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Monday, June 18, 2007

Israel, Zionism, Peace and Americans

According to a recent poll, U.S. 'elites' support Israel, but aren't sure it wants peace:

70 percent cited the need to be "a leader in working for peace" as heading the list of 13 qualities required of an American "ally." But only 16 percent saw this among Israel's traits.
That is something to think about when doing "Israel advocacy" - isn't it? My dear fellow Zionists, it sure is great to blow off steam at the Hamas and their allies, but you really aren't going to nuke Mecca or Tehran, and you don't even really want to do it, so why write such things under the rubric of "Zionism?" Portraying Israel, Zionism and Zionists as being against peace is a falsification of reality. It is "auto-demonification" of "self-hating Jews," isn't it? If you write that "there is no diplomatic solution," you can hardly blame anti-'Zionists' for drawing cartoons of baby-eating Ariel Sharon, and you can't blame Radio Islam and Electronic Intifadah for their rants against Zionist warmongers either.
Of course, it is a vicious and cynical libel to say that Zionists do not want peace, because tiny Israel cannot survive in the Middle East without peace. A Jewish state that will not be able to live in peace with its neighbors, whose right to exist is not recognized, has no future. The work of Zionism is certainly not done until we achieve peace. Then we might talk about a "post-Zionist" period, provided we can bring the majority of Jews here. Until then, peace must remain the cardinal goal of Zionism. Peace is a Zionist plot. Just ask any Hamas representative and he (not 'she,' for certain) will tell you that. So it is ironic and unfortunate that Americans think Israel doesn't want peace, and it is even more ironic when would-be "Zionist" advocates try to project a ferocious and uncompromising image of Israel, to fulfill the propaganda fantasies of our enemies.
In all of the horrific landscape of Israeli-Palestinian and Israeli-Arab relations, there are a few tiny rays of hope, however imperfect, however quixotic. The Ayalon-Nusseibeh plan offers a reasonable compromise that will allow self determination and a bright future for the Jews and for Palestinian Arabs in two independent states. It is unfortunate that Palestinian Arab advocacy groups like BADIL insist that Sari Nusseibeh is a traitor for giving up the "Right of Return" of Palestinian Arab refugees and the struggle against the "Zionist enemy." It is also indicative of what stand supports of peace and supporters of Israel should be taking with regard to Ayalon-Nusseibeh.
The Onevoice initiative for ending the Israeli-Palestinian conflict tries to unite Palestinians and Israelis around an agreed two state peace solution, that is refined in a series of e-referenda. They are educating youth for peace, and creating a constituency that will lobby leaders for peace. It would seem that any decent person would get solidly behind these projects and initiatives, which offer rallying points for those who support peace. We do not need to agree with every word. We all want two independent states for two peoples, living side by side. However, I am embarrassed to say that it is not so: these projects are attaced not only by Islamists and hardline Palestinian 'drive em into the sea' folks, but by "Zionists" as well. Both these projects, and many like them, have been attacked for various reasons by squadrons of "Zionist" publicists and bloggers who live in Chicago or California and other "Zionist" places. One of them decided, on flimsy evidence, that Onevoice supports terrorism, and this bit of rubbish was repeated in a popular "Zionist" publication that appears in the United States.
Others misunderstood or deliberately distorted both the Ayalon Nusseibeh document and the Onevoice initiative, so that they would appear to be "unfair" or threats to Israel. Of course, any peace solution is going to be a compromise, so it is easy for extremists to point out what their side is risking, and what their side is losing in any proposed agreement or peace initiative. The people who lead the anti-peace-group campaigns are often well-meaning. Bitter experience with the peace process of the past thirteen years has illustrated the dangers of misconceived peace agreements. But the peace process foundered because there was no support for peace among the Palestinian people, who elected the genocidal Hamas to lead them. The enemy is not Onevoice or Ayalon-Nusseibeh, which are both, essentially, educational initiatives for peace rather than political statements. The enemy is opposition to the existence of Israel, which these initiatives are trying to overcome.
Those supporters of Israel who want to carry on a political war for or against the occupation or for or against election of a particular Israeli leader, have a right to do so. But they should not confuse their political opinions with "Zionism" and they should not speak in the name of Zionism or of Israel when they insist on opposing peace.
On the other hand, Americans need to do some thinking too:
57 percent "strongly agree" that "the Arab countries around Israel are hostile to its existence," and 85 percent overall said they "agree" with that statement. Some 75 percent said they agreed that "the Arabs don't really accept Israel's right to exist."
That being the case, with whom is Israel to make peace? Those who say there is no partner just now seem to right, and the horrific events in Gaza bear them out.
Ami Isseroff

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