Thursday, July 12, 2012

J Street Attacks Walsh's One-Stateism

J Street has released ads attacking Rep. Joe Walsh (R-IL) for supporting a one-state solution to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict (apparently parallel ads are up attacking Rep. Allen West as well). This is a tactic I've been urging for some time now. But while I like the concept, I think the execution needs work -- as the ad language is still too defensive for my tastes.

I don't think the ad emphasizes enough the consensus view amongst mainstream Jews that such plan means the end of Israel -- not a bigger Israel. And at the end, when it says that supporting one state "isn’t pro-Israel", I'd instead have said "is anti-Israel". In general, I think political rhetoric is strongest when it takes as a given the point it is trying to make, rather than make it seem like the point of controversy. The ad here should have acted as if it is simply accepted that to be a one-stater is to be anti-Israel (easy to do, given the plethora of quotes by respected Jewish groups saying just that), and then flambé Rep. Walsh for his anti-Israel views.

Part of the problem is that J Street has been framing this campaign as trying to cut against the norm of "Israel right or wrong". But good project or not, here the Israeli government isn't wrong -- as the ad points out, the Israeli government has consistently stated that the two-state solution is the solution it wants. It's Walsh who has decided to stake out a position critical of the Israeli government and most Israelis and Jews, so why shouldn't he get the (mostly fabled, but still) "classic" treatment that people "critical of Israel" are said to get?

This ad hits Republicans on Israel "from the left", and that's important. But it could have been more visceral about hitting Republicans for being anti-Israel from the left -- thus helping bring back a form of genuine progressive pro-Israel politics as well as documenting the way in which conservative Republican stances on Israel are hostile to many of Israel's core values and security concerns.

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