Thursday, September 15, 2011

New horizons in point-missing

There is a current Op-ed at JTA from the director of the New Orleans Jewish Federation, Michael J. Weil. Incredibly, he writes that Israel should support the UN statehood declaration and offer to meet with the new entity "to negotiate borders and resolve all outstanding issues between the two countries." This is a remarkable example of someone being so swept up in his arguments in favor of something that he is barely noticing what he is arguing for.

Abbas is not planning to declare a state within yet-to-be-determined borders, subject to negotiation. Hasn't Weil been paying attention? I assume the point of declaring a state within the 67 borders is perhaps not to renounce negotiations entirely but certainly to remove from the table what the Israeli side generally assumes the negotiations are supposed to be about. Abbas apparently wants any further negotiations to involve a Palestinian "state" that already has borders. Anyone paying attention to his rhetoric of not giving up Palestinian "rights" should recognize what he is doing. Maybe there can be negotiations about security cooperation, but about recognition of Israel as a Jewish state? About borders? About the "right of return"? Abbas is transitioning from repeated expressions of an inflexible position to UN ratification of the inflexibility.

Israel should demand that any country declaring its support for Palestinian statement define the territory it is supporting. Is it demanding the immediate hand-over of the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem to the Arabs? Declaring half a million Jews, many living in towns they were born in and in a Jerusalem that has been majority Jewish for most of two centuries, to be foreign interlopers?

Abbas's plan is an attempted UN-backed checkmate. It has absolutely nothing to do with happy talk of two states for two peoples. While it is fighting this development, Israel faces a crucial task of explaining to the world what it means. American Jews should be doing the same thing.

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