I keep track of the burgeoning crisis experienced by some liberal Zionists. The Rabin assassination anniversary has caused them to despair that the two-state-solution is dead; the Netanyahu government’s obduracy and slickness has caused them to despair of Israeli leadership. Here are a few signs of this crisis.
First, Lara Friedman of Peace Now has an article on Huffington Post calling for a new “Peacemaking Paradigm” and saying the only thing that can save Israel is the U.S. getting out of the peace business; because we are too much on Israel’s side.
She begins by stating that the Netanayhu government has “an unmistakable drive to implement a one-state outcome.” And that the violence we’re seeing is merely a taste of what’s to come: “increasing carnage, transformation of a territorial conflict into a religious war, and growing international pressure on and isolation of Israel.”
President Obama may well choose to walk away or play it safe, she says: but both paths will
“cement Obama’s legacy as the president who oversaw the death of the two-state solution and the descent of Israel into pariah status.”
Friedman then says that the U.S. in incapable of being a peacemaker in this situation, because of the Israel lobby (though she doesn’t say that out loud): “Thanks to Netanyahu’s tireless and extremely successful efforts to deplete the Obama Administration’s energies, discredit its policies, and deprive it of leverage.” (Netanyahu could never have done this without wide support in the U.S., which is another reason Peace Now should quit the rightwing Jewish Conference of Presidents, which undermined Obama.)
Friedman’s recommendation? Obama must end “the American monopoly over Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts.”
How would this look? To start, the United States should become a genuine partner to other members of the United Nations Security Council, cooperating to formulate and pass – rather than block and veto – resolutions laying down consensus red lines in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The United States should support the establishment of an international support group or similar body to lead efforts to revive peace talks, and should empower the existing Middle East Quartet to propose concrete consequences for actions that undermine the viability of the two-state outcome. [European boycott of settlement goods; Arab states engage, etc.]…
By charting this new course, Obama can leave to the next president an Israel-Palestine peace paradigm that is different from the discredited, failed one in which the United States is mired today.
Next, this joint statement by five liberal Zionist organizations including J Street and Peace Now on the 20th anniversary of Yitzhak Rabin’s murder doesn’t have much to say, and it grants greater value to Jewish lives than Palestinian ones, but it includes some frankly desperate words about Israel’s “quagmire”: “If [extremist] voices triumph, we face another 20 years of loss, violence and quagmire.”
Then there’s novelist David Grossman’s piece in the Guardian titled, “We have been given a frightful glimpse into Netanyahu’s mind” that anguishes over Netanyahu’s Mufti/Hitler comments and cites a recent image showing Netanyahu using binoculars with the lens caps on. Grossman portrays the Israeli public as easily manipulated by a fearful leader. I say the analysis is irresponsible, but the desperation is palpable:
Israel is a country of refugees from a terrible disaster, a country battered by trauma. The trauma of Jewish history, the trauma of the Holocaust, and the traumas of frequent war. To a certain extent most of us are helpless in the face of the prime minister’s sophisticated manipulations. For many of us, too, it is hard to rationally discern the true dangers of today from echoes of the past that roar still in our ears. We give ourselves easily to those fears, at times even eagerly. This is not a surprise: they are etched into our collective and individual DNA, and naturally they leap to the surface with the first shadow of threat and danger. With the blink of an eye, those echoes of the past drown out the threats of the present, and we find ourselves “there” – even if the facts of our lives point towards a reality that is far more complex…
But the internal apparatus of Netanyahu’s mind and consciousness – bared before all with his statement about the mufti and Hitler – tells us, in the most simple and frightful way, that the policies of the state of Israel, its character and its future, are being forged and determined, to the utmost extent, within the narrow and hermetic confines of the man and his covered and sealed field glasses.T hat is where we are trapped; that is where our future is being determined; and that is where we are being led, eyes wide shut.
Another leading author is also desperate. The Associated Press reports that Amos Oz is undertaking a very limited boycott:
Author Amos Oz, one of Israel’s most celebrated writers, says he will no longer attend events hosted by Israeli embassies abroad, as a protest against what he says are extremist Israeli policies.
Oz said in comments published Friday in the Maariv newspaper that “in the wake of the growing extremism in the present government’s policy in various areas, I informed my hosts that I prefer not to be invited to events held in my honor at Israeli embassies overseas.”
Lately I’ve been reading Oz’s 2010 book How to Cure a Fanatic. It seems a bit smug and entitled (“even when this conflict is history, there will still be bitter disagreement about who was the victim and who the tormentor.” Really?). He doesn’t feel that way now, evidently.