It is not unusual these days for American Jews to promote the idea that they know better than Israeli voters what Israel must do, not only to achieve peaceful coexistence with Palestinians but to ensure the long term survival of the state. When there is conservative leadership in power in Israel, those who know better tend to be progressives. When there has been a progressive leadership in power, those voices arose from the political right.
The center, over the past two decades, has developed a case of whiplash straining to keep up with the debate often between irreconcilable positions.
Rabbi John Rosove, the J Street Rabbinic National Cabinet Co-Chair, recently made a distinction between a “Jewish state” and a “Democratic state of the Jewish people.” He argued that somehow the latter term necessarily includes non-Jews- I believe that it does not- while the former term necessarily excludes them- here too, I believe it does not.
Meanwhile, at issue is this question, “What was the purpose of the founding of Israel.” The answer in my opinion is that the purpose of the founding of Israel was not to create a secular state in which Jews could live. It was in fact to create a state for the Jewish people to live in safety as Jews (and that certainly is an exceedingly loaded term) while providing freedoms for those who are not Jewish to live peaceably in the land as well.
J Street and its supporters, including Rosove, are calling for American Jews to speak out for peace, to encourage the Israeli government to strongly pursue it. I second that call. I applaud the Netanyahu Administration for calling for immediate negotiations without preconditions! I call on the Palestinians who claim to want peace and who want a state of their own to take the very necessary step of sitting down and hashing out an agreement through compromises instead of demanding concessions. I call on President Abbas to work with President Obama and Sec. State Kerry in responding to PM Netanyahu’s pursuit of negotiations!
The reality is that peace will only really become possible to achieve when the Palestinians realize that they cannot win through diplomacy what they have been unable to win through violence, namely the return to an untenable situation for Israel (the pre-1967 armistice lines) and the eventual destruction of the state for the Jews. Once they truly believe that they cannot achieve their goals away from the negotiating table, they may come to the negotiating table without preconditions in pursuit of a new goal, a state for Palestinians existing in peace and security alongside a state for the Jews, in much the same way that those Israeli leaders who once believed that all the land could be kept forever by the Jews now offer to do.
To put it very simply, those who truly desire peace must seek peace and pursue it. The priority of those who seek concessions and pursue concessions is probably concessions.