Saturday, March 10, 2007

Michael Waltzer, here, responds to Jerome Slater's article on the Lebanon War:

From the introductory paragraph:

Israel needs its supporters, because it is the only state in the world whose legitimacy is widely denied and whose destruction is publicly advocated and threatened. And it needs its critics so that its response to those denials and threats is held within the necessary moral limits.

And from its conclusion, which makes an important demand upon those who genuinely wish to see peace:

A final word. I do not like Jerry Slater’s attempt to distinguish me from my friends Alan Dershowitz and Martin Peretz (I don’t know Abraham Foxman). I have agreements and disagreements with them, but the agreements are far more important. I hope that is true of Slater too, but the reference at the end of his piece to the political power of American Jews leaves me wondering. He is playing with a very dangerous trope here, and he must know the dangers. It is not right to suggest that U.S. policy toward Israel/Palestine won’t change unless American Jews support the change. If the leaders of the Palestinians renounced terrorism and repressed the terrorists in their midst, the U.S. government would support a rapid move toward Palestinian statehood, whatever American Jews wanted (most of them would favor the move) and whatever their lobbyists in Washington were saying (some of them would oppose the move). American foreign policy is determined by American interests and American sympathies, and if the Palestinians looked as if they wanted a state alongside Israel, and nothing more than that, it would be in our interest to help create such a state, and the project would enlist our sympathies. It would be a small help along the way if critics of Israel like Slater conveyed this message to their Palestinian friends—with the appropriate mix of defense and critique. Two states will never be the result of the one-sided politics he displays in this polemic.


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