An appeal is being made to raise funds to publish a $50,000 advertisement in the New York Times that first appeared this past Wednesday in Yedioth Ahronoth.
The advertisement calls for “recognizing a Palestinian State based on the 1967 borders.” It continues by calling on “any person seeking peace and liberty to join us in welcoming the Palestinian Declaration of Independence”.
There is no mention whatsoever of the recent pact between Fatah and Hamas, which threatens the entire peace process given the latter’s refusal to negotiate with Israel. As President Obama rightly stated is his address from the State Department today: “The recent announcement of an agreement between Fatah and Hamas raises profound and legitimate questions for Israel – how can one negotiate with a party that has shown itself unwilling to recognize your right to exist?”
While the advertisement calls for an “end of the occupation” and appeals to the Israeli and Palestinian leadership to recognize one another, there is no specific demand for Hamas to rescind its charter calling for the destruction of Israel.
As such, the advertisement’s contents stand in marked contrast to Obama’s assertion today that “Palestinian leaders will not achieve peace or prosperity if Hamas insists on a path of terror and rejection. And Palestinians will never realize their independence by denying the right of Israel to exist.”
The reaction of Hamas to President Obama’s address ought to be an eye opener for everyone. In their words, it was “an absolute failure”. Their spokesman in the Gaza Strip is reported as having stated: “The (Arab) nation does not need a lecture on democracy from Obama. Rather it is he who is in need of a lesson in light of his absolute support for Israeli crimes and his refusal to condemn the Israeli occupation.”
Given that President Obama specifically stated that “the dream of a Jewish and democratic state cannot be fulfilled with permanent occupation” and added that “We believe the borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines”, one can only assume that Hamas’ leaders were either not listening, or chose not to hear Obama’s message of conciliation.
However, Hamas’ refusal to listen is no less dangerous for Israel than the voices of those who turn a blind eye to the security threats that face our country. From his address today, President Obama clearly understands them – perhaps more so than those who chose to place advertisements at this time both in the national press in Israel and in the United States.
While I agree with your concern about Hamas, what your comments omit is that the ad was signed by only prominent Israeli academics, Israeli retired generals, former Israeli government advisors and other Israeli notables. Furthermore, the ad invited the government of the State of Israel (not the USA, not the European Union, not the Russians, not the French, not the UK) to recognize a Palestinian State before the Palestinians invited international governments to grant recognition. Those two facts place the entire ad in a different context than you indicate. These are not naive individuals. They are not foreigners. They are not anti-Semitic. They are not Arab sympathisers. They are devoted Israelis who love their country as much as any of those who disagree with them. You may argue that only the elected leaders of the State of Israel have a right to speak for Israel. On that there is considerable disagreement both in Israel and among Jews around the world.
It is important to understand that the advertisement that appeared in Yedioth Ahronoth and is now to be published in the New York Times expresses the views of an infinitessimally small part of the Israeli electorate. The statement in the J Street appeal for funds to the effect that “more and more prominent Israelis are calling for recognizing a Palestinian state now and for negotiating with that state to achieve peace and security” is misleading and unsubstantiated. Indeed, most Israelis are deeply concerned by the Fatah/Hamas pact and wonder how we can be expected to negotiate with those whose expressed intention is to liquidate the State of Israel. Of course, the signatories to the advertisement are not anti-Semitic and no one questions their love for Israel. However, that is not the point. The question that needs to be addressed is whether Hamas is a partner for peace, or whether it is an Iranian backed terrorist organization (like the Hezbollah), which cannot be allowed to have sovereign control over territory just 9 miles from Netanya and 3 miles from my home.