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.

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