Anyone who knows Shmuel Rosner’s writing for Haaretz knows he’s a cheerleader for the AIPAC crowd. If you look at his Israel Factor rating system of presidential candidates according to their alleged “pro-Israel” agendas, you’ll find the most hawkish candidates in both parties get the highest ratings. Obama gets the lowest rating despite the fact that he has neither said or done anything that would make him persona non grata to AIPAC. The actual lowest rated is Chuck Hagel (natch), though he never became a candidate.
For this reason I was delighted to read M.J. Rosenberg’s new Israel Policy Forum column, The Anti-Israel Factor, in which I detected an ironic invocation of Rosner’s column. In today’s piece, Rosenberg expands upon Gershom Gorenberg’s recent American Prospect story, What Does It Mean to Be a Pro-Israel Candidate? Here are some of the most cogent of the former’s analyses:
The very policies pushed on public officials and candidates by supposedly pro-Israel advocacy groups have produced disaster for Israel. They ensured that U.S. assistance to Abu Mazen’s Palestinian Authority would be so stingy that Hamas would beat Fatah in the Palestinian elections. They supported only Israel’s unilateral withdrawal from Gaza but not a negotiated agreement with the Palestinians that would have gotten Israel out of Gaza without transforming it into a terror launching pad. They pressured the Bush administration not to insist on the immediate dismantling of the illegal outposts and checkpoints not needed for Israeli security even though such actions would have boosted Abbas and harmed Hamas. They encouraged neither prisoner exchanges nor cease-fires, nor a permanent settlements freeze, oblivious to how they were strengthening Hamas. In short, these status quo positions—which candidates are pressured to endorse—have done nothing for Israel, other than to perpetuate the misery typified by the words Gaza and Sderot.
So what is a candidate to say, particularly about the Arab-Israeli conflict?
I’ve written this before. A candidate should say: “If I am elected President, I will do everything in my power to bring about negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians with the goal of achieving peace and security for Israel and a secure state for the Palestinians. As a supporter of Israel, I believe that Israel’s surest route to security is by reaching an agreement with the Palestinians. Furthermore, I believe that achieving an equitable Israeli-Palestinian agreement will advance America’s interests throughout the Middle East and the Muslim world. Peace between Israel and the Arabs will only be achieved by means of U.S. leadership and I intend to provide it.”
That should be the basic message just as it should be our basic policy.
Grandstand rhetoric about a candidate’s undying love for Israel is meaningless if not coupled with the promise of leadership to help bring it peace…
Pro-Israel policies should produce results that are good for Israel. That is obvious. Equally obvious is that the policies promoted by the single-issue crowd have produced the opposite. Pro-Israel? I think not.
Take that, Rosner.
Bill Pearlman says
First of all, that approach was tried, the Oslo accords. Second, aid to Abbas is like aiding Chiang in 1949, it doesn’t work. Lastly, I think its a matter of gut feelings when it comes to the Israel factor in Haaretz. We’ve been backed into a corner so many times in history it comes down to this. Who would make the airlift to Israel in the Yom Kippur war. And who wouldn’t. that’s the difference in the Rosner articles. Not nuances.
I think it was someone in Israel that said, “Friends don’t let friends drive drunk, and the United States has been letting Israel drive drunk for the past many years.” I have some sympathy for politicians for kowtowing to the Israeli Lobby as they will be targeted for defeat if they do not.