A J-Street convention fantasy: What they needed to hear

OP-EDS & REVIEWS

By Gil Troy, Jerusalem Post, 3-28-12

The J-Street convention just ended with limited media coverage. This reflects the growing realization that despite its self-promotion, this political organization is marginal, dwarfed by the 13,000 liberals, moderates, and conservatives at AIPAC’s policy conference. Not having heard much about what was said or not said, applauded or booed, here is what I wish the J-Streeters heard – and how I hope the participants reacted.
I write as someone who believes in Big Tent Zionism, welcoming a vigorous Zionist Left and Right, and who endorses a two-state solution. But I also write as someone who heard the rumor that at last year’s J-Street convention, the Israel bashers consistently received the most enthusiastic applause.  Although I hope the rumor is false, it is believable; I have seen such politically correct, enthusiastic self-loathing in too many corners of the Jewish Left too frequently over the last decade.
Were the names of Rav Yonatan Sandler, age 30, his sons Aryeh, 6, and Gavriel Yissacher, 4, on everybody’s lips, three of the Tolouse terrorist’s victims? Was the image of the Islamist terrorist pulling eight-year-old Miriam Monsonego by the hair, then executing her at point blank range, burned into attendees’ consciousnesses, as it is into mine? Did they struggle with the problem of anti-Semitic and anti-Zionist hatred that transcends the rational, that spawns such barbarism, that won’t be solved by border swaps or apologies, and is not our fault?
Did they mourn the three French paratroopers, two of Arab descent, noting that Arabs frequently suffer from the brutality of fanatic Islamist terrorists?
I wonder if Yasir Arafat and his war against Oslo were discussed honestly, fully. So many of us wanted the Oslo peace process to work, and felt betrayed when Arafat led his people away from negotiations back to terror. A frank conversation would not just list Israel’s mistakes. It would acknowledge Palestinian responsibility for the current stalemate too, starting with Palestinians’ bloody repudiation of Oslo.  True liberals should respect Palestinians as real people, who can affect their fates, rather than reducing them to stick-figure victims, always bystanders never actors, condescendingly freed from any moral obligations or historical responsibility by a self-involved narrative that only sees Western and Israeli sins.
I hope there was some discussion of the Boycott Boomerang. Historically, calls to boycott Israel, and the broader delegitimization campaign, jinx peace efforts. The 1975 Zionism is Racism resolution emboldened Palestinian terrorists, encouraged more settlements, and hurt the United Nations – which continues sacrificing its credibility with its biased anti-Israel obsession, expressed this week through the UN Human Rights Council’s  “fact-finding” farce scrutinizing the settlements. Sweeping categorical attacks demonize, polarize, alienate.  They encourage extremists not compromisers, haters not reconcilers. Fighting delegitimization, like fighting anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism, is fighting for peace, for the mutual dignity of all parties.
Was there a mature conversation about Iran? Did anyone ask why the Iranians want nuclear weapons, why do Ahmadinejad and the mullahs threaten the United States – Big Satan – and Israel – little Satan? Did anyone wonder why fighting nuclear proliferation, long a core value on the left, somehow has not stirred passion when it comes to fighting Iran’s rush to go nuclear?
Was any good news about Israel allowed into the convention hall?  Did J-Streeters hear about the miracle of Hadassah Hospital that has Arabs and Jews healing together and working together so naturally?  Were J-Streeters aware of the 90th birthday celebrations last week of the pioneering Zionist entrepreneur David Azrieli, who proudly proclaims himself a Zionist and expresses his Zionism by helping Israel thrive economically and culturally, on par with the best of the West, while donating much of his fortune to the Jewish people and humanity via his foundation? Was there room on the program to discuss Identity Zionism or Israel as Values Nation – how the existence of the State of Israel can root modern Jews in an idealistic project that is a counter to the selfish, self-involved, I-ness of our iPad, iPod, iPhone era?
These issues are not frivolous sidesteps from the only “real” issue, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. As with any country, some balance, some context, is essential. And, as with any real mess, acknowledging complexity rather than simply sloganeering is important.   Just as we do not define the United States solely by racism, and we have to understand that an unarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin can be gunned down unjustly in the same country which elected a black man president, so too, we do not define Israel solely by its troubles with the Palestinians.  Moreover, we see the multiple dimensions there, too. If the solution is so clear, why do so many Palestinian Jerusalemites want Israeli identity cards? And why are the radical Islamic Israeli Arab citizens of Umm al-Fahm offended whenever someone suggests they should join the Palestinian state they demand so aggressively?
Finally, I hope the J Street convention emphasized what unites us as Israel lovers not just what divides us. My conversations both formally and informally with J-Streeters have affirmed our common belief in the Jewish right to a state and in Israel’s need to survive.  As J-Streeters evaluate what they heard as they return home, and think about what stirred the crowd, they should think about the messaging that occurred during the convention. Was the right tone, the right balance, struck? Did the group dynamic pull out the shared love of Israel or a harsher, distorted view of the Jewish state?
All conventions encourage groupthink and mass messaging. I hope the J-Street convention showed a maturing organization, not afraid of complexity, willing to embrace the positive as well as the negative, understanding nuance.  That is what the Jewish world and the Middle East need, not self-righteous posturing or supercritical Blame Israel Firsters.

The writer is professor of history at McGill University and a Shalom Hartman Research Fellow in Jerusalem. He is the author of Why I Am A Zionist: Israel, Jewish Identity and the Challenges of Today and The History of American Presidential Elections.

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J-Street: Why urge Obama to sic the UN on Israel?

By Gil Troy, Jerusalem Post, 1-25-11

J Street’s call on the US administration not to veto yet another biased resolution makes as much sense as turning to Ehud Olmert to teach political ethics.

J Street has joined the latest anti-Israel pile-on: encouraging the Obama administration to support this month’s anti-Israel initiative in the UN Security Council instead of vetoing it. J Street supports the resolution because it condemns the settlements.

Yet urging the Obama administration to sic the UN on Israel with yet another biased resolution makes as much sense as turning to Ehud Olmert to teach political ethics, or asking Hamas to run a seminar on peaceful conflict resolution.

Once again, J Street’s actions have undermined its claim to be the “political home for pro-Israel, pro-peace Americans.”

Those of us championing big-tent Zionism feel no joy when J Street stumbles. It speaks to US Jews seeking a revitalized liberal Zionism which is pro-Israel, yet anti-settlement. The number of dovish American Jews has been exaggerated. There are many ways to reconcile liberalism and Zionism. We should welcome all who love Israel, even if they criticize its policies.

In the 1950s America, Arthur Schlesinger, Adlai Stevenson and others forged a muscular, post-Stalinist liberalism: tough and realistic enough to be anticommunist; humane and patriotic enough to be effective.

Similarly, Zionism today needs a revitalized, post-Oslo left that is tough and realistic enough to be anti-terrorism and anti-delegitimization, yet compromising and patriotic enough to be transformational, not just effective. Is J Street up to that challenge? In 2010, J Street seemed to find a more mature, constructive footing, despite lying about its financial reliance on the anti-Zionist George Soros and other mysterious funders. Whereas it originally so opposed the Jewish establishment it could not even ally with mainstream Jewish organizations when they were right about Hamas or Iran, this teenage rebellious phase seemingly faded. Most notably, J Street denounced the global anti-Israel boycott, divestment and sanctions movement.

In repudiating the boycotters’ “punitive approach toward Israel” and their “failure to focus on the responsibilities of all parties to help end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” J Street saw through the human rights masquerade of so many anti-Israeli forces, especially on campus.

Its website condemned the Palestinian BDS National Committee for failing “explicitly to recognize Israel’s right to exist” and “ignor[ing] or reject[ing] Israel’s role as a national home for the Jewish people.”

On campus, J Street commendably endorsed investing in peace projects, not divesting from Israel.

HERE, J STREET drew what I and others call “red lines” when criticizing Israel while respecting “blue-and-white lines” – affirming why Zionism remains a legitimate form of nationalism. These lines – and the unreason of Israel’s enemies – created a big tent to oppose its delegitimization. Of course we can criticize Israel – dissent is democracy’s lifeblood, and the Jewish national pastime. Of course we can disagree about just what formula might solve the conflict – it’s a complicated mess, vexing many smart, moral people. And of course we should unite in delegitimizing the delegitimizers – trying to demonize Israel with human rights talk serves as a smoke screen obscuring hatred while undermining any peace process; compromise is difficult when you ostracize or are ostracized.

All this makes J Street’s recent turn to the UN so foolish. The UN, aka the Third World dictators’ debating society, is the international headquarters of modern anti- Zionism, the delegitimizers’ main legitimizer. Since the General Assembly condemned Zionism as racism in 1975, the UN has targeted Israel repeatedly, spearheading the worldwide attempt to gussy up the toxic combination of traditional anti-Semitism and modern Arab anti- Zionism in idealistic human rights language. In so doing, it has sacrificed its own credibility and reduced human rights talk to a partisan battering ram.

This new big lie that Zionism is racism festers, although it reeks of communism’s rotting corpse. The Soviet Union, which choreographed the resolution to embarrass America’s democratic allies, collapsed. The General Assembly repealed the resolution in 1991. Alas, this toxin injected into the international political bloodstream enjoyed renewed potency after the infamous Durban conference in 2001, and gains strength each time the UN demonizes Israel.

True, the Security Council is not as bad as the UN Human Rights Council. But that is grading with a depressingly low standard.

Assuming goodwill, trusting that secret Saudi funders are not manipulating J Street into ignoring all this, one explanation emerges. It has again succumbed to that contemporary political malady, the occupation preoccupation, wherein opposition to settlements blots out all other aspects of the narrative, undermining all reason.

This UN resolution – and implicitly J Street – overlooks the Palestinian culture of hatred and terrorism which remains the major obstacle to peace.

This resolution – and implicitly J Street – overlooks the continuing challenge Hamas and other Palestinian rejectionists pose. It ignores the latest Palestinian anger that Mahmoud Abbas even considered compromising on Jerusalem. This resolution – and implicitly J Street – overlooks Barack Obama’s settlement freeze fiasco, which gave the Palestinians a new precondition without even getting them to negotiate for most of the time settlement construction was stopped.

Ironically, in planning to veto the resolution the Obama administration reveals that it may be cured of the occupation preoccupation which J Street, among others, championed.

In fighting US plans to veto this latest UN outrage, J Street is failing to “Give Voice to Our Values” – the slogan of its upcoming conference. J Street is failing to be either pro-peace or pro-Israel, because biased UN resolutions undermine trust rather than building confidence. And J Street is forgetting its own repudiation of the boycotters, because this resolution, like the BDS movement, once again takes a “punitive approach toward Israel” and fails “to focus on the responsibilities of all parties to help end the Israeli- Palestinian conflict.”

The writer is professor of history at McGill University and a Shalom Hartman research fellow in Jerusalem. The author of Why I Am A Zionist: Israel, Jewish Identity and the Challenges of Today. His next book will look at the UN’s 1975 Zionism is racism resolution.

giltroy@gmail.com

An open letter in response to J-street’s

By Gil Troy, Jerusalem Post, 10-16-09

Dear Jeremy Ben-Ami,

Allow me to respond to your open letter to Ambassador Michael Oren with an open letter of my own.

I share your worry “that the connection to Israel for a large number of Jewish Americans has become strained over time.” I love your statement to the Ambassador, and presumably to the entire pro-Israel community, that “what J-Street shares in common with you far outweighs that on which we disagree.” As someone trying to figure out how to sing a new song of Zion for the next generation of Jews and as someone who champions “big-tent” Zionism, like there was during the movement’s early days, it sounds like you’re singing my song.

Alas, when I examine what you advocate and what you ignore, when I read your statements, surf your website and look at your conference program, I am troubled. For starters, I do not see the use of the word “Zionism” anywhere. I wonder if that is tactical or ideological.

I wonder if you would display on your website the following statement:

Year after year, century after century, Jews carried on their traditions, and their dream of a homeland, in the face of impossible odds…. And I deeply understood the Zionist idea – that there is always a homeland at the center of our story.”

Those are the words of then-Senator Barack Obama, spoken on June 4, 2008, the day after he clinched the nomination.

Or what about this:

My starting point when I think about the Middle East is this enormous emotional attachment and sympathy for Israel, mindful of its history, mindful of the hardship and pain and suffering that the Jewish people have undergone, but also mindful of the incredible opportunity that is presented when people finally return to a land and are able to try to excavate their best traditions and their best selves.”

Obama again. If President Obama is not afraid to affirm Zionist ideals, why do you seem to be?

Note on your website the comment that:

The Palestinian people are likely to continue to nurture an anger that leads some to armed struggle as long as there is no mutually accepted resolution to the underlying political conflict.”

True, Palestinian anger must be acknowledged. But why do I hear nothing about the other phenomenon that must be acknowledged, Israeli anguish? Why do I hear nothing from you about the 850,000 Jewish refugees expelled from Arab lands, decades of Arab rejectionism, Palestinian anti-Semitism, the fact that withdrawal under Oslo and after the Gaza disengagement has only fed more violence, or the pain of Israelis whose blood has been spilled over the years? Why have I not heard a J-Street statement as passionate as this one:

The first job of any nation-state is to protect its citizens…. If somebody was sending rockets into my house, where my two daughters sleep at night, I’m going to do everything in my power to stop that. And I would expect Israelis to do the same thing.”

That, too, was said by President Obama, during his visit to Sderot in July, 2008. Without the assurance that Israel’s pain is felt, without understanding that Israel faces a series of untenable choices when defending its people against terrorists who hide among civilians, without noticing that Oslo and Disengagement triggered more violence, the “peace of the brave” we all seek is reduced to a delusion – or an anti-Israel mugging.

I understand your desire to be evenhanded, and believe there is room in the pro-Israel and Zionist movements for voices such as yours. I hope that from your “J-Street” address you can see the Golden Path to a solution. My fear, though, is that you can only see Israeli sins and not Palestinian crimes; that your mythical address prevents you from seeing the facts on the ground we see in Israel, on campus, in the UN and elsewhere. I would love to see progressive voices lead the fight against the ugly campaign to de-legitimize Israel. We need civil rights activists who fought against apartheid to repudiate the libel falsely comparing the Israeli-Palestinian nationalist conflict to South African whites’ ugly racist oppression. We need people with impeccable progressive credentials willing to confront the Arab dictatorships, condemn Muslim homophobia, racism, and sexism, and to denounce terrorism.

Instead, I see a conference program more comfortable with finger-pointing at Israel. Why not call your “Messaging ‘Pro-Israel, Pro-Peace'” session “Pro-Israel, Pro-Peace and Anti-Delegitimization,” acknowledging how much the rejection of Israel harms the peace process (just as most Israelis learned in the 1990s that denying Palestinian nationalism is counter-productive)? Will “Israel on Campus,” address the dilemmas so many students face: Attacks on Israel are so extreme, they fear any constructive criticism of Israel they utter will be used as fodder to continue demonizing their homeland – and all too often, their people?

And I would be more comfortable with the Americans for Peace Now session “West Bank Settlements: Obstacles on the Road to Peace,” if anything in the conference program acknowledged the “Obstacles on the Road to Peace” constituted by the Hamas charter, terrorism, demagoguery in mosques, rabble-rousing on the Temple Mount, harassment of Palestinian moderates, refusal to acknowledge Jewish rights to the land, Arab anti-Semitism, etc.

I hate to sound so unwelcoming. I believe there is no inherent contradiction between being progressive and being a Zionist, that Israel represents a remarkable attempt to establish liberal, democratic and Jewish values in the Middle East. We need a broad coalition of pro-Israel forces. But my sense is that Ambassador Oren senses what I sense. You find it easier to bash Israel than to criticize Israel’s adversaries. Maybe the burden is on you to establish some street cred by fighting the anti-Israel delegitimizers, the anti-Semitic anti-Zionists, who are affronts to what you so eloquently call “the values we bring to the table as Jews and as Americans.”

In friendship,

Gil

J Street’ to the Left of me, jokers to the Right…

By Gil Troy, Jerusalem Post, 9-13-09

When one is attacked from both sides, it’s easy to feel virtuous. Having opponents from the far left and the far right does not guarantee you’re a moderate. It simply situates you in what farmers who trusted butter over its artificial modern substitute would have called the “margarine middle.”

Last week I was hit from both extremes. There seems to be a missing “nuance gene” when it comes to Israel. The most reasonable people, the most skilled professionals, somehow find themselves behaving irrationally, talking wildly and acting sloppily when the topic is raised.

My previous blog, “Israel’s self-hating Jews,” which condemned Ariel Mayor Ron Nachman for blaming the Obama settlement freeze idea on the president’s “Jew boy” advisers, triggered numerous attacks against me for daring to question the mayor’s horrific choice of words. You would have thought Mayor Nachman was the holy Reb Nachman of Breslav, given his devotees’ intensity. My critics refused to acknowledge that using such language – when trying to convince a State Department delegation, no less – was crude, rude and self-defeating.

Nachman’s followers took an attack on him as an attack on them, on Israel, on the Jewish people and on truth itself, while perceiving it as a deluded defense of Obama’s foreign policy, despite my criticisms of the administration’s Israel strategy.

Most disturbingly, they felt completely justified using offensive, racist language to describe fellow Jews with whom they disagree, thus undercutting those of us who have been forced to spend far too much time fighting anti-Semitism, anti-Zionism, racism, and ethnic stereotyping of all kinds.

These rhetorical bomb-throwers confirmed every liberal caricature of the aggressive, self-righteous, my-way-or-the-highway settlers – but characteristically blamed me for helping to perpetuate that stereotype.

Let me say regarding the “Jew boy” issue what I say when anti-Semites masquerading as “mere” anti-Zionists compare Israelis to Nazis. Intelligent people can find a rich choice of words to convey disdain without resorting to cheap, ugly, inflammatory anti-Semitic language that reveals the critics’ own prejudices. It is particularly obnoxious and foolish to call Obama advisers who happen to be Jewish “Jew boys” and accuse them of dictating his policy. It absolves non-Jews like George Mitchell, Hillary Clinton, and Barack Obama himself of any responsibility. It perpetuates the myth of undue Jewish influence on American administrations, be they right or left. It only alienates potential allies.

At the same time, looking to the Left, I read The New York Times Magazine’s portrayal of J-Street, “The New Israel Lobby,” which defines itself as “pro-peace,” as if other Jewish political organizations were not.

This love letter masquerading as serious journalism read more like this new organization’s PR release than a piece written by the usually thoughtful, critical journalist James Traub, whose work I have long respected. As Shmuel Rosner noted in his blog, Traub failed to interview even one person “on the record” criticizing the new lobby.

Most disturbing, however, was the crude caricature of the pro-Israel community underlying Traub’s analysis. Traub pitted his heroes, the progressive, modern, post-Woodstock, charmingly American, Bohemian, Obamanian J-Street lobbyists against the villains of his piece, the old-fashioned and hopelessly anachronistic, Holocaust-obsessed paranoids running the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA), who play to Jews’ “ancestral impulses.”

“This is the world that shaped the mainstream American Jewish groups,” Traub writes, describing the ADL’s Abraham Foxman’s birth in Poland, the ZOA’s Morton Klein’s birth in a displaced persons camp, and the enduring post-Holocaust obsession with “eternal vigilance” and “marketing” a sense of “besetting peril.”

There was nowhere in this dualistic universe for someone like Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi, who campaigned for Bill Clinton and Al Gore in 2000, and who, being in her mid-forties, is younger than Foxman or Klein, yet founded “The Israel Project.”

Or the elegant, diplomatic, non-Holocaust obsessed head of the American Jewish Committee, David Harris, who was twenty in 1969, Woodstock summer, and eloquently defends Israel as a liberal democracy.

Or, for that matter, the hundreds of thousands of even younger, hipper Jews in their 20s or 30s who have visited Israel through Birthright Israel and neither bashed Israel during the Gaza War as J Street did, nor reek of herring and the Holocaust the way Traub implied most Israel supporters do.

J-Street, President Obama, and, apparently certain New York Times reporters must understand that supporting Israel is not a psychosis, and not necessarily expansionist. Imposing “settlement freezes” and caricaturing Zionism as only being about the Holocaust ignores the central problem for many of us in the genuine middle.

Millions of peace-loving Israelis and American Jews supported Oslo but saw it feed Palestinian terror that killed over a thousand innocents. Millions even supported the Gaza disengagement, but then saw Hamas launch thousands of rockets into the Negev. Those of us in this genuine middle take seriously the vicious, exterminationist anti-Semitic rhetoric among the Palestinians, in the Hamas Charter and in the Arab media because we have seen what happens when you don’t.

Until those who fancy themselves “pro-peace” figure out how to acknowledge that pain and point the Palestinians and the Arabs toward real change, they will fail to sway that peace consensus among Israelis and Jews that has always opted for compromise and a shot at reconciliation. Call us the “twice-burned” in the middle – refusing to indulge in “Jew boy” rhetoric and not obsessed with the Holocaust.

Our historical memories are much shorter. We are justifiably worried about Palestinian terrorism, Hamas extremism, the Islamist culture of martyrdom, and the continuing calls for Israel’s destruction. We desperately await reassurance – from the Palestinians, their Arab allies and their Western enablers.

‘J Street’ to the Left of me, jokers to the Right…

Center Field: ‘J Street’ to the Left of me, jokers to the Right…

by Gil Troy, Jerusalem Post, 9-13-09

When one is attacked from both sides, it’s easy to feel virtuous. Having opponents from the far left and the far right does not guarantee you’re a moderate. It simply situates you in what farmers who trusted butter over its artificial modern substitute would have called the “margarine middle.”

Last week I was hit from both extremes. There seems to be a missing “nuance gene” when it comes to Israel. The most reasonable people, the most skilled professionals, somehow find themselves behaving irrationally, talking wildly and acting sloppily when the topic is raised.

My previous blog, “Israel’s self-hating Jews,” which condemned Ariel Mayor Ron Nachman for blaming the Obama settlement freeze idea on the president’s “Jew boy” advisers, triggered numerous attacks against me for daring to question the mayor’s horrific choice of words. You would have thought Mayor Nachman was the holy Reb Nachman of Breslav, given his devotees’ intensity. My critics refused to acknowledge that using such language – when trying to convince a State Department delegation, no less – was crude, rude and self-defeating.

Nachman’s followers took an attack on him as an attack on them, on Israel, on the Jewish people and on truth itself, while perceiving it as a deluded defense of Obama’s foreign policy, despite my criticisms of the administration’s Israel strategy.

Most disturbingly, they felt completely justified using offensive, racist language to describe fellow Jews with whom they disagree, thus undercutting those of us who have been forced to spend far too much time fighting anti-Semitism, anti-Zionism, racism, and ethnic stereotyping of all kinds.

These rhetorical bomb-throwers confirmed every liberal caricature of the aggressive, self-righteous, my-way-or-the-highway settlers – but characteristically blamed me for helping to perpetuate that stereotype.

Let me say regarding the “Jew boy” issue what I say when anti-Semites masquerading as “mere” anti-Zionists compare Israelis to Nazis. Intelligent people can find a rich choice of words to convey disdain without resorting to cheap, ugly, inflammatory anti-Semitic language that reveals the critics’ own prejudices. It is particularly obnoxious and foolish to call Obama advisers who happen to be Jewish “Jew boys” and accuse them of dictating his policy. It absolves non-Jews like George Mitchell, Hillary Clinton, and Barack Obama himself of any responsibility. It perpetuates the myth of undue Jewish influence on American administrations, be they right or left. It only alienates potential allies.

At the same time, looking to the Left, I read The New York Times Magazine’s portrayal of J-Street, “The New Israel Lobby,” which defines itself as “pro-peace,” as if other Jewish political organizations were not.

This love letter masquerading as serious journalism read more like this new organization’s PR release than a piece written by the usually thoughtful, critical journalist James Traub, whose work I have long respected. As Shmuel Rosner noted in his blog, Traub failed to interview even one person “on the record” criticizing the new lobby.

Most disturbing, however, was the crude caricature of the pro-Israel community underlying Traub’s analysis. Traub pitted his heroes, the progressive, modern, post-Woodstock, charmingly American, Bohemian, Obamanian J-Street lobbyists against the villains of his piece, the old-fashioned and hopelessly anachronistic, Holocaust-obsessed paranoids running the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA), who play to Jews’ “ancestral impulses.”

“This is the world that shaped the mainstream American Jewish groups,” Traub writes, describing the ADL’s Abraham Foxman’s birth in Poland, the ZOA’s Morton Klein’s birth in a displaced persons camp, and the enduring post-Holocaust obsession with “eternal vigilance” and “marketing” a sense of “besetting peril.”

There was nowhere in this dualistic universe for someone like Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi, who campaigned for Bill Clinton and Al Gore in 2000, and who, being in her mid-forties, is younger than Foxman or Klein, yet founded “The Israel Project.”

Or the elegant, diplomatic, non-Holocaust obsessed head of the American Jewish Committee, David Harris, who was twenty in 1969, Woodstock summer, and eloquently defends Israel as a liberal democracy.

Or, for that matter, the hundreds of thousands of even younger, hipper Jews in their 20s or 30s who have visited Israel through Birthright Israel and neither bashed Israel during the Gaza War as J Street did, nor reek of herring and the Holocaust the way Traub implied most Israel supporters do.

J-Street, President Obama, and, apparently certain New York Times reporters must understand that supporting Israel is not a psychosis, and not necessarily expansionist. Imposing “settlement freezes” and caricaturing Zionism as only being about the Holocaust ignores the central problem for many of us in the genuine middle.

Millions of peace-loving Israelis and American Jews supported Oslo but saw it feed Palestinian terror that killed over a thousand innocents. Millions even supported the Gaza disengagement, but then saw Hamas launch thousands of rockets into the Negev. Those of us in this genuine middle take seriously the vicious, exterminationist anti-Semitic rhetoric among the Palestinians, in the Hamas Charter and in the Arab media because we have seen what happens when you don’t.

Until those who fancy themselves “pro-peace” figure out how to acknowledge that pain and point the Palestinians and the Arabs toward real change, they will fail to sway that peace consensus among Israelis and Jews that has always opted for compromise and a shot at reconciliation. Call us the “twice-burned” in the middle – refusing to indulge in “Jew boy” rhetoric and not obsessed with the Holocaust.

Our historical memories are much shorter. We are justifiably worried about Palestinian terrorism, Hamas extremism, the Islamist culture of martyrdom, and the continuing calls for Israel’s destruction. We desperately await reassurance – from the Palestinians, their Arab allies and their Western enablers.