Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Ending the Occupation

In a recent blog post on the Huffington Post, Sam Asher of the Harvard chapter of J-Street responds to Alan Dershowitz's recent remarks against J-Street. He writes,
"Dershowitz's language should concern all who are committed to a peaceful resolution to a conflict that has cost so many lives. For, in effect, he is arguing that that those who believe that the United States has an interest in ending the 43 year occupation of the West Bank and Gaza are, de-facto, anti-Israel. "
First of all, I read Alan's remarks and you can too here. He doesn't say anything even remotely similar to "ending the occupation is anti-Israel", what he describes as anti-Israel is statements like "US support for Israel endangers American troops." Statements like that one, which was falsely attributed to General David Petraeus and echoed by J-Street unquestioningly is what Alan didn't like. So that's a strawman argument by itself.

But let's talk about ending the occupation in general. I think every reasonable person on every side of this conflict wants the occupation to end. The Israelis get no pleasure from occupying the West Bank (except, of course, for those who believe it belongs to Israel), the occupation is costly in money, public support, and lives. The Palestinians don't want the occupation either, naturally, they can't do many of the things you and I take for granted because of it. So we all agree that the occupation needs to end.

Where we disagree is under what conditions should the occupation end. The Palestinians, and J-Street, believe the occupation should end right now and then there will be peace. The Israelis, and I, disagree with them, we believe that the occupation should end only once a peace treaty has been signed and been maintained for some period of time. I can't agree with Alan Dershowitz's choice of inflammatory rhetoric, but from his point of view, he sees J-Street as the same as President Obama, simply echoing the Palestinians' demands without reservation. He believes that course of action is not in Israel's best interests, hence, anti-Israel.

The difference between AIPAC and J-Street is that AIPAC essentially says "The US should support Israel". Not completely, not all the time, but most of the time under most conditions the US should support Israel and Israel's actions. J-Street has a different tact, they say "We know what's best for Israel and the US-Israeli relationship. You should do what we think". Alan Dershowitz disagrees with J-Street, J-Street disagrees with him. If you don't like people disagreeing with you, Mr. Asher, you should stay out of these kinds of discussions.


  1. I must correct you which I rarely do: let's get two things on the record that is wrong with your response. First, Israel ended its occupation of Gaza in 2005. Second, Israel ended its occupation of Yesha's Arab population before than in 1997 when nearly all of the Palestinian Arabs came under PA rule. All that Israel retains is a swath of unpopulated territory in Yesha that is home to large numbers of Jews and has biblical significance as well as being strategically vital for Israel's security. Israel literally has no more room to retreat to unless its back to the 1967 "Auschwitz" death-trap lines. Israel's critics know the occupation is a false narrative. Israel is not standing in the way of self-determination for another people. The talk like Israel still keeps the Palestinians from exercising their rights and enjoying full self-rule is one of the most mendacious Big Lies in the history of mankind.

    And I'm disappointed a Zionist, pro-Israel blog would help to keep this myth alive.

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