Friday, April 07, 2006

Mainstream Jewish Organizations' Refusal to Engage Walt and Mearsheimer and Alliance with Christian Right Lobby Do Not Bode Well for Peace

Daniel Levy was an advisor in the Prime Minister Ehud Barak's Office, a member of the official Israeli negotiating team at the Oslo B and Taba talks and the lead Israeli drafter of the Geneva Initiative, an important initiative created through Track 2 diplomacy. He is a regular and I believe, respected commentator on Israeli Palestinian issues.

In the linked article “So Pro Israeli that it Hurts,” an Op Ed he wrote to the Ha’aretz, he comments on the Walt-Mearsheimer paper (see my post of March 27th). Admitting that the Walt-Mearsheimer paper’s “tone is harsh. It is jarring for a self-critical Israeli, too. It lacks finesse and nuance when it looks at the alphabet soup of the American-Jewish organizational world and how the Lobby interacts with both the Israeli establishment and the wider right-wing echo chamber,” Levy calls for a debate on the issues. “Avoidance of candid discussion might make good sense to the Lobby, but it is unlikely to either advance Israeli interests or the U.S.-Israel relationship.”

Mainstream Jewish organizations have so distanced themselves from this document that they don't even want discuss it publicly for fear of drawing media attention to it. I think this is really unfortunate and does not serve Israel’s long term interests. Daniel Levy writes:“In the words of the simplistic Harvard study authors, ‘the Lobby's influence has been bad for Israel ... has discouraged Israel from seizing opportunities ... that would have saved Israeli lives and shrunk the ranks of Palestinian extremists ... using American power to achieve a just peace between Israel and the Palestinians would help advance the broader goals of fighting extremism and promoting democracy in the Middle East.’ And please, this is not about appeasement, it's about smart, if difficult, policy choices that also address Israeli needs and security.”

On the other hand, today’s Forward reports that mainstream Jewish organizations, if reluctantly in public, are embracing the Christian Right's initiative of creating a Christian "AIPAC," whose main champion is Christian Fundamentalist preacher John Hagee. It is not as if the Jewish organizations don’t know that the apocalyptic vision of these Christian Zionists is nothing less than either conversion or the destruction of Jews. Daniel Levy warns against this alliance as well.

The political motivations in these two issues: the refusal to engage in debate about Walt and Mearsheimer's conclusions and the alliance with the Christian right are obvious. I think they are deeply flawed and don’t further long-term prospects for peace. I think it signals an unusual ineptitude and indeed a frightening paranoia.

Click here for Daniel Levy's article:

Click here for an article from the Forward about Jewish organizations alliance with John Hagee's Christian AIPAC:


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