Saturday, June 9, 2012

Ambassador Michael Oren: Why Jews Boycotting Israeli Settlements Is Wrong (and Counterproductive)

Ambassador Michael Oren is perhaps Israel's most eloquent spokesperson. A historian of the first order, he authored the definitive work on Israel's 1967 War; 

Six Days of War: June 1967 and the Making of the Modern Middle East, and more recently, Power, Faith and Fantasy: America in the Middle East: 1776 to the Present

This week, he graced Seattle's shores with his presence, appearing on Steve Scher's Weekday, met with the Seattle Times, spoke at AJC's Inter-faith/Inter-ethnic Group (AJC hosted an Interfaith and Intergroup Luncheon with Seattle’s religious and cultural leaders, allowing for an opportunity to engage in an open and honest dialogue about Israel), and culminated his whirlwind visit to Seattle with a talk at Temple de  Hirsch Sinai. 
Ever the diplomat, as well as an individual of class and distinction, Oren did not mention individuals (Peter Beinart) or groups (J-Street) by name. But his message was clear: Being Pro-Israel cannot mean advocating boycotts of any sort against the Jewish State, or bemoaning the state of Israeli democracy (in fact, democracy in Israel is alive and well and thriving, messy as it may be). And the settlements, however problematic they may be, do not constitute a major impediment to a peace process and an ultimate two-state solution. Presenting them as such is disingenuous. They are a red-herring. Were there a realistic partner on the other side who could deliver, any issues vis-a-vis the settlements could be accommodated. But as long as the Palestinians refuse to sit at the table without pre-conditions, and as long as Hamas remains ascendant in Palestinian politics, it is a categorical misrepresentation to lay the blame for the impasse in the "peace process" at the feet of the Israelis. 
david in Seattle

American Jews boycotting Israeli settlements is terribly wrong

Sometimes it seems that we, Israelis and American Jews, not only inhabit different countries but different universes, different realities," Israel Ambassador to U.S. Michael Oren says • "At stake is nothing less than the unity of a Jewish people."
Israel Hayom Staff
Ambassador Michael Oren. [Archive]
 Photo credit: AP


George Jochnowitz said...

In 1967, the Arab nations, meeting in Sudan, issued the Three No's of Khartoum: "No peace with Israel, no recognition of Israel, no negotiations with it." That is why there are settlements on the West Bank.
Every country pursues policies that are debatable. Only Israel is subjected to boycotts no matter what choices it makes.
Anti-Zionism is the child of anti-Semitism. Here is something I wrote way back in 1969:
Nobody praised Israel for its unilateral withdrawal from Gaza.
When Israel makes a concession for the sake of peace, anti-Israel hatred zooms up all over the world. When Israel fights to defend itself, anti-Israel hatred zooms up. When Israel does nothing in particular, anti-Israel hatred zooms up.

Lorna Salzman said...

To George Jochnowitz?

Your comments are to the point and I fully agree. But I part from Oren because he insinuates
that the fate of Israel is an issue for all Jews, suggesting that Jews in other countries owe
some kind of special allegiance to Israel (whether they criticize Israel or not).

I don't agree with this at all. My support for Israel's right to exist and defend itself arises
not because I am a Jew but because I am angry at the hostility and double moral standard
applied to Israel and not applied to other states; because those hostile critics show no
concern for the rights and survival of the millions of nonJews who have been slaughtered
in Congo, Rwanda, etc., far greater atrocities quantitatively and quantitatively than anything
Israel has done against the Palestinians; and because this double standard completely ignores
the violent barbaric behavior of the Arab world towards women, apostates and nonMuslims.

Instead to remaining on the defensive against its enemies on all sides, American Jews need
to take a close look at what Hamas, Hezbollah et al are really like and what they stand for. It needs to confront
the persecution of nonMuslims and women and the abuse of children. It needs to expose the
fact that these abuses and atrocities are not aberrant
behavior but mandated by the qu=ran. It is the nature of Islam that American Jews need to
expose in all its bloody horror. Instead of being constantly on the defensive, they need to go
on the offensive against radical Islam and expose what Islam really is. I have told this to Jewish
friends and colleagues for years but they refuse. For me Israel is not the most important issue
in the world; the violation of human rights by Islam IS. That's where we should put our strength.

Lorna Salzman
On Jun 10, 2012, at 3:44 PM, George Jochnowitz wrote: