Jeremy Ben-Ami’s Dec. 18 op-ed, “Redefining ‘pro-Israel,’ ” urged Israel “to proactively take bold, even risky, steps to establish a state of Palestine based on the pre-1967 lines with land swaps.”
Where has Mr. Ben-Ami been? In 1993, Israel entered the Oslo process with Yasser Arafat and the Palestine Liberation Organization. The process was intended to lead to final-status talks on the West Bank and Gaza Strip by 1998, but Palestinian terrorism, not mentioned by Mr. Ben-Ami, sabotaged it.
In 2000, Israel and the United States proposed to the PLO a West Bank and Gaza state, with East Jerusalem as its capital, in exchange for peace with the Jewish state. Bold, even risky. But this, too, Arafat rejected and soon after launched the “al-Aqsa intifada,” in which more than 1,000 Israelis and 4,000 Palestinians died. The offer was repeated and again rebuffed in early 2001. With Mr. Ben-Ami’s “land swaps” included, it was made by Israel and rejected by the Palestinian Authority (PA) in 2008.
Mr. Ben-Ami, the president of J Street, which calls itself a “pro-Israel” and “pro-peace” organization, did not mention these inconvenient facts. He was silent, too, on the 2006 triumph of the terrorist organization Hamas in Palestinian elections. He also said nothing about Hamas’s violent takeover of the Gaza Strip the next year. Likewise, he was mute on recurrent rocket and mortar attacks from the Gaza Strip and on incessant anti-Israel incitement by the Fatah-led PA in the West Bank.
Instead, Mr. Ben-Ami tilted at “pro-Israel hawks,” among whom he included “most Republican [presidential] candidates” for their allegedly “unqualified support for Israeli government policy,” and at their “echo chamber” of pro-Israel activists. These characters would make a scary bedtime story for anyone who’s forgotten that the Israeli government continues to invite Palestinian leaders to resume unconditional negotiations. This tale must frighten anyone who doesn’t know that the PA seeks a unilateral U.N. statehood declaration precisely to avoid the compromises with Israel implicit in U.N. Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338, the 1995 Israeli-Palestinian interim agreement and the 2003 international “road map.”
The pro-Israel lobby is hardly part of Mr. Ben-Ami’s “political right” bogeyman; prominent Democrats have held leadership roles repeatedly. Yet someone coming from Mr. Ben-Ami’s position has to attempt to redefine “pro-Israel.”
Eric Rozenman, Washington
The writer is Washington director of the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America.
I have a simple definition to offer: To be “pro-Israel” is to respect Israel, its elected leaders and its policies. Israelis are not to be treated as pawns, with their fates dictated by foreigners. There are risks in whatever course Israel chooses. But since Israelis are the ones who would suffer any consequences, they, and they alone, have the right to chart that course, just as we Americans get to choose our destiny.
I am against a two-state solution because I believe it would lead to extreme bloodshed on both sides of the conflict. Every concession made by Israel has emboldened and empowered its enemies. There will be no end to the demand of the “right of return.”
There is no way to defend a divided Jerusalem when half calls for the destruction of the other side. Nevertheless, were the Israeli people to decide such a course, I would accept that decision, because I respect Israel and its elected leaders.
Melvin Farber, Silver Spring