Why Israelis Are Nervous About the Peace Process

Thursday night, terrorists murdered an Israeli mother and father in front of their children. On Saturday, terrorists murdered two Israelis in Jerusalem. Sadly, too many other terrorist attacks have occurred since I wrote this in The Hill less than a year ago.

How not to oppose BDS. The Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions against Israel battle in the United States is fought primarily on college campuses. Ari Shavit wrote on June 4 that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Minister of Public Diplomacy Gilad Erdan and Sheldon Adelson have to internalize a truth that for them is a bitter truth: The battle is a battle for the left and the fight is a fight within the left, which means that anyone who despises the left can't win it. Ninety percent of the young people I met at the universities are Democrats who support U.S. President Barack Obama. Trying to sell them the Gush Emunim agenda won't work. Only a liberal Zionist message can foment change. Only liberal Zionists can generate enthusiasm and provide inspiration. Only Israelis who believe in the two-state solution can confront those Israel-haters who believe in exactly what the right believes in, one state.

This means that if you're interested in actually defeating BDS initiatives, rather than using BDS as red meat for the already-persuaded, you'll use arguments couched in language that rings true for progressives, and you'll present those arguments through speakers who appeal to, rather than turn off, those on the left of the political spectrum. For example, in a must-read Yom Kippur sermon last month, Rabbi Sharon Brous presented her case against BDS:

"You can reframe the conversation by pointing out that you, too, support ending the occupation, as do most Israelis and American Jews. But like many of them, you do not believe that BDS is the right strategy to achieve the outcome we're hoping for: a safe, secure and democratic Jewish state living peacefully beside a Palestinian state. You can tell them that many of us are troubled that BDS singles out Israel for a level of opprobrium as though it is the world's worst state actor and, while nonviolent, acts as a sledgehammer rather than a scalpel. That many see that the threat of BDS enflames the debate, strengthens the radical right, further entrenches Israel in an isolationist narrative (the whole world is against us), and will handicap the very people who can actually help bring about a two-state solution: Israeli academics, artists, activists and entrepreneurs."

Do the opposite was a funny episode of Seinfeld, but it's not so funny when an ostensibly pro-Israel organization goes about fighting BDS in entirely the wrong way. In November, StandWithUs is bringing failed Republican congressional candidate Rabbi Shmuley Boteach to B'nai Jehoshua Beth Elohim in Chicago to speak against BDS. The same Boteach whose ad was condemned by the American Jewish Committee,Anti-Defamation League, Jewish Federations of North America, The Israel Project, American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the Orthodox Union, J Street, Jewish Council for Public Affairs and the Rabbinical Assembly as "revolting" and "entirely inappropriate" (StandWithUs does not appear to have condemned it).

The same Boteach who used inflammatory language excoriating Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) for supporting the Iran deal. And this is the guy StandWithUs wants to present to progressives as the face of the anti-BDS movement? I'm sure people who would attend a StandWithUs event, let alone an event with Boteach, will love what they hear. But they're not who we're trying to persuade, and Boteach is not the person to teach us how to persuade. 

Every Republican voted to undermine the Iran deal last week. Let this be a lesson for anyone who thinks the Iran deal is not a partisan issue. On Thursday, Republicans unanimously voted for a bill that would deny sanctions relief to Iran until Iran pays the judgments against it for acts of terrorism, which would prevent us from complying with our obligations under the Iran deal. Yes, it's bad that Iran won't pay what it owes, but it would be worse if Iran acquired nuclear weapons.

Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY), who opposed the Iran deal, voted against this attempt to undermine the deal, noting that "this bill isn't about providing justice to the victims of terrorism. It really just uses the suffering of those victims to score political points and I just don't think that's right...this bill has no bipartisan support. It wouldn't accomplish anything." The White House strongly opposes the bill.

Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL)  introduced the Senate version (along with fellow Republicans Marco Rubio of Florida and Ted Cruz of  Texas).  Kirk's likely opponent in the general election, Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), sensibly opposed the bill. The National Republican Senatorial Committee accused her of siding with terrorists. If that's not out of line, I don't know what is, but expect more rhetoric like that as Kirk and the Republicans get increasingly desperate.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke at the U.N. Every pro-Israel advocate should understand his positions. Please read Bibi's speech and watch his 45-second silent stare.

Those Israelis who criticize the Iran deal that the president supports are not anti-American; those Americans who support the Iran deal that the prime minister opposes are not anti-Israel. Bibi is right about the U.N.'s unacceptable bias against Israel, but like our Republican friends in America, he has never offered a credible, realistic alternative to the Iran deal.

If you care about gun violence, don't vote Republican. The Republican platform is loaded with NRA language, including the statement that "gun ownership is responsible citizenship" (see page 13). Only Democratic presidents will fill Supreme Court vacancies with justices who understand that the Second Amendment is not a suicide pact. Only a Democratic Congress will enact responsible gun regulation. If anything else had killed more than 400,000 Americans since 2001, we would have banned it already.

News You Can Use. The Republican agenda behind the Benghazi Committee in 90 seconds: not to find the truth, but to discredit Hillary at the polls.

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