Global, Israel, Politics

I just love these guys!!

Finally, there is an American Jewish organization that consistently uses its cerebral functions in an appropriate way. 
J Street’s statment on the elections:

The top priority of the next Prime Minister needs to be a comprehensive and viable resolution to the conflicts between Israel and her neighbors. We urge all of Israel’s leaders to heed the words of outgoing Prime Minister Ehud Olmert that “if the day comes when the two-state solution collapses… the State of Israel is finished.”
As Americans, we believe the results do not change the fundamental American interest in exercising strong diplomatic leadership to achieve a two-state solution and to chart a course to security and stability in the region. This is not only essential for Israel and the Palestinians – it is a critical U.S. interest as well. We are encouraged by and will continue to build support for the Obama administration, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Special Envoy George Mitchell in advancing this agenda and bringing true peace and security to the entire Middle East.

And they are able to use the appropriately acceptable words for the mainstream American Jewish audience to call a fascist a fascist.

One final note: we cannot comment on the election without noting our deep concern over the strong showing by Avigdor Lieberman in light of the campaign he ran on a platform offensive to basic notions of democracy and to principles central to the Jewish tradition. With deep respect for Israel’s democracy, we call on American Jews and organizations that represent them to make clear that we will not remain silent if the prejudice and intolerance promoted by his party actually become part of the incoming Israeli government’s policies and philosophy.

Full statement here.

34 thoughts on “I just love these guys!!

  1. This keeps coming up.
    “As Americans, we believe the results do not change the fundamental American interest in exercising strong diplomatic leadership to achieve a two-state solution and to chart a course to security and stability in the region.”
    The appropriate response is this: As Israelis, we don’t care what you believe. We don’t want to hear about what change you want and do not want. We don’t want your money – any of it. When you are ready to have an equal relationship, treating us like a sovereign state, without telling what to do, get back to us.

  2. LB–I’m not sure which State of Israel you live in, but in the State that just had elections, you know, the one where the fascist guy is being courted by the guy who gave Israel the largest wealth gap in the industrialized world and by the woman who was the head cheerleader for the Gaza tragedy, if you actually live in that Israel, then your elected leaders have been falling all over themselves to get US as many billions of foreign aid dollars as they can. So unless I missed you on somebody’s list as the next sar ha-oztar or sar ha-chutz, your proclamations about not wanting American dollars don’t actually mean anything or represent anybody’s view outside of your computer screen.

  3. JStreet completely disgraced themselves with their performance in the Gaza war. Entire councils of conservative and even reform Rabbis issued proclamations that their statements were unbalanced and placing Jewish life in danger. They lost any credibility they had with the Jewish public by acting essentially as a mouthpiece of Hamas, as rockets rained down on our cities.
    It’s incredible that people who REFUSE to label Fatah a fascist party (even though it fits the description), and REFUSE to label Hamas as an Islamist fascist party (which it very much is), are more than eager to trash a Jewish party for no other reason than they don’t like its leadership.
    I may not like Lieberman’s policy proposals, but at least I KNOW what they are! Do you? He’s not a fascist. He is completely mainstream, believes in two state solution, etc. The ONLY controversial proposal he has had was to require a loyalty oath to the State of Israel from all its citizens.
    I’m an immigrant, and I took a loyalty oath to the United States – it’s called the Pledge of Allegiance, and it’s recited at every sporting event in the US! Is that also fascist?! If you don’t wish to be part of a nation… don’t be part of it. That’s all Lieberman said. Why is that controversial?
    Livni wants to ethnically cleanse 500,000 Jews from Judea and Samaria, but that’s NOT considered Fascist. Lieberman wants a simple loyalty oath from everyone in Israel and that is fascist?
    You JStreet fluffers are insane. You reduce all of life’s complexity to politics and power, when innocent lives are on the line, both Jews and non-Jews. You are not working for peace. You are working to give hope and ammunition to our enemies, which has only ever led to more war. That is not and has never been a Jewish path.

  4. I’ve been to many US sporting events and have never once been invited to recite the Pledge of Allegiance. Which sports do you watch?

  5. “You reduce all of life’s complexity”
    Pot, meet kettle.
    I see you have neither pragmatism nor answers, but instead you just rail against those who purport to be pragmatic or have answers.
    So you got 50K Jews in the West Bank, most of them in contravention to Israeli law. The Palestinians and other Arabs see them as the primary obstruction to peace, and a growing number of Israelis think so as well. It’s not only because they’re keeping Palestinian movement from being contiguous, but also they tend to be major assholes to the population that was there before they were. I heavily doubt that they would integrate with the Palestinians any time soon.
    At the same time, you have blocks of Israeli territory that is inhabited by Palestinians. These people, unlike the Yesha folks, are legal citizens of of the entity in which they dwell. They would rather live under Israeli rule than under the utterly dysfunctional PA, and frankly wouldn’t mind a “loyalty oath” if it were actually minor.
    Liberman’s plan borders on the bizarre. He plans to make parts of Israel into Palestine, and parts of Palestine into Israel. This sounds no different than any land-for-peace plan put forth by any other sane person, but instead of the logical guidelines of territorial contiguity, he would rather use ethnic composition. The result is a Swiss-cheese – nay, machinegunning of both Israeli and Palestinian lands, which would have the additional effect of making travel worse… this time for both parties. And let’s not forget the frank one-sidedness of the trade.
    And his proposed “loyalty oath for all citizens” isn’t as much targeted to “all citizens” as it is to Arabs. Admit it. Otherwise, he’d be demanding not only the same to Yesha settlers who thumb their noses at the State, but also the smolanim that compose his opposition. And don’t tell me THAT’S not fascist.

  6. “Liberman’s plan borders on the bizarre. He plans to make parts of Israel into Palestine, and parts of Palestine into Israel. This sounds no different than any land-for-peace plan put forth by any other sane person, but instead of the logical guidelines of territorial contiguity, he would rather use ethnic composition.”
    Really B.BarNavi? A land-swap, based on ethnic composition, really seems bizarre to you?
    Because what seems bizarre is trying to end a century-long ethnic conflict between Arabs and Jews, over the same piece of land, by partitioning that land…but then insisting that huge Arab communities must remain in the part intended for the Jews. Where is the logic in that?
    If we are strictly diving the land on territorial continguity, why not divide the land down the middle (north-to-south or east-to west,) on a 50%-50% basis?
    It would be insanity to partition the land (which is an existential need,) but not insist that Palestians in Jerusalem, and other Palestinian areas inside of the Green Line, be transferred to Palestine.
    Why do we have to pretend that the world began and ended on June 4, 1967?

  7. Jonathan-
    I more or less agree with you here, but I think the key is that the occupation started after the 6-day war, so the world of this chapter of the conflict did start then, no?

  8. No doubt, Justin. But, let’s go for solutions that make sence,
    instead of holding to this obsession with the artificial lines of
    June 4, 1967–none of our other borders are those lines (depending on how we value the Lebanon border)… why does it need to be the case with Palestine?

  9. it will be the case with syria, and it is the case with egypt. pots ww2 countries don’t occupy enemies according to the geneva conventions, that’s why.

  10. “it will be the case with syria, and it is the case with egypt.”
    The fact that you write this, achi, demonstrates the argument’s folly. Check any map in the world…the current Israeli-Egyptian border is not the June 4, 1967 line. If it were, Gaza would be on the Egyptian side!!! I’m not trying to be flippant, just think about it for a moment. If those lines are so sacrosanct, why didn’t Sadat halt negotiations unless Israel agreed to a return to them (even if we say that Egypt occupied Gaza before ’67, it still, accordingly, would have demanded Gaza back and then set up a Palestinian state.)
    I’m not sure how you are so certain that a future border with Syria might be the June 4, 1967 line, but even if that will be the case, for argument’s sake, that line is a natural border–it runs to the Kinerret.
    The Green Line, however, is totally artificial. It’s not a natural boundary. It wasn’t some border that existed for centuries. It wasn’t even demarcated by the Sykes-Picot Agreement. What is the Green Line really? It’s the armistice line agreed upon by Ben-Gurion and Abdullah after the ’48-’49 War. That’s all it is.
    “post-ww2 countries don’t occupy enemies according to the geneva conventions, that’s why.”
    Can you explain how transferring Palestinian-occupied land (and the Palestinians who live therein) from Israeli sovereignty to Palestinian sovereignty is “occupying an enemy according the Geneva Conventions?”
    If anything, I would think that transfering areas like the Triangle to Palestine would correlate to the 1947 UN Partition Plan, which seems to have more authority in the mysterious realm of International Law than does the Ben-Gurion-Abdullah armistice agreement. But, again, it seems as if no other considerations–demography, natural recources, history, etc.–matter in comparison to the June 4, 1967 lines.

  11. Miri, you are correct; I misspoke when I said the Pledge of Allegiance is recited at sporting events. I was confusing it with the US national anthem. However, the Pledge is ubiquitous, and certainly is mandated for immigrants.
    The Pledge of Allegiance to the United States flag is an oath of loyalty to the country. It is recited at many public events. US Congressional sessions open with the recitation of the Pledge.
    B.Bar Navi, I’m sorry if you felt my comments were not constructive. I haven’t been on Jewschool long enough to share my full position with respect to these issues. I will 😉

  12. Jonathan-
    Egypt relinquished control over Gaza. Right, wrong, productive or not, it’s what happened. If peace with syria is achieved, it will certainly require the withdrawal from Golan (cf. “Missing Peace” by Dennis Ross and recent reports on how close the two sides were to direct talks). What you stipulate above is not occupation (it would be the ‘two-state solution’ and the END of the occupation), but what exists today since 1967 IS occupation, and since the settlements and outposts continue to grow each day, especially with the reports that Efrat is expanding into new territory, this is shameless land-grabbing and little more. And I thought that the armistice line is VERY important, since it’s what became the de facto border of Israel until 1967.
    Also, the other main difference is that the Palestinians have been living colonial rulers, well, forever (except for the first Arabs in Palestine after the expansion of the 6th-7th centuries, who were colonizers of the land in their own right). As opposed to Egypt and Jordan, which have been sovereign nations since the British left them.

  13. Peace with Syria is certainly not predicated on the return of the Golan. We have peace with Syria now. In fact, Israel has had peace with Syria ever since we conquered the Golan. They should be annexed and settled, to ensure that there continues to be peace with Syria.

  14. Honestly, Justin, who can continue to support “land for peace” after Oslo, Lebanon and Gaza? How many rockets and bullets must be launched at us from land we surrender for the sake of peace before we get our act together? If peace is the goal, then why stop the surrender at hashtachim? Surely, no price is too great to achieve peace. Let’s keep giving…
    Haifa is 50% Arab anyway, right? And Eilat… well, no one really NEEDS to vacation in the south. Too many French expats in Netanya (I never liked the French). In fact, let’s just carve a two mile zone around Tel Aviv, the airport and the beach, and give everything else back.
    I’m being only half sarcastic. If peace is the goal, and only one side is committed to achieving it, then no price is too great.
    I propose a new concept – Peace for Peace.

  15. Justin,
    I realize that I am not a Nobel-Prize writer, but have you not read my posts above?
    Of course what has existed since 1967 is an Israeli occupation of Palestinians. This is irrefutable. Who disagrees that settlements and outposts continue to grow, as a land-grabbing effort? I’m genuinely confused as to what you are getting at.
    Let me put it this way: for moral, existential, security, and diplomatic reasons, the state of Israel needs establish a paradigm with the Palestinians, based on two states for two peoples. I would imagine, as part of such a reality, most, if not all of those Jews living over the Green Line will have to return to Israel (I assume that most of “Jewish” eastern Jerusalem will stay under Israeli soverignty–perhaps not Har Homa, though…and maybe the majority of Gush Etzion will as well–maybe not Efrat.)
    As for the June 4, 1967 line… we should transfer sovereignty over certain areas INSIDE the Green Line, and the people who live there, from Israel to Palestine.
    (Gaza should be tripled by expanding its borders southward into the Sinai, btw.)
    And, frankly, first you argue (I think) that we can’t move that border westward because our other borders –Egypt now and Syria in the future are the June 4, 1967 lines…but next you say that Egypt relinqued control over Gaza. What’s your point? I thought that we have to maintain the June 4 borders at all costs? But neither of our two permanent borders are those lines? I think I’m missing something.

  16. And, also, Justin, how would transferring areas from Israel to Palestine constitute
    “occupying an enemy according the Geneva Conventions?”

  17. Jonathan, I think our conversation went awry, I don’t think we’re disagreeing about anything except for the nature of the ’67 borders. It is significant that Egypt relinquished control because they are no longer responsible for Gaza. Otherwise it would have been given back to them along with Sinai. I never understood why they relinquished control of it. But regarding how to end the occupation, neither of us disagree.
    Victor, if Israel is at peace with Syria, why can’t you go there as an Israeli citizen? Peace includes diplomatic relations and normalized trade, not just cease-fire. Peace is a legal term in this context, not a concept.

  18. Justin, if you prefer, there is a state of a lack of violence, which in my mind is fully equivalent to peace. There is a difference between peace and diplomatic recognition, embassy exchange, visa regime, economic agreements, etc.
    The United States and Cuba, for example, are not at war. Neither, however, do they have the other elements of economic exchange and diplomacy that structure international relations.
    Diplomatic and economic relations with Syria are well worth working towards, but as the last 40 years have shown, they are not critical to the security of Israel. Even with today’s equipment of modern war, the commanding heights of the Golan make it an absolute strategic necessity, even against an irregular force. We have seen in South Lebanon how difficult it is to dislodge militants dug into mountainous terrain firing rockets at Israeli cities. From the Golan heights, those rockets would have an even greater range.
    Let’s not forget the Palestinians are no the only ones who claim Israel; the Syrians have historically considered the Levant as their sphere of influence, if not outright imperial domain. Have not both our Exiles come after the land of Israel was conquered from the north? Clearly this is a part of the country that is suitable for invading powers.
    Today the Syrians are weak. Tomorrow they’ll be strong. Why should we create a situation where there is even potential for hostility and loss of life, when simply our annexing and settling the Golan will prevent any future war from taking place?
    The Syrians have much to gain from a diplomatic, economic and even military engagement with Israel (to stabilize Lebanon, for example). The Golan are merely a symbolic bargaining chip to them. If we put act with resolve and annex the Golan – merely acknowledging a 40 year old reality that everyone has accepted – the Syrians will find something else to trade.

  19. Victor-
    First of all, the fact that the US has an embargo on Cuba precludes peace. Second, the Golan is not “merely” a bargaining chip, it was there land. Plus, all relevant peace-deals with Syria call for Golan to be an international nature reserve.
    Furthermore, Syria is not just claiming that the levant was historically under their influence. Anyone who is knowledgeable in ancient and pre-modern history knows that the levant WAS under Syrian influence (except for when it was under the influence of Egypt or Mesopotamia).
    Protectionist and nationalist policies have brought the world nothing but trouble, and it’s what you’re espousing. Israel’s true interest are in global peace, not regional dominance.

  20. In other words, we should wait to see how events turn regarding Iran…because distancing Syria from Iran would be the lone reason to make an agreement with Asaad. Otherwise, we shouldn’t make any deal with him, even if we can keep the Golan.

  21. jonathan, you’re certainly not wrong, but it is not up to us who rules syria. Israel and the west will be better positioned to enforce a better record of human rights in syria after normalized relations. Not that it’s made enough progress, but the difference in the human rights record in China once relations with the US was normalized was drastic.

  22. Unfortunately, the Egypt analogy seems a stronger one than the China analogy. If anything, their human rights record is worse today than it was in 1979. And, even if the West presses that regime to make real reforms, and consequently, the Islamists take over, they will inherit a top-quality military (that’s not to say tht the treaty with Egypt was mistaken, nor is an agreement with Syria out of the question under certain circumstances…but let’s not delude ourselves into thinking that all things will be perfect if only we were to leave the Golan.)

  23. “let’s not delude ourselves into thinking that all things will be perfect if only we were to leave the Golan.”
    Oh no! I never meant to insinuate that!

  24. Justin, with respect, the Golan is not Syrian land. From a historical perspective, Syria’s modern boundaries are barely older than Israeli sovereignty over the Golan. Then, there is something to be said for paying a price for belligerence – let’s not forget how the Golan was acquired, and at what price.
    Israeli surrender of the Golan may be a point of pride for the Syrians, but it is not as if we took Damascus from them. The Golan are not a core Syrian interest. More important (since we’re Jews), the Golan are a core Jewish interest from the standpoint of security – historically, today, and in the future – as both you and I mentioned earlier.
    You and Jonathan hit on the vital point why negotiations with Syria were started by Olmert – to put stress on the Syrian-Iran alliance. Despite public rhetoric from the Assad regime, it seems those negotiations yielded results – such as the elimination of Mughniyeh and closer cooperation on stabilizing Lebanon and restraining Hezbollah. All that was accomplished without surrendering the Golan, and we can continue to develop a working relationship with the Syrians, based on mutual interests and not the surrender of a core Israeli necessity.
    In a situation where expert advice is required for a tooth ache, one would go to a dentist, not a car mechanic. Similarly, on the issue of security, we should defer to those who deal with security – the military. I have never heard a single Israeli military expert say that the return of the Golan is a wise move, no matter the promised political or diplomatic gains. On the contrary, everyone I’ve encountered states unequivocally that the Golan is vital to long term Israeli security.
    I understand you may disagree with the advice of defense experts. At the very least, however, two years after the IDF was seriously considering bringing down the Assad regime – a situation that could replay itself the next time Nasrallah doesn’t get laid – we should defer to caution and maintain a firm position on the Golan.

  25. Are you sure Victor? I tend to think that trading the Golan for an agreement would be a disaster, but there are military people who disagree: Ehud Barak; Shaul Mofaz; and Gabi Ashkenazi (if we believe what we read in the Israeli press.)
    But, of course, there are many other military people who say that it would be a mistake–and I get the impression that most JewSchool readers would say that the latter are simply war mongorers 🙁

  26. The only reason land-for-peace has been a failure is because it really hasn’t been tried. Camp David had a serious attempt for peace but not for land. Gaza was precisely the opposite – giving up swaths of land but no real effort at making peace.
    The tired Likudist “peace for peace” talking point also overlooks the fact that Palestinians, regardless of land situation, hadn’t exactly had peace either. It also presupposes that the Palestinians are just going to unilaterally drop all arms for any reason, whether it be peace or land. (And let’s not forget the one-sidedness – Israel gets to keep all the land, but at least there’ll still be peace… right)?

  27. You will also notice that I never said that the borders be drawn on the 67 armsitice lines. I only said that they be geographically contiguous to allow for easier travel. Certainly, Israel can have Ma`ale Adumim and other Jerusalem outcrops, and Palestine can have some Arab lands in the Negev and the tzafon that are CONNECTED with the West Bank. This is neither the 67-borders-full-right-of-return Saudi plan nor the Liberman swiss-cheese plan.

  28. Re: Golan – the Syrians have a historical claim to that land, but then again they have a historical claim on everything from Jerusalem to Beirut. The Golan is of high military importance, and it can’t be just “given up”. Like the West Bank, I suggest a re-drawing of the Golan to fit both parties – one that would satisfy the Israeli military, the local Israeli agriculture, the Syrian government, and the Druze.

  29. Jonathan, I think something happens to military people when they enter politics in Israel. In fact it happens to everyone who enters politics in Israel. The most decent of people are instantly corrupted and are wiling to sell their mother’s left arm to win some insignificant political prize.

  30. Time to try and see things from a viewpoint other than Israel’s.
    Justin, I appreciate the sentiment, truly. I’ve done too much of that in my life as it is, and I am desperately trying to reverse coarse. We’re Jews. We should recognize that we have real, legitimate interests, and we should stop being ashamed of trying to secure those interests. I think this is systemic to our Exile. We’re constantly apologizing for normal things that any other nation does with pride. What other nation is ashamed of pursuing what is best for itself?
    This does not mean we should disregard what may be best for others, or plow over other people with tanks. But I think our vacillating and attempting to convince others that we care more about them than our own people not only hurts us, it confuses them!
    One of my Palestinian friends is from a village near Ramallah. In ’67, everyone in the village hid in the nearby caves. They fully expected Israel to annex the West Bank. They were no strangers to occupation (in the form of annexation) – Arabs, Syrians, Turks, British… they had been under occupation since before their oral tradition began. They had no problem with being under Israeli occupation – they thought nothing would change. A day passed. A week passed. A month passed. A year passed.
    No one told them what was happening. They were left completely in limbo. If someone had said, there and then, we are annexing the land and settling it, they would not have protested. But we were both stunned and cowed by our own victory. Here was the land, the promised land in it’s entirety, and Moshe Dayan was “just waiting for a phone call” to trade it to the Jordanians or Egyptians (or anyone that would take it, really) for a piece of paper.
    These are strange concepts to a Semitic people. If you conquered the land, why aren’t you settling it? They look like Jews, they speak like Jews, but here is their own land, promised to them by G-d, and they can’t wait to give it back? Surely they can’t be so stupid. So what are they planning? What are they scheming?
    Perhaps you think I’m joking, and of course I am heavily oversimplifying, but this was more or less the line of reasoning in the villages.
    You know, this is one of the reasons the Wahabbis want to kill us – our willingness to give back the land. They don’t even question our right to it. They say this very thing, that G-d promised us this land, and we are spitting in his face by giving it away, so it is their job to punish us until we learn.
    Exile has been difficult on our people. We’re not a western nation. We are not Europeans. We are a Semitic people. It will take time for us to learn again how to act like Semites.
    Was this post long enough? Did I cover enough ground? 🙂

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