If you wanted to prove that Israel
is country of bloodthirsty, warmongering, paranoid, expansionist religious fanatics, opposed to peace and normalization, that Zionists suffer from a "Masada complex" and use the Holocaust as an excuse for every sort of excess, and that Israeli leaders as corrupt, insane and cowardly, where would you look? Would you look at the Stormfront or JewWatch Web sites? In the pages of The Nation, or the "leftist" Haaretz? In Electronic Intifada perhaps?
The best place to look for anti-Israel propaganda of that type this week was not in any of those publications. It was in the Op-Ed sections of right-wing Zionist journals, Web sites and Web logs, especially those originating in the United States. At least one "supporter" of Israel claimed that Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni is insane. "Think Israel" explained "Why Israel should avoid peace negotiations like the plague." Israpundit expounded on 'Why I hate the "peace process,"' explaining inter-alia
that Arabs have no legal rights whatever in the land of Israel. Numerous Op-Eds announced that the Prime Minister of Israel is a criminal, and escaped to the United States to avoid prosecution. A group of children of Holocaust survivors declaimed that any compromise over Jerusalem was exactly like the Holocaust and must be prevented at all costs.
What a great propaganda gift to the Arabs of Palestine and the enemies of Israel! They can use all this material to show that the Palestinians are for peace, and that the Jews are all fanatics who never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity.
Perhaps even worse than all that was the silence of almost all the Jewish groups. Whatever their positions on Jerusalem and the West Bank, at least in theory one would think that they want Israel to be at peace. Annapolis represented an opportunity to tell the American public and the world that Zionists want peace. We may be justified in thinking that it is difficult or impossible to achieve it now, but we want peace. At least, that is what I believed until this past week.
Every Zionist and Jewish organization should have been demonstrating at Annapolis to show support for Israel and Jewish rights. We can tell the world that the Jewish people have a stake in Jerusalem, and that Israel has a right to live in security.
We also have to tell the world that Israel has a right to peace. Zionists should be demonstrating for peace, regardless of what they think a peace agreement ought to look like. Yet most of the large Jewish organizations were silent. The supporters of the settlers demonstrated against peace. How can we convince the world that Israel wants peace, that we will pursue every avenue to peace, and that our concerns about the peace negotiations are legitimate security concerns, when self appointed "Zionist" Jewish know-it-alls are screaming "all our land is holy" and "avoid peace negotiations like the plague" in press releases, demonstrations, op-eds and advertisements? That is a huge failure. If American Jews claim to be part of the Israeli decision making process, they must have some responsibilities too. The biggest failure of the Annapolis conference, from the point of view of Israel and the Diaspora Jewish community, is that in this very difficult time, only a scattering of Jewish organizations saw fit to really support the Israeli negotiating position, to help us present ourselves as pro-active for peace. Most of the "Israeli advocacy" organizations and volunteers were focused on discrediting Israeli leaders and throwing filth on Zionism and Israel. Perhaps Israel should initiate a judicial commission of inquiry to determine how this failure occurred.
This is not about Jerusalem. Ehud Olmert has stated, perhaps unwisely, that Israel will never give up the Temple Mount. It is not about security. Settlers in Izhar are not going to defend against an Iranian A-Bomb. It is a vicious and cynical political campaign, in which religious and other sentiments are manipulated by cynical politicians. The position of the Israeli government would have to be the same even if those people got their wish and Yigal Amir or Genghis Kahn was running Israel.
Benjamin Netanyahu, the arch-opponent of the Oslo accords, made concessions in Hebron and in the Wye Plantation accords because there was no other choice. Ariel Sharon, Mr. Greater Israel, uncrowned king of the anti-terrorism forces, initiated the disengagement because he understood that demographic and geopolitical realities left Israel with no other choice. This was the same Sharon who had screamed that those who wanted peace are "Ashafistim" (PLO supporters). This was the same Sharon who bellowed at the Likud convention, "Who is in favor of wiping out terror?" Once in office, he admitted that "from here [government], it doesn't look the same as it did from there [opposition]."
The political future of Jerusalem, the issue of sovereignty, cannot be made into a religious issue. That is a certain road to disaster for the Jewish people. Jimmy Carter thinks Christians have a right to decide about Jerusalem because Jesus was there. The King of Saudi Arabia will tell you that Muhamad was there too. He flew to Jerusalem on his horse. Jerusalem is claimed as a "holy place" by about 14 million Jews, by 1.4 billion Muslims and by billions of Christians. If it is a matter of religious claims, we lost the battle. Therefore the sentiments of the Orthodox Union are irrelevant. Orthodox Jews prayed "Next year in Jerusalem" for 2000 years, and that is still good enough for those of them who live in the United States. Jerusalem is an issue of national sovereignty, and we must never imply that it is anything else. It was the capital city of only one people in 3,000 years of history.
It is not a question of whether or not Diaspora Jews have a right to influence Israeli policy. There are perhaps a dozen different opinions in the American Jewish community and they all insist not on influencing Israeli policy, but on dictating it. The orthodox rabbis want us to keep every inch of Jerusalem and the West Bank. The Tikkunista rabbis are just as adamant that we should give it all up immediately. The anti-Zionists insist that we have to pack up and go home and leave the country to the Arabs and the barchash flies. Each group insists that we Israelis must listen to them and only to them, because they are Jews
, and that gives them the right to tell us what to do. They all represent themselves to the American public and the American government as representing "the Jews," and the extremist "Zionists" usurp the right to represent all Zionists.
Linked here is a summary of protests of the Annapolis meeting
. Opponents claimed that the summit would lead to disaster and abandonment of national rights. They insisted that national leadership was weak and corrupt -- lackeys in the hands of the Americans, that peace talks were a sham, and that the people were being led astray by traitors. They insisted that God gave all the land to only one people, and the others have no rights at all. They called on everyone to stand fast. They insisted that there is only a military solution, and that the enemy would never make peace. But those are not the protests of the Yesha council, or Front Page magazine or the super-Zionist pioneers taming the wilds of Los Angeles and Detroit. Those are the protests of the Hamas, the Islamic Liberation Party, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. The ZOA and their friends are in good company. They are aspiring to be the Jewish Hamas.
I am sure that some irate "Zionists" will whine that "Isseroff" is trying to shut them up. That is what happened when I criticized a different sort of would-be "Zionist" for writing that Israeli soldiers are just like Nazis. Nobody is trying to shut you up because that is impossible. We can't stop either the loony left or the fanatic right from ranting. But we should have the right to stop them from ranting in our name. They do not speak for Israel or for Zionism or for the entire Jewish people. They are not doing Israel a favor by writing that our leaders are corrupt and insane.
"Zionist" opponents of the peace process deserted Israel in a time of need. Everyone agrees that the Annapolis peace conference was probably more about spin and public relations than anything else. Every side was anxious to show that they are for peace, while they insist on their rights. The right-wing Zionist lobby sabotaged the Israeli position by insisting that Zionists must be against peace and portraying Israel and Zionists before the entire world as warmongering colonialist religious fanatics. Ironically, this huge smear campaign against Zionism, Israel and its leaders was conducted in the name of "Israel advocacy." Ami Isseroff
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