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Is J Street trying to rebrand Palestinian liberation?

As liberal Zionism finds itself in the middle of its latest battle for survival, J Street reconsiders forbidden alliances and what it means to be ‘pro-Israel.’

By Soleiman Moustafa

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)

The bookmark designed by J Street for its conference. (Photo by Lisa Goldman)

The bookmark designed by J Street for its conference. (Photo by Lisa Goldman)

Sitting on every seat in the massive auditorium hosting the opening session of J Street’s 5th annual conference last month was a bookmark emblazoned with the a map and the motto “know your boundaries.” The “pro-Israel, pro-peace” lobbying organization designed a map of Israel with both Palestinian territories partitioned out in green, with Syria’s Golan Heights included in Israel’s boundaries without caveat. Looking up, the auditorium was enveloped in a comforting blue-and-white glow, invoking Israel’s national colors, the American and Israeli flags standing proud at center stage. For an organization ostensibly gathered to push an agenda of Palestinian statehood, any and all symbols of Palestine were conspicuously absent from the impressive display.

The J Street leadership is in the process of testing its own limits, and the demands it has made of its constituency — and of the international community — are rapidly changing. Once-forbidden phrases like “Israeli apartheid,” “resistance to occupation,” and “the Gaza massacre” would make repeated cameos throughout the conference, reflecting a desire to include “the Palestinian narrative” for both strategic and moral purposes. In doing so, however, J Street’s pro-Israel agenda ironically finds itself drifting toward the language and tactics of Palestinian resistance.

The conference occured in the context of an impressive turnout of Arab voters in Israel’s recent parliamentary election, surging the Joint List forward to the third-largest party in the Knesset. This has forced left-wing Zionists to consider how they can “properly” incorporate the Palestinians they once ignored into their political calculations. At a panel hosting a facsimile Knesset debate, one Arab panelist was told to forsake her ties to “extreme” Arab politicians if she wants to work with the mainstream Jewish political parties. This same demand would later be made of Palestine Liberation Organization negotiator Saeb Erekat, referencing the formation of a Palestinian reconciliation government with Hamas.

PLO negotiator Saeb Erekat speaks at the 2015 J Street Conference (Photo: J Street)

PLO negotiator Saeb Erekat speaks at the 2015 J Street Conference (Photo: J Street)

This struggle between Israeli centrists and Palestinian leftists frequently spilled over to the primarily American audience. Erekat roused repeated standing ovations with impassioned calls for peace at a pulpit that was far more receptive to his “non-violent resistance” than the Labor party. Nabila Espanioly spoke of a civil rights struggle to change Israeli security discourse, well aware that Palestinians now have a critical opportunity to secure their own interests among a left-wing Zionist mainstream.

Reframing Palestinian liberation in Jewish terms

“It’s a very nationalistic thing for me,” Alliance for Middle East Peace director Huda Abuarquob told me after a breakaway session on the danger of Israeli settlements in the West Bank. “I take advantage of every opportunity to spread my message, and consider this my form of resistance,” she said, adding that she had to tailor her message to best reach an audience that might not necessarily agree with her. Activist Samer Makhlouf, meanwhile, suggested to a fairly sympathetic crowd that in light of right-wing political dominance in Israel, J Street should consider moving from a dialectic of “coexistence” into one of “co-resistance.”

The conference was rife with young liberal Jews who have found themselves alienated by their campus Hillels and the policies of the Israeli government; many of the conference’s younger attendees seemed to be grappling with how to reconcile their distaste for racism, disenfranchisement and first-resort violence with the Zionist establishment’s apparent preference for it.

It begs the question of how they can show Israel “tough love” without alienating the country’s supporters. One strategy session began by asking, “can J Street balance the demands of its left and right flanks and continue to build an ever more potent and coherent political force?” To Rabbi David Cooper, this is achieved with what he deemed, “varying modes of non-cooperation” with Israel. J Street cannot safely collaborate with many groups the Jewish community has deemed “anti-Israel,” so Palestinian liberation rhetoric is instead reconstituted on Jewish terms. Resistance becomes non-cooperation, a corrective path prescribed by a concerned and sympathetic family.

Leaders of J Street made repeated affirmations that one of their main goals is to battle against the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement. And yet executive director Jeremy Ben Ami began the conference by recommending that J Street members boycott Israeli economic activity in the West Bank and divest from donors whose money was crossing over the Green Line. Ben Ami’s endorsement of a Palestinian statehood bid in the United Nations also represented a major reversal of the organization’s negotiations-only policy.

J Street remains off-put by ideas that threaten Israel’s demographic “Jewishness,” such as a bi-national state or recognition of the Palestinian right of return. Its reception of the minority of Palestinian voices at the conference ultimately ran parallel with its own vision for a “Jewish and democratic state,” wherein Palestinians may speak freely but cannot be fully invested participants in the collective goals and outcomes of the Jewish majority. It has looked to the Palestinians as an example, but still fears proceeding hand-in-hand with them against Israel’s present course.

Soleiman Moustafa is a graduate student in Near Eastern Studies at New York University. Follow him on Twitter at @soly11111.

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    1. Pedro X

      I doubt many in Israel would consider Jstreet “pro-Israel”. Even fewer would think that Jstreet speaks for or to Israelis. Jstreet is just another foreign ngo intent on demonizing Israel and supporting Palestinians in their conflict with Israel. Jstreet speaks in doublespeak, that Yassar Arafat was so infamous for, telling liberals in the United States one thing while telling BDS and Palestinian supporters another.

      Liberal Alan Dershowitz outed Jstreet as an anti-Israel and anti-Zionist organization. Dershowitz said:

      “It is a fraud in advertising to call J Street pro-Israel.”

      He also said:

      “J Street has done more damage to Israel than any American organization.”

      Marcia Freedman, a member of the Jstreet advisory board, at the 2015 Jstreet conference in a plenary session entitled “Does Liberal Zionism have a Future” suggested that there was no need for a Jewish state of Israel and Jews could live under Arab rule as a protected minority. I guess Marcia never looked around how Arabs failed to protect not only Christian minorities in Arab lands but also Arabs in their own homelands. She might have ignored there are no democratic Arab governments. I guess Marcia never read the Hamas Charter or the Palestinian National Covenant with respect to killing Jews.

      No one on the Jstreet panel nor the moderator questioned her assertion that Jews should go back and live as dhimmis under Arab rule. The crowd clapped.

      So it does not surprise me that Jstreet talks out of both sides of its mouth, invites anti-Zionists to speak at its conferences without allowing pro-Israel speakers like Alan Dershowitz to speak.

      Reply to Comment
      • Ben

        Yadda yadda yadda. The day you say “we should uproot the settlements and sincerely and wholeheartedly put all the genius we put into the illegal occupation instead into making the API work because we could make it work if we really wanted to” then I’ll take anything else you say with more than a grain of salt and an ear for endless excuse making, distraction and hypocrisy.

        Reply to Comment
      • Richard Lightbown

        Need to recalibrate your adjectives X. Dershowitz ain’t no liberal and never was. On that scale Avigdor Lieberman would be centre right. Is that what you believe?

        Reply to Comment
      • Richard Lightbown

        “…Yassar Arafat [d.2004] was so infamous for, telling liberals in the United States one thing while telling BDS [instigated 2005] and Palestinian supporters another.”

        About your usual level of horseshit.

        Reply to Comment
    2. JeffB

      At this point AIPAC represents Republican Jews (or more accurately foreign policy hawkish Jews) and J-Street represents Democratic Jews (or more accurately foreign policy dovish Jews). J-Street is supportive of human rights but when push comes to shove they support Zionism over human rights. They stand with the general consensus: as humane as possible, as brutal as necessary. They, along with most USA Jews and I suspect quite a few Israelis, just happen to believe that there is room for much less brutality.

      Reply to Comment
    3. Gustav

      The best that I can say about J Street and the so called liberal Jews who support Palestinians is that they have their heads stuck in their proverbial behinds.

      Unlike the Palestinian Arabs who know what they want, those Jews live in a make believe bubble world. In the real world, to the majority of Palestinian Arabs, Israel and Israelis are a germ. A foreign body which invaded them and which needs to be excised. Heck, they openly said so many times and many of them still say it!

      For the life of me then, I don’t know why any right thinking Israeli should not think in the same terms about Palestinian Arabs? That they are an enemy which needs to be defeated at all cost? Defeated to the point so that they will never dare to even think about their old plans for us, let alone moth it as many of them still do to this day!

      I liken J-Street and their ilk to a physician who instead of trying to fight a bacterial invasion, says to his patient…

      Don’t be so unreasonable. Think of it from the bacteria’s point of view…

      Or, you are just imagining that you are under threat, while the patient is burning up with fever…

      Or, you really do deserve it. The bacteria was here first…

      I could go on but I won’t. Instead, I ask the question: would any right thinking person use such a physician?

      Reply to Comment
      • Ben

        Wow. Just wow. Palestinians as bacteria. From a Jewish person. At least we know where you stand. Holy cow.

        Reply to Comment
        • Gustav

          Wow I also likened us to bacteria from THEIR point of view. They have and do call us as a cancer in their midst. That’s a fact. Don’t even dare to deny it. And stop trying to use political correctness to obscure the facts. It won’t work with me. You can have your head in your ass if you want to, but I won’t!

          Reply to Comment
    4. Ben

      What’s really important is that Herzog stay in the opposition, not because he’s any real opposition, but because he is right not left wing on the occupation, and will only serve as an effective fig leaf for the likudists if he is inside the government. The Israelis chose Bibi. Let’s have Bibi. Bring it on and let’s get down to brass tacks.

      Reply to Comment
      • Gustav

        Bibi may or may not be the problem. We don’t know because the Palestinian Arabs just don’t want to make peace with us. They want us all out of here. Hamas says so openly and Abbas acts as if he does not want peace. Otherwise, he would have accepted Ehud Olmert’s 2008 peace offer.

        Reply to Comment
        • Richard Lightbown

          Absolutely. Netanyahu says unequivocally there will be no two states on his watch and Israeli Jews give him massive support. But somehow that is the fault of the Palestinians. Course the settlements are not a problem either.

          Reply to Comment
          • Gustav

            Oh goodie, they are all coming out of the woodwork. I don’t suppose one can have a one on one discussion around here? It has to be gang warfare huh? Many on one? OK, I can hack it.

            Now pay attention Richard.

            Things happened before Bibi came to the scene. Olmert offered a peace deal in 2008, to Abbas. No Israeli leader will ever offer a better deal than that. But that peace deal was not good enough for Abbas and certainly Not for Hamas either!

            Given that, Bibi just does not matter. He got elected AFTER that peace offer. And he certainly won’t be making a better offer. Nor should he.

            As for what Bibi said, he was right to say it. He is just being realistic. The horse has bolted. Even if he ever saw an opportunity for peace earlier (which I doubt) he no longer sees it for a long time to come (that does not mean never) because of what has happened and because of what Is happening. Want me to spell it out in one word? ISIS. Israel will not vacate lands into which ISIS fighters may stream in unchecked and threaten 80% of Israel’s population and it’s international airport with shoulder fired rocket launchers.

            Reply to Comment
          • Richard Lightbown

            Paranoia and patronization but precious little substance.

            Netanyahu got elected this year give or take seven years after the Olmert deal (about which the details are vague incidentally). In the real world things move on. That deal is not on the table now, but the Arab peace initiative still is. It dates from 2002 and Israel has never shown interest in it. So much for Israel being a partner for peace. That was the plan that Kerry was pushing these last couple of years and what happened to that? Oh, yes Bibi torpedoed it during the election, (which is why Obama is treating him like dirt now). But not only did Bibi say that deal was not going to happen on his watch, but it paid off in spades. Israeli Jewish voters endorsed it i.e. Israelis do not want peace. (But that’s the fault of the Arabs, eh Gustav?)

            As for Abbas not being a partner for peace, you can tell that one to Yaakov Peri. http://www.jpost.com/Diplomacy-and-Politics/Peri-Adopt-Arab-peace-initiative-with-corrections-315098 Who knows best, a former head of Shin Bet or a paranoid commentator on +972? And Hamas? They have always said they will honour any agreement voted for by the Palestinian people.

            And ISIS? Well yes of course, how convenient. Because if it was not ISIS it would be Hezbollah, or the Muslim Brotherhood, or little green Martians, or any threat at all that could be used as an excuse to delay doing a deal with the Palestinians. Because the last thing that Bibi and his electorate want at the moment is to change the status quo, because at least until the election things were very nice as they were thank you very much. And if you could drag out the occupation just another 500 years or so that would be fine wouldn’t it? After all it was those nasty Arabs that made you do it.

            Reply to Comment
          • Gustav

            Thank you Richard, your comment confirms everything I said above. You summarized what we are up against. You chose to be the sock puppet of our enemies and you confirm that Bibi is right. There won’t be peace in our time. There is no one on the other side with whom it is possible to make peace.

            Reply to Comment
          • Gustav

            You dismiss Olmert’s peace initiative? Well, Dick dear, there will never be a better offer forthcoming from Israel. In fact, I doubt you’ll ever see it even matched.

            The Arab “peace initiative”? You must be joking Dickie boy. That would be the equivalent of America accepting 200 million Arabs settling in America. Would the Anerican people go for that? I doubt it very much.

            Integral to the Arab “peace initiative” is their demand for the “right of return” of the Palestinian Arab refugees and their descendants to Israel proper. That would be up to 5 million people. You expect us to agree to that? You must be joking, Dickie boy.

            Reply to Comment
          • Bryan

            “That would be the equivalent of America accepting 200 million Arabs settling in America.” A most inappropriate comparison since Arabs were never expelled to allow the creation of an American state. However large areas of South East USA were once Mexican and the USA has permitted (or perhaps acquiesced in) substantial Hispanic immigration into the US (currently 16% of the population and projected to rise to 30% by 2050). America was clearly guilty of ethnic cleansing but in a distant past, long before the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was formulated, and not as recently as 1948, 1967 and 2015 (current efforts to displace the Bedouin from the Jordan Valley and Negev, and to drive Palestinians from Area C and Jerusalem). You raise the specter of Israel being inundated by the Right of Return but very little serious research has yet been conducted into the options assuming a generously funded resettlement package between settlement in Israel, the West Bank, neighbouring states and third countries. In the absence of such research and specific proposals you simply cannot simply assert that that would be like inundating America with a specific number of foreigners.

            Reply to Comment
    5. Bryan

      Just give me a single reason why a Jewish AMERICAN organization should be “pro-Israel”. The Jewish community in America has a long history of social progressivism – support for trade unionism, social provision and a minimum wage, support for civil rights and the liberalization of immigration controls, opposition to racism, to the Vietnam War, to South African Apartheid, and now slowly, slowly young American Jews are increasingly concerned about justice for Palestine. If you are a progressive, backing justice and human rights then you cannot stand with Israel – you cannot be a PEP (Progressive except Palestine). And if you want a democratic and free society you have to stand aghast at the political corruption and crushing of academic freedom which comes with aging Jewish oligarchs buying Senators and professorial appointments. OK J-Street leadership is far from being Progressive, (as Norman Finkelstein says its leadership is “hopeless”) but its recent conference seemed to demonstrate that it is attracting young Jews for whom Jewish Voice for Peace is still a bridge too far.

      Reply to Comment
      • Gustav

        You don’t represent American Jews Bryan. You represent your other religion. The religion of the extreme left.

        American Jews themselves can answer your question. I am not an American Jew so I certainly won’t answer. But I bet the majority of them don’t think like you Bryan. They are not jaundiced in their thinking. Read my earlier posts if you want a hint as to why they disagree with you.

        Reply to Comment
      • Gustav

        Neither were Americans expelled from Mexico unlike the one million Jews who were expelled from Arab countries. The majority of those Jews have made Israel their home so there has been a defacto population exchange much like the one that took place between India and Pakistan following their war in 1948. But I don’t hear anyone harping about THAT!

        16% Latino immigrants? Wow! How does that compare to the same number of Arabs they expect us to take in as the existing Jewish population of the whole of Israel as demanded under the Arab “peace initiative”? Why should we commit national suicide Bryan? Because extreme leftie religious bigots like you demand it? You know what? We don’t have to listen to the likes of you. You don’t like us? Ok, that makes us even. We don’t like you either. Now go fix the rest of the world and stay away from us. We don’t need your advice, nor your jaundiced preachings.

        Reply to Comment
        • Gustav

          Oh and Bryan dear. Just for the record, 20% of Israel’s citizens are Arabs. That is more than the 16% Latinos which you mentioned in relation to America.

          …and on top of that, the Arab “peace initiative” expects us to take in as many more Arabs as there are Jews in Israel!

          As I mentioned. That is equivalent to 200 million Arabs or Latinos being accepted into America. Americans would not stand for it. Irrespective of history. And you know that’s true!

          We won’t stand for it either! That’s why the Arab “peace initiative” is a non starter!

          Reply to Comment
          • Bryan

            In 1850 96% of the population of Palestine were Arabs, and even in 1948 despite mass immigration, 68% were (according to UNSCOP) were still Arab. And it doesn’t matter how much you keep repeating yourself, no one can accept that implementing the internationally agreed ROR is equivalent to 200 million Arabs entering the USA until the precise terms of a peace agreement are explored. You do not know – nor can you – how many Palestinians would opt for the West Bank rather than pre-1967 Israel, and how many would opt for resettlement in other states (assuming a generous resettlement package). So please stop making things up (and stop frightening yourself).

            Reply to Comment
          • Gustav

            None of them will opt to “return” to Israel Bryan because we have a say in this matter and we say no to it.

            No matter how many times you deny it, the Arab “peace initiative” contains the ROR demand that’s why that initiative is a non starter. If we would agree to it, we would in effect leave the choice of return for up to 5 million descendants of refugees and given that we have about 6 million Israeli Jews, that would be equivalent to allowing up to 200 million Latinos or Arabs settling in the USA. Americans would not allow that to happen either. Not even in principle.

            As for what happened in 1850 or in 1948, it is immaterial. We now live in the 21st century and since then, there has been a defacto population exchange. Israel absorbed at least as many Jewish refugees from Arab countries as there have been Palestinian Arab refugees as a consequence of wars of aggression by Palestinian Arabs against Israel.

            Reply to Comment
          • Ben

            You keep peddling fictitious scary scenarios as “fact” and it is fundamentally dishonest and I suspect you know it. Or maybe it is genuine paranoia on your part and you are sincere. In any event, I’ve followed your contributions here for a while, Gustav, and I find that they most often consist of your insisting that no solution is possible (that is, the preferred Israeli non-solution, conveniently, is necessary) because (I paraphrase) “‘they’ just want to kill us all and that is their true real and undying aim and I can see it but you can’t.” But the facts never quite bear you out.

            “…and on top of that, the Arab “peace initiative” expects us to take in as many more Arabs as there are Jews in Israel!”

            It does no such thing. It actually asks for
            a “just” and “agreed upon” solution to the Palestinian refugee question in accordance with UN Resolution 194.

            The API was never treated seriously by the Israeli government. That the government never took this honorable and fair minded and eminently workable initiative, coming from the major powers in the Arab world, seriously speaks volumes about Israel’s true aims, as opposed to what it tells the outside world its aims are.

            http://www.jpost.com/Opinion/Its-time-to-revisit-the-Arab-Peace-Initiative-387514

            Reply to Comment
          • Gustav

            My paranoia, Benny? And you base that opinion on one article written by an optimistic, wishful thinking, interpretation of ONE Jewish journalist?

            Well, then Benny, here is something that SHOULD make you at least think about your claim. This is how the Arabs interpret the clause about refugees in the Arab “peace initiative”…

            “Refugees will have the right to choose between:
            return to the state of Palestine
            return to the state of Israel
            return to areas in Israel being transferred to Palestine
            remain in the host states, subject to the latter?s decision
            resettle in third countries, subject to the latter?s decision”
            It isn’t my invention. My quote is from Al Jazeera.

            http://transparency.aljazeera.net/en/projects/thepalestinepapers/201218225348796889.html

            Now, Benny, whose interpretation should I take more seriously? A foolish wishful thinking Jew’s interpretation? Or the interpretation presented by the Arab side?

            I don’t think I am paranoid at all if I choose to believe what the Arabs themselves say it means. OK?

            Reply to Comment
          • Ben

            So let me get this straight. An initiative, a starting point, based on a Saudi-inspired peace plan in 2002, with all sorts of good things in it and all sorts of good faith and security minded intentions in it, including “The number and modalities of return shall be agreed between the Parties [with consideration to maintaining the demographic balance in Israel] [consistent with the two-state solution]” — this starting point was rejected out of hand, simply ignored by Israel. Yet Israel reserves the right, of course!, to say that the current, totally illegal settlements on the ground are a starting point (at best) to be negotiated. But the ROR clauses are not a starting point but a “non-starter” for you.
            You lack all credibility.

            Reply to Comment
          • Ben

            Netanyahu should say yes to Abbas
            http://www.haaretz.com/opinion/1.650623

            “…Abbas is carefully carving his path to broad international recognition, almost consensual, of a Palestinian state. Even if he is also motivated by internal political pressures, such as the Hamas government breathing down his neck, he has succeeded in convincing the world of the seriousness of his intentions. He has shown readiness for a compromise and commitment to advancing a permanent agreement in the region based on the Arab League initiative, which he calls “the greatest gift that Israel could receive from the Arab world.” The proposal being formulated in France for the UN Security Council, whose goal is the recognition of a Palestinian state, and the economic sanctions against Israel that the European Union is considering are examples of his success.

            All this comes at a time when Netanyahu is busy with his war of defamation against the American administration…”

            Reply to Comment
          • Gustav

            Oh yes and Netanyahu should listen to Haaretz because Haaretz knows best. Not!!!

            But what is really annoying is Haaretz’s distortion of history once again. It pretends that Netanyahu has been the one who refused to negotiate with Abbas rather than the other way around.

            The fact is that Abbas was the one who made pre conditions for negotiations. And even when Netanyahu agreed to a 10 month “settlement” freeze, Abbas huffed and puffed and took his time to come to the table. It took him 9 months and two weeks to re-commence negotiations and then he expected Netanyahu to continue the freeze which of course he could not agree to seeing how Abbas weakened his hand in the face of his more hard line coalition partners to whom he could show nothing in return for his agreement to the freeze.

            Those are the sneaky types of games which Abbas is playing. And that is on top of his refusal to even respond to Olmert’s peace deal in 2008 before Netanyahu won the elections. Abbas sat on the offer for a full 6 months he waited it out and breathed a sigh of relief when the more hawkish Netanyahu won the elections. Then proceeded to pretend that Netanyahu was the cause for the impasse and that he, Abbas, was an innocent lamb who was falling over himself to agree to peace terms which he could not get from Netanyahu.

            Poppycock. More like he was trying to dictate terms to Netanyahu who rejected his dictates.

            Reply to Comment
          • Gustav

            You might want to read the following article, Benny. It reveals the real attitudes of the Palestinian leadership to the right of return demand. The analysis is based on the Palestine papers as revealed by Al Jazeera…

            http://www.christianfairwitness.com/writings/Palestine_Papers_Right_of_return_memo.pdf

            You might also try to explain to me the apparent contradiction between the following two clauses…

            “The number and modalities of return shall be agreed between the Parties [with consideration to maintaining the demographic balance in Israel] [consistent with the two-state solution]”

            AND

            “Refugees will have the right to choose between:
            – return to the state of Palestine

            – return to the state of Israel”

            If it is the choice of the refugees then what is to stop them all from choosing to settle in Israel? Or at least in large enough numbers that we cannot accept?

            Also, why should the question of Jewish refugees from Arab countries be avoided? How is that just? Why should that not be part of the discussions? Jewish refugees have no rights? Only Arab refugees have rights? We settled our refugees. So Arab countries should be settling Arab refugees. And if they are to get compensation for doing so, then we should be compensated too for the Jewish refugees which we accommodated.

            Last but not least. Contrary to your assertion, when the Arab “peace initiative” was first tabled, Israel did not reject it out of hand. Israel viewed it positively as a starting point but it expressed reservations about some of it’s clauses, such as the “right of return” which it suggested should be modified following further discussions. But how did the Saudis respond? They said….

            “Endorse the proposals as they are, or forget about it!”

            So Israel took them at their word. No willingness to discuss our concerns? Then we won’t accept it. And we didn’t.

            Reply to Comment
          • Bryan

            Are you a clown or what? One minute you say outrageously that the ROR would be like 200 million Arabs immigrating into the USA, and the next minute you say it will be like ZERO million Arabs immigrating into the USA (“None of them will opt to “return” to Israel Bryan because we have a say in this matter and we say no to it). Then why has your government repeatedly spurned Arab peace overtures without even exploring issues that are clearly negotiable?

            Reply to Comment
          • Gustav

            You are the clown Bryan.

            Either you did not read what I said. Or you have comprehension problems.

            Or maybe you are just plain old dishonest and you are trying to misrepresent what I actually said?

            Whatever. Don’t under-estimate the intelligence of narmal people who read these posts.

            Reply to Comment
          • Gustav

            “One minute you say outrageously that the ROR would be like 200 million Arabs immigrating into the USA, and the next minute you say it will be like ZERO million Arabs immigrating into the USA (“None of them will opt to “return” to Israel Bryan because we have a say in this matter and we say no to it)

            I said they demand the potential return of up to 5 million Palestinian Arabs which would be the equivalent of up to 200 million Arabs or Latinos demanding that they be allowed to settle in the USA.

            I also said, we won’t be allowing any of them to “return”.

            How exactly are those two statements contradictory Bryan?

            Go and take your medications…

            Reply to Comment
    6. michal

      none of you mention that a step-by-step approach might be best. writing from sderot, I feel that the first step would best be a halt to the settlement expansion, not because ‘they’ want us to but because the settlements on the east side of the green line are a huge drain on the israeli budget, an enablement of israel’s fanatics, and an international embarrassment both political and moral.
      as a student at the sapir college, I daily witness the effects of israel’s deteriorating educational system. the students I study w/ are underprepared in many ways to assume the responsibility of continuing the zionist project. in fact, I’d say that few of them conceive themselves as part of that project.
      the grand plans you discuss pale beside my daily realities. my neighbors and my fellow students shrug and wait, resigned, for the next round of deadly explosives to come down on us. this worries me a lot more than hamas charters or the details of olmert’s offer. we need to see our leaders coming up w/ new ideas, not the shell-games they currently distract us w/.
      happy pessach to all.

      Reply to Comment
      • Ben

        “we need to see our leaders coming up w/ new ideas, not the shell-games they currently distract us”

        Thank you. There are so many shell games! You can see them right here on this page.

        Reply to Comment
      • Bryan

        Michal – please comment on this site more frequently; a calm Israeli voice of reason and common sense would be a most invaluable corrective to the paranoia, bigotry and fanaticism so frequently displayed here. Thank you.

        Reply to Comment
        • Gustav

          You don’t want a calm Israeli voice, Bryan. You want compliant Israeli voices. Voices which snap to attention and do the bidding of foreign masters as ghetto Jews used to do in the good old days.

          But those days are gone. The majority of us are not like tat. Although some of us still have not learnt, particularly amongst the ranks of extreme lefties who walk with their heads stuck in an unpleasant orifice in their bodies.

          Reply to Comment
      • Gustav

        But heaven forbid, the Palestinian Arabs need not come up with anything. Right, Michal? The only thing they need to do is to try to tell us to jump and we just have to ask them how high they want us to jump and if we comply, everything will be resolved, right Michal?

        Please don’t answer. I am being sarcastic but I hope you get my meaning.

        Reply to Comment
        • Gustav

          The settlements are the problem, you say Michal?

          Step by step approach you say, Michal?

          You mean like the 10,000 settlers whom we unilaterally withdrew from Gaza?

          What did we get in return Michal? I’ll tell you what…

          Hamas took over Gaza and they intensified their rocket fire against Sderot. The rocket fire which they started in 2000.

          So much for the step by step approach…

          I take your point though about the quality of our education system if your sentiments are an example of what our students know about very recent history. The Gaza withdrawal took place a mere 10 years ago Michal. I am sure you were born by then even though you probably were just a child but you have no excuse for not informing yourself about it.

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    7. Liz Silman

      Mr Ghazi, don’t be so quick to dismiss Ms Schwartz’ plan. The most effective way to achieve a 2-state settlement and impose a level of sanctions on Israel that will leave it economically and politically completely isolated, is for Israel to annex the West Bank. The international community simply will not permit it. The arrogance of right-wing Jews who believe that Israel can do whatever it chooses is emptying them of commonsense. For those who sincerely want a 2-state settlement based on several well-documented blueprints, the best route is for Israel to try and fulfill the wishes of its religious and nationalist fundamentalists.

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      • Gustav

        Some of us right wingers want a two state solution. But not at all cost.

        If the cost is to make it easier for them to keep on attacking us, then we are happy enough to wait till their common sense tells them that it ain’t worth it. I don’t think we live in such times yet. You don’t agree? That’s ok but in order to convince me that I am wrong, you need to come up with more than just fuzzy wishful thinking.

        As to who will do what to us, don’t you worry about that. We have more friends than you imagine. And our enemies have more enemies than you imagine as well. I won’t elaborate any further but you’d see it too if only you’d open your eyes instead of having hatred in your heart for Zionism.

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        • Gustav

          Here is a 2008 JP editorial which clearly shows the the Arab Peace Initiative was originally presented on a ‘take-it-or-leave-it’ basis not as a starting point for further negotiations.

          http://www.jpost.com/Opinion/Editorials/Yes-to-salam

          However it is good to see that the Arabs and their allies deny that now. Maybe there is hope for it now if it is to be a starting point not a dictate that it was originally. That is if they are serious and they are not just playing their usual PR games…

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          • Ben

            “Clearly shows” nothing. THIS is your standard of evidence?? Ok, now I grasp the level you’re playing at. This article is propaganda.

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    8. barry

      Both sides in this stale debate make some good points but neither describes a realistic way forward other than moremconflict. The only way to peace and to really improving the lives of people in the Israel-Palestine is to engender a spirit of compromise, compromise by ALL.

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