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Israel Advocacy Should Stop

This is a guest post by Anthony Cooper

Before getting to my argument I feel I ought to lay out my “credentials”. I am a Jewish supporter of Israel. Whilst surrounded by enemies bent on her destruction she has gathered and absorbed people from different parts of the world with different cultures and in so doing developed one of her own. Her people are resourceful and resilient. She has problems but her achievements are remarkable and perhaps unparalleled. So why am I suggesting that her friends, like me, should stop defending her?

The question is best answered (in typical Jewish style) with another question – what can come from Israel advocacy? The sad answer is … nothing good. Of course there are so many half-truths, lies of omission or outright falsehoods spread about her. Of course there are insulting, ridiculous and hurtful accusations levelled against her. Of course there are far too many people obsessed with her failings. Of course, none of this matters. For one truth remains – the status quo cannot be allowed to continue forever.

And so what must happen? We all know the answer. President Obama spelled it out for us. Israel must withdraw to something like the pre-1967 lines with land swaps as needed. It must compensate Palestinian refugees. And Palestinians must establish a peaceful, democratic State that poses no threat to Israel. I know this. You know this. Israel knows this. Everyone knows this. There are details to work out but the end result is known and has been known for some time.

Let’s not kid ourselves. It is going to be Israel that loses most by ending the status quo. It will be Israel that “loses” territory. It will be Israel that pays the compensation. It will be Israel that continues to be the focus of world attention for real and imagined crimes. But it must still be Israel that takes the lead on peace. And this doesn’t mean offering a new peace deal once or twice a decade. It means offering one every month, if needed. The same one, if needed. It means that Israel and its leaders must recognise the need to end the status quo as soon as possible. Judging by Netanyahu’s reaction to Obama’s speech he has not yet made that recognition.

So now I ask myself what I achieve by trying to correct the lies spread about Israel. I can only answer that the net result is to extend the status quo. Because if the lies and boycotts serve to pressure Israel into facing reality and pushing for peace then opposing those lies and boycotts can only do harm. If we’re going to be true friends of Israel then our time and efforts are best spent helping our friend make one of her most difficult decisions. Ideally we would want to do that while simultaneously shielding her from abuse and insults but that approach has not been working. For she is neither shielded nor facing her decision. This is why I think its time we stopped our Israel advocacy.