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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The American Disconnect

One of the implicit themes throughout my posts, especially the ones written in Israel, that I'd like to make explicit is this: there is a growing and vibrant movement in Israel that is mobilizing around the urgent need to arrive at a two-state solution. I don't want to oversell the number of Israelis in this camp, but there is a significant number of former security officials, business leaders, professors, and journalists among them. They are opinion makers and if they lead, large numbers of Israelis just may follow.

Meanwhile many Americans, Jews included, are generally unaware of this movement, or if they have some vague notion of its existence, do not know that it is being driven to a large extent by former chiefs of the IDF, Mossad and Shin Bet. You know the type, some of them are our friends or members of our family: the can't go back to 67 borders choir; the united and eternal Jerusalem crowd. They know Ahmadinejad threatened to "wipe Israel off the map," and are ready to back a pre-emptive strike on Iran's nuclear facilities, but don't know that the past head of the Mossad, Meir Dagan, called the suggestion of an Israeli attack on Iran "one of the stupidest things I have ever heard." These Americans "know" that Israel will never "divide" Jerusalem, but have no idea that two Israeli prime ministers offered to do just that.

Too often the discourse in the US proceeds along the premise that there is some unanimity of Israeli opinion that is reduced to the most intransigent and hawkish of views. Americans seem largely oblivious of the fact that not all Israelis agree with Netanyahu's policies vis-a-vis the Palestinians. So when they hear someone in Chicago or New York voice the very same ideas that are expressed in the Israeli Peace Initiative (two state solution, 1967 borders with land swaps, etc.), they are dismissive, unaware that this initiative even exists or that it was put forward by Amnon Lipkin-Shahak (former head of the IDF), Danny Yatom (former head of the Mossad) and Yaakov Perry (former head of the Shin-Bet), just to name a few.

The challenge for us is to make them aware. Circulate news stories and links to the Israeli Peace Initiative and highlight the identities of its signers. Send it to friends and family. Send it those who agree with you and those who don't. Most teachers will tell you that if one student in a class fails, it is probably the student's fault. But if a large number fails, it is partly the teacher's fault.

Get this information out there. We can't allow this class to fail.

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