Sunday, May 06, 2007

Ray Hanania on Israel/Palestine

Ray Hanania on the Mideast Youth website has a very interesting posting on the upcoming demonstration in Washington to commemorate the 40th year of the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, and to call for an end to the occupation.
This June marks the 40th anniversary of the Six-day war when Israel defeated the combined Arab armies and occupied the West Bank, Arab East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip.

To commemorate the event, pro-Palestinian supporters including ultra-leftist Israelis and American Jews have organized a rally in Washington June 10 –11.

But, a war of words has erupted between protest organizers and moderate Israelis and pro-peace American Jews that touches on the heart of how pro-Palestinian groups are helping to undermine rather than help the peace movement.

The protest is organized by two powerful yet loosely structured networks called “the U.S. Campaign to end the Israeli Occupation” and “United for Peace and Justice” who contend the rally should “only” focus on pressuring Congress to stop supporting Israel’s policies.

They do not want to lose the support of the more extremist pro-Palestinian groups who advocate the “One-State solution,” which is the latest in a long line of creative strategies to destroy Israel and undermine peace based on compromise.

Two Israeli and American Jewish leaders who advocate the “Two State solution,” Uri Avnery and Rabbi Michael Lerner, challenged the protest in the May/June issue of Tikkun Magazine ( They argue that the failure of protest organizers refusal to denounce the wrongs of both sides and offer a reasoned political settlement only strengthens the extremist Palestinian and Israeli elements who continue to fuel the occupation and the conflict.

Hanania agrees with Avnery and Lerner and argues that:
Avnery and Lerner argue that in order to be effective and achieve its goals, the peace movement must disassociate itself from extremists who use peace demonstrations as a cover for extremist policies like advocating the “One-State Solution.”

There is a sad truth in the pro-Palestinian movement. It is dominated by a small group of fanatics who use intimidation to silence moderate voices. They exploit Palestinian suffering to augment the hate against Israel and Jews, and advocate Holocaust Revisionism and anti-Semitism. They say they support peace but all they do is bash Israel and close their eyes to Palestinian crimes against Israel.

He says:
The correct and principled strategy is to denounce the Occupation and denounce those who reject compromise based on Two-States. They should denounce Hamas and suicide bombings and the use of violence against Israeli civilians just as strongly they denounce the brutality of the Israeli military occupation against Palestinians.

Don’t just denounce the Wall and the expansion of settlements, denounce the refusal of the current Palestinian government to embrace the fundamental principles of the only solution that will result in both sides winning.

They should speak out when Israelis are killed just as strongly as they speak out when Palestinians are killed.

I agree with everything he says, and have the same discomfort with groups like United for Peace and Justice and the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation. I certainly want the occupation to end, but I don't want Israel to end - and Israel is not coterminus with the occupation. It is groups like this that increasingly make me feel like there is no room in the middle, between them and the right-wing elements of the American Jewish community who think that our salvation lies with the Christian Zionists (like Pastor John Hagee who spoke to an enthusiastic crowd at the most recent AIPAC conference in Washington). (For more information on Hagee and his organization, "Christians United for Israel," see Jews on First).

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