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Rubin Reports

The April 3 letter which 100 leading American Jews sent Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is distressing.

There’s nothing wrong with the letter’s specified intention to ask Netanyahu to cooperate with President Barack Obama and to facilitate confidence-building measures to try to buy a Palestinian Authority willingness to negotiate, as long as those measures are reciprocated by the other side.

The problem is that the language used parallels the misrepresentation of Israel’s situation and positions: by the way it is written, this letter seems to be not about influencing Netanyahu or Israelis but about enhancing the social and political credentials of those involved — Israel’s security and interests be damned.

In addition, the letter accepts the concept that the Palestinian Authority must be paid benefits to be willing to talk so that it can receive bigger benefits; that it must be begged via “painful” and potentially dangerous Israeli concessions to accept a Palestinian state. Since the Palestinians are doing Israel such a big favor by making peace, this concept goes, Israel should make concessions first, and hope for some compromise from the other side later.

I support a two-state solution based roughly on the pre-1967 borders with relatively minor modifications, which is supposedly the same thing the signers want. But — and here’s where the letter misses the point — only based on a real deal which must be based on mutual compromises, an eagerness by both sides to make a lasting peace, and a structure that seems likely to make the peace lasting.

In fact, a deal is impossible because the PA doesn’t really want one, which is why they need to be begged with treats to talk — and why even if there are a few talks, they won’t succeed. Also, at a time of growing radicalization in the region, a theoretical deal based on “painful” concessions would endanger Israel’s strategic situation.

The implication of the letter, in contrast, is that a peace deal is so urgent for Israel that it must be desperate to get one no matter what the cost. That nothing can go wrong with the new situation an agreement can create; that Israel’s prime goal must always be to keep the current president happy despite any judgment or considerations of its own.

Those who signed the letter — remember, they didn’t write it — are all good people, none of whom are anti-Israel. That’s why these people should have known better and written this letter differently.

None of this was necessary and the matter could have been handled with dignity and much greater effectiveness.

There are left-wingers, more powerful than ever before in U.S. history, who loathe Israel and want to see it greatly weakened or wiped out; there are conservatives who are pro-Israel, though some want to exploit it for partisan purposes. (By the way, it should be noted that the main group, the conservative Emergency Committee for Israel, is hypocritical since its leadership includes people who support Obama’s dangerous pro-Islamist policy, which is more dangerous for Israel than anything Obama is doing on the “peace process.”)

But: where are the liberal pro-Israel forces who should be speaking out sensibly, and not merely rubber-stamping Obama’s policy and mass media stereotypes?

Here is the letter’s text:

Dear Prime Minister Netanyahu:

As Americans deeply committed to Israel’s security, we were heartened by President Obama’s recent historic visit and his unequivocal assertion that “so long as there is a United States of America, Ah-tem lo le-vad.” We also are encouraged by the rapprochement with Turkey, which was achieved in great measure due to your leadership.

We believe that this is a compelling moment for you and your new government to respond to President Obama’s call for peace by taking concrete confidence building steps designed to demonstrate Israel’s commitment to a ‘two-states for two peoples’ solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. We urge you, in particular, to work closely with Secretary of State John Kerry to devise pragmatic initiatives, consistent with Israel’s security needs, which would represent Israel’s readiness to make painful territorial sacrifices for the sake of peace.

Your leadership would challenge Palestinian leaders to take similarly constructive steps, including, most importantly, a prompt return to the negotiating table.

We join with President Obama in expressing our steadfast support for your efforts to ensure Israel’s future as the secure and democratic nation state of the Jewish people.

So: what is wrong with this text?

Comments are closed.

Top Rated Comments   
I read the first couple of paragraphs of your post. Got the gist of what was coming and just COULDN'T STOMACH what I knew was coming.
Does anybody, including those who write these stupid letters of 'concern' really believe they get read?
I think it is like signing "Save the Whales" petitions, done at a high end cocktail party or gala ball, in front of your peers, solely for social aggrandizement.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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All Comments   (18)
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This post and the ensuing comments just go to serve my theory: American Conservatives love Jews, just not American Jews. Classic projection, how we wish American Jews were rather than how they are. The "self-hating Jew" argument is insulting to Jews everywhere, as if one faction, especially a non-Jewish faction, has the right to define the "good Jew".
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
When will American Jews learn that the Palestinians have no intentions of living in peace with Israel as a Jewish state, even as every one of Israel's neighbors is a religiously cleansed Muslim state. In addition to 65 years of hard evidence and a steadfast refusal to recognize Israel's right to exist, the Palestinians have been nice enough to put their objectives to wipe Israel off the map and kill Jews IN WRITING. Here's one example:
http://avalon.law.yale.edu/20th_century/hamas.asp

What is Israel's compromise position supposed to be in any talks with such an adversary?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Barry Rubin is a scholar and a highly moral and upstanding person. So I hope the criticism that follows is not taken personally.

Barry Rubin writes

"I support a two-state solution based roughly on the pre-1967 borders with relatively minor modifications, which is supposedly the same thing the signers want. But — and here’s where the letter misses the point — only based on a real deal which must be based on mutual compromises, an eagerness by both sides to make a lasting peace, and a structure that seems likely to make the peace lasting."

Barry Rubin seems to be advocating Barack Obama's position stated when Benjamin Netanyahu first visited Washington.

The concept of "two states for two peoples" implies that the Arabs who now call themselves Palestinians are a people. The Jewish People ARE a people with a four thousand year history. The Palestinians as a people were invented after the 1967 Six Days War as a tool with which to destroy Israel. Are the Arabs a people? Yes.

From Wikipedia:
"The standard definition of the Arab world comprises the 22 countries and territories of the Arab League stretching from the Atlantic Ocean in the west to the Arabian Sea in the east, and from the Mediterranean Sea in the north to the Horn of Africa and the Indian Ocean in the southeast.[1] It has a combined population of around 340 million people, with over half under 25 years of age."

This does not include the non-Arab regional Islamic nations of Iran and Turkey.

When are we going to stop repeating the nonsensical statement "two states for two peoples" ?

Let's consider this further. Before the Iranian revolution, Israel had very close relations with Iran. Israel imported most of its oil from Iran and there was a lot of trade and cooperation. Iran also received a huge supply of advanced weaponry from the U.S. Then the Shah was overthrown, and we know the rest. Iran is now Israel's greatest existential threat.

A similar thing happened with Turkey. Before the current Islamist regime took over, Israel had very good relations with Turkey. There was a lot of military cooperation, and Israel sold a lot of advanced weaponry to Turkey. Israel sent teams of rescuers and doctors to help Turkey when they had an earthquake. Now all that goodwill has completed evaporated. It has been replaced with open hate speech by the Turkish leader. How many people predicted that Turkey would revert from many decades of institutionalized secularism to Islamism?

So how, even in the most ideal hypothetical fantastical circumstances of present day peace, can Israel ever trust that a Palestinian state would not revert to Islamism? The reversion to the 1967 borders is suicidal.

But besides that, Judea and Samaria (Yehuda and Shomron) is Jewish land. It is the very heartland of the Jewish nation. Israel is a tiny spec on a world map; the Arabs have lands whose area is continental in size.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Anybody with enough money or political clout can proclaim themselves to be a ," Jewish Leader ". Most of these self proclaimed poseurs are actually neither.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
They will never accept our existence, full stop.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
These sorts of letters are all too frequent and tedious (no doubt the signers wish/need to express their servility to their political Messiah). I'm sure Obama couldn't care less.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
"The job of Jewish leaders is to criticize their own side and urge it to be nicer, even if that costs the lives of other Jews (Israelis), while they risk nothing."

Is there a "not" missing from this sentence? As in "The job of Jewish leaders is NOT to criticize their own side...."
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I read that sentence as being deeply sarcastic (a "not" is not missing)...
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Those Brethren of yours are detached on the actual plight of Israel. Giving away the Land as a piece of meat to silence a growling bully. It won't solve the problem as proven through years of unreciprocated concessions. No Israel, no !!! Islamic culture is: they won't stand on their word. You yourselves can attest to that. The Holy Scriptures stated, time comes you will be pushed back further ...
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
J Street is run by Jews who are anti-semiites. Bibi knows what he is doing for the most part. Concessions will not work with the Fakestinians. It has been tried many times and the end result in each case it has led nowhere or has to led increased violence against the Jews/Israel. The letter is asking Bibi to roll over and play dead. When will Jews learn that this does not work, that it is nothing but a pipe dream? The world as it stands today walks all over nice people, especially in the middle east.

If there is a war in the middle east involving Israel, I am sure that I can count on J Street and similar organizations not to back Israel.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Tel Aviv 1930
Dear Barry you write:
There’s nothing wrong with the letter’s specified intention to ask Netanyahu to cooperate with President Barack Obama and facilitate confidence-building measures to try to buy a Palestinian Authority willingness to negotiate.
and
I support a two-state solution based roughly on the pre-1967 borders with relatively minor modifications, which is supposedly the same thing the signers want.
It proves, even garnished with assorted ifs, that you also don't get it. May i recommend to you Martin Sherman?
Yours
Ted Siman

1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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