On a windy and rain-soaked Manhattan night last week, a small audience gathered in an auditorium at the New School near Union Square, to find hope for Israel/Palestine.
Mitchell Plitnick, who for years has labored for a more humane American policy to Palestine, came up to New York from Washington, DC, Thursday night for a talk sponsored by his old employer, Jewish Voice for Peace, on “What Determines US Policy Towards Israel?”
Implicit in the question was the hope that there is some key to unlock the policy, and turn from the present status of Israeli domination and control.
He was not encouraging, laying out his evaluation of the status in Washington, and how, at best, things can play out.
Currently vice president of the Foundation for Middle East Peace, Plitnick visits US congressional offices, and his sense is that Israel is in no real danger of losing its solid footing: the solid footing that led to an 88-Senator letter to President Barack Obama, opposed to the US assenting to any “one-sided” UN Security Council plan to end Israeli occupation.
(Plitnick says the letter took just two days to accomplish.)
In part, this is because, though in the US and abroad, the Israeli image is tarnishing, there is no corresponding increase in esteem for the Palestinians in circles that make decisions. They have no voice or pull in Washington, and no prospect for that in the future, university student council votes notwithstanding.
Plitnick said the enmeshment of US and Israeli intelligence, defense, technology, and economy leaves little inclination for the US to effect any confrontational moves to end the occupation. (Plitnick says there are departments of the US government, State, Defense, and intelligence agencies, that benefit from the alliance with Israel since 1967.)
Additionally, the US adoption of the Israeli position that Palestine “recognize” Israel as the state of the Jewish People serves as a “poison pill” to ensure failure of any US proposal to end the occupation, he said.
One small, “subtle” change that is hopeful, he said, is that the new 10-year, $38-billion US aid package gives Congress less leverage, and the present and future US administrations, more leverage on Israel, if they make a decision to use it.
Plitnick’s talk was detailed but downbeat, with the conclusion that any resolution he can foresee, given the absolute indifference in even Arab centers of power to Palestinians, “will involve compromise of principles.” Settlements will stay, refugees will have little acknowledgement much less any right of return, and Israeli power will be validated.
The dreary, sopping weather outside may have affected his mood, and reacting to questions he disavowed any ability to prognosticate, but he told the souls who made it to the talk, that is the best he can see happening, given the circumstances.