Ten Jewish groups unite against Israeli democracy

The critics of Israel are able to set aside their petty personal differences in order to be more effective. Why can’t the defenders of Israel do likewise?

The logo for the Progressive Israel Network.
The logo for the Progressive Israel Network.
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.)

For years, the pundits have been telling us that Israeli democracy is in danger because of the Arab birthrate, or because of the Jewish nation-state law, or because of the debates over the powers of Israel’s High Court.

I wonder if they will recognize the danger posed by the 10 left-wing American Jewish organizations that have formed a new umbrella organization, the essential purpose of which is to undermine Israeli democracy.

Last week, J Street and nine other Jewish left-wing groups declared themselves part of the new “Progressive Jewish Network.” I’m using the term “J Street and nine others,” without listing the other nine by name because the truth is that all 10 are essentially indistinguishable from one another.

Oh, I’m sure the chairperson of Americans for Peace Now will insist that there are significant differences between it and, say, Partners for Progressive Israel. And no doubt that the chairperson of Partners for Progressive Israel will insist that there are very important reasons justifying that organization’s separate existence.

But, come on, folks. Look at their platforms. For all intents and purposes, they’re identical.

Now these 10 organizations—or, really, 10 factions of the same ideological movement—are formally banding together, as the Progressive Jewish Network, in the hope of increasing their power and, as they put it, to “shape opinions, policy and discourse” in the Jewish community.

This “Gang of Ten” also intend to run together as a joint list in the upcoming elections to the World Zionist Congress. Groups at the other end of the spectrum should take note. The critics of Israel are able to set aside their petty personal differences in order to be more effective; why can’t the defenders of Israel do likewise?

The announcement of the new coalition presents eight founding principles. Mostly, they’re just the usual vague sloganeering about peace, justice, freedom and equality. Apparently, the Progressive Networkers believe that they are the only ones in the Jewish world who want those things. They think the rest of us prefer war, injustice, slavery and discrimination.

A few of the points in their founding declaration merit comment.

One is their pledge to campaign for “an end to Israel’s rule over Palestinians in the West Bank.” The only problem, of course, is that Israel ended its rule over 98 percent of the Palestinian Arabs back in 1995. It is the Palestinian Authority that rules them.

The gang knows that Israel doesn’t rule the area. In fact, they know it in an up-close way that most American Jews don’t—because the leaders of J Street and their comrades have repeatedly visited the P.A. capital of Ramallah to meet with senior P.A. officials. As they have driven through the city, they have seen for themselves that there is not a single Israeli soldier or civilian in Ramallah or any of the other major Palestinian Arab cities.

So why do the Progressive Networkers persist in promoting the fantasy that Israel “rules over” the Arabs? Because demonizing Israel as “the occupier” galvanizes their followers. It gives them something to be upset about, as well as a good topic on which to write op-eds and call in to radio shows.

Also in the Network’s founding statement is a vow to fight for “an end to [Israel’s] expansion of settlements.” This is a clever bit of wordsmithing. Everybody knows that the Israeli government has not established a single new Jewish community in Judea and Samaria since 1992. Former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin froze the construction of new “settlements” and subsequent prime ministers continued that policy.

So what are the Networkers talking about? By “expansion of settlements,” they give the impression that new ones are being created; however, they are actually referring to construction within the existing communities. That’s right—if a Jewish family adds a nursery to their home in order to accommodate their new baby, that’s an “expansion of settlements.” That’s the enemy. That’s the obstacle to peace.

The founding declaration emphasizes that the 10 groups are “committed to democracy.” But the truth is that they’re not. In fact, their whole purpose is to undermine Israeli democracy. They do not accept the results of Israel’s democratic elections. They do not accept the right of Israelis to choose their own leaders and determine their country’s fate. They really believe that “progressives” sitting in Scarsdale, N.Y., and Beverly Hills, Calif., have a right to dictate Israel’s policies and borders.

Creating a Palestinian state is the core principle of the Progressive Jewish Network. Yet in election after election after election, a large majority of Israelis have chosen parties that oppose the establishment of a Palestinian state. In the most recent national elections in April, the Jewish parties calling for a Palestinian state won just 10 Knesset seats out of 120.

If the groups making up the Progressive Jewish Network sincerely supported democracy, then they would respect the results of Israel’s democratic elections. But they don’t. Instead, they are devoted to pressuring the Israeli government to accept policies that Israel’s citizens have consistently and overwhelmingly rejected. And that is truly a danger to Israeli democracy.

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. He is the author of “A Father’s Story: My Fight for Justice Against Iranian Terror.”

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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