Is the Israel Lobby Splintering at the Edges?

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Yesterday the Israel Policy Forum called on Secretary Rice to "engage Hamas" so as to keep the peace process alive and protect American interests in the Middle East. The statement was evenhanded. It spoke of "deaths and suffering" on both sides. Hamas is not going away; work with the Arab states to engage it.

This is an important development. Some weeks back, MJ Rosenberg wrote that a "seismic shift" was occurring in the American Jewish leadership. After decades in which a rightwing bloc had managed Jewish leadership and resisted the two-state solution–in a word, the Israel lobby–that bloc is breaking up in the wake of Lebanon war, the failure to choke Hamas, etc. I don’t know if Rosenberg is right; but certainly the IPF statement is evidence of independent thinking within that Jewish establishment. Dan Fleshler is in the IPF crowd and has been talking about a dovish alternative to the lobby for years (in his latest post he attacks the rationale for the checkpoints in the West Bank). Also, I’d note that at my Waldorf breakfast with the Israel Project, spokesman Marcus Sheff kept telling me that the Likudnik resistance to a two-state solution is all but over in Israel. Reflecting Ehud Olmert’s desperation about making a deal now.

Hillary and McCain, of course, will be the last to know. But the IPF statement is important because it shows leftish Jewish leaders pressing the American government to act, and act now, in an unorthodox manner. Huh!

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