Understanding Netanyahu’s Rejection of the Arab Peace Initiative

On Monday, just two weeks after saying that he accepted the “general idea” of the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative (API), Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejected it as a basis for talks with

the Palestinians. This rejection is actually more than it seems, and it is important to understand both what the API itself says and, concomitantly, what Netanyahu’s rejection implies. Read more at FMEP’s blog, Facts On The Ground.

Where is the Israeli Sadat?

In this week’s piece at Souciant, I look at Akiva Eldar’s revelation that former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert refused an invitation to address the Arab League in 2007 in order to promote a regional peace process with the goal of fully normal relations between Israel and all Arab League members. It serves as a reminder that, while the Netanyahu government is so radically right wing and makes an easy target, Israeli obstruction of any steps that might lead to an end to occupation runs much deeper than the current government.

New Stuff: Miller, Avishai and J Street

Dear Friends,

My latest blog piece is now live on Allvoices.com. You can check it out by clicking here.

The “Right to Exist”: A Double-Edged Red Herring

When negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians begin to gather steam or, as is the case now, seem to be re-starting, emotions on both sides are stirred by the question of Israel’s “right to exist,” particularly its right, or lack of same, to exist as a Jewish state.

That such a debate would raise passions to a boiling point on both sides is self-evident. For Israelis, the question goes to the very legitimacy of their state and to the history of the Zionist movement. More, it implies a question of whether it is morally justifiable to seek to destroy Israel by any means necessary.

For Palestinians, the question has two layers: one, acknowledging and recognizing that Zionism succeeded in establishing the Jewish state. The second layer implies a demand that Palestinians acknowledge that their dispossession was justified and legitimate. Most, though far from all, Palestinians can accept the first layer. But search as hard as you might and it is unlikely you’ll find more Palestinians than you can count with your fingers that can accept the second.

Such a vexing question is not asked about other countries. The “right” of the United States to exist was not questioned before, during or after the Americans and their colonial predecessors nearly wiped out the native population. The right of Lebanon, a country sliced out of Greater Syria with an arbitrary pen stroke on a map, or of Jordan, a country split apart from the rest of the British Mandate over Palestine, to exist is not similarly questioned. But Israel’s is. By the same token, those countries do not ask for their “right to exist” to be acknowledged, merely that their sovereignty be recognized and respected. But Israel does ask this. Continue reading