Thursday, April 04, 2013

Another Letter From American Jewish Leaders Advises Netanyahu to Make "Painful Territorial Sacrifices" to the Palestinians -- And Is Rebutted

Once again, Jewish "leaders" living in the US have taken upon themselves to advise the Israeli Prime Minister on how he should lead the country, specifically on the need to make "painful territorial sacrifices" to the Palestinian Arabs.

Haaretz reports on 100 American Jewish leaders urge Netanyahu to show readiness to make 'painful territorial sacrifices' -- here is the text of that letter.

April 3, 2013

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
c/o Ambassador Michael Oren
Embassy of the State of Israel
3514 International Dr., NW
Washington, DC 20008

Dear Prime Minister Netanyahu:

As Americans deeply committed to Israel’s security, we were heartened by President Obama’s recent historic visit and his unequivocal assertion that “so long as there is a United States of America, Ah-tem lo le-vad.” We also are encouraged by the rapprochement with Turkey, which was achieved in great measure due to your leadership.

We believe that this is a compelling moment for you and your new government to respond to President Obama’s call for peace by taking concrete confidence building steps designed to demonstrate Israel’s commitment to a ‘two-states for two peoples’ solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. We urge you, in particular, to work closely with Secretary of State John Kerry to devise pragmatic initiatives, consistent with Israel’s security needs, which would represent Israel’s readiness to make painful territorial sacrifices for the sake of peace.

Your leadership would challenge Palestinian leaders to take similarly constructive steps, including, most importantly, a prompt return to the negotiating table.

We join with President Obama in expressing our steadfast support for your efforts to ensure Israel’s future as the secure and democratic nation state of the Jewish people.
See the list of signatures.

There was a time when there was a point of contention as to whether is was OK to publicly disagree with Israeli policy. Today we are way past that point. Now, just about anyone feels free to openly lecture the leader of Israel on what he should be doing, from the comfort of their living room half a world away.

It is helpful to take a step back when reading letters like this and appreciate the absurdity of what these letters -- and the people who sign them -- claim they are trying to accomplish.

So it is welcome to see that the Emergency Committee for Israel (ECI) has come out with its own open letter to Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, countering the letter that has just come out: ECI's Letter to Prime Minister Netanyahu
Dear Prime Minister Netanyahu:

We know you don’t need our advice on how to handle the peace process – but given the decision by a group of self-described American Jewish leaders to call for you to make “painful territorial sacrifices,” we felt it appropriate to convey our own thoughts on the matter.

Be assured that they don’t speak for us or for a majority of Americans. We not only question the wisdom of their advice, we question their standing to issue such an admonition to a democratically-elected prime minister whose job is not to assuage the political longings of 100 American Jews, but to represent – and ensure the security of – the Israeli people.

Indeed, it’s puzzling to us why a small group of American Jews believes it appropriate to demand “painful territorial sacrifices” of Israelis, when those issuing the demand will not experience the pain, or be compelled to sacrifice anything, should their advice prove foolish – as it has so many times in the past. We affirm the words of Israel’s ambassador to the United States, Michael Oren, who recently asked an American Jewish audience to “respect the decisions made by the world’s most resilient democracy.”

The “American Jewish leaders” who deign to advise you today are largely the same leaders who rarely, if ever, demand “painful sacrifices” of Palestinian leaders – or even demand that they come to the negotiating table, which they have refused to do in any meaningful way since 2008. From the safety of America, in the past they have recommended trusting Yasser Arafat, dividing Jerusalem, surrendering the Golan Heights to Syria, and withdrawing from territory that today is controlled by Iranian-backed terrorist groups.

Before rushing to issue new recommendations, we suggest that these oracles of bad advice might pause to reflect on the wisdom of the recommendations they’ve already made.

We, too, have strong opinions on the peace process – but one thing we never presume to do is instruct our friends in Israel on the level of danger to which they should expose themselves.

We trust, of course, that you are under no misapprehensions about any of this. But we felt it important that you heard from a mainstream voice in addition to the predictable calls from a certain cast of American activists for more Israeli concessions.


William Kristol
Rachel Abrams
Gary Bauer
Noah Pollak
Michael Goldfarb

After being exposed to prolific letters whose novel approach appears to be to offer the identical advice regardless of the situation in the Middle East, it is a pleasant surprise to read a letter reflecting a realistic approach.

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