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A Progressive Zionist Challenge to the Israeli Government

June 9, 2014
The following statement was made on June 9th by Ameinu, a progressive Zionist organization that supports Habonim Dror, the Labor Zionist youth movement, and manages the Kibbutz Program Center, which sends hundreds of young adults on unique Israel experiential journeys every year. Ameinu_logoAmeinu, the largest grassroots progressive Zionist organization in North America, today issued the following statement addressing the reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas and the creation of a new government for the Palestinian Authority (PA). Israel today faces serious challenges to its future — not only to its security, but to its democracy and Jewish identity — and unfortunately these threats are being exacerbated by rash and counterproductive actions by its government as well as enthusiasm or acquiescence by too many of Israel’s “friends” in the Diaspora. To truly defend and support Israel, mistakes and missteps by its leadership must be challenged. Ameinu is deeply dismayed by the failure of the recent U.S.-brokered peace negotiations. While none of the parties are blameless, the Netanyahu government not only failed to present a credible Israeli plan to end the occupation and create a viable Palestinian state, but it consistently sought to fault the Palestinians for any lack of progress and cast aspersions on the role of the US as a broker for the negotiations. Now the government of Israel is reacting to the problematic, but potentially positive, reconciliation of Palestinian factions in ways that weaken Israel’s position in the region and internationally. By expanding tenders for housing in the West Bank and East Jerusalem and taking steps to undermine PA President Mahmoud Abbas, the Israeli government has manufactured a conflict with the Obama administration and the European Union, and has provided dangerous ammunition to proponents of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. While Hamas remains a terrorist organization, it is economically and strategically weaker and more isolated than ever before. The unity deal offers an opportunity for President Abbas, who is a real partner for Israel, to capitalize on this weakness and gain control and enhanced support among the Palestinian people to make peace with Israel in ways a divided Palestinian leadership never could. It is impossible to know for certain how Palestinian reconciliation will ultimately play out. But there is no doubt that by creating the appearance that the Israeli government and its defenders are not committed to a two-state solution, but instead to unending occupation and settlement growth, the BDS movement will be strengthened as it argues that no alternative exists for Palestinians to achieve self-determination. Ameinu believes that this is the time to closely monitor the new Palestinian government — one that is supported by Hamas but does not include any of its members — as well as the upcoming Palestinian elections. A key test of the sincerity of the new government will be whether its successful security cooperation with Israel continues. But it is not the time to cut off ties with the PA or to urge Congress to end financial support for the Palestinian government. For more than 100 years the Labor Zionist movement has struggled to help fulfill the Zionist dream of a strong and just Jewish state. Ameinu, as the North American embodiment of this movement, remains dedicated to this vital mission. For the sake of Israel’s future, the government of Israel should step back from the brink of isolation and reengage with its Palestinian neighbors and its closest allies like the United States to struggle for peace and justice. It can begin by presenting a credible Israeli plan to restart negotiations. Ameinu also hopes that all who claim to support Israel from the Diaspora will reconsider their blanket support for Israeli policies that unnecessarily provoke Palestinians and the international community.