We are all pro-Israel.
By the same token, everyone thinks they’re for peace. JTA cheif Ami Eden’s blog post today picks up on where The New Republic and the Jewish media has begun fighting over the labels of “pro-Israel” and “pro-peace”. And this could be a pretty elementary conversation about labels meaning different things to different people, but I think a simple fact remains:
The nature of “pro-Israel” is changing. But though I’ve seen “pro-peace” hijacked by the pro-bombing rallies of the New York JCRC, for example, it has yet to take hold among Israel advocates that pursuing immediate peace policies and not just having peace inclinations is what defines a dove voice from a hawkish voice.
Ami notes “hawks” and “doves” beg further definition. His example is when Ariel Sharon moved right-wing and left-wing simultaneously by not negotiating with the Palestinians but withdrawing from territory regardless. But this was not a dove maneuver because it was a classic example of avoiding-the-real-problem Israeli diplomatic ju jitsu which sidesteps the issue as a whole. (Unilateral ceasefires anyone? Ju jitsu indeed, this kung fu Jew would know.) No progress towards establishing a Palestinian state was made and Israeli security concerns went unaddressed — akin to rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. (Worse, in this case as the credit for Israeli withdrawal was not handed to Fatah’s openness to negotiations but taken implicitly by Hamas’ violence.)
The status quo is what remains defined as “pro-Israel” — separate legal systems for Jewish settlers and Palestinians which resemble apartheid, the continued expansion of settlements, the limitation of economic viability by closed borders, and the humilitation of checkpoints and lack of self-determination. Only the pursuit now of policies which actively make progress towards Palestinian demands can be considered pro-peace. They will not receive all their demands, and neither will Israel. But the active prevention in Congress by AIPAC or ZOA or JCRCs of pushing compromise by Israel is in effect pro-conflict, pro-violence and pro-onesidedness.
A backtrack is also not pro-peace, which is Gaza case in point. The Gaza mission accomplished nothing and it cost so much — in terms of Israel’s international standing, its prevention of the rockets, its dismantling of Hamas, and ultimately its ability to end ongoing strife. A pyrric victory. The pro-Israel rallies embedded the feeling among Jews of moderate stripes that while they supported Israel’s right to defense, “pro-Israel” meant something bloodthirsty.
Ami Eden is very good to bring this up — that pro-Israel isn’t owned by any Jewish political sector and we’re all ostensibly looking for safety and stability in the Mideast. But there is a distinct measure of being pro-peace. And it will continue to be needed as a modifier “pro-Israel, pro-peace” until the Israeli government and the lockstep American Jewish defense orgs make pursuit of an end compromise their active work. Until then AIPAC, ADL, AJC, the JCRCs, the Conference of Presidents, et al are not pro-peace, they’re pro-status quo. And the status quo is not peace.