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MEA Weekend: AIPAC vs J-Street

AIPAC has been the biggest and most powerful Pro-Israel Jewish lobby in Washington for at least two decades.

These days, its stance is being challenged by another new Pro – Israel lobby, called J-Street. The latter’s stance on the two states solution is far more clear and stronger.

If I lived in the U.S, I would support J-Street. I have met many AIPAC officials and they are great people who care deeply about Israel and her security. However I think the organization is stuck in the past. They still look at Israel as this beleaguered weak little country who could be destroyed any day. I also disagree with AIPAC’s Israel can do no wrong attitude.

I think the opposite. I think Israel is a very strong country. In fact, on a one to one basis we could take on every European country in war, and with the exception of Russia, France and the UK, we could probably beat them. Hamas and Hezbollah are not a mortal danger to Israel, because we are umpteen times stronger than them. It is them who are scared of us. Far more. Same for Iran. Those “great” Iranian leaders who get on the pulpit and call for Israel’s elimination have not dared fire a single bullet, let alone a missile against Israel in the 32 years history of the Islamic Republic. Why? because they know that the reality of life inside the boxing ring with your gloves on is far different than standing outside and shouting abuse.

Israel however does have weaknesses. They are not military. After 62 years, we have no border. We lack legitimacy. There is one law for the secular Jew, another for the Palestinian who lives with Israeli ID in East Jerusalem, another law for Palestinians in the West Bank, and yet another for religious Jews.

The biggest danger is the fact that the numbers are screaming at us. Not just screaming, they are hollering. Yet the conservatives in Israel and AIPAC seem to take little notice. In 20 – 25 years, there will be more Palestinians than Israelis in the West Bank. We either have to give them voting rights, or install apartheid.

There is another reality. According to a recent study in Tel Aviv University, by 2040, 78% of school children will be either Arab or Haredi in Israel’s schools, none of whom go to the army. If we don’t make peace, who is going to protect the settlements?

This is why the time for making peace is now. We are a strong country, and we can protect ourselves. More importantly, we have to use the centuries old Jewish skill of planning 50 – 100 years ahead. This is how we survived in diaspora. Israel’s current leaders have problem envisioning five months ahead. Never mind 50 years.

In my opinion, J-Street, far more than AIPAC is about that vision, and is about examining Israel’s future, and thinking long term. This is why I support them.

I enclose with this debate below between Jeremy Ben Ami, who is the head of J-Street and Professor Alan Dershowitz, who is one of the main supporters of AIPAC.


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Posted on : May 27 2010
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