Thursday, May 20, 2010

What Does It Mean To Be “Pro-Israel” Part 2

Continuing with my post from earlier, I’m now going to talk about “the J Street method” of what it means to be pro-Israel.

J Street believes that America should support both Israel and the two-state solution at the same time. I guess in contrast, AIPAC thinks that the peace process should be put on hold if it doesn’t serve Israel’s interests. Anyway, J Street also “supports diplomatic solutions over military ones,” as well as “dialogue over confrontation.” They also claim to give political voice to “mainstream American Jews” who support the two-state solution, implying that the mainstream is disconnected from AIPAC. This might be true, but I guess people will vote with their feet.

 Anyway, in short the J Street method is that Israel should do what they (J Street) wants, instead of what Israel wants. This can have certain advantages: Americans have an ability to see the conflict from an outside perspective that Israel’s government doesn’t have. This might give them an advantage. It also leads to a problem because, quite frankly, J Street’s friends and family aren’t the ones who are going to be put in danger when their ideas don’t work.

And that’s the problem with the J Street method, which is the opposite of the AIPAC method: When J Street is wrong. J Street is willing to lobby the USA’s government to pursue certain directions, over the heads of both the Israeli government and it’s American supporters. It’s a high risk/high reward situation: If they win, they will get a lot of supporters and praise. They will also have the confidence of sticking to their guns to pursue the moral high ground. If they fail, a lot of people die and (the Israelis at least) will stop listening to them. In other words, J Street is very certain they are right, so they had better be right! As I said before, it won’t be the J Street lobbyists who would get killed should another war break out between the Israelis and the Palestinians. You can’t blame the Israelis for being skeptical when some high-minded American start telling them what to do. Anyone would react the same way.

Another couple of reactions: As I said before, I can’t help but be unnerved by the way that the most militant anti-Zionists flock to J Street like groupies to rock stars. People who usually treat those who identify as “Zionists” like lepers are suddenly tripping over themselves to praise Jeremy Ben-Ami. If you are judged by the company you keep, that alone is enough to put me off from J Street.

I know that a lot of people (such as the AZs) claim that J Street and their fellow J Street supporters use the tough love argument: That they need to be really aggressive to Israel when Israel deserves it, to keep Israel off of that suicidal course that I mentioned before. Here’s my immediate reaction: Tough love usually is paired with regular love. Parents who want their children to succeed kick them in the butt when it is necessary, but they also nurture them and protect them. J Street doesn’t do that, in my observation. They criticize Israel extensively, but also don’t defend it against lies and slanders by it’s enemies. Which, coincidentally, is the same method that people who pay lip service to being pro-Israel but spend all their time criticizing and attacking it. MJ Rosenberg for example.

This is not to say that the J Street method won’t ever work. I can see where they are coming from and I do truly believe that they have Israel’s best interests at heart. But I do operate but what I see, and as I said before, J Street methods can lead to a high risk situation. And in the Middle East, the last thing we need is more risk.

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