A recent article in the Jewish Standard exposes all that is wrong with the extremely limited debate in America regarding Israeli foreign policy. This article attacks an ad in the New York Times created by J-street, a pro-peace, pro-Israel organization founded specifically to broaden the debate over how to make Israel safe beyond the dominating right wing narrative.
This ad notes how "When Israel Goes to War, Supporters Rally. When Israel Negotiates, Why the Deafening Silence?" Very regrettably, Josh Lipowsky, the author of this Jewish Standard piece, not only failed to take this message to heart but continues to suggest that "supporting Israel" means nothing more than calling for unending war in the Middle East.
To his credit, Lipowski notes how "we agree with J Street that the pro-Israel community should wholeheartedly support Israel in its moves toward peace. However, we must question the cease-fire with Hamas in its current form." Unfortunately, despite supposedly supporting Israel's moves towards peace, I fear that Lipowski and his ilk will continue the constant questioning and undercutting of any attempts to do just that.
Lipowski justifies this swift rebuttal of the Israeli cease-fire with Hamas that the J-street ad highlighted by claiming it was doomed to fail from the beginning. He first argues that "Israel should have known better than to trust Hamas’ promises" and then states explicitly that "as long as Israel refuses to respond to these attacks, Hamas will grow stronger militarily and politically, creating a slippery slope that will lead it to completely replace the Palestinian Authority."
My first question to Josh is who is he to make such assertive predictions regarding the most unpredictable region in the world? His pronouncements that any attempts to negotiate with Hamas are futile from the get go resemble the claims of the Bush administration that war with Iraq was the only reasonable option---a theory that has certainly been debunked and then some since.
Although he might not know it, he is arguing AGAINST the majority view of Israelis themselves regarding what will keep them safe. Constitutional lawyer turned blogger Glenn Greenwald analyzed this reality in an important post from a few months ago:
But a new poll of actual Israelis -- the people who have to live with the consequences of their choices as opposed to those who can beat their neoconservative, protected chests from a safe distance -- reveals:
Sixty-four percent of Israelis say the government must hold direct talks with the Hamas government in Gaza toward a cease-fire and the release of captive soldier Gilad Shalit. Less than one-third (28 percent) still opposes such talks.
The figures were obtained in a Haaretz-Dialog poll conducted Tuesday under the supervision of Professor Camil Fuchs of Tel Aviv University.
According to the findings, Israelis are fed up with seven years of Qassam rockets falling on Sderot and the communities near Gaza, as well as the fact that Shalit has been held captive for more than a year and a half. An increasing number of public figures, including senior officers in the Israel Defense Forces' reserves, have expressed similar positions on talks with Hamas.
Lipowski is attacking the method Israelis themselves believe is most likely to achieve an actual peaceful resolution. As he calls to "look at the realities on the ground without rose-colored lenses" he is viewing such realities with the same blood drunk incoherence that has led our country to decide that Iraqis' views on stabilizing their own country do not matter.
The manichean nature of Lipowski's views can be seen at the end of the article, which he closes with an explicit call for war:
Rather than allow Hamas to reap the benefits of the quiet from Israel, Israel should issue an ultimatum to Hamas and the world. As Israel eases the blockade, it should announce that every rocket from that point forward will be treated as an act of war, indisputably laying the blame for the consequences on the shoulders of Hamas.
Israel, the Middle East, America, and the world at large do not need more war, especially war that can be avoided through diplomacy. What we really need is a true attempt at peaceful reconciliation, which apparently is something that Lipowski is not even willing to rationally consider. This article is not a serious rebuke of Israeli policy, rather, it is an explicit example that J-street's ad is truly correct in highlighting how desperately our country needs a wider discourse regarding how Israel, and the world, can achieve peaceful prosperity.
This discourse needs to be opened up, as the pitfalls of diplomacy (seen in the post-cease fire bombings) are NOT a repudiation of a non-military based strategy. Lipowski is merely calling to continue the failed policies of unending war promoted by the Bush administration, and the horror in Iraq should be a prime example of how such a strategy fairs in reality.