The Conspiracy

Israel Advocacy Is Now Two State Advocacy

This is what advocacy looks like. | CC via Wikimedia Commons

Israel advocacy started out for me as the “unconditional” support for the State of Israel and its policies because they, broadly, were in agreement with my Western, liberal values. For the most part, the Israeli government—in lip service, if not at all in action—supported the idea of a two-state solution, of a government that would at least make the effort to secure a Palestinian state and create a western, liberal society.

That changed with Bibi’s great race to the right in this election. When he declared that under his government there would be no chance of a Palestinian state, many of us took it as unwelcome, if not unexpected, news (despite Haaretz’s somewhat alarmist Facebook posts, as it was hardly deeply shocking to many of us who read the news source regularly) that confirmed many of our suspicions.

And it would be this great race to the far right, to take votes from other far-right parties like Avigdor Lieberman’s Yisrael Beteinu, which received far fewer votes than projected. But Netanyahu’s reelection means so much more than other right-wing parties’ losses in seats, or even the fact that it might actually signify a further crumbling of some of the other right-wing parties: Shas, United Torah Judaism, and Bennett’s Jewish Home party all lost seats.

It means that we Diaspora Jews must take a more active role in the Israeli political system. It is our responsibility as Jews to find ways of participating in the Israeli political system. It means more assurances from Hillel that they will support equally, not just in lip service, more left-wing views. It means that critics of the Zionist Left (*ahem*) understand that they, too interfere with the Israeli political system—interference is interference, even when you agree with it.

But this election, more than any before, puts American Jews (and Diaspora Jews who support a two-state solution) to the test: we can no longer sit idly by and purport to support the State of Israel when it means propping up—and pressuring our government to prop up—a government whose leader has explicitly confirmed what many of us knew all along: Bibi is not interested in a two-state solution.

He might be interested in peace and security (for a select time, and for Israeli Jews, if not for anyone else), but he is in no way invested in two states. Even if he retracted his statements following the election, the truth remains that his pre-election statements align far more closely with his government’s policies.

Supporting Israel means so much more than just idly standing by, pressuring our government to continually and unconditionally support the government whose actions run antithetical to its (formerly) stated goals. We as American Jews need to understand that supporting the State of Israel does not mean supporting the Israeli government and its policies that actively run contrary to the creation of two sovereign states; it means working toward the active creation of those two states. It is time for us American Jews to put our money where our communal mouth is, showing that our support is not for the government, but for the Jewish State and its necessary role in creating a sovereign Palestinian State.

Our large communal institutions need to make their stances on this clear, and they need to do it now (and some notable organizations have already started). They — we — need to make it clear that Bibi’s racist pandering to the Israeli political right is unacceptable. They need to make it clear that singling out minorities for exercising their right to vote is deplorable. They need to make it clear that they still stand for two states, even if that means standing against Bibi and his government and policies. They need to make it clear that they will work to find ways to participate politically in the Israeli political system specifically because Israel is a Jewish state and we, as Jews, bear a responsibility to our fellow Jews on the other side of the Atlantic.

Israel is not just a Jewish State, but a State for the Jews, and even if we are not Israeli citizens, we, as Diaspora Jews, still bear a responsibility to it because it informs how we are perceived and how we must view ourselves as part of a nation. Part of that responsibility includes ensuring that we hold fast to the ideals we believe in: a Jewish State that, by necessity of its location, requires it to take a role in creating a sovereign Palestinian state. That is not to say that the Palestinian leadership under Mahmoud Abbas is not culpable and should not be expected to cooperate as well, but I have no power to change the minds of Palestinians and their leaders. What I can do is work toward making sure that my side is doing everything it can to ensure the creation of two viable, sovereign states.

True, a second sovereign nation-state will not be built overnight, but we still bear that responsibility. And part of that responsibility includes making sure the torch of a two-state solution is not extinguished by Bibi’s government.

Bibi has played his cards. Now it is our turn to play ours.

 

Amram Altzman is a student at List College.

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