For once, unity

For once, unity

Last week, while working on a story about the campaign to circulate a petition protesting the Palestinian Authority’s (expected) plan to declare unilateral statehood at the U.N. in September, it occurred to me that for once, I was reporting about an effort on which there was virtual consensus in the Jewish community.

Granted, after making a strenuous attempt (with the help of my dedicated colleague Larry Yudelson) to locate dissenters, I did locate one. But the overwhelming majority of Jewish communal leaders and religious leaders with whom I spoke either supported the petition or, in the case of Rabbi Ilan Glazer Temple Beth El of North Bergen, said they would leave it up to congregants to decide.

The petition does not oppose Palestinian statehood but opposes a plan to unilaterally declare it at the U.N. (which is widely viewed, including by President Obama, as a plan to isolate Israel diplomatically). As such, this petition is an entirely peaceful means of asserting solidarity with Israel against what many believe is, rather than an ingenuous effort on the part of Palestinian leadership to establish a state (and if it were, why would they not be interested in negotiating directly with Israeli leaders?) instead an attempt to gang up on Israel.

While I set aside my personal views as much as possible while reporting the piece, for the record this journalist does believe it is the latter. It would seem that, with the failure of tactics like conventional warfare and suicide bombing to get rid of Israel, the Jewish State’s enemies are ““at least until they can get nuclear weapons, heaven (and Bibi) forbid – intent on exploiting all diplomatic

means at their disposal to de-legitimize Israel.

None of what I write is an effort to de-legitimize ordinary Palestinians’ hopes and dreams for a state of their own. When I traveled to the West Bank to report for Jerusalem Post magazine, I had the opportunity to meet some of these sincere and good people. It is only to say that, if their leaders’ dream must include destroying Israel, we – the organized Jewish community of the world – will not sit back and allow that to happen.

One rabbi with whom I spoke, who wished to be anonymous, said, “Sixty years later we are resentful the Arab world was against us [when Israel was declared] so for us to go on record opposing [Palestinian] statehood seems like a step backward.”

Again, the petition does not oppose Palestinian statehood. It opposes a unilateral declaration of Palestinian statehood planned for September at the U.N., which appears to be the latest in a string of attempts to isolate, gang up on, and ultimately destroy the Jewish state. If Palestinian leaders are serious about statehood, let them agree once and for all to negotiations with Israel that acknowledge the Jewish State’s right to exist in peace and security.

That said, I am proud of the organized Jewish community for standing with Israel. The fact that the petition is “against” rather than “for” something seems to me a semantic technicality; really, the petition – a genuinely civilized means of showing unity-is indeed about standing up for something – the rights of Israelis to live in peace and security.

While freedom to dissent is to be prized (and our community is never delinquent in exercising this sacred virtue), there is such a thing is fractious, unproductive dissent. As a wise woman said after reading about the virtual unity in support of this petition: “For once the Jews agree, Baruch Hashem!”