The nomination of an American champion of settlers to be the next U.S. ambassador to Israel is no crisis for rightwing Zionists or anti-Zionists. But it is a crisis for liberal Zionists: they are seeing their dream of a two state solution dying before their eyes.
The nomination is a triumph for rightwing Zionists. They see a way to fully impose their vision of “Jewish democracy” across the land God gave to the Jews, without obstruction from the west.
Daniel Pipes at Commentary lays out the burn-the-village-to-save-it logic at Commentary: “Palestinians Would Benefit from Their Defeat.”
To those who hold Palestinians too fanatical to be defeated, I reply: If Germans and Japanese, no less fanatical and far more powerful, could be defeated in World War II and then turned into normal citizens, why not the Palestinians now?
Friedman’s nomination is also no crisis for anti-Zionists. They long ago told you that “Jewish democracy” is a unicorn and that you can see Jewish democracy in action right now: there is one state between the river and the sea, and Palestinians live under apartheid conditions and worse in East Jerusalem and the West Bank. For anti-Zionists, Friedman’s nomination is a bitter vindication of a reality to which they were long bearing witness, for which Rachel Corrie and Tom Hurndall gave their lives.
The nomination IS a crisis for liberal Zionists. Desperation and anguish are sounding from J Street, Peace Now, the New Israel Fund, and others.
The liberal Zionists have been galvanized by the nomination. They are getting donations “in honor of David Friedman“. “He called you Kapos,” J Street headlines its donation page. Haaretz reports a “surge” in donations to “leftist Jewish groups… in protest” of the pick.
He is hostile to the two-state solution – the only way to ensure Israel’s future as the democratic homeland of the Jewish people.
David Axelrod writes that Trump:
just took hammer to the prospect of a 2-state solution. The Senate should reject this nomination!
One good thing about this crisis is that the monolith of the Jewish establishment has been shattered: there will be open disagreement among leading Jewish groups. Jeremy Ben-Ami of J Street called out other Jewish leaders for supporting Friedman on Chris Hayes’s MSNBC show. “There’s going to be a real split in the institutional life of the Jewish community.”
But Peace Now is a member of AIPAC’s advisory board. Maybe at last it will quit the Israel lobby, prizing its integrity over access, because young Jews are watching this unfold with horror and pushing them to do the right thing. Look at IfNotNow’s challenge on David Friedman:
If the Jewish establishment remains silent on this latest appointment–as they have on Bannon–they will once again demonstrate how out of touch they are with the rest of the Jewish community. They will once again show that they are unwilling to provide the moral leadership needed in this moment of crisis.
If the Jewish establishment remains silent, we will act for them.
Chris Hayes and other liberal hosts may have to actually drop the mask– and air anti-Zionists. (End of the blacklist? Hmmm.)
The other good news in the nomination is that the liberal Zionists are having a rendezvous with reality. For decades they have supported a purported solution and “peace process” that has produced nothing but more suffering for Palestinians. That is simply fact; yet they have kept kicking the can down the road. Yesterday I received a fundraising appeal from Peace Now:
“As a result of these efforts by Peace Now and others, the Israeli national agenda has been revolutionized: a majority of Israelis now recognize the two-state solution as the only way to maintain Israel as a secure, Jewish, democratic state. Settlement activity is almost universally recognized as undermining the prospects for achieving Israeli-Palestinian peace.”
This is not political reality: Israeli society and the American Jewish establishment are bent on advancing the colonization process. The Obama administration vetoed an anti-settlement resolution in the UN Security Council in 2011 with the active complicity of liberal Zionists and Jeffrey Goldberg and the rest of the Jewish establishment.
As Lara Friedman herself noted, Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu bragged this morning:
There has not been a government that showed more concern for settlement in the Land of Israel and no government will show more concern.
The Friedman nomination has the potential to finally expose the charade of the peace process to the American mainstream, and American politicians and journalists will get to report the truth: there is one state between the river and the sea. Palestinians who have witnessed to these facts for years will gain prestige; Chuck Todd and Jake Tapper will have them at the big table.
IMHO all those who seek justice should welcome this opening and seek to organize with liberal Zionists who recognize this reality. Note the ending of David Remnick‘s report in the New Yorker on the Friedman nomination. He quotes Avishai Margalit of Israel’s Peace Now:
“The only thing you can say about Friedman’s appointment is that it’s not as if some other Ambassador would make a big difference. It doesn’t matter. There is no peace process, though Friedman may escalate things. The Palestinians have given up in any case. They have lost hope in any solution, and this is another nail in the coffin.”
That counts as a breakthrough. The Friedman nomination hurts liberal Zionists because it’s the end of the dream of a democratic Jewish state. But it’s the beginning of another dream, which requires the labors of many good people.
H/t James North and Yakov Hirsch.