Israel doesn't need to appease J Street and BDS supporters in the American Jewish community.
It’s getting terribly tiresome hearing and seeing some liberal American Jews complain and harp that Israel is not doing much of anything “to make peace with the Palestinians” and are not acting with “compassion and justice.” The constantly repeated refrain, including from groups such as J Street, Jewish Voice for Peace, and other BDS supporters, that the status quo is unacceptable; that Israel, which is the much stronger party, and not the “poor” “victim” Palestinian Arabs, must urgently do something now; make concessions; withdraw from “occupied territories” for the sake of a Palestinian Arab state on its doorstep –- or else-- is all too reflexive. And Israel will of course be isolated and vilified by the world and U.N. if it does not comply. After all, “we all know what this is going to look like in the end.”
Well, maybe not. Maybe it is about time for Israel to say, “thanks for your suggestions, but if it is a choice between placing Israeli lives at risk or your support, then later on.”
Israel is actually doing quite well with business and relations around the world these days. Israel has tremendously positive things to offer that the world is hungry for: high technology, computers, software, security systems, medical devices and treatments, agricultural, water, and other industry innovations. Israel is an open, democracy that upholds civil, women, minority, and gay rights, has a robust free press, independent judiciary, a parliament where Arab citizens are represented, an independent judiciary, educational opportunities and top health care. Is everything perfect? No. Can and must Israel do better? Indeed. But these “progressive values” are nowhere to be found in the Arab world. However, simply being a Jew who does not live in Israel does not give an automatic right to dictate terms to Israel’s generals and security officials as to “what is in Israel’s best interests.” That Israel is a sovereign democracy which elects its leaders is apparently of no consequence to some.
Placing the onus for peace squarely on Israel is wildly misplaced. The Arabs have rejected a state living side-by-side with Israel six times since 1937. The fact is that Israel has no true peace partner: the Palestinian Authority engages in “pay to slay”-- paying salaries to those who murder Jews (or the families of murderers)-- glorifies and names public squares for terrorist murderers; preaches hate and incitement of Jews in its schools, text books, mosques and media; refuses to recognize Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish People; fails to abide by its obligations under the Oslo Accords to stop terrorism, confiscate weapons, and teach peace; and has failed to retract their anti-Semitic charter.
Meanwhile, the PA leader, Mahmoud Abbas is 82 and has refused to hold elections for nine years. And don’t forget Hamas (the Islamic Resistance Movement, which is the Palestinian arm of the Muslim Brotherhood) who rules in Gaza and whose charter calls not only for the eradication of Israel, but the murder of all Jews.
We do in fact “know what this is going to look like” in the vision of the elites:” First, as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has stated, “If the Arabs lay down their arms, there will be no more war. If Israel lays down its weapons, there will be no Israel.”
Second, the “two state solution” is a dangerous fantasy. Palestinian Arab accommodations towards peace are simply nowhere in sight. History proves this: Israelis know what happened when they left Lebanon in 2000 and again when they forcefully uprooted 9,000 Israelis from their homes in Gaza in 2005. It has been nothing but “land for terror.” There was no effort to transform Gaza into a Singapore, but rather it became a launching pad for terrorism, with the indiscriminate firing of thousands of rockets and missiles into Israel, terror tunnels and three wars. Israelis can only imagine what will happen if the IDF withdraws from the ancient cradle of our civilization in Judea-Samaria (i.e. “West Bank”), and divides Jerusalem. Today, more than 95% of all Palestinian Arabs are governed by the PA in the “West Bank” and Hamas in Gaza. And Israel’s towns, cities and communities in Judea-Samaria constitute less than 2% of the land.
But do the Palestinian Arabs themselves want a “two state solution?” Polling suggests clearly not. Only 44% of Palestinian Arabs support a two-state solution, a decline from 51% from June 2016. (Palestinian-Israeli Pulse: A Joint Poll, 3/29/17). 60% selected as the main Palestinian Arab national goal over the next five years, "to work toward reclaiming all of historic Palestine from the river to the sea." (June 2014 poll by David Pollock of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy). Per Daniel Polisar, who aggregated 400 Palestinian surveys: “Most Palestinians see themselves caught in a zero-sum game in which Israel’s very existence negates the possibility of a viable Palestinian state.” (Mosaic, 4-3-17).
Worse, presumptuous progressive elites from the comfort of their “safe spaces” never seem to consider what Israelis themselves -- who will have to make the painful concessions -- actually think. A poll from the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs released March 28, 2017 shows a decrease in support among Israeli Jews for withdrawing from Judea-Samaria and the establishment of a Palestinian Arab state:
- Willingness to agree to a withdrawal from the “West Bank” as part of a peace agreement declined from 60% in 2005 to 36% in 2017
- 79% say it is important to retain a unified Jerusalem under Israeli sovereignty. 83% oppose transferring the Temple Mount to the Palestinians.
- 88% say that Israel cannot withdraw from territories that border on Ben-Gurion Airport. 81% say that Israel cannot withdraw from territories bordering the Tel Aviv-Jerusalem Highway.
- 71% say an agreement should be conditioned on Palestinian recognition of Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people.
- Only 12% of Israelis believe a full Israeli withdrawal from the “West Bank” would end the conflict
Israel wants peace, but its rights and security must come first and foremost. If these “friends” don’t want to be part of “the team,” fine; but on the other hand, if you undermine Israel, you undermine the strength and security of the Jewish community here. For the sake of K’lal Yisrael, we’ll be waiting, watching, and praying you see the light.
Lee Bender is the co-author of Pressing Israel: Media Bias Exposed From A-Z (Pavilion Press, 2012) and co-developer of the website and mobile app, www.factsonIsrael.com. He is co-president of the Zionist Organization of America- Philadelphia.