Part V: Feedback to Blogs on JSpace

Rather than writing up the rest of the program, I thought it would be better to provide feedback on my comments thus far. I did leave early in mid-afternoon and missed the fireworks with the Jewish Defense League (JDL).

JDL picketed and then one of them barged in, yelling “I want to see what the faces of kapos look like!” He was escorted out by some members, the hotel manager, and the police who had provided extra surveillance. The JDL had planned their protest for 4:00 pm when Peter Beinart was scheduled to speak on the importance of raising the progressive Zionist voice…making a difference…and where do we go from here? Ironically, the session JDL interrupted was the panel on challenging antisemitism and anti-Zionism, moderated by Yoni Goldstein and with panelists from CIJA and Ameinu, and an orthodox journalist from Tablet magazine.

The police advised Karen Mock to tell the people to leave via the mall to avoid the protesters and not to engage them. Regretfully, the JDL thugs stood outside both exits to the hotel and harassed JSpace participants. Many felt very unsafe. Afterwards, Peter tweeted: “A bit weird when Jewish Defence League showed up + police had to escort me to my taxi. But fascinating to experience JDL, a phenomenon I had thought was consigned to Jewish history. Like meeting followers of Shabtai Tsvi.”

Selections from some e-mail responses to my blogs:

Thank you, as usual, Howard for these wide-ranging and incisive and substantive blogs. 

I enjoyed the conference. 

Good Intellectual food for thought.

I am not sure it is as diverse a Space for opinions as painted.

Although this response may be premature, I must add, albeit briefly, that if progressive voices should be negotiating for a two-state solution based on “facts on the ground,” and those facts have shifted significantly to the advantage of Israel, then what possible incentive would Israel have to ever negotiate at all?  Sharon’s “facts on the ground” strategy has worked beautifully, and at this point, will deprive the Palestinians of any geography remotely resembling a state.  If Israel continues to pursue this strategy of death by a thousand cuts, we can be assured of one thing only: the peace process will have no chance whatsoever. The left has been played – yet again – believing that everyone’s good intentions would lead to a two-state solution and a just result.  Now we’re simply picking scraps up off the corpse, which is not exactly a hopeful metaphor.  Perhaps the American Jewish left will finally grow a spine, turn off the spigot of funding, and begin to use the financial leverage it may (or may not) have. 

Too “left:” It was too much of a “left” consensus on issues without any contrarian voices. 

Not diverse.

There were many well-meaning people at the Conference – their hearts are in the right place; on the other hand, self-indulgent “feel-goodism” may be a disservice to Israel in the neighborhood in which it lives.

I think overly wishful thinking at the conference and the generation of “feeling warm and fuzzy” (however virtuous) may have come at the expense of balance, historical accuracy, Zionism and realism.

Dialogue is a means not a value.

No speaker countered the assertion that BDS is not anti -Semitic; surely, one can have a “safe space“ and a more balanced view or, at least, one speaker to counter that BDS Is not anti-Semitic.

Beinart focused exclusively on the occupation Itself without explaining that it is not the cause of the conflict but rather the result of the conflict,

Israel does not seek war and all its actions in war have been defensive, the ultimate 70 year plus of Palestinian rejectionism and maximalism, the fact that half the PA budget in foreign aid goes to pay terrorists families without apology and continues without hesitation, the impossible security situation of Israel, the lessons learned from unconditional withdrawal in south Lebanon and Gaza, the intractable and abhorrent views and actions of Hezbollah and Hamas and their aggression and, finally, UN Res.242-all but ignored

Are they non-Zionist or conditional Zionists?

Beinart and his unrelenting hectoring for seemingly unilateral withdrawal from the West Bank by Israel and then “You’ll be perfect and we’ll love you!” Peter B. Also ignores the Talmudic and “Maimonidesian” (?) call for self -defence as a paramount virtue In protecting life while citing other biblical claims to support his position.

I believe in a two-state solution, but not one based on the 1967 borders. As long as the Palestinians fail to show a clear willingness to accept Israel’s right to exist and reflect it in its textbooks for example, there is a fat chance that they will get anything remotely close to what they want based on those borders. The longer they take to figure this out and keep on clinging to their rejectionism, the smaller the dimensions of their ultimate territory will be, the lesser number of token refugees will be allowed to return and their chances to claim East Jerusalem will become more and more remote. I would venture that it is totally unrealistic to expect Israel to remove any established settlements in area C, or that it will have much success in removing any other settlements on its own initiative. Also at this point we should be talking more about sovereignty rather than annexation in the West Bank, although you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to realize that sovereignty is but a first step towards ultimate annexation. The so called “creeping annexation” has more to do with facts on the ground than with the complicity of Canadian Jews, who have hardly any leverage to influence the unfolding of events in the West Bank one way or the other.

As far as wine labeling goes, the precise listing of country of origin may respond to specific negotiated agreements in trade treaties. I personally would not mind having some information stating that the wines in question are imported from Judea (or Samaria) under Israeli sovereignty, just to rub it in and reflect the reality that Palestine is not a country but merely a territory waiting to acquire formal status as a country. I agree that people should be free to decide whether they want to buy those wines or not based on their convictions or their taste. And I can assure you that if those wines are good, they will sell regardless of any boycott as they will benefit from the extra publicity, even if it is considered by some as bad publicity, making them even more marketable among those who do not care about the boycott.

I guess I totally disagree with Israelis who support an unequal status for Israeli Palestinians. I believe in equal status for all Israelis, regardless of their religion or identity. And I also believe that Arabic should not lose its official status and all Israelis should be forced to learn that language as well.

Palestinian leadership must bear much or most of the burden for this state of affairs.

Anecdotally, I will tell you over a year ago, I met with Raja and asked him point blank if he accepts Israel as the homeland of the Jewish people? In very quick response, he said “no”! That was telling and an eye-opener! And hardened my views. And I lost all trust.

Peres, in my view, was quite reflective of the Israeli soul/buried consensus when he said, “we don’t wish to rule another people.” 

By the force of Palestinian rejection and maximalism and security imperatives, Israeli rule over the Palestinians has become normalized.

The second intifada it seems and Palestinian obstructionism and deep unyielding resistance to Israel as the homeland of the Jewish people has made “occupation” go from periphery to mainstream over the years, particularly with Bibi. 

With the help of Alex Zisman

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