An Israeli Disconnect on the Two-State Solution

Which Part of Coalition Represents Netanyahu Government?

Fool’s Errand? Tzipi Livni is pushing for peace talks now. But right-wing members of Israel’s coalition government say they don’t support the two-state solution.
getty images
Fool’s Errand? Tzipi Livni is pushing for peace talks now. But right-wing members of Israel’s coalition government say they don’t support the two-state solution.

By J.J. Goldberg

Published May 27, 2013, issue of May 31, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

(page 3 of 3)

Strangely, no such ambivalence has shown up in the American Jewish community’s public life. The main organizations and their leaders, the ones that raise tens of millions of dollars, reach hundreds of thousands of households — and most important, sway Congress — continue pumping out the same alarms they’ve been broadcasting for a half-century, as though nothing’s changed since 1985.

They’re regurgitated daily in editorials and op-ed essays, action alerts and electronic news digests. Every tinpot Arab who bashes Israel is the subject of dozens of urgent alarms. Interviews and speeches by Palestinian Authority leaders reiterating their commitment to coexistence and negotiated peace go unheard.

Stranger still, they’re trying to defend Israel by promoting doctrines that are, often as not, the opposite of what Israel’s actual defenders think. If you follow Israeli affairs from these shores, you’ve certainly heard that the so-called Arab Spring has left Israel surrounded by unprecedented new dangers. If you happened to attend the Jerusalem Post Conference in New York April 28, you would have heard a parade of Israel’s most senior military and intelligence figures declaring—unanimously—that Israel is more secure than it’s been in years because its neighbors are consumed with their own internal chaos.

Strangest of all, when friends and lovers of Israel hear from Israeli generals and spymasters, as they’re doing with increasingly frequency these days, they tend to respond not with reexamination but with disbelief and anger. That was the response from the audience at the last two Jerusalem Post conferences. That’s been the overwhelming response to “The Gatekeepers,” the Oscar-nominated Israeli documentary in which all six living ex-Shin Bet directors call for a change in Israeli policy and an end to the occupation of the West Bank.

You hear that they’re grandstanding. Or running for office. Or that the architects of Israel’s spy network were duped by a filmmaker. Or — I get this constantly — that they don’t know what they’re talking about. What do the heads of the Israeli army, the Mossad and the Shin Bet know about Israeli defense?

If it seems like you’re hearing about this a lot lately, that’s because Israel’s world-renowned security experts are speaking out more than ever before. The reason is that they’re scared.

Not scared of Syria or Iran. They’ll tell you they know how to handle problems like that. No, they’re scared that Israel is painting itself into a corner, turning itself into an international pariah. They’re scared that Israel will be boycotted, shut off from international credit markets, unable to buy spare parts for its tanks.

They’re scared that the next generation will move to Berlin and Los Angeles. That the Zionist dream will die. That’s why they’re speaking out — in newspapers, at conferences, in films.

And on May 21, former Mossad agent Tzipi Livni took the fight right to the Knesset.

Contact J.J. Goldberg at goldberg@forward.com


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • Move over Dr. Ruth — there’s a (not-so) new sassy Jewish sex-therapist in town. Her name is Shirley Zussman — and just turned 100 years old.
  • From kosher wine to Ecstasy, presenting some of our best bootlegs:
  • Sara Kramer is not the first New Yorker to feel the alluring pull of the West Coast — but she might be the first heading there with Turkish Urfa pepper and za’atar in her suitcase.
  • About 1 in 40 American Jews will get pancreatic cancer (Ruth Bader Ginsberg is one of the few survivors).
  • At which grade level should classroom discussions include topics like the death of civilians kidnapping of young Israelis and sirens warning of incoming rockets?
  • Wanted: Met Council CEO.
  • “Look, on the one hand, I understand him,” says Rivka Ben-Pazi, a niece of Elchanan Hameiri, the boy that Henk Zanoli saved. “He had a family tragedy.” But on the other hand, she said, “I think he was wrong.” What do you think?
  • How about a side of Hitler with your spaghetti?
  • Why "Be fruitful and multiply" isn't as simple as it seems:
  • William Schabas may be the least of Israel's problems.
  • You've heard of the #IceBucketChallenge, but Forward publisher Sam Norich has something better: a #SoupBucketChallenge (complete with matzo balls!) Jon Stewart, Sarah Silverman & David Remnick, you have 24 hours!
  • Did Hamas just take credit for kidnapping the three Israeli teens?
  • "We know what it means to be in the headlines. We know what it feels like when the world sits idly by and watches the news from the luxury of their living room couches. We know the pain of silence. We know the agony of inaction."
  • When YA romance becomes "Hasidsploitation":
  • "I am wrapping up the summer with a beach vacation with my non-Jewish in-laws. They’re good people and real leftists who try to live the values they preach. This was a quality I admired, until the latest war in Gaza. Now they are adamant that American Jews need to take more responsibility for the deaths in Gaza. They are educated people who understand the political complexity, but I don’t think they get the emotional complexity of being an American Jew who is capable of criticizing Israel but still feels a deep connection to it. How can I get this across to them?"
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.