Jewish Voices Fear Pax Americana

Multiple Jewish organizations are questioning the peace plan that has been talked about in the American press and that would be imposed upon Israel.

“Can it be true that America is no longer committed to a final status agreement that provides defensible borders for Israel?” Ronald Lauder, president of the World Jewish Congress (WJC), is concerned. Ambiguity shown by Barack Obama on this matter “has provoked,” he says, “a wave of rumors and anxiety.” But the leader of the organization, who claims to speak on behalf of Jewish communities in 92 countries, also shows hints of exasperation. “It is time to end our public feud with Israel,” he declared in the open letter which he has just sent to the White House, “and to confront the real challenges that we face together.”

Irreparable Fracture

Like the WJC, the organizations who want to see Israel and the United States working together are “anxious.” Benjamin Netanyahu’s most recent visit to Washington last month has left the regrettable impression of an irreparable fracture. The Israeli Prime Minister was left alone with his staff in a room with no telephone, while Obama, running out of patience, dined alone with his family.


Since then, reasons for concern have only grown. A few days ago, a “leak” in principal American newspapers presented the idea that the American administration was preparing to unveil a peace plan concerning the Middle East. Gone is the “progressive” approach that was intended to “restore confidence” between Israelis and Palestinians in order to permit the continuation of direct talks. Forget the year that was lost by special American envoy George Mitchell, who tried to build upon a former freeze regarding Israeli colonies in Palestinian territory and in East Jerusalem. On the same model used by Bill Clinton in his discussions at Camp David in the year 2000, it would be the Americans who would bring their proposals. Then it would be up to the actors involved to fill the voids and see to the application of principles.

The “anxiety” provoked by this news (the publication of which is surely a test) only increased with Barack Obama’s statement that, essentially, peace in the Middle East is a “vital national security interest of the United States.” This seemingly trivial remark seems to confirm, in this context, that Washington certainly intends to look out for its own interests. The Middle Eastern conflict is “costing us significantly in terms of both blood and treasure,” Obama reaffirmed, thereby appearing, as other American officials have done, to link this issue with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Court Majority in Favor of the American President

“Our great country and the tiny State of Israel have long shared the core values of freedom and democracy,” continued Lauder in response to these “rumors.” He was not the only one to be alarmed. Seeming to reference an appeal made by Benjamin Netanyahu, Elie Wiesel appeared on full-page ads in large American newspapers: “It was inevitable: Jerusalem once again is at the center of political debates and international storms,” affirms the Nobel Peace Prize winner, making an argument that, in his eyes, should put an end to this dispute for good. The Holy City, he explains, “is mentioned more than six hundred times in Scripture — and not a single time in the Koran.” “Pressure,” he adds later, “will not produce a solution.”

Despite this full-on campaign, a poll showed Monday that American Jews have not been shaken by recent events, and that they continue to approve — by a court majority — the manner in which Barack Obama is directing America’s relations with Israel. This contrasts with the American president’s unpopularity in Israel and, furthermore, seems to confirm the ever-widening divide between the opinion of Jews in the United States and that of the major pressure groups that favor the Hebrew State.

In Israel itself, Defense Minister Ehud Barak seemed yesterday to arrive at the same conclusion: “The world isn’t willing to accept … the expectation that Israel will rule another people for decades more,” he explained in a radio address. “We must radically alter this situation through a political initiative dealing with the core issues at the heart of the conflict.”

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