It should have surprised no observer of the Arab/Israeli conflict that when Israel decided to designate a thousand acres of land in the Gush Etzion section in the southern part of Jerusalem as state land, J Street’s President Jeremy Ben-Ami would be quickly found among those rushing into print to condemn the action.
Among American progressives, there has always been more hand wringing about Dovid building a condominium than the Ayatollahs building a nuclear bomb.
Now, according to Ben-Ami, the future of peace in the Middle East is jeopardized by what he calls, in a Los Angeles Times editorial, the “seizure” of a thousand acres of land “near Bethlehem.” Ben-Ami sees this action as so detrimental to the peace process and Israel’s best interests— which he understands better the Israelis—that he unhesitatingly calls for the American government to put unrelenting pressure on the Israelis. This pressure would be directed not just at the recent land “seizure” but at Israel’s entire settlement policy.
Would George Soros, who was elated by hunting down his fellow Hungarian Jews for the Nazis, a man who has been virulently against Israel, fund an organization that was working for Israel?
Ben-Ami’s concern for the future of Israel would be far and away more credible if J Street had not funded the campaigns of all eleven members of congress who either abstained or voted against the resupply of the Iron Dome anti-missile system in the middle of the recent war in Gaza.
Money that Ben-Ami collects from George Soros, the mysterious Hong Kong businesswoman Ms. Consolacion Esdicul—apparently a Soros cutout—and a mixture of progressive and naïve American Jews works directly to impede Israel’s ability to protect its civilian population from the death raining on it out of Gaza.
The reality that the naïve Jews who support Ben-Ami refuse to confront is that if Ben-Ami were truly successful, there would be no Iron Dome and ultimately no Israel. As Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz said of J Street, it is not enough to call yourself a pro-Israel organization, you have to do things that actually are pro-Israel.
American Jews should ask themselves this penetratingly simple question—would George Soros, who was elated by hunting down his fellow Hungarian Jews for the Nazis, a man who has been virulently against Israel, fund an organization that was working for Israel?
Ben-Ami’s concern for Israel is as duplicitous as is his editorial. The land he describes in his LA Times editorial as near Bethlehem is actually south of Jerusalem, near the Jewish city of Efrat and next to the Green Line. It is land that the Arabs have not claimed in any of their prior negotiations. It is land that even President Jimmy Carter acknowledged was never intended to become part of a future Palestinian state. It is land that has a poignant tie to Jewish history.
Gush Etzion (the Etzion Bloc) was the site of a bloc four pre-1948 Jewish villages that were brutally wiped out during the 1948 war by Jordan’s Arab Legion. In the Jewish Village of Kfar Etzion, the Arab Legion murdered every man, woman, and child.
Kfar Etzion was the first village rebuilt on the 'West Bank' after the ’67 war. It was a resurrection of a Jewish presence that had been brutally extinguished nearly twenty years earlier.
Even though the Arabs now living on this land had received it from those who murdered the Jewish owners, the Israeli government offered the Arabs compensation for the land.
The narrative of Israel reclaiming land that was taken by Arabs from murdered Jews does not serve Ben-Ami’s purpose. For Ben-Ami, the solution to the conflict is for the Jews to retreat to the indefensible borders of the Green Line while surrounded by Arabs who proclaim their intention to exterminate them. It is a recipe for genocide.
Ben-Ami gives cover to those who see Israel as the obstacle to the peace. But what Arab leader when given the choice of a Jewish state alongside an Arab state has ever found the ability to say, yes?
The conflict is not about land, settlements, or lines on a map. It is about a Jewish and, consequently, a Western presence in the region surrounded by an internecine ethnic-religious struggle in the Arab world between the forces of religious based tyranny and the forces of secular based tyranny. It is a struggle for honor in a land where the lives of whole generations have been sacrificed to avoid shame.
J Street is the handmaiden of George Soros and his agenda for Israel’s elimination. Ben-Ami’s duplicitous editorial is only another attempt to mobilize American public opinion for Israel’s destruction.
Abraham H. Miller is an emeritus professor of political science, University of Cincinnati and a contributor to the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity.