By Dan Fleshler | December 8, 2007
In a post that recounts an Israel Policy Forum dinner that I also attended (hat tip to Richard Witty), Philip Weiss describes his joy at discovering what has been available for years, waiting for him to encounter it: a community of American Jews who care about Israel, who consider themselves part of the Israel lobby in its broadest sense, who abhor the occupation as much as he does, and therefore want to press for the kind of active American diplomacy that will rescue both Palestinians and Israelis.
Among other things, Weiss declares his support for a 2-state solution after remaining agnostic about it. That, too, is heartwarming news for those of us who’ve been squabbling with American leftists who keep encouraging the unrealistic dream of a single bi-national state, and, in doing so, prolong Palestinian suffering by keeping alive the delusion that somehow the Jewish state will vanish. Some of these people, who congregate on Phil’s blog, are wont to pour out venom against anything and everything remotely connected to Israel and American Jewry, and in some cases resent and reject the very idea of a Jewish people. Here is Phil’s holiday gift:
There was throughout the evening the strong feeling…that Yes there is an Israel lobby, and it is many of the people in this room, and the time has come to take your foot off the breathing tube of the Palestinians. It was a wonderful evening because here was a strongly Jewish and Zionist audience but it was willing to hear from Arabs and Arabists. There was no noxious whiff of stinking neoconservatism the whole night. God bless. There was also the strong sense that without the American Jewish community allowing Washington to become more independent, this moment will be lost. Israelis and the Palestinians cannot do this on their own, they require muscling intervention…
…I have been to many Jewish leadership events where I am angered and saddened. At this one I was in tears. What a glory to my community that it is capable of such recognitions. There was an atmosphere of worldliness and real leadership at the event, and a feeling that Jews know that they are powerful in American society, and that brings responsibility, not self-regard…
…I was converted to the two state solution, with an asterisk. I never imbibed the Zionist dream; and the dream..of maintaining a Jewish state in part of Eretz Israel…is not something I really care about, or that I think most Americans ought to care about…And yet the real dream that realistic Americans must seize now is an end to the cycle of violence, a dream of regional cooperation and interdependence, and this was the imperative of the IPF event. Two states are a necessary step. Once the states are up and running, and the Palestinian doctors are working in Israeli hospitals and trucks of oranges are crossing the borders, and a road runs from Damascus to Jerusalem that all can drive on, idealists like myself will talk about a federated solution, but the IPF event was about leadership and opportunity, and let us celebrate the initiative.
Guess what, Phil. I also think that, eventually, a federated solution would make perfect sense. It used to be a respectable idea among the Zionists in Palestine. In the unlikely event that we ever arrive at the juncture you describe, I’ll join you on the idealists’ barricades. In the meantime, welcome home, my brother!