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A Far-Right Israeli Electorate?

Contrary to conventional wisdom, Israelis haven’t become radicals. They’ve just abandoned a delusion.

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Israelis hold posters of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and former Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman during the launch of the Likud-Beitenu election campaign on December 25, 2012, in Jerusalem. (Uriel Sinai/Getty Images)

Of all the questions about next week’s Israeli election—is the Labor party and the left finally finished; is Naftali Bennett the new poster boy for the right wing; will the new Knesset actually pursue a policy of annexing the West Bank—the one thing that there seems to be consensus about is that the next Knesset will be most radical right-wing government in the history of the Jewish state. According to the commentators, the new government will guarantee an end to the Arab-Israeli peace process and will set Israel on a collision course with the United States.

Well, not so fast. According to one recent poll, 67 percent of Israeli voters support a peace deal with the Palestinians. Even on the right, a majority said they back the prospect of two states for two people, with 57 percent of Likud supporters backing such a deal and 53 percent of those likely to vote for Bennett’s Jewish Home Party also favoring the two-state solution.

Still, as much as Israelis want peace with the Arabs, they are skeptical of that happening anytime soon. Israeli voters are as rational as voters in any liberal democracy—and in this case, Israel is a liberal democracy that has come under repeated attacks from its neighbors.

The popular belief that Israeli public opinion is moving radically to the right “is profoundly untrue,” said Dan Schueftan, a visiting professor at Georgetown who advised Israeli prime ministers from Yitzhak Rabin to Ariel Sharon. Instead, they’ve adopted the central paradigms of both the left and the right. “Most Israelis are very pessimistic about reaching a peace deal with the Palestinians, and the Arabs in general. This is a core paradigm of the right,” Schueftan told me. “And yet a majority is willing to reach a compromise that would partition the land into two states for two people. This is a core paradigm of the left. They’re not saying we don’t want peace, but that even if they make concessions they don’t think it will lead to peace.”

Israelis haven’t abandoned the dream of peace; they’ve faced reality and are refusing to continue to pay lip service to an illusion. “The last 20 years have seen a process of depolarization,” said David Hazony of the Israel Project. “Go back 20 years, and you had a peace camp that believed peace was just around the corner. The other camp believed that there was no partner for peace, and since there was no one to talk to and we have a right to land, we should just take anything. But a series of events took the wind out of both camps, like the Rabin assassination, disengagement, the Second Intifada,” he added.

If the second Lebanon war and two wars in Gaza marked disillusionment with the peace process, then Netanyahu’s 2009 speech at Bar-Ilan University promoting the two-state solution marked, at last, the acceptance of the idea in the political mainstream. Netanyahu, for all the criticism he gets in the international press, should get credit for leading even the Israeli right into philosophical acceptance of the two-state solution. And perhaps Bibi’s infamous bluster has had its purpose. While his belligerent rhetoric unnerves his many critics, including world leaders, it’s helped keep Israel out of armed conflict. He has presided over more economic success and less war than almost any other Israeli leader in history.

With Netanyahu, Israeli politics have reached a state of equilibrium, at least internally. On the major security issues like the Palestinians and Iran, the Israeli electorate has reached a broad consensus, and there is little within the system—right-wing or left-wing—that can affect it at this stage. The question is how that consensus, embodied by the prime minister, will interact with external forces, especially the Obama Administration, and particularly as Israel decides how to handle Iran.

“There’s a decent chance that as the new secretary of state, John Kerry will try to get negotiations going on the peace process, and I don’t think the president will tell him not to try,” said Elliott Abrams, former deputy national security adviser to George W. Bush and now a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. But, Abrams argued, since Kerry will have a lot on his plate and will quickly see that there’s not much room for movement on the peace process, he’ll likely move on. However, Abrams added, it would be a different situation “if the U.S. were to strike Iranian nuclear sites and thereby eliminate Israel’s greatest security threat. It would change the whole Middle East, and in the aftermath of such a strike, then the administration might try to get something going on the Israeli-Palestinian front. It would be quite a demonstration of U.S. power, and lead to a very different situation than if nothing happens or if the Israelis attack.”

But it appears that the Obama Administration is no more ready to strike Iran or to support an Israeli strike in its second term than it was during the first. Indeed, with the nomination of Chuck Hagel as defense secretary, some fear that the White House may be moving in the other direction, toward a grand bargain with Tehran—as Hagel has previously suggested. “Let them think about the substantial carrots of improved relations, not just the sticks, and there may be a deal to be had,” he wrote in 2008. Hagel has opposed not only military action against Iran, but even sanctions. Moreover, if Abrams believes that an Israeli-Arab peace deal might come out of a strike on Iran, Hagel sees it the other way around. “The core of all challenges in the Middle East remains the underlying Arab-Israeli conflict,” Hagel said in 2006. According to this view, resolving the Israeli-Arab crisis makes everything else possible.

This notion—often called linkage—still holds tremendous force among many American policymakers. But most Israelis believe, understandably, that it is not in their power to solve the region’s most pressing issues. No Israeli policy is going to help Mohamed Morsi feed Egypt, or stop the civil war in Syria, or convince the Iranian regime to abandon its pursuit of nuclear weapons.

Hence the increasing possibility for yet another showdown between Obama and Netanyahu. This dispute between the United States and Israel, said Dan Schueftan “is the product of the unrealistic belief that you can reach a permanent peace with the Palestinians under the prevailing circumstances, and the bizarre proposition that if you reach such an agreement it will make a major contribution toward stabilizing the Middle East.”

The issue then is not that Israel has moved to the extreme right—it has broadly come to accept one of the longtime tenets of American Middle East policy insofar as it recognizes the desirability of a two-state solution—but that Israelis and Americans view the conflict in fundamentally different ways. For American policymakers and many pundits, it’s as if the Oslo Accords never failed and the Second Intifada never happened. For Israeli voters who have lived through suicide bombings and rocket fire from Gaza and southern Lebanon, next week’s elections are about a sovereign electorate that prizes its prosperity and security.


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julis123 says:

Great article–sums things up very nicely from the Israeli viewpoint.

ginzy1 says:

For a good and illustrative example of a de-delusioned left-leaning Israeli, see Daniel Gordis’s recent Jerusalem Post column here:

And lest you suspect him of Likud (p’tooi, p’tooi) leanings, Gordis brandishes his Bibi-bashing bona fides in this earlier column of his:

What Bill Clinton, the Obamanoids, and the pooh-bahs of punditry don’t get is that we Israelis are like Liberals who have been mugged, and are now voting accordingly.


J’lem / Efrat

Saint_Etienne says:

A correction to the first paragraph: the Knesset is not the government. Also, while the Left is on the ropes, the Labour party is actually rather resurgent. Otherwise, sound analysis.

    wishnitz says:

    And, if you haven’t noticed, Yachimovitch , the Labor leader, studiously avoids talking about any peace plan, because she realizes that there are no votes to be garnered in that corner. Even Lapid is rather hawkish and that leaves Meretz (and Peace Now) as the only party who still believes in any peace plan. Accordingly, they are projected to get four seats in the upcoming election. Pundits and policymakers in the US seem to read only Haaretz and its (very) leftist commentators.

      Saint_Etienne says:

      Actually, I have noticed. Is there something in my short comment with which you disagree? Regards,S.E.

        wishnitz says:

        apologies- these comments were addressed to a different commentator on another article.

fred capio says:

it would be desirable if the still delusional Jewish left-wing sycophants in north-America could begin accepting reality and support Israel

    Habbgun says:

    They wouldn’t have as much fun preening as they do now. The good news is that they are so busy trying to take away the guns from law abiding Americans after Newtown that they aren’t on the anti-Israel bandwagon as much. Its too bad. They could pretend that the Newtown killer was an Al-Quaeda terrorist and leave Americans alone and prove what we already know about anti-Israel types. Jewish children and civilians are not precious and their lives mean less to these people.

    Joel Buchband says:

    There is a fundamental difference between supporting the policies or actions of any particular Israeli government (on the one hand) and supporting Israel. The first is a political stance and it’s perfectly natural and legitimate for Jews to have different points of view. Supporting Israel, on the other hand, is a deeply held caring for the well-being of our fellow Jews in Israel and our hopes and efforts to make the State of Israel – the fulfillment of the dreams of generations and our hope for the future – a home which is prosperous and secure.
    I think it’s very important for all Jews – no matter which Israeli politicians or policies they support – to be aware that loving Israel is a precious Jewish value which unites all of us.

      fred capio says:

      Your definition of supporting Israel is romantic/semantic abstract nonsense.
      Supporting Israel means to accept a democraticallly elected government as a expression of the will of the majority of the people. If you disagree with the platform of an elected government or political party you have the right to vote for the opposition.

      Criticising the elected government from the outside is nothing short of abetting the enemy.

PhillipNagle says:

The radicals aren’t on the right, the realists are. First socialism has been a failure not only in Israel but around the world, eastern Europe, Russia, India, China et al. The peace process has turned into an illusion, the so called moderates of Fatah have backed out of every peace proposal and the last election was won by the “no peace” Hamas. The only choice left for Israel is unilateral action to establish defensable borders with a hostile neibor. Economically, capitalism is the method for growth and prosperity. The left offers nothing but failed policies.

    American Jewry has become more and more alienated from Israel. And within 20yrs there will be little connection. And that is because of Israeli behavior. It has to be recalled that during the entire article the E1 and prior settlement behavior of the Israeli gov’t —- as a CONTRIBUTOR to the conflict — is rarely mentioned. And for good reason – because its illegal. And the ‘right’ as many here applaud is responsible for supporting that ‘settlement ‘ program that both is in violation of international law AND divorces American Jewry further from the state of Israel.

      actually, I hate to disappoint you, Bernie. International law assigned all of the Land of Israel to the Jewish National Home at San Remo [1920] & the League of Nations [1922]. No act of international law since then has changed the status of the Land of Israel west of the Jordan as the Jewish National Home. The Partition Plan voted by the UN general assembly on 11-29-1947 was a recommendation, as are all general assembly resolutions on political matters. Judea & Samaria are parts of the Jewish National Home. Moreover, Geneva Convention IV:49:6 forbids “transfer” of population to an occupied territory. But Judea & Samaria are not occupied by Israel, since they rightly belong to Israel, and in any case the Jews living in those areas were not transferred but moved there of their own free will, eagerly indeed. So even if the Judea-Samaria area were “occupied”, Jews would still have the right to migrate there. Of course, Judeophobic powers that took part in the Holocaust, like Britain and France, are not above falsifying the real meaning of international law where it serves their interests, as in the case of suppressing the Jews in Israel. [Yes, Britain took part in the Shoah by preventing Jews from finding refuge from hitler in the Jewish National Home].

        fred capio says:

        You are absolutely right. Britain is “pari delicto” with Hitler of the Shoah and has, between 1922 and 1949 acted in gross violation of the conditions and the spirit of the mandate. The injustice of the 1922 partition to create Jordan, the atrocities committed under the 1939 White paper and the military support of Jordan to invade territory west of the Jordan river and Jerusalem have to be mended once and for all. Unfortunately too many Jews don’t know their own history.

          Fred, a person once said that history is made by the victors. And i believe you are buying into the colonial view of Hx. That the British took control via mandate, divided up the land (unnaturally) as the British saw fit – doesn’t give the colonists any integral right to dispose of the land as they wished. The British were colonists – and that is all. They were kicked out as the USA was kicked out of Vietnam. The land, since the 7th century, had been predominantly inhabited by Palestinian arabs. Jews migrated, in great numbers much later. We know our history. One just has to read Jabotinsky, forerunner philosopher to Likud….. He understood that the Jews would not be accepted as managers by the indigenous – an Iron Wall would have to be built —- and force would need to be used to compel Israeli soverignty. He was right. But – he was, well, wrong too…..I wonder what he would have thought today?

          Lynne T says:

          Ah, so Bernie is a demographic expert on the majority population of the land the Romans renamed Palestine and knows that these people were Arabs.

          Clearly, you know absolutely nothing.

          Lynne, the 1910 census was almost all arabs. Over 90%. Maybe i am wrong and you have other documentation?

          fred capio says:

          It does not matter, the land did not belong to the arabs. It belonged to the Ottomans for five hundred years who lost it in WW1. After WW1 the Palestinian arabs asked the victorious powers to give them ALL the land and none to the Jews. You don’t know the difference between a “want” and a “legitimat claim”.

          Fred, the Turks had OCCUPIED the land. They were conquerers. It was arab land tho. Are you saying that because a colonial power conquers a land that it belongs to that power? Does that mean that Texas belongs to Mexico? Or if a country is strong enough conquer Israel – then the Jews should be driven from the land under the law of ‘might makes right’? The legitimate claim i have seen is that the Palestinian arabs lived on that land since the 7th century – regardless of deeds or colonial masters – they are the natives of that land. Did Great Britain have a legitimate claim to India?

          Lynne T says:

          Palestinian Christians, if they are not the descendents of the first Judeo Christians, are Syriac, not Arab, but their language was supplanted. And among the Muslims, there is no telling how many were Jews who finally converted under pressure. And the 1910 census would have already reflected Arab Muslim migrants who entered the Holy Land to benefit from the economic boom that attended early Jewish settlement. The Druze, by the way, likely have Persian roots, not Arab.

          Lynne, i understand that both sides have their stories to tell. The arabs state they were the overwheming majority while the Jews point to the fact that there was a land without a people that they targeted for nation-state status.

          Whatever the truth is we can say that the Jewish immigration was never accepted. Probably because of their not so subtle aim of creating a nation state in a predominantly arab area. As well, the Jewish Agency wouldn’t allow Jews to sell to arabs. All contributing to the feelings of the native arabs of being dispossessed from their land.

          It was a ‘hard sell’ from the beginning.

          What ultimately, from what i can glean, was the CLINCHER —- was — the fact that post WW1 the arabs were not given a nation state by the colonial powers. While Balfour (probably just a misleading document with little political muscle) that became enshrined along with some White Papers – paved the diplomatic path for the Jews — it was just not accepted by the natives. And, WHATEVER, one believes, has to somewhat sympathize with the arabs. They were controlled by western colonial powers since Anglo-Persian Oil Co (later to be BP) found oil in early 1900’s.

          And rather then get their own nation state – they watched as it was given to another western group that had recently migrated there from Northern Europe.

          Had we been the victims of such control – we probably would have acted the same way. And, Jabotinsky, actually did say that.

          Lynne T says:

          A very small portion of Mandatory Palestine was ceded to a Jewish State. And while the residents west of the Armistice Line weren’t given a say in their fates, some were not entirely unhappy with Jewish rule, which is why Bedouin and Druze serve in the IDF and even as diplomats of the Israeli government, probably because they weren’t particularly well treated by the Sunni Muslim “Arab” majority. The Christians were also hostile, largely due to their inherent antisemitism as much as any national aspirations they had.

          go and have a look at some old pictures of Israel and you can se the land is void of arabs, the land does not belong to the arabs it’s but a hoax

          fred capio says:

          Great Britain was one of the victorious powers of WW1 and entered Palestine from one of her semi-colonies (Egypt) in the course of that war and not as a colonist. Great Britain was given mandatory power by
          the International body called the League of Nations with conditions
          stipulated by this body (to create a Jewish homeland). If you insist to
          call post WW1 Palestine a colony then it was a colony of the League of
          Nations (which is rather absurd)

          If you question the right of the victor to dispose of the land as they
          wish then Lebanon, Syria and Jordan should also not exist and the land
          should have been given back to the Turks.

          Even though the the land was predominantly inhabited by Palestinian
          arabs it was in possession and governed by the non-arab Ottoman Empire
          that kept the Jews from coming back in greater numbers ever since,
          either by force of creating unacceptable and humiliating living
          conditions. May I remind you also that the Jews have never left
          palestine voluntarily. They have been expelled by the Romans after the
          great Jewish wars in the first and second century after having lost
          their heroic fights for independence and their right to remain. And have
          never stopped to pray for “next year in Jerusalem” for two thousand

          Once again, a part of the land conquered in WW1 has been given to the
          Jews in 1947 (UN/RES 181), not by the British but by another
          international body called the United Nations. The fact that the arabs
          did not like the decision of 33 member-states of the UN is not Israel’s
          responsibility. Do you really expect the Jews, after the horrors of the
          Shoah when virtually no country was willing to give sanctuary to Jewish
          refugees, to say “thank you to give us finally a homeland but we have to
          refuse because we don’t want to hurt the feelings of our friends the

          If Jabotinsky were still alive he would probably say that if more
          Israeli politicians would have adhered to his philosophy we would not be
          in this mess.

          I am not writing this in defense of Great Britain because she has done
          nothing for the Jews except being responsible for the death of millions
          of Jews

          I am sure you know all of the above only your interpretation of historical events is entirely different and hostile.

          Fred, Jabotinsky’s guidelines WERE strictly adhered to by Israel — by the ‘letter’. Even his admonition to erect the IRON WALL is mentioned in almost every speech of a prime minister…..

          As for the history – that Great Britain’s Anglo company founded oil in the region after 1900 was there reason for control of the middle east area. As you know the French took over Syria/Lebanon…..all divided up by the conquerers in the Sykes Picot treaty. But think what you are saying Fred —- are we go give these conquerers the right to soverignty over the middle east because they won a war from Germany? By what law, moral or international, does a country like Gr. Britain achieve hegemony over another land? In fact, the British and French had promised these arabs autonomy if they entered WW1 on the side of the Allies. And they lied to the arabs. And they lied to the Jews as well. And that is because Gr. Brit. was not afflicted with some philosophical altruism – they were colonialists…

          I do question the right of the victor to dispose of the land and this is why Fred. These arabs were on the ALLIED side of WW1. And even if they weren’t – does it make it legal to annex or control their land and give soverignty to others?

          Simply, we have, i believe anyways, have all been mistaken about the botched job the world did in 1948. It wasn’t the League or UN right to give land to create a nation.

          I do think that its fair for the Jews to have a homeland as Hertzl desired. And the first Basel conference at the turn of the century did send 2 Rabbis to Palestine to see if it would be a fitting place for a homeland. The Rabbis’ returned to Switzerland and informed the conference that the bride was BEAUTIFUL ——— but already MARRIED……that a conflict would ensue was known before the incredible attempt to forge a nation in the mideast – to the migrants. They certainly deserved respite and safety from 1000yrs of repression – i wouldn’t argue against that. Its the manner in which the project was attempted that laid the seeds of, what seems, like eternal conflict.

          herbcaen says:

          I guess our homeland should be Birkenau- and perhaps you and other citizens of the world will blame us for global warming due to the ovens of Auschwitz

        Actually, i am guessing that you are not that disappointed Eliyahu. I have no idea what you are talking about as regards any LEGAL standing for the nation of Israel PRIOR to the recommendation by the UN in 1948. There simply isn’t any. Any attempt to attribute some League of Nations authorization to a Jewish national home in 1920 is pure myth. Well, there are some people on Neptune that subscribe to it. But not many their, either. The earliest attempt was the British Peel Commission but because of Palestinian arab resistance – that was rescinded. The truth is – that the arabs lay claim to the land many centuries before hordes of Jews migrated for a homeland. A homeland that, dispossesed arabs, that had been living on that land for centuries. Read your Benny Morris……….i don’t want to leave the impression Elyahu that the Jews don’t have a need for a homeland. Many of my mom’s family disappeared – in ovens – not because of arabs but because of Europeans. I do think after a 1000yrs (from the crusades) that Hertzl was correct and that Jews had a right to protect themselves by living ‘apart’……..but providing false land deeds only perpetrated and confounded a decent idea – it didn’t promote its realization. At this time, the lands of Samaria and Judea can only be taken, by force, under occupation and in violation of international law from the arabs. By we, rationalizing, or creating false land deeds, we perpetuate, i believe, the middle east conflict – not help to end it. Just my opinion…

          Eliyahu100 says:

          Bernie, you contradict yourself. You say that the Ottoman Empire had no right to control because they were conquerors, occupiers. Well, what were the Arabs who, you say, have been in the Land of Israel since the 7th century. The Arabs were conquerors and among the worst conquerors in history, destroying the preexisting cultures and languages and peoples in the lands that they conquered. Do study some history and then come back and talk to us. Read Bernard Lewis’ The Arabs in History or Carl Brockelmann’s history of the Islamic peoples. Until then shut up to hide your ignorance. By the way, the Arabs collaborated with the Nazis in the Holocaust. Look up Haj Amin el-Husseini.

      herbcaen says:

      American Jewry has become more and more alienated from itself. Most American Jews, who havent intermarried themselves out of identity, care more about Brad, Jen, and the Kardashians. Israel is completely correct to write them off. The Evangelical Christian community, which is far more consequential, is Israel’s bedrock of support in the US. Within 20 years, only Orthodox Jewry will be left in the US

        And in Israel, as well, Herb. If there is an Israel in 20yrs. One has to realize that, as in S. Africa, the imbalance will grow too large, and at some point there will be more Arabs then Jews – and the moral force of the world – will compel a change;…….THAT the bedrock of support for Israel is Rev’s Hagee or Rick Warren shouldn’t provide comfort but distress to those who wish to promote a future democratic state of Israel – that is what i believe.

          herbcaen says:

          and the moral force of the world…there isnt any. Look at Syria.

          Herb, it appears that Syria is undergoing a civil war – but i don’t it as germane. At some point there will be MORE arabs then Jews in the, well, mandated Palestine area. That the arabs have no right to a state, no ability to vote, will compel the world to alter that situation. Look at just recently. Who would have thought that the entire world would have recognized and acknowledged the Palestinian state as observer status? Only the Israelis’ and USA (and some Pacific atolls) voted against it. It was a straight right to the chin of American forign policy – what an embarrassment.

          herbcaen says:

          I do view it as germane, because if the world is more concerned about Jews building around Jerusalem than ongoing massacres in Syria, it indicates a faulty moral compass. Ask yourself. What did the Jews of Salonika, Greece do that so infuriated the Germans that it required the Germans to exterminate them? I cant find any reason, perhaps you can. Israel enjoyed a historically brief bounce in popularity after the Holocaust, but now it is back to usual. I would rather be alive in 2013, when Jews are out of favor, then 1939, or 1492, or 1096 (Crusaders massacre of Jews in the Rheinland)

          Herb, look at the map of the West Bank. Its dotted with Israeli settlements. There is no room left for a soverign Palestinian state. How do you rationalize the settlement program these many years?

          When Barak offered peace in 2000 – the Israelis blamed the arabs for disingenuous peace discussions (and Clinton did as well). But, we found out later that Barak was settling even more settlers on the land slated to be a future Pal. state then even Nethanyahu did later on…..

          yovie47 says:

          Hi Bernie. A few things you might not be aware of about Israel, Israeli Palestinians get to vote (a few will even get seats in its parliment), because they are citizens of Israel. Gazans and West Bankers aren’t Israeli citizens, so they don’t get to vote for Israeli politicians. They get to vote for officials in the Palestinain Authority (West Bank), or for Hamas (Gaza). So you see, all Palestinians get to vote. Also, you mentioned something about a Palestinian state as a “mandate.” The only “Mandate” was from the Brits, who diced and sliced and then skeedaddled..

          Eliyahu100 says:

          Herb, of course the world has no moral force. In fact, if we look at all those international world organizations with ostensibly lofty goals and principles, like the UN “human rights council”, we see entities that are actually enemies of the lofty goals that they speak in the name of. Now if “Bernie” [if that’s really his name] can’t see that reality, then he is a fool, indeed a dangerous as well as obnoxious fool. But can Bernie really be so stupid? Bernie also tells us that we lost the “media war.” That’s only because the media has the assignment of being against Israel, of smearing Israel. And that mendacious media includes the nytimes too.

          His demographic arguments are wrong too, as Yoram Ettinger has explained. Check out Ettinger on google or yahoo.

          Now it’s funny that bernie takes the Jstreet line more or less. He also complains about George Bush’s war in Iraq in 2003. Yet people close to the US State Dept, like George Soros, fund Jstreet. And the State Dept went along with the war in Iraq.

          BTW, notice that Bernie doesn’t supply any sources for his claims. He just utters them like papal pronouncements with no documentation, no references. I can supply references for almost everything that I say. If he can’t supply references or documentation, then he is just an obnoxious blowhard. Since I do supply documentation, here is a web page full of links to articles and videos supporting my argument that Judea-Samaria belong to Israel under international law.

          The link below is to a blog post with a video about the Nazi collaboration of Haj Amin el-Husseini:

          And the post at link tells how the Great American Liberal, FDR, sold out the Jews to Hitler.

      Actually Bernie, there appears to be a growing connection between Israeli and American Jews thanks to efforts like Birthright.

      While professional ‘Progressives’ continue to beat their breasts in public about Israel’s moral failures – both real and imagined – the reality is, there are going to be both differences of opinions and actions from both communities because of the realities that they face and a mature community can both accept those differences and work through such disagreements.

      The idea that Israelis are more regressive and reactionary towards the idea of peace with the Palestinians falls flat because unlike their American counterparts, Israelis actually have to stand watch with service in Tz’hal. Parents watch their children enter military service for three years, and serve as well in the reserves. The wars fought by Israel have not been some far off expedition, but in and around Israel itself. Those serving know that should an enemy get past them, the targets will be family, friends and neighbors.

      By contrast, American Jews don’t serve in the Israeli army and don’t have to face any direct consequences on the home front should their political decisions prove wrong.

      The claim that Israel should kow-tow to some arbitrary moral standard when they face growing violence from what is an already racist neighborhood, or face some paternalistic ‘distancing’ from the wider Jewish community points to an inability to see the the conflict for what it is, and create a dual-standard for Israel and its enemies.

        Jacob….thats all understood. Its a pre-requisite propoganda/talking points used by both sides. And i agree with you. Like a Gilbert and Sullivan rousing ending to an operetta it signifys nothing. The Israels have long since lost the war of the media. Most American Jews are not IDENTIFYING with Israel. And those that go to college are learning the history of the past, not from Leon Uris but the revisionists.. Israel is now becoming a pariah state in the world and its only a matter of time before a boycott, as in S. Africa, ends their policies. By the next or generation after the next — in America – there will be hardly ANY connection between American Jewry and Israel because most American secular Jews have no REASON to connect up with Israel. This shouldn’t even be arguable i believe. If Israel is going to be a ‘light’ for American and other Jews around the world – it will need to project more then militaristic rogue appearance…..the victim posture has failed abysmally. That is clear.
        Jacob, the main problem, as i see it, is the settlement program, being utilized for decades. There are now over 500k Jews on what should have been a future Arab state. That is what the world and American children see…..What JUSTIFICATION could there possibly be for so egrecious a stupid move? Except century old colonialism under the banner of defending their own country? When the Saudi Initiative was publicized – the Israelis didn’t even respond to it…..
        Its not a matter, i want to make clear, of Jews in Israel experiencing conflict – we know they do – its that the POLICIES of the Israeli gov’t have chronically extended the conflict. If you want to make the case, Jacob, in some future missive, that there will always be arab palestinians that will eternally fight to remove Israel – i would agree there would be that segment, perhaps. But that doesn’t preclude the idiocy and illegal behavior of the Israelis ‘settling on what should be a future’ state of Palestine for the arabs. At this point, there is no 2 state solution left. Israel has settled on SO MUCH OF THE LAND….

          I hate to burst your bubble Bernie, but most American Jews identify with Israel. That’s the reality of it across both the religious (Reform, Conservative, and Orthodox) as well as political (Democratic and Republican). The reality is, there is no other Jewish country in the world to hang their hat on, so people are going to deal with Israel one way or the other. As for the idea that Jews are NOW just going to college and learning about Israel, well, you know, what can I say, Jews but you seem to have left reality behind. Jews and college have gone together for a long time now.

          I understand that may come as a shock to you, but realize that even a group like J-Street, advocates for Israel, not another country.

          As for a ‘South Africa-like’ boycott, well, you’re going to need to deal first with the ongoing violence in Syria (likely spreading into Lebanon), ongoing ethnic cleansing in Egypt of the Copts, the likely oncoming revolution in Jordan and the potential violence in Iran. I know its a wet dream of every Jew hater to have Israel twist in the wind, but that’s not in the cards, sorry.

          As for that ‘future Arab state’, well, it’s been over 45 years since the end of the 1967 war, and we’re still hearing from people like the President of Egypt, that Arab children need to be inoculated with hatred for Jews. This more than 30 years after Israel handed over the entire Sinai Peninsula to Egypt.

          As for the Saudi initiative, then PM Sharon offered to travel to Riyadh to meet with its leaders and discuss the plan. The Sauds were horrified and outright rejected such a move. So much for the Saudi plan.

          As for Israel’s actions extending the conflict? Israel handed over land not once, but four times to Arab regimes – Egypt, Lebanon, Yasser Arafat, and then Gaza. The result? Absolutely nothing. Egypt threatens to tear up the peace treaty and return to a war footing. Hizballah continues to call for the destruction of Israel, HAMAS continues to fire rockets at Israel. Meanwhile, the Palestinian Authority rejected not one peace offer from Israel, but three separate proposals (Camp David II, Taba, and Olmert’s 2008 offer). So we have four land exchanges, three peace offers, and still universal Arab calls for Israel’s destruction, Mahmoud Abbas refusing to even sit down at the negotiating table with Israel, and the world remains silent. But it’s Israel that’s at fault. Got it. Apparently living in the real world is a bit too much for you. I’ll go get you a new pair of Ruby slippers.


          1) American Jewry is being assimilated into the American culture and not going to Synagogue. They are intermarrying. And Israel has become a distant and interesting geo-strategic factum for American Jews. Secular Jews like ourselves that are older will differ on views of Israel – but FUTURE Jewish children will have – i maintain very very little to connect them with Israel. Except for the Orthodox. So we disagree.

          2) As for the S. Africa like boycott and the pressure on Israel – it will be inevitable. There will soon be more arabs then Jews in what was once mandated historic Palestine. These people are not allowed a nation state by the Israelis nor are they allowd to vote. The world will compel the Israelis to abide by human rights. And college kids will become the first to usher in the diverstment. That is what i believe.

          3)The Saudi Initiative was promoted by the arab world some 5yrs ago. It promised full recognition of Israel by all countries in exchange for a divided Jerusalem and 67 borders (or some re-balancing of land). The Israelis dismissed it out of hand.

          4) Jacob: Gaza, Sinai, Lebanon (which Israel attacked) was land that Israel never owned. It was conquered terrtory. If you want to structure it that the Suez War wasn’t aggression by Israel/Egypt/England and Lebanese war wasn’t – well, so be it. What good does that do? As far as Taba, yes, the Israeli and Palestinan negotiators came within a HAIR of solving the puzzle….and Barak was ‘pulled’ from office and Sharon negated the entire matter.

          But yes, i agree that Taba, still remains (Geneva Initiative as well which i believe was endorsed by Wolfwicz and Colin Powell?) the prototypes of what will HAVE to be the future for a peaceful area. And that is a divided Jerusalem and some alignment of land swaps revolving around the 67 borders. I don’t believe the Israelis are interested in peace at this time with the USA backstopping them. I think its a dumb strategy. The settlements won’t bring them peace – it will bring them war. There is, in their future only a political, not a military reconciliation. That is clear.

          Abbas, nor Hamas, nor any Palestinian is going to negotiate with Israel while they annex arab land Jacob. What it can be characterized is they are disputing a Pizza pie WHILE Israel continues to eat the pie while arbitrating.

          Just how do you explain the hundreds of thousands of Jews that are settled on the W. Bank? How is there a land available for a 2 state solution?

      Sir I am Israeli and you are delusional. The notion that we whould halt all life in Israel for 50 years now waiting around for peace with people who have ceaselessly tried to kill us is beyond irrational to the point of deep insanity.
      Life has gone on, cities have grown, Israel’s population has grown from 1-2 million to almost 8 million people. We build houses and we don’t care what your irrational thoughts are on that, you hold us to standards that no one in the world could or should ever meet. Our capital is no different than any other, we won’t cut life out in israel and persist on life support to please you. International law? We are dealing with people who do not even follow the laws of human nature! Wake up, or don’t.. But come to grips with reality and it is very simple. We don’t care what you think, nor should we until you come back to planet earth. What we have created and done in Israel is a modern day miracle, we are examples to the world, don’t you ever forget it.

        Saus, perhaps i am delusional. Perhaps not. So, what is the reason for the E1 settlements. In fact, since Oslo, what has been the reason for the settlement bldg in Jerusalem and West Bank (even more under Barak then Netanyahu) —- ? You have made a declaration that the other party is eternally conflictual. Yet what peaceful party annexes land that doesn’t belong to them? Or do you believe that the land does belong to you? Thanx

          fred capio says:

          did you ever hear of the second Intifada?

          The land is disputed, currently administered by Israel. Previously administered by Egypt and Jordan, and before that the british, and before that Ottoman empire. The Palestinians should thank their lucky stars we are reasonable and willing to share it provided they make peace. If we were like all other countries they would get nothing.

          Time does not stand still, if the Palestinians wanted all the lands they ‘claim’ they should have made peace 65 years ago. You snooze, you lose. C’est la vie. That’s their problem, their mistake. Nor we, nor you can roll back time for them. We are thriving and growing, and we will continue building as we see fit and need. Everyone can stand on their heads if they like, it will change nothing. Until the Arab world makes peace, we will build on all the lands we administer.. Just like everyone else. Tick tock, time grows short. Every day the Palestinians reject peace, reject statehood, our cities only grow and grow. E1? Within the boundaries of our capital and every day that goes by with no peace, another house will be built with no excuses or regrets. Tough luck, if the Palestinians wanted it otherwise they should have won, or made peace.

          Sounds almost prehistoric. I have no idea what principles, Saus, you are using to justifying the annexation of anothers land. I supposed it is might makes right. One can’t and shouldn’t use PEACE as a means to acquire anothers land. Thiink about it.

          What if one powerful country was to create a pretext – to commence war with another – and then conquer it – does that give it the right to acquire and settle their people on the land? I suppose if we are following principles from the 1600’s. But today — international law forbids this. You are justifying it – by using just such a pretext. Its ancient thinking and good riddance to that.

          The rationale, i believe, that you are using to justify settling on occupied land and annexing it is only going to work against Israel. Not for it. The military solution might sound feasible while a superpower backstops it – for the moment – but what happens when the USA doesn’t support Israel? A wiser choice for Israel would be a political solution – they will lose miitarily as the future will have an entire middle east fully nuclearized. I think your path leads toward eternal conflict for Israel by condoning the ‘settlememt’ program.

          You keep saying one country taking another “country’s” land. There was no Palestinian country, these are disputed territories. You keep saying taking another’s land. Israel takes land from no one, Israel administers the land, Israel builds on open territory with permits issued by the govenment on lands *owned by the government of Israel*. No one lives on these lands. What you call E1 is open land, administered / owned by Israel’s government. You don’t know the basic facts. One cannot be taking “Land from the country of Palestine” when no country ever existed called Palestine, and where no such country exists today. That territory is currently Israel, it is not even land Israel gave to the Palestinian Authority to administer.. It is simply Israel, land Palestinian Arabs want but do not OWN. These are lands that were previously Jordan, and before that british, and before that Ottoman, now adminstered by Israel and considered disputed territory. Before you pass judgement erroneously you need to study basic history please.

          One more time. The Palestinian arabs inhabited that land. That makes it theres. By your reckless reasoning – the Indians of North America were not the rightful owners of land that were taken from them because they couldn’t produce a DEED that Saus could see.

          Additionally, Saus, the land was of the West Bank has NEVER EVER been given to the Israelis – there is no legal basis EVEN if one uses the UN recommendation for division of 1948 state to assume that the Israelis have a legal right to settle on the land.

          The land of Gaza and W. Bank became OCCUPIED territory after the 67 war. You probably know that – and OCCUPIED territory is unable to be settled on – nor is it legal to ethnically cleanse the land of the people that lived on the occupied territory.

          Believe what you will. The Palestinians are not refugees from their own land? And the term ‘administer’ permits removal of the settled population? I think that you make a big mistake that is, ultimately, adversely correlated to the health of Israel when you create facts on the ground that the rest of the world knows to be illegal. Saus, even the USA DOESN’T recognize what you are calling legal settlements. No nation or court accepts Israels’ claim to disown the occupied from their land.

          Given?? You make it seem like land across the planet has been given to peoples by some authority, you are negating reality with sophmoric nonsense. All inhabited land for the past 35 centuries on every inch of the earth has been disputed, conquered, settled, redisputed, reconquered, resettled ad infinitum. The facts remain, the land Israel issues permits for is UNINHABITED – open land administered by Israel. Sorry, that’s just reality. There are Palestinians ‘inhabiting’ large areas of Lebanon, Jordan, Syria, etc etc.. Are all these countries Palestinian too? The other inhabitants of those places share the same religion, culture, and ancestry as the Palestinians.. Funny how I don’t see you freaking out at the adminstrators of all that land The Jordanians, Lebanese etc etc. Jews also have inhabited all sorts of lands in the middle east, maybe we should make the whole mideast a jewish state, since after all the jews were inhabitants too. I originally wrote you are delusional and seperated from reality, and it remains the case. All your yearnings are based on subjective nonsense. Then there’s the real world. Palestinians rejected the international communities offers to partition the land in 47 – around the same time era all these countries were being formed in the region, then engaged in warfare and lost. Just like an endless string of other peoples on earth over all history. That upsets you and I’m sorry for you, but that is just the way the cookie crumbles. Only when Jews build homes they call it ‘settlements’. Everywhere else they call it housing. We could care less. The laws of reality do not bend or fold for Palestinians, nor will they ever. One sleeps in the bed they make. Take care.

          Saus, the Palestinians in Lebanon and Syria are not inhabitants in the routine manner – they are REFUGEES. That is the history – choose what you want to believe. They are not even given rights in those nations. They are given handouts from UNSCO(sp) a United Nations agency created to help refugees.

          No different from the Iraqis expelled/migrated/removed from Iraq during the USA occupation. They went to Jordan/Syria….

          I understand that you don’t want to call the Israel political stance now an OCCUPATION. But that is, sadly, what it is. Its the OCCUPATION that is ruining the peace talks, in my opinion. The occupation is being used as a ‘cover’ for land acquisition. That is what i see and 99.9% of the world does as well. I dont’ think you give the opposite point of view much weight. So, again, what is going to happen when the land is a majority of Palestinian arabs? What then – how does one reconcile a miniority Jewish gov’t not giving voting rights to a predominantly arab majority?

          Lets hope you are right and they are on course to peace….i just don’t see it….take care of yourself Saus

By defining left and right solely in terms of belief that it’s possible to negotiate a settlement with the Palestinians, Lee Smith makes it possible to overlook the undeniable drift to the right on a wide range of domestic issues.

“And yet a majority is willing to reach a compromise that would partition the land into two states for two people”: the question is, which two people in particular?

Arup_2 says:

… does it mean that the new Israel is willing to confer Voting Rights to the West bank and Gaza Palestinians?

CrossHugger says:

American Jews are traitors to both countries . By constantly voting for the left here, they betray Israel. By voting left here they betray all that is good about this country. Read the Old Testament of Scripture. They haven’t changed.

Speakup says:

When will American liberal Jews finally get the clue, they will never be treated with respect by the democrat party. Collectivists need scapegoats, a personalty flaw that should ring loud with every Jewish person.

Masada says:

The “67% support a peace deal” poll has utterly no credibility, as it is from Clintonian stooge Robert Wexler, a well-known critic of Likud a proponent of the disgraced “Oslo Process”.

JehudahBenIsrael says:

It is hard to view the late Mr. Yitzhaq Rabin, dubbed “the prince of peace”, voting in this elections for a party, any party, that doesn’t represent his political “will and testament” that he delivered to the Knesset on 5 October 1995, his last speech at the house. Indeed, in all likelyhood, the former chairman of Labor would probably vote Likud this time.

The reasons are fairly simple: Mr. Rabin,a social democrat, promoted the idea of a free economy, welfare state, and an accommodation of peaceful coexistence between Arab and Jew, between Israel and the Arab world, local and regional. The Likud, the national liberal party of Israel, promotes the very same ideas of liberal economy, welfare society, and a peaceful accommodation with the Arabs.

The following four points that Mr. Rabin expressed in his last speech at the Knesset, 5 Oct. 1995, would be adopted by the Likud members and leadership as well:

1) Jerusalem will remain united under Israel’s sovereignty and will also include the suburbs of Giv’at Zeev and Ma’aleh Adumim (including area E1!!)

2) All major Jewish settlement blocs of settlements will be incorporated into the sovereign state of Israel, e.g. Gush Etzion settlements, BeitEl/P’sagot area, Ariel, Gush Qatif (in Gaza)

3) The Jordan Valley ought to be viewed in the widest sense of the term and it too will continue to be ruled by Israel

4) The future Palestinian state will be totally demilitarized, its airspace will be fully controlled by Israel, as will its boundaries and all of its border passes: land, sea and air

Mr. Rabin would feel comfortable with today’s Likud, as he did with Labor in the past.

    JehudahBenIsrael says:

    P.S. It is important to note, in advance of some claiming that Israel has not been offering enough to achieve peace, that, first, one is not aware of a single concession the Arabs have made; and, second, Israel, legally, is not obligated to offer ANYTHING. Indeed, legally, the entire region of the country that is located between the Jordan River and the Med. Sea has been designated to be “the national home of the Jewish people” and of no other people at all. The only obligation, from a legal perspective, that Israel has toward the non-Jewish population of this region – the other region is located between the Jordan River and the Arabian desert, of course – is to extend to it all civil and religious rights, which the nation-state of the Jewish people has. It is high time the Arabs and their advocates abroad appreciated Rabin and Netanjahu’s approach to peace making, if indeed they want to live alongside Israel in peace rather than continue to seek Israel’s very demise.


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