We should never hesitate to condemn anti-Semitism, whether it is the traditional version directed at Jews or the newer version targeting Israel’s legitimacy. But we also have to be very careful about distinguishing Israel-related anti-Semitism from criticisms of Israeli policies.
A large segment of American Jewry, deeply concerned about Israel’s security and future, is distressed at the heightened polarization on Israel-related issues within our own community and in the nation’s body politic. Sharp divisions between left and right, Republican and Democrat, are damaging not only to our ability to advocate effectively on behalf of Israel, but also to our internal communal cohesion.
We’ve just celebrated Israel’s 67th Independence Day —– a remarkable achievement that makes us proud. But more and more American Jews worry that the sharpening divisions in our community are hampering our efforts to help Israel achieve long-term security and peace.
The heart of the opposition to the nuclear deal with Iran is the fear, even the assumption, that Iran will violate it, cheating on inspections and using the accord's provisions to double-deal and weaponize.
For years, we tended to paper over a fundamental policy difference between Israel and the United States. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu long has talked about the need to dismantle fully Iran’s nuclear infrastructure that he describes as constituting an existential threat to Israel, while President Obama’s language consistently called for preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.
Israel and Hamas engaged in one of the longest wars in the history of the Arab-Israeli conflict this summer. The fundamental problem, which caused the war and all its destruction, is that Hamas is a terrorist organization whose charter calls for the destruction of Israel, and praises "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion," and claims among many other fiendish accusations that Jews started World Wars I and II.
At times like these, I generally try to return to the basics. Following the collapse last April of the John Kerry-led peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, and now in the wake of Operation Protective Edge, the question no doubt will be asked — what is left of the vision of two states for two peoples? I don’t know if we are further away from reaching it, or, potentially, closer. I do know that there is no sensible alternative, and the parties, with U.S. and international support, have to keep trying again and again.
Today US administration spokespersons will explain that the speech focused on security and not on foreign policy, and that is the reason the Middle East was not mentioned. But that does not explain why yesterday morning, in an appearance that was broadcast by three networks, US Secretary of State John Kerry did not mention the Israeli-Palestinian conflict at all.
By the standards of the parallel universe inhabited by Israelis and Palestinians, April 23 was a good day. Everyone now feels vindicated, self-righteous, sanctimonious and in their comfort zone, with leadership and statesmanship reduced to saying "I told you so."