J Street leader says Netanyahu’s government is risking Israel’s survival

Jeremy Ben-Ami
Jeremy Ben-Ami

Israel’s survival, its nature and its character are at risk because of the opposition of the right-wing government to a two-state solution, Jeremy Ben-Ami, founder and president of J Street, told a University of Minnesota audience Tuesday.

A solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is “available,” and the results would represent a “win-win” for Israel, Ben-Ami said. But the reelection of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the likely formation of the most right-wing government coalition in Israeli history undermine the chances of reaching such an outcome.

U.S. policy is, and long has been, to favor a two-state solution, he said. Netanyahu promised late in the recent campaign that no such outcome will occur while he is in office. Ben-Ami apparently believes that he was sincere (although Netanyahu reversed himself on that statement right after the election). The Palestinian side also is not able to deliver the necessary preconditions for a peaceful, two-state outcome, Ben-Ami said.

J Street, a liberal Jewish advocacy group based in the United States, believes the U.S. should continue to promote and pursue a two-state solution without Netanyahu’s cooperation by, for example, using the word “illegal” to refer to Israeli settlements on occupied territory and supporting a U.N. Security Council resolution calling for a two-state solution.

Such a resolution would “lay down a marker,” would be President Obama’s legacy on the issue, and would clarify that the United States opposes all action by either side in the conflict that undermines or precludes progress toward a two-state solution.

Here are summaries of Ben-Ami’s points on some of the major topics he discussed:

On the tentative U.S.-led deal with Iran over nuclear capabilities:

Ben-Ami said J Street would be “vocally in favor” of completing the deal. It’s not ideal, Ben-Ami said, but it’s the best of the three possible outcomes.  

The other two possibilities: If the United States rejects the deal, its partners among the P5-plus one (Russia, China, Britain, France, and Germany) will drop out of the sanctions regime and Iran will achieve its goal (relief from sanctions) without having to accept limits on or inspections of its nuclear program. Or some combination of the United States and Israel and perhaps some others could take military action against Iran.

Concerning a deal, a war or an end to sanctions with no concessions from Iran: “There is no fourth option,” Ben-Ami said. One could hope for a different or better deal, Ben-Ami said, but the parties have negotiated long and hard and “this is the deal.”

On the recent trend toward partisanization of the U.S.-Israeli relationship:

Ben-Ami said yes, it is happening. Netanyahu’s decision to speak to Congress, against Obama’s wishes, at the invitation of the Republican speaker of the House, was the latest evidence. But he also said it was a mistake for Israel to appoint, as its ambassador to Washington, a former Republican operative (Ron Dermer). “Not the best choice,” Ben-Ami said.

On the possibility that the Palestinians will seek prosecution of Israel through the International Court of Justice for the occupation:

Saeb Erekat, a long-time leader of the Palestinian Authority, has been calling the occupation a “war crime.” Ben-Ami said he sympathizes with the frustration of Erekat and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who believe that they’ve done everything that could reasonably be expected to embrace peaceful means of seeking a Palestinian state, but he doesn’t believe that trying to take the Israelis to the ICJ would be “fruitful.”

On whether Israel can call itself a democracy:

Within the borders of Israel proper, Israel is undoubtedly a full-fledged “vibrant democracy,” but “when there are several million people who are under your governance who don’t participate in your democracy” that obviously undermines Israel’s democratic status and credentials.

On how can Israel make peace as long as Hamas controls Gaza:

Israel is completely within its rights to refuse to deal with Hamas unless and until Hamas accepts Israel’s right to exist, renounces violence and agrees to abide by international deals that have been reached regarding the situation. Until such time as that comes to pass, Israel and the United States have to deal with those who have embraced those prerequisites and “put Gaza on the shelf” until there is a change in leadership there or a change on in those fundamental positions.

Exchange with student

During the audience question portion of the event, Ben-Ami had an exchange with an Israeli student at the university that was my favorite portion of the event. It was also the only exchange during the Q and A that led to a spontaneous outburst of applause from the audience, so (with your permission) I’ll quote it at some length.

The student said that a lot of Israelis, not just lefties and activists, would like to see Israel pull out of the Palestinian territories but they are “afraid” of what might ensue. He asked Ben-Ami whether he could understand why many people worry about possible negative outcomes of such developments, including Israel’s “destruction.”

Ben-Ami replied:

“I don’t think there is any risk-free path. The choices in life are often between two or three or four different options, all of which have pluses and minuses, and you have to weigh the risks.

“My fear is that the risk of continuing down the path that Israel is on right now is far greater — that Israel will turn into a pariah state and will be isolated internationally; that Israel will lose its friends and lose its connection to the Jewish community here, and will be morally corrupt; that it will lose its democratic character.

“I see that risk as a very high probability if we stay on this path that we’re on.

“The path that I would advocate is clearly a path that has risks. Absolutely. This [the Middle East] is a very, very bad neighborhood. There are a lot of deep enemies of the State of Israel that want to hurt and eventually drive it out of existence, absolutely. So I do not deny in any way that the path that I advocate has risks. I would go further and say that the path that I advocate guarantees further conflict and violence.

“We have to understand that. There should be fear, because there’s something to be afraid of.

“This isn’t about nirvana and perfection and non-violent temper that we’re talking about. We’re talking about a situation in which Israel will be more secure, in which the possibility of world acceptance and regional acceptance is going to be higher, the quality of Israel’s democracy, its quality of life is going to be higher.

“There will always have to be a situation of qualitative military advantage for Israel, its relationship with the United States and from world sources. But those things are far more likely to be upheld if you go down a path that’s in accordance with world values and standards and world acceptance than if you go down a path of that leads you to be a pariah and outside the mainstream. So that’s the tradeoff.”

Comments (35)

  1. Submitted by Neal Rovick on 04/15/2015 - 11:47 am.

    Treading on slippery ground.

    International survey–percent of people that view a country’s influence as mainly positive or mainly negative:

    Some results:

    US approx. 40% positive, 40% negative
    Russia approx 30% positive, 45% negative
    Israel approx. 25% positive, 50% negative
    North Korea approx 20% positive, 60% negative

    http://www.economist.com/news/briefing/21610312-pummelling-gaza-has-cost-israel-sympathy-not-just-europe-also-among-americans

  2. Submitted by Dennis Tester on 04/15/2015 - 01:29 pm.

    What Netanyahu said …

    was that a two-state solution was not possible *at this time.*

    And by that he meant that with the Palestinians ramping up the anti-Israeli rhetoric and Iran looking to acquire nuclear weapons, all serious discussions should be on hold for now.

    Ben-Ami’s comments were disingenuous to say the least.

    • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 04/15/2015 - 03:54 pm.

      Since Bibi said

      the same thing 20 years ago, it’s hard to accept that he would ever accept a Palestinian state anywhere between the Jordan and the Mediterranean.
      Since he’s also been ramping up (to use your words) the construction of settlements in what would be a Palestinian state, he is actively making a Palestinian state impossible.

      • Submitted by miki polumbaum on 03/21/2016 - 11:27 pm.

        My Opinion:

        I personally think that the International community, the United States, and the United Nations should force Israel to withdraw their troops from West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem once and for all, evacuate their right-wing Israeli Jewish settlers from those territories…at once, thus allowing the Palestinians to create their own independent sovereign nation-state alongside Israel.

        That’s the only way that Israel will survive…especially as a Jewish-majority nation-state.

    • Submitted by Neal Rovick on 04/15/2015 - 04:13 pm.

      Believe what you want but he was clear….

      (quote)

      ….He made explicitly clear that he could never, ever, countenance a fully sovereign Palestinian state in the West Bank. He indicated that he sees Israel standing almost alone on the frontlines against vicious Islamic radicalism, while the rest of the as-yet free world does its best not to notice the march of extremism…..

      The priority right now, Netanyahu stressed, was to “take care of Hamas.” But the wider lesson of the current escalation was that Israel had to ensure that “we don’t get another Gaza in Judea and Samaria.” Amid the current conflict, he elaborated, “I think the Israeli people understand now what I always say: that there cannot be a situation, under any agreement, in which we relinquish security control of the territory west of the River Jordan.”

      …Not relinquishing security control west of the Jordan, it should be emphasized, means not giving a Palestinian entity full sovereignty there. It means not acceding to Mahmoud Abbas’s demands, to Barack Obama’s demands, to the international community’s demands. This is not merely demanding a demilitarized Palestine; it is insisting upon ongoing Israeli security oversight inside and at the borders of the West Bank. That sentence, quite simply, spells the end to the notion of Netanyahu consenting to the establishment of a Palestinian state. A less-than-sovereign entity? Maybe, though this will never satisfy the Palestinians or the international community. A fully sovereign Palestine? Out of the question.

      He wasn’t saying that he doesn’t support a two-state solution. He was saying that it’s impossible. This was not a new, dramatic change of stance by the prime minister. It was a new, dramatic exposition of his long-held stance….

      From July 2014

      http://www.timesofisrael.com/netanyahu-finally-speaks-his-mind/

      (end quote)

      “not at this time” is what you tell a child when they want another piece of candy.

      It really means “never”

  3. Submitted by bruce fisher on 04/15/2015 - 02:43 pm.

    Two State Solution

    J Street is a liberal Zionist organization, but none the less Zionist. The two state solution would maintain the Jewish character of Israel. So when Jeremey Ben-Ami says Netanyahu risks Israel survival he means what is at risk is the Jewish nature of Israel. If the Palestinian struggle moves to one of human & civil rights instead of a fight for land, and is successful, Israel’s complexion will change. J street would not like that outcome. The Zionists would have to move on, look for another place that is not as problematic as the ME. Hopefully they will have learned some lessons. It’s not to late to start over.

    • Submitted by Steve Titterud on 04/15/2015 - 03:14 pm.

      “It’s not too late to start over.”

      I hope you are right, but it is problematic. Since Israel has created GENERATIONS of implacable enemies – projecting 30 to 50 years into the future – with its policies of running the biggest prison in the world, collective punishment, and a goal of virtual apartheid, when would it be reasonable to expect the Palestinians to conform to Israel’s warped vision ??

      Just look at the language of Mr. J Street above, wherein by the use of “will turn into” and “will be”, his deluded dreams suggest these possibilities are not ALREADY the case:

      “…that Israel will turn into a pariah state…” What does Ben-Ami think the status of Israel is now ? Even the U.S. has to hold its nose every time Israel launches a new settlement project.

      “(that Israel)…will be isolated internationally;” If Israel is not isolated NOW, you have to wonder what Ben-Ami thinks isolation looks like.

      “(that Israel)…will be morally corrupt;” What is the moral position of Israel right now ?

      I agree with you – J Street is as Zionist as they come. They may not be as apocalyptic as, say, a Netanyahu, but then who is ??

      • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 04/15/2015 - 04:09 pm.

        Note:

        Israel’s ‘implacable enemies’ were there before the State of Israel was established in 1948, and before the Balfour Doctrine in 1917.
        Read your history (and I don’t mean The Protocols of the Elders of Zion).

    • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 04/15/2015 - 04:06 pm.

      Zionism

      to most of its adherents over the past three hundred years has referred to Eretz Israel (the land of Israel — referring to both the person and the geography).
      I can remember when there was some talk about establishing a Jewish state in Africa, but I don’t think that it was Jews who were talking about it.

  4. Submitted by Ray Schoch on 04/15/2015 - 04:22 pm.

    Interesting points

    I’m not Jewish, have never been to Israel, and frankly, have no desire to go there. Mr. Ben-Ami’s points are not without merit, it seems to me, nor are they bias-free. I wouldn’t expect them to be from someone representative of a “liberal zionist” organization.

    I also find interesting the use of the term “zionist,” since it’s often used in a pejorative manner, as if the desire for a Jewish state was somehow beyond the pale. Perhaps it would be useful for critics to remember not the Holocaust, but the historical fact that Jews occupied the whole of modern-day Israel and a lot of other territory in that neighborhood, and lived there for centuries – centuries – before Mohammed was born and Islam was founded. The Jewish historical claim to what is now Israel predates Islamic claims by many hundreds of years, so I’ve found the intransigence of Arab neighbors puzzling, at best, disingenuous more often than not..

    Yes, it’s true that the Jewish population of the area was virtually nonexistent when Mohammed’s followers arrived on the scene, but that was hardly a voluntary choice on the part of the area’s Jewish population. The Jewish diaspora was forced upon them by Roman authority, from which there was, in those days at least, no appeal. Does that mean Israel should simply do whatever it wants, whatever it takes, to secure a homeland created artificially after World War II? Of course not, and there’s blood on the hands of plenty of Israeli leaders and operatives down through the decades since World War II. They have very little “moral high ground” upon which to stand. Sadly, that’s equally true, perhaps moreso, for Hamas and its allies.

    In many ways, and certainly superficially, ‘twould seem easier and far less stressful for Israel’s Jewish population to relocate. But that’s easy for a comfortable American to say, thousands of miles from the ground in question. I do think it relevant to ask Bruce Fisher, if it’s not too late to start over, just where he thinks Israel’s Jewish population should begin that regeneration? We already have a sizable anti-Semitic population in this country, so the United States doesn’t seem to me to necessarily be the best choice, and even if it is, who do we imagine will be part of the welcoming committee? Some of the same people in Congress currently trotting out their pro-Israel credentials would be, shall we say, *reluctant* to offer their home states as new homelands for Israel’s Jews. Where will Israel’s Jews go to “start over?”

    True, it’s hard to be credible as a democratic state when you have several million disenfranchised citizens living in your midst. Wait, I was talking about Israel, not American states that have recently enacted new voting restrictions precisely to disenfranchise a sizable segment of their population…

    Offhand, I have no better solution than Ben-Ami’s. War with Iran is, in my household at least, unacceptable. Allowing Muslim terrorists to murder the Israeli population is also unacceptable, and conversely, Israeli military action against civilians living in Gaza and elsewhere has been indefensible for a long time. There ain’t no easy way out, but a two-state solution seems to me the best of several unsavory possibilities at the moment. It also need not be “permanent,” in the sense of it being something to last centuries. It ought to last, however, long enough for reasonably civilized alternatives to be seriously considered, rather than rejected out of hand, or be demanded immediately.

    • Submitted by bruce fisher on 04/15/2015 - 06:01 pm.

      What’s wrong with Muslims, Jews, Christians & others living in one country that is a democracy with minority rights to protect the minorities from the majority? The only issue that wouldn’t be served is the Zionist Dream, but there would be a democracy with civil & human rights for all. That’s not so bad. The Zionists could move on & those Jews in Israel who want a permanent majority & who don’t want to live in peace with human/ civil rights for all could follow them. Those Jews that were happy to live in a liberal democracy would stay. I think the majority of Jewish Israelis would stay. The Zionists would have other opportunities to create a Jewish Homeland.

      • Submitted by Matthew Levitt on 04/15/2015 - 11:41 pm.

        Sounds great!

        Let’s start with Iran. Or Iraq. Or Saudi Arabia. Or Yemen. Or Egypt.

        Then we can try Israel.

  5. Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 04/16/2015 - 07:25 am.

    Easy explanation

    It’s clear why Jews vote Democratic – they still see the world through rose-colored glasses (of course, Jews who came from the Soviet Union know what happens and vote Republican). Mr. Ben-Ami seems to talk a lot about two-state solution and how good it is for Israel but has he addressed how to resolve Palestinian refugee problem? Or how will he prevent Hamas’ takeover of West Bank in a Gaza fashion? Or how to ignore Gaza if Abbas wants to include Hamas in his government (after all he always claim to be a president of all Palestinians)? Should Israel help rebuild Gaza? What to do about next war with Hamas?

    Mr. Rovick, I am glad you posted the link to the Economist article. If one reads it, it is absolutely clear that the reason for all “dislike” for Israel is pure anti-Semitism – just check the slogans of those protesting Israel’s actions. As for Netanyahu’s words, I want to point out that he is mortal and, at 65, he has 10 years at power, at best. Unfortunately, it would take a miracle to change the situation in the Middle East within that time to make a two-state solution a reality so what he said is true for all practical purposes however much he may want to have the situation resolved…

    I also wonder why people who are ready to let Iran have their nuclear facilities despite UN resolutions are the ones that are against a single Israeli settlement left in the West Bank. After all, can Jews live among Palestinians?

    Mr. Titterud, can you explain who attacked Israel in 1948? Obviously, by that time, Israel had not had time to create any enemies… Also, where is the biggest prison in the world? Where do you think North Koreans live? Or Cubans? But anyway, Palestinians are free to go to other countries, for example, Lebanon… but wait, they cannot even work there… and Egypt doesn’t let Gazans out.. . And what is virtual apartheid? Did you mean imaginary? And of course, I have already addressed the “pariah” and ‘isolation” thing – pure anti-Semitism. As for moral corruption, what do you think of Hamas?

    Mr. Schoch, I would guess it is hard for you, living “thousands of miles away,” to understand what a war for survival is. It is not pretty and sometimes bloody and forces to make difficult moral choices but it was always imposed on Israel by its “implacable enemies,” the ones that Israel did not create. If you defend your house from an intruder, you may be forced to kill him…

    Mr. Fisher, can you name me one country in the Middle East where Jews, Christians, and Muslims live in a democracy (except Israel, of course)? Is it realistic to expect your multi-faith democratic state to be than just a utopia? I can see Christians slaughtered all over there… and I can remind you that Jews were expelled from all Arab countries…

    • Submitted by Neal Rovick on 04/16/2015 - 08:43 am.

      While you may want to call all opposition to Israels’ actions antisemitism, the referenced article makes it very clear there is a wide range of motivations behind the responses to Israel’s actions.

      Can you name the famous “antisemite” in the following quote ?

      “Go up to the land flowing with milk and honey. But I will not go with you, because you are a stiff-necked people and I might destroy you on the way.” When the people heard these distressing words, they began to mourn and no one put on any ornaments. For ********* had said to Moses, “Tell the Israelites, ‘You are a stiff-necked people. If I were to go with you even for a moment, I might destroy you. Now take off your ornaments and I will decide what to do with you.’ ”

  6. Submitted by David Lloyd-Jones on 04/16/2015 - 08:26 am.

    What’s The Problem?

    20% or so of the population of Israel are Arabs, many of them Moslem.

    What’s the problem with a similar percentage of Palestine being Jewish?

    Seems to me the settlements are just giving Palestine a leg up with their housing.

    -dlj.

    • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 04/16/2015 - 09:14 am.

      The only time

      that Palestinians are allowed in the settlements is to a job that Jews won’t do.
      The settlements are on the most desirable land, and scattered around so that they and their connecting roads (that Palestinians are not allowed to use) eliminate the possibility of a viable Palestinian state.
      Bibi is talking about a future Palestinian state while making in impossible in practice. He will allow a Palestinian state two days after the arrival of Meshiach.
      J-Street’s point is that a constant state of war with a culture 100 times your population has only one long term outcome, no matter how many hundred nuclear weapons you have.

  7. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 04/16/2015 - 09:17 am.

    This actually one of the most frustrating dialogues

    I’ve found that some otherwise rational and intelligent people can get quite hysterical when you try to discuss this issue.

    I think it’s obvious that the Israeli policy towards the Palestinians over the last 50 years has been to impose something akin to the Indian Reservations in the US. Reservation’s are “Dependent Sovereignty’s”, with limited independence. There are several problems with this model. First, it was only imposed on American Indian’s as a product of genocide, which is not an option for the Israeli’s. Second, it hasn’t “worked” out well for American Indians so why would the Palestinian’s accept it? Third, clearly Palestinian’s want an actual State of their own, they don’t want to live on Palestinian Reservations.

    In the meantime, things have gotten worse. The PLO looks tame compared to Hamas. And while Hamas can never threaten the existence of Israel, the loss of good will, support, and alliance that the ongoing oppression of Palestinians is provoking could do far more damage than Hamas could ever hope to inflict.

    It get’s frustrating because a two state solution is obviously the only solution that can bring peace, yet you get stuck in a circular arguments with pro-Israeli advocates who inevitably accuse you of Antisemitism for promoting the only workable peace plan.

    It’s been interesting to Chomsky’s view begin to emerge as the challenging paradigm in the last few years. Chomsky was talking about a two state solution back in the late 60s early 70s and he was denounced as self-hating Jew. You still hear this but his view is becoming more respectable.

    There’s an interesting debate between Chomsky and Dershowitz on Youtube that pretty much illustrates this whole discourse, it’s worth a listen:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3ux4JU_sbB0

  8. Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 04/16/2015 - 06:38 pm.

    Sad

    Mr. Rovick, I guess “Death to Jews” and “Hamas, Hamas, Jews to the Gas” are purely anti-Israel slogans in your mind and firebombing synagogues has nothing to do with anti-Semitism either… And this http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/24/world/europe/europes-anti-semitism-comes-out-of-shadows.html?_r=0 is also just a joke… As for “wide range of motivation,” when Israel is accused of things that others commit with impunity without any reaction, that is what is called anti-Semitism.

    Mr. Brandon, do you suggest Israelis pack and go because there are so many Arabs around them?

    Mr. Udstrand, will you please explain to me why, if the Palestinians want the state of their own, didn’t they take in 1948 or any time before 1967? Now, I do not see how those who (sincerely) promote a two-state solution may be accused of anti-Semitism. They are naïve and do not get the real picture but that is an entirely different matter. And Chomsky is not accused for promoting a two-state solution but for constantly blaming Israel for everything while giving Palestinians a free pass.

    • Submitted by Raj Maddali on 04/16/2015 - 07:57 pm.

      Very Sad

      And what about “Death to Arabs”, “Drown the Palestinians”. And finally what about the apatheid Israel imposes on Palestinians. Doesn’t fit so well with your definition of Israel being the only democracy either. Which any way is a totally false statement.

      Nobody wants Israelis to go anywhere. Except back to the land that was given to them by the world. Taking other peoples land and making endless excuses is not some moral high ground.

      Because , as Mr Gutman fully knows, before 1967 Palestinians wanted full rights in the entire land. And then the settlements started, It was and continues to be a deliberate attempt to dispossess a people off their land. Notwithstanding the endless excuses couched in “morality”

      • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 04/17/2015 - 09:26 am.

        Apartheid

        is too strong a term.
        Blacks in South Africa under apartheid (get the spelling right) had no political rights and were required to live in ‘Bantustans’ — separate enclaves. You would never find blacks and whites (or even Indians, another category) living in the same apartment houses.
        Palestinians within the State of Israel, on the other hand, have full political rights, and even serve in the armed forces.
        The problem is with Israel’s apparent attempt to annex the rest of Palestine (the ‘West Bank’) without becoming a nation with a Palestinian majority. Thus the choice of remaining Jewish or remaining a democracy.

    • Submitted by Neal Rovick on 04/16/2015 - 09:27 pm.

      You wonder why people don’t want to engage in discussion with conservatives like you/?

      You don’t do nuance. Black or white, Right or wrong. Israel all the way or antisemite.

      An article that mentions a wide range of reactions, and you seize on the most offensive and then you attribute those views to me.

      How dare you!

      You don’t know me.

      All that this proves is that there is a good reason why open and free-ranging discussions are not to be had with you.

    • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 04/16/2015 - 09:59 pm.

      As usual you misread what I said

      My point was that Israelis are always going to face hostile Arabs, and will always be a minority.

      I do not think that it is at all certain that they can maintain military dominance forever. In an area as small as the Middle East, hundreds of nuclear weapons are overkill, and it is not possible to prevent any nation (or group such as ISIS) from purchasing nuclear weapons from sources such as Pakistan. As I said earlier, the nuclear genie is long out of the bottle. If Israelis are dependent for their survival on military dominance the odds are against them in the long run. I am not optimistic about two competing cultures coming to peaceful terms with each other — the world’s history provides few examples.

      As a Jew I am aware of antisemitism. I suspect that I’ve lived in rural Minnesota (Mankato in my case) longer than you have (I’ve been here 45 years). I’ve experienced relatively little overt antisemitism, but I know that it’s there.

      As for a Palestinian state, one might also argue (and Israeli historians such as Bennie Morris have) that Palestinians had a state of their own before 1948. From their point of view, the British gave them a choice between accepting half of their state or none of it (the British had a bad habit of giving away things that they didn’t own). I don’t think that the Arab approach was well advised — their fellow Arabs were more concerned with their own dominance struggles than with supporting the Palestinians. For instance, the best trained and equipped Arab army in 1948 (Jordan’s) stayed on its side of the border because it was more worried about it’s Arab neighbors than it was about Israel. Otherwise the outcome might have been quite different.

      The creation of Israel in 1948 was a necessity (largely due to Congress’s immigration act of 1923) and its existence is a fact. Our history has had too much Samson and Masada. JStreet has no interest in dying gloriously, nor illusions about eternal military superiority. I am not optimistic about the situation, but I don’t see a purely military solution as viable in the long run.

  9. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 04/17/2015 - 10:51 am.

    Colonialism by any other name…

    Mr. Gutman asks:

    “Mr. Udstrand, will you please explain to me why, if the Palestinians want the state of their own…”

    I won’t waste my time explaining the obvious but Mr. Gutman perfectly illustrates the colonial nature of this conflict, and the colonial mindset of some Israeli supporters. It’s not often discussed in that context but the essential feature of this conflict has always be that of a colonizer vs. an indigenous population. You have a colonial population capturing territory and settling on it.

    This is why the analogy with Reservations in the US is so useful, and I think the reason that Israeli leadership has adopted it.

    Now some will object on the grounds that Jews have some kind of historical claim, or that they are RETURNING to a homeland but such claims are not unusual colonial rationals. Manifest destiny was the claim European colonizers relied on when they “discovered” the America’s. There’s always a rationale, and I’m not saying the Jewish rationale is illegitimate, I’m just saying rationale’s don’t change the colonial nature of the Israeli State.

    So yeah, the colonial mindset is always: “What wrong with these natives? Don’t they realize we’re bringing them civilization, freedom, and prosperity?” “Why would they NOT want to live under our rule?” “Why would they want their OWN country or sovereignty?”

    Of course the colonial mentality is essentially incoherent in this regard. Frequently colonizers are fighting for their own sovereignty under the assumption that it’s their inalienable right to have it. The irony of making a sovereignty claim while standing on someone else’s land frequently escape the colonial mind.

  10. Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 04/17/2015 - 07:10 pm.

    Facts are facts

    Mr. Maddali, I was talking about what is happening in Europe and no one goes around there with “Death to Arabs” slogans but plenty do with “Death to Jews.” You probably refer to some instances of those slogans in Israel but there they (by few and seldom) are answered by Palestinians with guns, bombs, and missiles (and knives if bombs and guns are not available)… And I am sure that you know that Hamas and many other Palestinians and Arabs do want Jews to go away from Israel and the Middle East (as you said, before 1967 Palestinians wanted the entire land back and too many still want it). And then the settlements started… and by 1973 there was a total of… surprise… about 10,000 settlers, with over 8,000 living in East Jerusalem. So if not for a Yom Kippur attack on Israel, those numbers would not have been much higher now…. And of course, I gave you a definition of apartheid before and you still claim this nonsense. The same as that there are other democracies in the Middle East.

    Mr. Rovick, I did not attribute anything to you because, as you said, I don’t know you well enough (and I am sorry if you took it that way). You, on the other hand, at some point, stated that for me “the sun rises and sets at the will of Israel.” You can also attribute other things to me but all I was doing was responding to your statements and trying to disprove them. You completely missed (intentionally or not) my point when I said that when Israel is accused of things that others commit with impunity without any reaction, that is what is called anti-Semitism. So finding things that are wrong in Israel’s behavior and criticizing it is perfectly legit but when the same or much worse things committed by others are easily excused, anti-Semitism comes to mind as an explanation. Have you seen demonstrations in Europe against Hamas firing missiles into Israel? Or against Iran’s building “facts on the ground” (or rather under ground)? Or how else BDS movement can be explained since they do not care about anyone else in the world, including those who behave way worse than Israel and without any provocation. And some things are black and white, for example terrorism… As always, I debate only the issues and you have not found anything wrong with my facts or logic.

    Mr. Brandon, I am not optimistic either so we are in total agreement here. I think Israel’s military and nuclear deterrence will be there for a while but it is, of course, not the best way of living and it does not prevent terrorism. The problem is that granting Palestinians a state at the moment will not resolve anything either as Hamas will stay and will try to gain control in the newly created state, quite possibly by legal means, like in Gaza, and the things will only get worse (and of course, Hezbollah and its enabler Iran are always ready and willing to strike Israel). So in a big picture, the world has failed Palestinians in the same way bad parents allow their children to misbehave without consequences. If the world said, once and for all, until Hamas is gone or accepts Israel and terrorism is a thing of the past, no more help for Gaza and no more talking about Palestinian state, things would have been much better off for Palestinians (and also for Israel and the world). And by the way, changing regime in Iran would be a giant step towards peace between Israel and Palestinians since Saudi Arabia and other Arab states are much more moderate towards Israel now than they were 20-30 years ago…

    Mr. Udstrand, usually when people refuse to explain things because they are “obvious”, they do not have a good explanation… I also wonder if all Jews in Israel are settlers and colonizers (they are in the minds of many Palestinians and many on the left)… Interestingly, I have to admit that the only reasonable claim Arabs can make is that the UN did not have the right to create Israel to begin with (even though they did not complain when Pakistan and India were created out of another British colony) but in this case they cannot ask the same organization for any help.

    As for colonialism and “colonial mindset” in general, I want to point out that Rhodesia was Africa’s breadbasket and look where it is now. And when Israel came to the West Bank in 1967, it was not building settlements, as I mentioned before, but hospitals and schools and was investing heavily and, as a result, GDP per capita rose 7% annually from 1968 to 1980, life expectancy rose by 10 years and infant mortality was halved. But that was not what many powerful players in the Middle East wanted and the first Intifada broke out in 1987 and everything went downhill after that…

    • Submitted by Raj Maddali on 04/17/2015 - 07:53 pm.

      Fiction are not facts.

      Iif “Death to Arabs” happens in Israel, it doesn’t count i guess. Because it did not happen in Europe. Great. And then of course blame the usual. Hamas. Nice isn’t it. Reason for settlements, Hamas. Reason for apartheid, Hamas. Reason for ignoring UN Resolutions, Hamas. I think i see a pattern here.

      Just as Arabs want Jews to go away, there are Jews who want Palestinians to go away. And guess who’s more successful. Or is that because of Hamas, too ? It’s funny how you pretend that Palestinians who were born on that land have no rights.

      I’m sure you’ve given me a definition / explanation of apartheid before. I don’ recall. But let me guess its Hamas. You’re entire series of excuses are to blame everyone and everything else for the dispossession of Palestinians.

      When you disposes people of their land they’re going to fight back. I don’t like it. My solution is to stop the dispossession. Your solution is to blame everyone else.

  11. Submitted by Raj Maddali on 04/17/2015 - 07:58 pm.

    More fiction

    ” The problem is that granting Palestinians a state at the moment will not resolve anything either as Hamas will stay”

    Every year for the past fifty years plus, Israelis and their supporters have made the same excuse. Just replacing a few words with the word de jeur.

    “reasonable claim Arabs can make is that the UN did not have the right to create Israel to begin with (even though they did not complain when Pakistan and India were created out of another British colony) but in this case they cannot ask the same organization for any help.”

    Actually it was the people who lived in India and Pakistan who separated those countries. And yes, a lot of third world countries complained when Palestinians were given no voice in their own destiny when the UN with American help screwed them over.

    “When Israel came to the West Bank in 1967, it was not building settlements, as I mentioned before, but hospitals and schools and was investing heavily ”

    Israel has never paid for nor built any of the infrastructure on the Palestinian West Bank and Gaza. That’s a totally false statement.

  12. Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 04/18/2015 - 12:32 pm.

    Some info

    Mr. Maddali, the conversation was about anti-Semitism in Europe which is why your example was irrelevant. And yes, there is a pattern here – terrorism, and Hamas as its main supporter and enabler at the moment, is the reason for many things as it should be. I wonder how you would feel if your neighbor’s main goal would be to kill you and that goal would be out in the open and the police would only tell you to get along with your neighbor despite your neighbor’s multiple actual attempts to kill you… And sure, you can assume that you moved into that house by court order against your neighbor’s wishes and you have a gun at your home and your neighbor is limited to baseball bats, knives, and arson. I can even grant you that you, once in a while, after several firebombs have been thrown into your window, come and beat up your neighbor… Wouldn’t that neighbor determine your entire life? And wouldn’t you resist allowing your neighbor to own a gun?

    The difference between Arabs and Jews is that many Arabs want the Jews to go away completely while some Jews just want Palestinians to go away from a small area. But I also want to know when you say “dispossessed,” do you mean entire Israel or just West Bank and Gaza?

    Apartheid is “racial segregation” (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/apartheid) – what does it have to do with Israel?

    People in India could not decide anything since Britain was the ruling force there so it was British decision to do it and both newly created nations accepted that. That did not happen in Palestine even though an idea was similar. And no, the third world countries did not complain for a simple reason that they didn’t exist at that time. In the UN though only 13 countries voted against partition, and only two of them were not Muslim.

    And finally, please read this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Al-Shifa_Hospital, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economy_of_the_Palestinian_territories.
    So Israel did build hospitals (I didn’t want to waste my time finding more examples) and Palestinian economy and lives improved drastically when Israel was governing those areas (read the first two paragraphs of “history” section in the second link) and then deteriorated again when PA came to govern.

    • Submitted by Raj Maddali on 04/18/2015 - 08:20 pm.

      More info

      “Mr. Maddali, the conversation was about anti-Semitism in Europe which is why your example was irrelevant”

      Irrelevant or inconvenient. After all, per capita i would bet the racist element in Israel is higher today than in Europe. Hey if you have a racist as a Prime Minister, that’s a good start in the per capita count

      ” I wonder how you would feel if your neighbor’s main goal would be to kill you and that goal would be out in the open and the police would only tell you to get along with your neighbor despite your neighbor’s multiple actual attempts to kill you… ”

      Was that before you kicked your “neighbor” out off his land ?

      “Wouldn’t that neighbor determine your entire life? And wouldn’t you resist allowing your neighbor to own a gun?”

      No i would first ensure that i treat my “neighbor” as a human. Not imprison him and “wonder” why he fights back. Plenty of conflicts have been solved in this world by treating the “neighbor” with respect and not ginning up excuses to screw him off the rest of his land.

      “And yes, there is a pattern here – terrorism, and Hamas as its main supporter and enabler at the moment, is the reason for many things as it should be.”

      Hamas is an excuse. What does Hamas have to do with settlements in the West Bank. Nothing. Just another excuse in the long line of excuses.

      “Arabs and Jews is that many Arabs want the Jews to go away completely while some Jews just want Palestinians to go away from a small area.”

      “Some Jews”, you mean the entire crowd that supports and build settlements on land seized from Palestinians. Including ministers in the Cabinet who openly call for their expulsion and apartheid. And they get the power of the state to act on some of their desires. Big difference.

      Apartheid. When Israeli politicians themselves acknowledge that Israel is moving towards Apartheid, your attempt to restrict it to racial segregation is rather irrelevant.

      “People in India could not decide anything since Britain was the ruling force there so it was British decision to do it ”

      Another falsehood. Mountbatten, the last Viceroy acceded to the requests of Jinnah. And if you read the history of the UN vote on Israel plenty of countries , including India , complained about it and the arm twisting into forcing certain countries to vote.

      A quote on Al Shaifa hospital from the very Wiki Link. Perhaps you missed the word showcase project. Must be really hard to prove that Israel pays for Palestinian infrastrtucture, because they don’t. A totally false assertion by you

      “The hospital underwent a major Israeli renovation in the 1980s as part of a showcase project”

      Again from the Wiki link. Talking about growth rates is convenient, especially when you start from a base line of near zero. The only “contribution” Israel has to the Palestinian economy is when they open the “prison” gates. And you can’t point to anything else.

      “The import and export prosperity in Palestine was impacted by the border restrictions and constant Israeli control in the West Bank and Gaza, which also weakened the industrial and agricultural sectors.”

      • Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 04/18/2015 - 10:50 pm.

        Mr. Maddali, yes it was irrelevant – if we are talking about dogs, bringing up cats is indeed irrelevant. I do not like bets but please proof your statement about a number of racists in Israel. And if you are at that, you may estimate a number of Palestinians who hate Jews and want them out… while most Israelis do not support settlements…

        You never answered my question what you consider “dispossessed,” but I did account for that in my example – remember I said that you moved in by court order? And I highly doubt that you would be treating your neighbor as a human after his multiple attempts to kill you… – only the saints would do that. On the other hand, is Israel treated with respect in the neighborhood? And no one is imprisoned even though attempted murder is a felony…

        Hamas doesn’t have anything to do with the settlements but it does with Israeli’s attitude – no one wants to be murdered and no one wants to be blackmailed…

        If some left wing Israeli politicians say that Israel is moving towards apartheid, it doesn’t mean anything. And last time I pointed out that moving is not the same as being there…

        Of course, you confirmed my point that it was Britain that made a decision to partition India. Yes, many people wanted it but in Palestine many people wanted it, too… And, as I said, only 13 countries voted no on Palestine partition and 11 of them were Muslim…

        Of course, your statement that Israel did not build anything in the West Bank and Gaza is not a proof of anything. Showcase or not, this hospital was renovated by Israel. And why do you think Palestinians’ lives improved so much after 1967 as my other link shows? And the growth may have started near zero but why didn’t it improve before?

        • Submitted by Raj Maddali on 04/19/2015 - 09:41 am.

          Fiction is fiction

          Mr Gutman, you’ve provided no proof or poll that shows Europe is awash in anti-semitism either, But somehow we are supposed to take it as fact that such “fact” is true. The leader of Israel, is a racist. Based on his own statements. And there are plenty of polls that reflect such attitudes in Israel today.

          http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/the-new-israeli-apartheid-poll-reveals-widespread-jewish-support-for-policy-of-discrimination-against-arab-minority-8223548.html

          You wish to harp on anti-semitism and ignore racism, because that would be very, very convenient. Not because it’s irrelevant.

          Dispossessed. Simple as defined by the United Nations. Next

          Again, you never answered what Hamas has to do with settlements in West Bank. Your response on “attitudes” belies the falsehood that Hamas is the reason. Simply stated, its a deliberate attempt by Israel to disposes these people. And the excuses are just endless.

          Again, Britain never partitioned India. It acceded to the wishes of the people who lived there. And after partition EVERYONE was granted full rights.

          ” And, as I said, only 13 countries voted no on Palestine partition and 11 of them were Muslim…” <--- A false statement. India, Greece, Cuba voted against the resolutions also. "Of course, your statement that Israel did not build anything in the West Bank and Gaza is not a proof of anything. Showcase or not, this hospital was renovated by Israel. " In fifty plus years of Occupation, you can't point to anything built by Israel. Except a single showcase renovation. I've proven my point. Everything is for publicity, and when you dig below that the story changes.

          • Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 04/19/2015 - 12:38 pm.

            Facts are facts

            Mr. Maddali, here is a poll about anti-Semitism in Europe http://www.adl.org/assets/pdf/israel-international/adl_anti-semitism_presentation_february_2012.pdf . As for the poll results in Israel, I have already said that Hamas and terrorism affect Israeli’s attitude and sometimes not in a good way but at least there is a reason for that poll results. There is no reason for Europeans to be anti-Semitic. And of course, I am not even talking about attitude towards Jews in the Arab countries…

            I did not find a definition of “dispossessed” by the UN… can you help me? Does it include Jews expelled from the Arab countries?

            Actually, I did answer what Hamas has to do with settlements – nothing. Hamas is the reason for Israelis attitude towards Palestinians and peace talks. Are you going to say that terrorism does not affect how Israelis feel? And of course the way Israel was treated from the very beginning (not in a good way to say the least) is a big reason, too. But getting back to settlements, I proved that until after the Yom Kippur War there were really no settlements… And the economic and social progress made by Palestinians in those years is a poof on its own of Israel’s good will. Otherwise, why did it happen – you never answered that question?

            Britain partitioned India – it owned it – based, partially, on wishes of Muslim part of the population, but not Indian. British Parliament passed a law about that. Why couldn’t Britain also partition Palestine? And yeah, only 10 countries voting against were Muslim, I forgot about Cuba…

            • Submitted by Raj Maddali on 04/19/2015 - 04:55 pm.

              More Fiction is still fiction

              A survey by ADL , which is a pretty self serving organization lacks credibility. You don’t have govt. leaders in European capitals making racist statement like Israeli leaders do. Big difference.

              http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-28853221

              The Pew survey also reports lower levels of anti-Semitic sentiment than suggested by the ADL survey. For France, the Pew survey suggests 10% of people have unfavorable attitudes towards Jewish people, which contrasts with the ADL poll’s suggestion that 37% of people in France are anti-Semitic.

              You may want to attend the UN conference next time it happens.
              “SPEAKERS IN SPECIAL MEETING TO MARK 60 YEARS OF DISPOSSESSION OF PALESTINE
              http://unispal.un.org/UNISPAL.NSF/0/05533C691C42EE8C8525747100815F5D

              Jews expelled were compensated with the land of Israel by the UN. And i’m counting those who were encouraged to leave by the state of Israel from those countries too.

              Economic progress indicates the entrepreneurship of Palestinians. Israel did nothing, absolutely nothing for the Palestinians.

              “Why couldn’t Britain also partition Palestine?” – Did they ask the natives? Partition of India was a decision accepted by both sides. Not forced on one side. And furthermore partition of India was among people who lived there. Mountbatten sat down with Indian and Pakistani leaders. He did not sit down with the US President behind closed doors and shove it down the Indians throat.

              The 67 borders for a state was a compromise for the Palestinians. Your words “attitudes” clearly shows that Israel and its leaders make up any story to continue the dispossession of Palestinians. Your “attitudes” don’t make my rights. That era in the world ended a long time ago.

              Simply stated you can’t in this world have people on side of the street have full rights and people on the other have none. You can make up any excuse but it simply doesn’t fly.

              • Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 04/19/2015 - 09:03 pm.

                You cannot make facts into fiction

                Mr. Maddali, we were talking about anti-Semitism in Europe and even your BBC reference admits that this is a problem and supports its high level (and 10% is a very high level) for a group that hasn’t done anything wrong to the Europeans (actually, the opposite is true). And of course, some of those anti-Semitic incidents are just murders. On the other hand, I wouldn’t call Haaretz and UK Independent exactly unbiased sources… By the way, what was the racist statement that the Israeli leader made? And of course, you completely ignored my question about the level of anti-Semitism in the Arab country and in the West Bank and Gaza…

                The UN may have any conference it wants and plenty of them are anti-Israel so I want to see an official definition of “dispossessed.”

                You already tried to bring this myth that expelled Jews were compensated with land in Israel and never provided a proof of that. Is there any?

                How come “entrepreneurship of Palestinians” did not bring any progress before Israel came in 1967 when you said everything started from almost zero? It would be reasonable to assume that it should have brought better results without Israel, under Jordanian and Egyptian rule, wouldn’t it?

                British partition of India was accepted by both sides but it was pushed by Muslims. Pakistan Resolution demanded that, “…the areas in which the Muslims are numerically in majority as in the North-Western and Eastern zones of India should be grouped to constitute independent states…” The same should clearly be applicable to Palestine where areas with Jewish majority (yeah, Jews did live there) should have been given to the Jewish state – exactly what the UN did. But the Muslim league did not accept it in clear contradiction to its position in India. Indians accepted that partition so they now have a state. Why would the UN give the Arabs a veto power over the partition decision in Palestine?

                You said that the word “attitude” show that Israel make up stories. Do you mean to say that Israel makes up stories about terrorism and about missiles coming from Gaza?

                All people in Israel have full right, no matter what side of the street they live. However, some people in, let’s say, Lebanon, don’t have many rights if they live on the wrong side of the refugee camp border. Are you aware of that?

                • Submitted by Raj Maddali on 04/20/2015 - 10:51 am.

                  Can’t create fiction and claim they’re facts.

                  10 % percent anti-semitism as compared to 40 percent plus racism in Israel. Let the reader decide where exactly lies the problem. Haaretz was not the poller. It was Pew. Your cries of anti-semitism in Europe while comparing it to open racism in Israel sound rather weak now.

                  You asked what the UN meant by dispossession. I pointed you to a conference. You could learn everything about dispossession by reading up on that. Now you move the goal post. Same old same old.

                  The land was not divided equally among the residents who lived there. The original partition for Israel more than compensated. They got the majority of the land for a minority of the residents. Are you going to deny
                  that.

                  ” The same should clearly be applicable to Palestine where areas with Jewish majority (yeah, Jews did live there) ” – If the Land was divided by majority Jewish areas, the Israeli granted would be much smaller. Indians accepted the partition, because they were involved in the decision and the areas to part. Palestinians were completely left out. Big difference.

                  Got any statistics to prove that Israel helped the economies of West Bank and Gaza. Prior to 1967 their economies were with Egypt and Jordan. Got any statistics to prove they were stagnated. You can’t prove a single project paid for by Israel but wish to continue claiming that Israel was responsible. Sounds rather weak.

                  The word “attitude” bellies your claim it is for security that Israel occupies Palestinians land. Cause crying Hamas has proven to be a canard. Now it’s “attitude”

                  No “all people in Israel” don’t have full rights. Ask the millions of Palestinians with no rights. Do we continue to pretend they don’t exist.

                  • Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 04/20/2015 - 07:17 pm.

                    Fact always stay facts

                    Mr. Maddali, the poll about Israel was conducted by “Dialogue Polling Group” which by its name implies a left wing enterprise, not the Pew, so its credibility is questionable. But it still did not show any racism (and I am not even talking about the fact that racism by definition applies to different races only); it showed how Israelis see Palestinians in the current situation meaning after 70 years of attacks and terrorism which many Palestinians within Israel do not condemn. If one asked the Russians about their opinion about Germans in 1945, the result would be easy to predict. The same here: the poll is a reflection of Palestinian behavior towards Israel. So there is no racism in Israel. And of course, you never answered what the Palestinians think of Jews…

                    OK, I looked through that link you provided and, as I expected, it is fully one sided Israel bashing event. It is all about Palestinian right of return and does not say a word about expelled Jews. As I said before, Palestinians did not accept the UN plan at the beginning so they can’t ask the UN for help now. I even checked – if someone refuses an inheritance, all the rights in the future are lost.

                    You said that Israel got more land but there is no proof that it was allocated specifically for future Jewish refugees from the Arab countries – it is purely your imagination. And of course most of the land given to the Jewish state was the Negev desert not suitable for any use at that time and where no one lived. All areas given to Israel had majority Jewish population. And Arabs were invited to be a part of the solutions but they refused to cooperate.

                    I gave you statistics how Palestinian lives improved after 1967 and how few settlers were living there for a while – isn’t it a proof of Israel’s good will and help to Palestinians? There is no other explanation and you haven’t even attempted one. And I did give you a hospital project built by Israel – which is logically a proof that your statement that Israel didn’t build anything is wrong (to negate a claim of “never” or “none,” it is enough to provide just one example to the contrary).

                    The word “attitude” shows what Israelis think. They think this way because of their experience with terrorism. As normal people, they want to do anything and everything in order not to be killed by terrorists. And Hamas is a terrorist group meaning that Israel’s actions are caused by Hamas. That is why Israel can’t agree to give West Bank to Abbas: It already gave Gaza to him and Hamas took over and started three wars. One has to be insane to do the same thing again in the West Bank.

                    All Israelis have equal rights, including Palestinians which you can’t say about Palestinians in any Arab country except Jordan. How come you did not comment on situation in Lebanese refugee camps? Are they the Palestinians you want to ask about their rights?

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