The Region: Time to wake up

Are Jews going to realize that the two-state solution is only desirable if it really brings full peace?

Kerry, Livni, Erekat in peace talks (photo credit: Screenshot)
Kerry, Livni, Erekat in peace talks
(photo credit: Screenshot)
In the spring of 2000, I was friendly with a nice man, the father of my son’s friend. He was apolitical really, but his father had been a very high official of the Israeli Zionist-Marxist party (MAPAM). He had regularly voted for MAPAM or the Communist Party. By coincidence, we once ended up sitting next to each other on a flight.
I thought it would be interesting to discuss politics with him. After all, the Camp David meeting had failed (Yasser Arafat had refused the two-state solution and Israeli intelligence had recordings demonstrating that he would never accept), and the violent second intifada was launched by Arafat with a Fatah-Hamas alliance of terrorism.
To my surprise this soft-spoken real estate agent started screaming: “Only [Ariel] Sharon! Only Sharon can save the country!” That year I heard that a lot. Sometimes, as the British philosopher Samuel Johnson said, “When a man knows he is to be hanged in a fortnight, it concentrates his mind wonderfully.” That’s the difference with direct engagement with an issue.
A great number of Middle Eastern Arabs and Muslims (perhaps 85 percent) who think about this issue at all want to destroy Israel – far fewer Germans wanted to kill the Jews even in 1932, and that is an undeniable fact.
The second fact is that American public opinion, serious Christians, and absolutely shocked congressional Democrats (and Republicans) who don’t feel comfortable with President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry’s policy are the main supporters of Israel. It will be interesting to see if and when the Democrats have to choose between Israel and real dangers to Israel.
The third factor was that such a large number of pro- Obama and radical or even some anti-Israel activists are Jews – an incredible proportion in some cases, to be honest.
It is surprising but also not really so surprising. It must be confronted; and it need not be answered by more words but by political movements and by pressure.
Why are Jews so far to the Left in general? Historically, it is no mystery. Many Jews in the 19th century were modernists, especially in the West, supporters of change and development, because, after all, traditional society did not really have a place for them. Second of all, the Democratic Party made a serious effort to get immigrant and other urban ethnic votes.
Third, the New Deal was very good for Jews and was strongly supported by them; many government agencies were first staffed by Jews at that time. Also many academics, journalists and other service professions and trade unions were working government-created jobs.
Fourth, of course, was the fight against fascism led by the Democratic Party in that era. You would think that the Democratic view is out of date, but of course it is not, for example, because of cultural trends. It is just unfashionable to be Republican, whereas Liberal Democratic politics are associated with all that is smart, good and stylish.
It is equally important to keep in mind that Jews are very sensitive to racial and religious discrimination. So why is anti-Semitism that is connected to popular liberal politics so easily overlooked, exploited by the modern Left into the notion that a minority can do no wrong? Let’s look at Reverend Jeremiah Wright. Despite the fact that Reverend Wright was obviously involved in potent anti-Semitism, saying in a 2011 speech in Baltimore, “The state of Israel is an illegal, genocidal... place,” then continuing to state that “to equate Judaism with the state of Israel is to equate Christianity with [rapper] Flavor Flav.”These comments, however, were forgiven because of his connection to Obama’s campaign. Crime, never punishment.
Today, there is a very bizarre division among Jews in the United States. There is a serious lack of Jewish causes among leftist Zionists. Namely, activists are either pro-Israel and traditional liberals or moderates, or they are leftists that belong more to the extreme left wing – which is unfortunately disproportionately common. I should think the historical far-left communist experience should be sufficient to scare Jews (remember the oppression of Soviet Jewry).
The fact is that the academics, journalists and public advocates who are involved are more often than not Jewish.
I actually fear reading the bylines and quotes in publications, because I know that they are so often attached to “progressivism.” Yet why is this? Some causes may be obvious. Both fascists and extreme nationalists have of course been hostile to Jews, even for example as far back as the Dreyfus affair. Yet you would think that these Jews were knowledgeable about history. Naturally, Jews are historically sympathetic toward minorities and more sensitive toward racism. And yet why do some Jews automatically think that the state is their friend? The state has often been helpful but has also often been the enemy.
Still, many Jews tended to be directed to professions and high-level academic achievement, which tends to focus on statist-finance involvement.
Actually there is no question that there is still anti-Semitic bias in the US, most often seen among the Left, with its lack of sympathy for Jewish causes and its dishonesty in dealing with Israel policy, often with anti-Israel bias. Israel is by far the country that others are the most unfairly biased toward – higher than any bias against Muslims. Yet this is not recognized by Jews, because it makes radicals look better. And, of course, if this is a real bias, then the fact that some Muslims want genocide is not taken seriously, especially in university classes.
Let’s look at the facts. FBI statistics report that in 2012, 62.4% of hate crimes in the United States were against Jews, who make up about 2%-3% percent of the US population.
Close to two-thirds of the 1,340 religious hate crimes were thus anti-Jewish. In other words, a Jew is 40 times more likely to be persecuted for his religion than any other group in the US.
Muslims were the second most targeted group victimized on a religious basis, with 11.6% of hate crimes being anti-Islamic. Although the statistics available on Islam are not detailed, Muslims make up roughly 1% of the population (the 2010 Pew Report estimated the Muslim population in the United States at 2.9 million, and the numbers have since grown).
In other words, Jews–who are not easily identified except for the 10 percent of which are Orthodox– are about 40 times more likely to be victims. Of course only claims that are reported to the FBI are published. Incidentally, the intermarriage rate of Jews is also now over 70%.
The question then is: Is anybody going to wake up to this or not? Are Jews going to realize that the two-state solution is only desirable if it really brings full peace? If so, the Jewish Democratic vote would change drastically.
And if peace were achieved, would Middle Eastern Arabs no longer want to try to wipe out Jews and Israel? But have no doubt that many public officials, journalists and especially academics will as a priority or out of ignorance place Jews and Israelis in jeopardy.
The author is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center at the Interdisciplinary Center (IDC) Herzliya and is editor of The Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) journal. His latest books are The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition), The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley), and The Truth About Syria (Palgrave- Macmillan).