A cri de coeur from Haaretz’s eminent columnist, Akiva Eldar, reinforcing how critical is the American Jewish community’s support for the Annapolis conference and a two state deal with the Palestinians:
American Jews can make a powerful contribution to helping diplomacy succeed. But doing so will require a break with the past.
We constantly hear that the Jewish community supports Israel — wherever its government stands. For more than 40 years, however, the community’s moral, political and financial power has been mostly occupied in building Israel’s strategic supremacy, and in containing any pressure from American administrations for Israel to change its policies in the territories.
In the early 1990s, Jewish activists were all over Washington, lobbying Congress to confront the first President Bush. Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle stood up to the president, who had the chutzpah to push Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir to stop expanding settlements as the White House tried to organize a Mideast peace conference. Four years later, as President Clinton was bringing Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat together to douse the fires in the region, Aipac convinced Republican presidential candidate Bob Dole to introduce a bill demanding the American Embassy be moved to Jerusalem.
As we all know, the American Embassy still has not moved to Israel’s capital. It seems it’s much easier to lobby for empty bills than to call for an active American role in the peace process. It’s more popular to sign petitions against “dividing” Jerusalem (how can one re-divide a city that was never really reunited?) than to encourage Prime Minister Olmert to turn the phrase “City of Peace” from a cliché into a reality.
We Israelis who experienced the traumatic days of the eve of the Six Day War will never forget the great support we received at the time from our Jewish brothers and sisters in America. We will always remember the many young volunteers who lined up to get a seat on a flight to Israel.
Forty years later, Israeli flags fly in front of our embassies in Cairo and Jordan. Now, the other members of the Arab League are offering the prospect of opening their own embassies in Israel. Yes, in return for peace, Israel will have to give up the West Bank and Palestinian neighborhoods in East Jerusalem. In return, however, it will regain its Jewish, democratic and moral values.
As always, the final decision will be in the hands of the Israelis. But the American Jewish community has to decide whether it wants to be helpful in making peace or only in times of war.
Please God, Howard Kohr and his AIPAC chevra read this and took it very seriously (though I doubt it).
Ira Glunts says
“Please God, Howard Kohr and his AIPAC chevra read this…”
They are not listening. Placing our hopes on Rice, Bush, Abbas, Olmert and Barak at Annapolis seems to me like misplaced energy.
“The Iron Sheik” says all the Palestinians have are “old keys and new poems.” It seems to me what all we in the Jewish peace camp have are “old false hopes and new smaltzy peace songs.”
Maybe we should listen to the voices of those we are oppressing. It is less comforting than the smaltzy stuff, but in the end may be better for you.
Please give a listen.