Settlement Whiplash

By DANIEL GORDIS

The Jerusalem Post

19/03/2010

It was only a matter of time until settlement construction the issue that the Obama administration has chosen to situate at the very core of its Mideastpolicy, as if settlements have anything at all to do with decades of Palestinian recalcitrance reared its proverbial head once again. But now that the issue is back, it’s time for some honesty on both sides of the political divide: The wisdom or folly of settlement construction is substantially less obvious than most observers are willing to acknowledge.Barack Obama, Joseph Biden and Hillary Clinton are all justifiably incensed by the embarrassment caused to Biden by the sheer buffoonery of Israel’s elected officials. But their ire says nothing about the substance of the issue, which is once again being addressed with a stridency born of the fact that everyone believes that there is absolutely no merit to the position of the other.

LIVING IN Jerusalem, you don’t have to be prime minister to have periodic bouts of settlement whiplash. Life in the Jewish capital is sometimes comprised of conversations so surprising that you wonder whether to believe your ears. In the hopes of injecting even a drop of bilateral humility into the discourse, I share two conversations that took place not long ago before most people had heard of Ramat Shlomo, but after it was already clear that settlements were a cause calibre once again.

I was sitting at one of those ubiquitous cafe’s on Rehov Emek Refaim, chatting with a lay leader from New York. Biblical claims to the land no longer matter, he was telling me. Nor do picayune legalistic arguments about why this family or that has the right to inhabit this building or that. All of that, he insisted, is now irrelevant.

“You’re losing us,” he explained. “Lots of deeply committed American Jews have just had it with Israel. They want to care, but they can’t. Ninety percent of America’s Jews are Reform and Conservative Jews, but the Jewish state spits on them, and then expects us to pretend that it’s rain. You never elect a prime minister with the guts to stand up to those thugs called chief rabbis. You really expect us to be loyal third-class citizens?”

And he took a deep breath. “But then, you make us not only angry, but ashamed. Doesn’t anyone here give any consideration at all to how Israel’s policies play in our community? How are we supposed to defend policies that push the Palestinians off of more land and out of more neighborhoods, when the world’s decided that that’s simply abhorrent? And have you got a strategy? Do you want a two-state solution? Because if you do, you’d better start leaving them some land on which to create one. And if you don’t want a two-state solution, what do you plan to do with those millions of Arabs in Gaza and the West Bank? Kick them out? Make them non-citizens forever, and then prove that Jimmy Carter was right about the apartheid accusation all along? Are you still going to expect us to watch your backs then? Really, do you guys ever actually think?

I pushed back, but only a bit, and very gently, because I wanted him to know that I had, indeed, heard him. I disagreed with many of his factual claims, but his angst was genuine, and he was far too articulate to be easily ignored.

But it was soon time to go, for I had to pick up our car from its annual service. A short while later, I found myself in the waiting room, the car not quite ready though I’d been assured it would be. Sharing the space with me was a blond gentleman in a tweed suit and a tie, speaking English with a thick European accent. We had time to kill, so I figured I might as well talk to him. He was from Scandinavia, it turned out, but was now working for the European Union in “Palestine.”

Oy. This, I could tell, was just going to be one of those days. From the frying pan into the fire. I asked him about his counterparts in the Palestinian government. Some good people, he said, but a lot of corruption. They have a long way to go before they’re ready for statehood, he added.

That surprised me. So I pushed. “So, are we eventually going to have peace here?”

“Well,” he said, “eventually is a long time. But probably not in my lifetime, or yours.”

“So,” I asked, figuring that little could be worse than that conversation at the cafe, “what should Israel do in the meantime?”

“Just what you are already doing,” he said.

“Meaning what?”

“Meaning, that you keep building your country, and keep building the settlements.”

I wasn’t sure I’d heard correctly. “Build the settlements?”

“Absolutely.”

“Why’s that?”

“Look,” he said. “Some day, they’re going to be ready for serious talks. They’re going to make a huge concession, and recognize your right to exist. But they’re going to expect a similarly grand concession from you. Your concession can’t be recognizing their right to a state, because you’ve already done that. And you can’t compromise on the return of refugees, because then you have no Jewish state. So you need something massive that you can give up on and that’s going to be the settlements. You’ll have to evacuate and destroy most of them in the end, but if you do that now, then what will you offer at the table? The settlements are your key to making peace eventually.”

AT THAT moment, we were both told that our cars were ready. We shook hands, and went our respective ways. I should have asked for his card, I thought as I was driving home, because I should have introduced him to my American Jewish philanthropist friend. And my American Jewish friend should really speak not to me, but with the people who actually shape Israeli policy.

Which got me wondering: Could those people begin to hear each other? Can we? Not now, probably. But eventually? Perhaps. The problem, though, is that eventually can be a really long time.

About Daniel Gordis

Dr. Daniel Gordis is Senior Vice President and the Koret Distinguished Fellow at Shalem College in Jerusalem. The author of numerous books on Jewish thought and currents in Israel, and a recent winner of the National Jewish Book Award, Dr. Gordis was the founding dean of the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies at the University of Judaism.

32 Comments on "Settlement Whiplash"

  • Joeotus says

    Sadly it seems you disregard the comments of your “American Jewish philanthropist friend” at Israel’s peril. It’s great to hear your hopes endorsed by the Scandinavian gentleman but that doesn’t make it good advice (at the moment). It doesn’t serve the purposes of the State of Israel(who I’ve supported since it’s birth) to weaken Israel’s only friend the United States and it’s President Barack Obama (for the false meme that he’s an anti-Semite or anti-Israel). You’re smart enough to know better, unfortunately the right-wing Israeli political leadership including the Rabbinate seem unprepared for their leadership jobs, not even close. There are more Jewish congressmen and senators now then ever and more higher ranking aides to the President. A damaged Obama and USA is sabotage to Israel. Israel’s leadership seems determined to screw it up in service to the GOP(who are using Israel for their American political games)and American religious right-wingers who, beneath it all(their propaganda), only wish Israel and the Jewish people to accept Christ or die a violent flaming death. Yes for them they support you (at the moment) to hasten their so called dream of “The Rapture”. You know this very well Dr. Gordis so stop screwing around with the safety of Israel with schtuyot.

  • Scott Sobel says

    Incredible dichotomies. You always manage to do it to us Gordo! Thank you. Like the commentator (Joe)above, I too have difficulty stomaching Israel’s leadership, but for the opposite reasons. (Anti-religious, anti-settlement…) But while they are weak, they’re not capable of as much destruction as Obama’s policies are/will be… Shabbat Shalom l’kulam!

  • DrDave says

    I guess Israel is going to have to try to balance practical reality (in the context of loss of support from the American Jewish community) against the ideal of having the best possible bargaining position for the eventuality of peace when it comes. I’ve had this same argument with friends here who believe–as your Scandinavian acquaintance does–that Israel should keep doing what it is doing but from where I sit (and this has been, in my mind, confirmed by many of your writings over the years) that it is going to be harder and harder for Israel to hold it together if resolution of the Palestinian issue occurs much later (“eventually”) rather than sooner.

    I agree with Joeotus: Ignoring your “American Jewish philanthropist friend” is done at Israel’s peril.

  • Eric says

    Maybe my math is not so good, but i would love it if someone could explain to me how the palestinians accepting Israel’s right to exist, which likely won’t be worth the paper it is written on, is anywhere near the sacrifice of giving up the settlements. oh, and they get a country of their own as a kicker w/ part of Jerusalem as their capital. whats really twisted about the whole situation is that most people look at this and think that it makes sense. at what point do we stop accepting this ridiculous double standard and realize that the only hope there is for Israel and the Jews is to finally start doing whats best for Israel and the Jews and not what the rest of this twisted world wants us to do. what else needs to happen to the Jews before we finally realize that we can only count on ourselves? Israel wants peace and the arabs want us gone. with this kind of math, seems like they are closing in on their goal much faster than we are.

  • Elihu says

    It is a pleasant surprise to hear that a Scandinavian fellow working for the European Union in “Palestine” has a realistic perspective on the prospects for peace here, right now. At the same time, whiplash is understandable, as our American compatriots sometimes seem more indulgent of, or invested in, their own anger toward and embarrassment with Israeli policy and the “right-wing” politicians than in acquiring a deep understanding of the region’s day-to-day realities that drive these policies and politicians. President Obama and the USA may be well-intended, but current foreign policy reveals either a stubborn naivete – or a resolute wrong-headedness – toward the real roots of the long-standing Arab-Israeli conflict. We have a right to a Jewish state, here. Period. That right does not stem from the events of the Holocaust -and long precedes it. A least three times every single day and in grace after meals we Jews -of all stripes- pray for a rebuilt Jerusalem and a return to this land. The Arabs have stolen Jewish history and refuse to acknowledge our national-religious rights here, at all. True, we still have to work out the tensions between Western Democracy and principles of religious Jewish leadership, here. But we are entitled to do so on our own terms. American foreign policy is in a shambles now because diplomacy has replaced moral courage. President Obama and our American Jewish compatriots continue to sacrifice Truth on the alter of “international Opinion” and misrepresent “International Law” with reckless abandon. Any peace with justice must be rooted in truth. Yes, their are different, legitimate perspectives on Truth- but that does not justify a descent into a pure relativism which is morally bankrupt. It is perfectly appropriate for our leadership, here in Israel, and our Jewish leadership in the U.S.A. to tell the unvarnished truth about who we are and the values for which we stand. There is no need to be harsh or rude as we declare our truth, as consistently reconfirmed by solid archeology as well as our oldest traditions; however, our national-religious survival and the value we bring to world is hardly dependent upon how we fare in a popularity contest.

  • Toni says

    It is all about what is right. That cannot be conditioned on what others–for their own selfish reasons– think and say. Why should the American Jew — or the Scandinavian mon-Jew, for that matter– in any way influence your opinion about what is right? Jews have every right to build in Jerusalem no matter what some self-professed American Zionist thinks. This fellow is obviously more concerned about what his neighbors think about him “as a Jew” than about Israeli and Jewish rights. And just because a Scandinavian non-Jew says it’s OK to build settlements in order to eventually give them to the Palestinians, doesn’t make it so. If it’s OK to build settlements, then it is certainly not in order to give them up.

  • Zach says

    Thank you Eric and Elihu. Is everyone else asleep? Hasn’t Israel’s giving up “settlements” or, as they are rightly known, homes in neighborhoods, proven disastrous enough already? And the fact that you seem to be cheered by the idea that Israel should invest possibly billions into homes and the equivalent (if there is such a thing) in the emotional investment of Jews into homes and land only to be used like a plastic poker chip scares me deeply. You have so often been a voice of reason and logic. Where did that go. Appeasement of any kind: of the Reform/Conservative frightened American Jews, of the Arabs who live inside and outside of Israel and of America does not work. Come back to your planet Dr. Gordis. We miss you.

  • Once again Daniel Gordis has written a piece that offers wisdom in our troubled times. Elihu’s comment should be forwarded widely in the hopes that our U.S. Senators and Representatives might read it. Joeotus writes with the vitriol of a man who accuses others of conspiracy and ignorance and seems at least as much of a partisan as those he excoriates. If he knew anything about American Christianity he would know that the whole idea of “the Rapture” is a minority view and that the vast majority of American Christians have respect for the faith tradition of the Jews and see Israel as a sister nation, closer even than Great Britain. His hatred of the GOP and “American right wingers” seems his real cause. I could be wrong, but that is what stood out to me in his comment. Ironically, Daniel Gordis is
    from a long line of Democrats and probably favored Obama in the last election. Blessings to Daniel Gordis who is a thinker and a man of some passion. That combination is rare and is sorely needed.

  • David Brusin says

    Your New York friend deserves more than an indirect answer to a different question. Israel must be doing more than positioning itself for future negotiations, should that day ever come. What if, because of present actions, that day doesn’t come?

    Your blind Scandinavian acquaintance just doesn’t see this. But that’s not what worries me about him. I’m concerned about how he drove home!

    Kol tuv,
    David

  • DavidM says

    I remember in the early 70s when Judea and Samaria were opened up for Jewish settlement, the Rabin government said that one purpose was to make “facts on the ground.” The idea seemed to be consistent with your Scandinavian acquaintance — impose an escalating cost on Arab recalcitrance in hopes they will come to the table. It hasn’t quite happened that way.

    I will confess that I find it very troubling that the world (including successive American administrations) finds ethnic cleansing to be acceptable (indeed appropriate) in one context, and one alone — the ethnic cleansing of Jews from portions of our history homeland. I fully understand the need to address the issue of sovereignty of Judea and Samaria and the arguments for creating a Palestinian State there. But, when will a world leader stand up and say it is offensive for the Arabs to claim that the historic Jewish homeland should be Judenrein and that the demand speaks badly of our ability to trust Arab stewardship over Jewish holy sights.

    That being said, the stupidity of what happened during the Biden visit is shocking. There is no building in the world large enough to contain that man’s ego. Any notion that the calculated insult will not have real and lasting effect on US foreign policy (with regard to which he has a very strong voice) is foolish.

  • Jennifer Read says

    Building settlements so that you can give them away or destroy them seems like beating your wife so that you can go into rehab, stop your behavior, and get the merit of being good now. I.e., it’s nuts. The latest spate of building in East Jerusalem to accommodate the ultra-Orthodox need for housing is just that: Nuts. I’m Modern Orthodox, but I agree with your American friend. I’m sick and tired of being expected to approve of everything the Jewish State does when so much of what it does is against its best interests and spurns things I hold dear, such as women’s right to pray at the Kotel, including halakhically correct Torah readings for women by women.

  • Larry Swern says

    I am having trouble understanding the gentleman from New York.
    Israel is our country and Jerusalem its capital. How far should we go and what should we give up before he stops being embarrassed.

    Did we hear of any embarrassement from the recent PLO dedication to a suicide bomber killing little children or the constant bombing of Israel by the PLO? Do we hear of pressure being applied to the PLO for it to give up anything or on any other countries committing atrocities?
    I asked someone once why pressure is only applied to Israel. The answer he given – the PLO won’t listen anyway.

    Thank you

  • Shlomo Ben Yehuda says

    Problems with both ideas. I believe Israel can build homes any place it needs to within its territorial borders. It is, after all, a sovereign state. But WITHIN its borders. Having said that – why can’t Israel build homes for Israeli Arabs, and if what I read is true, why do we push them out of their own homes? – can only Jews have homes built? It is patently ridiculous to build settlements just for the purpose of having something to give up if there ever is a peace negotiation. We would be using the “settlers” as pawns. Freeze the current building and trade land for land as the concession.

  • Susie says

    I don’t understand this philosophy at all. Hatted begets hatred, evil begets evil. When I ran with my 5 month old don to the shelter on that Yom Kippur day so many years ago I was sure by the time he grew up there would be peace with our neighbors. As the years past I made sure he had Arab friends as well as Israeli. We visited and dined in Arab villages, our neighbors. My father took us to visit his “intellectual” friends in Ramallah. Do you really believe that by continuing down this road will improve our relations with our Arab neighbors? That this path will bring us closer to peace? The more angst we cause the more future generations will hate. Do we have to look far? See what Ireland looks like to, no bombs no terrorism but living seperately but equal. Is that what we wish for our children? Another ghetto to be erected known as the Jewish State?? Sorry but I cannot agree with your conclusions. The world is careening towards separatism, divisionist, and wall building. Decisive behaviors by people, States, and Country. I think “the chosen people” can do better.

  • Len says

    Obama, Biden and Clinton remind me of the old TV sketch of ‘the triplets’….whining brats.
    Biden missed an opportunity to be a great diplomat. He should have responded by saying, “By the time the building begins, that land should be part of Palestine, so let’s get down to work”.

  • Ze'ev says

    So let me see if I understand this. We are building the settlements because we really want peace with the Palestinians and when they are ready we’ll just pack up and go home. We’ll just tell Rav Kook’s disciples and all the other American (or not American) messianic fanatics that, well we were kidding, didn’t you always know that we let you make this place your home just so that we could uproot you when we (the secular Zionists?) decide it’s time leave.
    With due respect Mr.(or is it Rabbi) Gordis I always thought that you were more intelligent than your current article implies.

  • Christine Silk says

    The issue is not about settlements or apartment buildings. It’s not about borders. It’s about Israel’s right to exist as an autonomous, Jewish state. Period. I wish we would all stop pretending that it’s about this border or that border. It’s not. It’s about Israel defending itself against enemies who want it wiped off the face of the earth.

    The New York man quoted in Daniel Gordis’s essay says that the Biblical Jewish claim to Israel is no longer valid. This proves that the guy is only an ethnic Jew, not a religious one. The Biblical, God-sanctioned claim to Israel happens to be a key tenet of Judaism — one, incidentally, that is celebrated every year at Passover.

    Jews like this NYC guy are deeply committed alright. But not to Judaism. They are committed to the Democratic Party platform. They get their ethical code not from the Torah, but from the New York Times opinion page, the Daily Kos and the Huffington Post. One of their primary motivations is proving how much they hate right-wing Christians. That’s why they never give the benefit of the doubt to Christian supporters of Israel and always impugn their motives (see Joeotus’s post above). But these same leftists always give the benefit of the doubt to Palestinians, no matter how vilely and destructively the Palestinians behave.

    Left-wing American Jews pay ample lip-service to supporting Israel, but only if Israel toes a leftist party line. When push comes to shove and Israel acts recalcitrant toward the anointed Obama (who got 78% of the Jewish vote), left-wing American Jews are among the first to argue that Israel must be smacked down, and that the US has every right to pressure them into making yet more concessions in the name of “peace.”

    But tell Iran not to build a bomb, which it expressly says it will use to destroy Israel? Well, we can’t do that! We’d be meddling too much in the internal affairs of a sovereign state.

    Dr. Gordis, I read your fine book, “Saving Israel.” There is much I disagree with in it, and much I agree with. You are a thoughtful, fair-minded, intelligent individual. I’ve been impressed with your points when I’ve seen you speak in person. But I get the feeling that you are not quite ready to make the leap and admit that most American Jews, like their non-Jewish leftist counterparts, are living in a bubble. The American Democratic party is not what it was sixty or seventy years ago. It has been taken over by those who are largely anti-religion (especially anti-Christian), often anti-Israel and sometimes anti-American. For the record, I predict that Obama will continue to sell Israel down the river, and will do nothing to stop Iran from going nuclear.

    I wish you had corrected that New York man’s errors. We can’t let guys like that keep deluding himself. The future of Israel, and ultimately, of world-wide Judaism, depends on telling the truth. All the time.

  • juanita driggs says

    One of your better efforts, Mr. Gordis, and refreshingly, just the right length.

  • Thank you for writing a surprising, poignant, and provocative article on a difficult, often painful topic.

    While your American friend sounds like many of my Westside Los Angeles friends, I share the Scandinavian’s sense that you will need something big to give the Palestinians. The core issue, for far too many Palestinians, remains that they do really believe Israel should exist. Therefore, making a deal depends on a sense of “resignation”. Tolerance seems like a major concession for many folks. Trading settlements for peace – or land for land – feels more practical.

    On the other hand, there’s a terrible danger of missing lost opportunities if Israel’s settlements alienated too many natural supporters. Perhaps the time has already come to negotiate those settlements away. Perhaps.

    I just wish that the Gaza withdrawl had not led to so many rockets landing in Israel – and Hamas taking power. What guarantee could the PA ever give that Hamas would not become the future rulers of a united Palestine?

  • Claire B says

    I disagree with the gentleman thast we should build to destroy and give to the Arabs. It’s my understanding that Ramat Shalom is in the Jewish territory so why this idea? Why are the Arabs incensed every time Israel builds? Are we supposed to live in hovels, not have schools,etc.. I would not listen at all to this man.

    It is true that they are not ready to talk peace because they are obstinate and still think that they will win and throw the Jews in the sea. Not by a long shot, I hope that Israel does not listen to opinions and does what is good for the country, period.

  • Ziv Wities says

    It saddens me to see that in response to an article whose main point is “Let’s acknowledge that both sides to the argument have genuine merit,” most of the comments seem to be devoted to accusation of one side or the other being absurd and insignificant.

    Any side which is unwilling to, at the very least, understand that the opposing point of view is sincere, sane and probably not the evil incarnate it would be so convenient to make it out as, must inevitably reduce the situation to a zero-sum game. Some may be fine with that, but any victory on such a field will be long, costly, and uncertain and to those of us who see more than one dimension – unbearably painful.

    Clearly, Dr. Gordis, your insights are sorely needed. Sadly, your closing words are all too insightful.

  • Brynn Sugarman says

    Considering the reality of Dershowitz’s “vanishing American Jew,” due to the staggering statistics of intermarriage and assimilation in that country, it would be imprudent for Israel to base its survival tactics on the PC whims of an endangered community. Obama as well is merely a phenomenon of the moment, a blip on history’s radar screen: the pendulum always swings back, and the more against Israel and to the Left that the current American president pushes, the more likely it will be that the pendulum will swing back to the right, resulting in a stronger, more Israel-friendly American president than the current one. Positive American attitudes toward Israel are more in the hands of Christian Middle Americans and less in the hands of insecure American Jews desperate to appease an anti-semitic international Left. Considering the fact that most Americans are the former, we can feel secure about the future rectification of American/Israeli relations.

    Brynn Sugarman
    Ra’anana, Israel

  • stephen says

    I agree with the American that yes the leaders of Israel must show some backbone to the Rabbis. The difference between a Jewish and a Muslim theocracy isn’t worth while.
    Re: Jerusalem- In Jordanian hands it wasn’t open to the world I believe Israel has the right to Jerusalem it was never anybody’s elses capital.
    Re: settlements -we need to stop building elsewhere.
    Re: Two States -no other way can keep it mostly Jewish
    Re: The Scandanavian observation. True-however as Jews must find a resolution between Orthodox, Conservative, Reform and Secular the Palestinians must resolve between Sunni, Shiite and Christian. Give them a country with continuous borders and let them make peace amongst themselves and than Israel.

  • Lloyd Trufelman says

    Unfortunately public diplomacy and media coverage are rarely about the substance of an issue,but rather the perception. Likud’s provocative handling of the announcement during Biden’s visit actually helped to amplify negative public debate on the settlement issue for no reason, just like Netanyahu’s needlessly high-profile announcement about renovations at Maarat HaMachpela reignited debate over that site. The announcement of any policy that may be controversial should be made strategically, with finesse and shrewd timing. As the saying goes, “don’t try to be right, just be clever…”

  • Marvin N says

    Whiplash is an understatement of your experiences on Friday. Perhaps it was whiplash with a boomerang thrown in.
    Why does the “Rabbinate” of Israel want to emulate the Mullahs of Islam with such rigidity that will alienate the world’s other large and generous Jewish community?
    When will the elected leaders of Israel remind the world how half of its neighbors came into being after WW I? Are not the Jews entitled to the offering made to them at the same time? Only when all the Arabs are ready to accept Israel’s existence will peace talks progress, not just the “Palestinian” Arabs. Bibi’s affront to VP Biden was stupid, but a courageous statement that Israel cannot negotiate again until the Arabs decide they really want to make peace is in order.

  • Monty Reitzik says

    I find your writings perspicacious and insightful, but this communique contains an egregious error.The sentence which starts with ” I disagreed with many of his factual claims,but…..” begets confusion. The only argument that survives is the counterargument which does not take account of the “facts”.
    Your lay leader echoed the feelings of many in North America with respect to his comments regarding the stranglehold of the chief rabbinate.Jewish religious practice in the diaspora is dynamic and includes conservatives,reform and others.It is invidious that Israel does not.
    His argument with respect to the settlements should perhaps have been countered by the “facts” hidden in the text ” ,but” alluded to above.
    The comments of your Scandinavian acquaintance should not have seen the light of day – enough said!

  • Gerald Gordon says

    Your articles are consistently well written, thought provoking and on point.

  • JWOLDY says

    To the Jewish Philanthropist, I say that unless one is willing to live with the consequences of one’s strongly-worded exhortations on peace negotiations (i.e. move to Israel), one should be very careful about passing judgment on the choices Israelis make. It is all to comfortable to pound the table about what Israelis should do from the safety of your living room in Scarsdale, or Manhattan. Try living with it.

    Also, your “embarassment” about Israeli policy decisions is something you should think about. Frankly speaking as an American Jew, I am embarassed at the arrogance behind the notion that support of Israel by American Jews hinges on how comfortable they feel with the policies of the current Israeli Government. As if we know what is best for them.

    You may be speaking the truth for yourself and for others (I have no idea how many people feel the way you do). I am sorry you feel this way. Sorry for you. Sorry for Israel. Sorry for the Jewish People.

  • Scott Gordon says

    Another thought-provoking post. Thanks for your efforts.

  • Yoav Peled says

    Daniel – I totally agree with the American Jew in regard to the demeaning and humiliating attitude of ALL Israeli governments to Conservative and reform Jews. If such open and blatant discrimination against any segment of the Jewish population took place in any other country – the outcry of anti Semitism would have been heard from one end of the world to the other. But it is OK for Israel to deny them basic and fundamental rights such as getting married, divorced, converted etc. They have to go abroad to do that. But they are good for military service and taxes, while most of those who are behind the denial of these rights to them do neither. If I were a reform or Conservative Jew I not only would not contribute a penny – I will not come to visit there. And the fault lies with the secular leadership which conveniently gives in to the ultra Orthodox, not with the minority Orthodox who grab what they can get.

    At the same time I am totaly opposed to his political views – his understanding of the Arab Israeli conflict sounds very similar to that of Shalom Achshav and J-Street. Let him attend the AIPAC conference – maybe he will listen and wise up…

  • T Belman says

    If Israel had at least one nation supporting its right to continuing building settlements, but the sad fact is there is none. Israel must continue to interact with the rest of the world and the settlement issue is just not that important. From a purely practical point of view there ought to be a change in course.There is no point in alienating the rest of the world.

  • David Broida says

    Dan – I just read the article and responses, not realizing till the end that it was dated a year ago. Reading it seemed current – right now. So I gues it shows that Israel has not made one move away from this unsustainable status quo. What a great lesson for me. I should read older articles more often, but if I do, I suppose I’ll still hope for a glimmer of hope, however slim the chance. (David Broida – house guest next door in # 4 at this very moment)

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