Thursday, July 5, 2012

Pigs Fly, We Agree With Jeremy Ben-Ami

J-Street and Jeremy Ben-Ami have always been a little closer to Jewish Voice for Peace when it comes to Israel than AIPAC and for that reason I've never really been a big fan of them. However, in Ben-Ami's recent op ed for the Huffington Post, he finally comes down on the side of the angels. His target: the BDS movement and their recent attempt to sway the Presbyterian Church.

Here's what he says about the BDS movement:
"I would say to the Church's leaders as they again consider joining forces with the BDS Movement, that the Movement's rhetoric and tactics are not only a distraction, but a genuine threat to conflict resolution. Even the limited divestment approach under consideration by PCUSA falls under the rubric of larger BDS efforts to place blame entirely on one side of the conflict. Such an approach encourages not reconciliation, but polarization. Further, too many in and around the BDS movement refuse to acknowledge either the legitimacy of Israel or the right of the Jewish people as well as the Palestinian people to a state."
 In my opinion, Ben-Ami's language isn't quite strong enough, but I understand that when you walk the fine line of J-Street, you can't use strong language for feel off "alienating" people. But his point is still true, the BDS movement refuses to acknowledge the legitimacy of Israel. I refer you to these quotes from people involved in the BDS movement:
"BDS does mean the end of the Jewish state"
-Ahmed Moor

"BDS represents three words that will help bring about the defeat of Zionist Israel and victory for Palestine"
-Ronnie Kasrils

"Going back to the two state solution, besides having passed its expiration date, it was never a moral solution to start with."
-Omar Barghouti [BDS founder, Israeli resident]
 Ben-Ami continues with the kind of rhetoric you don't usually see on the HP:
"Pro-peace, pro-Israel advocacy has gained traction in the American Jewish community by embracing the mutuality inherent in the two-state solution. We reject a zero-sum approach, which says that to be pro-Israel means one must be anti-Palestinian -- or vice versa. We seek a win-win solution.
We want to see Israel thrive as a Jewish homeland and a democracy, and we want to see a Palestinian state established, because Palestinians deserve to live in dignity in their own state too."
 Most HPers always take a zero-sum approach to the I/P conflict and that is why most HPers support BDS. But the problem with this rhetoric, much as I and most pro-Israel people completely agree with it, is that the other side does not feel that way. They see every Israeli loss as a victory for the Palestinians, which is why they support BDS towards pro-peace Israeli orgs like the Habima Theatre. Voices like Ben-Ami's are good to hear, but they need to be heard from the other side desperately.

But then Ben-Ami does something very smart, and I would like to see more of this in the future from all pro-Israel people:
"Advocates for peace and two states are fighting an uphill and increasingly urgent battle. Just as the opportunity to achieve a two-state peace grows narrower, the debate over BDS is sapping the resources of those working for peace by creating new and deep divisions among those who should be allies working together for a peaceful resolution to the conflict.

If PCUSA disregards the voices of its Jewish allies in the quest for a two-state solution and votes to support divestment, it won't bring a just peace any closer. It will merely lose the good will of many American Jews and further dissipate the energies we so desperately need to apply to the task at hand."
He links support for BDS with attacks on the two state solution. The two state solution is acknowledged by most people interested in the conflict as the only solution. By correctly pointing out that the BDS movement is not interested in peace or the two state solution, Ben-Ami does a good job of weakening its support. More of that in the future, definitely.

So hopefully this is a sign of Jeremy Ben-Ami being a pro-Israel voice on the HP, rather than just another "asaJew" critic like MJ Rosenberg. 

1 comment:

  1. It is good to see this, but it is futile. The other side does not wish for a two state solution, but a one state solution; another Arab state, with the Jews either ethnically cleansed or the victims of another genocide.

    This might persuade some few who do not really understand this, but I think most of them do understand and support a state of real apartheid, such as exist wherever the Moslems are in charge, and where the sharia law is triumphant.

    The world likes its Jews either dead (the favorite), or cowed and beaten down, submissive and oppressed. Uppity Jews, who do not know their place, but demand to be treated as equal human beings are anathema. Ask me if I care.


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