Friday, April 10, 2020

Israel Policy Forum: Neither defending chances for peace or a realistic plan to achieve it - by Jonathan S. Tobin

Nostalgia for the illusions of the past should never be confused with activism that actually helps Israel.

Jonathan S. Tobin..
08 April '20..

The list of signatories to a new letter organized by the Israel Policy Forum protesting the possibility of Israel passing legislation in the upcoming months to annex parts of the West Bank is full of familiar names to those who have followed American Jewish organizational life in the last few decades. Some on the list—like current Reform movement leader Rabbi Rick Jacobs—are still important players in contemporary Jewish life. But many of the big donors and veteran activists mentioned could have been recycled from a host of similar efforts by liberal groups in the distant past.

The letter is a direct response to the latest news about the terms of a still not finalized coalition agreement to form a unity government led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his chief rival, Benny Gantz. But the tone and the language used seem straight out of the early 1990s, when some of the same people were speaking up in favor of the Oslo Accords and its promise of land for peace, or later in the decade when they were disingenuously protesting Netanyahu’s policies during his first term as prime minister for being too slow to make concessions to PLO leader Yasser Arafat. Then, too, they were admonishing Israelis not to defend their rights because doing so would alienate the tender sensibilities of Americans.

Indeed, if a Jewish Rip Van Winkle were to have dozed off during the Clinton administration and awakened in the last week, he would feel right at home with the rhetoric admonishing Israelis not to alienate Americans or to sabotage hopes of peace with the Palestinians.

The push to annex parts of the West Bank, where hundreds of thousands of Jews currently live in settlement blocs, as well as the strategic Jordan Valley divides Israelis. Yet the notion that formalizing Israel’s control over these lands is an obstacle to peace is as much a relic of the past as some of the IPF letter’s signatories.

(Continue to Full Column)

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