5 reasons why mainstream Jews should drop the Palestinian cause in 2021

Our world has changed. The Middle East has changed. Israel has changed. The American Jewish community, and its objectives, must too.

Protesters hold Jordanian and Palestinian flags and shout slogans during a protest against U.S. President Donald Trump's proposed Middle East peace plan, near the U.S. Embassy in Amman, Jordan, January 31, 2020. (photo credit: REUTERS)
Protesters hold Jordanian and Palestinian flags and shout slogans during a protest against U.S. President Donald Trump's proposed Middle East peace plan, near the U.S. Embassy in Amman, Jordan, January 31, 2020.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
As we close the chapter of an unprecedented year filled with enormous loss and begin a new year with unparalleled opportunity, I believe now is the time to ask bold questions with answers that may be uncomfortable for the mainstream Jewish community in North America.
 As we made, and now pursue, resolutions for our personal and professional selves, our families and our communities, let us also have the courage to ask the more uncomfortable, more durable – and frankly, more honest questions that we only have the courage to ask in the light of this most challenging year.
How do we engage with Israel? What core policy objectives do we as a community and our organizations seek to achieve? Which organizational policy objectives, written long ago in boardrooms far far away, are still relevant? Which objectives are not relevant? What is achievable? What is not? What is the “needle” – and in what direction do we push it? Which causes embrace all of our identities? And which causes force us as Jews, as Americans, and as Zionists to leave our identities at the door?
I have a resolution.
In 2021, and in the years and decades beyond, the organized Jewish community should abandon its paralyzing, archaic, immoral and dangerous objective of establishing a Palestinian state.
Our world has changed. The Middle East has changed. Israel has changed. The American Jewish community, and its objectives, must too. Suppress your anger, lay down your talking points and hear me out.
1.     The Abraham Accords
The tectonic plates of the Middle East shifted with the signing of The Abraham Accords – and they have not stopped shifting. The accords will continue to shape, if not completely guide, US Foreign Policy in the Middle East for the foreseeable future and throughout future Democratic and Republican administrations.
This diplomatic breakthrough and peace agreement, at first between a few Arab powerhouses, led by the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Sudan, and Morocco – and perhaps new developments will soon arise – is simply unprecedented. Add the countries that continue to follow along with whispers that Saudi Arabia will eventually join, and the map of the Middle East isn’t only re-edited: It is completely rewritten.
Our communal objectives must be reflected in this. This redrawn map will outlive the Trump Presidency and the Jewish community’s distaste for it. The writing is on the wall: the Abraham Accords will continue to shift, guide and influence Middle Eastern geopolitics of the twenty-first century.
Shouldn’t we jump on board? If Sunni Arab Muslim countries, their leadership and increasingly their populations don’t care about the Palestinian cause, why should we?
A recent Jerusalem Post report indicated that Israel and the UAE are leading international efforts to dismantle the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, the Palestinian alleged aid organization that promotes unparalleled corruption, funnels money to terrorists and perpetuates the myth of the Palestinian refugee problem across multiple generations – a “right of return” apparently only granted to Palestinian refugees and no other refugees in modern history.
This is critical: a leading Arab nation, in fact a powerhouse in the Arab League (as well as a surrogate for Saudi Arabia), the UAE sees no value in UNRWA – and in fact alleges that the agency undermines prospects for peace. This move is unprecedented; the UAE is no longer allowing the Palestinian leadership to hold the region hostage.
Why must American Jews cling to a cause that acts against the interest of the Jewish state and its Arab neighbors? Do we want to live in a world where the Israeli government is more aligned with the Sunni-Arab states than with the United States and its Jewish powerhouse of a Diaspora?
What moral imperative calls upon us as a Jewish People to tie our identities, and the love of our nation state, to a neighboring people who name streets after people who kill us, who pay terrorists to kill us and who refuse to accept that we, the Jews, have a right to a state?
This shouldn’t be so complicated. The Arab World is beginning to turn the page and recognize the Palestinian cause for what it is: a problem, a problem that would only grow exponentially if granted statehood. It is time the American Jewish community does the same.
2. John Kerry’s Middle East is gone – if it ever existed after all
The once conventional thinking in Washington was this: If, and only if, Israel makes peace with the Palestinians, then and only then can the rest of the Arab World open itself up to the establishment of diplomatic relations with Israel.
This thinking was championed by old school and misinformed Washington elites such as former secretary of state and failed presidential candidate John Kerry and members of the diplomatic establishment like Martin Indyk.
In fact, at a 2016 Saban Forum, Kerry doubled down on his worldview and said: “No separate peace between Israel and the Arab world… I can tell you that even in the past week as I have spoken to leaders in the Arab community, there will be no advancement and separate peace with the Arab World without the Palestinian process and Palestinian peace. Everybody needs to understand that.”
Obviously, times have changed. Or maybe they haven’t, and John Kerry just never had his hand on the pulse of what larger currents exist in and throughout the Arab World. Even former secretaries of state can be wrong. Being wrong only makes one human.
However, we cannot continue to proceed, as this myth has been completely discounted and demolished by the earth-shattering Abraham Accords – which continue to be the one true positive development of 2020 and will likely continue to lead into 2021 with additional surprises and opportunities.
Clutching onto the Palestinian cause as the Arab World continues to publicly, and rightfully, reject it is simply shooting ourselves strategically in the foot, right as the marathon is about to begin. And don’t we want to win the marathon?
3. No Jewish Organization was actively involved in the Abraham Accords – and likely won’t even be involved in any other breakthrough
While organizations like the AJC, ADL, AIPAC and a host of others surely build important relationships and influence policy, the broad reality is: When it’s time for the real action that pushes governments to make “the move” and make history, these organizations, by the very nature of them being non-governmental actors, are largely left out of the room, while governments and their leaders negotiate and sign on the dotted line.
In today’s world with the media's microscope always lurking, the real work cannot happen with Jewish organizations or any non-government actor in the room, much less organizations with 501c3 tax-exempt status. This will continue to be true for both future Democratic and Republican administrations. And that’s ok!
These organizations exist to push broad policy objectives, conduct important educational programming for diverse audiences inside and outside the Jewish community, and most importantly, exist to influence public opinion (and those who shape it) to support favorable public policy based on more or less universally accepted Jewish communal policy objectives, like ensuring that Iran never obtains a nuclear weapon. This is important.
However, we should expect critical organizations to focus our attention on what policy objectives these organizations can actually achieve. What is the use of nearly every Jewish organization having the establishment of a Palestinian state as a cornerstone policy objective?
 And what if this (thankfully) does not happen? Should we accept that our community is one of countless organizations setting themselves up each year to fail? Do our internal communal objectives align with reality? Would championing an unattainable goal – and spending hundreds of millions of dollars and manpower in an effort to blindly achieve it – work in the private sector?
Or should we influence our community to adopt more achievable, more sane, more actionable and more updated objectives – like establishing ties and meaningful relationships with Sunni Arab nations and their populations? Or perhaps ensuring that other communities of faith feel educated, engaged and connected with the Israeli and Jewish story?
Surely these objectives are far more achievable and actionable than the Jewish American pipedream of a Palestinian state next to an Israeli government that will undoubtedly reject the establishment of such a state for the next decade or so.
It is simple: We cannot accept dozens of organizations endorsing a policy objective that is never happening while also claiming to be part of a field guided by any sense of professional legitimacy.
It is time the organizations bent on establishing a Palestinian state in the name of their Judaism update their policy objectives, smell the Aroma coffee or shut their doors. Israelis continuously reject the establishment of a Palestinian state: Who are you to demand such a shonda?
And spare me: I refuse to accept the typical position that “it’s important we show good faith to policy leaders” as a justification for why the Jewish people often present themselves more as advocates for the establishment of a Palestinian state than builders of the Jewish state.
And, I must say, it's dishonest to advocate for a policy objective that most American Jews, with the exception of the mainstream Jewish Left, don’t even want achieved anyway!
The region – along with the overwhelming majority of Israelis – has moved on from the malpractice of Palestinian rejectionism: It’s time we as a community do so, too.
 4. The Palestinians, and any future potential Palestinian state, would be an organized society and nation whose values and lack of rule of law would be completely antithetical to the Western world
It is delusional to expect that a future Palestinian state would exude any acceptable level of civil and Western Democratic values. While many proponents of a Palestinian state, as well as most of Israel’s biggest detractors, allege that once the so called “occupation” subsides, then and only then will Palestinian resistance end and peace flow throughout the land.
Societies, as we painfully know all too well, do not change quickly – if ever at all. In fact, an ADL report found that 93% of Gazans and Palestinians living in the West Bank harbor antisemitic beliefs. Imagine these beliefs being put into action with an army and a militarized state.
The exact same behavior that we have seen from the Palestinians during the past 70-plus years will continue regardless of any and all changes on the ground.  How could American Jewry wish this upon our Israeli brothers and sisters? Policy objectives birthed out of vanity in Boardrooms have real consequences: It's time we start treating them as such.
5. The PLO, our alleged partners in peace, incentivize and pay terrorists to kill Jews
Pay to slay is real. The organized Jewish community continues to ignore the gross and growing indoctrination within and throughout Palestinian society that incentivizes and rewards Palestinians of all ages for murdering Jews.
Sander Gerber has done immaculate work uncovering the evidence and bringing this issue to the forefront of American and Israeli debate. In 2017, The Hill reported that, “in an unusual display of bipartisanship, the US House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed The Taylor Force Act, a bill to reduce US funding for the Palestinians unless official bodies stop subsidizing the families of killers.”
Congress listened and acted. If these policymakers have time to listen, then the American Jewish community must, too.
This indoctrination is sickening. However, we cannot ignore this earth-shattering fact as we craft communal policy objectives. We cannot wish this away into oblivion with different verses of Shalom Aleichem.
Any people or entity that endorses, institutionalizes and indoctrinates the killing of innocent Israelis is not worthy of statehood, much less the adoration of the most powerful Diaspora in the history of the Jewish people. Again, why is this so complicated?
THE TIMES have changed and so must we. We must craft and enact communal objectives based on the reality of the moment and not the nostalgia of Olso’s archaic past. If we truly seek to be effective, impactful and substantive in our work, it is time that we as a community revise our communal policy objectives in order to reflect the new Middle East and the realities shaping it.
 Jewish organizations whose sole mission is the establishment of a Palestinian state are stuck in the 1990s and cannot wish 2021 away. To be Jewish, to be a Zionist and to be an American should inspire us to embrace causes that embrace all of us – and our identities and the histories that fuel us.
The Palestinian cause hates Jews. The Palestinian cause hates Zionists. The Palestinian cause hates America and Americans. Shouldn’t we dedicate our time, communal objectives, organizations and its funds to causes that actually authentically embrace us?
In other words: Let's build the Jewish state. Let's invest in projects and partners who put our values into action – not those who name streets after terrorists who killed Israelis.
Let's build a new Jewish world in 2021 with a renewed and honest vision, with our new partners in the Arab world who have rejected Palestinian rejectionism. Let’s embrace our new and growing list of Arab partners – and leave our old ones in the past.
Justin Hayet is the COO of Bnai Zion and is the youngest executive of a major Jewish organization in the United States.