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Who cares who represents the “American Jewish majority?”

Is it more important for American Jewish peace groups to prove that they speak for most American Jews, or to be right? I vote for the latter.

Last week, sighs of relief could be heard in the organized American Jewish establishment. A new American Jewish Committee poll showed that a majority of American Jews favored a U.S attack on Iran, did not want Obama to pressure Israel on settlements and leaned to the right on some issues. The poll also showed that Jews in the U.S. leaned leftward on other issues. But both James Besser of New York Jewish Week and –to a lesser extent– the JTA’s Eric Fingerhut focused on the extent to which the poll shows that groups like J Street are out of touch with the American Jewish majority. Here is Besser:

The finding that 51 percent disagree with the Obama administration’s call for a `stop to all new Israeli settlement construction’ stands in contrast to earlier polls by J Street, the pro-peace process lobby and political action committee, which were interpreted as showing strong Jewish support for U.S. pressure on Israel to advance the peace process, and other surveys showing limited sympathy for settlers and settlements…

In a barb probably aimed mostly at the upstart J Street, the AJC’s Harris said that, taken together, the poll results reveal that “the ideologically driven groups with a specific agenda — whether on the right or the left — are misrepresenting the totality of the Jewish community’s views. They are either cherry picking data that reinforces their particular perspective or framing questions to get the answers they seek.”

His group’s survey, he said, shows “a continuing, clear and continuous centrism, with American Jews tilting to the left on some issues and tilting to the right on others. The suggestion that groups that represent the center are somehow fossilized is shattered by these results.”

I have played the “who speaks for the American Jewish majority” game for many years. Indeed, my book trots out polls that show how, over the years, the conventional Israel lobby has been out of step with the more dovish Jewish majority in the U.S. New polls will no doubt show shifts in Jewish public opinion on this or that issue in the coming months and years.

The truth is that sponsoring a provocative or newsworthy poll is a great way to wedge your organization into the news, and that is one of the main reasons why we are deluged with surveys about everything under the sun. The day after the 1992 American presidential elections, in one of my former agencies, a brilliant p.r. rep for 1-800-Mattres orchestrated a phone poll. It showed that most voters watched the election results while lying in bed, and many wished they were more comfortable. It got massive coverage.

Polls that gauge American Jewish opinion are not comparably frivolous. But I have come to believe that too much energy is now wasted on survey data that are used as weapons in the battle over who speaks for most of the Jewish community (or who has the right to speak for that community). That battle has been going on for many decades, as I also showed in my book. This is one soldier who is tired of fighting it.

What’s the difference if, four months from now, another poll shows that an even lower percentage of the community likes what Obama is doing? What’s the difference if a minority of Jews agree with those of us who support J Street, Americans for Peace Now, Israel Policy Forum, Brit Tzedek v’Shalom and Ameinu? Who cares? If 80% of my community wanted to ally itself with Avigdor Lieberman, I would fight even harder to ensure that American elected officials hear from those who oppose him.

I am not engaged on these issues because I want to “represent” anyone. The American Jewish community is not a democracy. The organizations that weigh in on foreign policy issues were not elected by anyone. Collectively, they speak for the small minority of Jews who care enough about these issues to contact a politician or donate to campaigns or go to a conference –whether it is AIPAC’s or J Street’s. Israel is a comparatively low priority for most Jewish voters in the U.S. Those who feel strongly enough about stopping a disastrous occupation should not worry whether “most Jews” are with us. We should worry about making enough noise to show the Obama team they have enough political leeway to be bold and evenhanded.

It’s important to show that the policies of the past are “fossilized,” not the organizations that support them.

53 thoughts on “Who cares who represents the “American Jewish majority?”

  1. I am glad to see that you are much more realistic than some of your fellow “progressive” commentators. However, Congressmen are political animals and even if you give them a beautiful pitch calling for pressure on Israel and you even convince them that this is supposedly good for Israel and the US, they still are going to want to guage what the folks back home are thinking because they are the voters. The majority of strongly pro-Israel voters are NON-Jews and now that the polls are confirming what I have stated here numerous times which is that the majority of American Jews accept the Israeli government’s positions and do not want to see the US pressuring Israel to carry out policies in contradiction to this, and the Congressman is going to have to give significant weight to this. Thus, it DOES matter what the majority thinks.

  2. It does matter what constituencies think, but the proof of a policy is not measured in days or quarters.

    So, towards a good strategy, an executive needs to measure his/her success by the outcome, with metrics and milestones for comparison, but not for authority.

    The two-state solution is the only fair one in this context, and if Israeli leaders and electorate are not smart or able enough to create the conditions by which that is possible, then it does take US and European help and/or intervention.

    In the case of Israel/Palestine, the settlement expansion is so clearly THE critical issue, that dissenters and the US and Palestinians should put their weight into that (majority or not).

    The importance of cessation of settlement expansion is critical (including in East Jerusalem) for two reasons:

    1. It CLEARLY indicates intent to live as good neighbor peers.

    2. At some near time, the presence of integrated Jerusalem suburbs objectively prohibits the viability of a Palestine with even an integral major population center in Jerusalem, certainly not a capital.

    The Bantustan plan of Netanyahu (not quite annexation of all of the West Bank) will not stand permanently. It will result in war or effective BDS, and of a larger scale than Hamas vs Israel. (If BDS is large-scale it will extend beyond Hamas control, influence, and Hamas’ presence will be submerged in an international movement: anarchist “led”, NOT Hamas “led”).

    The annexation plan formerly of Begin, would stand permanently, but yeild to the pressures for one-person one-vote.

    So, the only option that permanently retains Zionism is the two viable state plan.

    I’m curious as to Yakov’s impressions as to which he prefers.

    I hope you had a pleasant Sukkos. We got rained on.

  3. “In the case of Israel/Palestine, the settlement expansion is so clearly THE critical issue, that dissenters and the US and Palestinians should put their weight into that (majority or not).”

    Personally, I would revise this to say:

    In the case of Israel/Palestine, settlement expansion along with Palestinian refusal to negotiate a real peace unless it includes “right of return”–is so clearly THE critical issue, that dissenters and the US and Palestinians should put their weight into that (majority or not).

  4. Btw–who but the Israelis (and maybe the Americans mezzo mezzo) are putting the political squeeze on Palestinians?

    Why is the focus squarely on settlements?


  5. Dan,

    Polls are used because since we live in the present we cannot have history’s verdict of which side is right today. In a democracy being a majority is considered the equivalent of being right.

    But the more problematic issue is how to define the Jewish community. Probably at least a third of halakhic Jews are unaffiliated. The Orthodox don’t recognize converts by non-Orthodox denominations as Jews. So politicians are left with contradictory information and generally leave it up to anyone who self-identifies as a Jew is a Jew.

    No one is putting the squeeze on the Palestinians because we lack any leverage over those who need to be squeezed. If we brought in the Europeans they would have more leverage.

  6. Here is an interesting article about yet another attempt to create a “Sesame Street” children’s TV show for Palestinian kids (an earlier version was made in the heady days of the Oslo Agreements in cooperation with Israel TV). Note all the difficultes. Note that the producers feel it is important to pretend that Israel doesn’t exist, and the classic Palestinian grievances and self-pity be reinforced, even at the expense of offering the Palestinian kids a better future.

    Also note what HAMAS has on its children’s TV programs.

  7. Yeah, nobody puts the squeeze on Palestinians but Israel and America. That’s kind of like saying nothing holds me on the earth but gravity.

  8. From the Sesame Street article:

    “The Palestinians didn’t want to show Israel’s flag or state colors or kids wearing yarmulkes. The Israelis didn’t want to see the Palestinian flag or Muppets wearing kaffiyehs. Khalil Abu Arafeh, the head writer for the Palestinian show at the time, gravely recalled that “the issue of hummus and falafel was very heated.” (Both sides considered the dishes to be “their” food.)”

    Sounds like muppet material to me. haha!

    Maybe if the Muppets can resolve these 2 issues on a children’s show…the grown ups can get it together. *rolling eyes)

  9. Tom–re: squeeze on Palestinians…you pretty much summed up why Israel has taken matters into its own hands and will resolve the issue as sees fit.

    Perhaps that’s the way it always has to be in these kinds of struggles…

  10. Also from the article:

    “As Layla Sayegh, who supervises the day-to-day operations of “Simsim,” explained it to me, “We tried to show only segments that didn’t have anything recognizably Israeli in them.” She said she selected Israeli segments with animals or Arab-Israelis. Sayegh lamented that this meant passing over some great material. “The Israelis did one about recycling, and it was absolutely fantastic, but at the end they showed a truck with Hebrew lettering,” she said.”

    Am I lacking some basic understanding of editing here? Couldn’t they simply have edited to replace the Hebrew lettering with Arabic lettering?

    This seems like an accurate metaphor of Palestinian boneheadedness in the way they deal with Israel.

    Mindboggling. Frustrating. Donkey-brained.

  11. I agree with much of what you say, but it is important for those of us who disagree with our unelected “Jewish leaders” to continually point out that they don’t speak for us. Otherwise this acquiescence confers legitimacy to extreme views. It is also not healthy for non-Jews to believe we are monolithic in our views. Quite the reverse happens to be the reality.

  12. There is great diversity of impression of “those unelected that speak for us”.

    It is as much a tyrrany to assume that all will speak in politically correct terms, as to assume that all leaders speak in some conspiratorial pro-Zionist line.

  13. Here is proof of what I have maintained for a long time….that it is the “peace process” itself that CAUSES violence. Obama humiliated Abbas twice recently, first in making Abbas meet Netanyahu without getting Netanyahu to capitulate to Obama’s demands for a settlement freeze, then Obama pressured the PA to withdraw the Goldstone report from the UN committee. Thus, Abbas now feels he needs to instigate violence in order to “save face”. This is sick, Obama in effect, PROVOKES violence in order to pretend that there is a “peace process”.

  14. I’m shocked to my bone marrow that David Harris’s poll (based on a sample of 800) reflects the circa 1972 views of David Harris.

    The AJC was not representative of the community when it opposed boycotting the Germans in 1934 or when it opposed creating a Jewish state.

    It is just as wrong now when it advocates maintaining the occupation at all costs.

    The good news. Harris is not reflective at all of the AJC people I’ve met. They are post-’67 Jews, happily comfortable in America and not terrified for Israel’s future.

    How did Zionism get stood on its head so that the most Zionistic are also the most terrified? For Harris it will always be 1942. Sad.

  15. Ya’akov,
    You’d be crying if the report had not been withdrawn; you just want an excuse to criticize Obama and the peace process.

  16. Suzanne,
    But Israel has always opposed giving a role in the peace process to Europe. This is because Israel wants a process that it can dominate. Just as the unionists in NI wanted to keep Ireland out of the peace process there originally. Israel is more comfortable with a war process than with a peace process because its politicians have more experience with the former than with the latter.

  17. Tom,
    Of course I’m happy that the report was withdrawn, at least for the time being. My point is that Obama doesn’t have a clue what is happening here and what the consequences of his actions will be. All he can see is the old, fossilized slogans about “the peace process” and how he, like so many of his predecessors, think he can become a hero by “making peace” which is impossible and which is actually destructive.

    I saw part of an interview with Goldstone by Michael Lerner. Lerner asked Goldstone if it is not unfair to pick on Israel for doing things other, bigger countries do as well (US in Iraq, Afghanistan, Russia in Chechneya, Turkey in Kurdistan) and he admitted that that was true “but we have to start somewhere” so he decided Israel will be his first victim. All this proves to me is that the world will NOT allow Goldstone to be implemented becuase once the precedent is set, THEIR heads will be on the chopping block in the future, as much as it is fun to bash Israel now.

  18. Ya’akov,

    Just keep telling yourself that. This didn’t stop the UN from passing the anti-Zionist “Zionism is Racism” resolution of 1975. China and other countries regard Israel as a special case like South Africa before 1994.

    By the way what modern slogans do you use? “Jordan is Palestine” perhaps?

  19. Tom,

    So the UN passed the “Zionism minus Racism equals Zero” resolution. Did that hurt us or something? Israel grew and thrived and it gave a BIG boost to the Judea/Samaria settlement movement (the Rabin gov’t gave the first authorizations for settlements in the Shomron as a direct response to the UN Declaration, just as the Khartoum Resolutions of August 1967 [the famous “Three Noes”] led to the establishment of the first settlements in Judea at Kfar Etzion).
    China and most of the rest of the world couldn’t care less about Goldstone, settlements, the Palestinians, etc. Most people know it is the Arabs who refuse to make peace.

    I don’t use slogans. I don’t believe in “solutions” of which “Jordan is Palestine” is one. Neither the Jordanians or Palestinians would ever agree to it on an official basis. There is no “solution” to the Arab/Israeli conflict. There is only the aspirations for a modus-vivendi which is slowly evolving now, as we speak, and which will really only get moving when the phony “peace process”, which is destructive, as I have shown, is finally dead and buried.

  20. There is a problem that many international institutions are more factional than just or competent.

    But, there is a big problem on the Israeli side with how this was addressed. The Goldstone report presented a great many incidents and patterns that strongly indicated LAX military standards on the part of Israel, particularly as it effected the formation of policy originally (a repeat of the Lebanon embarrassment), communication of policy to operational objectives, use of weapons, targeting decisions, on-the-ground incidental decisions by officers and soldiers (indicating lapses in training).

    For Israel to ignore that information, is partially to state publicly “We don’t want to conduct our military affairs to the highest levels of effectiveness and adherence to law that we have committed to – by signing the Geneva conventions.”

    The peace process is critical. The alternative is to rationalize crime on Israel’s part (the crime of land expropriation) and suppression of the democratic (and Torah) drive to optimize self-governance.

    The rejection of any peace process reveals the rejection of Torah, prophets, halacha, in favor of the trivial.

    Its good to see past hollow slogans. Its a mediocrity to fail to create a better alternative.

    Israel’s current administration may “win”, but it is cornering Israel. Its a great tragedy of imagination.

  21. “There is no “solution” to the Arab/Israeli conflict. There is only the aspirations for a modus-vivendi which is slowly evolving now, as we speak, and which will really only get moving when the phony “peace process”, which is destructive, as I have shown, is finally dead and buried.”

    I think this argument deserves to be heard and examined. Doesn’t mean I’m buying it…but I’m not dismissing it wholesale either.

    Yaakov is there…he is living it. Thus what he says DOES have gravitas in my eyes.

  22. “Israel is more comfortable with a war process than with a peace process because its politicians have more experience with the former than with the latter.”

    Ditto for this argument. It merits discussion and analysis. It could very well be true.

    My question is this…does the Israeli public think it has enough of stomach to withstand perpetual low level war? (while continuing to grow and prosper) How does this fit in with the argument that both sides are worn out?

    And what is the reward for Israel? Expansion?

  23. Yakov is isolated within his own community, by law and probably by custom.

    He can’t know what the other thinks unconditionally or conditionally.

    There is information in self-talk, in that hopefully there is logic and a roadmap to sensitivities and concerns.

    Others that are similarly on the ground, have entirely different impressions than Yakov.

    There is a poster on Mondoweiss that I know personally, Harvey Stein, who produces films “the Heart of the Other”. Dan ran a post on him.

    He states differently to me than Yakov.

  24. Richard, you don’t know me so don’t go around making assumptions about me and what I think.

    Sure there are Israelis who disagree with me. But the majority more or less agrees with me. This was not the case in the heyday of the Oslo fraud, when too many Israelis fell for the propaganda of the Oslo gang (Peres, Beilin, Pundak, etc), but most have sobered up.
    It is you who are maintaining the delusions of peace with your eternal handwringing and one-sided attacks (e.g. settlers have “land lust” but the ‘progressive’ professors of Tel Aviv Univesity whom are sitting on stolen Arab land belonging to the former Arab village of Sheikh Munis aren’t).
    You should note also this recent poll by the American Jewish Committee that showed that a large majority of American Jews don’t believe the Arabs really want peace with Israel but simply want to get rid of us. They also understand. The problem is that you don’t.

  25. Richard-
    After pondering your comment that I “am isolated in my community and by custom”, I finally realized you don’t have the faintest idea what you are talking about. You are extrapolating your very limited contact with HABAD to thinking you know what sort of milieu I am part of since I also define myself as “Orthodox/Religious”.
    I was not born into this, I come from a traditionalist/Conservative family in California.
    I, unlike the HABAD people, do not follow a Rebbe, do not live in a closed community, I think for myself as do most of the other people who more or less agree with my views. I work for an Israeli government company, most of whose employees are not religious, including some far-out Leftists. A few months ago, the company gave us a guided tour of the Old City of Jerusalem…over and over I heard the non-religious members of the group saying “it is insanity to think of dividing Jerusalem or handing over parts of the Old City to the control of other parties!”.

    I suggest you do take on yourself (as I have attempted) a comprehensive study of Zionism, the history of the Middle East and a good understanding of traditional Judaism. Then come back and tell us what you think.

  26. Yakov,
    You also project an imagination on my views.

    In describing you as isolated culturally and politically, I was describing the limited contact that you have with Arabs, those that you claim to know what they think.

    My sense is that Arabs think conditionally. IF, they are treated as people, then they will treat as people. If they are cornered into enclaves with extremely limited rights (except within the few hundred square miles of their authorized travel), then they will rebel.

    My criticism of your views, and the basis for them, is much more a criticism of you personally, than a projection of any imagined ideology.

    I personally regard the renunciation of efforts for peace to be a betrayal of Judaism.

    You’ve stated frequently that “Arabs don’t want to accept Jews or Israel”, but ignored that Egypt and Jordan have treaties with Israel (comprising 1/2 of the Israeli/Arab frontier). Under Netanyahu, those treaties are slowly (but consistently) unraveling.

    It is NOT a more defensible condition to have the entire Israeli frontier again one of deferred state of war.

    You have retained the 1946 hope of Zionism from river to sea, rather than the current rational hope of Zionism of completion of treaty with all of the Arab and Islamic states, to the point of diplomatic relations even if with tensions.

  27. “Palestinian boneheadedness”
    Not meaning to offend, Suzanne, but do you ever have anything decent to say about the “other side”.

  28. Don-
    Official Arab (i.e. Palestinian, Egyptian, Jordanian and other Arab countries) propaganda demonizes Jews and more or less calls for the genocidal elimination of Israel. This is considered a war crime by the UN. That is a good example of “boneheadedness”.
    Michael Slackman, journalist of the New York Times who has been based in Egypt repeatedly reported that Egyptians blame all problems of their country on “the Jews”. This is another example of “boneheadedness”.

  29. “Not meaning to offend, Suzanne, but do you ever have anything decent to say about the “other side”.”

    In fact I do! (this is about Arabs in general, not Palestinians in particular). Strong families, generous hosts, good head for business, great music, great food–and the ones who don’t hate Jews or the West are a pleasure to be around.

    Any other questions?

  30. Ya’akov,

    This is kind of off of the present subject, but I few threads bad you noted that Lehi had a strong Communist component. What is your basis for this statement? I know that Lehi had a strong Canaanite component, but this is hardly Communist.

  31. Suzanne,

    No further questions, court recess (nice answer, btw).

    Mr. Ben-David,

    “demonizing Jews and genocidal elimination”…this phenomenon…leaves me pretty much speechless (one of the few things that does, actually). I have tried to study the Israeli-Palestinian issue intensively, but for the most part (not entirely) confined my reading to Jewish authors.

    And looking back on it (I started this almost 10 years ago…I am struggling to remember what led to that approach) I guess I did this (focused on Jewish authors) partly because some of the criticism of Israel I had come across struck me as “a little strange”; sometimes…”a lot strange.”

  32. Tom-
    This is something a friend of mine who is an expert in these matters told me. He said Yitzhak Shamir was one of the strong pro-Soviet LEHI people.
    If you recall the thread Dan had a few weeks ago in which he posted an article the late Amos Keinan wrote after the Six-Day War , Keinan, a former LEHI man, wrote how much he wanted to identify with the struggles of Castro’s Cuba, North Vietnam and other Communist countries, but the vehement anti-Israel propaganda of the Communist bloc repelled him, so here is an anecdotal example. Here is the link:

    One of the leaders of LEHI, Natan Yellin-Mor moved sharply to the Left after the creation of the state:

    Also see:

    Recall that the LEHI, unlike the ETZEL was not a political movement, but simply an eclectic group of people that believed in using violence against the British occupiers, so Communists interested in an anti-imperialist struggle could feel at home there, just as radical Haredim did.

  33. Ya’akov,
    Shamir was for a time pro-Soviet because he was attracted in totalitarian powers, not because he believed in Marxism. Yellin-Mor moved in a Canaanite direction, as did Yonatan Ratosh. Actually Lehi started out as the activist wing within Etzel, so it was people from a Revisionist background. Later on it added others from other backgrounds because it seemed to be the most active of the undergrounds from 1942-44. I remember reading a rival columnist who wrote that Keinan was present at Deir Yassin and “wasn’t among the vegetarians.” But was Keinan part of a faction or just an individual who went his own way afterwards?

  34. Ya’akov,

    I read the Wikipedia article and didn’t find anything about Marxism or Communism. I also read Heller’s book and Shamir’s memoirs and neither mentioned anything about Communism. Heller wrote that the Fighters’ List was pro-Soviet in 1949-50 largely in the same sense that Lehi had been pro-Nazi in 1940-41.

  35. Tom-
    I’m not exactly sure what your point was. Were many LEHI people “Marxist-Leninist” or merely pro-Soviet socialists? I can’t answer this and I don’t know what it is you are trying to find out.
    Avraham Stern, founder of the LEHI left the ETZEL because he opposed their cease-fire with the British at the beginning of World War II, but he also opposed parts of the ETZEL-Revisionist political ideology. Stern was not anti-socialist as were the Revisionists and for this reason, the Kibbutz movement (aligned with Ben-Gurion’s MAPAI) was willing to give him sanctuary if he gave up his war with the British, whereas they had murderous hatred of the ETZEL people.

  36. Stern strikes me more as a romantic nationalist than as anything else. My point, besides probing to see how much you actually know about Lehi, is that you have a tendency to throw how labels that don’t necessarily bear the weight of the evidence against them. But you still have a long way to go to be in the same category with MM.

  37. Suzanne, positive stereotypes do not excuse negative ones. In fact, marginalized people are often uncomfortable with them because they are so often linked to negative ones. This is why you wouldn’t say to a black person “you guys are more athletic than whites”, because you are acknowledging one half of the typical caricature that also paints them as dumb.

    On this blog you have referred to Arabs as dishonest, so I’m not being academic here. Eschewing stereotypical thinking is the best way to go, and without that its not possible to have a productive conversation.

  38. Robin–whatever.

    What I find more patronizing and racist is your ambulance chasing insistence at seeing Arabs as weak, vulnerable and in need of your rescue.

    The stereotypes of them running through your mind are probably laughable and embarrassingly earnest.

    So feel free to sod off.

  39. We had a nice day yesterday…we went on a Sukkot holiday trip to one of the most important and impressive archaeological sites in the country at Shomron, also known as Samaria and Sebastiyah near Shechem (Nablus). (Bear with me, what I am writing here is relevant to the theme of this web-site) The whole Shomron-Samaria region later took its name from this town. It was the capital of the biblical Northern Kingdom of Israel after the division of the united kingdom which occurred under Solomon’s son Rehavam. The town was built up as the capital of the Northern Kingdom by the king Omri who was followed by the famous Ahav (Ahab-husband of Jezebel). What is really impressive is that during archaeological excavations in the 1920’s they unearthed the royal palace and they were able to positively identify the large structure as the palace because they found many expensive ivory pieces of artwork there in addition to an extensive group of taxation documents written in the ancient Hebrew script which was used then but is not used any more. Thus, more than almost any other place in Israel we can identify the exact location where famous Biblical incidents occurred, such as where the prophet Elijah denounced Ahav to his face and the location of the vineyard of Navot the Jezreelite which Ahav wanted and which Jezebel
    plotted to get for her husband by murdering Navot.

    In addition to these excavations from the Biblical period, there are also impressive remains from the Hellenistic and Roman periods.

    The reason I mention all this is that this site is under Palestinian control although Israel has the right to arrange visits to it by Israelis…it is the what is called “area B” by the Oslo Agreements…..Palestinian civil control and Israeli security authority.
    There is a large plaque at the entrance in Arabic and English saying that this place is “Sebastiyah-a famous archaeological site of the Roman period”. That’s all. There is also a map of the site BUT THE BIBLICAL ROYAL PALACE IS NOT MENTIONED OR MARKED-and this, of course, is the most important part of the site. Not mentioned at all. At the bottom of the plaque is the symbol of the European Union and the Norway Ministry of Foreign Affairs who coughed up the money (AKA “dhimmi tax”) for the Palestinian to write this plaque.

    So here we see the usual Palestinian denial of reality, the claim that the Bible is a fraud… that there was no Biblical kingdom here. The really bizarre is that there is official European backing for these lies, WHICH EVEN DENIES THEIR OWN CHRISTIAN ROOTS! This is just like what was saw in the link to the Palestinian Sesame Street TV program I left above. They believe the key to “Palestinian” identity is to pretend Jews don’t exist, Israel doesn’t exist, there was no Bible, there is no history, there is no truth nothing. This just proves to me that they are doomed to failure….people who refuse to ackowledge the truth can’t build a state and have no future.

  40. Tom-
    If you want to know what I think, just ask. I don’t like your being devious in what are apparently attempts by you to discredit me in an indirect way (but at least you came out and admitted it). Believe me, if you want to openly call me a “fascist”, “tribalist”, “ethocentric” or whatever, go ahead, it won’t bother me….I am used to it at these “progressive” sites.

  41. Have you never contracted with someone that you didn’t think of as entirely ethical or respectful?

    How did you go about doing that (if you did)?

    That is the pursuit of peace.

    Did they change, ever? Did you change, ever?

    Are expropriations of other individual’s and community’s current lands, justified by archaeology?

    There are Palestinians that may even agree with you, that peace is not possible currently. But, they are asking, insisting, that the actions of Israel (specifically expropriation of land) do not prohibit future Palestinian sovereignty and peace.

    That is the significance of voluntarily ceasing settlement expansion. There is enough Israeli sovereignty already.

    Acquiring more, and by questionable legality and force, harms. Its not innocuous. Its definitely not mutually beneficial.

  42. “Have you never contracted with someone that you didn’t think of as entirely ethical or respectful?”

    Businesswise–this is the kiss of death. If you’re the contractor, you stand a chance of not getting paid. If you’re hiring a contractor, you stand a chance of being scammed–or at the very least (if you’re lucky) you pay for a botched job.

    This is one of the first things I try to establish about someone I work with.

    On another note, CNN interviewed Bruce Bueno de Mesquita (a Sephardic Jew, incidentally) who is able to predict political outcomes by computer.

    Predictioneer’s Game

    He predicts a pretty substantive peace settlement on I/P within the next year.

    Wonder what he would predict on one state solution. 🙂

  43. Speaking of contracting…that reminds me…several years ago I did some work (writing the landing page) for an Israeli company that produced bandwidth equipment. Their head honcho in the US was Muslim. Either Pakistani or Indian, not sure. But he was a decision maker and had lots of clout.

    In fact, their whole team was pretty diverse. So much for the “apartheid” mentality.

  44. No, what you do is develop backup means of accountability, a third party providing collateral, or purchase insurance.

  45. Richard, maybe it depends on the industry. I’m around a lot of entreprenurial marketing types–and there’s a list of red flag disqualifiers to look for before agreeing to work for a client.

    Also, after all the horror stories I’ve heard from friends about home improvement contractors…unless they are certified or accredited or whatever–I wouldn’t think of hiring them.

    I’m sure there’s an analogy to the I/P conflict in there somewhere–not sure where.:-)

  46. There are individuals that I won’t contract with, but someone that I am “married to”, I find a way to work things out.

    Its a comment on Yakov’s thesis that peace is not possible, either ever or yet.

    It ain’t true. Where there is a will, there is a way.

  47. Richard–did you read the Muppet article? I forget the creator’s name for SimSim (Palestinian Sesame Street)…even he stated that the Palestinians and Israelis are seeking divorce–not marriage.

    Maybe he doesn’t reflect majority opinion–but he’s certainly shaping minds. And I guess all negotiating etc has to take that into consideration: both sides harbor this sentiment.

  48. I’m not sure how the muppets define Israeli policy or social relations.

    Perhaps you are misinterpreting my analogy on a contract, paralleling to “marriage”.

  49. I probably did digress from your original meaning. I think you mean putting a clothespin on the nose and proceeding to negotiate. Whereas I was addressing the desire of both sides to untangle themselves from each other (and the emotionally driven behavior that often accompanies such desire).

  50. No,
    I mean incorporating features into a contract that make it possible, including participation by third parties.

    Once Palestine is sovereign and the relationship assumes its own form, Israel and/or Palestine can choose closeness or separation.

    There is much that is inevitably shared, so a decent amount of cooperation is a necessity.

    The coldness that is occurring as a result of the Netanyahu administration, the threat of turning a colleague into an enemy, is a disaster for Israel, and for the world.

  51. “There is a large plaque at the entrance in Arabic and English saying that this place is “Sebastiyah-a famous archaeological site of the Roman period”. That’s all. There is also a map of the site BUT THE BIBLICAL ROYAL PALACE IS NOT MENTIONED OR MARKED-and this, of course, is the most important part of the site. Not mentioned at all. At the bottom of the plaque is the symbol of the European Union and the Norway Ministry of Foreign Affairs who coughed up the money (AKA “dhimmi tax”) for the Palestinian to write this plaque. ”

    It cuts both ways. Does Israel make any acknowledgement of the 400+ Palestinian villages that were destroyed in 1948?

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