Imperialistic Dreams

For nearly 100 years, Israel’s government has made move after move, change after change, attempt after attempt, to engage in dialogue with their Arab and Palestinian neighbors. Left-wing dovish governments and right-wing hawkish governments. War and no war. Settlement building and settlement freezing. Yes occupation, no occupation. Unilateral withdrawal and negotiated withdrawal. Peel and partition. Land-for-peace and prisoners-for-peace. Accepted and rejected pre-conditions. Peace agreements and resolutions and negotiations. Peace engagements spawning entity, geography, and time. League of Nations. United Nations. Arab League. Palestinian Liberation Organization. Palestinian Authority. European Union. Khartoum. Oslo. Taba. Camp David. Jerusalem. Ramallah. Jordan. Egypt. Lebanon. Syria. Saudi Arabia. England. United States. 1920. 1937. 1947. 1967. 1979. 1993. 1995. 2000. 2007. 2010.

The Israeli government has tried. You may not agree every time with the way they tried, but they have tried. Yet, there are certain groups who are displeased with these attempts and decided to take matters into their own hands – from a distance.

There is a growing movement within the American Jewish community that looks at all of this – decades of attempts at peace – and says, “You know what, Israel, I don’t like what you’re doing. Here is what you should be doing. And let me force you to do that, too.” Certain groups within this community, such as Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) and J Street, believe that it is their prerogative and moral obligation to fight to ensure complete and immediate sovereignty of the Palestinian people, without taking into account the consequences to Israel. They advocate for a complete, unilateral, and immediate exit of Israel from the West Bank, without alerting anyone to the dangers involved. Even if that means ignoring all of Israel’s attempts at peace. Even if that means ignoring and excusing the responsibility that falls on the Palestinian leadership.  Even if that means ignoring the severe ramifications of blindly shifting all of the blame onto Israel. This would fundamentally put Israel’s basic security on the table in a way that no sane country would do for itself – and accelerate a national suicide.

What these activists fail to realize are the simple facts on the ground. They claim that Israel has a reliable peace partner in the Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. With months of Palestinian terror attacks in its wake, this past Monday, a bomb went off on a (luckily) empty bus, injuring over 20 nearby Israelis. Fatah, the “moderate” party of President Abbas, “blessed” the bombing and called it a “victory”, in strict accordance with the President’s notorious policy of murderous incitement against Israel.

Mr. Abbas has continuously rejected Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s invitations to return to the peace talks, and in recent weeks has reiterated his strong opposition to recognizing Israel as the Jewish state. This is who these groups pressure Israel to hand the West Bank to. A situation which is only exacerbated by the lack of any guarantee that the West Bank doesn’t turn into another terror enclave for ISIS or Hamas – whose charter literally calls for the destruction of Israel – like the Gaza Strip did after Israel withdrew in 2005. And that is only a sliver of the facts they choose to ignore, facts which Israelis have to deal with on a day-to-day basis. Unperturbed by this ear-ringing knowledge, JVP, J Street, and those like them, trudge along on their quest for their romanticized peace solution. Through support for the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement against Israel, increasing pressure economically and socially on Israel, mounting harsh criticism onto the Israeli government, forcing resolutions and deals onto Israel – these organizations feel that they will be able to force their proper path to peace, onto Israel.

However, there is a more troublesome aspect to these minority groups within the American Jewish community which must be addressed. In the conversation about what role these “anti-establishment” American Jewish groups should play in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, I keep hearing that they feel they are being shut up and shut out of the resolution to this conflict. But there is a key word in that sentence which I said twice: AMERICAN. Think about this for a second. What role does an American Jewish group play in not just talking about, but attempting to impose a solution on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? What role does an organization play in imperializing a solution for a country across the world? How ridiculous does that sound?

There is a surging tide of chutzpah within these people who don’t live in Israel, whose kids don’t serve in the IDF, who don’t walk around looking over their shoulder for a knife-wielding terrorist, who don’t stray from the curb’s edge in apprehension of a car-ramming attack, who don’t get on busses fearing if it will blow up, who don’t sit in a coffee shop wondering if it will get shot up, who don’t drive down their street hoping rocks and Molotov cocktails aren’t thrown at them, who don’t grow up sleeping in bomb shelters… yet they give instructions to Israel as if they do. They try to supersede Israeli democracy by imposing their will through the international community. This belief, that their righteous morals and values are more valuable at the negotiation table than the boatloads of information and experience that those in Israel have, is beyond inconsiderate of the situation – it’s nauseating. While these groups sit in a park picketing for a fantasized, idealized world in between classes, holding a sign advocating for BDS and increasing U.S. pressure on Israel to end the occupation, kids their age are holding guns to protect their country. These 18-21 year olds continue the Israeli tradition of sacrifice-for-peace (in this case, their very own lives) to ensure the survival of the Jewish homeland. Why? Because it’s their country. The country they live in. The country they know. The country they understand.

Why do you, here in America, all of a sudden know what’s best for Israel? Why do you think that you can serve as the decision-influencer – let alone the decision-maker – for a country you most likely have never lived in? Who gave you the right to gamble with a country you’ve probably never even stepped foot in? Where does this certainty you have come from that you know exactly what to do and how to bring peace between the Israelis and Palestinians? What, only you want peace? Only you are moral and Israelis are not?

I can already hear the criticism: “Tal, you are involved in countless pro-Israel organizations. You’re the President of your pro-Israel club on your campus. How are you any different from us?” Well, besides the fact that I was born and raised in Israel, the difference is that I am not trying to impose my will on an entire country that I do not presently live in. I am advocating for a country and its self-determined path to exist, I am supporting a country’s self-established policies, I am promoting a country’s right to defend itself. J Street, Jewish Voice for Peace, Codepink, IfNotNow, come in and stomp and spit all over Israel’s sovereignty, as they pretend like they know what is best for Israel. They don’t.

Similar to any autonomous country of this world, Israel has the right – and the duty to its citizens – to do anything and everything to defend itself. Our moral obligation and prerogative as Jews living in the Diaspora is to support these decisions with the confidence that Israelis know what is best for them. Organizations and individuals need to realize that by participating in activities that directly contradict this, they are not only inciting violence against Israel similar to the way that Abbas, Fatah, and Hamas do, but they are feeding into the hands of terrorists who openly call for the annihilation of Israel. But to those who can’t seem to realize this, to those who are already steadfast and knee-deep in their commitment to this interreligious anti-Israel movement for whom this article won’t change anything, I have one question:

Who do you think you are?

About the Author
Tal Edelstein was born and raised in Tivon, Israel before moving to Los Angeles, California at the age of 12. Tal works for the Hillel at the University of Pennsylvania as the Springboard Ezra Fellow and Israel Engagement Specialist. He graduated from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, with degrees in Business Finance and Global Politics. He was the Founder and Chairman of the on-campus pro-Israel club, Mustangs United For Israel, as well as the Founder and President of the Mustangs Israel Public Affairs Committee.
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