Writing in today’s New Republic, John B. Judis once again shows how little he knows about the situation in the Middle East, and about which party is responsible for the forthcoming failure of the so-called “peace process.” About the only point about which he is correct is the one stated in his headline: “John Kerry’s Peace Process is Nearly Dead.”
Judis, as in his recent book Genesis: Truman, American Jews and the Origins of the Arab/Israeli Conflict (which I wrote a negative review of here), proves that he is seeking to present himself as an expert on policymaking in the Middle East, so that he can add to the chorus of those seeking to delegitimize and attack Israel as the sole power responsible for lack of movement towards peace in the region.
The truth is, as Jennifer Rubin points out, that President Obama was carefully orchestrating the talks to be able to paint Israel as the power that was obstinate, having attacked Israel before the talks while painting Mahmoud Abbas as a man of peace. As she writes: “In fact, Abbas last year forced out the only true Palestinian reformer Salam Fayyad, has refused to hold elections and occupies the presidency beyond the legally allotted term.” Moreover, he has agreed with the claim that Palestine will never give up “the right to return,” which would mean that Israel would be all Palestinian, as any Palestinian, even those born recently, could return to present-day Israel and take back the homes they claim were once theirs.
Abbas has also made it clear that the Palestinians will not accept Israel as a Jewish state. Already, Obama’s loyal troops in the Jewish community — in particular J-Street — have demanded that the Israeli government give up that demand. Its president, Jeremy Ben-Ami, wrote a letter to his supporters arguing that the issue of recognizing Israel as a Jewish state must not be raised by Israel, and if Israel does insist on this, Israel alone will be responsible for failure of the process. He echoes John Kerry, whom he quotes as saying that the issue of a Jewish state cannot be made into “the critical decider of their attitude towards the possibility of a state and peace.”
Judis also makes this claim, revealing how little he knows about the issues. He writes that Netanyahu has made what he calls “the new demand” for recognition of Israel as a Jewish state, made only so that “the Palestinians would reject it and that he could then blame the failure of the talks on them.” Here, as Rick Richman points out, he is only repeating what the New York Times previously argued, “that recognition of a Jewish state is a new issue, allegedly raised by Netanyahu to prevent peace.”
But Judis and the anti-Israel New York Times are wrong. Judis, clearly, does not know that Dennis Ross has said that when he was negotiating with the Palestinians during the Clinton administration, that issue was part of the negotiations. Earlier this month, Ross said the following in a talk titled “Israel, America and the Middle East:Challenges for 2014”:
When I hear it said that this is the first time this issue has been raised — the people who say that think that no one knows history. Now maybe it’s true that most people don’t know history. But they should never say it to me. When we were at Camp David, this issue was raised. In the period after Camp David, before we did the Clinton Parameters, this issue was raised. This issue has been raised for obvious reasons. From the Israeli standpoint, there is a need to know that the Palestinians are committed to two states, meaning in fact that one state is Palestinian and one is the state of the Jewish people. They need to know the Palestinians are not about two states, one Palestinian and one bi-national.
Ari Shavit, author of the best-selling My Promised Land:The Triumph and Tragedy of Israel, has also beautifully stated the need for acceptance of Israel as a Jewish state. Shavit, a man of the Israeli left, writes in Haaretz “that it is the most natural and justified demand imaginable.” To this day, he writes, “the Palestinian national movement refuses to see the Jewish people and recognize in this way its right to a Jewish state.” Their refusal to do so, he points out, is what is responsible for the 100-year war “between them and us.”
It is Israel that now recognizes the need for a Palestinian state, and as a man of the left, he argues that they indeed have “legitimate rights.” Israelis know there is another people living in the land they share, while it is the Palestinians who have not and will not recognize that right for the Jews. As for the “right of return,” Shavit accurately notes that no Palestinian leader dares tell his people that in fact they will never return to the villages and cities they lost in the 1948 war. The Jewish people, he sarcastically writes, “is a people of this land, and it did not arrive here from Mars.” The Jews of Israel, he writes, “are not colonialists but legal neighbors.”
And that point brings me back to the reprehensible John B. Judis. He believes, contrary to historical fact, that Zionism is a “settler-colonialist” movement, and that it was created in order to oppress the Arabs and to take the land from them that was rightfully theirs. His entire book is based on the premise that Israel should not have been created. No wonder he supports what Shavit calls a one-sided peace process, in which “Israel gives and the Palestinians receive.”