THE JEWISH WEEK
Left Is No Longer Right
by Aryeh Rubin
When hostilities broke out after Ariel Sharon’s
visit to the Temple Mount in late September 2000, much
of the Jewish world reassessed its view of Yasir Arafat
as a partner for peace. When bloody hands were held
up during the Ramallah lynching, and after the suicide
bombings in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, and the continuous
drive-by shootings, much of the Jewish world readjusted
its political compasses.
Now, after the carnage of Sept. 11, much of the Jewish
world has focused on the public emergence of Muslim
anti-Semitism, and seriously pondered its impact on
the future of the State of Israel.
Yet the American Jewish organizations of the left,
those that invested much energy on the peace process,
seem to have been unable to adjust their direction or
rhetoric. While they have expressed sympathy for the
victims, few have condemned the Palestinian Authority
and/or Arafat. The organizations continue to issue statements,
conduct polls and hold conference calls with their heavy
hitters as if the events of the last year were a slight
blip on the road to the original Rabin-Peres peace plan
Nothing could be further from the truth. It’s
as if they have become so obsessed with achieving peace
that they have lost sight of the greater goal of guaranteeing
Israel’s welfare and security.
As a supporter of the Oslo agreement over the years,
I have no regrets for having donated my time and money
to promoting the process. I was proud of the 70 percent
of the Israeli electorate that favored the deal —
for the Israelis’ sake, for the Palestinians’
sake and for Israel’s position in the international
arena of public opinion.
I was also mindful that American support, which is
crucial for Israel’s survival, would not have
been as forthcoming without Israel’s earnest attempt
to reach a peace agreement.
I believe an agreement at Camp David, which was so
close, blew up because in the end Arafat could not agree
to an end of conflict with the Jews. That agreement,
no matter how fragile, would have been better than the
But now the world has changed and the dynamics of the
Middle East beg a radically different approach. Although
a negotiated arrangement is still the best near-term
solution, the American Jewish organizations on the left
must acknowledge and adapt to this new playing field.
It is the responsibility of these organizations to
develop and promote a well-conceived strategy.
Only Kach and Hamas have put forth any sort of a solution
other than a negotiated deal. The former wishes to transfer
all the Arabs forcibly, and the latter calls for the
destruction of the Jewish state. When considering that
Israel, the West Bank and Gaza population is comprised
of approximately 56 percent Jews, 3 percent Druze and
others, and 41 percent Arab, it becomes obvious that
unloading the territories is crucial to Israel’s
survival. (These percentages fluctuate depending on
Ultimately, whether it’s a negotiated agreement,
a unilateral separation or a non-belligerency pact,
the 5 million Jews, 3 million Palestinians and 1 million
Israeli Arabs will still be there, and an arrangement
of sorts is the only solution, although it won’t
be the peace for which we hoped and prayed.
While the American Jewish organizations on the left
continue about their merry way, my red lines were crossed
long ago. I have called upon these organizations that
are committed to the peace process to take a stand that,
in effect, sends a clear message to Arafat and his advisers.
It would say, in effect: We on the left who have met
with you, supported you and lobbied on your behalf to
the White House for aid now condemn you, and reaffirm
our full support for the Israeli government. Until you
stop all violence, you have bankrupted your goodwill
with the Jews of the world and all people of goodwill.
With the influence that the collective American Jewish
peace camp has on Capitol Hill, such a statement would
have a profound effect on White House and congressional
reactions to Israeli measures deemed necessary to halt
the terrorism. The unofficial response of some leaders
of these organizations has been that their primary mission
is to promote peace between the Palestinians and the
Israelis. They do not wish to blow their own goodwill,
not to mention the tens of millions of dollars they
have spent in developing it.
I do not agree, and call upon these organizations to
acknowledge the new reality and the will of the Israeli
people. And if such a time comes that negotiations between
the Palestinians and Israelis start in earnest, then
those who believe in it can once again become the ardent
supporters of a new peace process.
Our enemies are for the most part united in their missives,
in their hate and in their use of the media to get their
message across. Statements that give fodder to those
that oppose us, and statements that can be misconstrued
even by our friends in the State Department, must stop.
I am resolute in my conviction that all of Jewry (but
especially those on the left who advocated and lobbied
on behalf of the peace process) must show and advocate
a united and unconditional support for Israel during
this time of war.
We condemn the terror; we condemn Arafat and the Palestinian
Authority and hold them responsible for it. We must
reiterate this so that Israel hears it, Arafat hears
it, Congress hears it and the White House hears it in
a united voice.