Ignoring the art of the possible

US Jews too often demand ‘progress toward peace’ without regard to whether it’s achievable.

December 17, 2012 15:14
US and Israeli flags

US and Israeli flags 390. (photo credit: Thinkstock/Imagebank)


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On many issues, J Street isn’t nearly as representative of American Jewry as it likes to think. But the anguished query posed by its communications director, Alan Elsner, last week is undoubtedly shared by a vast swath of American Jews: “Why are Israeli politicians of all stripes almost totally disregarding what we see as the main issue facing the country, the need to reinvigorate negotiations with the Palestinians toward a two-state solution?” Indeed, the former head of the Union for Reform Judaism, Rabbi Eric Yoffie, voiced similar frustration in October, saying he was “stunned” that “Israeli-Palestinian peace is no more than a peripheral issue” in the election campaign. And unlike J Street, Yoffie’s pro-Israel credentials are unimpeachable.

Most Israeli Jews would counter with one very simple question: “What exactly do you expect us to do?” Because until someone produces a credible answer to that question, Israelis see little point in wasting time and energy on it. And overwhelmingly, they view the answers produced by American Jews as non-credible.


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