The Yom Kippur liturgy talks about the two goats which marked the Yom Kippur holiday in ancient times. One goat was sacrificed on the temple altar and the other goat carried the sins of Israel symbolically on its back and was sent out into the wilderness of Azazel. So the children of Israel purified themselves by ridding themselves of their collective sins. J Street, it seems to me, increasingly has taken upon itself the sins of liberal Zionism and wanders ever farther afield into political Azazel.
Jeremy Ben Ami was interviewed by Reuters about his views of Bibi Netanyahu’s upcoming visit and speech to the U.S. Congress, and the upcoming General Assembly meeting at which the PA will lobby for the recognition of a Palestinian state. Ben-Ami’s views continue to show why my past fervor for J Street has been considerably dimmed. J Street, like the Israeli and U.S. governments, takes a dim view of Palestinian statehood. They’re in favor of it theoretically, you understand. Just not in practice. So when a real chance to declare a Palestinian state comes along, its thumbs down.
So what is Ben Ami’s antidote to a General Assembly-recognized Palestinian state?
…The only way to effectively delay the plan and reduce tensions stoked by surrounding Arab uprisings was for Netanyahu to chart a clear path to a two-state deal.
…”We are urging, from our perspective, that the prime minister’s initiative should be a serious plan…”
Ben-Ami said Netanyahu ought to present a deal along lines agreed in past years of negotiations, including proposed land swaps in exchange for settlement blocs Israel would keep.
“Put a proposal on the table that meets a bar of credibility, not a provisional state on 30 or 40 percent of the land, but a real state, and let them decide if they’re serious about peace or not,” Ben-Ami said.
That’s all well and good. But really, Jeremy, how likely is it that Bibi is going to present anything like what you suggest? Can we get real here? Pretending that Bibi is a statesman or has even a minute possibility of being one is a total waste of everyone’s time. Would you like to believe that Bibi could do such a thing? Do you want to believe that Israel could be a serious, responsible partner for peace? Sure, we all do. But the difference between what J Street wants Bibi to be and what he is is so great that mouthing platitudes as Ben-Ami has done, makes himself and whatever movement or constituency he represents look foolish and ineffectual.
Right now, there is only one serious game in town: the General Assembly proposal and the Fatah-Hamas unity deal. Yes, it may break down. But if you compare what Abbas has on the table with what Bibi has on the table, there’s no comparison. The first offer bears hope, the second bears nothing.
The J Street leaders finally words on the Palestinian proposals once again shows his Pollyanna qualities in stark outline:
Ben-Ami said UN endorsement of a Palestinian state without Israeli agreement on borders could engender violence as the conflict continues.
“Frustration will be higher,” Ben-Ami said. Such sentiment “leads to explosions and all you need is one match on the tinder and we’re very worried about what that leads to.”
You mean creating a Palestinian state would add yet another match on the tinder than the ones Israel has thrown repeatedly over the past few decades? I also find it interesting that a constructive Palestinian approach that doesn’t call for killing anyone or stealing anyone’s land is labelled by Ben Ami as incendiary; but an Israeli approach that offers nothing but more blood and more conflagration is somehow different and less worthy of condemnation.
Get real, Jeremy. You’re so divorced from any conceivable reality it makes you and J Street into almost a laughingstock. You may retain your donors and your constituency, but you’ve lost all political relevance. Which isn’t surprising considering that your sponsors in the Obama administration have lost theirs as well as far as Israel-Palestine policy is concerned.