The Israel Policy Forum (IPF) is a left-of-center group formerly associated with Clinton Administration officials, which apparently slipped into irrelevance with the eclipse of the ‘peace process’, the violence of the Second Intifada, and the Hamas takeover of Gaza.
It’s back, reconstituted under the sponsorship of philanthropist Charles Bronfman, and with some big names in the American (and American-Israeli) world behind it.
But money and names can’t change reality.
No matter how irrational the land-for-peace paradigm proves, no matter how little support there is for it among ordinary Israelis (who will have to deal with the consequences), no matter how vicious the anti-Jewish hatred spewing from PLO media, no matter how many rockets land in southern Israel, no matter how explicit the Palestinian leadership is about its desire to replace Israel with an Arab state, no matter how often the Arabs pocket concessions and immediately escalate demands, no matter how clear it is beyond any reasonable doubt that further concessions at this point will lead to war, not peace — no matter what, some people simply cannot face the brute fact that there is no possibility of peace with the Palestinian Arabs and the larger Arab world in the foreseeable future.
They have convinced themselves that yet another partition of the land of Israel (or ‘Palestine’ — whatever you want to call it) will end the conflict. It won’t. It will only damage Israel’s ability to defend herself while providing a platform for more demands. Soon we will be hearing about “Arab Haifa, Yafo and Acco,” and then perhaps “Tel Arabiyya.”
This is the lesson of recent history. This is what we have learned from what the Arabs say and from what they do. But the ideological commitment to the impossible ‘solution’ seems to override the ability to learn from events.
Here is the letter that 40 well-known (mostly) American Jews have written to Israel’s Prime Minister, under the auspices of the IPF, calling upon him to reject the report of the Levy Commission, which offered a legal opinion that Israeli settlement in Judea and Samaria is legal under international law. I’ll intersperse comments.
As strong advocates for Israel’s security and well-being as a Jewish and democratic state, we are deeply concerned about the recent findings of the government commission led by Supreme Court Jurist (Ret.) Edmund Levy. We fear that if approved, this report will place the two-state solution, and the prestige of Israel as a democratic member of the international community, in peril.
There is no comment about whether the Levy report is correct in its legal judgment or not; only that its adoption will make it harder for Israel to cede land to the Arabs in pursuit of the imaginary ‘solution’, and that it will anger the “international community,” which, by and large, would prefer that there be no sovereign Jewish state.
It’s important to understand that the legitimacy of the Jewish presence in Judea and Samaria derives from the same source — the League of Nations Mandate for Palestine — as does the Jewish presence West of the Green Line. The line is an accidental boundary with no legal significance. Hence if the Government of Israel were to reject the report, then it could be construed as weakening the case for Jewish sovereignty anywhere. This is a far greater ‘peril’ than the loss of the two-state fantasy.
As you boldly stated in your address to the United States Congress last May, “I recognize that in a genuine peace, we’ll be required to give up parts of the ancestral Jewish homeland.” As you said clearly, doing so is not easy. While the Jewish people indeed share a biblical connection to the lands of Judea and Samaria, you told Congress, “there is another truth: The Palestinians share this small land with us. We seek a peace in which they’ll be neither Israel’s subjects nor its citizens. They should enjoy a national life of dignity as a free, viable and independent people living in their own state.”
If Israel does give up part of the “ancestral Jewish homeland” for peace — if somehow this becomes possible, as it clearly is not today — it will be as part of a comprehensive agreement that recognizes that the Jewish people do have a right to a homeland here. Rejecting the report today implies that there is no such right, before there is even a glimmer of hope for an agreement. Insisting that we have a right to this land doesn’t preclude us from agreeing to part with some of it. And if we don’t have the right, why should we keep any of it?
Securing Israel’s future as a Jewish and democratic state requires diplomatic and political leadership, not legal maneuverings. We recognize and regret that the Palestinian Authority has abdicated leadership by not returning to the negotiating table. Nonetheless, our great fear is that the Levy Report will not strengthen Israel’s position in this conflict, but rather add fuel to those who seek to delegitimize Israel’s right to exist. At this moment, it is more critical than ever that Israel strengthen its claim in the international community that it is committed to a two-state vision, which is, in turn, central to Israel’s future as a Jewish and democratic state.
This paragraph is shocking in its open admission of cowardice and assertion that appeasement is better than standing up for our rights! Never mind if it is actually legitimate for Jews to live in Judea and Samaria, let’s say it’s not — so the Arabs will be empowered to demand that we expel those Jews, in the name of ‘peace’ that they will never permit us to have anyway.
Israel’s right to exist is not determined by its degree of commitment to “a two-state vision,” but rather by its rights under international law and its ability to defend itself against encroachments against those rights. The only thing that can come of surrendering those rights de jure is that we will be forced to give them up de facto as well.
There is also the implication — a sure sign of Oslo Syndrome infection — that if only we make this new concession, the “international community” will finally accept us. Have any of the previous withdrawals or concessions to the Palestinians brought anything other than additional demands or rockets and terrorism?
The “international community” has no problem with the racist exclusionary state that the Arabs plan to set up. Of course Jews will not be able to live in an Arab Palestine! But it is very, very concerned about the rights of Arabs living in Israel. Does this asymmetry tell us anything?
The last sentence suggests that we have no options other than surrendering our rights to Judea and Samaria, or annexing all of it and accepting all of its Arab population as citizens. But this is by no means an exhaustive dichotomy.
Finally, look at the language of the letter: “We fear that if approved…,” “Our great fear is…” How revealing! And how inappropriate for representatives of a Jewish people with a sovereign state.
We are confident that with your deep understanding of the gravity of this situation, and your unprecedented political strength, you will ensure that adoption of this report does not take place.