Jews believe Israel can be a democracy and occupier, discuss

Max Ajl at the Electronic Intifada on J Street’s identity crisis (and American Jewry’s romantic notions of a Jewish state, still alive and well despite decades of brutal occupation):

J Street’s policy positions reflect the assumption that the correct amount of strategically-targeted pressure, consisting of the right mix of harsh words and blandishments, can compel Israel to change its policies. The trump card of aid-cessation has been ruled out. American diplomats and statesmen are fond of the language of carrots and sticks, but there is to be no carrot for Israel and no stick, just the vague threat of the inevitable end of the two-state solution if a negotiated settlement is not arrived at by the end of Obama’s term in office, and the accompanying end of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state.

This vision is based upon a fantastical vision of Israel: a flawed democracy, not a scarily aggressive state harboring dangerously genocidal sentiments, with a messianic military believing in its divine right to sovereignty over another people’s land. J Street does not recognize these facts. It’s attempting to walk a path that’s unwalkable, and when one wishes to trod a path that can’t be trod upon, it helps to be able to dream. The dream is that Israel is a beleaguered democracy, struggling to defend itself. Emphasis on defense: the Zionist warrior ethos, manifested as security through the gun, may be somewhat beguiling to segments of an American Jewish population swearing that we never again will be helplessly slaughtered. There’s no doubt about that.

Modern Zionism is an addiction for American Jewry, and withdrawal goes in stages. J Street was step one. Let’s take it for what it is, and keep working.