America Must Demand More From Itself And Its Allies
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I’m not sure how much influence America still has, but it’s time for Joe Biden to pressure Israel into withdrawing from the West Bank for the sake of Palestinians and Israelis.
I am told the two-State Solution is dead.
Someone should tell that to the American people. Despite Israeli and Palestinian peace talks being stalled for nearly a decade, 57 percent of Americans say Israel and Palestine could live peacefully side by side.
If only there were a way Americans could live peacefully side by side, maybe we’re the ones who need that two-State Solution.
Support for two separate states is even higher among American Jews. Seventy-five percent of whom support a Palestinian state independent from Israel.
As recently as 2006, 71 percent of Palestinians living in Gaza and the West Bank supported two separate nations. That number dropped precipitously as negotiations soon gave way to violence.
This isn’t about two warring peoples.
It’s about leadership, or lack thereof. Anything is possible with visionaries. There’s a reason stalemate has the word “stale” in it. Joe Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid are stale in their thinking.
If Lapid wanted to end this violence, he would declare victory over the Palestinians and jump start negotiations.
Israel won. Yes rockets are still launched from Gaza. But Israelis are no longer living with the existential threat they did ten, fifteen years ago.
So declare victory, and negotiate.
Two nations living side by side almost became reality in 2000. The Camp David Accords collapsed in the final hour primarily because both sides lacked faith in the other and themselves.
I believe that the will is still there, just not the leadership.
The Israeli hard-liners currently in charge are perfectly content with the status quo. Israel, for the time being, has never been safer. But, bubbling underneath the surface is the fear that more and more diasporic Jews no longer find Israel synonymous with Judaism.
How could it be? Gaza is a humanitarian disaster.
And if it remains so, American Jews, especially younger ones who never met a Holocaust survivor, will eventually view Israel as just another flawed nation-state with both its good and bad sides.
Read the Old Testament. This has happened before to Israel.
In order for Israel to remain synonymous with Judaism it must be held to a higher standard.
It rings hollow when defenders of this Israeli government complain, “How come you fixate on the treatment of Palestinians? What about how France treats its Arab civilians?”
France’s treatment of Arabs doesn’t absolve Israel. Also, I’m pretty sure there’s nothing in France remotely comparable to Gaza. Although, I remember back in the 80s a youth hostel in the Loire Valley that came awfully close.
More importantly, when it comes to American foreign policy, Israel is different from France because America has invested 70 years of negotiating land carve outs to protect the lives of Israelis and Arabs.
France is not one of America’s side projects. Israel is.
Peace with Egypt? America negotiated that for Israel. Peace with Jordan? America negotiated that one too for Israel. Peace with Saudi Arabia? Relative peace with Syria? Making sure Iran doesn’t get that mythical nuclear bomb? All because of America.
So yeah, more is expected from Israel. That’s not anti-Semitism. That’s not anti-Zionism. Despite America’s countless human rights violations, we still demand more from ourselves. (or at least we should).
Israel has every right to defend itself, but the situation in Gaza and the West Bank is indefensible. And, this Israeli government knows that, which is why last week at the U.N., Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid claimed he still believed in a two-State solution. All the Palestinians have to do, he says Prefer attribution in present tense, was put down their guns.
What Lapid conveniently left out are the 490,493 Israeli citizens living inside the 128 settlements on the West Bank. He also left out the 330,000 other Israelis scattered throughout parts of Jerusalem and surrounding communities that are technically the West Bank.
We are quickly approaching one million Israelis living inside what the Israeli Prime Minister claimed he wants to set aside for a Palestinian homeland.
Israel seized the West Bank from Jordan during the Six-Day War back in 1967. At the time, David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s George Washington, if Washington was a socialist, says Prefer attribution in present tense he didn’t think it was a good idea for Israel to hold on to the West Bank because along with that territory came half a million or so Palestinians. He thought Israel becoming an occupying army would be unseemly.
Ben-Gurion, the father of Israel, was a visionary. We could use another one right now — someone who can see Israel and Palestine living side by side in peace.
A Palestinian state will take some effort, sadly more bloodshed, but, like the founding of Israel, better than the alternative and well worth it.
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