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Pro-Palestinian, Pro-Peace, and Fading Fast

The Israeli-Palestinian peace process, the two-state solution in particular, is more than just a strategy. To some, as Aaron David Miller and others have written, it is a religion in itself. To others, such as Arab states in the Middle East, it is an excuse. To still others, like UNRWA, it is a self-enrichment scheme designed to perpetuate the conflict. But to nearly everyone, it is, at its most basic level, a market–for ideas, for products, for influence. And as some organizations are finding out now, the bungling of the peace process, such as that done by President Obama and Secretary of State Kerry, is bad for business.

BuzzFeed’s Rosie Gray documents the travails of one such group: the American Task Force on Palestine. It was founded in 2003, she notes, to advocate for Palestinian statehood among policymakers. It was self-consciously moderate, attracting political figures (like then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton) to its events and associating itself with Palestinian figures like former prime minister Salam Fayyad, a moderate technocrat who hoped to crack down on corruption and bad governance and was driven out of Palestinian politics for his efforts.

Though the group wasn’t awash in money, things were going fairly well for a while, Gray writes. Indeed, though Gray doesn’t go into the political developments in the U.S. during ATFP’s rise, they are significant. George W. Bush publicly pushed for the creation of a Palestinian state early on in his presidency, giving renewed momentum to the idea of two states for two peoples. The Bush administration’s progress included giving Ariel Sharon the support he needed (later rescinded by Barack Obama in a damaging blow to hopes for peace) to withdraw from the entire Gaza Strip and set the stage for even more territorial concessions. By the end of the Bush administration, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was presenting a map and a generous offer of a deal to Mahmoud Abbas.

That’s when the backsliding began, as Abbas walked away from the offer without making a counteroffer. Then Obama came to office and began to dismantle the progress all sides had worked to achieve. Obama and Kerry, the arsonists of the ongoing blaze in Israel and the Palestinian territories, pushed the two sides farther apart, alienated everyone involved, and sided against not just Israel but also the Palestinian Authority whenever Hamas’s interests were at stake. The process, not exactly on the brink of success to begin with, collapsed.

So what happens to groups like the American Task Force on Palestine when the process is at a low ebb? Gray explains:

But things changed for ATFP this year. This summer’s war between Israel and Hamas and the breakdown of U.S.-mediated peace talks between the Israelis and Palestinians aiming to broker a two-state solution, which is core to ATFP’s mission, have proven to be a toxic combination to the nonprofit. The group has decided to cancel its annual gala this year, which usually brings in half of its annual fundraising. And its founder says it will have to cut staff and office space. ATFP’s situation is a casualty of a larger shift: The hope for a two-state solution, which is official U.S. policy and regarded by the establishment as the only legitimate way to end the conflict, is running out of steam, causing a major existential crisis for some of those most dedicated to it.

There’s more than mere symbolism in what this says about the peace process. On a practical level, it shows that relying on the two-state solution as your raison d’être is a poor business model. The American government can afford for John Kerry to toss a match onto the Mideast tinderbox and walk away; private organizations, not so much.

On a political level, it shows the damage for a pro-Palestinian organization to align itself with moderate elements. With regard to the Palestinian polity, this means people like Fayyad, who represented a genuine desire for positive change and the willingness to do the hard work of state building. He was the only one, unfortunately.

It would be one thing if Fayyad had been forced to make only incremental change slowly so as not to rock the boat too much. Instead the system treated him like a virus, seeking to neutralize and then expel him. Which is exactly what happened. When moderate elements are not even tolerated, there’s not much room for a two-state solution or its supporters.

And domestically, it also says much about the hate and intolerance of the Palestinians’ Western supporters. Here’s Gray talking to ATFP’s president on what it’s like to be seen as a collaborator with the enemy merely for talking to Jews:

“That is part of the problem with raising money,” Asali said. “The mere fact that we talk to the Israelis publicly, here and in Israel, and to the Jewish organized and non-organized community has presented a major obstacle in our communication with our community.”

“We are for dealing with the establishment that deals with Palestine and Israel,” he said. “Which means by necessity that at least half of it would be Jewish or Israeli.”

Precisely. You can’t have a negotiating process leading to a two-state solution if you won’t deal with one side. Which raises the unfortunate fact: a great many of the Palestinians’ supporters and allies don’t actually want a two-state solution. They are not invested in real peace or ending the conflict; they are invested in ending Israel.

It’s tempting to say “with friends like these…” but that misses the point. The Palestinians’ supporters are not unintentionally undermining them with their hate. They are taking their cues from the Palestinian government. Those who support the Palestinians but also want peace and a two-state solution are few in number, and dwindling still.



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5 Responses to “Pro-Palestinian, Pro-Peace, and Fading Fast”

  1. MARLANE BORMEL says:

    The only solution, given this political reality, is for Israel to defend its right to exist by engaging in all out military war with those in the region that cannot accept the reality of an Israel in perpetuity. Sixty-five years of diplomatic efforts have resolved nothing as the opposition is more interested in keeping its unemployed, lost, and ignorant youth, from whom they draw their violent, malevolent terrorists in a perpetual state of grievance. The Arab world is awash with leaders determined to gin up grievances against Israel as a way to deflect the gaze of the disenchanted from the true perpetuation of poverty and backwardness – totalitarian regimes with no interest in joining the modern world.

  2. BARRY MEISLIN says:

    One can truly blame them for an awful lot, but one cannot blame Obama and Kerry for the breakdown in the I-P “peace process”.

    This is because there never was a peace process.

    “Peace” for the Palestinians always meant the elimination of Israel.

    And the “peace process” was the process—the strategy and the tactic—to achieve that goal. Unfortunately for Israel, most of the world still believes that “peace” means two sides living side by side with some kind of accord, or at the very least, if not with harmony, then with some kind of detente; some sort of mutual recognition.

    Alas, the word (peace) for such harmony or detente or mutual recognition is the same word (peace) for the elimination of Israel.

    Obama and Kerry can be blamed (along with most of the world—even ME “experts” and even, that diminished breed—ME experts who consider themselves supporters of Israel) for not understanding this—and for exposing Israel, which their worldview (and the worldview of most of the world) perceives as being almost totally, if not 100%, responsible for the lack of an agreement with the Palestinians

    …With the Palestinians—both Hamas and the PA—whose goal is Israel’s destruction.

    Yes, Obama and Kerry et al. can be blamed for further isolating Israel because of their foolishness, their stupidity and, yes, their malice towards the Jewish State—informed as it is by their having swallowed the “narrative” of “peace”, the narrative of Israel’s intransigence, the worldview of Israel’s responsibility for Palestinian suffering,

    And their continued obtuseness and malice in the face of Israel’s increased isolation, deligitimization and desperate global position, which their foolishness and/or malice has helped to exacerbate.

    And they can be blamed—and should be blamed—for a whole lot more than just that.

    But to blame them for the absence of I-P “peace”—at least “peace” as defined by right-thinking, decent people—is to totally misread the reality of the situation.

    Arafat was never going to agree to a peace with Israel. And he tried to assuage those Palestinians and Palestinian faction who, in fact, believed that he was a traitor to the cause, to bear with him, to give him time, to see what he really was planning. To be patient with their leader.

    It is the same with Abbas and his (most skillful, to be sure) game playing.

    Violence was (and is) always on the table. The military option was never hidden far from view. Sure, he took the money that was offered him. Certainly, he agreed to this, that and the other request.

    But what exactly does the demand to return Palestinian refugees to within Pre-1967 Israel mean? What exactly does no recognition of Israel as a Jewish state mean? What exactly does “Palestine from the river to the sea” mean? And what exactly does the denial of Jewish history (and the Jewish connection to the land of Israel) mean?

    Remember: Jesus was a Palestinian; and the temple in Jerusalem never existed….

    So blame those two wretched fools—those two dangerously foolish “statesmen” for many things.

    But understand that there never, ever was going to be a Palestinian Israeli agreement.

    Yes, the “peace process”—and the promise of peace— was and is the cross on which to crucify the Jewish State and its people.

    The pity of it all is that Yitzhak Rabin, who would have stopped the process in its tracks once it became clear to him what was going on, was killed in vain….

    And the people of Israel, and now Jews world-wide, have been paying the price.

    Karma? Payback? Teshuva? Whatever.

    The situation now for Israel and for Jews the world over (not to mention Christians and others the world over—but that is beyond the scope of this post) is dire.

    The question is no longer: How do you make “peace” with those who want to destroy you?

    The question is: How do you make defend yourself against those who want to destroy you so much that they don’t care if they destroy themselves in the process?

    • ELLIOTT GREEN says:

      Right. Arafat said to the Arabs, Bear with me. That was the meaning of his notorious Hudaybiyyah speech in Johannesburg in 1993.

  3. ELLIOTT GREEN says:

    The first party in Israel to endorse and promote the notion of a “two-state solution” was the Communist Party [= Hadash]. Their spokesman at the time, the now notorious Ilan Pappe, called for two states for two peoples. It does sound very fair and even, doesn’t it?

    But it was really just a stage in promoting the destruction of Israel. And now Pappe calls for one state to be dominated by Arabs. Pappe is now in the UK inciting hatred of Jews and Israel.

  4. TIKI SHAPIRA says:

    You can’t find a solution based on a lie! That’s when/where all the problems begin.

    The lie?
    The “Palestinians” have “historical rights” to a “State” on the “lands the Jews stole from them”.

    **The Palestinians: There never was an Arab people called Palestinians.

    In the British Mandate of Palestine the Jews were called Palestinians and the Arabs, coming from surrounding countries looking for work, were called Arabs.

    In the mid eighties of the last century, the inventor of terror ARAFAT & Jew hater CARTER invented a new people: the Palestinians.

    **The historical rights: Please show us the history of Palestinians living in Palestine!

    **The stolen Palestinian land: Please show us the documents you owned the land before the Jews did!

    **The Palestinian State: please show us when it existed.

    This whole Palestinian saga is based on lies, from
    A—Z. That’s why it’s impossible to solve it.




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