Opinion | Op-eds

Declaring very little

The Palestinian declaration of statehood at the United Nations will not help to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and neither will some pro-Israel leaders’ responses to it.

Since President Obama has remained transparent on his intent to veto it, the facts on the ground will remain unchanged after the U.N. vote. The heated debate surrounding this declaration will likely cause more harm than good, as the prospect of an imminently independent Palestine gives false hope to Palestinians, while simultaneously galvanizing extremists on both sides. Naturally, this application for recognition makes the prospect of any negotiations between Netanyahu and Abbas seem all the more grim. For those driven by both a pragmatic outlook on the present circumstances and a deep desire for peace, this much is clear.

Equally clear is the pro-Israel world’s overwhelming support for a two-state solution, yet these supporters are put in a tight spot when considering the U.N. declaration. How do you vehemently affirm your commitment to a Palestinian state alongside Israel while opposing this specific avenue for achieving one? In this regard, outlets of the American Jewish establishment have fallen short. The line between opposing a U.N. recognition of Palestinian statehood and opposing the actualization of Palestinian statehood has become blurry. The pro-Israel organizations Americans for a Safe Israel and Amcha blocked traffic outside the U.N. in protest of the vote. The fervency with which these Jewish leaders cried “NO!” in response to the vote is troubling, considering the issue’s complexity. Despite these organizations’ commitment to two states, their nuance-deficient way of responding to the U.N. declaration fails to show it.

Further, the pro-Israel community’s manipulation of the declaration to advance its blame game is disheartening. To some Israel supporters, the Palestinian Authority’s action in the U.N. is evidence that the PA is no partner for peace. Instead of acknowledging the promising collaboration efforts between the Israel Defense Forces and the PA in the West Bank in law enforcement and public works, many have pointed to Mahmoud Abbas’s nonviolent (albeit nonconstructive) diplomatic effort as another instance of failed Palestinian leadership. Most deplorably, pro-Israel lobbyists are pressuring Congress to cut aid to the PA in retaliation. The declaration is unlikely to prove fruitful, but its use as a tool for justifying a perpetuation of the status quo is embarrassing to anyone fighting for two states.

The Palestinian declaration for statehood brings to mind another people who, in yearning for a sovereign homeland, garnered international support and ultimately appealed to the U.N. Though differences in circumstance abound, Israel’s supporters must stop presenting the Palestinians’ diplomatic effort as something foreign to us—or worse, illegal, and reprehensible. As Zionists and humanitarians, it is our responsibility to make our stance more clear: The narrative of blame must end, and two narratives of two peoples must take its place.

Correction: A previous version of this article mistakenly included StandWithUs in the groups that participated in the traffic-blocking protest outside the U.N.

The author is a second-year in the joint General Studies and Jewish Theological Seminary Program and serves on the executive board of Just Peace.

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Arafat posted on

This reminds me of some of the things Nevelle Chamberlain wrote about Hitler preceding WWII. 

Muslims will never accept Israel.  Never.  And to dream one's silly little dreams that this might happen is to bask in the glow of fanciful liberal delusion. 

Muslims went to war against Israel in 1948 and have been in some degree of warfare (either verbal or otherwise) ever since then.  When will people understand that Islam is an intolerant religion that refuses to acknowledge the rights of others?  Be it in Sudan, Kashmir, Somalia, southern Thailand, NW China, southern Russia, the Kurds in Iran, turkey and Iraq, the Coptics in Egypt, the Chaldeans in Mosul, the Hindus in Pakistan and Bangladesh, the Christians in Nigeria and Pakistan and Malaysia.  Wherever we find Islam we find inhumane treatment of non-Muslims.  This is the reality and not mere words.  It is real.  5,000 Buddhists have been killed by Muslims in southern Thailand.  Look it up.  The Copts of Alexandria are fleeing the homes their families have lived in centuries before Islam ever existed.  And so it goes.

Israel just happens to be on the front line of this war and unlike the 2.6 million Sudanese killed by Muslims without much more than a word or two about it from the UN, Israelis can actually defend themselves despite the Islamic controlled UN's best efforts to destroy Israel.  If Israel had no arms they would be in the same shoes as the 2.6 million dead Sudanese and anyone who pretends otherwise is living a dream.

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Arafat posted on

Could someone explain this conundrum for me? Why is it Muslims are free to violently conquer lands anywhere and everywhere without a word of protest from American Muslims, or any Muslims for that matter, but if Jews have a legally established homeland Muslims will never stop protesting against it? Why is this do you suppose? What explanation can be given other than as the Qur’an states repeatedly that Islam’s goal is to establish a worldwide caliphate in which all non-Muslims are subjugated. For instance, Mohammed was born around 571 AD thousands and thousands of years after Hinduism, Buddhism and Judaism existed. But within a few centuries of Mohammed’s birth Islam had violently conquered vast sections of Asia, all of North Africa and smaller sections of Southern Europe. Now Muslims tell us that all this land belongs to them even though, for instance, in Afghanistan they killed every last Buddhist who once lived there. According to Muslim logic per Israel shouldn’t this land belong to the Buddhists? Or in North Africa all the Berbers have been forcibly converted to Islam or have been killed and now we’re told all this vast landmass belongs to Islam. That’s interesting, if not completely hypocritical. And what about Southern Thailand. Did anyone know that in the last several years something like 5,000 Buddhists have been killed by Muslims because, or so we’re told, the land the Buddhists are on belongs to Islam. And Southern Russia? Muslims are relentlessly waging a slow reign of terror in Russia because, you guessed it, Russians are treating Muslims poorly and they should give up the Southern section of that country to Muslims. Or, let’s take Sudan as another example. How many millions have been killed in Sudan? How many babies and children have starved in Sudan while Islamists steal the food from aid compounds? How many women have Muslims gang-raped in Sudan all because that land belongs to Muslims and only Muslims. All other people can go somewhere else to live, I guess. And Kashmir? The same. Despite Hindus having lived there for 5,000 years – something like 4,000+ years before Mohammed was born – Muslims tell us Kashmir belongs to them. Amazing logic isn’t it? And that brings us to Israel. Israel also belongs to Islam. Did you know that? It’s true. Even though it’s no bigger than a small pimple on the caliphate’s ass it is still their land and they will fight to the death to prove their point. Doesn’t the logic here make a lot of sense. Isn’t it as clear as day? Of course it is. The world belongs to Islam and we’re mere players on their stage.

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Anonymous posted on

As a Jew unaffiliated with any pro-Israel side, this is a disheartening and shamefully naive article. In essence it seeks to legitimize the Palestinian's UDI, a path to statehood that seeks to avoid peaceful negotiations. Yet despite that fact, the author somehow pushes the blame on the pro-Israel groups who oppose the UDI. How is this possible? And then to call congress' threats to cut off aid to the PA, the very government that has failed time and time again to enter meaningful peace talks, "deplorable"? This article scares me and I hope that more people read the real pro-Israel op-ed published today.

Ms. Schuster, I am not an AIPAC or Lionpac or StandWithUs member, but you sorely disappoint me and certainly do not represent me.

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Anonymous posted on

When cutting aid is seem as a reprimand of sorts for a government in and of itself, the world has become a terrible place. How can cutting aid to a people in need of it force the government into peace talks? All it may serve to do is give Hamas more power over the Palestinian people.
This article properly presents the complexities of the issue and does not seek to blame pro-Israel groups, but rather bring to light the error of their methods. 
Ms Schuster, I am not an AIPAC or Lionpac or StandWithUs member, but you sorely impress me and certainly do not represent me, after all, when has an op-ed been able to represent a whole group of ideals?

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Anonymous posted on

you dont know what you're talking about. How would cutting off aid give HAMAS more power? This aid is to the PA. If Abbas cared about his people receiving the aid he wouldnt be so foolish as to piss of the US by proposing a statehood bid that the US has promised to veto. All this means is that the bid is an act of symbolism.

Why must JStreeters always turn the negative light on Israel? Bibi stood at the UN and basically begged Abbas to talk to him. What did he get in return? Nothing, just a unilateral slap-in-the-face to years of sincere attempts at negotiating peace. The reason the statehood bid is reprehensible, Ms. Schuster, is because it undermines peace efforts. Isn't peace what we all want anyways?

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Anonymous posted on

If we let history be our guide, we only need look at the situation in Gaza. When isolated in the way cutting aid would isolate the westbank, Fatah, the current ruling party of the west bank and party that cooperates with Israel on a military and economic level, lost power to Hamas. This is because Hamas had money to provide for the citizens and as we know, they were democratically elected. If Fatah no longer gets the aid to provide social services, it is quite likely that the same fate will happen in the west bank, thus giving more power to the terrorist group Hamas.

"JStreeters", undeniably care about Israel's future in the long term. Given the current demographic issue, they believe the only way to ensure a future Jewish Israel is to create a palestinian state for palestinians to enjoy, take pride in, and perhaps decide to move to. They believe that any efforts to take away aid from the PA would greatly compromise this. They are not criticizing policy because they dislike Israel, they are doing so because they love Israel so much, that they feel that those who are currently in charge are endangering its longevity and existence.

Bibi Netanyahu rhetorically begged for negotiations, but is unwilling to come to terms with the fact that there has been a status quo shift. I think the shift is unfair, but its a reality that we and he cannot deny. The premise of preconditions is unsettling to me, but its what is now expected and the fact that Bibi has vowed to not make another settlement freeze, which is what Abbas claims would open negotiations, shows something else than begging. Lets say Abbas is not in favor of peace, and he is also spewing rhetoric, if Bibi met the preconditions and called him on his bluff, it would still come out better for Israel in the court of public opinion. 

The Palestinians believe Israel to be in the upper hand and do not see it the way many of us on the pro-Israel side do. A state, as they see it, will level the playing field. We say they don't make concessions, but in their narrative even 67 lines are considered concessions to their version of "historic Palestine". If we try to see the situations through the eyes of the palestinians, perhaps we could better understand why they do and say what they do. The same goes for them. I hope we do all want peace.

May Hashem continue to Bless the Jewish State of Israel and ALL of its supporters and help them to find the best methodology to ensure a safe and secure Israel.

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Anonymous posted on

It will take a special sword to cut this Gordian knot. The problem has little to do with reason or logic; it is almost totally emotional which means that rationalization will provide the "intellectual" basis for argument.

Being involved with partisans of both sides, I see no compromise that will satisfy the majority. Even if there is temporary accommodation, in short order new firebrands will arise to stir up the ashes into a major conflagration.

The only real solution would be to modify man's nature so that he really is interested in justice and peace rather than sex, drugs, the music of the moment, and sadism. 5,000 years of history indicate that George Orwell was correct when he said, in "1984," "if you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stepping on a human face, forever." 

If you have led a sheltered life, you may not believe the foregoing. But if you have experienced war or political persecution, you have a more accurate concept of reality. What is truly daunting is that the same person who may institute a massacre of "non-believers" may be also capable of the most altruistic behavior.

The best we can do is to put whatever patches we can on open wounds and try to keep violence to a minimum while developing some way, against all odds, of improving the nature of the beast.

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