Heritage Florida Jewish News - Central Florida's Independent Jewish Voice

By David Suissa
Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles 

Suckers at the Casbah


Apparently, there are smart people out there who still believe it’s up to Israel to revive the dead Middle East peace process.

Just last week, over 100 prominent American Jews released a letter, sponsored by the Israel Policy Forum (IPF), urging Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to take “concrete steps” to entice the Palestinians back to the peace table.

Hmm, haven’t we seen this movie a few too many times?

Somehow, I doubt that any of these prominent Jews would negotiate against themselves for years to buy a house from an owner who didn’t want to sell—let alone negotiate.

But what makes their approach especially ill-advised is that in the case of negotiating an Israeli-Palestinian peace, they mixed up the owner and the buyer.

The party who owns peace is the party who can deliver peace, and that’s Israel. The Palestinian Authority can neither promise nor deliver peace. That’s because they have zero authority over Hamas, the terror entity in Gaza that rules over half of the Palestinian population and is sworn to Israel’s destruction.

Evidently, that inconvenient detail hasn’t stopped the IPF signatories from urging Israel to “do more” to buy a meeting with the non-owners of peace.

This reflexive focus on Israel is not new—it’s been going on since the Oslo days. Ironically, all it’s done is create an opposite reflex on the Palestinian side—to dig in their heels and increase their animosity.

Emboldened by all the pressure on Israel, the Palestinians pile on new demands, malign the Jewish state at every turn and even threaten to take their “peace partners” to international criminal courts.

The IPF says on its website that its goal is to “promote pragmatic strategies for achieving regional peace.” Well, here’s a good topic for their next policy conference: “Is pressuring Israel the most pragmatic strategy for achieving regional peace?”

They might want to invite President Obama to that conference so he can remind them what he said recently in Ramallah: No preconditions should be expected of the Israelis for the Palestinians to return to the peace table.

It took Obama four years to understand that it’s not “pragmatic” to pressure the side that is already willing to sit down and negotiate. But now that there’s renewed pressure on Israel to take “concrete steps,” we’re right back where we started.

The Palestinians, right on cue, have promptly piled on new demands: The release of terrorist prisoners, transfer of parts of Area C in the West Bank to their control, and, get this, a map with final borders — all before any peace talks can maybe resume.

In other words, the more pressure on Israel to make friendly gestures, the more the Palestinians get nasty and raise the ante. Sound familiar?

It’s as if the Palestinians are saying, “Give us everything we ask for, and maybe, maybe, we’ll come talk to you, even though we can’t deliver peace.”

It should be obvious by now that the Palestinians are playing everyone like a fiddle, and the IPF reflex chorus who are urging Israel to make more gestures are playing right into their hands, like suckers at the Casbah. 

In case you were wondering, this is not about getting American Jews to shut up—not even Mashiach can do that. Jews in America have every right to speak up and pressure Israel whenever they feel like it, and many of them do.

But in Judaism, there’s something more important than rights—there’s obligation.

You may believe, in fact, that it’s an obligation for pro-Israel Jews to pressure Israel to take more risks for peace, but if you believe that, then why stop there?

Why is it not an obligation for pro-Israel Jews to lobby for at least equal pressure on the Palestinians who have refused for years to come to the peace table?

Why is it not an obligation for pro-Israel Jews to expose the glorifying of terrorism and Jew-hatred in Palestinian society, the Hamas charter calling for Israel’s destruction and the history of Palestinian rejection to Israeli peace offers?  

And while we’re at it, why is it not an obligation for pro-Israel groups like J Street to lobby against the vicious and libelous global campaign to delegitimize the Jewish state? Isn’t that “pro-Israel” enough?

Where is the letter campaign from those prominent, Israel-loving IPF signatories pressuring the United Nations to stop its blatant discrimination against Israel?

And where is their campaign pressuring Israel’s Arab neighbors to stop the demonizing of Jews and using Israel as a scapegoat for their self-inflicted misery?

For many peace-loving American Jews today, being “pro-Israel” essentially means “pressuring Israel and no one else.”

Beyond the fact that that approach has been a disaster for peace, it’s hardly a secret that Israel is already under enormous pressure from a hostile world. It boggles the mind how smart and savvy pro-Israel Jews can conclude that what Israel and the peace process need more than anything right now is … more pressure on Israel.

Israel doesn’t need to be saved from itself, but from its enemies. Instead of getting more pressure to make peace, Israel needs help exposing the Jew-haters of the world who are the real obstacles to peace.

Just because we have the right to pressure Israel about peace doesn’t mean it’s a good idea.

David Suissa is president of TRIBE Media Corp./Jewish Journal and can be reached at davids@jewishjournal.com. This column is reprinted with permission from the Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles.


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