April 1, 2011
Incitement by Palestinian Arabs: The Role of J Street
Incitement of Palestinian Arabs is a major reason for the absence of peace between Israeli Jews and Palestinian Arabs. Raising children to hate Israelis, and glorifying the killers of Jews as "martyrs", has largely prevented any progress on peace between the two sides. Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas, who blames Israel for the failure of "peace" talks, has done nothing to stop these messages, and indeed is part of the problem.
Following the tragic and brutal murder of the Fogel family, Reps. Steve Rothman (D-N.J.) and Steve Austria (R-Ohio), recognizing the malignant role of incitement is such tragedies, are circulating a letter in the House calling on President Obama to urge PA President Abbas to return to peace negotiations and to end anti-Israel incitement.The letter reads, in part:
"The continued intransigence of the Palestinian leadership is both hurtful to the prospect for a two-state solution and to a final resolution of the conflict that still plagues the Israeli and Palestinian people, ... . We are sure that you share our disappointment in President Mahmoud Abbas's decision to withdraw from peace talks in October of last year and his stubborn refusal to reengage as a willing partner for peace with Israel. ... Unfortunately, we live in a time when the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades will rush to take credit for the horrific, inhuman, and brutal attack in Itamar against the Fogel family, including three of their children, an 11-year-old, 4-year-old, and 3-month-old. This must serve as a wakeup call that the current state of affairs is dangerous and unacceptable." ...
The letter goes on to urge Obama to pressure Abbas to "fully renounce any and all Palestinian incitement against Israel and the Jewish people. ... we respectfully request that you do everything possible to urge President Abbas to root out terrorism, return to negotiations without preconditions, earnestly work toward peace with Israel, and slam the door on any effort to deal with final status issues at the United Nations."
Enter J Street, the three year old left leaning organization claiming to be pro-Israel, but in reality a stalking horse for Obama's attempt to put inordinate pressure on Israel. I have previously written about J Street serving as Obama's court Jews. J Street's major role is to convince American Jews that they are practicing "tough love" in pressuring Israel to take "risks for peace", risks which almost all Israelis consider to be suicidal. J Street continually labels existing pro-Israel groups such as AIPAC and the ADL as right wing, hoping to capitalize on the fact that American Jews are overwhelmingly liberal. And in fact, J Street, heavily funded by anti-Zionists, pro-Palestinian and pro-Iranian groups, has consistently taken positions that are anti-Israel.
With respect to the Rothman-Austria letter, J Street is urging House members to stay away from the letter. It claims that the letter has "significant omissions and misrepresentations of material fact that render this letter beneath reasonable standards of accuracy and objectivity."
J Street's major objections relate to what they claim the letter leaves out. According to J Street, the letter "Ignores other significant impediments to the peace process ... it ignores Palestinian willingness to make concessions for peace". It further criticizes the use of the Fogel murders as "misleading", and it further claims there is no proof that Palestinian terrorists were responsible for the murders.J Street has issued a statement which reads, in part:
"To frame the current impasse in the peace process as the result simply of instances of incitement by Palestinians ignores other actions that impede peace, specifically ongoing and intensifying Israeli settlement activity in Palestinian territory.... J Street objects to the letter's use of the horrifying murder of an Israeli family...."
In other words, J Street is critical of the letter for failing to promote the J Street agenda, which is to come down hard on Israel. .
In response to the J Street criticism, Rothman spoke about the recent renaming of a town square in Al-Bireh, near Ramallah, for Dalal Mughrabi. The square was named and a plaque dedicated in memory of Mughrabi, who directed the hijacking of two buses that resulted in the murders of 37 Israelis, including 13 children. Members of Abbas' Fatah faction were on hand.
"In my opinion that's just the latest in dozens of examples over past several years of the PA not taking sufficient action to publicly condemn or prevent the glorification and celebration of the murderers of Israeli men, women, and children," Rothman said.
In a telephone interview, Rothman pointed out that "The thrust of our letter ... is to not only point out how libelous and vile we find the PA's failures to confront incitement to violence against Jews and Israelis by members of the PA and their sympathizers, but also to condemn the PA's refusal to come to the negotiating table to work out the terms for a two-state solution," he said. Regarding J Street's statement, Rothman added, "Curiously, J Street makes no mention of the PA's failure to return to the negotiating table. I find that shocking and inexcusable, especially since J Street speaks of a two-state resolution to the conflict."
A similar letter circulating in the Senate, authored by Sens. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), calls on Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, asking "We would like to know what specific steps you are taking to press for an end this dangerous incitement."
There are several interesting aspects to this episode. Most importantly, it once again puts the lie to the J Street claim that it is pro-Israel. Secondly, such trivialization of the importance of attacking incitement may convince our leadership that American Jews are split on the issue, and so they need not treat is a high priority item in Middle East negotiations. Finally, it is a demonstration of why J Street is failing to influence Congress. To attack Steve Rothman is a dumb political move. Rothman was one of the first Jewish Democrats to endorse Obama during his contested primary against Hillary Clinton, and has been a strong supporter of the Obama administration. He is also a major defender of Israel. For J Street to attack him raises the question as to whether J Street, at this time, has any influence with anyone in Congress who is considered pro-Israel.
J Street President Jeremy Ben Ami, in response to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu refusal to meet with J Street, has complained that Israel "is redefining who is a Jew, redefining who is a citizen and now redefining who is a friend."