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Are Liberal American Zionists "Delusional"?

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Does Lapid as a partner with Netanyahu offer hope for a creative approach to peace with Israel's Palestinian neighbors? Is he truly the hope for peace that J Street and APN claim?

The evidence is not promising. Lapid's campaign was focused on winning support from those Israeli voters who took to the streets last year to protest against Netanyahu's poor handling of the economy.

His campaign largely ignored "the Palestinian issue," but on the Sunday before the election, Lapid shared his views on "Arabs" in a media interview, leaving no doubt as to his attitude toward Palestinians:

"Yair Lapid, the head of the Yesh Atid party, explained Sunday that he has no expectations from negotiations with the Arabs. 'I do not think that the Arabs want peace,' he wrote on his Facebook page.

"Lapid said that he does not care what the Arabs want. 'What I want is not a new Middle East, but to be rid of them and put a tall fence between us and them.' The important thing, he added, is 'to maintain a Jewish majority in the Land of Israel.'"

This is the man who is expected to form a new government with Netanyahu. The New York Times  confirms that union:

"The last votes counted, mostly those of active-duty soldiers, gave the right-wing and religious factions that make up Mr. Netanyahu's current coalition a one-seat majority. But the prime minister has indicated that he wants to form a broader government, partnering first with Yair Lapid, the leader of the new, centrist Yesh Atid party, whose second-place finish stunned Israel

"Mr. Netanyahu and Mr. Lapid, who together control 50 of Parliament's 120 seats, met for two and a half hours on Thursday in Jerusalem and 'discussed the challenges facing the nation and the ways to deal with them,' according to a statement from Mr. Lapid's party."

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Yousef Munayyer, executive director of The Jerusalem Fund and its educational program, The Palestine Center,  underscores Alex Kane's judgment on Liberal Zionism's overly optimistic reading of the election. Munayyer wrote on his blog:

"If you haven't noticed, the Liberal Zionist brand is desperate to portray the outcome of the Israeli election as the salvation of the Israel they know is down there somewhere."

Alex Kane agrees with Munayyer when he concludes his Mondoweiss rejection of the unrealistic optimism of J Street and Americans for Peace Now:

"The liberal American Zionists are utterly delusional, grasping at any straw to try and convince the world that there is a possibility for a two-state solution and that Israel can make peace."

The start of a second term for Barack Obama is not a time for false optimism about peace that might arise from a new Israeli government. It is rather, a time for the realism of Palestinians like Hanan Ashrawi, writer, scholar and political activist, who brings a Palestinian realistic reminder to the world in a Ha'aretz piece she wrote before the election.  

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She writes:

"In many elections, politicians are accused of stealing public resources. In Israel, in addition to stealing Palestinian land and natural resources, most Israeli politicians are bent on confiscating the last hope for a two-state solution. Most Israeli political parties are guilty of the deliberate omission of peace from their agenda.

"They talk about negotiations when they mean dictation. They talk about 'managing' the occupation rather than putting an end to it. While there is a global consensus for a two-state solution, the main Israeli electoral lists see no room in historic Palestine for two states."

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James Wall is currently a Contributing Editor of The Christian Century magazine, based in Chicago, Illinois. From 1972 through 1999, he was editor and publisher of the Christian Century magazine. Many sources have influenced Jim's writings over (more...)
 

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