They Say, We SayThe Left wants to delegitimize Israel

They Say We Say We know that pro-Israel does not mean blindly supporting policies that are irrational, reckless, and counter-productive. Pro-Israel means supporting policies that are consistent with Israel's interests and promote its survival as a Jewish, democratic state.

You've heard the arguments of the religious and political right-wing, and so have we. They've had their say. Now, we'll have ours.

Go HERE for all installments of APN's "They Say, We Say"

BDS & Criticism of Israel

They Say:

If the Left wants to protest settlements, it should find ways other than boycotts. By embracing any boycotts, the Left is just contributing to the momentum behind the BDS movement and the delegitimization of Israel.

We Say:

Some people want to intimidate Americans - Jews and non-Jews, elected officials and the general population - into believing that only hard-line, hawkish positions are "pro-Israel," and that advocating other positions is "anti-Israel." We reject this approach.

APN knows that pro-Israel credentials are not measured in hawkish positions on peace or in anti-Arab grandstanding, but rather in support for policies that promote Israel's security, stability, and viability as a Jewish, democratic state - which requires a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Consistent with this approach, APN advocates for American policies that advance peace and the two-state solution, and speaks out against policies that contradict these goals.

The most pro-Israel Americans - the greatest friends of Israel - are those who understand that Israeli-Arab peace is essential to Israel's security, well-being, and viability as a Jewish state and a democracy. They are the ones who also recognize and embrace this fact: sustained, credible U.S. efforts to achieve Israeli-Arab peace are an essential element of U.S. support for Israel.

Israel's first Prime Minister, David Ben-Gurion (quoted by Ehud Olmert on November 27, 2006) said, "I would consider it a great sin, not only towards our generation but towards future generations as well...if future generations had cause to blame the Government of Israel of missing an opportunity for peace." Pro-Israel means recognizing the tragic costs, now and for future generations, of failing to make peace.

They Say, We Say: Jews shouldn't boycott other Jews.

They Say We Say We know that pro-Israel does not mean blindly supporting policies that are irrational, reckless, and counter-productive. Pro-Israel means supporting policies that are consistent with Israel's interests and promote its survival as a Jewish, democratic state.

You've heard the arguments of the religious and political right-wing, and so have we. They've had their say. Now, we'll have ours.

Go HERE for all installments of APN's "They Say, We Say"

BDS & Criticism of Israel

They Say:

Jews shouldn't boycott other Jews. The Left's embrace of boycotting products made by Jews living across the Green Line is wrong.

We Say:

The question of boycotting settlements has sparked a spectacular public display of Jewish angst. Apparently, many who view themselves as the judges and juries of what is "kosher" progressive Jewish activism have ruled that such a boycott is simply unacceptable. This, despite the fact that most American Jews recognize that settlements are a problem in terms of Israeli security, Israel's ability to have peace, and in terms of Israel's reputation.

Wringing one's hands about settlements and the fate of the two-state solution does not substitute for actually doing something to try to stop Israel careening down this self-destructive path. Continued settlement expansion represents a clear existential threat to Israel as a democracy and as a Jewish state. Supporting Israel means taking concrete action to prevent Israel from continuing down a path that leads either to a bi-national state, which, by definition, will no longer have a Jewish character, or to an apartheid-like reality, in which Israeli democracy will be lost and Israel will become an international pariah.

If the Jewish community is looking for a kosher stamp on a settlement boycott, it should look directly at Israel and follow the lead of engaged, unapologetically patriotic Israelis who are taking a stand by boycotting settlements, including prominent academics and artists and Peace Now, which has launched a campaign: "So sue me, I'm boycotting settlement products."

These Israelis know that settlements are an existential threat to Israel. They're fed up waiting for Israeli leaders to come to their senses and end this suicidal policy. They've given up hoping that the international community will pressure Israel on this issue. They're voting with their feet -- and their pocketbooks -- against settlements.

They Say, We Say: All APN does is criticize the Israeli government

They Say We Say We know that pro-Israel does not mean blindly supporting policies that are irrational, reckless, and counter-productive. Pro-Israel means supporting policies that are consistent with Israel's interests and promote its survival as a Jewish, democratic state.

You've heard the arguments of the religious and political right-wing, and so have we. They've had their say. Now, we'll have ours.

Go HERE for all installments of APN's "They Say, We Say"

BDS & Criticism of Israel

They Say:

APN claims to be pro-Israel but all it seems to do is criticize the Israeli government. That's not "pro-Israel".

We Say:

Some people want to intimidate Americans - Jews and non-Jews, elected officials and the general population - into believing that only hard-line, hawkish positions are "pro-Israel," and that advocating other positions is "anti-Israel." We reject this approach.

APN knows that pro-Israel credentials are not measured in hawkish positions on peace or in anti-Arab grandstanding, but rather in support for policies that promote Israel's security, stability, and viability as a Jewish, democratic state - which requires a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Consistent with this approach, APN advocates for American policies that advance peace and the two-state solution, and speaks out against policies that contradict these goals.

The most pro-Israel Americans - the greatest friends of Israel - are those who understand that Israeli-Arab peace is essential to Israel's security, well-being, and viability as a Jewish state and a democracy. They are the ones who also recognize and embrace this fact: sustained, credible U.S. efforts to achieve Israeli-Arab peace are an essential element of U.S. support for Israel.

Israel's first Prime Minister, David Ben-Gurion (quoted by Ehud Olmert on November 27, 2006) said, "I would consider it a great sin, not only towards our generation but towards future generations as well...if future generations had cause to blame the Government of Israel of missing an opportunity for peace." Pro-Israel means recognizing the tragic costs, now and for future generations, of failing to make peace.

They Say, We Say: There are 21 Arab states. There is one Jewish state

They Say We Say We know that pro-Israel does not mean blindly supporting policies that are irrational, reckless, and counter-productive. Pro-Israel means supporting policies that are consistent with Israel's interests and promote its survival as a Jewish, democratic state.

You've heard the arguments of the religious and political right-wing, and so have we. They've had their say. Now, we'll have ours.

Go HERE for all installments of APN's "They Say, We Say"

Do the Palestinians exist?

They Say:

There are 21 Arab states.  There is exactly one Jewish state.  If Arabs aren't happy living under Israeli authority, whether in the West Bank, East Jerusalem, Gaza, or inside Israel, they can go to any other Arab state and make their home there among other Arabs.

We Say:

Palestinians in the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip, as well as Palestinian citizens of the state of Israel, are not foreigners or guests living under Israeli rule.  They are an indigenous people, descendants of Arabs who have lived in this land for generations.  They have deep roots in these places -- it is where their lives, land, homes, and places of worship are, and where their ancestors are buried.  It is wrong to suggest that, because they are Arabs and not Jews, their attachments are somehow ephemeral or inconsequential.  It is also wrong to suggest that Arab state and Arab identities are so generic as to be interchangeable.

Israelis and Americans Jews are justifiably outraged when critics of Israel dismiss Jewish ties to the land or suggest that Israelis are foreigners who should "go home" to Europe or America.  We condemn such statements as ignorant, anti-Semitic, and antithetical to peace.  Suggestions that Palestinians have no legitimate claims to the land on which their families have made their homes and lived their lives for generations are equally odious and should be condemned with equal vigor. 

If there is ever going to be peace, security, and stability, then Israelis and Palestinians -- and Jews, Muslims, and Christians around the world -- must respect the legitimate attachments of all peoples in this land.

They Say We Say: Palestinian nationalism is a modern invention

They Say We Say We know that pro-Israel does not mean blindly supporting policies that are irrational, reckless, and counter-productive. Pro-Israel means supporting policies that are consistent with Israel's interests and promote its survival as a Jewish, democratic state.

You've heard the arguments of the religious and political right-wing, and so have we. They've had their say. Now, we'll have ours.

Go HERE for all installments of APN's "They Say, We Say"

Do the Palestinians exist?

They Say:

Palestinian nationalism is a modern invention; Jewish nationalism dates back since the time of the bible.

We Say:

While the debate over the development of Palestinian nationalism is a fascinating topic for historians and sociologists - as is the development of Zionism and a distinct Israeli identity - it has no relevance to the current situation in the Middle East.

Today, Israelis and Palestinians are undeniably two peoples with two very strong national identities. And today these two peoples are struggling to find a formula for a historic compromise that will grant both peoples self-determination with international recognition. Today almost all Israeli leaders have endorsed the two-state solution, at least in principle, as the inevitable and necessary historical compromise.

And it's not only the leaders. Most Israelis today understand that Israel's future as a Jewish state that is truly democratic depends on the creation of a state for the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Delegitimizing efforts to achieve such a state - or delegitimizing the Palestinians as a people that has a claim to such a state - directly threatens Israel's future.

They Say, We Say: Palestinian nationalism was never the real issue

They Say We Say We know that pro-Israel does not mean blindly supporting policies that are irrational, reckless, and counter-productive. Pro-Israel means supporting policies that are consistent with Israel's interests and promote its survival as a Jewish, democratic state.

You've heard the arguments of the religious and political right-wing, and so have we. They've had their say. Now, we'll have ours.

Go HERE for all installments of APN's "They Say, We Say"

Do the Palestinians exist?

They Say:

The Jewish people fought to establish the state of Israel, taking on armies from Arab states and the local population. The Palestinians and Arabs fought to stop Israel from being born and to destroy it, not to establish a Palestinian state. This proves that Palestinian nationalism was never the real issue.

We Say:

Modern Arab states in the eastern Mediterranean (Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and Jordan) were created as their populations struggled to free themselves from post-Ottoman colonial powers (Britain and France) in the first half of the 20th century. Each state had its own unique circumstances. So did the area that today is Israel, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

The initiative to divide this area, then known as Mandatory Palestine, into two states, a Jewish state and an Arab Palestinian state, which was anchored in the United Nations' 1947 Partition Plan, was the local manifestation of this broader process in the Middle East, the process of ending colonial rule.

True, a Palestinian state did not come into being during this period, but such a state was endorsed by the international community at the same moment that the international community endorsed the creation of a Jewish state in Palestine in 1947.

They Say, We Say: The Palestinians are not a real people

They Say We Say We know that pro-Israel does not mean blindly supporting policies that are irrational, reckless, and counter-productive. Pro-Israel means supporting policies that are consistent with Israel's interests and promote its survival as a Jewish, democratic state.

You've heard the arguments of the religious and political right-wing, and so have we. They've had their say. Now, we'll have ours.

Go HERE for all installments of APN's "They Say, We Say"

Do the Palestinians exist?

They Say:

The Palestinians are not a real people. They are just Arabs from other places who settled in the Land of Israel over the years, without any cohesive national identity. There never was a Palestinian state and efforts to create one now are unjustified.

We Say:

Golda Meir’s suggestion, back in the late 1960s, that there is no Palestinian people was wrong and counterproductive. Repeating it today is wrong many times over, and does a terrible disservice to efforts to secure Israel's future through peace.

The starting point is this: it makes no difference whether Israelis, or Jews, or anyone else recognize the Palestinians as a people. The Palestinians view themselves as a distinct people, with deep ties to the land between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea. Israel and supporters of Israel can neither deny nor wish the Palestinians and their claims out of existence. That is the reality that must be accepted and addressed if there is ever going to be peace, security, and stability.

At the same time, Israelis and Jews should recognize the gross insincerity and disrespect involved in denying the Palestinians' identity, because we have experienced the same ugly denial. For years, extremists within and outside the Arab world have attacked the legitimacy of Israel as a state by attacking the Jewish claim to the land and attacking the legitimacy of Israelis as a national group. They have argued that Israelis are nothing but foreigners who came from the West, who should go back where they came from.

People of integrity - Jewish and non-Jewish - categorically reject and condemn such attacks on Israel. We point to Jewish historical and religious ties to the land, to the continual presence of Jews on the land throughout history, and to the well-established Jewish longing for Israel way before 1948. We insist on Israelis' right to self-determination and security. And we recognize the pain such attacks cause to Israelis and the threat these attacks represent to the very possibility of Israel-Arab peace.

Likewise, for decades there has been an effort among extremists in Israel and abroad to try to delegitimize the Palestinians as a people and delegitimize their right, as a people, to self-determination. These arguments are historically incorrect and insensitive. Worse, they are irrelevant to the current situation on the ground, and politically damaging to Israeli interests.

There is ample historical documentation showing that a separate local identity among Arabs living in Palestine started forming in the 16th and 17th century, and that a national Palestinian consciousness began crystallizing early in the 20th century, as anti-colonial movements took root around the world. This national consciousness transformed into a national movement and later into a national liberation movement, in large part as a result of the friction between the Palestinians and Zionism, the Jewish national self-determination movement.

They Say We Say: If people really cared about Palestinians

They Say We Say We know that pro-Israel does not mean blindly supporting policies that are irrational, reckless, and counter-productive. Pro-Israel means supporting policies that are consistent with Israel's interests and promote its survival as a Jewish, democratic state.

You've heard the arguments of the religious and political right-wing, and so have we. They've had their say. Now, we'll have ours.

Go HERE for all installments of APN's "They Say, We Say"

What about refugees? (Palestinian and Jewish)

They Say:

If people really cared about Palestinians, they'd have found homes for the so-called "refugees" rather than forcing them to stay in limbo for more than six decades. The fact that these people are still in limbo proves this is just political and anti-Israel.

We Say:

The wars of 1948 and 1967 gave birth to a population of Palestinian refugees - men, women, and children who lost their land, homes and livelihoods in the land that is now Israel. The resulting refugee issue, which includes the original refugees and their descendents, today remains at the heart of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Morally, a resolution of this human tragedy must be one of the most important goals of the peace process.

The issue of Palestinian refugees has been recognized by all parties - including Israel - as an integral part of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and one of the key "final status issues" that must be resolved through negotiations.

They Say, We Say: What about Jewish refugees from Arab countries?

They Say We Say We know that pro-Israel does not mean blindly supporting policies that are irrational, reckless, and counter-productive. Pro-Israel means supporting policies that are consistent with Israel's interests and promote its survival as a Jewish, democratic state.

You've heard the arguments of the religious and political right-wing, and so have we. They've had their say. Now, we'll have ours.

Go HERE for all installments of APN's "They Say, We Say"

What about refugees? (Palestinian and Jewish)

They Say:

The Palestinian refugee issue gets a lot of attention, but an ever bigger issue - that of Jewish refugees from Arab countries - gets largely ignored. This is unjust. These Jews are victims who lost their homes, businesses, and properties as a result of Arab policies linked to the creation of Israel. Indeed, these Jews lost far more property than the Palestinians, and may be more numerous than the Palestinian refugees. Justice requires that any Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement address not only the issue of Palestinian refugees, but also that of Jewish refugees from Arab countries and their claims.

We Say:

Many Jews came to Israel from Arab countries - Jews who emigrated, fled, or were evicted as Israel came into existence and thereafter. Whether the term "refugees" is appropriate to describe them is a questionable; the term traditionally refers to people who have been forced to leave the place they consider their true home to seek refuge in a foreign land, and who, given the opportunity, would return to that home. Jews unquestionably had deep ties in various Arab countries. However, it seems improbable that Jews from Arab countries who now live in Israel consider themselves unwilling transplants or exiles in the Jewish homeland, yearning to return to their true homes in, say, Syria or Yemen.

Nonetheless, Jewish residents of Arab countries unquestionably left behind substantial property when they came to Israel, and they have every right to seek redress. However, resolution of such claims has nothing to do with Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. Rather, it is a bilateral issue that must be addressed in negotiations between Israel (or whatever the country of residence of these Jews may be) and the countries these Jews fled.

Unfortunately, it often seems that opponents of a two-state solution want to exploit the issue of Jews from Arab countries in order to complicate and undermine Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts - for example, by claiming that the claims of Jews from Arab countries offset or cancel out Palestinian refugee claims. This cynical exploitation of the loss and suffering of Jews from Arab countries must be rejected. Israel-Palestinian peace efforts - and the promise they hold for ensuring Israel's security and its viability as a Jewish state and a democracy - cannot be held hostage to the resolution of this entirely separate issue. Efforts to do so only dishonor these Jews and tarnish the legitimacy of their claims.

They Say, We Say: The 'right of return' is nothing more than a veiled call for destruction

They Say We Say We know that pro-Israel does not mean blindly supporting policies that are irrational, reckless, and counter-productive. Pro-Israel means supporting policies that are consistent with Israel's interests and promote its survival as a Jewish, democratic state.

You've heard the arguments of the religious and political right-wing, and so have we. They've had their say. Now, we'll have ours.

Go HERE for all installments of APN's "They Say, We Say"

What about refugees? (Palestinian and Jewish)

They Say:

The Palestinian demand for the "right of return" is nothing more than a veiled call for the destruction of Israel. The fact that Palestinian leaders and negotiators, including from the so-called "moderate parties" will not drop this demand proves that the Palestinians don't really want peace and a two-state solution.

We Say:

While refusal to relinquish the principle of a "right of return" is the prerogative of the Palestinians, demands that the principle be implemented inside Israel are tantamount to a demand that Israel cease to exist as a Jewish state. Successive peace initiatives - including the Clinton parameters, the Geneva Initiative, and the Arab League Initiative - all make clear that a solution to the issue must be found that is acceptable to both sides. Such a solution will have to respect both the sensitivities of the Palestinian refugees and Israel's sovereign right to determine who may live within its borders. This is the right approach, and it is guided by moral, political, and strategic concerns.

It is clear that any solution to the Palestinian refugee issue will have to be found within the borders of a future Palestinian state, rather than inside Israel. It is also clear that any effort to resolve the conflict without addressing the needs and grievances of these refugees will almost certainly fail, sowing even deeper frustration and creating fertile ground for the growth of future violence. The issue has wider impacts, effecting the stability of countries of the region that are home to the refugee populations (including those who have made peace with Israel) and providing a powerful point around which extremists rally support. Allowing the refugee issue to fester is a dangerous approach.

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