We Are For Israel has been asked to offer a response to the letter written by 100 American Jewish Leaders seeking that Israel work with Secretary of State Kerry to produce a plan demonstrating “Israel’s readiness to make painful territorial concessions for the sake of peace” as an inducement hoping to bring the Palestinian Authority to the negotiating table. It is very clear that We Are For Israel’s Mission Statement along with its introduction does so more than adequately.
We Are For Israel’s Mission Statement has been signed by over 350 rabbis from around the world, the Rabbis For Israel, including leaders of many of the Reform and Conservative movements’ largest and most prominent congregations, as well as by many leading Jewish figures from across the religious spectrum. Found in the introductory text signed by these very eminent Jewish leaders are the following statements:
Attempts by Israel’s detractors to lay the blame for the lack of progress toward peace at her door while pressing her alone to make concessions are not only unjustified, but frequently motivated by political interests, naivety, ignorance, misinformation or even anti-Semitism.
We are particularly concerned by the manner in which some organizations within the Jewish community, which profess to care for Israel and her well-being, advocate that pressure be applied upon her to make unilateral concessions. Similar demands are not made of the Palestinians to respond in kind if at all. We believe that such advocacy, which results in intransigence and increased demands from the Palestinians, does not advance the cause of peace. In discrediting Israel publicly, such organizations not only weaken support for her but also serve the interests of her detractors and enemies.
Additionally, our published statement concerning “Where Our Advocacy Differs” includes passages that are relevant.
Singling Out Israel for Criticism – We believe that it is illegitimate to single out Israel for blame and censure in respect of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. Even in the context of “blaming both sides,” offering general criticism of the Palestinians while specifically condemning Israeli policies and actions amounts to a double standard that obscures history in a morally questionable manner.
Seeking Action by the United States to Pressure Israel to Yield to Palestinian Demands – We believe that America should support Israel in its efforts to negotiate a secure and lasting peace with the Palestinians by working with Israel and the Palestinians to reach that goal. America should not work against Israel on behalf of the Palestinians by pressuring Israel to accept Palestinian demands while receiving nothing in return. The mere appearance of one-sided pressure on Israel fosters Palestinian intransigence and encourages their refusal to come to the negotiating table. This tactic is neither pro-Israel, nor pro-peace.
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Thank you, David, for reaffirming our initial position on one-sided unilateral concessions. We all know that if serious mutual negotiations are entered into by the two parties, in order for those negotiations to succeed and bear the luscious fruit of true peace between Israel and the Palestinian people, then both sides will have to make some painful concessions.
Is Israel willing to make such concessions in exchange for peace? From the birth of the state to this very day, Israel has repeated proclaimed its willingness to make concessions as part of a mutual peace process with the Palestinians. But the key word here is “mutual.” When there are those who call upon Israel to offer up serious concessions for nothing more than the possibility of attracting the Palestinians to the peace table, they demonstrate a shameful ignorance – whether real or selective – of the history of the region. So many times in the past has Israel made concessions only to gain nothing and indeed to find themselves at greater risk because of them. After capturing the Sinai and liberating the Suez Canal in 1956, at the insistence of President Eisenhower, she gave it all back to Egypt, only to find that the Canal was to remain closed to Israeli commerce. Then, of course, regardless of how short some memories are – especially the memories of those Jewish leaders who signed the letter – Israel withdrew all its settlements in Gaza in the name of peace, only to have Gaza transformed into a massive launching pad for missile and mortar attacks on Israeli civilian targets. When will we learn that whenever Israel shows her good faith by making one-sided concessions in the hope of stimulating the desire for peace on the part of her adversaries, the consistent response of those adversaries has been to repay good faith with ill, indeed with pain and destruction.
Should Israel make serious concessions? Yes, of course! But only after the Palestinians have joined them at the peace table and demonstrated that they, too, are willing to make serious concessions. Peace is the product of giving and taking on both sides and not just the result of Israel giving and the Palestinians taking.