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American Jews on Jerusalem: We’ll Probably Never Go There, But Palestinians Can’t Share It!

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Mercredi 19 Octobre 2016 - 13:12 Le Grand "Israël"

Dimanche 20 Juillet 2008

I’ve gotten a few “calls” for me to join the J Street lobby, and it is a mystery to me why anyone might think I would even want to (see their About page which I print below the article with my comments in red). I took a look and went straight to see their “settler and aliyah” platforms. I wouldn’t dare to even hope they have normal ideas on the ROR; but you have to start somewhere. Philip Weiss is able to summarise much better than I could that it’s just another hawk in dove’s clothing.

The new alternative Jewish lobby is proving its worth. Yesterday J Street released a detailed survey of American Jewish political opinion. J Street interprets this data in a favorable way to its own efforts, saying that overwhelmingly Jews vote Democratic, oppose Bush’s actions in the Middle East, and want a two-state solution– by 3 to 1. But you know me, I’m skeptical about progressive claims about Jewish opinion with respect to the Middle East, and I find support here. What the study shows is that when you get to brass tacks about Israel, American Jews are hawkish.

Yes, they have an unfavorable view of Joe Lieberman (by 48 to 37 favorable). Yes they will support Obama (but only 60-34 over McCain; bad news for Obama, who wants to get to 70 or 80). Yes they are for talking to Iran, not attacking it (Great!). Yes they are for an aggressive U.S. peacemaking role in the Middle East. Yes they call for sacrifices by Israel to achieve peace. Yes they disavow the neocons! Memo to Doug Feith: 13 percent of American Jews have a favorable view of neocons, 58 percent an unfavorable view, man you are in deep doo-doo. But under that is a hard core of hawkishness.

Consider these data points. By 60-28 Jews are more-likely-than-less likely to support a candidate who says that Israel is America’s greatest ally and we must let the world know that and we must never publicly disagree with Israel. When you make the statement more hawkish–America must do everything it can to protect Israel’s security, even if that means attacking Iran if it pursues nuclear weapons, and cutting off aid to Palestinians if their text books don’t recognize Israel, there is still a 48 more-likely to 41 less-likely split. Jews are tough when it comes to Israel! If a candidate were to say, Israel has repeatedly extended her hand to her enemies and been rejected year after year, and we must work with Israel to eliminate her enemies, Jews will love you– 65/23.

Oh and sadly, there is only one question in the survey expressing the mildest empathy for Palestinian suffering. J Street can’t really go there.

The same hawkishness shows up in attitudes about a peace deal. J Street didn’t really put this data out in its public statements, and I know why: they’re obdurate attitudes. Should Israel give up “most of the West Bank and dismantle many of the Israeli settlements” for a full peace–59/41 in favor. Well, that language is very weak–”Most of the West Bank”, “many of the settlements”–and still you have 41 percent against it! The same obduracy with respect to Jerusalem. Should Palestinian neighborhoods in East Jerusalem be “part of the new Palestinian state” –very vague language indeed, and no mention of the Old City–American Jews are against that 56 to 44 percent! Just what the far-more-conservative American Jewish Committee said in its survey a little while ago. The U.S. should tell Israel to “end settlement expansion.” Yes, 52. No, 48. No wonder Bush and Obama are afraid of their own shadows on the issue.

Oh, how many American Jews who express these hawkish attitudes have been to Israel? 42 percent. 3 out of 5 have never been.

The figures demonstrate the difficulty J Street is in. Even AIPAC gets favorable ratings here (by about 2 to 1) because it backs a hawkish program for Israel. So J Street can’t be too dovish. It will not get numbers. As I have written before, J Street is here to lobby the lobby. To put pressure on AIPAC from the left. Good for J Street! And J Street is trying to grow the differences with AIPAC, by hammering away in this survey on how much Jews dislike Rev. John Hagee of the Christian Zionists, AIPAC’s buddy.

Hagee is window dressing. The real issues are Jerusalem and the West Bank, and J Street reveals: obduracy. Compare those Jewish numbers to American attitudes generally. If all Americans knew, they’d be overwhelmingly against the settlements, and for an international Jerusalem. Which U.N. Partition called for in ‘47. These numbers show why J Street buttoned its lip when Obama shamelessly called for an undivided Jerusalem at AIPAC last month. J Street knows, Jews are behind Obama on that one.

I think J Street is a great thing. It will move things, but it will take years. The most important data here in the end may be the age data. Jews are older than other segments of the population. 52 percent of respondents are 50 and older. Only 36 percent are under 44. It’s the young Jews I’m looking to, and J Street is too. Let those older Jews die off a little, and you may be surprised. Jerusalem may one day be internationalized. But don’t hold your breath. And before that happens, something else is going to happen: there will be open war in the American Jewish community over the meaning of Zionism. I’m counting on the kids.

About J Street:

J Street is the political arm of the pro-Israel, pro-peace movement. (An activist group can’t be a political arm and. how can one be Pro-Israel and at the same time be pro-peace… unless we are talking about the biggest gatekeeping phrase of the century, or at least just another uninteresting sound bite).
J Street was founded (by folks who have lived in Israel and have very strong connections there) to promote meaningful American leadership to end the Arab-Israeli (from the Israeli perspective) and Palestinian-Israel conflicts (from the Israeli perspective) peacefully and diplomatically (by getting Israel what it wants). We support a new direction for American policy in the Middle East and a broad public and policy debate about the U.S. role in the region. (The new policy is just looking less belligerent when working to get Israel what it wants).

J Street represents Americans, primarily but not exclusively Jewish, (ahahahahahaha!) who support Israel and its desire for security as the Jewish homeland (now how original is that?), as well as the right of the Palestinians to a sovereign state of their own (this has become a right? Whereas the internationally recognised right is actually about the status as refugees and a resolution to this status of being apolide and the duty of Israeli reparations) - two states living side-by-side in peace and security. We believe ending the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is in the best interests of Israel, the United States, the Palestinians, and the region as a whole. (We all know, they believe the best interests of Israel are what counts, but they can’t say that, can they?)

J Street supports diplomatic solutions over military ones, including in Iran; (from their Iran page: “Current US Policy towards Iran consists of supporting sanctions and out-sourcing diplomacy, and publicly reserving the right to military action, with the intention of stopping Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons and Iranian interference in Iraq.

A belligerent and possibly nuclear Iran is a serious threat to regional stability, American troops stationed in Iraq, and to our ally Israel, but current US policy fails to adequately address the Iranian threat.’ Well, I don’t see that much difference. It is interference in the name of knowing what is the most convenient thing for us - Israel and the USA). multilateral over unilateral approaches to conflict resolution; and dialogue over confrontation with a wide range of countries and actors when conflicts do arise. For more on our policy positions, click here.

J Street will advocate forcefully in the policy process, in Congress, in the media, and in the Jewish community to make sure public officials and community leaders clearly see the depth and breadth of support for our views on Middle East policy among voters and supporters in their states and districts. (given the results of the survey, there should be no problem whatsoever, there is no difference between them and what we have already on the table). We seek to complement the work of existing organizations and individuals that share our agenda. In our lobbying and advocacy efforts, we will enlist individual supporters of other efforts as partners.

J Street is itself a 501(c)(4) organization and is part of the J Street family of organizations, which includes an independent, legally unconnected Political Action Committee, JStreetPAC.

Mary Rizzo is an art restorer, translator and writer living in Italy. Editor and co-founder of Palestine Think Tank, co-founder of Tlaxcala translations collective. Her personal blog is Peacepalestine.
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Dimanche 20 Juillet 2008

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