Each year, thousands of pro-Israel activists gather in Washington for the annual American Israel Public Affairs Committee Policy Conference. Like a mini-Zionist amusement park, it offers attendees lots of thrills, hustle, and bustle as well as the opportunity to have an immersive and enjoyable experience.
But this week, at AIPAC’s most recent confab, Howard Kohr, the leader of the vaunted pro-Israel group, delivered remarks that were akin to a bolt of lightning striking the main roller coaster and setting it aflame.
In a speech that was otherwise passionate and persuasive in its defense of Israel and the strong bilateral relationship with the United States, Kohr said the following: “We must work toward that future, two states for two peoples – one Jewish with secure and defensible borders and one Palestinian with its own flag and its own future.”
So there you have it. On the eve of a meeting between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US President Donald Trump, the head of the most powerful Jewish organization in Washington threw Israel under the bus, declaring his support for dividing the Land of Israel, turning our backs on Jewish history and destiny, and enabling our foes to establish a hostile entity along the Jewish state’s borders.
While this is hardly the first time that AIPAC has publicly embraced Palestinian nationalism, what makes Kohr’s statement so shocking is just how detached it is from reality.
For as even he himself admitted in his speech, there has been “no Palestinian willingness to talk face-to-face” with Israel for the past eight years.
If the Palestinian leadership is not prepared to negotiate for statehood, then why on earth is AIPAC’s executive director insisting that Jews continue to work for the sake of a hopeless pipe dream? Furthermore, a recent survey conducted jointly by the Tami Steinmetz Center for Peace Research at Tel Aviv University and the Ramallah-based Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research found that a majority of Israelis and Palestinians do not support the “two-state solution.” The poll, which was published in January, showed that just 26% of Palestinians think a peace agreement should be forged now, while 38% are in favor of the “armed struggle” against Israel.
In other words, more Palestinians prefer terrorism to peace talks.
These are simple, solid facts and they trump the airy wishful thinking of AIPAC’s executives, who need to come to terms with reality and accept that a “two-state solution” to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, like the return of Elvis or the discovery of Atlantis, is nothing more than fantasy.
Instead of continuing to parrot the same mantra, AIPAC should stop pushing for something that neither side wants and that has no chance of success, and focus its efforts on more pressing matters, of which there are many. These range from Iran’s nuclear program to Syria’s ongoing use of chemical weapons against its citizens to Lebanon’s continuing embrace of Hezbollah and its lethal arsenal.
It is also worth noting that US Vice President Mike Pence and UN Ambassador Nikki Haley both spoke at the AIPAC conference, and neither of them endorsed the two-state solution.
So AIPAC is effectively pushing a policy that doesn’t represent the will of either Israelis or Palestinians nor even that of the administration in Washington.
This is particularly ironic because on AIPAC’s home page it declares, “support direct negotiations, not imposed solutions,” yet that doesn’t seem to stop the group from trying to impose its will on the Israeli public.
Some 30 years ago, as an undergraduate at Princeton University, I co-founded PIPAC, the AIPAC campus affiliate. I have great respect for much of the organization’s work as well as lots of criticism, which is precisely why I think it is so important for AIPAC to get with the program and stop promoting the failed ideas of the past.
The bottom line is that a number of AIPAC leaders reside in northern Virginia, which is over 6,000 miles away and beyond the reach of even the most advanced Palestinian rockets. As long as that is the case, they have no right to tell Israelis to withdraw from Judea and Samaria and ensconce the Palestinian threat even more firmly at our doorstep.
Reprinted with author’s permission from The Jerusalem Post