I agree with everything said in this column, written by a somewhat unlikely source, because I think of Cohen as being very slightly left of center. He is a British Jew.
The American Jewish community must come to its senses, but it shows every sign of not doing so, year after year. The reason is obvious. Just as Western guilt for its complicity in the Holocaust allowed Israel to be created, guilt of the American Jewish community for leading its own successful and largely soft and secular life in America while the Israelis tough it out in the desert with their mandatory draft have led the American Jewish community to bankroll Israel in a big way and to bankroll America’s Mideast policy and to dictate its terms. What this demonstrates to me is the superficiality of the American Jewish community, the vacuousness at its core. I don’t have many good things to say about this “culture” in which I sort of grew up, except that it produced some good fiction writers, although these belong to an earlier generation, the generation of my parents. If only Jewish kids were actually taught something in Sunday school. I am myself so ignorant of Jewish theology, traditions, and history that I am embarrassed.
Here is what I believe. Two-state solution. The Palestinian state cannot be cantonized, it must be mostly contiguous territory. It would be demilitarized, with international oversight. Jerusalem would have divided sovereignty. There would be either no right of Palestinian return, or the cases in which such a right exerts itself would be very limited. There would be some form of financial compensation for people who were demonstrably expropriated, possibly with international sponsorship.
But bravo Roger Cohen. You have said what virtually no Jewish person with claims to having a voice in the centrist establishment of the American Jewish Community dares to say, or even wants to say. But what you have said is morally correct. No other position is possible for a responsible person.
Thanks for passing along Cohen’s column—and for framing the issue so well yourself. I still don’t understandhow the US can be so stalemated on this issue. And what I really don’t understand is what would need to happen first: a significant movement within the US Jewish community voicing a different view towards Palestine—or a significant movement within US elected politicians finding the courage to stand up to this lobby?
Something else must be being served, isn’t it? Because what you propose in your second-to-the-last paragraph is too sensible and utilitarian to avoid, I think—unless there’s some other ulterior motive going on.