Ronit Avni, the Executive Director of Just Vision has a very important op-ed in today’s Washington Post. The points she makes about American private support for the settlement enterprise should be taken to heart by all.
I agree with Ronit when she says “I am not suggesting that non-profits should lose their tax advantages simply because they are at odds with American foreign policy. But the settlements are widely considered a violation of international law.” There is certainly a legal question there that should be discussed and decided.
But I’d make another point in addition to that one. There are a great many Americans, Jewish and otherwise, who are concerned about Israel’s future and the human rights of the Palestinians, both of which are seriously threatened by the settlements. And it’s important, to be sure, for those folks to support President Obama and American peace groups.
But it is also important that Americans who care also support those forces in Israel that are working to change the hold the settlements have on the futures of both Israel and the Palestinians. There are many such, including B’Tselem, Peace Now, Gisha, Ir Amim and others. Just as groups here are dedicated to supporting the settlements, and are putting their time, energy and money where their beliefs are, so must those of us with a different vision.
The perception is that, despite repeated polling that reflects the opposition of American and American-Jewish support toward settlements, those majorities are not prepared to put in the same energy as their counterparts supporting the status quo and the settlements.
The facts bear that perception out. As I’ve argued before, that needs to change. Those groups working for a more peaceful and democratic Israel need support from the USA. Money, of course, but they also need to stop being surprised when they come here and find a far larger base of support than they can see from Israel.
It sounds trivial, but it really does matter.