Edgar Bronfman uses the "A" wordEdgar Bronfman is one of the big benefactors of Birthright, a program that brings hundreds of loosely affiliated Jewish kids to Israel every year on trips they would otherwise not take. I don't believe that Edgar Bronfman's support of Israel can be questioned.
But I also don't believe that his support of Israel from abroad makes his perception of events correct, or even gives him the right to vote here. I believe he's just plain wrong here (via Memeorandum).
Today we have most of the Arab and even Muslim world putting forward a proposal, the "Arab Peace Initiative," which calls for a normalization of relations in return for an Israeli withdrawal back to the 1967 borders. While negotiations on the exact implementation of the initiative are needed, an Israeli freeze to settlement expansion is part of a necessary first move toward realizing this historic offer.Let's start from the beginning. The
An even more telling precedent is the case of Ariel Sharon, the man tasked with taking down the settlements in the Sinai, and who as prime minister subsequently took down the settlements in the Gaza Strip.
Sharon became convinced that the demographic threat to Israel's existence outweighed his life's work of settlement construction. As Sharon understood clearly, there was no way to keep controlling the Palestinian people indefinitely and to simultaneously maintain Israel's Jewish and democratic character.
At a certain point, there will be more Arabs than Jews living between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River, thereby leading to one de facto apartheid state if no resolution to the conflict is reached via a two-state solution.
Nearly as important, Sharon's evacuation of Gaza, opposed so bitterly by the Israeli right in the Knesset and by settlers on the ground, was a triumph for Israeli democracy and governance. Once the government took the decision, the various organs of the state worked respectfully to uphold the rule of law. This should be kept in mind every time another illegal outpost sprouts up on the West Bank, in direct contravention of Israeli law.
It is these types of decisions from an Israeli prime minister regarding settlements that the Obama administration has said repeatedly it wants to see from Netanyahu.
Bronfman says that a 'settlement freeze' is "part of a necessary first move toward realizing this historic offer." What are the other parts of that first move? I haven't seen them discussed anywhere. Is Bronfman calling for 'confidence building measures' by the Arab states? If so, the Arab states that share borders with Israel, plus Saudi Arabia, have already said that they're not going to do anything until the last Jew leaves Judea and Samaria. What other elements of that first move are ever going to happen? How long does Bronfman propose that Israel not allow its citizens who live over the 1949 armistice line to live normal lives while we wait to see if the Arabs react to our self-restraint?
Moreover, Israel has not constructed a new settlement in many years, and has shown in the past - as Bronfman points out - its willingness to evacuate settlements for the hope of peace. While the government may thus far have been unwilling to evacuate 'illegal outposts,' does anyone seriously doubt that if it wanted to evacuate them it could? Does anyone doubt that if the government (and the majority of Israelis) was convinced that we were being offered real peace in exchange for evacuating the outposts and some settlements, the government would evacuate them? Why does Israel have to interfere with the lives of people who live in Judea and Samaria - by not letting them build schools, infirmaries and synagogues and add rooms to their houses(!) - to convince someone - anyone - that the Israeli government will do what it has already done in the past?
Bronfman takes for granted the darkest demographic predictions about Israel. "At a certain point, there will be more Arabs than Jews living between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River, thereby leading to one de facto apartheid state if no resolution to the conflict is reached via a two-state solution." But those gloom and doom predictions have been disproven time and again.The Palestinian Bureau of Statistics consistently inflates the number of 'Palestinians' living in Judea and Samaria. The only way that the number of Arabs will outnumber the number of Jews between the Jordan and the Mediterranean for the foreseeable future is if Israel suddenly admits massive numbers of 'Palestinian refugees.' There is and will be no 'apartheid' - de facto or otherwise. In fact, the question Bronfman and others ought to be asking themselves regarding apartheid is why it is assumed that any 'Palestinian state' that may be established in Judea and Samaria must be judenrein (Jew-free).
Finally, while Israel's evacuation of Gaza may have been a triumph for the rule of law four years ago, it has been a security disaster ever since. Israelis in an ever-expanding area close to Gaza were living with their children in bomb shelters almost constantly from the Gaza withdrawal until Operation Cast Lead this past winter. If you believe that's not a big deal, let me tell you a story.
My daughters have been mother's helpering this summer for a family that lives about half an hour out of Jerusalem. They have 2-year old twins. They live on the outer edge of where rockets that were fired from Gaza fell during Operation Cast Lead. One rocket fell right outside the gate of their town and the kids had to be evacuated to a bomb shelter. It's been more than seven months since Operation Cast Lead ended. One of the children still has nightmares from being in the shelter. Imagine how living in bomb shelters has affected children who have been doing it constantly for the last four years.
Israelis are more than happy to work toward peace with the 'Palestinians' and to help them build the institutions that are a prerequisite for self-governance. Unfortunately, the Obama administration's pressure on Israel is telling the 'Palestinians' that they don't need to build any such institutions. The 'Palestinians' believe that they just need to sit back and wait for Israel to be handed to them on a silver platter. Seeing Israel's friends like Edgar Bronfman criticizing us for not cooperating with President Obama's plans only convinces the 'Palestinians' that their strategy is correct. In diplomatic-speak, Bronfman's remarks are 'not helpful.'