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].”
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.