Monday, September 30, 2013

J Street and the Right of Return

According to Tablet Magazine, delegates to the J Street Conference showed support for recognition of the Nakba and the Right of Return. J Street is a lobbying group that calls itself "Pro-Israel, Pro-Peace", and it officially says that the issue of return should be negotiated between Israel and the Palestinians, with the preferred solution being that the vast majority of refugees would not be resettled in Israel. This is also the line Jeremy Ben-Ami and other leaders of the group have been promoting.

It seems that many of J Street's members have different views. The delegates applauded when Fatah member Husam Zomlot called for the full recognition of the Nakba and giving all Palestinian refugees the option to settle in Israel. I'm fine with the first part of that, but I'm troubled by J Street members' support for return.

We should recognize the Nakba. It's a historical fact that the creation of Israel was a tragedy for Palestinians. It doesn't mean that Israelis should be ashamed or sorry that we exist, or that we are the only ones responsible for the Nakba.

Israelis should recognize the Nakba happened. Palestinians should recognize it cannot be undone. The so-called Right of Return is exactly that - an attempt to undo the Nakba. Despite the Zochrot conference in Tel-Aviv over the last two days, a vast majority of Israelis would never, in their right minds, welcome hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of hostile Palestinians.

I'm used to hearing Palestinians, Arabs and far-left groups calling for a Right of Return. The fact that this happened at the supposedly moderate left J Street conference is troubling. Is the Right of Return seeping into mainstream liberal groups in the United States or does J Street attract more extreme left-wingers than its founders would have liked? I'm guessing that the latter is true, but not ruling out the former.

Sunday, September 08, 2013

The Stupidity of Attacking Syria

It seems like there are two main camps who oppose President Obama's proposed retaliatory strikes against the Assad regime. One is the liberal anti-war camp, which opposes any military action anywhere. The other is the isolationist camp, which wants the United States to butt out of other countries' affairs, diplomatically as well as militarily. But what about people like me who think the particular circumstances in Syria are what makes a strike inadvisable, rather than any general pacifist or anti-interventionist principles?

I don't see how a strike against Assad would make matters any better. The best scenario would be an end to the use of chemical weapons, but the regime would definitely continue massacring its own people with conventional weapons. At worst, what begins as a limited strike will spread the violence to neighboring Israel, Jordan and Turkey, in addition to Lebanon, where this has already started to happen. Assad may be replaced by Sunni Jihadists who would take over his chemical weapon stockpiles.

As an Israeli, what is most important to me is how any action in Syria would effect Israel. The Israeli government and the Israeli public, according to polls, back a strike on Syria. Again, I find myself in the minority. There is too great a danger that a strike would pull Israel into a war with Syria, without any clear objectives or any likely positive outcomes. 

When evil fights evil, stay the hell out of the way. Sure, innocent Syrians are caught in the middle, but we're not going to help them. If anything, we'll just be adding innocent Israelis, Jordanians, Turks and Lebanese to the list of people suffering from Assad's regime.