Dr. Joseph FragerThe writer is a leading American pro-Israel activist who sponsors and coordinates many Zionist events. He is clinical Assistant Professor, Department of Medicine (Gastroenterology & Liver Diseases) at the Einstein School of Medicine as well as a practicing physician.
The headline in the Israel-bashing New York Times read "Jewish State Declaration Is Unyielding Block to a Deal"
How far from the truth is this statement? I maintain it is much more than this "Jewish Identification" problem that is the issue. Unfortunately, the Obama administration likes to boil things down to simple sound bites that fail to get at the root of the problem. It is very hard to negotiate in sound bites - reality is only partially reflected in sound bites.
The media which lives and breathes off of sound bites also likes to overlook how complicated life can be. It is like the old and discredited canard that "settlements are obstacles to peace", when in fact the Arabs attacked Israel in 1967 long before any so-called settlements were built. This fact always gets ignored in the media's eyes - perhaps it is fair to say that the media has jaundiced eyes with cataracts to boot.
The identification of Israel as a Jewish State and the settlements are not the problem. It is Mahmoud Abbas who is the problem and all eyes are now on him. That is not to say that Muhammad Dahlan, who is maneuvering to take over the PA, would be any better. The Palestinians know they have a friend in the White House, which encourages them to made their demands sky high and untenable. They simply do not want Israel to exist. They want it to disappear.
It is not the "Jewish" part they don't like even if Secretary of State Kerry and President Obama think it is - it is the State of Israel they do not like and don't want to acquiesce to. This has been the case since the start of the conflict, and there really has not been any progress on this front by Yasser Arafat or his successor Mahmoud Abbas. Neither one wanted to be or wants to be Anwar Sadat.
There are now a million Jews living in Judea and Samaria. After the Gush Katif nightmare involving 10,000 Jews, Israel is not prepared to expel Jews again. No Prime Minister will be able to do that. He will go down in history as the one who expelled not thousands but hundreds of thousands of Jews from their homes. Noone wants to have that as their legacy.
So until Abbas or whomever else comes along and fully and unequivocally declares Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state with secure borders, Kerry and Obama will just have to live out their lives on President Jimmie Carter's peanut farm writing books funded by Gulf money.