Trouble on J Street
The discussion which led to this post began, of all places, on Twitter. Shai Gluskin, a Reconstructionist Rabbi whom I’d met on a train four years ago, was monitoring the J-Street Conference this week, as I was. I posted several comments about J Street and it’s formula for peace, he noticed and followed me (that’s a Twitter term), and we got into a discussion about what it means to be pro-Israel, what it means to be Pro-Peace, and, in Shai’s words, the “terms of engagement for Jews who disagree.”
Someone wrote to the Twitter account of the Republican Jewish Coalition that “Making pro-Israel advocacy a partisan issue weakens the pro-Israel lobby and weakens Israel.” I believe this individual felt that the Republican Jewish Coalition should not have commented on the fact that someone was at the J Street conference recruiting for a “freedom march” in Gaza. I responded, opining that it “Can’t be worse for ‘Pro-Israel’ than defining expansion of a Hamas terrorist base as ‘Pro-Israel’.”
Shai Gluskin: “Where did you get the idea that J Street wants ‘expansion of a Hamas terrorist base?'”
YM, in a six part series: There’s this place called Gaza, which Israel left, and which Hamas soon took over and operated as a terrorist base. // When Israel (finally) took action against Hamas, JStreet called it collective punishment of the citizens of Gaza // JStreet did so despite Hamas using the populace as human shields and Israel avoiding civilians to an *unprecedented* degree // JStreet calls for the U.S. and Israel to negotiate with Hamas terrorists, who will be part of a two-state solution // Those who do not recognize that the obvious result will be an expanded Hamas terrorist base are, in Eric Yoffie’s words, appallingly naïve. // QED what JStreet is working for is an expanded Hamas terrorist base, whether they recognize it or not.
While Twitter seems an extraordinary way to waste time for many people (do you really need to know when your friend is headed to the mall?), it has its uses. For those unfamiliar with it, Twitter allows postings of only 140 characters or less — that’s why the above was a six-part series. While a blog can be used for quick postings, it is hard to put up a two-line comment alongside the well-crafted articles that others, especially Rabbi Rosenblum and Rabbi Shafran, are also putting in print in other, more traditional outlets. Twitter offers the opportunity to make a short comment about an interesting article or fact which might or might not evolve into a post (often because of time constraints). So if you use Twitter, you’re invited to follow my account if you care to know (or respond to) what might be my next topic here.
Indeed, that’s what happened in this case, because six lines was already testing the limits of what Twitter is designed to do. In order to respond, “RabbiShai” turned to his own blog. And although you can find a dialog between us in the comments there, I also wanted to provide a more complete response, and an analysis of some of the issues many have with J Street. I’ll attempt to address his points, and we will probably continue in the comments in both places. You are, of course, invited to contribute your thoughts as well.
To begin at the beginning, Shai published under the heading “Response to an Assertion that Promoting a Two-State Solution isn’t ‘Pro-Israel’,” which isn’t quite what I said. My statement was that “JStreet calls for the U.S. and Israel to negotiate with Hamas terrorists, who will be part of a two-state solution” — and this was, perhaps, ambiguous. I think everyone understands that Israel is headed towards a “Two State Solution.” However, I do not believe there should be a Two-State Solution involving Hamas governance, and if the US and Israel negotiate with them they will then be part of one.
This is but one of J Street’s critical mistakes. They critique the “myth” that “J Street favors the United States negotiating with Hamas,” by saying that “one makes peace with one’s enemies not one’s friends. Hamas is a political movement that has an important and significant base of support within Palestinian society and politics. Ultimately, a political resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will require Palestinian political reconciliation and we support efforts by third parties to achieve reconciliation and a unity government.” In other words, “we believe in talking to Hamas as long as they make nice with Fatah.”
One can only achieve peace through negotiation with those who will compromise. That’s what a negotiated settlement is all about, and “Pro-Israel” certainly requires a commitment to Israel’s continued existence. In order to achieve peace, Egypt and Jordan both officially abandoned the goal of eradicating the State of Israel. They reached this conclusion by repeatedly waging wars against Israel, and losing. Israel had to first defeat them, and do so repeatedly until they abandoned that objective.
Similarly, the PLO expressed the willingness to change its Charter. We can debate whether they were originally sincere, or whether Arafat intended all along to launch a second Intifada with a much better infrastructure in place. But no one questions that Hamas is unwilling to change at this time. Negotiating with Hitler led to disaster, and if the UK had responded to Germany’s attack upon Poland with a call for additional negotiations… let’s not go there. The problem with Hamas is not merely “its use of violence for political purposes,” but its belief that peace will be achieved through the eradication of Israel. Until and unless Hamas is willing to abandon its goal of a one-state solution, or it loses its “significant base of support within Palestinian society,” an expanded “Palestine” is going to be an expanded terrorist base, similar to what Neville Chamberlain “achieved” by handing Czechoslovakia to the Nazis.
Shai continues: “Israel left Gaza without a deal. Under the cover of angry settlers, and with the peace camp in Israel (and abroad for that matter) seduced, Sharon masterfully dealt a blow to Palestinian self-determination/statehood by unilaterally withdrawing from Gaza.”
This is a masterful job of historical revisionism, as if Sharon could have “seduced” the entire left wing and the entire international community, not to mention the Palestinian Authority, all of whom believed that Israel withdrawing from Gaza was a great idea. Shai also dismisses as “angry” the “settlers” who were encouraged by Israel to move to Gaza in the first place, only to see their homes destroyed and to find themselves living unemployed in trailer parks. I think we owe them a little bit more than a dismissive attitude. This was an incredibly painful step for Israel, and one which Israel took at the behest of the left and the international community. If this is truly the attitude of that same left wing after the fact, this simply exemplifies the sheer foolishness of taking the views of J Street’s supporters seriously down the road.
Furthermore, it infantilizes the Palestinians, as if they could no more control themselves than a two-year-old once given a shot at local self-governance. “Israel remained in complete control of air, land, and sea, contributing to an environment that would end up with Hamas in power.” This is untrue, of course, given that Egypt controls the southern border. But in addition, the surrender of Gaza was a clear sign of Palestinian objectives coming to pass — supposedly. If the citizens of Gaza had responded by building local government and building commerce, the border with Israel would be relatively open, just as it was shortly after the withdrawal.
It is absolutely true, as a Palestinian participant said at the conference, that “Pals. did not benefit from peace. Production base has dropped while population base grew. Result: per capita production dropped 50%.” But it didn’t start that way. Not only did the West Bank economy compare quite favorably to Jordan’s between 1967 and 1987 (the start of the first intifada), but there was a significant jump between 1993 and the launch of Arafat’s Second Intifada in 2000.
I have to detour here into a personal story, because I was in Israel, studying in Yeshiva, during that first intifada. At the time, the custodian in “Lakewood East” was a man named Mamoon (if I recall correctly), from the West Bank. He was very friendly, and everyone got along with him. He taught me how to say “I want to learn Arabic” in his native tongue, and on Purim he was very amused to find me outfitted in a suit, tie, artificial mustache and Arab keffiyeh. These were friendlier times.
Then there was a wave of stabbings, initiated by Arab employees at various Israeli locations. They didn’t attack military installations, they attacked children in schools, students in universities and yeshivos, office workers and people in their homes. And all of them were model employees up until that moment.
Undoubtedly, Shai will call it “racial profiling,” but our Rosh Yeshiva was unwilling to risk the lives of his students. Mamoon, who was supporting a family of over 10 children, lost his job. I think every one of us “knew” that he would never hurt us. Every one of us knew that he truly wanted peace, and the economic benefits of peace. And at the same time, none of us could question the wisdom of paying a little bit more, to hire someone else, from a community that wasn’t encouraging people just like Mamoon to pick up knives.
It is absolutely true that the Palestinians have not seen the economic benefits of peace. To blame that upon the Jews requires an extraordinary blindness to history. Before the second intifada, Israelis were pumping nearly $1 million every month into the Oasis Casino in Jericho, alone. But who would go there, after a pair of army reservists were torn limb from limb for the “crime” of making a wrong turn? Is Israel to blame for the fact that the GDP of the entire region was decimated?
Nor is the problem limited to the fact that no Israeli considers it safe to enter Palestinian-controlled territory. When the Gaza withdrawal took place, the hydroponic greenhouses of Gush Katif were among the most advanced in the world. And American Jews paid to insure that those greenhouses were delivered intact to the Palestinian Authority. They set the stage for Palestinian greenhouses to sell lettuce throughout Israel and other countries as well — it was the Palestinians who had other things in mind, destroying millions of dollars of Palestinian property, and sacrificing tens of millions of dollars of future revenue on the altar of blind hatred.
Shai refers to a “prescient” interview with Haifa University demographer Arnon Soffer, “widely considered to be the architect of the disengagement” back in May, 2004. However, he claims that to Soffer, the Gaza “disengagement” was “a necessary step to defeat a Palestinian statehood and put coals on the fire of a war of attrition,” which is nowhere to be found in his actual words. On the contrary, Soffer speaks with obvious sadness as he predicts that Gazans “will bombard us with artillery fire” from the day after the disengagement. He predicts a “human catastrophe” because living in a closed-off Gaza without an Israeli military presence, “those people will become even bigger animals than they are today, with the aid of an insane fundamentalist Islam.” “It’s going to be a terrible war. So, if we want to remain alive, we will have to kill… If we don’t kill, we will cease to exist. The only thing that concerns me is how to ensure that the boys and men who are going to have to do the killing will be able to return home to their families and be normal human beings.”
To characterize the war as something to which Soffer was looking forward, as something that would “defeat” the Palestinians, is to willfully misread. He regarded it as a necessary step to preserve the existence of the State of Israel: “at least the war will be at the fence — not in kindergartens in Tel Aviv and Haifa.”
Furthermore, he said “if a single missile is fired over the fence, we will fire 10 in response.” And did that actually come to pass? What happened while 8,000 missiles were fired at Israel from Gaza? What happened after Hamas kidnapped an Israeli soldier, an obvious act of war if ever there was one?
In response to my statement that Israel waited too long to respond, Shai writes, “Israel never stopped taking action against Hamas and other targets in Gaza. Cast Lead was on a whole different scale. According to the IDF over 1100 Gazans, human beings created b’tzelem elohim, died in that incursion. What, actually, was the urgency of that? We are talking about human lives, every bit as endowed with the divine as ourselves. Please explain the urgency.”
The statement that “Israel never stopped taking action” is simply false. Before Cast Lead, the only thing Israel did was engage active participants coming to attack Israel. At a kindergarten. It is ridiculous — and, I must say, repugnant, at least to me — to claim that Israel “shares blame” if it responds to missile fire, whether before or after the missile.
During Cast Lead, Israel took unprecedented efforts to avoid civilians. Israel took action to stop the terrorists who were making not only the civilians of Sderot, but those in much larger cities throughout the Negev, targets. Not only did Israel not treat Gaza City the way the US treated Dresden and Hiroshima, but it did not treat Gaza City the way the US treated Kabul and Baghdad. As for its urgency, the proof is in the pudding — it was successful. An eight-year-old child living in Sderot no longer needs to know the location of every bomb shelter between her house and that of her friend down the block.
If Shai doesn’t appreciate the urgency, it is only because he did not ask his old friends at Kibbutz Nir Am what their life was like one day before Cast Lead.
There is no moral equivalence developed through body counts or the accuracy of weapons. J Street was notably silent during the entire period when Hamas was shooting rockets at Israel’s children. J Street was even silent when Hamas ended the “cease-fire” and unleashed 10 days of particularly harsh attacks (on civilians, as always), attempting to prove that J Street’s few allies in the Knesset would leave the nation paralyzed. The moment that Israel took action, that’s when J Street reached the conclusion “that escalating the conflict will prove counterproductive, igniting further anger in the region and damaging long-term prospects for peace and stability.”
J Street seems to believe that it is both Pro-Israel and Pro-Palestinian, as its leader declared at the close of the conference. But it only criticizes Israel. Apparently, according to J Street, the “appropriate” response would have been for Israeli vigilantes to launch Qassam rockets at kindergartens in Gaza. Or to do nothing, and allow its own citizens to be terrorized, traumatized, maimed and killed.
In conclusion, I did not say that J Street wants a terrrorist base, and I continue to think that that is obvious to any honest reader — not something which required clarification. As for the charge that JStreet is working for an expanded terrorist base, yes, that’s what I said. And I believe the facts are reasonably conclusive on this point — and that those on the ground, in Israel, agree. J Street was unable to muster up even 10% of the members of the Knesset to sign their names to a Washington Post advertisement heralding the conference.
Shai is not so sure. He concludes that “you might be right and I might be wrong.” And he’s right, I’m no prophet and I could be wrong. I’m just not willing to gamble the survival and mental health of millions of Jewish schoolchildren on the idea that Hamas will spontaneously experience a change of heart if given the entirety of the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem. After all, the PLO was founded in 1964.
OK, let me put this into perspective. I am not a friend of J Street and doubt that any orthodox Jew is. I freely admit to being bias for the existence and security of the State of Israel. If something can be interpreted in more than one way, my bias is to give Israel the benefit of the doubt. Everyone I know of in the pro Israel community is concerned about J Street, so there is something to be concerned about.
However, this is not the only issue here. Why are so many young Jews not interested in Israel, why are fewer Jews concerned and identified with Israel. Why do Jews vacation every place but Israel? What percentage of the Jewish community gives any tzedakah to Israel?
The answer to do with assimilation. If I am prejudiced for Israel, it is because of my sense of identiy. Many others don’t have that deep feeling in their kishkes , they feel sorry for the under dog. The peopel in Gaza have a miserable existence, that’s a fact. The people in Judea and Samaria have to pass numerous check points and obstacles and many are unemployed because they can’t freely enter Israel. Of course, there are reasons for that,like survival of Isaelis. JStreet is a modern version of the Bund or the Communists, or any other secular group that wanted integration of the Jews into the larger panorama of the world. The fact is that J Street has involved Jews who are otherwise uninvolved Jewishly, can we do anything positive about that or do we write them off. What do you think?
Regardless of its membership or the J in its name, J Street has thrown in with our enemies. We’d be better off now if they were totally neutral and uninvolved. We might fantasize that we can channel their drive and activism into Jewish activities, but that’s not happening in the short run.
We should treat the Jews in the group appropriately as individuals, while trying as hard as we can to make their organization fail.
J Street repeats leftist canards that have been discredited over and over again.
You don’t make peace with your enemies. You smash them to bits and then impose peace. Don’t believe me? A war is won, not negotiated away. Find me one peace agreement that was written after both sides mutually agreed to hug and make up.
Further, there is the continued belief that a two-state solution is the way to peace. Unfortunately no one on the other side actually endorses that. Yes, they endorse the two state solution but they don’t go further and say there will be peace, just more demands and threats of war. Anyone who has closely followed the “peace negotiations” since the Egyptian-Israel peace treat know this: the other side isn’t interested in peace. Thus supporters of Israel understand that although perpetual hostilities are a lousy option, they are still better than unilateral surrender.
L. Oberstein: The fact is that J Street has involved Jews who are otherwise uninvolved Jewishly, can we do anything positive about that or do we write them off. What do you think?
Ori: The positive thing you can do is argue with them, politely as Rabbi Yaakov Menken is doing. A good argument is a sign of respect, if I argue with you it means I think you are wrong, but not bull headed.
It’s hard to see how they’d do anything positive in relation to Israel(1). But if you build a relationship through arguments, you might be able to get them to do something in their own communities.
(1) For one thing, they’re incredibly arrogant to believe they know what’s right better than the people who see the situation every day and put their lives on the line. And yes, the same applies to Americans who support the other side in Israeli politics. It’s not our job to try and tell Israel how to run its security policy.
There was a recent article in one of the Yeshivish newspapers, probably Yated Neeman. This article stated that most Jewish employees of the J Street organization have converted to Buddhism and intermarried with Gentiles.
During the 2008 USA Presidential election campaign, J Street sabotaged the anti-Iran rally by persuading Malcolm Hoenlein to disinvite Sarah Palin, because Hillary Clinton (the former boss of J Street Director Jeremy Ben Ami) decided to not attend the anti-Iran rally.
When I worked for Jeremy Ben Ami, he pronounced Ben Ami as one word, so it rhymed with the word ENEMY. He also repeatedly lied to me and my co-workers by claiming that his projects had emergency priority when they were just regular priority projects. He drove us crazy with his false emergencies.
The possuk in this week’s parsha should be the starting point for any analysis:
Ve hu yihyeh pere adam, yado bakol, ve yad kol bo, ve al pnei kol echav yishkon.
Garnel Ironheart: A war is won, not negotiated away. Find me one peace agreement that was written after both sides mutually agreed to hug and make up.
Ori: The US-British Empire war of 1812 and The Peace of Westphalia. However, that is pretty rare, especially across cultures.
Smashing the enemy, though, is not enough. The allies did it to Germany in 1918, and Israel to the adjoining Arab countries in 1967. You need to make the kind of peace the defeated enemy can live with.
i would strongly recommend reading carefully the blog account on the blog of the velveteen rabbi http://velveteenrabbi.blogs.com/blog/
to see the conglomeration of leftists, non-zionists, anti-zionists , pluralist [jewishly speaking] etc trying to find their place in that org, and the message they feel they can upperhandedly emplace. after all, the percent of US jews believeing in jewish rights over the green line shrinks daily , and that is in step with the president 80% of them voted for,,,,,
Shai continues: “Israel left Gaza without a deal. Under the cover of angry settlers, and with the peace camp in Israel (and abroad for that matter) seduced, Sharon masterfully dealt a blow to Palestinian self-determination/statehood by unilaterally withdrawing from Gaza.”
Wow! That’s a new LW canard that even the most pompous,delusional Israeli academic or the editorial board of Haaretz couldn’t dream up!
The mistake that J Street and many assimilated Jews make is that it is extremely un-PC to actually take Hamas at their word
Why that is the case I don’t know!
The fact is that J Street has involved Jews who are otherwise uninvolved Jewishly, can we do anything positive about that or do we write them off. What do you think?
Comment by L. Oberstein — October 29, 2009
According to this logic, when that obnoxious,vulgar miscreant Sara Silverman told kids to vote for BHO and pressure their Bubbies and Zaydies to do the same, something positive came out of it, and maybe these kids went to visit their grandparents?
Ori is right. Israel has learned that winning a conventional war isn’t enough. Now, the problem is no longer army vs army which Israel can win, but missles from Iran. As long as the Arab and Muslim world finds it hard to accept reality and as long as they live in denial, what can we do? Their culture teaches them never to admit failure, they even had a victory parade in Gaza after the latest campaign. Modern Israel was founded on the naive hope that anti semitism would disappear if we were a normal people. As previously stated “az och in veih” ( I corrected the spelling as per the explanation in a previous post.)
Ori: You need to make the kind of peace the defeated enemy can live with
Israel has attempted to do so many times, starting in 1967; their overtures were rejected practically every time, stating in 1967, with the “Three No’s of Khartoum” (NO peace with Israel, NO recognition of Israel, NO negotiations with Israel).
What you need most of all is a partner for peace and Israel doesn’t have one; all the wishing in the world won’t change this fact. As Abba Eban famously said, “The Arabs never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity”.
Ori, I’ll grant you the War of 1812 but it has a good reason for being a famous exception. First of all, the American goal was a quick and easy conquest of Canada. When they had trouble advancing more than a few kilometres across the border, they lost interest in the war but were stuck because the British kept fighting.
As for the British, they were an ocean away and involved with Napolean. They never put more than a half hearted effort into the North American war effort either.
But I disagree with your second statement. A peace the enemy can live with is useless because the enemy will use any sign of goodwill from the victor to undermine their loss and re-arm for a rematch. The 1967 example is especially pertinent. After Israel retook Yehuda and Shomron, they built schools, electricity lines, running water and hospitals. They raised the standard of living, life expectency etc. of the local population. Surely something the conquered could live with? And what did it get them?
1.OK, let me put this into perspective. I am not a friend of J Street and doubt that any orthodox Jew is
J Street is funded by George Soros,that should be a red flag to any sane human being,regardless of his being an OJ!
“The fact is that J Street has involved Jews who are otherwise uninvolved Jewishly, can we do anything positive about that or do we write them off. What do you think?”
J Street has “involved” hundreds of leftists, including Jews, in working against the wellbeing of Israel and her citizens. Maybe a second group called I Street can “involve” hundreds of people in working against Sabbath observance (in the interests of the physical and financial health of Jews)… And H Street against kashrus and tefillin (in the interests of Jewish health and animal kindness)… etc. etc.
Under the circumstances I think ‘writing the group off’ is the gentlest possible response.
“Smashing the enemy, though, is not enough. The allies did it to Germany in 1918, and Israel to the adjoining Arab countries in 1967. You need to make the kind of peace the defeated enemy can live with.”
“Peace” occurs when one side abandons its desire to fight. Ergo, Japan post-WW2 is one of America’s strongest allies. Germany post-WW2 is another of America’s strongest allies.
The Soviet Union abandoned its desire to fight in Afghanistan in the late 1980s and subsequently withdrew. Ergo there was Soviet-Afghan peace. Russia abandoned its desire to attack Japan following its defeat in the Russo-Japanese War. Ergo there was and is Russo-Japanese peace.
China and North Korea both abandoned their desire to fight large-scale wars after the 1950s, and so Taiwan and South Korea presently enjoy a fairly peaceful and stable existence.
One side usually abandons its desire to fight when confronted with the overwhelming strength of the opposing side or the simple unachievabality of its (former) strategic goals. That heavy acknowledgment of reality is the sine qua non of international peace.
Garnel Ironheart: But I disagree with your second statement. A peace the enemy can live with is useless because the enemy will use any sign of goodwill from the victor to undermine their loss and re-arm for a rematch. The 1967 example is especially pertinent. After Israel retook Yehuda and Shomron, they built schools, electricity lines, running water and hospitals. They raised the standard of living, life expectency etc. of the local population. Surely something the conquered could live with? And what did it get them?
Ahron: “Peace” occurs when one side abandons its desire to fight. Ergo, Japan post-WW2 is one of America’s strongest allies. Germany post-WW2 is another of America’s strongest allies.
Ori: I didn’t explain myself properly. A peace the former enemy can live with isn’t a weak willed “we’ll let you do stuff you like, and if you want to rearm why not”. Arguably that’s what the US did with Germany in 1918, and we all know how well that turned out. After WWI Germany stayed occupied for longer, and even when it got its sovereignty back there were a bunch of US troops, who would have reacted if anybody came up with the bright idea of attacking France again.
A peace people can live with requires more than building schools and running electrical lines. A big requirement in a conquered territory is to police it. During the first intifada, Israel proved itself unable or unwilling to protect those Arabs that had cooperated with it. Now it’s really hard to find Arabs in the territories who’ll agree to cooperate with Israel.
JoelG — Quote Abba Eban all you like, but he was a supporter of Peace Now.
If Israel is to win the hearts and minds of the younger generation we need to be more pro active. Birthright is a good example of something pro active. We have a situation when many Jewish kids on college campuses do not understand why they should be pro-Israel.Their world view was not formed in their Hebrew School classes or their Confirmation Class. Jewish Eduxcation in America is sometimes worse than useless. Outreach is the province of the orthodox and the other groups are not really committed enough to do “kiruv”. The anti Israel forces are committed and do outreach. They reach a different element than Jews for Yoshky (that’s what we called him in the South). There is a reason that Jews became socialists and communists in the previous generation, it isn’t all their fault. Soros is a product of a very assimilated self hating Hungarian culture where Jews were ashamed to admit they were Jewish. His mother converted to Catholicism after her husband died. She was mad that his second wife happened to be Jewish. His father was buried in an Esperanto ceremony, these Jews invented a languague and wanted world unity. When you have billions of dollars you think you know everything.
My main problem with some of your commenters is that they don’t get the context, they don’t see the overall ramifications, they just see what is in front of their eyes from their point of view. We have to be more educated and know history and put things into context.Othewise we will fail as miserably as the orthodox Jews have done for two centuries trying to stem the tide of assimilation. J Street are a bund of modern day Bundists. But, they attract idealistic kids.
This isn’t a full response to Yaakov or to the other commentators.
Yaakov wrote, “Undoubtedly, Shai will call it ‘racial profiling.'” Please let me speak for myself. Whether it is racial profiling or not does not speak to whether the Rosh Yeshiva was acting morally in that situation. It sounds to me like he was acting morally in the situation you describe. I’m not sure what point that story is supporting.
Yaakov wrote regarding the greenhouses that American Jews paid to protect so the Palestinians could use them after disengagement. The Palestinians destroyed those greenhouses immediately after disengagement: “… it was the Palestinians who had other things in mind, destroying millions of dollars of Palestinian property, and sacrificing tens of millions of dollars of future revenue on the altar of blind hatred.” This was a good example of how unilateral withdrawal set the Palestinians up for failure. If a deal had been made with Fatah, then Fatah could have taken credit for getting rid of the Israelis and leveraged it in all kinds of ways. One thing they could have done is orchestrate “the Israelis are gone” catharsis in all kinds of ways that didn’t involve destruction. Sharon had no interest in letting any Palestinian group take credit for anything. Part of making a deal with an adversary includes letting your adversary take credit for things.
The Palestinian Authority was not thrilled with disengagement. They were thrilled with the settlers being evacuated. Those two things are completely different.
Here is one of the most important paragraphs from the Soffer article:
I appreciate Soffer’s willingness to look at the situation from the Palestinians perspective. However, I disagree with Soffer’s pessimistic estimation of negotiating with Palestinians. So, whereas Soffer concludes that one has to separate and out-last the Palestinians in a perpetual conflict with the Palestinians, I conclude that the problem with Oslo is that Israel didn’t offer the Palestinians enough.
Yaakov, your analysis about Jordan and Egypt needing to be beaten thoroughly as a pre-requisite for making peace with Israel is not necessarily accurate, and even if it were, it doesn’t apply to the Palestinians. First on the accuracy of that statement, it is more likely that it was the massive casualties that Egypt inflicted on Israel at the beginning of the Yom Kippur war that allowed Egypt to make peace with Israel with it’s head tall as opposed to coming to the peace table humiliated. It’s very difficult to negotiate from a stance of humiliation. And even then, it doesn’t really apply. Jordan and Egypt are not fighting for their own self-determination. The Palestinians are.
Finally for tonight… Comparing negotiating with Hamas with appeasing Hitler is a real stretch. Hitler was in command of the number one or two military industrial complex in the world. Hamas is fighting with primitive weapons.
As one of the more well known left wing frum internet commenters, you might think that I would be a supporter of J Street. And you would be wrong. I was invited to attend their recent conference but decided not to. One reason was that I am very busy with my job, but another was that I felt that I had very little in common with J Street. Among the things I noticed from their web site:
1) Not one single American lending their name in support of their organization whom I could identify as Orthodox.
2) The only speaker at their conference whom I could identify as Orthodox was Rabbi Michael Melchior, whom I respect a lot but does not make up for a set of speakers otherwise completely lacking in Orthodox representation.
3) Nothing on their site that I could find gave even lipservice to the importance of the Land of Israel to the Jewish people throughout history.
4) Nothing on their site that I could find acknowledged the rampant anti-Semitism that exists in much of the Muslim world today, nor an acknowledgement of the total rejectionist attitude of Hamas and Hezbollah who have started two wars against Israel in the past four years.
J Street does not represent me.
I hadn’t realized that Rabbi Michael Melchior was a speaker at J Street. I have met him and at one time was enamoured with his prior political movement, Meimad. Of course, he had Rav Lichtenstein and the other Rosh Yeshiva in Gush as a cabinet member. The head of the party was Ravetsky, who unfortunately is not well.Now, Melchior is a king without a country and he is out in the cold. When I visited him, he was a cabinet minister and a voice for tolerance. Iguess that he felt going to J Street would give him an opportunity to be on the stage again and he also agrees with a lot of their ideas . Many Israelis agree with the key ideas of the left, but are disillusioned that the Arabs are phony and don’t really want to make a deal. It’s not that the idea is stupidf as much as that there isn’t the mentality on the other side to make any deal. The parameters of the final deal are well known and most of those who live in denial should just be happy that the only thing that stops a two state solution is the mental illness of the Arabs. If they weren’t such fools, Israel would have retreated a long time ago. That’s the real truth. Maybe and maybe not, time is on their side. Maybe their birth rate is slowing, maybe other factors witll come in.The Arabs are waiting for someone else to help them. Like those Jews who prefer to wait for the Messiah and not lift a finger. If you really care about Israel,you can’t put out of your mind that the whole exisitence of the State is hanging by a thread. We really do need Moshiach.
Does anyone know what Rabbi Melchior actually said to the J Street audience?
Regarding foolish Arabs (L. Oberstein’s 11/1/2009 comment), I agree that many of them are foolish to have turned down peace offer after peace offer, but I don’t think the people who lead Hamas and Hezbollah are fools at all. They know very well that a peace agreement will end any possibility of their dream of a middle east free of almost all Jews. That is why they must fight on no matter how much it negatively affects the people for whom they claim to be fighting.
I appreciate your response here. First of all, I agree with you that our yeshiva was in a situation where racial profiling was necessary and correct. It has every bearing on the current situation, because it, like the destruction of the hydroponic greenhouses in Gush Katif, demonstrates the extent to which the Palestinians have ignored opportunities for economic advancement and the “benefits of peace.” Israel’s security barrier, which J Street and its allies decry as an “apartheid fence,” was built for precisely the same reason that Mamoon lost his job. Gaza’s borders are closed to most civilian traffic, again over the strong objections of J Street, for the same reason as well. If you understand why the Rosh Yeshiva was acting morally, then why do you not believe that Israel is acting morally when it closes Gaza’s borders and builds a security fence in response to ongoing terror attacks?
First of all, the Gaza withdrawal was absolutely not regarded as a “humiliation” by the Palestinians, and Fatah was prepared and did, in fact take over. I don’t know how you managed to rewrite this stuff, but it was on live video when it happened. Currently the Palestinians are demanding a total settlement freeze before resuming negotiations (for some reason, J Street blames Netanyahu for failure to resume negotiations, when it is the Palestinians who are refusing to come to the table). So we are to believe that a non-negotiated freeze would be good, but a non-negotiated withdrawal was bad. I’m sure you realize that this comes across as totally incomprehensible.
Furthermore, deal or no deal, the destruction of the greenhouses was done by a Palestinian mob. It represented the thinking of the Palestinian street, regardless of its government. It certainly did not sound like the actions of a group of people interested in their financial advancement and making peace.
You disagree with Soffer’s estimation of negotiating with Palestinians, because you believe it is acceptable for the West Bank to have no Jews, while simultaneously giving Arabs the right of return to Tel Aviv. [I am sure you are aware of how many Jews Israel has absorbed from Morocco, Syria, and other countries in response to Arab pogroms.] There can be — and will be — negotiations, but Palestinian expectations must be realistic. Arafat stormed away from the table when Barak offered him far more than Oslo, far more than any Israeli today, after years of terrorism and Hamas in Gaza, would ever accept (there’s a reason why Obama, whose thinking is so in line with J Street, has a 4% approval rating in Israel). What you regard as negotiable, every Israeli regards as untenable.
The “right of return” would simply bring the Arab “population bomb” within the Green Line. If you are willing to discuss a “Right of Return” for Palestinian Arabs, you are willing to negotiate away the existence of the Jewish State. I realize that J Street calls Israel a “democratic” rather than “Jewish” state, but for most of us, being pro-Israel means believing that Israel should remain a Jewish state.
You also make much of this one article by one individual. If you are going to do a more complete response, I do hope you will directly address the belief of religious Muslims that the expansion of Islam is a religious tenet, as found in the Koran, and that the existence of Israel on formerly Muslim land violates that tenet. The relative absence of Xtian anti-Semitism and true friendship towards Israel in the US is due in considerable part to a version of their theology which continues to regard Jews as the Chosen People, and their return to Israel as a positive thing. This is in contrast to an alternate version of their theology which considered the Jews doomed to wander the earth in exile until they accepted the tenets of Xtianity. See David Brog’s “Standing with Israel” for a more complete explanation.
In the Muslim world, belief that Islam must expand is a common belief. It is incorporated into the Hamas Charter, and even moderates in the Muslim world believe that there will eventually be another war and Israel will eventually be destroyed.
In closing, you did not argue the fact that Hamas, like Hitler, wishes to exterminate the Jews; you merely argue that it is different because Hamas has relatively primitive weapons. I don’t believe this adequately defends the idea of giving them a larger base of operations from which to pursue an agenda of murder and extermination.
David Weinberg, a Director of Public Affairs at Bar Ilan University wrote an excellent article about J Street in the 2009 October 30 edition of The Jewish Herald on page 13. I wish that I could reprint the entire article here, but instead I will extract one short quote about the beliefs of J Street followed by one short quote about their tactics:
“If only American Jews would and Israelis were more religiously dovish and in touch with the forgiving and compassionate side of their Jewish souls, we would do the ‘left’ thing and concede to the Palestinians. Then, lo and behold, peace would come to the Mid-east.”
“…J Street has spent most of its resources bashing long-standing supporters of Israel, calling them extremists…”
Dear Rabbi Menken,
You refer in comment #23 to the closure of Gaza to civilian traffic. This is in fact something Hamas brought about itself. Israel has no power to “close” or “blockade” Gaza on its own as Gaza has an international border with Egypt. And in fact the Rafah border crossing was open from 2005 and 2007. However, after Hamas seized power in a violent coup, it reneged on the agreement that had kept the border open: The agreement called for PA border security officials and EU border observers. These were unacceptable to Hamas. My understanding is that the EU border observers are still in the region — in Ashkelon, Israel — and could be back at the Rafah crossing within hours if Hamas would return to the pre-2007 agreement. You might want to mention these facts in the future when you argue with those who blame Israel for Gaza’s problems!
The EU Border Assistance Mission in Rafah official site:
(I disagree with you regarding President Obama’s attitude, but that is for another discussion.)
Yaakov, again with the caveat that this isn’t a full response…
I think it is worth taking a stab at defining some distinctions in our world-views. Just as I believe Judaism and the Jewish people are diverse, so do I believe that Islam is not one thing. As I believe that Judaism changes, so I believe that Islam changes. As I believe that I can change, so do I believe that other people can change. I also believe that all people share certain basic needs and behave in similar ways in certain contexts, even as I affirm that different cultures have different values and mores.
I do not believe that Islam versus Judaism/Christianity is an inevitable or permanent conflict that must be carried out by violent means.
Hamas’ agenda of “murder and extermination” (your words) is one that I believe comes out of powerlessness and humiliation and could change if Palestinians achieved, power, self-determination, and the opportunity to live a dignified life.
You made several references to Palestinians working against their own economic interests. Self-determination and national pride are not the same as economic interests.
I’m interested in looking at some primary sources re: disengagement. However, your assertion that I’m re-writing history without providing any primary sources yourself is just that, an assertion.
Your comparison of the value of a non-negotiated settlement freeze by Israel now to a negotiated withdrawal vis-a-vis disengagement does not make sense. Your analysis continually distorts the power dynamic between Israelis and Palestinians. You portray Palestinians as powerful and Israelis as week. Might this relate to the point that you see it as a very high value for Jews to be able to live throughout Eretz Yisrael and I don’t?
If I were someone who believed that it is a basic Jewish right to live in Chevron, I would feel quite vulnerable by the prospects of new negotiations that likely would terminate those rights. Yes, that is important to understand. I think people who advocate closing Jewish settlements or otherwise impacting upon the belief systems of Jewish constituencies must try to see things from the perspectives of those people.
At this point, my own estimation in weighing those competing values would give priority to the needs of the Palestinians achieving self-determination than to the desire of some Jews to live anywhere within Eretz Yisrael.
Regarding a “right” to live in Chevron: I go ballistic whenever I hear of some WASPy suburban enclave that tries to keep Jews out. Kal v’chomer when the place is in the Land of Israel, a place that is mentioned repeatedly in the Bible, has been important in our history, and had had a Jewish community from time immemorial until 1929.
I will believe that the Palestinian leaders truly want peace when they accept that Jews can live safely and peacefully in places like Chevron under Palestinian rule. Why is it that everyone agrees that Palestinians can be full citizens of a Jewish state (something I wholeheartedly support) but that some seem to think that Jews can’t be citizens of a Palestinian State?
More to follow, but it took about ten seconds to find an archived statement to prove that you had engaged, however unintentionally, in historical revisionism.
Shai, you insisted that “the Palestinian Authority was not thrilled with disengagement” (emphasis yours). Mahmoud Abbas, President of the PA, declared that the disengagement was “a day of happiness and joy that the Palestinian people have not witnessed for a century.” At that point, nearly a full year had elapsed after the Knesset announced the disengagement, and PA Police trained for months under the EU COPPS program to take over in Gaza and maintain order. The PA was both overjoyed and considered itself fully ready to take over.
Read the first article, by the way, for a better understanding of Palestinian respect for Houses of Worship (as an official position, with Abbas himself declaring they would be destroyed). Their version of self-determination and national pride involves razing synagogues.
Shai, I compared a non-negotiated freeze to a non-negotiated withdrawal. Abbas is, at least, consistent. The idea that a non-negotiated freeze is good, but a non-negotiated withdrawal is bad, is to logic as a pretzel is to a straight line.
Xtians did not change their theology given power, self-determination, and the opportunity to live a dignified life, which they had during centuries of persecution, pogroms, inquisitions and expulsions. Meanwhile, the more fundamentalist strains of Islam are growing, not shrinking, throughout the Middle East, full of countries now flush with oil money, unprecedented power and dignity.
Personally, I have absolutely no interest in living in Hevron. I’d like people to be able to live peacefully in Jerusalem, Tel-Aviv, BeerSheva and Sderot, but you are in line with JStreet when you continue to claim that anyone who objects to calling these views “pro-Israel” must be unwilling to trade land for peace under any circumstances. That, too, is false, leading to a third myth debunked in one comment…
Yes, I understand the comparison you are attempting to make. I left out “non” in my comment above. The issues are entirely separate. Re: settlement freeze: it is understood by everyone that the point of negotiations is to lead to a Palestinian state with the bulk of Israel being within the Green Line and Palestine being on the other side. And everyone knows that Israel wants to make some changes to that to keep the big settlements in Israel. But it is a relentless act of bad faith to continue the growth settlements in the context of entering into negotiations.
Doing withdrawal unilaterally as opposed to via an agreement was itself a hostile act. I agree that removing settlers was not a hostile act. So it is complex. But saying no to negotiating with Fatah on the withdrawal was a continuation of the “there is no partner” campaign which, ultimately, is a part of denying the Palestinians self-determination.
Your proof text about Abbas being happy doesn’t prove anything. Also note that it was Israel’s own plan to destroy the synagogues but didn’t complete that in advance of withdrawing. Again, a set-up to create images of hate. And both sides can take blame on that.
It’s obvious that Abbas would try to take credit for getting the IDF and settlers out of Gaza and proclaim his happiness, but that is totally transparent self-serving attempt to take credit for something which any Gazan could see wasn’t true. The point is that the disengagement without a deal had the affect of strengthening Hamas.
Yaakov, when did I say that? Maybe there are indeed assumptions I’ve made about your oppinions. Maybe at times I’ve confused you with the people leaving comments here or the people responding to your Twitter account. So maybe just answering the question straight would be the easiest. What are the circumstances under which you would be willing to accept land-for-peace with the Palestinians?
So now you’re forced to reach to the point of saying that Abbas’ show of unbridled enthusiasm, calling it “a day of happiness and joy that the Palestinian people have not witnessed for a century,” was nothing more than a facade. I do wonder — how do you know when it’s genuine and when he’s making it up? It can’t be because he was speaking in English, because then, when Arafat said in English that it was peace, and in Arabic that it was a hudna, a two-year cease-fire that Mohammed later broke in his pursuit of conquest, you would have said that Arafat, too, was just faking it in English.
Israel didn’t destroy the synagogues because MK’s strongly objected to the idea that Jews would destroy a synagogue. You call it a “set-up,” but the fact is that the Palestinians did no better with the synagogue at the grave of Yosef. They hardly needed a set-up, they merely showed their colors.
You continue to infantalize them. Abbas simply said useful things on TV. The people couldn’t help themselves, they just had to destroy synagogues. But, you insist, place them two minutes from our homes, and they won’t feel any similar desire to destroy them too.
There’s a reason very few Israelis feel this way. You’re just totally out of touch with the reality on the ground.
Speaking of which, the reality is that there are Arab settlements inside the Green Line, and Maaleh Adumim on the West Bank. Do you honestly feel that Israel should dismantle Maaleh Adumim and keep those settlements, or do you share the opinion of those, including previous US administrations, who say the obvious solution is a trade of territory? Must both sides stop building, or do you only think Jews have to stop living and growing in their homes?
I’d accept land for peace if it meant peace, it’s as simple as that. Peace is what we have with Egypt. Peace is not what we will get from Hamas.
I had not made the J Street/ M Street (Meimad) connection.
Meimad busied itself with simplistically delegitimizing those to the right of Meimad (at the expense of its own message, if any). In the case of the disengagement, Meimad labeled those religious Jews who were against the disengagement as valuing land over life — as if you could not value life and be against the disengagement.
J Street is proving itself a worthy counterpart to Meimad.
How am I infantalizing the Palestinians?
Abbas is a politician. He’s trying to take credit for stuff. He’s trying to lead the people to a better place but understands he’s got to be in touch with the “street” or he’ll lose his legitimacy as a leader of his people. It’s not easy for Netanyahu and it’s not easy for Abbas.
From the Palestinian perspective, Israel relentlessly imposes its will on the Palestinians. Whether its military ground incursions, aerial raids, the closure, targeted assassination, the creation of the State of Israel, the Palestinians are on the receiving end of other people’s decisions. There is a psychological term called, “projective identification” that I think might provide a useful analogy here. Let’s say I’m suffering; I feel incredibly alone in that suffering. I might, subconsciously, do things to cause my wife to suffer in order that I not feel alone; that my partner might understand what I’m going through.” For my wife this would be a total disaster, of course. It wouldn’t make us closer; it would more likely cause her to leave me. Someone who uses projective identification in this way to get closer to someone is sick and needs help. So in the analogy, Palestinian elements train and recruit suicide bombers in order that Israelis should feel as vulnerable as they feel. This analogy does not justify suicide bombing in any way. The husband/wife thing doesn’t quite work because Israelis and Palestinians aren’t trying to “marry” one other. But we certainly are in a “relationship” with them.
Did you infer from what I wrote that I favor evacuating Maale Adumim. I never said that. We might have to trade a lot for that. That is one reason I was against the building of Ma’ale Adumim. I was against the building of Kiryat Arba in 1974. But indeed they are “facts on the ground.” And what do the Arab villages inside Israel have to do with the fact that there are Jewish settlements across the green line? You aren’t suggesting that Israeli Arabs would be forced to live in Palestine, are you? By the way, I also think that Israelis should be allowed to live under Palestinian rule in Palestine. (I’m not talking now about the border swapping previously discussed.)
You find justification for Cast Lead killing 1100 Palestinians (according to IDF numbers) but can’t understand why Palestinians are angry enough to violate Jewish holy places? The cycle of mutual victimization, de-legitimization, and revenge goes on and on and on.
Yaakov, you said of me, “You’re just totally out of touch with the reality on the ground.” The Israeli government bulldozes “illegal” houses in East Jerusalem. The Israeli government destroyed a large number of homes as well as infrastructure in Gaza, and doesn’t let building materials in for rebuilding. Kvish shesh (Road 6) adds huge convenience to Israeli lives, cutting driving times in half while the people living in visible site of kivish shesh on the other side of the wall can barely move. Refrain for a moment from blaming them for their own predicament and really take a look at their predicament. “It’s only Jews that must stop building?”
Oh, another thing re: Abbas. The alternative narrative on the Palestinian side was from Hamas which took credit of ousting Israel, which, from a Palestinian perspective made more sense than Abbas taking credit. What’s Abbas supposed to say, “The Israelis leaving is a bad thing because they were supposed to negotiate with us and give us credit and it’s no fair that Hamas’ version makes more sense to the people.”
J Street is proving itself a worthy counterpart to Meimad.
Comment by zalman — November 1, 2009
The difference being one are has been’s and the other will hopefully be has been’s!
We must use Koach HaTefillah to combat: J Street, all terrorists, all anti-Jewish propagandists, nuclear ayatollahs, anti-Jewish boycotts, and all those who seek to harm the Jewish people.
If Israel had been as “aggressive” as Shai Gluskin alleges, the threat from internal and external Arabs today would not be as serious. Instead, the government has naively sought to score points with the “world” by giving in to Arab demands at key points.
You asked how you are infantalizing the Palestinians, and then wrote: “Palestinian elements train and recruit suicide bombers in order that Israelis should feel as vulnerable as they feel.” Akin to your previous statement that they couldn’t help destroy synagogues, it just came bursting out, and we should sympathize.
Are you actually equating a defensive action in response to repeated acts of war, which required killing the terrorists who were engaged in those acts of war, with gratuitous mayhem? It is regrettable that 1100 people died, and Israeli soldiers didn’t go in to kill as many as they could (as you are fond of pointing out, the Israelis have much better weapons). Besides for the fact that most of the dead were Hamas terrorists, the rest of them were used as human shields by those terrorists, and the responsibility for their deaths lies exclusively with Hamas.
Hamas, you might remember, broke the cease-fire with a strong round of missile fire explicitly designed to provoke an Israeli response. For whatever reason, Hamas wanted these people to die, as they knew it would help promote their cause in the international community and with people like the Jews of J Street.
Your “explanation” of Hamas terrorism doesn’t even touch upon the profound importance of martyrdom in extremist Islam. You have the arrogance of a Westerner who thinks that religion isn’t really important, and if you hand people money and give them education, they will suddenly come around. Have you ever heard of this guy named Osama bin Laden, from the wealthy bin Laden family which is (from Wikipedia) “intimately connected with the innermost circles of the Saudi royal family?” What are you offering him, the Imams of Hamas, and their adherents, that competes with 72 virgins?
You see, you live in a world where you and only you know the real reasons that people say what they say and do what they do. Abbas really was disgusted and humiliated by the fact that Israel left Gaza, no matter his declaration that this was absolutely the most exciting day in a century. Hamas terrorists are just trying to make Israelis feel vulnerable too, it has nothing to do with martyrdom, eternal well-being and 72 virgins.
It’s impossible to debate with such a person. There are no facts that will change your mind, because the facts are entirely irrelevant to what you believe. And I, for myself, can only choose to live in the real world and react accordingly.
Your “explanation” of Hamas terrorism doesn’t even touch upon the profound importance of martyrdom in extremist Islam. You have the arrogance of a Westerner who thinks that religion isn’t really important, and if you hand people money and give them education, they will suddenly come around
Well said! But since people like Shai always think Israel is at fault,I guess the billions of dollars that the world gave Arafat to educate his people that he promptly squandered is the fault of Israel as well?
If what you say is true, how is it in Israel’s interest to be Hamas’ servant in fulfilling its goals.
You write you don’t approve of using human shields. Neither do I. This is a piece of evidence you use to show how evil Hamas is. Are you satisfied with the way the IDF has handled complaints about its own use of human shields? If part of the way we distinguish ourselves from Hamas is that they use human shields and we don’t, wouldn’t it be critical for us to take those accusations to the highest level of investigation?
I think Cast Lead is a lot worse than the “gratuitous mayhem” of destroying the synagogues in the wake of the disengagement. After 38 years of occupation, the Israelis evacuated. With no ritual, no agreement as we’ve discussed. It certainly isn’t an elevated human activity to destroy abandoned synagogues as a catharsis to mark the end of one aspect of the occupation. But neither did it kill anyone. Let’s say there were 1100 deaths from Cast Lead and 1095 of them were terrorists with “blood on their hands.” (I don’t agree with that ratio, but I’ll grant it for the sake of argument.) That would leave five more deaths of innocents than the gratuitous mayhem that caused the destruction of the synagogues in the wake of the disengagement.
Let me end with a return to a discussion of the “terms of engagement.” You wrote,
I described my “explanation” as something that “might [emphasis added] provide a useful analogy.” For you to claim that my putting forth an analogy is a claim to a full explanation of events is unfair.
I categorically rebut the claim you are making that I am asserting that only I know the “real reasons that people say what they say and do what they do.”
How about this as an alternative formulation for the critique, (Shai putting words into Yaakov’s mouth): “I strongly disagree with your approach which attempts to go beyond people’s own words in evaluating their motivations. Not only is it unprovable, but it infantalizes the people you purport to be speaking up for.”
That is a valuable criticism of my approach. I would respond by saying that I think it is important to apply many lenses. And that the words that have been quoted are only a limited number of the words that have been spoken by those people. Limiting ourselves to those words while exiling other realms of knowledge that we can apply, such as human psychology, would be arbitrarily limiting the tools we have to analyze the situation. However, I accept the warning that there are all kinds of potential dangers in not taking people “at their word.”
Yaakov, there are many reasons why this particular dialog should come to a close, not least of which is that we are busy people with lots of responsibilities. You’ve claimed that I think I have all the answers, but I’ve ceded several points to you. Have you ceded any points to me? Maybe you haven’t because you are right in every instance!
In your closure I seem to evaporate as a person, “It’s impossible to debate with such a person.” I don’t like being reduced from “Shai” to “such a person.”
Tell me differently, but you seem to have diminished this endeavor at dialog because, according to you, you haven’t “changed my mind.” Maybe this is the hazard of blogging and digital communications in general, but I’m disappointed at your minimizing the meaning of this dialog.
First off, I think your arguments will resonate with me in different ways over time. And I’m hopeful that mine will at least rumble through you at different times. And this is not to claim that we’ll agree with each other, but that we’ll have influenced each other.
I know one very practical result that I can promise will happen in the wake of this dialog: I can better stand up to “my people” when I hear them say, “those right wing orthodox people, all they want to do is shout.” I’ll then tell them, “You are wrong! Check out these URLs and see the degree to which Yaakov Menken and I engaged.” And then maybe some of them will will click through and be convinced by you, or at least opened up to think a little differently.
Shai Gluskin wrote, “I don’t like being reduced from ‘Shai’ to ‘such a person.’”
Shai, you reduced yourself once you turned on your people. No fancy footwork and argumentation can obscure that.
Bob Miller: Shai, you reduced yourself once you turned on your people. No fancy footwork and argumentation can obscure that.
Ori: Why do you think of Shai as an enemy, rather than somebody who is mistaken? He has faith that peace is achievable, and it’s as hard for him to “swallow” the evidence that Israel won’t have peace in this generation, in much the same way it would be hard for you to swallow a piece of pork(1).
(1) Assuming you knew it was pork, but Halacha required you to eat it.
If the long delayed “partition of Palestine” requires that Jews living in the territories have to relocate to Isreal, then it should require that the Arabs who live in Israel do the same. I support a two state solution but only if it involves a population exchange (or adding to the Palestinian state heavily Arab areas of Israel).
And frankly, I support the Jewish part of Israel. Democratic is much less important, if it involves Arabs voting in Israel.
While I agree with you that it is probably time for us to move on to other things, I’m not as certain that we haven’t been talking past each other much of the time. You now say you’ve ceded several points… my recollection is that you asked for primary sources about the disengagement, I provided a direct quote, and you said that Abbas didn’t mean it.
You ask why it was in Israel’s interest to help fulfill Hamas’ goal of creating martyrs. The alternative is to not fight terrorism. You keep acting as if Cast Lead was optional, questioning its urgency.
Let’s get it straight: living in poverty or in a “big jail” is not an abusive situation. For decades, Israel — which is no bigger than New Jersey and 9 miles wide in the middle, was surrounded by nations with which it was at war, on all sides. That wasn’t abusive. A child can grow up very happy in abject poverty. If you don’t believe me, come with me to Meah Shearim where they will show you how it’s done. As long as there is rice on the table, children can be happy.
But missiles raining on their heads is abuse. As a result of Hamas terrorism from Gaza, 70% of the children of Sderot show the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder.
In what way are you different than anyone else who witnesses horrific acts of child abuse, and fails to report it? You are fully aware of the situation as it was, and think its continuation was acceptable while Israel “negotiated”. Why are you different than any other accessory to child abuse?
The innocents killed during Cast Lead are the responsibility of the Hamas child-abusing terrorists who used them as human shields. I agree with you that their death is a tragedy, I just find your decision to blame Israel for protecting its children appalling.
You said that my description of your analysis of Hamas terrorism is “unfair.” But the salient point was that you entirely failed to address the religious origins of their extremism. You do approach this as a Westerner, and a religious liberal. I suspect that you, like about 99% of religious liberals, believe that your liberalism is the more “enlightened” approach. Therefore, give these primitives some money and some education, enlighten them a bit, and they will get over it.
Reality doesn’t work that way. There isn’t a case in human history where religious or ethnic warfare was abandoned because the fighters were given some money and some education.
At the most fundamental level, the average Palestinian Arab believes that Tel Aviv is stolen land. Not beyond the Green line, not limited territory, the entire package. The Hamas version of Mickey Mouse educates children in the glory of martyrdom — of killing themselves for the glory of Al-lah and taking with them as many Jews as possible.
You talk about the humiliation of Abbas because Israel left Gaza without negotiating with him (blaming Israel for the fact that the PLO stormed away from the table just being par for the course). Have you no concept of the investment made by Hamas in the one-state solution?
Hamas must change its mind, abandon terrorism and the goal of destroying Israel. That is a precondition of negotiations, without which, negotiation has no purpose.
Speaking of which, you asked previously where I learned that you favor evacuating Maale Adumim. Simple: you called it an “act of bad faith” to continue construction there. If you don’t believe it should be evacuated, then why on earth should construction be halted? If the goal is a negotiated peace where that settlement remains part of Jerusalem, Israel, then there is no reason on earth for that to happen, and it is an act of bad faith to demand it.
Shai, I didn’t say you were going beyond people’s words. That is obviously prudent behavior. To look at what people say in one situation, what people say in another, and how they act, and then judge from the totality, is just prudent behavior. But you are putting words into their mouths, and that is fantasy.
And as far as my words, I did not reduce you from “Shai” to “such a person.” I said that “you live in a world where you and only you know the real reasons that people say what they say and do what they do,” and that it is impossible to debate with such a person. Arrogating upon yourself the right to determine what Abbas really thinks in the absence of evidence, and to impute to these terrorists a series of motivations with no relationship whatsoever to their own stated goals and inspirations, means that facts are simply a minor obstacle to your preconceived beliefs. What ever facts may arise, you will simply create a hidden subtext in order to fit those facts into your prebuilt view.
Yes, I do think it means that further debate about the same topic will simply be talking around each other. If indeed others read our relatively civil debate and recognize some truths here, then perhaps what we have said so far will have enduring value.
YM: And frankly, I support the Jewish part of Israel. Democratic is much less important, if it involves Arabs voting in Israel.
Ori: Israelis have a lot of strong disagreements with each other. If they didn’t have democracy as a means of dispute resolution, they’d have to find some other solution. Because there are no authorities everybody accepts, it would probably involve violence.
Ori: Why do you think of Shai as an enemy, rather than somebody who is mistaken?
I certainly don’t. And for the same reason I thought it was a major mistake to call Rabin a “traitor.”
But by the same token, the Chofetz Chaim once said that one fool can cause as much damage as ten knaves.
I would like to ask Shai this question: Do you think that the decision of David Ben Gurion and his colleagues in the Zionist leadership to declare the State of Israel in May, 1948 was a mistake? If yes, what do you think they should have done?
Ori, I am fine with a Jewish Democracy, but I don’t think Arabs should have the right to vote. I believe that the effect of Arab votes in prior Knesset elections, going back to PM Rabin, have caused great damage to Israel by pulling the results of these elections greatly to the left.
In the present context, I would support Arab elections for a committee to represent them in relating to the government, but without the power to affect the balance of power.
James Kirchik’s article in *The New Republic* is worth reading. It describes many of the difficulties J Street has:
“And while Ben Ami is trying to assert his group’s Zionist bona fides, a number of speakers at the conference questioned the very idea of a Jewish state, and actually received loud applause.”
SOURCE: article titled: The Fork in J Street by James Kirchick, an assistant editor of The New Republic, 2009 October 31,