Failing at the ballot box, Jewish left lashes out

Election day in Israel has become a day of mourning for some critics of Israel.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu waves to supporters at Likud Party headquarters in Tel Aviv on April 9, 2019. Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu waves to supporters at Likud Party headquarters in Tel Aviv on April 9, 2019. Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90.
Stephen M. Flatow. Credit: Courtesy.
Stephen M. Flatow
Stephen M. Flatow is president of the Religious Zionists of America. He is the father of Alisa Flatow, who was murdered in an Iranian-sponsored Palestinian terrorist attack in 1995, and author of A Father’s Story: My Fight for Justice Against Iranian Terror. (The RZA is not affiliated with any American or Israeli political party.)

In the space of 48 hours last week, four Jewish Democrats in Congress denounced Israel’s prime minister, two more Democrats wrote an op-ed in The Washington Post denouncing Israel’s prime minister, and 10 Jewish liberal groups issued a statement denouncing Israel’s prime minister. What a remarkable coincidence!

The allegedly spontaneous three-pronged media assault began with Representatives Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) and Gerald E. Connolly (D-Va.), on the op-ed page of The Washington Post on April 10, absurdly accusing Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu of “sanctioning violence against Palestinians in the occupied territories.” The phrase “sanctioning violence” linked to an article in The New York Times that presumably proved that charge.

One little problem: The Times’ article didn’t contain a single word about Netanyahu sanctioning violence against Palestinians. Whoever provided Van Hollen and Connolly with the “facts” for their article profoundly misled them and sullied their names in the process. Too bad the congressmen didn’t check the facts before signing their names to such an outrageous allegation.

The next day, four other Democrats in Congress—Eliot Engel, Nita Lowey, Ted Deutch and Brad Schneider—issued a statement warning Netanyahu not to take any “unilateral steps” that might interfere with creating a Palestinian state. Which means, of course, a Palestinian state along the 1967 armistice lines—reducing Israel to just nine miles wide.

To sugar-coat their bitter statement just a bit, the four acknowledged that, as they put it: “To paraphrase Abba Eban, the Palestinians never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity.” Nevertheless, the congress members demanded that Israel search high and low for an opportunity to create “Palestine” in Judea and Samaria.

It takes a certain chutzpah to urge a return to the pre-1967 borders and, in the very same paragraph, throw in a line from Abba Eban. It was Eban, after all, who said to Der Spiegel on Nov. 5, 1969: “We have openly said that the map will never again by the same as on June 4, 1967. For us, this is a matter of security and of principles. The June map is for us equivalent to insecurity and danger. I do not exaggerate when I say that it was for us something of a memory of Auschwitz. We shudder when we think of what would have awaited us in the circumstances of June, 1967, if we had been defeated; with Syrians on the mountain and we in the valley, with the Jordanian army in sight of the sea, with the Egyptians who hold our throat in their hands in Gaza. This is a situation which will never be repeated in history.”

After the Gang of Four had their say, the Gang of Ten weighed in. The day after the four congress members issued their statement, 10 liberal Jewish organizations wrote a letter demanding the same thing.

Their declaration took the form of a letter to U.S. President Donald Trump, urging him to oppose “annexation by Israel of any territory in the West Bank.” They were referring to Netanyahu’s recent remark that he might propose extending Israeli law to Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria.

Note, by the way, that way back in 1995, the Palestinian Authority extended its laws to the cities in which 98 percent of the Palestinian Arabs live. So why the double standard? Why can’t Israeli law be implemented in the Jewish towns? Why do the Jews still have to be governed by the arbitrary and cumbersome system of the old Israeli military administration, while the Palestinian Arabs get to live under their own laws?

But let’s not confuse things by mentioning uncomfortable facts. Forget about laws and double standards. The purpose of the three warning shots that were fired at Israel last week was to intimidate Israel’s leaders and undermine support in America for Israel’s democratically elected leaders.

And here we get to the heart of the matter. Election day in Israel has become a day of mourning for J Street and other Jewish critics of Israel. Every four years, they delude themselves into thinking that the Israeli left will finally triumph, and every four years they watch in horror as the Israeli left goes down in defeat. It’s like Charlie Brown thinking that this time, Lucy won’t pull the football away.

This year’s election outcome was the worst yet. The Israeli left—Labor and Meretz—won a grand total of 10 seats between them. That’s 10 out of 120. That’s who J Street and Americans for Peace Now are aligned with—8 percent of the Israeli public.

The only thing remaining for the Jewish left is to mobilize the dwindling faithful—some liberal Jewish organizations, a few Democrats in Congress—and try to create some noise and pressure with a flurry of op-eds and press releases.

I’m not a believer in conspiracy theories. I don’t know if one particular person or one specific group coordinated last week’s three verbal assaults on Israel’s leaders. Maybe it was the work of several like-minded groups, acting independently as they all reached into their usual bag of PR gimmicks at the same time. But one thing is certain: It’s not a coincidence that they all lashed out, within hours of each other, making nearly identical arguments. That’s what they’re doing because, having yet again failed in the voting booths, it’s all they have left.

Stephen M. Flatow, an attorney in New Jersey, is the father of Alisa Flatow, who was murdered in an Iranian-sponsored Palestinian terrorist attack in 1995. His book, “A Father’s Story: My Fight for Justice Against Iranian Terror,” has just been published.

The opinions and facts presented in this article are those of the author, and neither JNS nor its partners assume any responsibility for them.
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