Sixth, the “Arab Spring” was a last straw, with revolutionary Islamists seizing power, Turkey changing sides, Iran building a sphere of influence and going full-speed-ahead on nuclear weapons, as well as a U.S. leadership on which Israel couldn’t depend. If ever there was a time for not making concessions and being starry-eyed over peace, our present day is that time.
The majority of Israelis say: I don’t want the settlements. I want a two-state solution. But unfortunately I know that the leadership and majority of Palestinians, Arabs, and Muslims want to destroy us, not to get a Palestinian state. They are getting more radical, due to their own thinking and social issues. We cannot get any reasonable deal and any deal that might happen would be used by them as a more advantageous springboard for continuing the conflict against us.
That is why the Israeli peacenik left collapsed and Benjamin Netanyahu was elected prime minister. It wasn’t that Israel had moved to the right but that reality had done so.
Thus, the problem of American liberal Jews is not to save Israel from reactionary religious extremists and hardline rightists but to come to terms with the views of the majority of Israelis, the centrists and those left of center.
Yet these points that shape Israeli thinking, problems, and reality have almost never been explained in the American mass media or universities. Many Jews have never heard the above argument but simply absorbed the anti-Israel message so prevalent in those two institutions.
The real story, then, is the crisis of a portion of American Jewry—often a more publicly visible and powerful portion–who have forgotten (or never knew) Jewish history. Some of them push the ignorance of the real Israel and Israeli reality in the universities and media; others merely believe what they are being told daily. They would go to a rally about fighting “Islamophobia” but would be horrified by the idea of going to a rally about fighting revolutionary Islamist anti-Semitism.
Along the lines of their thinking we would have to rewrite the Haggadah along these lines:
For we have not merely projected our paranoiac thinking that just one alone has risen against us to destroy us, but we’ve been so overwhelmed with irrational fear that we think in every generation they rise against us to destroy us; even though they are just standing around doing nothing except occasional texting and discussing the big game on television last night. But fortunately the left-wing critics, blessed be They, verbally attack us, help our enemies, and launch boycotts against us which save us from our own stupidity.
Another part of their problem with Israel is that it is, in a sense, too “Jewish” and at odds with their preferred ideology. They want Israel to be what they want America and Europe to be. Yet instead it is too religious; too traditional; too much of a nation-state; too willing to defend itself; and too willing to recognize its enemies even if they are non-white, non-Western, and non-Christian.
If your definition of proper Jewishness is to be like Berkeley and Manhattan’s Upper West Side, Israel is not going to make the grade. On the contrary, Israel seems too much like the South, Midwest, or non-urban areas where people cling to their guns and religion and don’t eagerly turn over large portions of their territory to armed hostile forces that openly proclaim their goal of exterminating them.
I wrote the above paragraph in a style that (hopefully) would be funny but I think it is absolutely true. By being so “primitive,” it embarrasses them, like a Harvard professor whose relatives from the Ozark show up in their pickup truck toting shotguns and going to church.
Yet beyond all of this there is one more point to be understood that is of the greatest importance: the program of this ‘sacrifice (I mean, “save”) Israel for its own good’. That is the very strange program of calling for a boycott of the settlements.
Boycotting the settlements will not affect the settlements, or Israel, or the policies of Israel’s Middle Eastern enemies, and it won’t promote the cause of peace. True, this is an attractive strategy because it sounds moderate and supportive of “mainstream” Israel. But that’s only part of it.
No, the main reason is that it will promote the cause of delegitimizing Israel.
The goal is to change the narrative. Instead of blaming the Palestinian leadership’s, Arab regimes’, and revolutionary Islamists’ rejection of Israel’s existence, refusal to make compromises, glorification of terrorism, demonization of Israel, and even refusal to negotiate, the fault lies with Israel. They don’t have to change at all. It’s Israel that has to make more concessions and take even more risks.
According to this conception it is Israeli settlements that block peace. They force the other side to reject a deal, neglecting the fact that if they had made a deal the territory would have been handed over to the Palestinians and the settlements dismantled. If only the settlements went away, we are told, peace would quickly arrive, rather than understanding that if only the Palestinians made peace the settlements would go away.