Leftist US Jews: Elections results vindicate Mitzna

The unilateral withdrawal was first proposed by Mitzna in 2003 and was rejected in its time.

amram mitzna 88 (photo credit: )
amram mitzna 88
(photo credit: )
Hope might be too strong a word to describe the sentiment Tuesday evening at the New York headquarters of the New Israel Fund, an organization that supports social justice and coexistence programs in Israel. However for the few dozen supporters of the Israeli left who gathered to watch the election returns together, there was a sense that after more than five years of shouting in the wilderness, they were finally being heard. "This is a vindication of Labor ideology. Kadima won on the Mitzna platform," said Jamie Levin, executive director of Ameinu, an organization fashioned just over two years ago out of the old Labor Zionist Alliance. Levin was referring to the 2003 proposal by then-Labor Party leader Amram Mitzna for unilateral withdrawal. "Now everybody, almost across the board, is talking one way or another about disengagement," Levin said. After years of feeling like their vision for Israel had lost all currency, the American Jewish left-wing had despaired that Israel would ever start moving in the direction they hoped - toward a negotiated settlement with the Palestinians. The results of Tuesday's election, though more a mandate for unilateralism than for negotiation, reassured them that Israelis were committed to ending the occupation. As Levin put it, "For the last few years there has been a feeling that we lost. I'm not sure there's a feeling like we won, but at least we haven't lost." Hiam Simon, development director for Americans for Peace Now, echoed the sense that the Left had been proven right. "I don't know if it's hopefulness I feel. Hope is the wrong word. That which I hope for feels much further away. But I think it says the rest of the world is beginning to see things the way we on the Left do. The security barrier was created by the Left. So if it took three or five years for everyone else to catch up to our thinking, maybe in another few years they can catch up to where we are today," Simon said. To help them digest the election results, the groups brought in Mark Rosenblum, founder and policy director of Americans for Peace Now, a history professor at Queens College in New York City and one of the leading thinkers of the peace camp in America. Rosenblum decried the rise of Avigdor Lieberman's Israel Beiteinu, saying the party advocated "an extremely hard-line and racist set of propositions and also, in terms of social and economic policies, is ultra-conservative and conscience-less." In his analysis, which he said was not based on "Peace Now overnight," Rosenblum said he though that Hamas and Kadima would create a "live-and-let-live arrangement." "You are not going to have a negotiating process but a sort of mediated, informal attempt to coordinate the two interests of Hamas and Kadima, and this coordination could lead to a cease-fire that's protracted," Rosenblum said. This was his "most optimistic take" and it seemed to confirm the cautious and nuanced sense of optimism in the peace camp here that things were slowly shifting in their direction, but that there was nothing to rejoice about just yet. Or as Bruce Temkin, director of the New York office of the New Israel Fund put it, pointing to the row of Heinekens sitting on a table: "Beer is not champagne but it's a little bubbly, so I think it expresses what the mood is here."