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Matalon, Bachman and other liberal Jews join Dershowitz in pressuring…. Abbas

Israel/Palestine
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Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas is to speak to the U.N. General Assembly today, and yesterday 100 prominent American Jews published a letter urging Abbas to stand up for the two-state solution and implicitly to renounce the Palestinian right of return and a Palestinian military.

The signers includes liberals like Rabbi Roly Matalon of B’nai Jeshrun in New York, Rabbi Andy Bachman of Beth Elohim, Steven L. Spiegel and Neil Barsky. But also rightwingers like Alan Dershowitz and Dov Zakheim. Then there are Democratic stalwarts Barney Frank, Steve Rabinowitz, Howard Berman, Mel Levine, Eric Yoffie.

Following are excerpts of the letter then critical comments from Ilene Cohen and M.J. Rosenberg, who once worked for the organization that put the letter together, the Israel Policy Forum.

Your upcoming speech to the United Nations General Assembly presents an opportunity for you to establish a positive tone based on mutual respect that builds confidence in the process.

Last month, you reportedly told a private delegation from Israel’s Meretz party that, “People say that after signing a peace agreement we will still demand Haifa, Acre and Safed. That is not true. Signing the agreement will signal the end of the conflict.” You were also reported to have said that in the context of a peace agreement “We don’t need planes or missiles. All we need is a strong police force.”

Making such statements publicly to the entire international community and emphasizing the Palestinian people’s willingness to live in peace with Israel would be important steps to improve the environment affecting the peace process. It would reinforce that the Palestinian leadership has a responsible strategy for courageously forging a lasting peace with Israel.

Ilene Cohen wonders why they didn’t send a letter to Benjamin Netanyahu:

I imagine that the parallel letter they’d send to Netanyahu would say something along the same lines as they wrote to Abbas, that in the “context of a peace agreement,” Israel would no longer need to occupy Palestine and would be prepared to decolonize so that there could be a real, as opposed to a virtual, Palestinian state.

Further, the letter could continue (with the obvious, bracketed substitutions):

“Making such statements publicly to the entire international community and emphasizing the [Israeli] people’s willingness to live in peace with [Palestine] would be important steps to improve the environment affecting the peace process. It would reinforce that the [Israeli] leadership has a responsible strategy for courageously forging a lasting peace with [Palestine].”

Ya think?

I keep waiting for some of those 2SS advocates to itemize one concrete thing that will be required of Israel to show that it understands that the Palestinian state must, by definition, be in Palestine. Waiting, that is, till the cows come home or for Godot.

And here is M.J. Rosenberg’s comment:

The letter is classic IPF. These are people who would like to believe they are promoting peace but live in terror of offending AIPAC or their fellow big money buddies. The letter is addressed to Abbas, calls on him essentially to do whatever Israel wants and manages not to call on Netanyahu, who holds ALL the territory, to do anything. I suppose it’s nice than these people would prefer to be identified with peace than with war but, these people will never break with the Israeli government on anything. If Obama decides, as he should, that the only way to achieve peace is by pressuring Israel, these 125 people will be among the mainstream Israel stalwarts that he will have to fight. These people are not part of the solution; they are the problem.

About Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net.

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19 Responses

  1. amigo
    September 26, 2013, 10:33 am

    Liberal Zionists,????.

    There are no Liberal Zionists.

    There are just Zionists.

  2. Hostage
    September 26, 2013, 10:53 am

    At UN General Assembly, Abbas to honor promise to Washington to put recognition bid on hold:

    A poll published Monday indicates overwhelming support among Palestinians for the most dramatic element of the “international strategy” — bringing up Israel on war crimes charges at the International Criminal Court in connection with Israel’s continued settlement-building on war-won lands that the Palestinians want for their state.

    The Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research said 60 percent of Palestinians back Abbas’ decision to refrain from seeking membership in U.N. agencies for the duration of negotiations with Israel, in return for the release of prisoners.

    However, 67 percent support going to the ICC immediately, even if it means prisoners won’t be released or Israel retaliates with financial sanctions, according to pollster Khalil Shikaki.

    He said the ICC option is popular because a majority of Palestinians don’t have faith in negotiations but also oppose a return to violence. “People want revenge because they see Israel is getting away with … the theft of their land, confiscation of their property, bringing in settlers … and they feel there’s absolutely nothing they are able to do against it,” Shikaki added.

    The survey was conducted Sept. 19-21 among 1,261 respondents, with an error margin of 3 percentage points.

    Karin Laub in Ramallah, West Bank, Associated Press http://www.foxnews.com/world/2013/09/23/at-un-general-assembly-abbas-to-honor-promise-to-washington-to-put-recognition/

    20 September 2013 – Reality on the Ground in the Occupied Palestinian Territory:

    . . . All of the above illegal and provocative actions by Israel, the occupying Power, and its settlers in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, are causing suffering for the Palestinian people and worsening conditions on the ground. Such actions threaten to further destabilize the situation, in the midst of the turmoil already roiling the region, and are actions that are completely contradictory to the conditions necessary for advancing the negotiations and contradictory to the objectives of the peace process as a whole.

    This letter is in follow-up to our previous 472 letters regarding the ongoing crisis in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, which constitutes the territory of the State of Palestine. These letters, dated from 29 September 2000 (A/55/432-S/2000/921) to 26 August 2013 (A/ES-10/602-S/2013/509) constitute a basic record of the crimes being committed by Israel, the occupying Power, against the Palestinian people since September 2000. For all of these war crimes, acts of State terrorism and systematic human rights violations being committed against the Palestinian people, Israel, the occupying Power, must be held accountable and the perpetrators must be brought to justice.

    http://palestineun.org/20-september-2013-reality-on-the-ground-in-the-occupied-palestinian-territory/

  3. Krauss
    September 26, 2013, 11:06 am

    Barney Frank’s name is there. Phil used to write, and implicitly believe, that he would come out in favour of a more peaceful solution if there wasn’t such political pressure on him.

    Well, he’s out of office and now partnering with Dershowitz.
    His ‘political pressure’ excuse is now revealed as a fraud.

    • Citizen
      September 26, 2013, 3:42 pm

      @ Krauss

      My skin crawls whenever Barney Frank or Dershowitz appear on TV and speak their slimy BS. I like to think I have a lot of company.

      • just
        September 26, 2013, 6:12 pm

        I’m with ya!

  4. pabelmont
    September 26, 2013, 11:10 am

    I read in Haaretz a hint that Obama had urged (secretly, deniably no doubt) (in other words, using diplomacy rather than public shouting) EU to apply recently-proposed sanctions against Israel in regard to settlements in OPTs.

    Mildest of pressures, but international pressure nonetheless. Baby steps for those (USA, EU) just learning that doing nothing at all doesn’t accomplish anything.

    • HarryLaw
      September 26, 2013, 11:41 am

      pabelmont, you read that Obama had urged the EU to apply recently proposed sanctions against Israel, Kerry has done the opposite http://news.yahoo.com/kerry-urges-eu-postpone-funding-ban-israeli-occupied-112242310.html unless it’s part of the disconnect all officials of the US government suffer from.

      • Citizen
        September 26, 2013, 3:49 pm

        @Harry Law
        Look at the string of Obama said, Kerry said during the recent Syria crisis–it’s clear Kerry has no clue what Obama may do or say next–and Obama likes it that way. Talk about hanging your buddy out to dry. Why wouldn’t this pattern be similar with the EU? The only one Obama won’t walk all over, depending on his circumspect whims of the moment, is AIPAC/Israel. That alone seems to have a price tag. Seems he’s right, eh?

  5. Walid
    September 26, 2013, 11:28 am

    “Following are excerpts of the letter …”

    Was the cheque enclosed, or are there other considerations?

  6. Annie Robbins
    September 26, 2013, 11:32 am

    Ilene Cohen wonders why they didn’t send a letter to Benjamin Netanyahu:

    of course! this was exactly what ran thru my mind when i read 100 prominent American Jews published a letter urging Abbas to stand up for the two-state solution

    and how bout 100 prominent American Jews published an open letter urging right wing american jews to stand up for the two-state solution. picking on palestinians as if they hold the power, they do not. if these 100 prominent American Jews really want to make a difference they should be doing it in their own backyard. they should be calling their relatives and pressuring them. but no, they lecture palestinians, how unusual/not. it’s so ‘been there done that’.

  7. lohdennis
    September 26, 2013, 12:54 pm

    Anyone seeking Two-State Solution as Israel envisions is a racist and a Zionist in this context. Thus, I don’t buy any of the J Street narrative either.

    • just
      September 26, 2013, 6:13 pm

      Big ditto!

      • just
        September 26, 2013, 6:27 pm

        The “two state solution” was dead the day that Israel was declared in the region (though the magnanimous West had no forethought at all), and nothing honest or just has been done since then to quell the natural and increasing resentment of an Occupied, oppressed, and brutalized indigenous people and their descendents. It’s been broken from the get-go. The ‘window’ of opportunity has passed………sadly, because of the intransigence of the greedy Zionists who only want it ALL– no matter what! Until now, they have had our ‘blessing’.

        1S1P1V.

        I remain in awe of the Palestinian peoples’ fortitude in the face of so much injustice…

      • yrn
        September 26, 2013, 6:33 pm

        1S1P1V. to bad, not according to Abas great speech.

      • Hostage
        September 27, 2013, 10:16 am

        1S1P1V. to bad, not according to Abas great speech.

        Yeah, according to the speech you’ve got until April to come to acceptable terms and this is Israel’s last chance. Secretary Kerry has said the same thing in his testimony to Congress.

  8. DICKERSON3870
    September 26, 2013, 4:07 pm

    RE: “I keep waiting for some of those 2SS advocates to itemize one concrete thing that will be required of Israel to show that it understands that the Palestinian state must, by definition, be in Palestine. Waiting, that is, till the cows come home or for Godot.” ~ Ilene Cohen

    MY COMMENT: Don’t waste your time Waiting for Godot, Ms. Cohen. You’d probably do better just “dancing with the cows”*), because the so-called two-state advocates like Alan Dershowitz, Dov Zakheim, Barney Frank, Howard Berman, Mel Levine, etc. are really just what Robert Naiman refers to as “two state fakers”**! ! !

    * “I could dance with you till the cows come home. Better still, I’ll dance with the cows and you come home.” ~ Groucho Marx in the 1933 film Duck Soup

    ** SEE: “Flotilla 3.0: Redeeming Obama’s Palestine Speech with Gaza’s Ark”, By Robert Naiman, truth-out.org, 3/25/13

    [EXCERPTS] There’s a half-empty way and a half-full way of looking at President Barack Obama’s Jerusalem speech about the creation of an independent Palestinian state in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem.
    The half-empty way of looking at it is: This was Obama’s white flag of surrender.
    To everyone around the world who for decades has been assuming that at the end of the day, the president of the United States would lead the way to resolution of the Israel-Palestine conflict, Obama was saying: Don’t look at me. Just because the United States is the principal military, diplomatic and economic protector of the Israeli government, doesn’t mean that I, as the president of the United States, will do anything about the military occupation of millions of Palestinian human beings. Bibi doesn’t want an independent Palestinian state; Bibi’s government doesn’t want an independent Palestinian state; AIPAC doesn’t want an independent Palestinian state; and Congress – which defers to AIPAC – doesn’t want an independent Palestinian state. Of course, many of them mouth the words – not Bibi’s government, they don’t even do that – but those who mouth the words oppose any practical measure that would help bring an independent Palestinian state into existence. They’re “two state fakers.” Settlement freeze? Impossible. UN membership for Palestine? Can’t be done. No, according to the two state fakers, the only option on the menu in the restaurant for the Palestinians is to return to negotiations without a settlement freeze, negotiations that for 20 years have brought more land confiscation, more settlements, more restrictions on Palestinian movement and commerce, more oppression. And so, Obama was saying, my hands are tied. Don’t look at me.
    The half-full way of looking at it is this: It was a great speech. If you “price in,” as the markets say, acceptance that the US government isn’t going to lead on this, it was a great motivational speech. President Obama made a very compelling case that someone else should do something.
    The interesting thing is that whether you see it as a great motivational speech or a white flag of surrender, the practical consequences for the public are largely the same: The initiative for justice is going to have to come from somewhere else. The best that we can probably expect from Obama is that if the initiative for justice comes from somewhere else, he won’t get in the way, or won’t get in the way very much. While that is much less than we are entitled to expect, it is much more than the Netanyahu government and its supporters want. They demand that President Obama do everything he can to get in the way of justice. So, if he doesn’t get in the way of justice, or only does so halfheartedly, he’ll be helping us more than they want.
    Some people look to Europe. If Europe got serious about curtailing imports from Israel if the occupation doesn’t end, that’s something the Israeli business elite would take seriously, and they would put pressure on the Israeli government to compromise, rather than lose their export income. . .

    ENTIRE COMMENTARY – http://truth-out.org/opinion/item/15307-flotilla-30-redeeming-obamas-palestine-speech-with-gazas-ark

    • DICKERSON3870
      September 26, 2013, 4:41 pm

      P.S. RE: “I could dance with you till the cows come home. Better still, I’ll dance with the cows and you come home.” ~ Groucho Marx in the 1933 film Duck Soup (from above)

      Marx Brothers – Duck Soup – Rufus T Firefly’s introduction [VIDEO, 03:48] – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dsw9jYU_rJI

  9. Kathleen
    September 27, 2013, 10:01 am

    The so called liberals who were in congress like Barney Frank or are still there who wanted and pushed for just rights for gays but have never been able to apply those same standards of just rights for Palestinians. So called liberals like Barney Frank have been a big part of going along with right wing radical legislation constructed by the I lobby when it comes to Palestinian rights, Palestinian elections, militaristic legislation having to do with Iran etc.

    Franks is only committed to human rights as long as it fits into his own agenda. Shallow indeed

  10. JohnWV
    September 29, 2013, 6:58 am

    Israel defines itself as a Jewish state and will never accept a non apartheid democracy with a Jewish minority. Continuing illegal annexations, settlement expansion and ethnic cleansing have also precluded any negotiated two state solution. The Jewish State must be forced to recognize an armed Palestine with externally enforced autonomy, eviction of all settlers, true contiguity encompassing Gaza, the West Bank and Jerusalem together, neither pinched nor parceled, and pay punitive reparations. American foreign policy must again serve American interests, not the Jewish state’s paranoid pursuit of invulnerability, territorial conquest and racist empire.

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