Yesterday, we ran an article by Scott Ritter, The Final Act of Submission on the problems with AIPAC. As a Jew, who has known concentration camp survivors and who is aware of how Jews had nowhere to go during world war two, to escape the holocaust, I am a supporter of Israel. As loyal American, I support America. But I find Israel is in the same boat as America, with policy making leadership that is really bad-- bad for Israel, bad for America, bad for the world. That said, I find AIPAC has been bad for Israel and bad for the USA. They have effectively stifled discussion of the full range of options for Israel by US legislators. I repeat. I support ISrael. I support the USA's friendship with and support for Israel. But I find Israel's current approach to dealing with Palestinians awful. I find the USA's current approach to dealing with Palestinians (or, more accurately, NOT DEALING with Palestinians) awful.
I know that the paragraph above will get me hate mail. Some will call me a zionist. Some will call me an antisemite. Too bad. This discussion needs to be opened up. I'm a member of a synagogue where probably 80-90% of the members don't like the way Israel treats the Palestinians. But fear of offending or losing the handful of members who are proud to be unyielding, unquestioning supporters of Israel hold back the 80-90% from committing the synagogue to take a position. There's no real venue for the large numbers of Jews who are not happy with the leadership of Israel, the excessive influence of extremist fundamentalist ultra orthodox Jews... so the Jews in the US allow a small percentage of ultra conservatives to speak for and lead the policy of Jews towards Israel. This needs to change.
Yesterday, Reuters reported that George Soros, another American Jew, has added his "voice to debate over Israel lobby"
Soros said: "A much-needed self-examination of American policy in the Middle East has started in this country; but it can't make much headway as long as AIPAC retains powerful influence in both the Democratic and Republican parties."
The solution is for Jews to get together and raise money to fund another Pro-Israel lobbying organization, but one that is not a supporter of right wing extremists-- one that supports approaches and people who work harder towards peace, who look for solutions that don't only involve bigger and better weapons and tougher, more intolerant talk. AIPAC has become too closely tied to the Bush administration. Israel and the Jewish community would be wise to start funding and supporting alternate voices with alternate visions and solutions. The backlash against AIPAC is building. It needs competition (if readers know of any, please drop me a note, or better, mention them in comments in response to this article.
The competition should stand up to the Saudis, stand up to the Islamic groups who call for Israel's destruction. But they should also seek out groups that look for ways to make peace happen. Israel has leaders who want and need conflict to maintain their power, just like the USA has Bush and Cheney, who need supporters who live in fear, who want war. There are people in Israel who actually talk to and work with Palestinians. There are Palestinians who reach out to Israelis, trying to build bridges to peace. The Israelis are disdained. Some of the Palestinians are killed, as traitors.
Continued violence, continued loud brandishing and use of weapons will never lead to peace. The approach by AIPAC, Bush and his Israeli leadership counterparts has failed and will continue to fail. It is time for new solutions. The Jews in the US who are not happy with the way things are must start the ball rolling. The wealthy Jews who support AIPAC must start funding organizations with alternative approaches. The wall of silence must be breached.