A New Bipartisan Consensus on Israel
by Stephen M. Flatow / JNS.org
J Street and the radical wing of the Democratic Party have worked hard in recent years to chip away at the party’s traditional support for Israel. And they’ve made some progress — to judge by recent public opinion polls –in the changes in the Democratic Party platform and the number of Democratic congressmen who have signed J Street’s letters criticizing Israel.
But a speech at the AIPAC conference, made by the senior US senator from New York, Chuck Schumer, has struck a powerful blow against those trends in his party.
As the Senate minority leader, Schumer is the most powerful figure in the Democratic Party today.
What he said to AIPAC has established 10 principles of a new American political consensus concerning Israel and the Palestinians. And J Street is far outside of it:
1. Tearing down Jewish settlements will not bring peace.
“Now, some say there are some who argue the settlements are the reason there’s not peace,” said Schumer. “But we all know what happened in Gaza. Israel voluntarily got rid of the settlements there, the Israeli soldiers dragged the settlers out of Netzarim, and three weeks later, the Palestinians threw rockets into Sderot. It’s sure not the settlements that are the blockage to peace.”
2. Giving more Israeli lands to the Palestinians will not bring peace.
“Some say it’s the borders,” Schumer told the AIPAC conference. “But they forget during the negotiations in 2000, Ehud Barak was making huge territorial concessions that most Israelis didn’t like, it was [Palestinian head Yasser] Arafat who rejected the settlement. It’s not the borders, either.”
3. Making concessions on Jerusalem will not bring peace.
Schumer: “And [the obstacle to peace is] certainly not because we’ve moved the embassy to where it should belong in Yerushalayim [Jerusalem]. It’s not that either.”
4. Most Palestinians do not accept Israel’s existence.
The reason “why we don’t have peace,” Schumer said, is “because the fact of the matter is that too many Palestinians and too many Arabs do not want any Jewish state in the Middle East.”
5. The Torah says that the Land of Israel belongs to the Jews.
It may not be politically correct to acknowledge Israel’s biblical right to the Jewish homeland. But it’s a fact that is acknowledged by millions of Jews and tens of millions of Bible-believing Christians. We don’t have to feel embarrassed to say it, just as the senator was not embarrassed to say: “Of course, we say it’s our land. The Torah says it.”
6. Israel remains vulnerable.
A generation that has grown up with an Israel that seems almost invincible has to be reminded that creation of a Palestinian state would reduce Israel to just nine miles wide, as it was before the 1967 Six-Day War.
Schumer recalled walking through the corridors of his high school in Brooklyn that Spring, his radio glued to his ear, “deathly worried that Israel would just be pushed into the sea by the Arab onslaught. … Now, the younger generation never experienced this. They haven’t lived through a time when Israel’s very existence was balanced on the edge of a knife.”
7. The Palestinian Authority isn’t “moderate.”
The great myth of the Oslo era was that the Palestinian leadership genuinely made peace and rejected terrorism. “Too many believe that this Palestinian Authority is moderate and really wants peace.” But it does not, declared Schumer.
8. The Palestinian Authority (PA) actively supports terrorism.
It’s not just that the PA leaders are unreasonable and extreme; they directly support terrorism. “The dark truth,” Schumer said, is “that the Palestinian Authority, every day, actively aids and abets terrorism.”
9. The PA’s payments to terrorists must cease.
The PA can’t disguise its payments to imprisoned terrorists and the families of dead terrorists. It can’t pretend they are “social welfare” payments. It cannot route them through a third party. What it must do, Schumer said, is to “cease making payments to the families of terrorists.” Period.
10. The PA must stop glorifying terrorists.
It’s not a case of “we have our heroes, and they have theirs.” It’s not a matter of “what they do is their business.” Glorifying terrorists encourages more terrorism. “The PA has to stop calling them martyrs,” said Schumer, and “stop giving them parades.”
The leadership of the Democrats, as represented by Schumer, has now in effect joined hands with the leadership of the Republicans — and the majority of the American public — when it comes to Israel.
J Street and other harassers of the Jewish state have been left behind in the dust. A powerful new pro-Israel consensus has been reaffirmed. I hope it continues to grow.
Stephen M. Flatow, a vice president of the Religious Zionists of America, is an attorney in New Jersey. He is the father of Alisa Flatow, who was murdered in an Iranian-sponsored Palestinian terrorist attack in 1995.