Lara Friedman is the Director of Policy and Government Relations of Americans for Peace Now. I know her from when she served as a State Department diplomat, a political officer in Jerusalem’s United States Consulate-General in charge of overseeing the issue of Jewish civilian residency in Judea, Samaria and also Gaza, at the time. She recently had a trip which was worthwhile - despite her feeling of being "shaken'' - in that she had the opportunity to learn from her fellow participants in a conference she attended. That conference was the bash-Israel-delegitimize-Jewish-Jerusalem festival in Qatar’s Doha where Abbas revved up the Palestinian Authority’s enterprise in conjunction with Hamas and the Islamic Movement/North to deny history and distance themselves from any peaceful resolution of the conflict.
At the outset, Lara assumed her attendance was
“a sign that the Arab League wanted to capture the full complexity of the issues related to Jerusalem, including openly pro-Israel, pro-peace voices. However, it seems that virtually every conversation I am having here involves me, to a greater or lesser degree, having to defend the two-state solution and having to assert and defend the Jewish stake in Jerusalem”.
She was finding herself in an awkward position in that she is a “liberal Zionist” yet she knows that If representatives of the organization that sponsored the Arab Peace Initiative cannot bring themselves to acknowledge the legitimacy of Jewish equities in Jerusalem, they should know that they discredit their own professed interest in peace. "Peace" is always uppermost for Lara, the supreme ideal which in itself is a built-in self-destruct element in her approach.
Of course, I would suggest to her that this unwillingness to acknowledge simple and provable historical facts and moreover, the Arab persistent aggressive denial campaign is proof that peace is impossible with a mindset such as this (APN did condemn the Mufti''s recent "belligerent" remarks) nopt to mention security or an ''end to the conflict''. What really bothers her is that
Their framing of the future of Jerusalem as a zero-sum game only makes it more likely that Israel will continue asserting its current power over East Jerusalem to hinder the vision of two states living in peace with a Jerusalem as a shared capital.
She manages to blame Israel after all this.
Peter Beinart, another far-out liberal (or is it progressive?) is amazed by her “intellectual honesty”. I''m just amazed.
In a second thought piece, and I use that term of "thought'' with reservations, she adds that despite the mindset of Abbas and friends, she is still optimistic
For those who demand that we refuse to engage with people who hold different points of view, my experience in Doha is a powerful reminder of how small-minded such an approach is. ..many of the people I met are leaving Doha with their assumptions about Zionism challenged, and, hopefully, with the beginnings of an understanding that Jews do not fit neatly into two artificial categories: "good Jews," who are the ones who hate Israel (like the Neturei Karta delegation at the conference) and Zionists, who by definition hate Palestinians…
If anyone, or any organization, can lead the Jewish people to the edge of a threat of extinction, Lara is a primne example of what we should fear. Her refusal to acknowledge the true goal of our enemies, their animosity, their rejectionism and their desire to do us harm is an undermining influence of the greatest danger.
There are those that view Lara as one who thinks herself a Jewish/Zionist patriot. She''s out there promoting reconciliation, equality of narratives, working for peace, in her own mind at least. In hearing this racist, eliminationist Arab vitriol from people she''s long considered partners in peace, they think that this is precisely the medicine she needs; medicine the pro-Israel community could never, ever give her. That view is too generous. Lara is politically blind and her conceptualizations of diplomacy are corrupt.
I predict she will continue to sink into the morass of her own unwillingness to admit her outlook is plain wrong in that it endangers the safety and future of the Jewish people in its historic homeland without defending the Zionist narrative.