An Op-Ed regarding J-Street was passed along to me recently, and I found it quite disturbing. Here is the link to the Op-Ed: http://dailyprincetonian.com/opinion/2013/11/how-anti-semitism-made-me-care-about-israel/.
I urge you to read it before examining my response.
One of my many criticisms of the J-Street movement was alluded to several times throughout this Op-Ed by AJ Sibley, a Sophomore at Princeton University. Sibley is calling for others to join him, "to rise up for peace and pressure our public officials (American officials) to continue to push for a final resolution to this conflict: a two-state solution." Peace is the goal, but to neglect the desires of the Israeli people and attempt to forcefully reform Israeli policies in order to push one's personal agenda, an agenda that is not in line with the views of Israeli citizenry, and is rooted in exceedingly dovish ideology, is, to me, both morally and ethically wrong, and is characteristic of a biased, wavering support of the Jewish homeland.
To place pressure on America, the country Israel so heavily leans on for economic and military support, in order to reform desired Israeli policies for the sake of actualizing one’s own ideal Israel not only opens up the possibility of implementing detrimental reforms, but it would quite possibly lead to an unprecedented contentious relationship between Israel and her strongest ally. The purpose of America’s allegiance with Israel is not to apply pressure on her government so to implement policies favorable in the eyes of American constituents; the purpose of America’s allegiance with Israel is to offer absolute support of the core policies of the Israeli government, especially those policies that keep the Israeli people safe.
Though I understand the opposition to the “blindly supportive or bust” mentality of many extremist proponents of Israel, I find it disconcerting to push one's agenda on American officials by means of pressure, especially when one is pressuring for policies that are not in the best interest of the existence of the State of Israel. As advocates of Israel, we are not obligated to agree with all of her policies. In fact, there is benefit in being critical, for it leads to a deeper, more well-rounded understanding of the conflict. However, it is purely illogical to advocate for policy reforms that will jeopardize the existence of the Jewish state. Israel, entirely justified in its reluctance to wholeheartedly engage in negotiations with the Palestinians, has leaders who have the best interest of her people in mind. It is not the right of the American people to strong-arm the Israeli government through the generation of American political pressure. That type of approach fails to take into account the position of the majority of the Israeli population, and serves to solely push the leftist agenda on a government more concerned with protecting its people than creating foolishly dovish policies.
The strongest proof to bring to this discussion is history. By examining various peace offers and rejections, you will find that negotiations with people who refuse to accept the very existence of the State of Israel is entirely futile. Perhaps my most significant criticism of J-Street is the fact that it inexplicably fails to acknowledge the fact that the Palestinian rejectionist attitude is at the core of failed peace negotiations.
Our reluctance and apprehension regarding negotiations is not baseless. In one of Israel's most recent attempts at negotiating peace, the 2000 Camp David Summit, she offered the Palestinian people all of the West Bank, 97% of Gaza, and 30 billion dollars to fund the housing and medical care of displaced Palestinian peoples. The Palestinians responded with the Second Intifada. Even more recently, after Israel’s unilateral withdrawal from Gaza, Israel was repaid with continuous rocket fire aimed at nearby Israeli settlements. Over the years, Israel has made many overtures, several that have risked the safety of her people, in order to attain peace. But those previous peace negotiations have not only failed, they have opened the door to further endangerment of the Israeli people.
"Seeking a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not idealistic — it’s imperative."
I couldn't agree more. The Israeli government couldn't agree more, though there is a debate regarding what the parameters of that solution should be. It is the right of Israel, and any sovereign nation, to devise a plan that satisfies widespread popular desire and protects its people. It is not, however, the right of the American people to interfere with that process because of a personal agenda.
Again, it is not only morally wrong to push one's agenda on Israel's biggest ally, an agenda that could eventually jeopardize the existence of the State of Israel, but it is foolish to so strongly pursue a two state solution that has proven itself impossible without the Palestinians doing something as simple as noting our right to exist as a sovereign nation. A two state solution is the goal, advocates from both J-Street and StandWithUs can agree on that, but there is an appropriate method of pursuing that peace, and a time to pursue it. Until we are dealing with a government that prioritizes independence and peace over violence and claims to the land, a resolution is merely a dream.
Rooted beneath the misconception of being pro-Israel is an organization whose goal is to push its own liberal agenda on Israel and her people, despite the fact that Israel’s reluctant stance on negotiations is both justified and supported by its citizenry. This disagreement comes down to such a fundamental truth: We are Americans. It is our duty to defend the ideology of, and advocate for, the land of Israel. That being said, it is not our right to take advantage of Israel’s dependence on America by means of generating political pressure in order to push an undesired liberal agenda on the Israeli government.