AIPAC American foreign policy American Jews Dan Fleshler Israel Israel lobby Israeli occupation Middle East peace process Palestinians Progressive Jews

Time for shameless self-promotion: advance blurbs on my book

Here are some advance reviews. Pretty cool, huh?

“This is a brilliant study of two intriguing contradictions pertaining to the story of America’s Israel lobby. One is the contradiction between the reality and limits of Jewish power, on the one hand, and the popular perception of that power, on the other. Another has to do with the yawning gap between the Israel lobby’s hawkish policies and the liberal views of the majority of American Jews. Fleshler’s work is a timely reminder of the need for Israel’s friends in America to focus their advocacy efforts on promoting one of Israel’s most vital, indeed existential, interests: advancing a two-state solution to its conflict with the Palestinians.”
–Shlomo Ben-Ami, former Israeli Foreign Minister, current Vice-President of the Toledo International Centre for Peace

“In the best tradition of the participant-observer, Dan Fleshler has written from the trenches where American Jews have been waging a struggle over the nature of and prospects for Arab-Israeli peace. Imbedded ideologues of the left and right are disarmed in his bold, original analysis and call to action. Readers who accompany Fleshler in his fascinating journey will discover the pragmatic idealism of an ethical, security-based dovishness that may yet help President Obama broker a secure peace between Israel and her Arab neighbors.”
— Mark Rosenblum, Professor of History, Director of the Jewish Studies Program & Director of the Michael Harrington Center for Democratic Values and Social Change, Queens College, City University of NY

“This informed analysis points out that the ‘conventional Israel lobby’ does not speak for the American Jewish majority on U.S. policy toward the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and does not promote the real interests of Israel or the United States. Dan Fleshler offers wise advice on how a dovish – but still too silent – majority of American Jews can strengthen the voice of progressive Jewish groups and encourage stronger U.S. leadership to help rescue Israel and America from a tragic conflict that gravely endangers our respective national interests.”
— Philip C. Wilcox, Jr., President, Foundation for Middle East Peace and former Chief of Mission and U.S. Consul General in Jerusalem

“An extraordinarily frank, courageous, and truly illuminating book. It dispels many myths while frankly exploring some perennial dilemmas faced by peace-seeking American Jews, and outlines a pro-peace, pro-Israel, and pro-American road forward for them to take. A genuine tour de force!”
— Sam Lewis, U.S. Ambassador to Israel under Presidents Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan

13 thoughts on “Time for shameless self-promotion: advance blurbs on my book

  1. So, you have two goyish diplomats, one Israeli diplomat and one American Jew who runs a Jewish Studies program AND has something to do with Michael Harrington, my hero..I’d buy the book just because of the identity of the reviewers. Mazel tov!

  2. I saw on the site that you referred to in the e-mail, that the book won’t be available for purchase until May.

  3. Not having read the book, but being familiar with the arguments of anti-AIPAC people like Bernard Avishai, Richard Silverstein and MJ Rosenberg, I am forced to ask the question of “what is it to be a ‘pro-Israeli’ American? In the comments Dan brings in this piece we see an American diplomat (Wilcox) say that AIPAC “does not represent Israel’s ‘real’ interests”, and that supposedly American Jews do not view AIPAC as supporting their presumably ‘dovish’ views.

    The question is this: Who decides what Israel’s interests are? What does it mean to be “pro-Israel”? Wilcox is not an Israeli-his views on what Israel’s interests are not necessarily those of the Israeli gov’t or population. Yet he wants to convince American Jews that HE knows what is best for Israel, not its own people. It has been pointed out that today, in the US, EVERYONE is “pro-Israel”, even those like Jimmy Carter, Walt and Mearsheimer and others who curse Israel every day and are constantly pouring fire and brimstone on it, and like Carter, doing things like justifying suicide bombings against it. In other words, if you say “I don’t think the Jews should be thrown into the sea”, you are then considered “pro-Israel” by the “progressive” camp.
    But Israelis don’t view things this way. Israel has security and other interests that outsiders, who may call themselves “pro-Israel” aren’t aware of or don’t care about. For example, some of these “pro-Israel” people have said the indiscriminate rocket attacks by HAMAS in Gaza which have been going on for eight years is not a sufficient reason to go to war as Israel did a few weeks ago. These “pro-Israel” people say that not enough Israelis have died in the attacks, even though hundreds of thousands of people have been forced to run to shelters FOR YEARS and have seen their lives ruined by this. As an Israeli, someone who tells me “I love you, I just think you had better learn to live with these attacks” does NOT have my best interests at heart. Maybe someone like Jimmy Carter really has another agenda, like keeping Arab oil money pouring into his foundation? Is that what is really important for him, or Israel’s interests?

    The next question is then, where does American Jewry stand in this? I have seen polls showing American Jews attitudes towards question like whether the Arabs really want peace with Israel, whether Jerusalem should be divided and what should be the status of the settlements are not much different than those of Israelis. For example, when Olmert proposed dividing Jerusalem a few months ago, polls showed Israelis overwhelmingly opposing this and also a somewhat smaller majority of American Jews also opposing it. Yet we keep hearing that American Jews are “overwhelmingly dovish”. I am not convinced of this. AIPAC is not a “right-wing” organization-it basically follows the line of the Israeli gov’t. If there is a right-wing Israeli gov’t in power, they are not going to openly oppose its policies. Similary, when the Rabin-Peres gov’t pushed the (disastrous) Oslo Agreements, they supppoted as well.
    Most American Jews are not well-informed about what is going on in Israel…they are prepared to follow the lead of the Israeli gov’t. What the “progressives” are demanding is that an American Administration IMPOSE conditions on Israel, up to the point of threatening punitive sanctions on Israel. The “progressives” are demanding that Israeli make concessions that endanger is security and vital interests (“for its own good”-of course). I DO NOT BELIEVE AMERICAN JEWRY WILL ACCEPT THIS. I do not believe American Jewry will support an American adminstration that threatens Israel. I do not believe that American Jewry will support an American administration that panders to Islamic terror. Do not forget that Israel has solid support in the general population, OUTSIDE the Jewish community. Polls showed solid support in the American public for Israel in the recent war, in spite of its controversial nature. They would not support an American Adminstration that is punishing what they view as a staunch, democratic ally to the benefit of corrupt, radical, extremist, Islamic regimes that oppose American values (and both FATAH and HAMAS are in this category).
    I have no doubt American Jewry stands with Israel and those in the “progressive” camp who are trying to drive a wedge to divide the two will fail.

  4. Not all of your generalizations fit, Y Ben David.

    And that is one dilemma of your perspective, that it is equally a generalization as those that you propose to confront.

    If you read back here, on Richard Silverstein’s Tikun Olam, Mondoweiss, elsewhere, you will hopefully notice that I in particular stated that responding to unilateral shelling on civilians by force is rational.

    As one of those that inquire from a distance, I cannot accurately say that the response by military force was the only option that Israel had, or that it was the best option, or that it was carried out clearly and effectively, or that the scope and extent of it was excessive.

    I’m not a “war crimes” accuser, though I do agree that it is possible that there were violations of Geneva conventions for example in the conduct of the war.

    I do say that on the merits of the options available to Israel, the Arab League proposal, 67 borders, is the most rational of any that I’ve heard.

    It accomplishes permanent legitimacy for Israeli, isolates Iran (and then Hezbollah), eliminates any validity extremists in Gaza. It facilitates a regional cultural and trade zone, that Israel is now isolated from.

    It is MORE defensible than the maze.

    And, it is more just. It REALIZES a “good neighbor to good neighbor” relationship between Israel and Palestine (or at least makes it possible).

    It clarifies borders, and also then serves to clarify acts of war from threats or geo-political manuevering. It confirms the role of STATES as the predominant social/political responsible entity, rather than odd amalgams of militias that triangulate rather than negotiate.

    That is in Israel’s interest. The only angle of “Israel’s interest” that it does not accomplish is the goal to annex all of the West Bank incrementally.

  5. The Introduction to my book is now posted on Potomac’s web site, so you can find out a bit more about what I’m up to. Y Ben David, you leave out an important question: what is in America’s interests? I am an American and some of my identity is wrapped up in Israel and the Jewish people. Do you think Americans –Jewish or non-Jewish– have no “right” to weigh in on this conflict?

  6. Y Ben David

    These “pro-Israel” people say that not enough Israelis have died in the attacks, even though hundreds of thousands of people have been forced to run to shelters FOR YEARS and have seen their lives ruined by this. As an Israeli, someone who tells me “I love you, I just think you had better learn to live with these attacks” does NOT have my best interests at heart.

    That’s a straw man, Y Ben David, nobody in their right minds says “learn to live with it” or that Israel is not justified in protecting its citizens. You know it but purposefully distort the message (not for the first time…)

  7. Dan-
    You are absolutely correct to point out that it is vital for both the US and Israel to clarify where their interests diverge. No two countries have identical interests. For example, even in the Second World War, Britain (or at least Churchill) not only fought to defeat German and
    Japanese fascism and agression, but also to preserve the British Empire. Their Soviet and American allies were opposed to this. I have heard the following quote attributed to De Gaulle “there are no permanent allies, only permanent interests”.
    The United States wants to strengthen its Arab allies in the Middle East, but countries in this category, like Saudi Arabia and Egypt, are hostile to various degrees to Israel and there is always the possibility that the weaopons the Americans provide to them might be used against Israel.

    However, definition of America’s interests in the Middle East are certainly subject to debate within the US within its democratic framework. For example, people like Joe Kennedy, Charles Lindbergh and the “America Firsters” were saying that the Jews were trying to drag the US into war with Nazi Germany against its interests, which supposedly, in their eyes, did not clash with those of Nazi Germany. There was a vigorous debate on the issue, and by early 1941, public opinion had come to the point of rejecting much of their claims in order to allow for the passage of the Lend-Lease Act which paved the way for massive military aid to Great Britain, short of actual US involvement in the War (Hitler ended up solving the problem of galvanizing American support for direct involvement in combat by declaring war on the US after Pearl Harbor).

    So too, Israel’s position in the Middle East. One can say the US should support the creation of a Palestinian state, but if that means supporting a corrupt, violent terrorist leader like Arafat, American public opinion may decide that that is not the way forward. Some may say that “the settlements are an obstacle to peace”, others, like myself say they are an essential ingredient in paving the way for an eventual peace because destroying them encourages the Arabs to think that Israel is falling apart and will continue to make concessions even after a withdrawal to the pre-67 borders.
    It is this debate that American Jews can participate in, and we Israelis have the right to weigh in on the discussion by providing the proper information.

  8. It no longer matters what Jews do or say on Israel.

    It’s fast forwarded beyond the Jews. It’s now on the average American’s radar…and we don’t like it.

    This is America, this isn’t Israel.

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