There was a time when The New Republic could be counted on for one thing: the defense of Israel, holding up the necessity of maintaining the U.S.-Israel alliance, and a comprehension that the only democracy in the Middle East deserves our support not only because it is morally right, but because it is in the interest of America’s national security. A few days ago, however,many of the magazine’s readers were shocked to find an article on its website by Senior Editor John B. Judis titled “Why the U.S. Should Support Palestinian Statehood at the U.N.”
It is the type of screed that one has come to expect in the pages of The Nation, The New York Review of Books and The American Conservative, as well as in the writings of Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer. These venues in particular have had wide influence and distribution, and certainly, a similar form of argument has no need to also take up the pages of TNR. In many ways, publishing of the piece by its current editors is nothing but a spit in the face to the Editor-in-Chief Emeritus of TNR, Martin Peretz. His unabashed defense of the Jewish state and his moral clarity about the issues underlying the world’s growing attacks on Israel have regularly enraged the the chorus of Israel bashers. To have a piece of this nature now appear in the journal of opinion he has led for years and which he has funded is a rebuke to him from the team that now runs the magazine.
The Judis article is especially repugnant because it contains many falsehoods, bad history, and a failure to understand the issues contributing to the hatred for Israel that is growing around the world. Let me begin with the very first paragraph. Judis writes:
Obama’s position would have made sense if the Israeli government of Benjamin Netanyahu had made generous offers at the negotiating table that the Palestinians have been spurning, but the Netanyahu government has not.
Had Judis done some background research, he would know that the last major offer that the Palestinians spurned was that by outgoing PM Ehud Olmert, who offered them the store, and which Abbas turned down flat. In a previous blog, I dealt with this issue, pointing out, among other things, that Abbas gave away the ruse when he acknowledged that by saying that Israel had occupied Palestine for 63 years, he was acknowledging that “it is not current policy of the Netanyahu government that has caused the failure of peace, but the very creation in May of 1948 of the state of Israel!” And previously, PJM readers had their attention called to Sol Stern’s important article which presented the evidence of how Abbas turned down a magnanimous offer from Olmert that could have led to a very real peace.
Second, Judis goes into the UN’s 1947 General Assembly vote to divide Palestine into two areas, one Jewish and the other Arab. He writes that
In September of 1947, Truman decided to back the Zionist demand for a state in part of Palestine, and American representatives were able to win support within the committee and the General Assembly for a plan that within three years would have created two states and an internationalized Jerusalem. That didn’t establish at once a Jewish majority state, but was a very important step toward doing so.
What any honest and knowledgeable observer would note is that from that moment on, the Arabs, and later the representatives of the Palestinians, turned down the offer point blank, vowing to fight and shed blood to the end to prevent the creation of any Jewish state. Indeed, that is what the phony issue of “the right of return” is all about, the refusal to accept the reality of Israel’s existence.
Next, look at this sentence by Judis:
Perhaps in 1919, there was not as strong a moral case for a Jewish-controlled state in a land inhabited primarily—about 90 percent—by Arab Muslims and Christians. (A case could be made for a homeland for the persecuted from Russia’s Pale of Settlement, but not necessarily for a state, and certainly not, as Zionists of the time advocated, a state that encompassed what would be Palestine and Jordan.)
Note first Judis’ qualifying “perhaps,” with the implication that no reason existed for such a state until after the Holocaust. Second, he does not seem aware that the mainstream Zionists accepted the idea of a homeland or state within the Mandate territory established by the League of Nations after World War I, which included TransJordan. When Winston Churchill cut that area off from the rest of the Mandate, that decision was also accepted by the Yishuv, the Jewish community in Palestine.