A Letter to Israel from American Jewish Leaders Shows The Problem with American Jewish 'Leaders'

-- Israel is shown merely as responding to Obama’s orders, without pointing out that Israel has been trying to get negotiations restarted for 12 years.

-- The tone of the letter suggests: Look at us! We’re the good kids! We don’t defend Israel’s past actions, we don’t criticize U.S. policy or the Palestinians! 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.

-- The outrageous reference to “painful territorial sacrifices.” It is revealing of the cringing nature of the letter that this phrase is totally unnecessary, since the letter is about immediate, short-term confidence-building measures and not about a final peace treaty. Why focus on a huge Israeli concession when the issue is just to get talks restarted?

-- The word “painful” communicates to me that Israel should have to undergo pain and take risks -- while signers of this document won’t even risk criticizing anything that Obama has done toward Israel. In other words, they want Israel to suffer real risks and pain while generally -- there are exceptions on the list -- they are not willing to themselves suffer the minor pains of being a dissenter to the dominant narrative of the American elite today.

“Painful” in this case should mention that the last time Israel made painful concessions, about 2000 Israelis died from terrorism and the country’s security was badly damaged.

-- How can such a letter not mention this Oslo-era experience or Israel’s other sacrifices for peace?

-- The letter maintains the absurd approach that first Israel makes painful and risky concessions, and only afterward are the Palestinians required to do so. This suggests the typical anti-Israel narrative that the Palestinian leaders are moderate and want peace, while Israel is the barrier to successful negotiations.

-- It openly says that Israel needs to make big concessions, even if the Palestinian leadership gives nothing back.

One thing that is sad about this is that the letter could have been written differently -- to support both Israel and show their support for Obama's new "friendly" policy toward Israel -- and I would bet that all the same people would have signed it.