The organized American Jewish community seems to operate on a time delay. It is about 20 years behind reality.
For example, the Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA) operates a program called the “Israel Action Network,” which is intended to “counter assaults made on Israel’s legitimacy.” In its latest newsletter (July 29, 2013), we find this fulsome statement:
“The American Jewish community has long sought a peaceful resolution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, one which can only be achieved through direct negotiations between the parties. We are pleased by the announcement that senior Israeli and Palestinian officials will return to the table for direct final status talks this week in Washington,” said JFNA Board of Trustees Chair Michael Siegal. “The Jewish Federations are especially grateful for the relentless efforts of the U.S. leadership, and specifically Secretary of State John Kerry for continuing on his mission to create this historic opportunity, in the face of skepticism. Prime Minister Netanyahu will no doubt have to continue to make difficult – and often controversial – decisions and sacrifices in the coming weeks and months, but we have no doubt that as he does, he will remain committed – as we are – to the security of the Jewish state. We both praise and respect him for this, and encourage President Abbas to show the same level of leadership going forward.” …
Added JCPA [Jewish Council for Public Affairs, a subsidiary of JFNA] President Rabbi Steve Gutow, “This is a great achievement for Secretary of State Kerry who invested so much time and diplomatic effort in finally bringing Israel and the Palestinians back to the negotiating table. Two states for two peoples cannot be achieved without strong U.S. leadership, and we are thankful to Secretary Kerry and President Obama for their leadership. But the hard work is just beginning. As we move forward, we urge all who want peace to support these negotiations and to encourage reconciliation, not division.”
I think that we would be hard pressed to find more than a few percent of Israelis that believe that there is the slightest chance of a real peace agreement with the PLO, whose demands on the issues of borders, refugees, Jerusalem, etc. are as far or farther from Israel’s bottom lines as ever.
Much has happened since 1993, including at least 1,400 Israelis murdered by Palestinian terrorists. One of the most disquieting phenomena has been the continued anti-Israel and anti-Jewish incitement in the Palestinian media — in particular those outlets controlled by the PLO and Hamas. Today, some 62% of the population of the Palestinian Authority say that suicide bombings against civilians are often (37%) or sometimes justified. Only 16% reject this tactic entirely!
It has also become clear that the PLO, a corrupt and criminal enterprise, is not capable of creating a viable state, even if it were capable of defending itself against Hamas, something that it depends on the IDF to do for it.
Today, the PLO continues to create obstacles to the negotiations and leak them to the media, because it is not interested in any deal that Israel would agree to. It would prefer that the talks fall apart and Israel be blamed. For its part, Israel’s government has agreed to play by US rules, because it wants US support on other issues, like Iran. But it has no illusions.
Let me put it another way: like most ordinary Israelis, most government officials do not believe that the ‘peace process’ is anything other than a dead end and a tool to force them to make concessions to the Palestinians. But they feel that they have no choice but to participate at this very dangerous time.
The US administration and the State Department keep selling this rancid product long past its expiration date because of promises made to the Arab nations after the 1973 oil boycott. They must understand the impossibility of ‘success’, if this means a peaceful state alongside Israel. Either they are like the dog that chases cars without a plan of what to do if he should catch one, or they are lying about their concern for Israel.
It is much clearer today than it was in 1993 that this path to peace is a mirage. Israelis noticed, but JFNA hasn’t. Possibly one of the reasons is Rabbi Steve Gutow, who, in addition to being President and CEO of JFNA’s JCPA (which calls itself “the representative voice of the organized American Jewish community,” although how it determines what its constituents think isn’t clear), was the “founding executive director of the National Jewish Democratic Council (NJDC),” whose mission is to increase Jewish support for Democratic candidates and policies.
Rabbi Gutow thus unsurprisingly supports the administration’s Mideast policy, but presenting it as the opinion of the Jewish community is a stretch — and his position is a huge political conflict of interest.
It also appears that JFNA has a policy of not supporting projects across the Green Line, although some funds may reach the communities there indirectly (I was once told by a JFNA employee that “not one dollar” of contributions is spent in the territories).
Most ordinary Israelis know that settlements are not the cause of the conflict nor the reason it continues. They remember that Palestinian terrorism predated ‘occupation’, and that the worst terrorism followed concessions to the PLO. They know that Israel is not building new settlements, or even expanding the boundaries of old ones. They know that Israel has abandoned settlements for ‘peace’ in Gaza and Sinai and would do it again if it believed there would be peace.
They know that the real obstacle to peace is Arab hatred for Jews and rejection of Jewish sovereignty.
The Israeli Left and a bunch of European-paid anti-state NGOs make a lot of noise here, far out of proportion to the degree to which they represent opinion in Israel (hardly at all). I suggest that US leaders of supposedly pro-Israel organizations ignore them and pay attention to what ordinary Israelis say out loud (and officials say quietly in private).