Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Pro-Israel Groups Silent as One-State Goes Mainstream

Following South Carolina and the RNC, the Florida state legislature just passed a resolution calling for a one-state solution. Specifically, the resolution disavows that Israel is "an occupier of the lands of others", instead affirming its right to jurisdiction over the West Bank and Gaza and proclaiming "that peace can be afforded the region only through a whole and united Israel governed under one law for all people." Which is another way of saying one-stateism.

The anti-Zionists at Mondoweiss are crowing, and why shouldn't they? This rash of one-state support is easily the highest-profile domestic victory they've ever seen. The ADL and AJC, among others, have denounced one-stateism as inherently anti-Israel. But it is rapidly becoming mainstream, with these resolutions leading the charge.

What might be most remarkable, though, is that essentially all the main players are effectively admitting that they simply weren't thinking too hard about Israel's best interests. Responding to the objection that he was forwarding a one-state agenda, Alan Clemmons (author of the South Carolina resolution) stated that "This document was drafted over a period of hours, not months, in an exercise of exorcising my own concerns with President Obama over advocating that Israel abandon Judea, Samaria, and East Jerusalem." He continued: "this resolution was passed as a symbol and it truly is little more than a symbol. I don’t pretend to know what the best answer is with respect to the voting issue in Judea and Samaria, and in Israel for that matter." A Florida Democratic co-sponsor conceded that "I did not focus on [the one-state call" and ventured that "If it’s anything other than support for the State of Israel, then I would say shame on us for signing on."

Even (well, "even") the right-wing Zionist Organization of America, which was the prime mover behind these resolutions, admits that it doesn't actually know what it was advocating. Talking about the the "one law for all people" clause, ZOA President Mort Klein admitted "It’s not so clear what it means. I remember struggling with that phrase. It was not written very clearly." (Of course, the problem is actually that it is written too clearly, and too clearly indicates that ZOA prefers a one-state solution to the conflict compared to the two-state paradigm which ZOA's Joe Sabag declared "is not working").

What is going on here? Well, at one level, it is another indicator of Zionism becoming post-Jewish, as what counts as "pro-Israel" becomes ever more divorced from how Jews think of the issue. Instead, Zionism becomes a talking point right- and left-wing agitators who neither know nor care about Jewish values or interests. Essentially none of the proponents of this resolution were actually willing to defend its text; most candidly admitted that it was an attempt at symbolic support for Israel, agnostic to any particular policy paradigm. But of course, the last thing Israel needs is empty symbolism -- what it needs is friends who care about it and are willing to fight to make sure it stays secure as a Jewish democratic homeland. That's a policy priority for most Jews, but it's not for the new gentile "Zionism" and their token Jewish allies in ZOA. For these so-called Zionists, the important thing isn't whether Zionism lives or dies, it's whether one demonstrated fealty to the right "symbol". That sort of "support" is worse than worthless -- it is disgraceful and should have no place in the pro-Israel community.

At another level, it shows the weakness of mainstream Jewish institutions like the ADL and AJC. It is notable that while these groups were able to react swiftly and decisively to a one-state conference hosted by fringe leftists, they've been virtually silent about its growing hold on mainstream American political institutions (particularly on the right). Obviously, there's a reason for that: The AJC has more than enough clout to take on a few radical academic types, but nowhere near the influence to be able to comfortably check the entirety of the Republican Party.

For all the claims at the massive power and influence of The Israel Lobby(tm), for the most part it is successful because it advocates positions which are overwhelmingly popular amongst the public and amongst mainstream politicians. It is a rare situation where pro-Israel groups are forced to frontally challenge a mainstream political position -- but of course, the prospect of an anti-Israel position becoming mainstream is precisely why it is so important that we have these sorts of groups. So where are there? Cowering. The AJC, the ADL, AIPAC, these groups don't have the spine to challenge the right's push to mainstream one-stateism. Remember what happened when the ADL tried to take on Mike Huckabee? So while the AJC and ADL should be coming out with statements lambasting Florida, South Carolina, the RNC, and ZOA (which frankly should be drummed out of the pro-Israel tent as the right-wing equivalent of the JVP for this heresy), they'll remain silent -- and Israel's security will suffer for it.

Israel is in a very precarious situation right now, and this whole scenario illustrates just how dangerous things are. Its "friends" are, by their own admission, more concerned with empty symbolism than actually securing Israel's future. Its stateside political veneer is, more and more, falling under sway of a radically anti-Israel position that has as its inevitable end the destruction of Israel as a Jewish, democratic state. And the American Jewish community -- tasked with protecting Israel from that fate --can't muster up the courage to draw a line in the sand and say that this is all a bridge too far. It's disgraceful, and true friends of Israel won't forget their failure.

1 comment:

David said...

With respect to SC, I think us two-staters should query whether SC GOP would endorse a West-Bank secession following a West-Bank annexation.