment posted April 18, 2008 @ 5:42 pm

israel never had designs on gaza, should have gotten out much soon but finally did, only to be rocketed every day since. and as for the most volatile issue in the world today being occupation of palestine, you have a pathetically narrow view of the world. and did you stop reading and thinking after israel offered arafat practically everything and got a wave of suicide murder instead — enough to make much of the surrounding arab world like jordan, egypt and even the saudis reconsider priorities in the region. but that’s ok…this way you get to spout idiocy and impress your blogging pals who don’t know any better


fcukbsuh
Comment posted April 18, 2008 @ 2:52 pm

AIPAC is a big reason for all the problems…Always a refreshing thing to see one of the U.S.’s most powerful lobby not be about actual issues that impact a majority of Americans but about a foreign state.

With a population exceeding Israel’s by more than a million, imagine if a lobby group for Azerbaijan dictated foreign policy, silenced debate on the single largest and most volatile issue facing the world today (Occupation of Palestine) and essentially held hostage 98% of all politcians in this country…How absurd would that be?…Well, it happens everyday with AIPAC


fcukbsuh
Comment posted April 18, 2008 @ 2:46 pm

Until there’s an honest/truthful debate on the illegal occupation of Palestine, there will never be peace there.

Kudos for Carter actually engaging Hamas…And while it is not covered by corporate media, a lot of jewish people around the globe are fully aware of the apartheid state being forged by the current Israeli state and are vocally outspoken on the issue.


freddybak
Comment posted April 16, 2008 @ 12:57 pm

Sorry, in my haste I forgot to edit. I am suggesting that 99% of the time Israel’s critics are 1) not being called anti-Semitic or 2) actually making an anti-Semitic arguemtn.

Also, equitoe was supposed to be ‘equate.’


freddybak
Comment posted April 16, 2008 @ 12:41 pm

Spencer, with all due respect this is a pointless and partially dishonest piece. The first thing that jumped out at me is where you claim that Fox News, The Wall Street Journal editorial page, the New York Post, the Weekly Standard, Commentary and New Republic magazines suggest that criticism of Israel is prima facie anti-Semetic. Prima Facie Spencer, really? I challenge you to find such an argument made. Of course not all criticism of Israel is anti-Semitic and 99% of Israel’s most hawkish supporters don’t think that. What Israel’s critics cleverly do, however, is say "Hey! I’m not anti-Semitic just because I am criticizing Israel! How dare you suggest that?" The problem is that in 99% of the circumstances that lead to such comments they are 1) not being called anti-Semitic or 2) their arguments ar, in fact, anti-Semitic in one form or another (this does happen, ya know).

But more generally, AIPAC is a group that focuses on the American-Israel RELATIONSHIP. This has many levels not least of which is grass roots cultural appreciation. AIPAC is very active in on this at all levels. It’s policy positions are generally speaking supportive of the Israeli government (which, to Barak Obama’s surprise, hasn’t been Likud for quite some time). So if a dovish government is elected in Israel, AIPAC will push for the American government to support it! Which will mean AIPAC is no longer a right wing radical organization but a "pro-peace" one. Nevermind that AIPAC currently supports a two state solution, etc. Also, where the hell did you get the idea to equitoe ZOA with AIPAC when AIPAC has many times distanced itself.


skulzfontaine
Comment posted April 16, 2008 @ 9:55 am

Yup Spence, that’s about how I figured you’d react. Fair is fair except when it’s Israel. So Spence, what was "anti-Semitic?" Hmmm? Dual citizenship? Why couldn’t any Amerikan hold dual American/Palestinian citizenship? Yeah, how about that. How about Avigdor Lieberman? Yeah, struck a nerve I did. Fair is fair and I’m done with you. Do you have that many readers that Washington Independent can simply blow off a reader that is in disagreement with you? And start up with that "anti-Semitic" bullshit.? Yeah, I’m done with you. You are going to have to change the name of ‘Washington Independent’. You aren’t "independent" at all. How freaking biased and sad for you.


spencer_ackerman
Comment posted April 16, 2008 @ 7:19 am

Skulz, I’ve had it with you. I have Jewish friends who’ve served in Iraq and Afghanistan. Of course not all criticism of Israel is anti-semitic. But what you wrote? That IS anti-semitic. You know that it’s not just American Jews who can hold dual citizenship, right?

This will be the last time I address you or pay attention to your emails or comments.


skulzfontaine
Comment posted April 16, 2008 @ 5:01 am

Oh groan Spencer, groan, groan, and groan! Let’s get right to the bottom line and just clear the air. Israel sucks! Two thoughts for you, 1- Joe Lieberman. Yeah, Sen. Joe ‘little butcher’ Lieberman. 2- Gaza! The "work" by Israel on Gaza IS an atrocity. You know, old school type genocidal atrocity.
Oh yeah one last thing, criticism of Israel IS NOT freaking anti-Semitism. Israel is deserving of MUCH criticism and the offering up of that Israel criticism gets "Jews" wound tighter than a fresh drum head. Had me a fine argument with Laura Rozen about that very subject. Rozen figures that the horror wrought by Israel on Palestinians is just fine and dandy. One could suppose that endless cycle of reciprocity is at work and play here. After all, one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter. Perspective is everything.
So it’s to be "J Street?" I wish them well. Israel still sucks and it isn’t the business of America to support Israel. What in hell is up with Americans holding dual American/Israel citizenship? And passports? And serving in the IDF? What, Jews will serve in the IDF and not the freaking U.S. Marines? Hmmm, yup Israel sucks.


skulzfontaine
Comment posted April 16, 2008 @ 12:01 am

Oh groan Spencer, groan, groan, and groan! Let's get right to the bottom line and just clear the air. Israel sucks! Two thoughts for you, 1- Joe Lieberman. Yeah, Sen. Joe 'little butcher' Lieberman. 2- Gaza! The "work" by Israel on Gaza IS an atrocity. You know, old school type genocidal atrocity.
Oh yeah one last thing, criticism of Israel IS NOT freaking anti-Semitism. Israel is deserving of MUCH criticism and the offering up of that Israel criticism gets "Jews" wound tighter than a fresh drum head. Had me a fine argument with Laura Rozen about that very subject. Rozen figures that the horror wrought by Israel on Palestinians is just fine and dandy. One could suppose that endless cycle of reciprocity is at work and play here. After all, one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter. Perspective is everything.
So it's to be "J Street?" I wish them well. Israel still sucks and it isn't the business of America to support Israel. What in hell is up with Americans holding dual American/Israel citizenship? And passports? And serving in the IDF? What, Jews will serve in the IDF and not the freaking U.S. Marines? Hmmm, yup Israel sucks.


spencer_ackerman
Comment posted April 16, 2008 @ 2:19 am

Skulz, I've had it with you. I have Jewish friends who've served in Iraq and Afghanistan. Of course not all criticism of Israel is anti-semitic. But what you wrote? That IS anti-semitic. You know that it's not just American Jews who can hold dual citizenship, right?

This will be the last time I address you or pay attention to your emails or comments.


skulzfontaine
Comment posted April 16, 2008 @ 4:55 am

Yup Spence, that's about how I figured you'd react. Fair is fair except when it's Israel. So Spence, what was "anti-Semitic?" Hmmm? Dual citizenship? Why couldn't any Amerikan hold dual American/Palestinian citizenship? Yeah, how about that. How about Avigdor Lieberman? Yeah, struck a nerve I did. Fair is fair and I'm done with you. Do you have that many readers that Washington Independent can simply blow off a reader that is in disagreement with you? And start up with that "anti-Semitic" bullshit.? Yeah, I'm done with you. You are going to have to change the name of 'Washington Independent'. You aren't "independent" at all. How freaking biased and sad for you.


freddybak
Comment posted April 16, 2008 @ 7:41 am

Spencer, with all due respect this is a pointless and partially dishonest piece. The first thing that jumped out at me is where you claim that Fox News, The Wall Street Journal editorial page, the New York Post, the Weekly Standard, Commentary and New Republic magazines suggest that criticism of Israel is prima facie anti-Semetic. Prima Facie Spencer, really? I challenge you to find such an argument made. Of course not all criticism of Israel is anti-Semitic and 99% of Israel's most hawkish supporters don't think that. What Israel's critics cleverly do, however, is say "Hey! I'm not anti-Semitic just because I am criticizing Israel! How dare you suggest that?" The problem is that in 99% of the circumstances that lead to such comments they are 1) not being called anti-Semitic or 2) their arguments ar, in fact, anti-Semitic in one form or another (this does happen, ya know).

But more generally, AIPAC is a group that focuses on the American-Israel RELATIONSHIP. This has many levels not least of which is grass roots cultural appreciation. AIPAC is very active in on this at all levels. It's policy positions are generally speaking supportive of the Israeli government (which, to Barak Obama's surprise, hasn't been Likud for quite some time). So if a dovish government is elected in Israel, AIPAC will push for the American government to support it! Which will mean AIPAC is no longer a right wing radical organization but a "pro-peace" one. Nevermind that AIPAC currently supports a two state solution, etc. Also, where the hell did you get the idea to equitoe ZOA with AIPAC when AIPAC has many times distanced itself.


freddybak
Comment posted April 16, 2008 @ 7:57 am

Sorry, in my haste I forgot to edit. I am suggesting that 99% of the time Israel's critics are 1) not being called anti-Semitic or 2) actually making an anti-Semitic arguemtn.

Also, equitoe was supposed to be 'equate.'


fcukbsuh
Comment posted April 18, 2008 @ 9:46 am

Until there's an honest/truthful debate on the illegal occupation of Palestine, there will never be peace there.

Kudos for Carter actually engaging Hamas…And while it is not covered by corporate media, a lot of jewish people around the globe are fully aware of the apartheid state being forged by the current Israeli state and are vocally outspoken on the issue.


fcukbsuh
Comment posted April 18, 2008 @ 9:52 am

AIPAC is a big reason for all the problems…Always a refreshing thing to see one of the U.S.'s most powerful lobby not be about actual issues that impact a majority of Americans but about a foreign state.

With a population exceeding Israel's by more than a million, imagine if a lobby group for Azerbaijan dictated foreign policy, silenced debate on the single largest and most volatile issue facing the world today (Occupation of Palestine) and essentially held hostage 98% of all politcians in this country…How absurd would that be?…Well, it happens everyday with AIPAC


whyshouldtruthhurt
Comment posted April 18, 2008 @ 12:42 pm

israel never had designs on gaza, should have gotten out much soon but finally did, only to be rocketed every day since. and as for the most volatile issue in the world today being occupation of palestine, you have a pathetically narrow view of the world. and did you stop reading and thinking after israel offered arafat practically everything and got a wave of suicide murder instead — enough to make much of the surrounding arab world like jordan, egypt and even the saudis reconsider priorities in the region. but that's ok…this way you get to spout idiocy and impress your blogging pals who don't know any better


fcukbsuh
Comment posted April 18, 2008 @ 2:45 pm

Gee, yeah, they offered so much to Arafat…A noncontiguous state of checkpoints that made a 'state' look like Swiss cheese…Nevermind no Right of Return for what the Amnesty International has listed as the single greatest refugee crisis in the world, the Palestinians who have been displaced.

And Israel has never kept any of the 'promises' or accords they've agreed to making them the most disingenuous state on the planet.

Fortunately, not all Jews are this narrowly and demonically focused.

"Over the decades there have been uprisings, wars, intifadas. Tens of thousands have lost their lives. Accords and treaties have been signed. Cease-fires declared and violated. But the bloodshed doesn't end. Palestine still remains illegally occupied. Its people live in inhuman conditions, in virtual Bantustans, where they are subjected to collective punishments, twenty-four hour curfews, where they are humiliated and brutalized on a daily basis. They never know when their homes will be demolished, when their children will be shot, when their precious trees will be cut, when their roads will be closed, when they will be allowed to walk down to the market to buy food and medicine. And when they will not. They live with no semblance of dignity. With not much hope in sight. They have no control over their lands, their security, their movement, their communication, their water supply. So when accords are signed, and words like "autonomy" and even "statehood" bandied about, it's always worth asking: What sort of autonomy? What sort of State? What sort of rights will its citizens have?

What lessons should we draw from this tragic conflict? Is it really impossible for Jewish people who suffered so cruelly themselves – more cruelly perhaps than any other people in history – to understand the vulnerability and the yearning of those whom they have displaced? Does extreme suffering always kindle cruelty? What hope does this leave the human race with? What will happen to the Palestinian people in the event of a victory? When a nation without a state eventually proclaims a state, what kind of state will it be? What horrors will be perpetrated under its flag? Is it a separate state that we should be fighting for or, the rights to a life of liberty and dignity for everyone regardless of their ethnicity or religion?"

-Arundhati Roy


whyshouldtruthhurt
Comment posted April 18, 2008 @ 5:00 pm

yeah, they did offer a lot to arafat. so much, in fact, that he couldn't accept it 1) because he was unprepared for israel to go so far and had not prepared his own people for the "end of conflict" that he was offered, including jerusalem as a shared capital, and 2) he was beholden to the despotic leaders of the surrounding arab states who used and played him like a puppet, and it obviously was not in their interest for an end to the conflict that they could use and manipulate for their own ends. you obviously know nothing about the proposals and have not even looked at the maps used at taba or else you would not fall into the idiotic, stereotype of labeling the proposed palestinian state a swiss cheese like bantustan. you are not a student of this conflict, you are a sensationalist and provocateur, so stop posing as a friend of the palestinian people and learn the truth. no serious person accepts palestinian right of return as a possibility, and to raise it is destructive to genuine negotiations, simply using the palestinians as a tool for political propoganda. yes, a limited number of palestinian refugees will be allowed to settle in israel, but palestinians living outside the territories of a new palestinian state will be welcomed into palestine. wow, is that so hard to understand? yes, thousands have died. why? because their leadership at every turn has abandoned them. two-state solution? like the one proposed in 1947 that palestinian jews accepted and palestinian arabs rejected. they could both be celebrating a 60th anniversary but for the maximalist positions always taken foolish leaders. they don't know when their homes will be demolished? of course they do. palestine remains illegally occupied? do you mean the so-called west bank? did you decry the jordanian occupation and demand a palestinian state then. not even the plo did so at its inception in 1964, focusing its attention on liberating the territory the jews made a state. why didn't the world insist on a palestinian state before israel took the west bank territories in 1967 — after literally begging king hussein not to listen to egypt and syria, then getting their butts kicked, and begging hussein not to jump belatedly into the 6-day-war? hussein, toward the end of his life, acknowledged it was the single biggest mistake of his life. so, yes, israel defended itself after hussein rejected their pleas and ended up with the west bank territories. and then arafat never could figure out how to take "yes" for an answer. as for roy as your guide, she's done such a superb job of solving the problems of the subcontinent, why shouldn't she meddle in the middle east? as someone who decried the u.s. war in afghanistan following 9-11, and attacked the u.s. for its efforts to eliminate the taliban and al qaeda in afghanistan, you might want to search for a more credible source.


penizfase
Comment posted October 17, 2008 @ 11:26 am

everyone is realizing israel was an anachronistically botched nation building scheme, but there is big bucks in israel support organizations. lobbying beats actually having to work for a living!


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Comment posted April 25, 2009 @ 5:13 pm

wonderful its about time that progressive jews took back their identity from the war monger hawks that have been the power brokers for so long


brian mills
Comment posted April 26, 2009 @ 12:13 am

wonderful its about time that progressive jews took back their identity from the war monger hawks that have been the power brokers for so long


ronmossad
Comment posted September 16, 2009 @ 2:12 am

Just because someone calls themselves “pro-Israel” doesn’t necessarily make it so.

http://ronmossad.blogspot.com/2009/09/j-dead-en…

In the end, J Street is a great “hope and change” alternative to real Israel lobbying. Hope for terrorists and change that reduces the support for the only real democracy in the Middle East.


sbenzi
Comment posted November 5, 2009 @ 12:42 am

The key question to ask the J-Street's utopists is: “please, define 'Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories'”. Had they had a better knowledge of the legal rights of Israel under international law, they would not utter this nonsense of “occupation” anymore.


sbenzi
Comment posted November 5, 2009 @ 5:42 am

The key question to ask the J-Street's utopists is: “please, define 'Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories'”. Had they had a better knowledge of the legal rights of Israel under international law, they would not utter this nonsense of “occupation” anymore.


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