I am an Israeli Jew who lives in an all Jewish town in Judea and Samaria. This makes me a settler in the West Bank. I not only support Israeli Jews living in Judea and Samaria, I support expansive growth of Jewish building in Judea and Samaria. I want Jews living in Areas A, B and C. I want new settlements; I want Jewish neighborhoods in towns like Shechem (Nablus), Yericho (Jericho), and even Ramallah. I can’t find one convincing argument that Jews shouldn’t be allowed to live somewhere just because they’re Jews. Let alone in their historic homeland!
With twenty five years of hindsight, the Oslo Accords seem like the ultimate insanity. How did the world fall for Yasser Arafat’s lie that he and the Palestinian Liberation Organization were interested in peace? As Democratic Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer said last week at AIPAC’s Policy Conference, “The reason why we don’t have peace is because the fact of the matter is that too many Palestinians and too many Arabs do not want any Jewish state in the Middle East. Too many believe that this Palestinian Authority is moderate and really wants peace, but it does not.” The dark truth, Schumer said, is “that the Palestinian Authority, every day, actively aids and abets terrorism.”
Coming in to this year’s Policy Conference I was hoping that I would hear AIPAC executive director Howard Kohr state that the error (I know, era) of the two state solution is over – through years of falsehood and terror the Palestinians have given up their right to their own state. Instead, I sat in frustration as yet again AIPAC supported the two state solution. Kohr stated, “We must all work for … two states for two peoples: one Jewish with secure and defensible borders and one Palestinian with its own flag and its own future.” While he did qualify his support with the words, “Today that dream seems remote,” it is clear that AIPAC still supports the two state solution.
Advocating for the two state solution’s implementation is dangerous for Israelis. Creating a state led by a Palestinian Authority who both Democrats and Republicans recognize supports terrorism would create an existential threat to the way of life of all Israelis. It doesn’t take a prophet to recognize that this new state would continue to sponsor terror itself, or be quickly overrun by terrorist organizations like Hamas and ISIS.
Yet, after taking time to think about it, I’m appreciative of AIPAC’s position. AIPAC doesn’t set policy for Israel or America. It is a lobbying organization that works to strengthen the US-Israel relationship through the passing of Pro-Israel legislation. AIPAC is an American organization that takes the democratically elected leaders of Israel’s policies and lobbies American elected officials that supporting Israeli policy is good for America. AIPAC’s policy is not prescriptive. It doesn’t dictate, advise or advocate to Israel what it should do.
AIPAC has one goal and one metric of success; were bills passed this year that gave more financial aid to Israel’s security than last year? That’s it. This is difficult for pundits and Facebook warriors to understand. They understand the written and spoken word to be more important than the passed bill. They aren’t – just ask the Israeli pilots of the AIPAC requested and American supplied F-16’s.
Anyone who has been to AIPAC’s Policy Conference knows that Tuesday is the only important day of the conference. Every session, panel, speech and video leads to lobbying members of Congress on the last day of the conference. This year, none of AIPAC’s legislative agenda items included implementation of the two state solution. They included more funding for the IDF, sanctions on Iran, and opposing BDS. When it really mattered – in the halls of congress – AIPAC’s support of the two state solution was absent. This is consistent with AIPAC’s policy of not lobbying in America or in Israel for a change in Israeli policy.
If AIPAC wasn’t lobbying for the two state solution, why did Howard Kohr support it? Simple, it’s official Israeli policy. Sure, there are hints that Israel’s support of the two state solution is weakening. Plenty of Prime Minister Netanyahu’s statements make us question whether he’s really in favor of the two state solution or not. Until Prime Minister Netanyahu officially changes Israel’s policy on its support of the two state solution, it’s unrealistic to expect AIPAC to change its position. AIPAC has never been the proponent of policy change and it never will.
This year AIPAC’s lobbying will ensure increased support for Israel’s military, sanctions on Iran and further legislation weakening BDS efforts. AIPAC is so successful in its lobbying for increased aid to Israel, most Americans take it for granted. AIPAC, its board, members and staff make herculean efforts to ensure that Israel enjoys increased aid. Increased tangible support of Israel is anything but automatic. While others will criticize AIPAC and suggest it harmed Israel at this year’s conference, I proudly applaud it. Howard Kohr is to be commended for his success in leading this stellar organization and the increased security it ensures for my neighbors and I.