Friday, May 16, 2008

Responding to James Kirchick on AIPAC and J Street

Street Cred? by James Kirchick
| Posted by Alan J. Weisbard
37 of 38 | warn tnr | respond
The overwhelmingly ad hominem quality of both the principal argument and many of the comments suggests the weakness of much of the associated thinking/analysis, if one can call it that. I have spent considerable time in Israel, love and cherish it, and strongly support its security and flourishing. I believe many in the Palestinian and larger Arab worlds would, if they had their druthers (and were not otherwise constrained), do away with the State of Israel. That goes triple for Hamas. The serious question is, what follows from all of the above? Certainly, those who care urgently about the security of Israel and Israelis must think hard (and do more than thinking) about how that objective is best pursued in a very dangerous neighborhood. But the notion that Likud, or AIPAC, has a direct and excusive line to divine revelation on that question is far from self-evident to me. It is not evident to me that the building and thickening of hard to defend settlements in the midst of Arab populations in the West Bank (and previously in Gaza) contributes to Israeli security and flourishing. It is not evident to me that the caging of Palestinians within ugly walls, and the squeezing of their economy and ability to travel within the West Bank, exacerbating long-standing hatreds and passing them on through successive generations, contributes to the long-term prospect of Israeli flourishing. It is not evident to me that recalcitrant policies and actions that alienate Israel from much of the world, including nations with which Israel seeks to identify and engage with, contributes to the long-term prospect of Israeli flourishing. AIPAC's approach has varied over the decades. There were certainly moments, when Israeli policy inclined toward participation in the peace process, that AIPAC was supportive of Israeli peace policy. But in recent years, AIPAC has increasingly developed its own foreign policy, identifying with the most right wing tendencies in Israeli debate. AIPAC no longer supports policies consistent with the center of gravity in Israeli thought, and has long since departed from the views of many American Jews on the best paths to peace and security for Israel. It is still early to know precisely what paths J Street will take as it develops. For the moment, it seems to me more likely to represent a promising path toward the long-term security and flourishing of the Israel that I love than does AIPAC, which has become a n unrepresentative tool of a narrow faction of American Jewish thinking (and money). It is time for a broad based alternative more acceptable to (and more representative of) much of Israeli and American Jewish thinking on how best to secure the future of Israel. I have joined J Street and hope for its success. This is not the time to be writing its obituary.
Alan J. Weisbard

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