The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) is troubled by the Anti-Defamation League’s (ADL) Abe Foxman for suppressing opposition to a Palestinian state, by alleging that opposing a Palestinian state will “add fuel to the fire” of “anti-Israel delegitimization and boycott campaigns,” and “would have destructive effects internationally.” (This reminds us of Foxman’s stance in Fall 2011 urging Jews not to publicly discuss the Israel positions of political candidates, saying it’s not good for Israel.) ADL’s Foxman also stated that “Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is surely a potential peace partner for Israel, compared to terrorist Hamas.”
Defense Minister and former Chief of the Israel Defense Forces General Moshe Ya’alon strongly disagrees with ADL’s Abe Foxman. Ya’alon stated several months ago that he “ruled out the possibility of establishing a Palestinian state alongside Israel,” (Jerusalem Post, 12-1-13 “Ya’alon Spoke Against Founding of Palestinian State”). Also, Minister Ya’alon has given a speech to the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations and a speech at the AIPAC Conference publicly opposing a Palestinian state. Defense Minister Ya’alon also disagrees with Foxman claiming Abbas is a peace partner who is different from Hamas when Ya’alon said, “There are those who are trying to market Abbas as relatively moderate, but his goals are the same as those of Hamas. He does not believe in an agreement based on pre-1967 lines and he is refusing to come to the negotiating table.” Mr. Foxman, why didn’t ADL criticize Defense Minister Ya’alon for these speeches opposing the creation of a Palestinian state, and saying Abbas is the same as Hamas?
Instead, ADL’s Foxman only condemned Deputy Defense Minister Danny Danon and Economics Minister Naphtali Bennett for publicly opposing a Palestinian state and further arguing that opposing the establishment of a Palestinian state harms Israel internationally. Moreover, only this week Israeli PM Netanyahu told the Washington Post, “The real reason we have to solve this problem is not really to get the international pressure off our backs. There will be renewed pressure on other things. The history of the Jewish people does not speak kindly to that effect. For 2,500 years people believed the most outrageous things about the Jewish people…We thought that would take a respite after the Holocaust, but it came back after a few decades. The horrible distortions that people believed about the Jewish people they now believe about the Jewish state. I don’t think that’s materially going to change…”
ZOA believes that Israel has been harmed internationally precisely by the assertion and promotion of the idea that creating a Palestinian state would not only produce peace, but is the only possible way to achieve peace.
Consider: if one asserts that only creating a Palestinian state will establish peace and Israel fails to create it, people will, unsurprisingly, blame Israel for not quickly establishing such a state to finally get to peace. The idea that a Palestinian state will surely bring peace sets Israel up for angering and frustrating people by not fulfilling their expectations and belief that a state will produce peace.
Before Israel started talking of accepting a Palestinian state, there was no significant boycott movement, criticism was softer and Israel was not looking so isolated. That changed when this Palestinian state movement took off.
Remember during the early years of the Oslo Accords, which did not specify or include establishing a Palestinian state, most Israeli leaders opposed a state. Once, when Shimon Peres slipped and said he supported a state, there was such an uproar he had to publicly retract that “slip of the tongue.”
Many in Israel and America now realize that the Palestinian’s goal is not a state but Israel’s destruction. American Jewish Committee ‘s recent poll shows that 76% of US Jews believe that. One only has to observe that the Palestinian Arabs could have had a state but rejected it in 1937 (Peel Commission), 1947 (UN Res. #181), 2000 (Prime Minister Barak’s offer), 2008 (Prime Minister Olmert’s offer); and they did not establish a Palestinian state between 1948-1967, when the Arabs controlled all of the West Bank, one-half of Jerusalem, and all of Gaza. These rejections clearly show statehood is not their goal.
Ya’alon, Danon, Bennett and others make it clear that peace is impossible because Abbas, the Palestinian Authority, and the entire Arab world refuses to accept Israel as a Jewish state. Furthermore, the Palestinian Authority promotes hate education against Jews and Israel in their media, schools and speeches; doesn’t show Israel on their maps; doesn’t stop saying that Israel has occupied Arab lands since 1948 (meaning Israel itself is “occupied” land); doesn’t arrest terrorists; doesn’t stop demanding that Israel release terrorists; doesn’t stop demanding that millions of Arab “refugees” must move into Israel; doesn’t end relations with Hamas; openly states that a Palestinian state will go to the International Criminal Court and make claims alleging Israeli human rights abuses; makes the racist, anti-Semitic statement that no Jews will be allowed to live in any future Palestinian territory and has an official emblem showing all of Israel with an Arab headdress over it next to a Kalyshnikov rifle. Does ADL, AJC and the Reform movement really want such a state?
And does ADL really believe the Palestinian Arabs will accept Prime Minister Netanyahu’s minimum conditions for a Palestinian state – that it accept Israel as a “Jewish” state, that it be demilitarized, that it not include the Jordan Valley and Jerusalem, that no so-called “refugees” be allowed into Israel, that they stop glorifying terrorists and change the names of the schools, streets, sports teams, tournaments and children’s camps named after Jew-killing terrorists and that the Palestinian Authority end its massive and relentless delegitimization and demonization of Israel. Also, what does ADL propose we do about Hamas-controlled Gaza and Abbas’ alliance with Hamas? What does ADL propose we do with 400,000 Jews who live in eastern Jerusalem and the West Bank (Judea & Samaria)? Do we force all these Jews out of their homes? Half of them? The ADL also overlooks the many legal opinions by top international legal scholars including former Chief Judge of The Hague, Stephen Schwebel, that Israel has a far greater legal claim to the land than the Arabs.
We also need to understand that a sovereign state doesn’t necessarily create a civil and peace-loving society – it only strengthens the ability of the underlying culture to promote their agenda. In this case, it’s a horrible agenda. Iran, Libya, North Korea, Afghanistan and Syria are sovereign states. Are they lovely and peaceful?
Other ministers have joined Ya’alon and Danon’s opposition to Palestinian statehood including but not limited to the number two leader in the Likud party, Minister of Interior and former Education Minister, Gideon Saar, who criticized the drive to create a Palestinian state, saying such a state would be a “dangerous move” and would “never bring peace.” Why didn’t ADL criticize him?
Other top Israeli government officials also oppose a Palestinian state. They include Deputy Foreign Minister, Ze’ev Elkin opposes a Palestinian state stating last July at a conference, “This is our land…It’s time to end this system in which the Palestinians take and take and we give and give,” Netanyahu’s coalition chief, Yariv Levin, Housing Minister Uri Ariel, Uzi Landau, Minister of Tourism, former Minister of Internal Security, Chair of Foreign Affairs and Defense, Sylvan Shalom, Minister of Regional Development, former Foreign Minister, Yair Shamir, Minister of Agriculture, Gilab Erdan, Minister of Communications, Yisrael Katz, Minister of Transportation, and Yri Orbach, Minister Pension Affairs. So do many, many other top Israeli officials.
Even former Israeli Prime Minister Rabin, head of the leftwing Labor Party, stated in his last speech to the Knesset, that a future Palestinian entity “will be less than a state” and that he will never give up any part of Jerusalem or the Jordan Valley. Prime Minister Shamir also opposed a state. To be consistent, ADL should be criticizing them all. It’s revealing to see ADL’s Foxman, AJC Committee’s David Harris and the Reform Movement’s Rabbi Jacobs condemn only some of those who oppose a Palestinian state like Ministers Danon and Bennett who have public images as strong “right-wingers,” while not condemning Minister Ya’alon and Saar, who don’t have this public “right-wing image.”
These prime ministers, ministers and many Knesset members are hardly alone. American Jewish Committee’s recent polls show that for two years less than half of U.S. Jews support a Palestinian state, 38% and 43%, respectively. Even a Gallup poll earlier this year showed that only 44% of American non-Jews support a Palestinian state.
We must add that it is perplexing to see Abe Foxman rightly criticize the extremism and rejectionism of Mahmoud Abbas and the PA as the true reason for the lack of peace – something he rarely says in any other context; yet it is even more perplexing to see him say that Israel should be working towards a Palestinian state governed by precisely this extreme and rejectionist regime, a regime that is a dictatorship promoting defamation of Jews and Israel; Abbas has not faced an election for many years.
It’s untrue that the Danon and Bennett and Ya’alon and Saar and others’ statements compromise the government. The Israeli government would negotiate and create a Palestinian state were Palestinians willing and ready to negotiate a genuine peace. Unfortunately, all the evidence tells otherwise. That’s why these ministers regard the likelihood of a peace agreement with the Palestinians as unlikely, impossible or else dangerous with the existing circumstances.
Understandably, these officials and others are deeply and legitimately concerned that a Palestinian state could become a Hamas/Iran terrorist dictatorship with thousands of rockets raining down on Israel’s most populous areas from Judea/Samaria (West Bank). It’s shocking that ADL and Foxman ignore this danger to the Jewish state of Israel and chastises some of those who hold this legitimate view. As Prime Minister Netanyahu said in a Washington Post interview this week, ““Will a Palestinian state be another Iranian client-state that is committed to our destruction? That arms itself with missiles and rockets? Or is it something that… is genuinely demilitarized?” Remember, said the Prime Minister, “after we left Gaza and tore up the settlements, the conflict continued…” Israel has also given up 42% of Judea & Samaria, and got in return massive Arab terrorism that has murdered almost 2000 Jews and maimed thousands more.
The sooner the world understand the doubts and dangers about creating Palestinian statehood under existing conditions, the sooner countries and people will understand the realities that Israel faces. Only last week at the Presidents Conference in Israel, Prime Minister Netanyahu said, “The reason there is no peace has to be addressed. Why have successive governments, six prime ministers since Oslo – and before Oslo – not been able to achieve peace with the Palestinians? Why has this conflict raged from 1920, when the first Palestinian Arab attacks on the Jewish immigration office in Jaffa began? It was that fervent opposition to a Jewish state in any boundary. If we’re going to have peace, we’re going to have Palestinian leadership that says: ’We are willing to make peace with the Jewish state. We will accept the right of the Jewish people to have a nation state.’ That was and remains the underlying problem that makes peace elusive.”
All of these points make it clear that those who oppose a Palestinian state have at least as legitimate a position as those who support it. It would be reasonable, appropriate and just for the ADL to simply acknowledge and respect that fact. In fact, instead of condemning those who oppose a Palestinian state, ADL’s Abe Foxman, AJC’s David Harris and Reform movement’s Rabbi Jacobs should themselves make it publicly clear that under present circumstances they oppose the establishment of a Palestinian state, which will likely be a terrorist dictatorship controlled by Hamas and Iran. The last thing in the world Israel needs is another anti-Israel terrorist dictatorship on its longest border. No wonder far less than half of the American Jews and non-Jews support such a state, despite the US and international media’s constant promotion of a Palestinian state.