In this week’s piece at Souciant, I look at the lessons Bill Clinton’s mistakes at Camp David II hold for Barack Obama today. Many of the conditions have changed, of course, but Clinton’s mis-steps, as well as what he did right, hold general lessons that Obama must keep in mind if he ever decides to seriously re-engage in this issue.
Posts Tagged ‘Right of Return’
Posted in Camp David, tagged Benjamin Netanyahu, Bill Clinton, Camp David, Clinton Parameters, Egypt, Ehud Barak, Fatah, Hamas, Israel, John Kerry, Middle east, Occupied Territories, Palestine, Right of Return, Saudi Arabia, Southern Lebanon, Taba, United States, Yasir Arafat, Yitzhak Rabin on February 8, 2013 | Leave a Comment »
Posted in Barack Obama, tagged Abbas, Barack Obama, BDS, Bill Clinton, Clinton Parameters, Gaza, George W. Bush, Hamas, Israel, Israel Lobby, Jerusalem, Jewish State, Jewish Voice for Peace, Middle east, Occupation, Oslo, Palestine, Right of Return, Settlements, Sharon, Stephen Walt, Two-state solution, West Bank on February 1, 2013 | Leave a Comment »
My piece today in LobeLog offers one suggestion for something Obama can do even if there’s no diplomatic opening in the Israel-Palestine conflict. he can at least try to undo some of the damage his predecessor, George W. Bush did and maybe even build on the better but very flawed of Bill Clinton as well.
Posted in BDS, tagged AIPAC, Americans for Peace Now, Barack Obama, Camp David, CUFI, Frederick Douglass, Israel Lobby, J Street, Jerusalem, Mitt Romney, MJ Rosenberg, Presbyterian Church USA, Right of Return, Settlements, settlers, water, West Bank on July 12, 2012 | 3 Comments »
I wrote a piece last week criticizing Americans for Peace Now for their stance on the Presbyterian divestment motion. But my criticism was as nothing compared to MJ Rosenberg’s, and he has now written a few piecesexploring this topic.
One difference between myself and MJ is that I spend little time worrying about the stance of J Street on this issue. I’m glad J Street is there; it’s a useful organization and I support it for what it does. But that’s not very much.
J Street is unalterably opposed to any sort of pressure on Israel. They are under the mistaken belief that if they prove they represent the majority of American Jews (compared to AIPAC, they do, but that majority is largely apathetic or lukewarm at best on Israel, while AIPAC’s backers, and those farther right, are zealously passionate and have a LOT more money devoted to their cause), this will convince Israel to change its policies. That’s well-intentioned, but naïve doesn’t begin to describe that view, one which is also completely insulated against political realities and, yes, pragmatism.
APN has a more nuanced approach, but as I pointed out, they still resist any real pressure on Israel, and ultimately, this is a strategy that has no hope to make the slightest dent in either US or Israeli policy regarding the Palestinians.
I must point out here that APN issued a clarification of their statement on the Presbyterian vote. I still think they have it wrong, but it does at least acknowledge that APN recognizes that the Presbyterians were trying to carefully target the occupation and not Israel as a whole.
I have no doubt that MJ is right in saying that keeping their donors from sending their dollars elsewhere is a big factor for APN. But I think there’s more here. I think there is truly a dedication to the notion that by publicizing the spread of Israeli settlements and of their impact; and by raising a Jewish, and Zionist, voice against them that they can get Israel to change its behavior.
To me, this stems from a basic misunderstanding of the words of Frederick Douglass, who said: “Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will. Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have found out the exact measure of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them, and these will continue till they are resisted with either words or blows, or both. The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress.”
There are important truths in Douglass’ statement, but also some misleading wording.
By using the word “tyrant,” Douglass allows his American, and later Israeli, listeners to believe he is talking about some other people, not our own Liberal, democratic governments whom we love. He also equates “words” and “blows,” a grave error for inspiring social change, implying that words alone might be sufficient to make “power concede.” Doesn’t happen that way, I’m afraid. (more…)
Posted in Refugees, Zionism, tagged Anti-Zionism, BDS, Daily Beast, human rights, international law, Israel, Jerusalem, Justice, Middle east, One-State Solution, Open Zion, Palestinian Refugees, Peter beinart, pro-Israel, Right of Return, Two-state solution, United Nations, West Bank on April 24, 2012 | 3 Comments »
In response to my piece at the Daily beast today, the noted UK activist and author, Ben White, asked me, on Twitter, what I meant by the following sentence: “Yousef (Munayyer) implied that the only way to recognize Palestinian rights is to allow each refugee and their descendants to choose whether and where, within all of historic Palestine, to return to. That is an unfair standard.”
I respond here because it’s a fair question that deserves more than a 140 character response.
What I mean here is that, while I think it is perfectly legitimate for Palestinians to call for, and for others to support, the full right of return to their original homes, there are also legitimate reasons not to support that call.
In the piece to which my own was a response, Yousef Munayyer claims that Zionism is inherently incapable of recognizing Palestinian rights. His takeoff for this point is Daniel Levy’s statement that he cannot support the Palestinian civil society call for BDS. That call has three clauses, two of which I fully support and I would feel very safe in saying Daniel does as well: self-determination for Palestinians in the Occupied Territories and full equality for Arab citizens of Israel. So the issue is with the third, the call for the right of return for refugees.
I think it is not inherently anti-Israel to call for full RoR. I also think it is not inherently anti-Palestinian to say that RoR must be limited, and this is what i describe in my Daily Beast piece. But Yousef seemed to imply that anything less than full support for RoR proves that “liberal Zionists” like Daniel Levy (and non-Zionists like myself, presumably) cannot truly accept that Palestinians have the same rights as everyone else. I disagree, in that I think they do have the same rights as everyone else and, like everyone else, those rights exist within political realities that we all have to deal with. And, as I state in the piece, those universal rights only entitle refugees to return to their home country, not to specific areas within it, necessarily.
Thus, I believe the standard Yousef set for what would be viewed as respecting Palestinian rights is an unfair one.
Posted in Refugees, Zionism, tagged Anti-Zionism, BDS, Daily Beast, human rights, international law, Israel, Jerusalem, Justice, Middle east, One-State Solution, Open Zion, Palestinian Refugees, Peter beinart, pro-Israel, Right of Return, Two-state solution, United Nations, West Bank on April 24, 2012 | 1 Comment »
My first piece for Open Zion, Peter Beinart’s blog at The Daily Beast, is live. It addresses the false accusation that one cannot be Zionist and also hold to liberal values, using the question of Palestinian refugees as the way to explore this question. Since i don’t identify as a Zionist, I think this makes it a more powerful argument.