Wednesday, 27 February 2013

The Delusions Of Yair Lapid And AIPAC

Say this for AIPAC: They’re as delusional as Yair Lapid, the newly arrived king-maker in Israeli politics. Both Lapid and AIPAC appear to believe that if you wish something hard enough, say it often enough, or simply ignore that which doesn’t fit into your wishing strategy: Magic!

On Tuesday, Barak Ravid reported in Haaretz that 

Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid has ordered more than 10 Knesset members from his party to cancel a Jerusalem-area tour with the left-wing Geneva Initiative organization.

Bearing in mind that members of both Shas and Likud (a party ostensibly far to the right of Yesh Atid) have recently gone on similar Geneva Institute tours, this is how Lapid explained himself:

At the present time of coalition negotiations, we cannot join a tour with an organization that supports dividing Jerusalem. After all, we are against dividing Jerusalem.

Which brings us to two different but equally important points: 1) Lapid appears to be of the opinion that if you so much as listen to an idea with which you disagree, you will get cooties, and 2) he continues to appear to believe quite sincerely it will be possible to reach a two-state peace with the Palestinian people without establishing a shared Jerusalem as the capital of both states—despite the fact that this is not unlike believing in the tooth fairy.

Cut to AIPAC, a place where you can call yourself the American Israel Public Affairs Committee and plan your annual conference, an event at which many Serious People will come together for “three of the most important days affecting Israel’s future”—and not place the Palestinian people on your legislative agenda. Not a single mention, as Ron Kampeas reports in JTA.

The same attitude that allows for a dismissal of the Palestinian people from conversations with American lawmakers about Israel’s future can be seen in a planned breakout session about the land’s spiritual dimension: “The Holy Land's Historic and Religious Significance.” Not only is there nary a Palestinian on the docket for this conversation, but the entirety of Islam is ignored. You have your Christians, you have your Jews… but those other people, for whom Jerusalem is a place of deep religious resonance, from whence tradition holds their Prophet rose unto the heavens and at the center of which Abraham bound his son for sacrifice? Yeah, not so much. Islam? What’s that?

AIPAC doesn’t entirely forget the Palestinians. There are panel discussions of the conflict, but per Kampeas:

This year’s “AIPAC action principles”… mention the Palestinians only in the context of keeping them from advancing toward statehood outside the confines of negotiations but do not explicitly endorse the two-state solution.

Yair Lapid and AIPAC don’t need to like the Palestinians. They don’t need to agree with the Palestinian narrative of the conflict. They don’t need to like Islam, either, come to that. But if they are to be of any actual service to Israel—the real Israel, the one that has been occupying another people for close to five decades and in which a third intifada is brewing even as we speak—they need to, at the very least, grapple honestly with the fact that Palestinians are autonomous actors, not flat characters in a play we’re writing. And the city of Jerusalem—both holy and secular—belongs to them, too.

The greatest threat to the continuing existence of a democratic, Jewish state is not Iran, and not U.S. budgetary concerns. The greatest threat to Israel is the occupation. If Lapid and AIPAC really want to secure Israel’s future, they’ll stop deluding themselves and their supporters, and start telling the truth.

I’ll just be over here, not holding my breath.

Emily L. Hauser is an American-Israeli writer who has studied and written about the contemporary Middle East since the early 1990s. She blogs about Israel/Palestine and everything from domestic politics to her kids to loud music at Emily L. Hauser In My Head, and can be followed on Twitter.

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