Jerusalem Post managing editor and one-state Israelestine fan Caroline Glick is pro-Israel — at least in intent and self-labeling. So are Roger Cohen, Brett Stephens, George Soros, Jeremy Ben-Ami, and David Harris. So are AIPAC, AJC, ZOA, Hillel and J Street. And so are the vast majority of the Jewish groups and individuals who care enough to advocate not only for the right of the Jewish people to have a national homeland in Israel, but also advocate for the right of all of Israel’s citizens to live in accordance with the democratic values upon which Israel was founded.
But applying labels of pro- or anti- are simplistic cop-outs. If I am only concerned with Jews in Greater Israel, or if I don’t believe it is critically important for the preservation of Israel’s democracy to ensure that Israel’s Arab citizens have equal rights, or if I am primarily focused on the security risks presented by a two-state agreement and not the security and economic risks to Israel without an agreement, am I really pro-Israel? If I focus on Palestinian suffering and ignore the actions of Palestinian militants, or if I focus on punitive or discriminatory Israeli government actions but ignore the governments of the countries surrounding Israel, am I really pro-Israel?
It’s messy when we do the label dance.
Glick loves to question pro-Israel bona fides and apply her own definitional construct to those people and groups she finds wanting — that now clearly includes Jeremy Ben-Ami and J Street, but also seems to stretch to include anyone who continues to advocate for a two-state solution. Unfortunately, Glick seems fixated on vetting and winnowing when she should be more interested in growing. The pro-Israel bleachers are not exactly standing room only and are certainly strong enough to hold those with different pro-Israel views.
Far too many countries, militant groups and U.N. agencies see Israel as the center and source of all Middle East evil. Israel now is surprised and suspicious when it is praised or congratulated: When will that disproportionate criticism shoe drop? Yet, Glick wastes time and resources attacking friends and would-be friends who are seen as not friendly enough. They aren’t exclusively Jewish: Coming to a world crisis near you “Barack Darth Vader Obama,” sure to destroy friendships, embolden enemies and lose winning hands.
But Glick loves to go intra more than inter on her anti-Israel’s. Since she seems to be engaged in a concerted effort to further reduce the number of Jewish Israel-supporters by insisting on strict Glickian Jewish pro-Israel-in and Jewish pro-Israel-out rules, I’ve decided to make my own rule book simple: If your intent is to support Israel’s survival as both a democracy and a homeland for the Jewish people, you’re in my door. Of course, I may ask you to leave early if your intent tends to be thwarted by the actions you take or endorse, but you can still reside in the loyal opposition.
That’s how Caroline qualifies for my new pro-Israel party which, unlike hers, focuses more on strength in numbers than homogenization of thought. Her thoughts? Your pro-Israel highway shouldn’t have alternate routes dotted with what, to her, are clearly pro-Palestinian exits and your highway needs a name change if it doesn’t head directly pro-Israel government north.
Caroline and facts aren’t friends. Nor is she friendly with pro-Israel colors other than black and white. Her columns are more noteworthy for weaving assumptions and distortions into unsupportable conclusions, than for fact-based or nuanced analysis. (Repeating a lie often and forcefully enough for your confirmation bias fans gets you loyal readers who then circulate and recirculate those always endearing CAN YOU BELIEVE THIS? emails.)
One example: When confronted with demographic trends in Israel and the Palestinian territories that suggest Palestinians will shortly outnumber Jews, Glick just ignores the Palestinians in Gaza to make her argument that Jews will continue to outnumber Palestinians. Another example: Glick has consistently claimed that J Street supports the BDS movement despite its repeated statements that it does not. Her “proof” is that J Street officials have appeared on panels to debate BDS supporters. My proof that Glick is pro-Palestinian is she has actually interviewed two-state peacenik and lead Israeli negotiator Tzipi Livni, who has, on many occasions, negotiated with and debated top Palestinian officials.
Oh, Glick isn’t pro-Palestinian, but her views are unserious and deserve more to be ignored than considered. (Consider this blog my small effort at unseriousness and ignoring her.)
When funding for the Jewish Federation is down by over 50 percent in the last decade; when the recent Pew Study indicates that a dramatically lower percentage of young Jews indicate attachment to and support for Israel than their parents and grandparents; when, according to the same study, 48 percent of all Jews believe Israel is not making a strong enough effort to reach a peace agreement with the Palestinians, then we need to consider alternate pro-Israel routes that offer the possibility of picking up more of our Jewish stranded.
That requires a much deeper understanding of the motives of all who support Israel. It also requires a deeper understanding of the motives of the present Israeli government, whether you agree with all, most, some or none of its decisions.
Israel has only known conflict since it was first founded 66 years ago. Conflict is woven into Israel’s DNA. Israel’s leaders know how to deal with conflict and trust its predictability. Peace with the leaders of a people Israel’s leaders generally do not trust and feel they have 66 years of reasons not to, would weaken that certainty. It’s an uncomfortable certainty, but enemies are easier to identify than so-called peace partners who, in Israel’s view, mask their desire to ultimately destroy Israel.
Israel’s enemies are fruitful and multiply so why not continue to plant Israel’s very special stasis seeds to kill the uncertainty that an unstable peace would assuredly bring? Better to keep the settlement enterprise. Better to ignore that it is in Israel’s interest, even more than the Palestinians’, to take painful risks to effect a two-state solution. Better to disempower its Palestinian partners than to nurture their success. Better to ignore the world’s concern about Israel becoming a colonial power — a nascent South Africa, just with nuclear weapons and Congress. Better to focus the U.S. on Iran, go through the negotiating motions, and survive to live another day.
Now some would view the paragraph above as an overstatement: It focuses too much on Israel and not at all on the fact the Palestinians have truly awful leadership. How can peace ever be achieved when one Palestinian faction is preaching against violence as a tactic and the other faction is countenancing it?
But here’s the point: Israel needs all of the supporters it can muster. Labeling those who don’t support Israel the “right” way as not truly pro-Israel discourages people who would otherwise be enthusiastic supporters as well as those who are now on the sidelines because they are afraid to enter the pro-Israel fray. It is a mistake that can lead to an eventual reduction in Diaspora support.
So next time you read Glick or anyone else criticizing their fellow Jews about the way they express their support for Israel, ask them this: What will be left of the Israel you support today if you eventually “succeed?” What will happen to the focus on Israel’s future — real and eschatological — if its loyal Diaspora becomes more Christian Zionist than Jewish?
Then pray that Glick and her like-minded cohorts don’t ever “succeed” in taking us to this precipice.