In a wrenching critique of Judis, Jonathan S. Tobin writes in Commentary online that Abbas turned down Kerry’s proposal although it was based on the 1967 borders that Israel opposes, and Netanyahu agreed while Abbas said no. As Tobin puts it, “And yet even though Abbas’s decision makes a fourth historic no to peace terms from the Palestinians in the last 15 years, Judis still thinks the collapse of the talks is Israel’s fault.”
Judis also argues that increased Israeli housing in the occupied West Bank doubled in 2013, and hence it is the continuing Israeli settlements that are the impediments to peace. As Tobin explains, Judis does not note that “almost all the houses slated for construction are to be built in the settlement blocs and neighborhoods in Jerusalem that will be part of Israel in any agreement.”
And yet, despite Israel’s release of prisoners guilty of the most heinous acts of terrorism against Israeli civilians imaginable, to the protest of many in Israel, Judis bemoans that if the Netanyahu government does not go through with the promised release of even more terrorists, “PLO support for negotiations would disintegrate.” Yet Abbas made it clear to President Obama that while he plans to not negotiate if Israel demands recognition of Israel as a Jewish state, and that he will not give up “the right of return” for all of the 1948 refugees and their descendants, he demands that Israel release more terrorists — whom he then greets as heroes in Ramallah in major public ceremonies. As Tobin points out, Abbas also is now demanding the release of Marwan Barghouti, a Fatah leader serving five life sentences for murders ordered by him during the second intifada.
Judis argues at the end of his article that unless Israel makes the concessions demanded of them by Abbas, then “a real tragedy” might occur. This is the same false logic of the realists who I criticized in my last column, who always use the argument that if we don’t negotiate with a current regime — such as Iran — the would-be hardliners waiting in the wings will take over, and then all will get worse.
The bottom line is that Judis’ arguments are to be expected from an author who seems to desperately want to join the crusade against Israel, while using his deeply flawed book as the excuse to present himself as an expert on the problems of the Middle East. As I argued in my review and in a Jerusalem Post op-ed, he is simply regurgitating every anti-Israel argument from the Arab narrative of decades past, questioning the very existence of Israel as a nation-state.
What else can one expect from a journalist who believes Israel should never have been created, and that Israel’s essence is that of all the Western imperialists and colonialists who seek to oppress the downtrodden for their own nation’s gain? Judis himself is an opponent of a two-state solution who begrudgingly realizes Israel has to be dealt with as an existing entity, but which in his dreams he hopes will still dissolve and become a bi-national state, or an Arab state with a Jewish minority.
The tragedy is that a major journal of opinion believes that he has the credentials to write about the area, although virtually every major review of his book, including those by writers who agree with his politics, made it clear that he knows little and his history and analysis is completely wrong. Only when the major sources of public opinion in the liberal community that was once supportive of Israel have turned into the Jewish state’s critics would someone like John Judis be allowed to analyze and write about events in the Middle East.