For those who are home, and for those who are on the way. For those who support the historic and just return of the land of Israel to its people, forever loyal to their inheritance, and its restoration.
A number of people, some quite thoughtful, disagreed with my position against J Street yesterday. Since I spent part of the day doing Pessach cleaning, I was able to listen to some of the sessions of the recent J Street conference. I heard Rabbi Saperstein, Jeremy Ben Ami, Peter Beinart, Bernard Avishai, Daniel Levy and Roger Cohen, and was also able to hear when the audience applauded for which statements.
Daniel Levy at one point made a statement about how if it were to be proven that the Arab world really isn't willing to live in peace alongside Israel "then Israel wasn't such a good idea, was it?" but then he went on to say that of course, the Arabs are willing. You'll pardon me if I don't feel compelled to regard Levy as a fellow Zionist in any form or way, even if he was once an aide to Yossie Beilin.
Apart from Levy, however, here's what I found.
These J Street speakers and guest speakers are more or less aligned with the positions of Meretz, perhaps a shade to its left. Meretz, of course, is a legitimate Zionist party, even though it has lost almost all its Israeli voters and hovers near extinction. Yet J Street isn't Meretz, it's something much more troubling, and worthy of our disdain.
First, Meretz positions sound different and more acceptable from Israelis. The reason the party has lost most of its voters is that we've empirically tested its proposals, and lots of people have died as a result - not once, but repeatedly, in 1993-6, in 2000 (twice, once in Lebanon and once with the Palestinians), in 2002, in 2005, and in 2006; arguably also in 2008. Having its basic assumptions serially disproved has discredited Meretz, but if after all that some Israelis still wish to hang on, that's their right; the rest of us don't take them seriously, and that's our right. It's actually surprising how very little animosity Meretz generates these days, especially when compared to their heyday. They're an oddity, and one doesn't get aggravated about oddities; one pities them, or suffers them for the color they add.
The J Street people seem not to have noticed any of this, which is either very peculiar or very disturbing. If they've simply not been watching, what gives them the right to have an opinion about life and death matters they can't make the effort to understand? If they've been watching and refuse to accept what is there to be seen, how exactly do they portray themselves as being on our side?
I visited Hevron in November 2000 after the outbreak of the Rosh Hashanah War to see what could be done to assist in the face of the growing daily attacks on the community. After returning to work for the community in the summer of 2001, a bond and a love was forged that grows to this day. My wife Melody and I merited to be married at Ma'arat HaMachpela and now host visitors from throughout the world every Shabbat as well as during the week. Our goal, "Time to come Home!"