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Could a Palestinian politician best represent American Jewish values?

Progressive American Jews may be willing to stand alongside American Muslims, but are they ready to demonstrate the same solidarity for Arab citizens of Israel? Ayman Odeh, the head of the Joint List, is a test case for where ‘pro-peace’ Jews draw the line.

Head of the Joint List, MK Ayman Odeh, at the Knesset in Jerusalem, February 8, 2016. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Head of the Joint List, MK Ayman Odeh, at the Knesset in Jerusalem, February 8, 2016. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Progressive American Jews have had a hard time in recent years finding an Israeli political movement they can truly stand behind. As long as there was a peace process, it was fairly easy for a “pro-peace” supporter to know whom to back. Without a peace process, without even the prospect of a peace process, the main metric through which many American Jews understand Israeli politics has all but collapsed.

The Labor Party, the party of Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres, was traditionally thought of as the foundation of Israel’s peace camp. Under the leadership of Isaac Herzog — although beginning with Ehud Barak — Labor has made a concerted effort to disassociate itself from the Left. Herzog regularly argues that he is in fact a member of Israel’s “nationalist camp,” and even rebranded his party as the Zionist Union.

Herzog’s process of moving away from whatever remains of Israel’s peace camp culminated, perhaps ironically, with the publication of his very own peace plan last week. In an attempt to ingratiate himself with a more “centrist” constituency, he included in his 10-point plan waiting at least 10 years before even attempting to restart peace talks. It was a slap in the face for anybody who sees the urgency of ending Israel’s 50-year-long undemocratic military regime over millions of Palestinians, and more fitting for the man he aims to replace: Benjamin Netanyahu.

Which begs the question, which Israeli politician best represents the values espoused by all those American Jews who believe the occupation must end? Could it be that the Israeli politician most closely aligned with progressive Jewish American values is a Palestinian?

Delivering a keynote address at the annual J Street conference in Washington this weekend, Ayman Odeh, leader of the third-largest bloc in Israel’s parliament, the Joint List, described a Jewish-Arab agenda to advance true and full equality, social justice, and peace.

I asked Odeh if, in the wake of Herzog’s plan to defer peacemaking, he believes there is a unique opportunity to present himself to progressive American Jews as the Israeli politician who is most closely aligned with their values.

Zionist Union/Labor party chairman Isaac Herzog in the Israeli Knesset, February 1, 2017. (onatan Sindel/Flash90)

Zionist Union chairman Isaac Herzog in the Israeli Knesset, February 1, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

“I think I share something, as a member of the Arab minority in Israel, with American Jews, who are also a minority,” Odeh explained. “Especially right now, with this recent wave of anti-Semitism, I think American Jews can understand and identify with the some of the issues and experiences of the Arab minority in Israel.”

More than half of American Jews say working for justice and equality is an essential part of what being Jewish means to them, according to a Pew poll published last year. In the past, those values of justice and equality were very much intertwined with the civil rights movement, various refugee crises, and a broad range of social justice issues at home and abroad.

The first month of the Donald Trump presidency has thrown that progressive value set back into action: first against aggressive anti-migrant, anti-refugee and anti-Muslim policies; then against a frightening spike in anti-Semitic hate crimes; and worrying anti-intellectual and anti-press sentiments fueled by Trump’s brand of populist nationalism.

Noting what he described as the dangerous rise of Trump and his politics, Odeh added, “we have also seen mass mobilizations of Americans taking to the streets to oppose his racist agenda. I’m especially moved by the Muslim-Jewish solidarity I’ve seen, with Muslims raising money to repair Jewish cemeteries, with Jewish organizations fighting the Muslim ban. It’s that spirit of solidarity that will also help us advance our issues and our values.”

A rabbi is arrested by NYPD during a protest against the refugee ban outside Trump International Hotel in Manhattan, February 6, 2017. (Gili Getz)

A rabbi is arrested by the NYPD during a protest against the refugee ban outside Trump International Hotel in Manhattan, February 6, 2017. (Gili Getz)

But while progressive American Jews may be willing to stand alongside American Muslims, are they ready to demonstrate the same solidarity for Arab citizens of Israel? Are they ready to partner with a Palestinian Israeli leader like Odeh to fight for the set of values they both hold?

It is probably safe to say that the affinity and attachment most Jewish Americans feel toward the State of Israel is in no small part based on a shared Jewish identity. The foundations of that connection can range the full spectrum from vehemently secular to messianic, but the common denominator remains the same — some form of common Jewish identity.

My colleague Dahlia Scheindlin put the question to J Street founder and president Jeremy Ben Ami on the sidelines of the conference on Monday. Considering the current Israeli government’s hostility toward Palestinian statehood, pluralism and true equality for all of its citizens, could Odeh and Palestinian citizens of Israel be more natural partners for J Street’s agenda?

“The most important value for J Street, which is an issue for the Palestinian community, is our Zionism,” Ben-Ami said. (You can read the full interview here.) “J Street’s raison d’etre in the Jewish community is to say — for those American Jews who care about there being a nation-state for the Jewish people — that things are going in the wrong direction.”

J Street Executive Director Jeremy Ben-Ami speaks at the 5th J Street Conference, March 21, 2015. (Photo courtesy of J Street)

J Street Executive Director Jeremy Ben-Ami speaks at the 5th J Street Conference, March 21, 2015. (Photo courtesy of J Street)

“So since we start from there, the work that we do and the messaging that we use and the advocacy that we do is going to be different from that of people who are looking for civil and equal rights,” the J Street president continued. “And while we believe firmly in those rights, we start in a different place. That makes the dialogue difficult. Our audience in the American Jewish community and on Capitol Hill doesn’t start in the same place as Ayman Odeh’s constituency.”

Surely there must be some opportunity, Dahlia suggested

“It’s not our natural alliance,” Ben-Ami insisted. “The natural alliance is, hopefully, with the folks in the center of the [Israeli] political map who understand the imperative of separating and creating two states and ending the occupation.”

Odeh, of course, understands the imperative of ending the occupation and creating two states. He said as much in his keynote address at the same conference just a couple of days earlier. He also posited, or perhaps bemoaned: “Palestinian citizens of Israel, alone, do not have the power to bring about this future of democracy, equality, and peace. But no one can achieve democracy, equality, and peace without us.”

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    COMMENTS

    1. R5

      In a word, No. JVP and a handful of other Rasmea Odeh-loving traitors can yell as loud as they want that American Jewry are moving left, but the vast, vast, vast majority are not interested in seeing Israeli Jews being slaughtered and expelled. They are staying right where they are, in support of their brothers and sisters in Israel.

      Reply to Comment
    2. i_like_ike52

      Odeh and his party deny the very legitimacy of Israel and pray for the day Israel disappears, one way or another. Yes, they do partially work within the system on an day-to-day basis for the interests of the Israeli Arab community and that community realizes that they are much better off than their Arab brothers in the neighboring Arab countries, but that does not erase their basic opposition to the very existence of Israel.
      Given this, if an American Jew feels that Israel is unimportant to him, and is indifferent to its interests, then he can feel he is being “socially just” by allying himself with Odeh and those like him. If, on the other hand, an American Jews cares about Israel, supports Israel and is concerned about its future as a Zionist state, then I don’t see how he can think that he can make an alliance with Odeh. In any event, for an American Jew, how is making an ally out of Odeh going to further his political goals?

      Reply to Comment
    3. Ben

      Michael’s and Dahlia’s articles are helpful in clarifying where J-Street sits politically and in delineating how Ben-Ami is an American Herzog. This puts things in much sharper relief. I would say “stands politically” not “sits” but it doesn’t sound passive and clueless enough. Herzog and Ben-Ami, both passive, clueless handmaidens of the right in their respective countries, two sides of the same milquetoast biscuit. Good for teething babies. Neither will change anything. Michael draws the right conclusions I think.

      Reply to Comment
      • AJew

        “passive and clueless enough. Herzog and Ben-Ami, both passive, clueless handmaidens of the right”

        What was it you said to _Ike about him:

        “Your carping, sniping attitude toward Obama…”

        …so why are you doing the same? Have you got a special privilege to carp about people YOU don’t like, Benny-leh?

        Reply to Comment
    4. Itshak Gordin Halevy

      Wonderful idea coming from our dear leftists. An Arab will represent the American Jews.
      Ridiculous…

      Reply to Comment
    5. Baladi Akka 1948

      And why should we care about what American Jews feel and think ? Personally I don’t see why their opinions are more important than let’s say, Moroccans or Indonesians.
      The BDS is advancing, in a couple of decades the US is back where it should be, just another State among others.

      Reply to Comment
      • AJew

        “in a couple of decades the US is back where it should be, just another State among others.”

        And where will the Palestinian Arabs be in a couple of decades?

        Personally, the way they are going, I am not too hopeful for them. But … 😜

        Reply to Comment
        • Baladi Akka 1948

          You don’t have to respond to every comment, but I guess that’s why you’re here, to occupy space. I couldn’t care less about what you think.

          Reply to Comment
          • AJew

            “….I couldn’t care less what you think…”

            Very symptomatic. Spoken like a true Palestinian Arab lady. That’s why we are still at war with each other. It has been nearly 100 years since you massacred the Jews of Hebron and Safed. That of course had consequences. But you are still interested ONLY in what YOU want. You have zero interest in what WE want. But trust me (or don’t), this attitude won’t work out for you well. I would have thought that you would have learnt that by now. But I guess you are slow learners.

            Reply to Comment
          • Baladi Akka 1948

            I didn’t kill nobody neither in Safed nor in Hebron, but as all racist thugs you don’t make any distinction between individuals. I guess YOU killed 550 Palestinian minors in Gaza recently then ….
            And when I say your opinions doesn’t interest me, I was talking about YOURS as an individual, you’re clearly a medical case and I’m no doctor,but yes, in general, I’m more interested in what Palestinians think, after all we’re the natives of this land, I can’t see why I should take into account what some recent squatter from the US or France thinks.

            Reply to Comment
          • AJew

            “I can’t see why I should take into account what some recent squatter from the US or France thinks.”

            I think you should have stopped your sentence on the phrase:

            “I can’t see”.

            That sums you up. And I did not participate in the Nakba yet you blame us all vollectively for it. But you want me not to mention the 1929 massacre of the Jews of Hebron and Safed because YOU were not there? You are a hypocrite. At least apply your own standards to us before you criticise us. Ok?

            Reply to Comment
          • David

            THE HEBRON RIOTS, 1929:
            In 1925, Vladimir Jabotinsky, a Zionist zealot from Poland, founded the fascistic Betar or Brown Shirts along with the Revisionist Party (origin of today’s Likud) which advocated “revision” of the British Mandate to include forcible Jewish colonization of then Transjordan in addition to Palestine. Such Jewish extremism, along with the racist rants of Rabbi Kook and threats against the Dome of the Rock by Revisionist demonstrators led to the terrible and bloody riots of 1929.

            Vincent Sheean, an eminent American journalist who arrived in Palestine as a pro-Zionist just days before the 1929 riots erupted, was shocked at what he saw: As he later wrote: “I was bitterly indignant with the Zionists for having, as I believed, brought on the disaster…. [W]hy couldn’t the Zionists leave it [Palestine] alone, it would never hold enough Jews to make even a beginning towards the solution of the Jewish problem; it would always be a prey to such ghastly horrors as those I saw everyday and every night….” (Vincent Sheean, Personal History, New York: Doubleday, Doran & Company, Inc. 1935)

            Hundreds of Hebron’s Jews were taken in and protected by Muslims. Tragically, 64 of Hebron’s Jews died, but 650 were saved. Throughout the country 133 Jews were killed and 339 wounded while Palestinians suffered 116 dead and 232 wounded.

            Bitterly ironic is the fact that most Jews living in Hebron in 1929 were anti-Zionist. They were the descendants of the Sephardim who had founded the city’s Jewish Quarter near the tomb of the Patriarchs in the 1500s after Jews were expelled from Spain and then welcomed and given sanctuary in the Arab world. Their numbers increased somewhat during the early 1900’s with the arrival of Hasidim from Poland who came to study. Many Muslims who were driven out of Spain by the Christians also moved to Hebron. Prior to Zionism, Jews and Muslims lived together harmoniously in Hebron for 400 years with the Jews always forming a small minority. There were very few if any Christians in the city.

            In 1930, a report issued by a British commission of enquiry attributed the 1929 clashes to the fact that the Palestinians “have come to see in Jewish immigration not only a menace to their livelihood but a possible overlord of the future.” (Another 1930 British report, trying to find a way to reduce tension between Zionist alien Jews and native Palestinians, revealed that there was no additional land available for agricultural settlement by new Jewish immigrants.)

            The friendship that existed between Muslims and Jews in Hebron was attested to by Israeli journalist, Chaim Hanegbi, whose great grandfather was the city’s last Rabbi: “My grandfather lived very peacefully with his Arab neighbours…. His family joined the grape harvest every year, and the [Muslim] neighbours cooked kosher food so the Jews could share the feasts with them.” (Canada’s Globe and Mail, February 18, 1997)

            It should also be noted that in the spirit of reconciliation, Hebron’s mayor has stated publicly that he and his fellow Muslims would welcome the descendants of the city’s Jews if they choose to return and replace the Zionist fanatics who are now there.

            On 11 May 1948, Safad was overrun by the Palmach and except for those killed or captured, all of its 9,500 Arab inhabitants along with an additional 15,000 from neighboring villages were driven into Syria and Lebanon.

            Many of those taken prisoner at Safad were brutalized, tortured and killed by their conquerors. As news of what occurred quickly spread to the remaining Arab villages throughout the Galilee, so did fear of attack.

            Reply to Comment
          • AJew

            Gotcha David. So because of the eeeeeeevil fanatical Zionists, your Arab buddies were justified in carrying out a bloody massacre of non Zionist religious Jews in Hebron and Safed. It was all the Zionist’s fault, right David? Is that an example of “progressive” morality? “Progressive” logic? No wonder most of us Zionists are sick to the stomach listening to you guys!

            Reply to Comment
          • David

            As the words of Vincent Sheean, the American journalist, whom I quoted, clearly demonstrate, Zionism and its fanatical foreign adherents were to blame for the deaths of Jews and Muslims in Hebron and elsewhere in 1929.

            Reply to Comment
          • AJew

            Zionist, not the actual Arab perpetrators of the massacre of innocent non Zionist Jews, gotcha David.

            Jews beware. Forsake Zionism and we will have to deal with the David’s of this world on their terms.

            Reply to Comment
          • David

            Sigh.
            Predictably, you ignore the following observation I made in my first posting.

            “Hundreds of Hebron’s Jews were taken in and protected by Muslims. Tragically, 64 of Hebron’s Jews died, but 650 were saved. Throughout the country 133 Jews were killed and 339 wounded while Palestinians suffered 116 dead and 232 wounded.”

            Reply to Comment
          • AJew

            Sigh

            …and clearly you ignore that innocent non Zionist Jews were hacked to death and massacred by murderous Arabs.

            If that would not have happened, there would not have been a need to save Jews.

            Moreover. There is a lesson in there for Jews. Depend on ourselves to defend ourselves and those who hate us will think twice before they attempt to massacre us. That’s what Zionism is all about. But even if they don’t think twice and they still attack us and even if they would manage to overcome us, even then we would die in dignity while we defending ourselves instead of being butchered like helpless sheep.

            Reply to Comment
          • AJew

            As for your mythologies about how the Jews and Muslims of Palestine lived together in peace and harmony before the arrival of the eeeeevil Zionists, how do you explain this bit of history, David?

            “The 1834 looting of Safed (Hebrew: ביזת צפת בשנת תקצ”ד‎, “Plunder of Safed, 5594 AM”) was prolonged attack against the Jewish community of Safed, Palestine, during the 1834 Peasants’ Revolt. It began on Sunday June 15 (7 Sivan), the day after the Jewish holiday of Shavuot, and lasted for the next 33 days.[1][2] Most contemporary accounts suggest it was a spontaneous attack which took advantage of a defenceless population in the midst of the armed uprising against Egyptian rule.[3][4]”

            Need I remind you that 1834 was before the birth of modern Zionism?

            Reply to Comment
          • David

            To be brief:
            Over the centuries relations between the three monotheistic faiths became especially harmonious in Palestine. This was due largely to the reverence Islam held for the Hebrew prophets and the tradition of Christian pilgrimages to biblical sites. The Arabic inscription over Jaffa Gate (the western entrance to Old Jerusalem) reads: “There is no Lord but God and Abraham is his friend” and throughout the country there were Muslim mosques and shrines honouring the Hebrew patriarchs. Palestinian Muslims celebrated religious festivals honouring the Jewish prophets and often gave Hebrew first names to their children. In order to quell inter-Christian rivalry over access to the Holy Sepulchre, Saladin initiated what is now a 800 year tradition of entrusting its keys to a Muslim family.

            Reply to Comment
          • AJew

            You can assert anything David and ignore my previous post too but your assertions cannot make history more beautiful than it is. Here is the quote from my previous post again:

            “The 1834 looting of Safed (Hebrew: ביזת צפת בשנת תקצ”ד‎, “Plunder of Safed, 5594 AM”) was prolonged attack against the Jewish community of Safed, Palestine, during the 1834 Peasants’ Revolt. It began on Sunday June 15 (7 Sivan), the day after the Jewish holiday of Shavuot, and lasted for the next 33 days.[1][2] Most contemporary accounts suggest it was a spontaneous attack which took advantage of a defenceless population in the midst of the armed uprising against Egyptian rule.[3][4]”

            Need I remind you that 1834 was before the birth of modern Zionism? And here is more of the same, read what Carl Marx wrote in the New York Herald Tribune in 1854:

            https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1854/03/28.htm

            “Jews. The Mussulmans, forming about a fourth part of the whole, and consisting of Turks, Arabs and Moors, are, of course, the masters in every respect, as they are in no way affected with the weakness of their Government at Constantinople. Nothing equals the misery and the sufferings of the Jews at Jerusalem, inhabiting the most filthy quarter of the town, called hareth-el-yahoud, the quarter of dirt, between the Zion and the Moriah, where their synagogues are situated – the constant objects of Mussulman oppression and intolerance…”

            …and 1854 too was before the birth of modern Zionism. So are you going to blame Zionism for what happened in 1834 and 1854 and numerous other times in history, before modern Zionism even existed, David?

            This is reality: before Zionism, Jews had an up and down existence, sometimes things were good, sometimes we were tolerated but often we were despised and downtrodden. And all it took is for some a…holes to start inciting against Jews and say that we drink the blood of non Jewish children or that we are cheats, usurers, that we control the world, or that we are disloyal Zionist usurpers and voila, a massacre of Jews ensued.

            …and there was nothing that we could do about it but hope that some nice non Jewish people would save us. Sometimes they did, sometimes they didn’t or at the least they couldn’t save all of us. That is why we have learnt that the best way is for us to save ourselves. Hence we have Zionism. That is what Zionism is all about. It is about defending ourselves.

            Reply to Comment
    6. Lewis from Afula

      The best thing Odeh can do is to change his nonsensical fake identity. His continual existence as a PLO traitor helps nobody – and that includes himself.

      Reply to Comment
      • Ben

        The “traitor” talk is the thing that links all of the rightists here. The common thread. Lewis from Afula however is more honest about what they are up to than most. He applies to to leftist Palestinian Arabs as well as leftist Jews.

        “The best thing Odeh can do is to change his nonsensical fake identity. His continual existence as a PLO traitor helps nobody – and that includes himself.”

        You hate the idea of an Arab Palestinian moderate or peacemaker, you just loathe it, and want to strengthen the right on both sides and weaken the left on both sides. You desperately want Odeh to be a “traitor” to the joined-at-the-hip Arab and Jewish right wings. Your worst nightmare is a smiling, friendly, successful Palestinian Left that makes peace and seeks co-existence. Your worst nightmare. Odeh is “nonsensical” to you in this sense. You just can’t get your mind around the idea that this does not have to be a war to the death over a maximal land grab.

        Reply to Comment
    7. AJew

      This pretence that Israel is intransigent and refuses to negotiate is obscene!

      This was Abbas’s stance in 2009:

      http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/mahmoud-abbas-is-the-obstacle-to-peace

      This was his stance in 2010:

      http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-11806747

      This was his stance in 2011.

      https://www.google.com.au/amp/mobile.reuters.com/article/amp/idUSTRE78O0QQ20110926

      This was his stance in 2012.

      http://www.aipac.org/~/media/Publications/Policy%20and%20Politics/AIPAC%20Analyses/Issue%20Memos/2011/12/AIPAC%20Memo%20-%20Abbas%20Refusing%20to%20Negotiate%20Demanding%20Preconditions.pdf

      And this was still his stance in 2016:

      http://www.bridgesforpeace.com/2016/11/mahmoud-abbas-record-rejectionism/

      Abbas has point blank refused to negotiate for 8 years unless Israel was willing to accept his dictates about the settlements before any negotiations.

      Yet this article and the writer’s political cronies act as if it is Israel’s fault that the peace process has stalled.

      Reply to Comment
      • David

        Nonsense!

        In 1988, the PLO recognized Israel as a sovereign state within the borders of the 1947 recommendatory only UNGA Partition Plan, Res. 181 (which, for the record, violated the terms of the Class A British Mandate for Palestine and the Atlantic Charter, was never adopted by the UNSC and was grossly unfair to the indigenous Palestinian Arab inhabitants.)

        By signing the 1993 Oslo Accords, the PLO accepted UNSC Res. 242 and thereby agreed to recognize a sovereign Israel within the 1949 armistice lines, i.e., as of 4 June 1967 – 78% of mandate Palestine. The Palestinians agreed to accept a state comprised of only 22% of their homeland.

        The PLO also agreed to the US/EU/UN supported 2002 Arab League Beirut Summit Peace Initiative, which offers Israel full recognition as a sovereign state (per UNSC Res. 242, i.e., within its June 4/67 boundaries with possible minor and mutually agreed land swaps), exchange of ambassadors, trade, tourism, etc., if Israel complies with international law and its previous commitments. Fully aware of Israel’s demographic concerns, the Beirut initiative does not demand the return of all Palestinian refugees. In accordance with Israel’s pledge given to the UNGA in 1949 and by signing the 1949 Lausanne Peace Conference Protocol to abide by UNGA Res. 194 regarding the then 800,000 Palestinian refugees as a precondition for admittance to the UN (after being rejected twice), the Arab League’s Initiative “calls upon Israel to affirm” that it agrees to help pursue the “achievement of a just solution to the Palestinian refugee problem…”

        Along with all Arab states and the PLO, Hezbollah and Iran have also accepted the Arab League’s 2002 Beirut Summit Peace Initiative. Hamas has also indicated its acceptance subject to a Palestinian plebiscite and a corridor connecting the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

        Regrettably, then Israeli PM Ariel Sharon summarily dismissed the Arab League’s peace overture, as did Israel in 2008 and thereafter.

        For the record, other peace initiatives that Israeli governments have rebuffed include: U.S. Secretary of State William Rogers’ The Rogers Plan (1969); The Scranton Mission on behalf of President Nixon (1970); Egyptian President Sadat’s land for peace and mutual recognition proposal (1971); U.S. President Jimmy Carter’s call for a Geneva international conference (1977); Saudi Arabian King Fahd’s peace offer (1981); U.S. President Ronald Reagan’s Reagan Plan (1982); U.S. Secretary of State George Shultz’s Schultz Plan (1988); U.S. Secretary of State James Baker’s Baker Plan (1989); and the previously noted 1993 Oslo accords signed by Yasser Arafat and Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin that unravelled following the latter’s assassination and subsequent return to power of the Likud party from 1996-1999 under Benjamin Netanyahu; continuation of the Taba II negotiations (2001); the unofficial Geneva Peace Initiative of November/December 2003; and the 2014 Kerry Initiative.

        BTW, As for the much touted 2000 Camp David Summit, working in tandem, Barak and Clinton tried to shove a very bad deal down Arafat’s throat. It could only be rejected. Suffice to quote Shlomo Ben-Ami, then Israel’s foreign minister and lead negotiator at Camp David: “Camp David was not the missed opportunity for the Palestinians, and if I were a Palestinian I would have rejected Camp David, as well.” (National Public Radio, 14 February 2006.)

        The “offer” made in 2008 by then Israeli PM Ehud Olmert was never seen as serious because it lacked cabinet approval, he was under indictment with only a few weeks left in office, had a 6% favorable rating, and, therefore, couldn’t have closed the deal, even if the Palestinians had accepted it. (Olmert is now imprisoned.)

        Unfortunately, Israel’s response to every peace overture from the Palestinians and Arab states, has been an escalation of illegal settlement construction in belligerently/illegally/brutally occupied Palestinian and other Arab lands.

        Reply to Comment
        • AJew

          As usual, David, you judiciously ommitted a few pertinent facts in your long selective account of history:

          1. In his letter to Clinton in which Arafat recognised Israel, he promised to amend the PLO charter which promotes Israel’s destruction. This promise was never carried out. In fact at a subsequent meeting of the PLO executive, they specifically voted not to amend the charter. What does that tell you David?

          2. After the Oslo accords were signed, terrorism against Israeli civilians increased instead of stopping entirely as it was supposed to. But you pro Arab polemicists routinely overlook that fact as if such an outcome is natural following the signing of a major peace initiative.

          3. Even if your claim that Barak’s peace initiative was unacceptable would be correct, the natural outcome should have been to continue the negotiations then or later. Instead, Arafat orchestrated an Intifada which resulted in the death and maiming of thousands of Israelis. Some peace partners, huh?

          4. The Arab peace initiative includes the demand that Israel must allow the potential “return” of millions of descendants of refugees. That in turn is unacceptable to Israel.

          5. Abbas sat on Olmert’s peace offer for 5 long months and waited with bated breath for the next Israeli and American elections in which, much to his relief, Netanyahu and Obama were elected. Then, after Obama gave him the necessary ammunition, he climbed to the top of the tree and refused to negotiate for 8 long years. See my previous post.

          Reply to Comment
          • David

            To be brief:

            Excerpts:

            “January 13, 1998

            “Dear Mr. President [Clinton.]”
            “In the mutual recognition letters between me and the late Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin of September 9/10, 1993, the PLO committed to recognize the right of the State of Israel to exist in peace and security, to accept UN Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338 and to a peaceful resolution of the conflict between the two sides. The PLO also agreed to secure the necessary changes in the Palestinian Covenant to reflect these commitments.”

            “Accordingly, the P.N.C. was held in Gaza city between 22-25 of April 1996, and in an extraordinary session decided that the ‘Palestine National Charter is hereby amended by cancelling the articles that are contrary to the letters exchanged between the P.L.O and the Government of Israel on 9/10 September 1993.’

            “Both your Excellency and Prime Minister Peres warmly welcomed the P.N.C. Resolution.

            “The Israeli Labor Party, and in appreciation of the P.N.C. resolution dropped its objection to the establishment of a Palestinian State from its political platform.”

            “The Palestine National Council’s resolution, in accordance with Article 33 of the Covenant, is a comprehensive amendment of the Covenant. All of the provisions of the Covenant which are inconsistent with the P.L.O. commitment to recognize and live in peace side by side with Israel are no longer in effect.

            “As a result, Articles 6-10, 15, 19-23, and 30 have been nullified, and the parts in Articles 1-5, 11-14, 16-l8, 25-27 and 29 that are inconsistent with the above mentioned commitments have also been nullified.

            “I can assure you on behalf of the PLO and the Palestinian Authority that all the provisions of the Covenant that were inconsistent with the commitments (of September 9/10, 1993) to Prime Minister Rabin, have been nullified.

            Nablus: January 13, 1998
            Yasser Arafat, Chairman of the Executive Committee of the P.L.O., President of the P.N.A.”

            Reply to Comment
          • AJew

            To be brief…

            Read point 1 of my previous post again. That’s the letter which I was referring to but don’t ignore the rest of what I said in point 1. This is it again in a nutshell:

            “The decision fails to meet the obligations laid out in the Oslo accords in two respects. First, the actual amendment of the Covenant has been left for a future date. As of now, the old Covenant, in its original form, remains the governing document of the PLO, and will continue in this status until the amendments are actually approved… There is a sharp difference between calling for something to change and actually implementing the changes. Second, the decision does not specify which clauses will be amended.”

            “In 2009, Fatah officials, among them Azzam al-Ahmad and Nabil Shaath, confirmed that the Charter would remain unchanged.[33][34][35]”

            https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Palestinian_National_Covenant

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