On the left, supporters of Peace Now have been renewing their calls for a more active U.S. role in pressuring the parties to reach an agreement. On the right, Orthodox groups and the Zionist Organization of America have been sounding the alarm about the possibility of a redivision of the city of Jerusalem.
On Capitol Hill, competing letters and resolutions are also gaining attention, some seeking to emphasize the push for more assistance to the Palestinian Authority. Another effort urges more support for the peace process on the part of Arab states, which have long helped to foment the conflict. At the same time, yet another drive led by the ZOA has sought to highlight the need for Fatah – the lead party in the Palestinian Authority — to change its charter to abrogate provisions calling for Israels destruction. This campaign is gaining momentum as more centrist groups have joined ZOA on this point, even though the PA.s defenders claim the old charter has already been rendered obsolete by subsequent events.
While some decry all such business as meddling in Israeli policy by Diaspora know-it-alls who seek to impose their own agendas on the Jewish state, some distinctions ought to be emphasized.
When it comes to measures that call for more or less U.S. taxpayer funds to be expended on the Palestinians, American Jews have every right to speak up, since thats an issue which is, by definition, one that Americans must resolve. Similarly, when it comes to policies that seek to prop up foreign governments and groups, such as the P.A., citizens on these shores have every right to subject the recipients of their largess to the strictest scrutiny.
In the past, advocacy for the cause of peace led many in this country often at the urging of the Israeli government to whitewash the Palestinians. This deliberate blindness led to a policy that sought to sustain a terrorist P.A. at all costs, and led to the shedding of much Israeli blood and the waste of billions of American dollars that were swallowed up by the corrupt and violent Palestinian political system. Irrespective of the merits of the Fatah charter issue, the conduct of the P.A. has done little to inspire trust. Demanding more accountability in a revived peace process is the least that Americans should expect from the P.A., especially since it is now only part of the power equation with Hamas in control of Gaza.
Nevertheless, we would caution all those waxing lyrical about their views of the Annapolis meeting and possible concessions being contemplated by Israel to achieve peace to exercise their right to advocacy with a degree of restraint and a hefty dose of humility.
Israel belongs to all of the Jewish people. But its governance is the responsibility of those who choose to live there. The government that its people democratically elect may not be perfect, but it is still entitled to the presumption of support. Though the bonds between the Diaspora and Israel remain strong, only Israelis have to live with the consequences of war and peace.
Those groups who set themselves up in open opposition to Israels government — be they on the right or left should understand that, whatever the strength of their arguments, the vast majority of American Jews will give any Israeli government the benefit of the doubt when it comes to survival.
Voicing misgivings and asking questions is one thing, but those who seek to use the influence and political power of U.S. Jewry to undermine Israels leaders and weaken their ability to conduct affairs with their American counterparts are crossing a line that should not be traversed. Such recklessness speaks more of hubris than principle, and does not help Israel in the long run.