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April 16, 2014 / 16 Nisan, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘Daniel Gordis’

Stay off the Slippery Slope

Monday, December 31st, 2012

We are often warned about the dangers of the “extreme right” in Israel — as Thomas Friedman called them, those who “actually want to annex the West Bank.” I presume that Friedman was referring to people like Naftali Bennett, who has made a proposal to annex Area C— the parts of Judea and Samaria where almost all the Jewish residents and few Arabs live.

Even Daniel Gordis, who — unlike Friedman — actually cares about Israel’s future, has suggested that Israeli voters should beware of, er, excessive Zionism, because it could lead to the isolation and ultimate destruction of the Jewish state. In a recent article, Gordis presents a ‘good’ and a ‘bad’ scenario for the Israel of 2063. In the ‘bad’ one,

European hostility to Israel never subsided, and successive Israeli governments turned irritating both the EU and the US into a national sport. In response to repeated European and American demands that building projects cease, the government assured Israelis, “They’ll learn to live with it. We just have to show them we can’t be bullied.”

Germany changed the rules first. Lufthansa stopped flying to Israel, and a year later, Germany refused El Al landing rights. After subsequent dustups, Air France and France followed suit, as did British Airways and the UK. Soon, the only way to get to Europe was by sea. Israelis could still fly to Turkey, though.

Both Friedman and Gordis seem to be saying that Israel must not defy the Europeans and Obama Administration on the issue of Israel’s rights in Judea, Samaria and eastern Jerusalem. By playing along — despite the fact that an excellent case can be made for the legality of Jewish settlement in these places — Israel can avoid potentially disastrous punishment.

There are two problems with this position, one philosophical and the other practical. The philosophical problem is that it represents an abdication of sovereignty, the sovereignty that Jews have been fighting and dying to preserve since the beginning of the Zionist enterprise. It represents a return to the ghetto mentality by which Jewish survival was dependent on the good will of the local gentile prince. Once we agree to the principle, where does it stop?

The practical problem is that the immediate objective of the EU and the Obama administration is the reduction of Israel to the 1949 armistice lines (the so-called “pre-67 borders” which actually were never considered borders by anyone). It is not for nothing that Abba Eban referred to these boundaries as “Auschwitz borders,” because they would be a strategic disaster. Whether you take Naftali Bennett seriously or not, you should look at the illustrations in his proposal. Here’s one of them:

3dIsrael

Both the US and the EU do not accept Israeli sovereignty over any part of Jerusalem — the US State Department continues to insist that until there is an agreement between Israel and the Palestinians, Israel’s capital is not Jerusalem (they won’t say what it is). Many European countries (and the EU’s Foreign Minister Catherine Ashton) are prepared to talk with with a Palestinian ‘government’ that includes Hamas. The EU’s oft-stated position is that any Israeli settlements beyond the Green Line are “illegal under international law.” How can Israel play along with a policy that calls for the expulsion of half a million Jews from their homes?

And this is only the immediate objective. What can we expect next, that the EU will require Israel to grant a ‘right of return’ to 4.5 million descendants of Arab refugees before it will welcome what’s left of Israel into the family of nations?

The EU’s positions can only be expected to harden in the future, as its Muslim population grows. Although it’s harder to predict the behavior of the US in the long run, there are worrisome indications today — like Obama’s floating of a possible nomination for the anti-Israel Chuck Hagel as Secretary of Defense.

The Peace Business

Tuesday, July 17th, 2012

http://sultanknish.blogspot.co.il/2012/07/the-peace-business.html

Anyone who has watched enough monster movies knows how hard it is to kill the monster. You can set Frankenstein on fire, stab Dracula through the chest with a wooden stake and take the Wolfman to the vet; but sooner or later they come roaring back twice as angry as ever.

The Israel Policy Forum, a left-wing group, which mated a few years ago with the Center for American Progress, has split away again to corner that booming market in Jewish organizations that hate Israel; but try to pretend not to when people are watching.

With J Street, Jewish Voice for Peace, Open Zion, Uri L’Tzedek and Americans for Peace Now, just to name a few, all boasting more column inches in the media than members, the revival of IPF is about as timely as opening up a bank dedicated to subprime loans. The market for Israel-bashing, like the market for underwater homes, is falling as fast as Obama’s approval ratings.

In 2008, shortly before IPF merged with CAP, it sent out a letter urging Condoleezza Rice to find a way to bring Hamas into the peace process. So far, the Israel Policy Forum has had no luck with Hamas, but it has dragged in the usual left-wing Jewish millionaires and billionaires looking to ride roughshod over Israel and the Jewish community.

Israel Policy Forum, like Peter Beinart’s Open Zion, is funded in part by Peter A. Joseph, who also serves as IPF’s president. Joseph presides over Palladium Equity Partners, the kind of private equity firm that liberals pretend to bash when it’s associated with Romney, but which they welcome when it’s associated with a lefty. Like so many other lefties with big pockets and bigger egos, Joseph’s money causes him to believe that he can hijack the Jewish community by spending money to create organizations full of fellow lefty millionaires and a few famous names with business ties to them.

The new IPF features David Avital, of the MTP Investment Group who founded Seeds of Peace. There’s hedge fund billionaire Donald Sussman, Neil Barsky of Alson Capital Partners, Lawrence Zicklin, formerly of Neuberger Berman Financial Services, and James E. Walker III, who isn’t actually Jewish, but is also an Obama donor and in the money management business. Finally there’s Marcia Riklis, the daughter of corporate raider Meshulam Riklis, and another Obama donor.

Naturally all the financial guys brought along their lawyers and Israel Policy Forum is full of them, the slimiest of whom may be Melvyn Weiss who specialized in securities class action lawsuits, pleaded guilty to kickback charges and was sentenced to 30 months in prison. Weiss also had ties to Blagojevich and has been disbarred, but he’s back out of prison and back at IPF..

With all these Wall Street guys and layers, IPF looks a lot like a hostile takeover and that’s just what it is. It’s one more attempt by the Anti-Israel left to stage a hostile takeover of the Jewish community and swing the agenda their way. But it didn’t work with J Street and it won’t work with IPF.

The tycoons and lawyers have brought along some of their clients and pet “rabbis” to make the IPF look like something other than a group of left-wing millionaires and billionaires trying to forcibly set the agenda for the Jewish community. And they’re going about it in the usual way, by authoring letters to heads of state telling them what to do, because when you’re playing at that level, that’s just the sort of thing you do.

The IPF has relaunched its bid for policymaking power with a letter to Prime Minister Netanyahu telling him to ignore the Levy Report, which found that Israel is not an Occupying Power, and that there is no reason to discriminate against Jewish homes in any part of Israel. The letter claims to represent a larger consensus, which it does not, despite being chock full of presidents and former presidents of Jewish organizations, who were not elected by any Jewish community, but whose paths to power were paid for, either by them or by those wealthy donors who truly control them.

Then there are a few others, like Deborah Lipstadt who occupies the Dorot Professor of Modern Jewish History chair at Emory U. Dorot is partnered with the far-left New Israel Fund and a number of other Anti-Israel groups. Dorot has given grants to J Street, and its assets are partly managed by Neuberger Berman Financial Services, mentioned above.

The Gordis Not

Tuesday, July 17th, 2012

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?

Jerusalem?

True Arab democracy?

Demilitarization?

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?

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/blogs/my-right-word/the-gordis-not/2012/07/17/

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