Israeli Leftists Plead for Outside Pressure on Their Government
by Daniel Pipes
David Landau, editor of Ha'aretz newspaper, said something to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice that is raising eyebrows. After a dinner at the American ambassador's residence on Sep. 10, but only reported today, Landau offered his thoughts on the current situation. According to Gary Rosenblatt in New York's Jewish Week,
Landau told Rosenblatt that he was pleased with his own statement, adding that he was later congratulated by several professors present who felt he "articulated what many Israelis feel."
Landau's plea for Washington to pressure Jerusalem was coarse and memorable, but it fit into a pattern going back at least a quarter century. Here is a brief account of comparable leftist efforts, culled from my co-authored piece with Mitchell Bard, "How Special is the U.S.-Israel Relationship?"
Comment: (1) This appeal to an outside agency to pressure their own government is profoundly undemocratic. (2) It is hard to imagine the intellectuals of any other state acting in like fashion. (December 26, 2007)
Dec. 27, 2007 update: Landau has provided a quote of his comment to Rice and some background for it, in speaking with the New York Sun:
Jan. 9, 2008 update: Benny Elon, the nationalist politician and party leader, comments on the David Landau matter:
Mar. 23, 2008 update: Writing in Ha'aretz, Gideon Levy acerbically notes in "With friends like these" that "The amount of support being shown for Israel these days is almost embarrassing. The parade of highly-placed foreign guests and the warm reception received by Israeli statesmen abroad have not been seen for quite some time." This blind friendship, he rues, "enables Israel to do whatever it wants." Fortunately, however, this wave of support, "is an illusion. Public opinion in most of the countries whose leaders are heaping all that praise upon us is not joining in." With relief, Levy announces that "Israel remains a state without approval, sometimes even outcast and despised. … The current bout of official support for us is not genuine."
Feb. 6, 2009 update: M.J. Rosenberg is not an Israeli but he bears the august title of director of policy for the Washington-based Israel Policy Forum, in which capacity he spews venom against the Jewish state and anyone who dares support it (including yours truly). He's usually unworthy of attention, but his decree today, "Israel's Election: Not Our Problem," is so revealing of the leftist mindset that it bears brief quotation. His gravamen is that Barack Obama, not the Israeli electorate, should decide Israel's national security policy. The IsraelI government, he writes,
Rosenberg then reviews U.S.-Israel relations to establish that American presidents more often get their way with Likud than with Labor or Kadima. He concludes that
(1) If this is the Israel Policy Forum, what shudders to think what the Palestine Policy Forum sounds like.
(2) To be fair, the right also calls on the U.S. government not to help Israel, as happened in July 2005, when American Friends for a Safe Israelissued an appeal to Congress not to fund Ariel Sharon's plans for unilateral withdrawal from Gaza ("We need clear answers to a lot of questions and until we get them , the Congress should ensure that the purse strings of the U.S. Treasury remain tightly shut").
Apr. 27, 2009 update: Two leftist groups, Peace Now and Ir Amim, called on Barack Obama to pressure Israel's prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu to halt Israeli building on the West Bank. An Ir Amim spokesman, Daniel Seidemann, explained that "The more time the international community and the Obama administration will require to generate a political process, the more adamant they need to be to save Israel from itself, because we are losing the two-state solution."
July 24, 2009 update: Landau claimed that his please-rape-Israel statement "articulated what many Israelis feel" but a poll of 526 adult Israeli Jews by the Maagar Mohot Survey Institute finds otherwise. To the question, "What do you think about Israelis who encourage foreign countries to apply pressure on Israel so that it will adopt the policies they advocate?' 61 percent answered in the negative, 4 percent positive, 26 percent said it depends in the situation, and 9 percent offered other replies.
Nov. 7, 2010 update: Back at it (see above), Gideon Levy writes in Ha'aretz, "Dear American Jews, if you love Israel - criticize it." His analysis includes such gems as:
Aug. 5, 2011 update: The leader of the Israeli parliamentary opposition, Tzipi Livni, praises U.S. pressure on her own prime minister. Asked, "Do you think that American pressure on Netanyahu has been constructive?" she replied: "When Obama pushed Bibi, Bibi made some steps forward. The American pressure led those who don't believe that time is of the essence to a better understanding that there is no status quo option."
Comment: One wonders, were she elected prime minister, whether Livni would still welcome U.S. pressure, maybe from a Republican president?
Nov. 2, 2012 update: An Ha'aretz editorial today, "Obama is good for Israel," effectively endorses the current president's re-election in four days.
Note the approval of U.S. pressure on the Israeli government to do what the editors of Ha'aretz cannot convince their fellow citizens to do.
Nov. 3, 2012 update: On cue, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, chair of the Democratic National Committee, sent out the Ha'aretz editorial.
July 24, 2013 update: The European Union decision not to sign agreements with Israeli organizations and companies operating across the Green Line has met with delight on the Israeli left, Akiva Eldar informs us:
Oct. 17, 2014 update: Steven Plaut notes developments on Israeli campuses:
Reader comments (33) on this item
Comment on this item
You can help support Daniel Pipes' work by making a tax-deductible donation to the Middle East Forum. Daniel J. Pipes