When Israel Becomes A Source Of Embarrassment
03/08/2011 - 22:24
Gary Rosenblatt

Responding to a talk on the Israeli-Palestinian situation by the PLO representative to the U.S., Maen Rashid Areikat, in New York the other day, an Israeli professor at NYU commented publicly how ironic it was that the PLO ambassador sounded more reasonable than Israel’s foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman.

Areikat smiled broadly and many in the audience, a group of several dozen Jewish leaders and graduate students, nodded approvingly.

Sign of the times?

It seems so. Areikat spoke at a luncheon and program sponsored by the Berman Jewish Policy Archive at NYU Wagner and the Taub Center for Israel Studies at NYU. His remarks were greeted warmly as he called on American Jews to help convince Israel to end the negotiating stalemate, and the occupation of the West Bank, and make peace with the Palestinians.

“Don’t use [the excuse of] security to prolong my suffering,” Areikat said, adding that resentment toward Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians, though not at evident during the recent Egyptian revolution, will become more of a factor in the region soon.

There was little pushback from the audience to Areikat’s views, and Steven M. Cohen, the director of the Berman Center who served as host and moderator, praised the talk as “enlightening and inspiring.”

The mood at the event was one of many growing indications to me that the current Israeli government has become a source of embarrassment to many liberal American Jews.

Prime Minister Netanyahu better not wait until late May to come to the U.S. and present a new proposal for advancing the stalled peace talks. With the situation deteriorating on the hasbara front, something must be done a lot sooner than Netanyahu’s scheduled appearance at the annual AIPAC conference, which begins May 22, and it better be more substantive than past efforts.

Most American Jews want to feel proud of the Jewish State, not frustrated or ashamed. It doesn’t help when they read of continued settlement growth, the flotilla debacle, Foreign Minister Lieberman’s hard-line comments about Israeli Arabs and other issues, or that the Knesset conducted inquiries into the funding sources of NGOs, or that the Chief Rabbinate is increasingly rigid on matters of marriage, divorce and conversion.

Never mind the complex challenges Israel faces in a hostile neighborhood, where compromise is seen as weakness. Many Jews just don’t want to read and see stories that portray Israel as the source of Mideast problems, whether or not the analysis is accurate.

Federation fundraisers say that even big givers worry aloud about Israeli policies and the negative impact such policies are having on their children, a generation that does not remember Israeli feats like Entebbe, much less the Six-Day War.

My gut tells me that the status quo is not good for Israel, and more creative ways must be found to convince the world, starting with American Jews, that Jerusalem really wants a two-state solution before the option becomes moot.

Comments

The UN? You're kidding, right? True, Israel was established within certain borders by the UN and was willing to live within those borders. Although, those borders were not realistic. Israel accepted the UN mandate. Then, Israel was attacked by Egypt, Jordan, Syria and let's not forget Iraq and the Grand Mufti who raised an army to, "Push the Jews into the Sea". The UN did not lift a finger to protect the new state. However, once Israel started to win the war and push back the invaders, they immediately ceded to the Arab demands for a cease fire.

The UN that allowed their "Peace Keeping" troops to withdraw at the behest of Nassir in 1967, causing the 6 Day War and oh yeah also ignoring the closing the Straits of Tiran to Israeli navigation (a causis belli ...legal term for act of war) and then did nothing as once again three Arab armies shouted loudly "Itbach El-Yehud" (that means Slaughter the Jews). Then, when Israel started to win against all odds, low and behold the UN came alive and told Israel to stop the aggression.
Should I go on. From before 1967 to Munich to Maalot to Hezbullah, the UN has NEVER protected Israel or condemned any other party.
So, Suicide is a very appropriate term to use. After the slaughters all over the world, from Cambodia to Congo to Rawanda, do you actually believe in the power of the UN to enforce a traffic law.
I love the term "Greater Israel" that is used by people that have never seen facts on the ground. It sounds so vast. Visit Jerusalem and see how intertwined the city is and how you can envision a border being drawn. Or, I'll take you to Kfar Saba (within the Green Line) from where you can have a great view of Kalkilya, a place from which numerous bloody terrorist raids and sniper attacks occurred prior to 1967.
The bottom line is, until Israel feels secure and not American Jews on Long Island, there will be no deal. So, if you don't see the big deal go to Israel and attend the funeral of someone killed in a terrorist attack or a soldier on the battlefield.
Until then, excuse me if I think Israel should care more about security then a body of anti-semites or anti-semitic enablers that have learned to warp what was a really nice idea into a tool of evil.

Israel just sounds more and more like Natzi Germany everyday. We don't create 'white people' only areas here in the US. Stop taking my tax dollars to support Israel's ethnic cleansing! My understanding is that more Israeli citizens die from peanut allergies than 'terrorists'. Israel is an embarrassment to the USA. And, fyi, more and more US citizens are questioning Israel's racist policies. We used to have an organization here in the US that was similar to Israeli settlers. It was called the KKK.

Its nice to see that anti-Semites who don't know what Nazi Germany was, and don't know what Israel is, get the right to spew their venom freely. God bless America!

Have you ever fought in a war? Do you ever have any intention of fighting in a war? Or do you prefer to just have Israel fight your wars for you?

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