Response to an Assertion that Promoting a Two-State Solution isn't "Pro-Israel"

Comments

12 comments posted
Suppose Israel drew its own

Suppose Israel drew its own borders, declared Palestine independent, and withdrew behind those borders? Would it be any worse than the stalemate we have now?

Posted by Aaron Finestone on October 28, 2009 8:53 AM
Aaron, Yes, I do believe that

Aaron,

Yes, I do believe that would be worse. You can't sell compromise to your people without being a party to the agreement. The Rabin-Arafat handshake was essential to that previous process.

Oslo failed for many reasons. Any two-state solution will need to follow it's basic premise nontheless: two states, that mutually recognize each other between the mediteranean and the Jordan.

Posted by Shai Gluskin on October 28, 2009 9:59 AM
I don't understand Y Menken's

I don't understand Y Menken's approach.

@ymenken began a reply on his Twitter account:

To start, @rabbishai , I will say that "defining expansion of a Hamas terrorist base as 'Pro-Israel'" doesn't imply JSt WANTS it.

Yes, that does imply J Street wants it.

Yaakov, I really don't follow you. J Street has never defined "expansion of Hamas terrorist base" as "Pro-Israel." J Street and "expansion of Hamas terrorist base" are only equated through your prediction of outcomes. Definitions are important, especially around terms such as "Pro-Israel." Within a Jewish communal context you can be considered an outsider or a traitor if you aren't "Pro-Israel."

Let's say I plan to send my child to a public school because my wife and I think it is the best fit for our child. Someone else believes the public schools are dangerous. Would it make any sense at all for that person to accuse me of child abuse? Would you not admit that person is defaming me inappropriately?

Posted by Shai Gluskin on October 28, 2009 12:26 PM
I think it is obvious enough

I think it is obvious enough that no one seeks expansion of a terrorist base, except terrorists and their allies, that it was clear that what was being described was not what J Street "wants," but a prediction of inevitable outcome of what it does want, based upon past history. More will need to wait for my post.

Your analogy is false, because that accusation would be akin to saying that J Street IS a terrorist organization, which even according to your (mis)interpretation of my tweet, I didn't do. If a particular public school were rife with abuse, violence, drug use, etc., then any responsible party would be on solid grounds to make a comment such as "sending a child there is placing him or her in danger." It would be true, whether or not the parents (or city government) wanted to be seen as responsible.

Similarly, the fact that J Street "must" be perceived as "pro-Israel" is not relevant to the question of whether it actually is.

Posted by Yaakov Menken on October 28, 2009 1:15 PM
Okay, maybe the analogy is

Okay, maybe the analogy is better if the anti-public school parent accuses the parent of being "anti-child" as opposed to a "child-abuser." I'll grant that. But if I'm sitting at a community meeting and this guy calls me "anti-child" it is working against the community and against dialog. The public school critic should say, "I think you have your head in the sand about the level of violence in our public schools." That criticizes the analysis of the parent desiring public school without remarking on his motivations.

Evaluating motivations is important because it helps to determine who can sit in the room together and whether there will be opportunity for true dialog. Motivations can be part of determining the boundaries of a group. The smears against J Street seem to be an attempt to marginalize the group and keep them out of the conversation. Those smears fundamentally deter true dialog.

Did I say, "J Street must be perceived of as Pro-Israel." I don't think I did. Perception, by definition cannot be controlled.

My complaint is totally different. You wrote of J Street that they were "defining expansion of a Hamas terrorist base as 'Pro-Israel.'" To define is to explain or identify the essential nature or quality of something. How can you claim that J Street defined Hamas expansion as "pro-Israel"?

What would be totally appropriate would be something along the lines of, "For x, y, and z, reasons I believe that the consequence of carrying out policies promoted by J Street would be the expansion of the Hamas terrorist base. For J Street to claim its policies are 'pro-Israel' has no bearing on the detrimental outcomes of its approach." I disagree with those words, and would feel invited and challenged to rebut them. That's fine. The formulation I'm critical of seeks to define me as a traitor. That's unfair and counter to building any kind of consensus or compromise among Jews about the future of Israel.

Posted by Shai Gluskin on October 28, 2009 1:56 PM
To begin, it is inappropriate

To begin, it is inappropriate to cast yourself as the "parent." You are a third party, living comfortably on the eastern seaboard of the United States, and your opinion would resonate far more if you resided in, for example, Sderot.

I would also point out that in Jewish circles, it is equally vitriolic to accuse someone of being anti-peace. Have you any objections to J-Street's slogan, which implies that others are either not interested in Israel, or not interested in peace?

Rather, you have a set of people all claiming to be "Pro-Israel" and "Pro-Peace." The argument is not about the desired ends, but about the desired methods and their likely results.

So, let us say we were discussing a school where 90% of the children are abusing drugs, and new classmates are initiated soon after they arrive. With no plan or method for change, the truant officer appears at the door and insists the child attend that school. Presumably, the parents are also "Pro-Education," but they are refusing to send the child.

In 140 characters or less, I would have no problem referring to the officer's position by saying that partisanship about Education "Can't be worse for 'Pro-Education' than defining more drug-addicted teens as 'Pro-Education'."

The officer can claim from today through next week that he is Pro-Education, but his desired methods are vastly more likely to lead to a result vastly worse than the child staying home and playing Game Boy all day. What the officer 'wants' is irrelevant -- his blindness to reality notwithstanding, the result is going to be more drug-addicted teens rather than the advancement of education.

More to come, later.

Posted by Yaakov Menken on October 28, 2009 2:44 PM
I wasn't casting myself as

I wasn't casting myself as the parent. It was an analogy in which J Street was the parent.

You are a third party, living comfortably on the eastern seaboard of the United States, and your opinion would resonate far more if you resided in, for example, Sderot.

Peshita (obviously). I did live at Kibbutz Nir Am (one KM from Sderot) for four weeks in 1974. However, is the innate resonance of my words based on my residence currently up for discussion?

Regarding J Street using "pro-Israel, pro-peace": J Street isn't putting words into anyone elses mouths when it says that. I can't see how defining oneself is vitriolic.

Did you see Marcella's comment #9 on the Ynet piece Why J Street Jeopardizes Jews: J Street backs two-state vision without taking daunting outcome into account? She asks, "Why is Sherman targeting J Street? The problem is that a two-state solution is the official policy of the State of Israel." She, who is herself an advocate for a one Jewish state solution, believes Sherman should target his critique at the Netanyahu government, not J Street. I disagree with Marcella about Israel pursuing a one-state solution. But I certainly appreciate her honesty and her focus on debating the issues instead of defaming J Street.

Yaakov Menken wrote,

In 140 characters or less, I would have no problem referring to the officer's position by saying that partisanship about Education "Can't be worse for 'Pro-Education' than defining more drug-addicted teens as 'Pro-Education'."

First, in your elaboration of the analogy and your translating of "defining expansion of a Hamas terrorist base as 'Pro-Israel' into the analogy, I think the implied subject in the original ((e.g. J Street) is much clearer than in your translation (e.g. the parents advocating for parents to send their kids to the local public school). Adding in the truant officer as a new character didn't make pushing this analogy further any easier :)

As for your reference to 140 characters. That is no excuse. The limitation of the medium cannot be blamed for any damaging messages communicated across that medium. If an idea expressed in 140 characters is defamation but in 600 it is a strong and critical opinion, then it must be written in 600 and not 140, via a different platform.

Posted by Shai Gluskin on October 28, 2009 4:54 PM
Shai, only once you mentioned

Shai, only once you mentioned the JPost article again, did I recognize you had managed to confuse two totally separate things. The ideal of a two-state solution is, as mentioned, the policy of the state of Israel.

It is something else entirely to take the positions espoused by JStreet, which would jeopardize Israel's security while demanding little to nothing from the "other side." (Proof of this is found in your reaction, as described above, to Israel's unilateral withdrawal from Gaza, but I'll explain that later.)

I was referring not to the parents, but to the truant officer, chosen to personify the "city government" in my earlier comment. I am quite certain that he might feel "defamed" in my analogy, but that wouldn't make it so. JStreet does not seek the expansion of the Hamas terrorist base, but it would be the inevitable result of the JStreet positions. That's not defamation, just a truth they don't want to hear.

Now I may finally get to that post...

Posted by Yaakov Menken on October 28, 2009 6:20 PM
@ymenken, lookin' forward to

@ymenken, lookin' forward to it :)

Posted by Shai Gluskin on October 28, 2009 6:41 PM
My response may be found

My response may be found entitled Trouble on J Street, on Cross-Currents. Thanks and let's continue the dialogue!

YM

Posted by Yaakov Menken on October 29, 2009 2:48 PM
Thanks for this post, Rabbi

Thanks for this post, Rabbi Shai -- I've linked to it from my "post-conference reflections" essay.

Posted by Rachel Barenblat on October 29, 2009 2:03 PM
You claim: "Israel remained

You claim: "Israel remained in complete control..." post-disengagement. Of course, that is to support the position that Israel still "occupies" Gaza. Let's ignore Israel. What about Egypt?

a) Egypt controls one border.
b) moreover, until American pressure finally was brought to bear after Sharon originally caved in to US pressure on the security oversight at the crossings, the Hamas military base was almost completely in the hands of Egypt via the tunnels (which have become a cute media item recently, see the NYT) and Egypt has a peace treaty with Israel.

So, Israel gets shafted once by Hamas shooting at its civilians, once by Goldstone who calls any response a war crime, once by Egypt which permitted the tunnel smuggling for years and once by Jews who ignore this and call Israel an occupier.

Posted by Yisrael Medad on October 29, 2009 4:26 PM