J Street U proposal: Outrageous!
Anyone who has been to Israel, or has yet to go but loves our homeland, should be both astonished and appalled at J Street U’s proposal to create a school curriculum that says Israel should agree to commence negotiations with the Palestinians on the basis of the borders depicted on the Green Line created in 1948, which is another name for the pre-1967 borders (“A thin Green Line between education and advocacy,” Oct. 1). From 1948 to 1967, Israelis had no access to the Western Wall, the various quarters of Jerusalem or to Mount Scopus, a campus of the Hebrew University and a large Hadassah Hospital.
The road to Tel Aviv, now Route 1, consisted of treacherous hairpin turns, and drivers had to navigate around Latrun, which the Israelis could not capture despite assiduous effort to do in 1948. The road to Tel Aviv is now a major high-speed highway, and Israel has complete access not only to all of Jerusalem, which is now a united city, but also to Maale Adumim and many surrounding areas where hundreds of thousands of Israelis now live.
Since 1967, the Palestinian representatives have maintained a totally intransigent position and launched terrorist attacks against innocent civilians rather than seek to resolve the issues that up to now have prevented the establishment of a Palestinian state. They have relentlessly persisted in murder and terrorism and maintained refugee camps while Israel built homes, paved roads and created jobs for Jews and Arabs alike. The Palestinians cannot roll back the clock to 1948 with untenable and indefensible borders, displacing hundreds of thousands of Israelis from their homes, areas, sacred places and communities, and J Street should not suggest that Israel accept those conditions as the commencement of negotiations. The status quo is what exists today, rather than in 1948. Israel can no more begin negotiations from 1948 than the American government can commence negotiations with the African-American or Latino or disabled communities based on the concepts and realities that existed in 1964 or in the 1970s when protective legislation was enacted. J Street should not endeavor or even suggest to accept the Palestinian position that rewards terrorism and intransigence.
On the contrary, the J street curriculum should clearly articulate that the 1948 borders of the Green Line cannot be the basis for negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, but rather the post-1967 borders, which reflect the current status quo for the last 48 years. If J Street believes that Israel should continue to exist, it cannot support a program that the Palestinians have maintained as the only starting point for negotiations, which is most likely the ending point of Israel’s existence. Israel cannot begin negotiations with the hope that the Palestinians will agree to the concepts in the Oslo Accords, which they have rejected and ignored for over 20 years. Negotiations that begin with the 1948 borders cannot possibly bring about a just and lasting peace, but rather further intransigence and violence.
Where’s the transparency?
“A thin Green Line between education and advocacy” (Oct. 1) describes J Street’s effort to challenge the Jewish community and institutions and seek transparency in funding Jewish institutions in regard to the use of maps with the 1949 cease-fire Green Line. The actions of J Street a group that advocates for a two-state solution and says that they are pro-Israel, appear or read in the article as a one-sided action and demand closer to something one might expect from the BDS movement.
For example “J Street U students meeting with Jewish Federation leaders to determine if their funding is going over the Green Line” sounds like a prelude to a boycott or an action one would expect from a group that is anti-Israel. Teaching the Green Line is important and should include how this line is not a defensible boundary nor does it reflect the current demographics of the area since 1967. The map presented in The Jewish Chronicle with the Green Line from J Street sanitizes reality and the existence that there are large Jewish communities on both sides of the line.
Hopefully, our Jewish institutions and schools teach a comprehensive history and current events lesson on the Middle East and Israel from the historic/biblical Jewish presence in the region and from its struggle for independence and subsequent struggle for survival with some regional neighbors and potential peace partners that do not recognize the existence of the State of Israel or show it on their maps.
Perhaps the Greater Pittsburgh Jewish community needs to challenge J Street to be more transparent. I have no problem with their Green Line questions, but as a pro-Israel group they often seem one-sided in challenging Israel and the Jewish community. Is J Street asking to see if Israel even exists on maps in Arab countries or in Muslim day school curriculum?
How does this group propose to deal with a Green Line boundary that most Israelis and many American Jews see as nondefensible? What is J Street’s intent for the hundreds of thousands of Jews who live east of the Green Line, and what is their fate in their two-state solution. Who are the responsible and stable Arab peace partners that Israel is supposed to deal with for a developing a two-state solution? Transparency goes both ways.