Jan. 26, 2009
By HILARY LEILA KRIEGER AND ALLISON HOFFMAN
New US Middle East peace envoy George Mitchell will not have any contacts with Hamas nor stop in
Rather, Acting State Department Spokesman Robert Wood said, Mitchell was “going out to listen” to leaders in
This will be Mitchell’s first foray to the
Several members of Congress will also be getting in on the action, with delegations reportedly planning to visit
While dovish Jewish groups have welcomed Mitchell’s appointment and the intense focus on Israeli-Palestinian diplomacy, the move has not sat well with everyone in the community.
The Zionist Organization of America put out a statement expressing its “concern” over Mitchell’s appointment, noting that the former Senate majority leader who helped bring peace to
The ZOA elaborated that its specific concerns “include the fact that Mitchell has always made it clear that he believes both sides are equally at fault for the lack of peace.”
Groups on the Left, however, have praised Mitchell for that quality, arguing that an even-handed broker stands the best chance at helping forge a lasting peace. They have also been critical of mainstream Jewish groups that have remained largely silent on the Mitchell appointment, in contrast to many other moves by previous administrations on the Israeli-Palestinian issue, which are often greeted with statements of support and praise.
“These organizations’ failure to welcome Mitchell’s appointment and to wish him success speaks volumes. They apparently are uncomfortable with his appointment because of the report he submitted at the beginning of the second intifada,” said one official with a dovish Jewish organization.
At least one such leader, Anti-Defamation League national director Abraham Foxman, has made comments about Mitchell when asked. He told the New York Jewish Week that “Sen. Mitchell is fair. He’s been meticulously even-handed… But the fact is, American policy in the Middle East hasn’t been ‘even handed’ – it has been supportive of
Foxman, who released a statement in 2001 accusing Mitchell of “distorting reality” by linking Palestinian violence to Israeli settlement activity, said he would wait to judge Mitchell once he begins work.
On Monday, Foxman told The
“He said what most of us are thinking but aren’t stupid enough to say out loud,” said another Jewish leader, speaking on condition of anonymity, about the lack of public statements from the larger Jewish organizations.
“None of the rest of us wants to slam the administration on its first week, nor do we want to make this into a self-fulfilling deal where he ends up being bad for the sake of ‘dissing’ the Jews who had little faith in him.”