AJC President Justifies Israeli Occupation as ‘Presence’

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Last month the executive director of the American Jewish Committee attacked Walt and Mearsheimer in a speech in Germany for the usual reasons. They’re not antisemitic or they’re antisemitic, they sure smell antisemitic, that whole thread. But here are some interesting statements from David Harris’s speech. He refuses to describe the Israeli occupation as an occupation. It is a "presence." And note that he doesn’t like the ’49 armistice borders, the pre-67 borders. Israel won’t be safe in a sea of Arabs with those borders. The "Auschwitz borders," as Dershowitz called them.

This is noteworthy for an important reason. The AJC characterizes itself as liberal–or anyway, it has lately published a survey showing that American Jews are liberal politically and opposed the Iraq war, I think in an effort to rebut Walt and Mearsheimer, who said that neocons were serving Israel’s interests when they pushed the war. So the AJC forcefully separates American Jews from the neocons with respect to the Iraq war.

But where the AJC and the neocons are in bed with one another is the rationalization of the occupation and mistrust of the peace process. Neocons like Douglas Feith don’t believe it’s an occupation, and neither does Harris of the AJC. Feith is by family tradition a Democrat. Now he’s a neocon. The usual political distinctions go out the window when religion comes in the door; and the  AJC and the neocons operate from the same fervent feeling: that Israel has a right to the West Bank, which Harris hints goes back 3000 years. The neocons are obviously more militaristic than most American Jews. But when you consider that the same AJC survey that says that Jews opposed the Iraq war says that 58 percent of them are against giving up parts of Jerusalem, you see the problem: Zionist/colonialist ideas are deeply engraved in American Jewry now. The neocons are the militant wing of that faction. But they gain cover, if not sustenance too, from the wider body…. Again I’d turn to M.J. Rosenberg’s assertion that a "seismic shift" is taking place in American Jewry right now; he believes that the left side of that faction is splitting off and opposing the Harrises and Feiths and demanding progress in the peace process and forget about biblical rights. We shall see…

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