While you probably know what I’m about to write, it is useful to reinforce and
pull together the pieces of reality we face.
It is 2012, a year which
seems to be going by very fast and is already one-fourth finished. People are
walking around with smart phones and all sorts of electronic devices that were
undreamed-of not long ago. There has been what is called an “Arab Spring” with
fantasies about instant democracy. An African-American was elected president of
the United States though his party’s nomination, and thus probably the White
House, almost went to a woman.
Times have changed.
hysterical hatred for Israel in the Arabic-speaking world and among Muslims in
general has only increased; the philosophy of rejectionism is – almost? – as
strong as ever. Indeed, it is no longer safe, and certainly isn’t comfortable,
for Jews in much of Europe and even, for those who support Israel, on American
In previously moderate Tunisia, now under Muslim
Brotherhood rule, thousands of Salafists paraded, chanting to kill the Jews in
order to enter paradise. The new Tunisian constitution contains a provision that
the country can never recognize Israel.
Almost a half-century ago,
Tunisia’s leader was the first Arab politician to call for recognizing Israel.
We’re still waiting.
In Morocco, perhaps the overall most moderate
country in the Arabic-speaking world, a meeting of the Mediterranean
Parliamentary Union was held. Israel, which has a parliamentary system and is on
the Mediterranean (I can almost see it from my window), is a member of this
group. Consequently one Israeli attended the meeting. The result was a riot in
which thousands of Moroccans assaulted the building and the leader of the ruling
Islamist party complained.
I won’t bother citing a thousand other
examples. But with the triumph of revolutionary Islamists and the throwing down
the memory hole of decades of disastrous Arab anti- Israel policies, the
Arabic-speaking world is becoming more radical on this issue. It is now joined
by Turkey and Iran.
They hate us; they despise us; they want to kill
In this situation there is a strong temptation for
Westerners to say that if only Israel didn’t exist (radical version) or made
huge concessions (liberal version) then all of the problems in the Middle East
would go away and all the region’s conflicts with the West would go
There is a strong temptation for Western Jews to say that if only
Israel made more concessions on territory there would be peace; hate would turn
into love, or at least benign indifference, and all the problems of the Jews
would go away. There is also a total temptation for Western leftists – including
a disproportionate number of Jews – that if only Israel disappeared or made huge
concessions, socialist utopia would come speedily in our time.
for the first time in history we are seeing a concerted and wellfunded campaign
to destroy the base of support for Israel among American Jews. It is rather
ironic that this is happening in 2012. After all, Israel withdrew from the Sinai
Peninsula, southern Lebanon, the Gaza Strip and parts of the West
Since 1993, Israel has not established a single new settlement nor
expanded the geographic size of existing settlements. Israeli governments have
offered to accept a Palestinian state in all of the Gaza Strip, almost all of
the West Bank, and in part of east Jerusalem.
And so on.
are told by the highly publicized and very smug that if only there is an
economic boycott of settlements, Israel will be saved. We are not told that if
only there is a willingness among Arabs and Muslims to make peace, plus the
total defeat of the revolutionary Islamists, peace is far more likely to be
That real solution has two differences from the first one: •
There is literally nothing we can do, no concession or risk, which will bring
about that outcome.
• Thus, we do not have the power to resolve this
conflict. We can stand up, sit down, walk by the way, or return to the 1967
borders, and it won’t matter.
About 25 years ago, I was convulsed with
laughter at a Palestine National Council meeting in Algeria while watching a
young American Jewish Peace Now kid try to explain to a group of Fatah guys that
they really did just want a state of their own to live alongside Israel within
the 1967 boundaries. They kept explaining to him that this wasn’t the way they
thought at all. They wanted “all of Palestine from the river to the
This well-meaning boob knew better than the Palestinians as to what
their actual political stance was.
It is not comforting to acknowledge
that there simply isn’t going to be any formal peace agreement or end to the
conflict. I won’t say “never” but I’m pretty sure for the next 30 to 50 years,
and somewhat less certain for the rest of this century.
But, of course,
in time anti-Semitism in Europe went away – oops! It didn’t, but you know what I
Does saying these things make me “right wing”? Not at all. It is
also the consensus position of the great majority of left-of-center Israelis and
it should be the position of liberal Jews. The whole point is that this is not a
matter of our will or preference or program but something that is being forced
Sure, I want a two-state solution, but not as a launching pad
for the next round of would-be genocide. I want the ideal solution of peace and
a good neighborhood, but I don’t expect that is going to happen. Not my fault,
not our fault.
Let’s face reality, stop blaming ourselves and get on with
our lives. Let us improve our society, economy and culture. Of course, let’s
also defend ourselves. Let us try to preserve as much as possible of the rapidly
disappearing Jewish people. And if you want to boycott someone, why not start
with those who insist on remaining our enemies and who would like to murder
Makes sense to me.