Friday, May 14, 2010

Pro-Israel, Pro-Peace

I’ve long considered myself to be both Pro-Israel and Pro-Peace.

Israel: I strongly support Israel, and I generally (but not always) think that Israel does the right thing (or, if you prefer, the least-wrong thing) in its handling of the ongoing conflict with the Palestinian people (and the other Arab nations). I’m a strong believer that the conflict, while certainly exacerbated at times by Israeli actions, is fundamentally the result of decisions made by the Palestinians.

Peace: If I were in charge of the world, then there would be some version of a Two-State Solution in place tomorrow. I believe that the right thing is to have Israel and a Palestinian State, living side-by-side. I believe that not only because it seems to be the only way to achieve a long-term peace, but because I think it’s just – both peoples deserve a country to call their own.

Many people think that it’s impossible to be both Pro-Israel and Pro-Peace. So, I often try to find ways to express how and why I am definitely both. Today, I saw an e-mail by a Rabbi from Israel (whom I know only through his writing and reputation) by the name of Micky Boyden, which says what I often want to say, only more clearly (and, by virtue of his living in Israel, with perhaps a bit more authority). With his permission, I’m posting the majority of that e-mail:

Earlier this week I received an invitation from J Street to join their ranks. (I don't know who gave them my Email address, but that's another matter.) [Ed: J Street is a somewhat new pro-peace advocacy group which feels that the mainstream Israel Lobby is too right-wing, and wants to put forth a more Liberal version of political Zionsim]

Let me put my cards on the table. I believe in a two-state solution and view the parts of the West Bank currently held by Israel as being occupied territory. That having been said, I have lived in the Middle East for too long to be naive. There is no room for Israel on the maps in Palestinian schools, they deny that there was ever a Temple in Jerusalem and they frequently name streets and soccer teams after their so-called shahidim ("martyrs").

I view the rapprochement between Turkey, Iran and Syria with grave concern.

I see that, with all of the best intentions, the United States and her allies have to date failed abysmally to dissuade Iran from pursuing her nuclear ambitions, or Syria from re-arming the Hizbollah in spite of the presence of UN forces in Southern Lebanon.

Against that background, J Street's assertion that "engaging with problematic leaders and states is the basis of a smart and tough foreign policy" rings somewhat hollow and reflects President Obama's stategy that, if we are honest with ourselves, has failed to date to produce any tangible results in rogue states such as Iran, North Korea or Syria.

While I am unhappy that innocent Palestinians in Gaza suffer because of the government they chose to elect, I am more concerned for my family's safety and am worried when Russia suggests (in a view shared by J Street) that we need to bring Hamas into the peace process, knowing full well that they and their Iranian patrons are intent upon the destruction of my country. The fact that much of the international community, encouraged by Israel's enemies, is currently pressing us to divulge information that would bring an end to any ambiguity about our nuclear capability is hardly coincidental.

It has become fashionable, even among many Jews, to blame us for the lack of stability in the Middle East and to liken our actions to those of South Africa during the days of apartheid. Meanwhile, Ambassador Michael Oren is characterized by some at Brandeis as a "rogue state apologist".

I believe that the time has come for Reform Rabbis, who share the middle ground in the political spectrum, to establish an organization of their own to counteract the leftward drift among Jews attracted by the likes of J Street. That does not mean that we should automatically support Israeli government policy on every issue, but rather that we have our feet firmly on the ground and understand that, while idealist considerations should be central to our thinking, the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem.

No comments: