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Liberal Zionist group calls for ‘Obama Parameters’ to resolve conflict (but no real pressure on Israel)

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The liberal Zionist group J Street has published a call on the Obama administration to take concrete action, and release “Obama Parameters” on the resolution of the conflict. Obama should nudge the Israelis with “reality checks,” J Street says. That’s a hint that it wants the Obama administration not to veto a resolution against settlements in the UN Security Council, and to support the reported French push for a U.N. resolution aimed at renewing the peace process; but the statement doesn’t want to go that far.

Jeremy Ben-Ami of J Street writes that the president should publish a “framework” on the resolution of the conflict.

We urge the President to lay out a suggested framework for resolving the conflict that refocuses both peoples and their leaders on the compromises needed for peace. Such a framework would light a torch of hope that the President can hand to his successor.

Of course, the conflict will only end in an agreement between the two parties.

But history teaches that efforts to resolve complex and long-running conflicts can benefit from serious help from outside actors. The US can play a key role as a mediator, bridging difficult gaps and providing reality checks to both sides so that future negotiations are meaningful and productive….

And three leading Israeli voices for a two-state solution, including former Shin Bet director Ami Ayalon, argued in Foreign Affairs that an American framework would “make a strong impression on the Israeli and Palestinian publics, presenting them with a clear discussion of the core issues at stake, even if their leaders refuse to engage in it. The Obama Parameters could prompt honest discourse about the realistic — if not painful — concessions both sides will need to make.”

Here J Street affirms its opposition to boycott or BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions) or any meaningful pressure on Israel:

Strong American leadership could help ensure that growing international frustration over the conflict is channeled in the right direction. The President could unite key allies behind a positive vision — reaffirming Israel’s absolute right to secure borders and equal standing in the community of nations, while marginalizing proposals that show bias against it.

There are people at J Street who are fearful of Israel turning into another Algeria in the 1950s. So here J Street tacks away from the right wing Jewish community, saying that it is asking for violence:

Meanwhile, powerful voices in Washington are pushing the President to do nothing — as is the Israeli government. They fall back on the argument that the only way to make any progress whatsoever is through direct negotiations. Anything else they say is interference and constitutes unhelpful pressure…

The Doing nothing means accepting the ever-deteriorating status quo and a future of spiraling violence and conflict management.

In the absence of diplomatic leadership, chaos and violence are filling the vacuum…

J Street concludes the statement by endorsing a House bill opposing “settlement expansion” and calling on Israel “to improve the quality of life for Palestinians.” And it says “a Presidential framework” won’t end the conflict but it will be a “powerful tool” for those Israelis and Palestinians who are trying to find a peaceful solution.

Again: how meaningful are such measures? The statement does not go as far as what Lara Friedman of Peace Now recommended last year: that the United States should give up leadership on the matter and partner with the U.N. and European countries, “laying down consensus red lines” on the resolution of the conflict and punishing settlement construction.

J Street seems to be straddling the Peace Now position and the right-wing AIPAC community so as to maintain its position in the centrist Jewish establishment and grow its access to Congress. Because as this photo from the Upper West Side recently demonstrates, the establishment Jewish community is still behind Israel body and soul.

Israel celebration on the Upper West Side of NY, from Scott Roth's twitter feed

Israel celebration on the Upper West Side of NY, from Scott Roth’s twitter feed

Though cracks are forming in the broader community. Jews are now divided among four camps, says Dov Waxman, the author of the new book Trouble in the Tribe. From right to left, they are: 1, Zionist Organization of America types, who don’t want the Jews to give away a square foot of the land of historical Palestine to the Palestinians; 2, AIPAC types who give lip service to the two state solution as being in Israel’s best interest but refuse to criticize the government of Israel; 3, the Peace Now and J Street crowd, who want a two-state-solution to save Israel as a “democratic Jewish state” and are even willing to put some pressure on Israel, and 4, the Jewish Voice for Peace/IfNotNow younger generation (which we tend to align with on this site) many of whom support Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS). And as a member in good standing of 4, I regard the Jewish establishment as reactionary on the Israel issue.

By the way, here’s another sign of rancorous division within the official Jewish community. A group of ardent Israel supporters raised the Israeli flag at Clifton City Hall yesterday; and the event was marked by Islamophobia and Palestinian-bashing, from which the local Jewish Federation dissociated itself.

NorthJersey.com says:the flag-raising was a response to a Palestinian flag-raising at city hall last month that drew a large crowd.

Sarah Florans, 30, who grew up in Passaic and now lives in Israel, said she was worried that the prior event drew such a large crowd that perhaps, on the sidelines, there were “violent extremists” who could be threatening to the local Jewish community in Passaic and Clifton.

“I want to make sure there’s enough support for the Israeli flag-raising,” she said. “I can’t believe how much the world hates Israel. It’s so mind-blowing to me.”

Buddy Macy, 59, of Little Falls said he was “appalled” by the Palestinian flag-raising “because it’s not a country, they’re Arab like everyone around them.”

He said he agreed with the sentiments of Rabbi Robert Mark, who turned out to be a controversial figure at Sunday’s event.

Mark, with a fiery tone, spoke at length about the reasons he believed that a peace agreement and two-state solution would be unattainable. Sarcastically saying he would talk only about positive things in his speech, he declared, “the only things the Palestinians export is terror and radical Islam,” and he drew applause after suggesting that Palestinians would deny Jews the right to live in a hypothetical Palestinian state.

The Jewish Federation didn’t like this.

After the event, members of the Jewish Federation of Northern New Jersey sought to distance themselves from Mark. Miriam Allenson, director of communication for the group, said his tone was “inflammatory and it doesn’t solve any problems,” and that compromise was important to achieving peace.

Per Waxman, the Federations are on the right, but are fearful of those further to the right. While J Street opposes Jewish Voice for Peace. Finally, the beginnings of a real conversation in the Jewish community.

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14 Responses

  1. plimespo
    plimespo
    May 16, 2016, 1:47 pm

    The J Street and liberal Zionist (a contradiction in terms, if you ask me) voices being batted back and forth miss a fundamental truth about how to negotiate and have an impact on governmental actions.

    A negotiator or policy advocate, say the U.S., has to bring leverage to the table, the stick as well as the carrot. Israel is feasting on carrots from the U.S. to the tune of billions and almost unlimited affirmation and media support. They have no incentive to negotiate or work out a framework for resolution of the conflict, and never will, unless we threaten (and I don’t mean bluff) to cut off most monetary aid, weapons sales, trade and other things until they give the Palestinians their rightful land, including pulling back the settlements. If we could accomplish anything close to that,, the Palestinians (at least the people, but maybe not Palestinian “leaders” who likely have been bought off) wouldn’t be a problem and we could guarantee both sides reasonable security. I say reasonable because we can’t promise anyone, including our own citizens, total safety.

    Maybe it wouldn’t work because Israel would elect to go it alone, but cutting off all most of our aid after that choice by Israel would be better for the U.S. than the hopeless situation we have now, including the waste of our tax dollars which just props up Israel and makes it less likely they will act reasonably. We would at least have more resources to deal with the many problems right here in the good old USA. We’ve forgotten that charity begins at home.

    • DaBakr
      DaBakr
      May 16, 2016, 9:05 pm

      @dp
      is it really possible that liberal so-called ‘progressives ‘ like you are that naive to how US foreign policy has operated since the end of ww2. Actually much further back but begin for simplicity with the 48 partition.
      You can ignore the fundamental principles that the US and Israel claim they share since the point isn’t to argue. your too naive, remember? but the US has these big big corporations that-btw-are not run by jews and not part of some zionist elders-of-zion conspiracy. these companies are some of the richest in the world. they make a lot of money from helping other nations buy their products and then-theorhetically- pay them back. but MOST of the countries your nation gives these arms to with aid or (in israels case-loan guarantees) nominal fees do not pay the US back a cent as they claim to be too poor. israel , however, pays a large % if not all of its loan guarantees back to these US companies. these companies love this money. they lobby their us senators and congress to push these guarantees through your congress. the power they have makes aipac look like a beanie baby. they would not support either liberal or conservative president in “cutting off all most of our aid”(sic) because-not only would they lose a lot of money. there would be 1000s of your citizens that depend on these companies for work. – miners, steel mills , engineers, scientists and 100s of other jobs-would lose their jobs. but thats just some zionist excuse. zionist hasbara.

      but still-its not likely your american public or its legislature would support a cut-off. the reasons are too numerous to explain bt surely not just to support a foreign political/social justice cause . the us is much more concerned with regional power. the use of their advanced arms in a broader regional conflict involving over a dozen world powers in the eastern med. as well as russia and iran. but then I’m sure you knew all of this but still wish that the us would cut off all arms to israel.

      oh….china and russia would be there to fill the gap so quickly your head wouldn’t stop spinning for minutes. then you have a different problem. then you have an israel with advanced us, russian and chinese arms which the us won’t like-but they cut off aid, so…? but you can be satisfied that you are morally superior to so many others. it will feel good.

  2. eljay
    eljay
    May 16, 2016, 2:49 pm

    … Sarah Florans, 30, who grew up in Passaic and now lives in Israel, said … “I can’t believe how much the world hates Israel. It’s so mind-blowing to me.” …

    Yup, it’s so mind-blowing that people might hate an oppressive, colonialist, expansionist, belligerent, intransigent and religion-supremacist state that:
    – was given half of Palestine against the will of its indigenous inhabitants;
    – was established as a religion-supremacist “Jewish State” primarily of and for Jewish Israelis and non-Israeli Jews (rather than as a secular and democratic Israeli state of and for all of its Israeli citizens, immigrants, expats and refugees, equally);
    – has spent decades stealing, occupying and colonizing territory outside of its / Partition borders;
    – has spent decades committing all manner of (war) crimes including terrorism, ethnic cleansing, oppression, torture and murder;
    – refuses to honour its obligations under international law (including RoR of refugees);
    – refuses to accept responsibility and accountability for its past and on-going (war) crimes; and
    – refuses to enter into sincere negotiations for a just and mutually-beneficial peace.

    It’s so mind-blowing. Poor Sarah. :-(

    • Kay24
      Kay24
      May 16, 2016, 5:32 pm

      Yes, poor Sarah and others who live in denial. They can whine about the world hating poor ole Israel, but they seem to have a mental block when it comes to any reasoning. It seems they are mentally incapable of realizing that a brutal occupation, land grabs, demolishing homes, and killing civilians results in the entire world p.off at Israel.

      This is just like the thuggish school bully whining that no one in school likes him.

  3. hophmi
    hophmi
    May 16, 2016, 3:26 pm

    Waxman did not say that the Federations were on the right. That’s not accurate.

  4. just
    just
    May 16, 2016, 3:30 pm

    This is nearly unbearable to read. Whether it’s “parameters” or a “road map”, this has been hashed and re-hashed to death. It’s clear what Israel must do~ it just won’t do it and never has been a ‘partner’ for a just solution to the “conflict”. (I also dislike the use of the word “conflict” when it is so much more than that.)

    Today’s headlines in Haaretz include these:

    “Palestinian Official: Kerry to Attend Foreign Ministers’ Meeting Ahead of French Peace Summit
    So far, Kerry hasn’t taken a public stance on French initiative, which Jerusalem strictly opposes. But his spokesman says efforts are being made to move the meeting to accommodate Kerry’s schedule.”

    read more: http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-1.719932?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter

    ~and~

    “Saudi Arabia, the Mediator Israelis and Palestinians Have Been Waiting For?
    Only Saudi Arabia has warm or developing relations with all three partners to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Will King Salman take the next step and mediate peace talks?”

    read more: http://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-1.719848

    ~meanwhile~

    “Jordan joins Israel in clamping down on Palestinian transit visas
    Gazans have given up on crossing into Egypt via Rafah, but now the alternative of traveling via Jordan is in many cases no longer an option for them – or other Palestinians seeking to travel abroad.”

    read more: http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-1.719800

  5. wondering jew
    wondering jew
    May 16, 2016, 3:51 pm

    The only parameters which would matter would be a statement backing Palestinian one for one land swaps, which would create a stir vis a vis Israel who wants this issue to be up for negotiation. Israel maintains that the gaza west bank connecting corridor is worth more than its square meters, thus a one for one strict meter for meter deal is not necessary. Such a statement after election day would clash with the will of the president elect.

  6. ritzl
    ritzl
    May 16, 2016, 5:02 pm

    J Street is firmly against BDS AND doing nothing.

    What a clown circus they are. :P

  7. Ossinev
    Ossinev
    May 16, 2016, 5:20 pm

    “Sarah Florans, 30, who grew up in Passaic and now lives in Israel, said she was worried that the prior event drew such a large crowd that perhaps, on the sidelines, there were “violent extremists” who could be threatening to the local Jewish community in Passaic and Clifton.

    “I want to make sure there’s enough support for the Israeli flag-raising,” she said. “I can’t believe how much the world hates Israel. It’s so mind-blowing to me.”

    Poor Sarah.Having decided to do the Aliyah waltz and moved from her native New Jersey to take up residence most likely in a stolen property / on stolen land / in a JSIL taxpayer funded settlement has had her mind blown by the level of “hatred” for her beloved fairyland.

    I suppose if there isn`t much to speak of between the ears what little is there would tend to get blown about a bit.

    • just
      just
      May 16, 2016, 6:11 pm

      “Poor Sarah.Having decided to do the Aliyah waltz and moved from her native New Jersey to take up residence most likely in a stolen property / on stolen land / in a JSIL taxpayer funded settlement has had her mind blown by the level of “hatred” for her beloved fairyland. ”

      Great comment expressing my thoughts much better than I could! Thanks, Ossinev.

      • ritzl
        ritzl
        May 16, 2016, 6:36 pm

        Now wait a second, just. Sarah is the person we’re trying to convince by speaking nicely to and/or about Zionists and Zionism. We’re supposed to make her feel comfortable enough to see the proverbial light.

        Then and only then, I suppose the reasoning goes, will she move toward the light and leave her “residence … in a stolen property / on stolen land / in a JSIL taxpayer funded settlement…” and give it back to the Palestinian family that she stole it from.

        Yup by golly, it just might work…

      • just
        just
        May 16, 2016, 10:24 pm

        lol, ritzl.

        She appears addicted to the Ziocaine, but we can always hope…

  8. pabelmont
    pabelmont
    May 17, 2016, 9:40 am

    Article: “Obama should nudge the Israelis with “reality checks,” J Street says. That’s a hint that it wants the Obama administration not to veto a resolution against settlements in the UN Security Council, and to support the reported French push for a U.N. resolution aimed at renewing the peace process.”

    If (as it seems) the proposed French UNSC move is no more than an attempt to restart (2SS) peace process talks, then WHAT IS the “resolution against settlements in the UNSC” that J-Street is said (above) to be asking USA not to veto. Whose UNSC draft res? What’s it going to say: “eliminate all settlements” or just “no more new settlements” ?

    As to “parameters”, this is more window dressing, hearkening back to Clinton et al. Of course, if there were force involved, coercion, then “parameters” could turn into a “proposed peace plan, complete with all details, batteries included.”

    I’ve always thought that a complete peace plan was beyond even the notable skills of Israel and the best Palestinians, and was beyond what (never mind that it’s Zion-encrusted) the USA could manage.

    That’s why I’ve long thought and said (here and elsewhere) that the best bet is a UNSC resolution, backed up by significant proposed sanctions, which merely (merely!) demands that Israel remove all settlers and dismantle/destroy all settlements buildings and the wall (and end the Gaza blockade) — giving Israel 2 years (say) time to do all the heavy lifting but only one month or so to publish a plan for getting all that done and for ending the blockade of Gaza, sanctions to kick-in if Israel fails to do the 1-month work or thereafter fails to comply with its own plan. . THIS SORT OF UNSC RES. would not (on its face) aim at “peace” but would, if Israel is sufficiently fearful of having to do the full remove-and-demolish thinggy, surely (IMO) throw Israel into full real-peace-negotiation mode. I cannot imagine any other way to get there. Pressure form the USA alone seems a dead letter, although always remains a theoretical possibility.

  9. Marnie
    Marnie
    May 18, 2016, 12:59 am

    Pressure (real pressure, not a massage) from the u.s. would have carried a lot of weight 68 years ago, but now, I don’t think so. The GoI is too heavily invested in humiliating the Obama administration (remember how they did Biden that time, announcing more ILLEGAL SETTLEMENT construction during his visit?). The only thing israelis understand is money and violence. First, stop the money and make if forever. Then make demands, not suggestions, and give them a really short deadline (24 hours? That’s more time they give Palestinians to leave the homes they are about to bomb to smithereens). Then SANCTIONS, SANCTIONS, SANCTIONS, SANCTION THE $#@! out of them. That would most likely get the unanimous approval from Great Britain, Germany and France. Thank you.

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