I am Pro-Israel and Pro-Peace

Mike Minoff of Olivette is a member of Nusach Hari B’nai Zion and Co-President of St. Louis Friends of Israel.

By Mike Minoff

Over the last few weeks, we have heard a lot of discussion of J Street’s motto, “The Political Home for Pro-Israel, Pro-Peace Americans,” from AIPAC, JStreet and others.

I think we first must define what it means to be “pro-Israel.” To me, that means we support the State of Israel, and the belief that the Jewish people are entitled to self-determination in their homeland. It means we respect Israel’s democracy and allow Israeli voters to make their own decisions. It means we emphasize the good in Israel — it is OK to point out faults, but where we should focus our attention is on Israel’s strengths. We should respect Israel’s military judgments, we should know the real history and the truth behind Israel’s conflicts and those who are determined to cause harm to Israel. We should not substitute wishful thinking for reality, and we should not join forces with Israel’s enemies. 

I do not mention Israel’s politicians or political parties. I believe one can support Israel and be pro-Israel and still not agree with everything that the government says or does. However, that  does not mean we need to bash the country or its government, and if we do, we should keep it in the family. Israel has enough enemies that want to wipe her off the map. Why add fuel to that fire?

There are many pro-peace people and groups, but what does it mean to be pro-peace and pro-Israel?  It means looking for the peace plan and process that protects Israel’s citizens and land. In 1937, 1939, 1947, 1979, 1990s, 2000 and 2008, Arabs have been offered a state. Each time they turned the offer down for a variety of reasons, but with each offer the violence of terrorists increased, not decreased. In order to negotiate any deal, you need two sides that will negotiate, two parties that want to work together, two parties that want two states. It seems clear that Palestinians want only one state.  

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In 2005, Israel gave a 141-square mile strip of land on the Mediterranean to the Palestinians. Israel gave up every inch of Gaza, uprooting thousands of citizens and relinquishing strategically vital territory. Rather than getting peace in return, Israel got terror: Hamas grew in power and took control of the area, Qassam rockets rained down on southern Israel, and militants kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. The Gaza experience proves that “land for peace” doesn’t work.

So when groups like J Street (per the interview with the group’s president, Jeremy Ben-Ami, in the Jewish Light’sMarch 14 edition) believe that Israel should simply give the Arabs parts of Jerusalem and believe that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas really wants to make a peaceful two-state solution, I question if J Street is pro-Israel. 

When J Street, according to its website, does not oppose Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) of Israel when the tactics are used to create a two-state solution, I question if it is pro-Israel. When JStreet calls Israel a controlling nation and an occupying nation, I question if it is pro-Israel. When J Street thinks it is wrong to exclude BDS supporters from public forums, I question if it is pro-Israel. And when J Street is against national or local laws to prevent or fight BDS, I question if it is pro-Israel.  

Can you be “Pro-Israel and Pro-Peace”? Yes you can, but J Street is not.