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J Street: Demand Israel’s Peace Process Goal be Palestinian State

Israeli leadership is committed to having the goal of the peace process be peace. Such a position is apparently an affront to J Street's worldview, the focus of which is the creation of a Palestinian State, whether or not that will bring peace.
Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas has said he will never recognize a Jewish state and there will be no Jews allowed in a Palestinian State.

Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas has said he will never recognize a Jewish state and there will be no Jews allowed in a Palestinian State.

In a May 22 email to the many thousands on J Street’s virtual rolodex, the organization that calls itself “pro-Israel, pro-peace” revealed its true nature: it is focused solely and exclusively on the creation of a Palestinian State, and peace be damned.

It did this by exhorting its American followers to demand that the democratically elected Israeli leadership say out loud what J Street wants it to say.

J Street cued up from U.S. secretary of state John Kerry’s efforts to launch yet another initiative aimed at achieving peace between Israel and its Arab Palestinian neighbors.

But it then takes what it wants to be true, asserts it as if there is no other truth, and demands that Americans get aggressive with the Israeli government to make a public commitment to J Street’s view of reality, rather than what the Israeli government knows is reality.

Here’s the sleight of hand in J Street’s email:

The basis of any such effort, of course, has to be a two-state solution — an independent Palestine existing in peace and security alongside Israel. But is this the policy of the government of Israel?

Some members of Prime Minister Netanyahu’s governing coalition are openly stating not only that they do not personally believe in a two-state solution but that the two-state solution is not official government policy. They wrangled about it publicly in a parliamentary committee meeting this week.

Member of Knesset and former Speaker Reuven Rivlin (Likud) noted “substantial divides inside the government” on the question.

And MK Orit Struck (Jewish Home) came right out and said “two states for two peoples is not the government’s official position … it is perhaps Netanyahu’s position… but has not been accepted as the government’s position.”

J Street subtly takes what it says is a basis for a solution and converts it into the solution. In contrast, Israeli leadership is committed to having the goal of the peace process be peace. Such a position is apparently an affront to J Street’s worldview.

It is especially chutzpadik to demand that the Israeli government bend its knee to J Street and declare its support for the creation of a Palestinian state at this time of profound unrest in the Middle East.

This is a singularly dangerous time in Middle East history.  The terrorist-driven Muslim Brotherhood and al Qaeda and its affiliates are on the ascent.  The closest thing to a moderate Arab Palestinian leader is Mahmoud Abbas whose term as president expired almost 5 years ago.  Abbas routinely and publicly lionizes current and ancient terrorists and frequently admits, although mostly in Arabic,  that he is not committed to peace with Israel.

And Mahmoud Abbas is on record that not one Jew will be allowed to live and breathe in any Palestinian State.  So what exactly is it that J Street is demanding?

J Street’s letter imperiously casts anyone who disagrees with its vision of a perfect Middle East – one with a Palestinian State (whether or not there is peace) – as a roadblock to peace.  The hubris is dazzling.

For there to be any hope of progress, the Israeli government must state unequivocally that support for a two-state solution is a core principle of its foreign policy – as it has been under every Prime Minister since Yitzhak Rabin.

A simple declarative statement by Netanyahu or by Israel’s US ambassador Michael Oren would dispel these doubts immediately. They need to speak out now.

Adding still more urgency to its demand, J Street includes a quote from MK Ronen Hoffman, “how is it possible to expect the Palestinians to enter negotiations when part of our government opposes a Palestinian state?”

And yet, no demand is made of any Arab Palestinian leader to commit to peace with Israel.

Why isn’t J Street’s question turned around? Shouldn’t supporters of Israel logically ask this question, instead: “How is it possible to expect the Israeli government to enter negotiations with Arab Palestinian leaders when there is overwhelming evidence that few if any of the leadership supports peace with the Jewish State of Israel?”

J Street ends its May 22 email pooh-poohing the idea that mere talks between the parties is useful. Again it asserts its own position as if it were ultimate truth: “But what’s needed isn’t talk, it’s a resolution of this conflict and that will only happen if both sides are clearly committed to reaching the same goal: a two-state solution.”

Isn’t it more accurate to state that the Israeli-Arab Palestinian conflict can only be resolved if both sides are clearly committed to reaching the same goal: peace?

J STREET’S CAMEO IN THE CURRENT IRS CONTROVERSY

If J Street is not firmly and primarily focused on ensuring there be peace in the Middle East, but is instead only committed to the creation of a Palestinian State, is it appropriate for J Street to use its American-granted tax-exempt status to attempt to interfere with the government policies of a foreign government?

Tax experts tell The Jewish Press that the permissibility of political activity focused on changing the law of a foreign government is a gray area, one not contemplated in the Internal Revenue Code.  Fair enough.  But the lack of a clear red line did not stop J Street from calling on the U.S. government to scrutinize legitimate U.S. organizations which dared to support policies J Street does not support, even when those policies were not illegal and not impermissible under the tax code.

J Street’s current call for American interference in – and subtle threats directed toward – the Israeli government for failing to mouth J Street’s mantra is especially galling, given J Street’s very public 2010 – does that date sound familiar? – urging of the U.S. government to launch investigations into groups with tax exempt status which support “settlement activity” in the “West Bank.”

On July 6, 2010, J Street issued the following statement:

J Street calls on the United States Treasury Department and relevant Congressional bodies to launch thorough investigations into whether or not the organizations funding settlement activities on the West Bank named in today’s New York Times report have broken the law.

The alleged links between the named organizations and former officials and donors associated with far-right Jewish groups that are classified as terrorist organizations by the State Department provide a reasonable starting point for an investigation. J Street reiterates our ongoing concern over the intention and impact of American organizations and individuals that fundraise for settlement activity over the Green Line, including for many outposts that even the Israeli government considers illegal. Ongoing settlement construction is diminishing the chances of a two-state solution and endangering Israel’s very future as a Jewish, democratic home. Funding such activity is both irresponsible and provocative.

You know what is really irresponsible and provocative?  Demanding the Israeli government place a priority on the creation of a Palestinian State when there is no credible evidence it will be anything but a terrorist entity.

Maybe while congress is looking into abusive tactics by the IRS it might also want to launch a separate investigation into tax exempt organizations seeking to promote the immediate creation of a terrorist state right next door to our closest ally in the Middle East.

Lori Lowenthal Marcus

About the Author: Lori Lowenthal Marcus is the U.S. correspondent for The Jewish Press. A graduate of Harvard Law School, she previously practiced First Amendment law and taught in Philadelphia-area graduate and law schools. You can reach her by email: Lori@JewishPressOnline.com


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