Monday, June 6, 2011

Has J Street Abandoned the Two-State Solution?

Last Saturday night there was a protest in Tel-Aviv, ostensibly in favor of Palestinian "statehood". For most Israelis, a two state solution means one real Jewish state, and a second, quasi, Palestinian state. Heck, that's true not just for most Israelis for successive American administrations. But even those administrations would not go so far as support the idea that in a future peace settlement that gives birth to a quasi state (which, I pray to God, will never come about – and so far He has answered my prayers), the large settlement blocs would be annexed to Israel and what's left of the West Bank (and Gaza?) would be part of a Palestinian bantustan, oops, I mean "state" with "land swaps".

Yet J Street has not only embraced the ridiculous notion that the large settlement blocs – and that has to include Ariel in the North – will be annexed to Israel, it has dishonestly interpreted this to be consonant with Pres. Obama's policy.

How so? I received an email from J Street praising a poster of the Nationalist Left movement (available through J Street in English here) in Israel that says, "We get the settlement blocs; they get a state." Now, no United States administration has said that in a future peace accord with the Palestinians, the settlement blocs would stay in Israel's possession, EVEN ASSUMING LAND SWAPS. By all accounts, the City of Ariel in the North is a large settlement bloc. Gush Etzion is certainly a large settlement bloc, and the Geneva Iniative's map of borders, left Efrat – part of Gush Etzion – outside of Israel. It's true that the Nationalist Left movement claims to support the Obama formulation of 67 borders with land swaps against Bibi's naysaying. It is also true that the National Left's idea of settlement blocs no doubt differs from that of Bibi. But let's make this perfectly clear – one either can annex the major settlement blocs OR have a viable Palestinian state; one cannot do both. And not surprisingly, the Nationalist Left's formulation is claimed to be valid whether there is a peace agreement or not. In other words, that movement holds that Israel can withdraw from the West Bank and annex the settlment blocs, even without a deal. Where J Street should be pushing the idea that the settlement blocs are the major obstancle to peace, precisely because they are illegal blocs of settlements, they have allied themselves with the Nationalist Left, which is not in the camp of the Obama administration, and which wants to purify the loathsome settlements as if it is not big deal – just "demographic realities", to use the Nationalist Left's term.

In explaining the Nationalist Left's slogan, J Street's Carinne Luck writes:

By settlement blocs, the poster means that the large Jewish population centers just over the 1967 lines that would be swapped for territory currently on the Israeli side of the lines. "Them" means the Palestinians. An Israeli political movement called the National Left (Smol Leumi) developed the poster.

This formulation mirrors the one that President Obama laid out in his speech and has been the policy of the U.S. Government for decades. Experts agree it is the most viable model for a two-state solution, as well as the only way to secure Israel's future as a Jewish, democratic homeland

Well, Efrat is a large population center over the 1967 line. Is J Street supporting making the annexation of Efrat a deal breaker? What "experts" is Luck referring to? Where has President Obama ever said that the "settlement blocs" will be annexed to Israel? I will be happy to make a contribution ot J Street if Carinne or anybody else finds that language there in an administration statement.

Heck, I haven't even seen J Street use the language of "settlement blocs," which is the Israeli phrase that maximizes territory (since you can be a small settlement within a bloc.) What J Street says on its website is as follows:

The borders should allow for many existing settlements, (which could account for as many as three-quarters of all settlers) to be part of Israel's future recognized sovereign territory.

That's hardly the language of "settlement blocs."

So what is J Street doing? Are they just clueless? Trying to put something over an uninformed American Jewish electorate? Hoping that a poster with Obama will make them look kosher?

Or…perhaps, like the Nationalist Left, they are proposing a ridiculous, non-starter of a solution, one that even the most pro-Israeli, pro-peace Palestinian government imaginable would rightly reject.

Has J Street abandoned a credible Two-State Solution? Or did they just make one of the gaffes for which they have become well-known?

h/t to Child of Abraham


levi9909 said...

Jerry - do you think the two state solution was ever viable? Or are you simply saying that JStreet has mobile principles?

pabelmont said...

Expansive Zionism, the only major strain today, has no limits, no boundaries, and (as to action) no brakes. The brakes if they are to exist must be applied by external forces. and obviously not by the powerless Palestinians. The USA could apply brakes, but will not -- not without brakes on AIPAC.

J-Street is a rider on this expansive Zionist train-ride and does not see itself as having a hand anywhere near the brake lever, either as against Israel or as against AIPAC or the USA. J-Street is not in opposition.


DW said...

Could you explain why settlement blocs are a deal breaker for the Palestinian side? If there is 1:1 land-swap of territory of similar quality etc., why should it matter which side of the border Efrat lies? I understand how Ariel and E1 adjacent to Ma'aleh Adumim prevent contiguity, but Efrat? Or the idea of blocs in the abstract?

Jerry Haber said...

Levi9909, I have yet to see a viable two state solution that provides the minimum requirements for a Palestinian state, one which guarantees security, dignity, and self-determination for the Palestinian people.

I think that J Street's mentality, like that of the Obama administration, is essentially Zionist, and is concerned mostly with the ill effects of the Occupation, without taking into consideration more fundamental questions such as the ones I have raised (and others). See my most recent post on that.