M. J. Rosenberg is what during the Cold War, would have been called, a useful idiot, in Lenin's phrase. The head of the Israel Policy Forum, Rosenberg has called for President-elect Obama to crack heads (meaning Israeli heads) so as achieve that elusive Israel Palestinian peace deal, which is at the core of all the problems America has in the Middle East, and the absence of which, is destroying Israel's security, if not its soul.
Personally, I would prefer America deliver military aid and political support to Israel, not metaphors or pressure. Rosenberg sees all kinds of evidence of Palestinian willingness to compromise and make peace, but sees Israel only stalling, since it will not agree to remove the one critical obstacle to peace: West Bank settlers. Is Rosenberg aware of all the "good will" from Hamas in the form of 5,000 rockets fired at Israel following Israel's withdrawal from Gaza? Is he aware that the Palestinians are not one, but two competing, if not warring factions at the moment, with different lands they control? How does he propose Israel make peace with Hamas? Does he think Hamas will accede to a two state solution if only West Bank settlers were removed? Is he aware that Itamar Marcus of Palestinan Media Watch says Palestinian media are more ferociously anti-Semitic, and anti-Israel today than at any time since his group began monitoring their activities?
It is interesting that Rosenberg never even mentions Iran, or Hezbollah, or Hamas in his article. It is as if they are not threats to Israel, or perhaps he believes they will join in the applause and the big campfire festival after the settlers are withdrawn and celebrate a two state solution. For Rosenberg and similar ideologues on the left, the singular obsession has always been the settlers. Rosenberg's willingness to ignore history and reality is revealed by his recording of all the Palestinian steps towards peace:
"Of course, issuing demands to the Palestinians is nothing new. We have been doing that for 20 years. Our first demand was that the PLO recognize Israel's right to exist and renounce terrorism. It did that first with a unilateral statement in 1988 and then, again, in 1993 with the Oslo Declaration. Today the Palestinian Authority works with Israel to combat terrorism, is fully committed to the two-state solution, and is engaged in negotiations with Israel on a final status agreement. The Palestinians have also acceded to our demands that the PLO amend its charter to remove references to the destruction of Israel and eliminate anti-Semitic references in Palestinian textbooks.
The most significant Palestinian concession was to give up the claim to all of historic Palestine. For the first 30 years of its existence, the PLO (and Palestinians in general) rejected Israel's right to any part of Palestine. Today they concede 78% of the land to Israel--i.e. the land encompassed by the '67 borders--while insisting on establishing a state in the 22% that is the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem."
Rosenberg is wrong about every one of his so-called concessions. He might want to read the PLO charter, never changed, or the Hamas charter. The Palestinians have, except for several very isolated incidents, never worked with Israel to combat terrorism. Much more often, they have sponsored terrorism or acceded to it. The Palestinians, and virtually all of the Arab states, have never conceded that Israel will remain a Jewish majority state, and a permanent presence in their neighborhood. That is why there is the endless call for a right of return for millions of Palestinians, though well fewer than 5% of the Palestinians are in fact, refugees who ever once lived in pre-67 Israel.
The Palestinian textbooks are as bad as ever. It is Israeli textbooks that have incorporated the Palestinian narrative from which Rosenberg sings. It is a rare achievement for Rosenberg to be wrong abut everything. But when you consider, as he does, that the settlers are the real threat to Israel's survival, it should be no surprise to find him serving as an apologist for Palestinian terrorism, political ineptitude, corruption and hatred.
Israeli journalist Shmuel Rosner tells Rosenberg and other of his ilk where to get off with their advice: "I think that what American Jews can do--the best service they can give as to advance Middle East peace--is to support Israel as much as they can. And by support I do not necessarily mean "give money". In fact, giving money is the easiest way for people to support someone when they do not want to be bothered--but I'd like American Jews to be bothered. I want them coming for visits, I want them caring, I want them lobbying. And no--I do not want them to be criticizing Israel in public and trying to pressure Israel on matters of policy and trying to "save Israel from itself" and all that condescending crap. Not because I think Israel doesn't deserve criticism, or doesn't make mistakes, but because there are more than enough people criticizing Israel already and because making policy is for people who will eventually pay the price for it--and because Israel is a "responsible adult". And with all due respect for those thinking that they know better--I think they don't. Not those on the right urging settlers to defy government orders to evacuate from their homes in Hebron (I know some American Jews were involved, and not in a good way, in matters related to recent clashes in the city)--and not those on the left thinking they have the key for Middle East peace (your recent interviewee, Daniel Levy, is such an example).
To all those I'll say: you think you have a solution? Come and convince Israelis. And if you happen to fail, don't go and work behind their backs to advance your cause by making America pressure Israel."
American Jews in the "peace camp" (one piece of Israel given away at a time), are feeling their oats after Obama's big victory, and their presumption that they know better than Israelis what is good for the country, and that a President Obama shares their views and priorities. Let us hope that is not the case with Obama.
As for Israel, let us hope that if Obama does decide to apply pressure, Israel will stand firm. That will require, of course, that Israelis elect a leader with more substance and resolve than the jellyfish spined Ehud Olmert.
The new Obama Administration has plenty on its plate, without obsessing about a Middle East peace deal that is not in the cards. Of course, the new Administration will be filled with peace processors. And peace processors always think a deal is just around the corner, if only they process or engage some more. But the essential reality of the Middle East remains as it has been for 60 years: Israel desires an end to the conflict, the Palestinians desire an end to Israel. Process all you want, that hurdle will not be overcome unless Israel commits national suicide. The willing enablers of Israeli national suicide in America believe that all would be well if only checkpoints, settlements, and the IDF presence in the West Bank were to end. This is the tough medicine Rosenberg believes America needs to deliver to its ally, Israel. Medicine generally is designed to cure the patient. Rosenberg is dosing poison. But if he wants to fill a medicine cabinet, I hope he can get prescriptions for dealing with delusion, and hubris. Blindness and foolishness are bigger problems.