Daniel Gordis said “no” to the Levy Report in signing on to the far-left “Open Letter” (and the full text is below) released this week which has been fisked a bit here. At Haaretz, rather than his usual Jerusalem Post base, he defends his co-joining the left-of-center American Jews who decided to become very publicly upset at the publication of the Levy Report on Israel’s rights in, and to, Judea and Samaria. He published this piece, Choose hope: Don’t adopt the Levy report.
In short, he thinks that:
To state publicly that what we have in Judea and Samaria is not an occupation might be a legally justifiable claim. But it would also signal that it is time to give up even thinking about how a different reality in the Middle East might be achieved. That, we must not do.
Might be? And why is that “different reality” abhorrent enough for Gordis to join the left-of-center crowd, lend them his name, and that of the Shalem Center? Is the issue that important for him to decide to run with this group of Israeli critics?
Well, we need to review his thinking and so here are some extracts from his defense:
The letter did not argue that Justice Levy’s legal argument was legally incorrect; it also took no stand on settlement issue writ large…The letter simply asserts that if the Prime Minister adopts the Levy Commission report, he will do Israel serious damage.
And how much damage does the letter cause, and I am not arguing that Gordis, et al., do not have the legal right to publish their thinking, but need it have been such a public shaming? Here’s how AP had it in an analysis:
Jewish settlements are at the heart of a 3-year-old deadlock in Mideast peace efforts.
Is that the portrayal that Gordis is comfortable with? He cannot offset that? The “heart”? Not the 90-year old Arab total rejection of Jewish nationalism and a Jewish presence anywhere inEretz-Yisrael?
The letter caused no damage or is it only the damage Netanyahu could possibly cause that is a problem?
He then outlines the damage to Pals. are doing to themselves:
Sadly, Israel has no partner with which to make peace. Today’s Palestinian leadership insists on the refugees’ right of return, something Israel cannot permit if it is to remain a Jewish State. The Palestinians have also rejected Netanyahu’s demand that they recognize Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish State, something that Israel must insist on if precluding the refugees’ return is to be defensible. Neither of those will change anytime soon.
He skips over a bit of terror, some incitement, the corrupt regime that is the Palestinian Authority vis-a-vis its own people and other aspects of a horrific reality but that is ignored. Given, though, those two problematic demands, what is Israel to do?
…A wise Israeli leadership would do everything in its power to communicate to the world that beyond those two existential issues [Israel as a Jewish state and the no return of refugees – YM], which are not negotiable, Israel will discuss virtually anything. There are matters on which Israel will compromise, and others on which it will not…
What “anything” is “virtual”? What issues can be compromised?
True Arab democracy?
IDF presence, long- or short-term on the Jordan River?
Educational curriculum change?
What about Rabin’s formula? From his October 5,1995 Knesset speech, where he summarized his
…vision of the permanent solution. It will include united Jerusalem under Israeli sovereignty, the country’s security border will be on the River Jordan, there will be no return to the 4 June 1967 lines and new blocs of settlements will be built in Judea and Samaria and the Gaza Strip. He spoke of the coming elections to the Palestinian Council, the IDF’s re-deployment and the creation of three zones in the territories.
Or that isn’t left or liberal enough for Gordis’ fellow-signers?
Israel should not establish itself on principles of law?
…While the Levy Commission insisted that its findings were legal and not political, that distinction would be utterly lost on the international community.
Really? And here we all thought that the most incriminating charge against Israel’s presence beyond the Green Line, what justifies the BDS movement, was the illegality of it all. That charge the world does understand but Israel proving that its presence in not illegal is incomprehensible? “Illegality” subverts Israel’s legitimacy but to disprove that is somehow no good?