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Which Side Are You On?

With Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu about to make his first visit to Washington since both he and President Obama took office this year, there is plenty of speculation about the result of their meeting. Opponents of Israel as well as some claiming to be her friends are openly rooting for the president to turn the screws on the Jewish State and to make it clear that the alliance between the two countries will be treated differently in the Obama era.

Yet on the other side are friends of Israel who are hoping that these two very different men can find a way to work together that will not compromise Israel’s security. But if you were expecting the Israel Policy Forum, a well-healed and influential group that touts itself as being ardently pro-Israel, to be among the latter, you’d be wrong.

Take a look at the full-page ad they placed in today’s New York Times. It proclaims a dubious five-step plan to Middle East peace, but its most significant aspect is that despite its clear timing to precede the Obama-Netanyahu talks, there is not a word of greeting for the prime minister or even the most perfunctory gesture of solidarity with the democratically elected government he leads. Instead, its punchline is clear: “We Support You Mr. President.”

You have to be as deluded as the IPF’s M.J. Rosenberg to believe that a solution in which Israel hands over every inch of the West Bank and parts of Jerusalem to a toothless Palestinian Authority or to Hamas will bring peace. Unless you are an ideologue like him, you understand that no Israeli government could possibly hand over territory to these forces since it would replicate the debacle in Gaza, where a sovereign Hamasistan now exists. Rebuilding Gaza for Hamas, removing the security measures in the West Bank that retard the ability of terrorists to kill Israelis, and agreeing to negotiate under the terms of the 2002 Saudi “peace” plan that insists on the right of return for Palestinians is a blueprint for more violence, not peace.

But the point of the ad isn’t really the bogus peace plan that ignores the reality of Palestinian politics and society. It is, instead, to signal to the administration that American Jews no longer support the right of Israel’s leaders to defend their nation’s interests. They want Obama to think Israel’s friends in this country want the president to ignore the Jewish state’s desperate plea that Obama make good on his campaign promise to stop Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons and that this effort is a higher priority than pursuing futile negotiations with Palestinians who don’t want peace.

In a separate column published on the IPF Website, that’s pretty much what Rosenberg says:

It should be noted that despite what some may think, American Jews are Americans and, it must be said, overwhelmingly Democratic. They will back their president if he pushes hard for Middle East peace. They are not Israelis living in exile.

The IPF has really hit a new low when its chief spokesperson starts playing the “dual loyalty” card against supporters of Israel in the same vein as Pat Buchanan. And though there is no arguing with the majority of Jews being partisan Democrats, it is quite another thing to say that most would support a president of their own party who threw Israel under a bus. But that is exactly what Rosenberg and the Walt-Mearsheimer anti-AIPAC crowd that he sides with are hoping will happen.

Call me crazy, but I don’t think rank-and-file Jewish Democrats thought they were voting for a man who was going to act in a manner that might place Hamas missiles within range of Ben Gurion Airport and acquiesce to an Iranian nuclear weapon. You don’t have to be a supporter of Netanyahu to understand that Israel’s safety ought to trump partisan loyalties.



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