No one knows whether Secretary of State Kerry’s initiative to bring about a negotiated solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will succeed, but Jonathan S. Tobin claims to know not only that it won’t, but who will be responsible for its failure (the Palestinians) and who will be blamed (Israel) (“If Kerry fails, the world will blame Israel”).
Tobin’s assessment is based on a flawed reading of history in which the Israelis have always done everything right and the Palestinians have done everything wrong. In reality, both sides have played a part in the failure of past attempts. Palestinian rigidity has caused problems, but so has Israel’s settlement policy, and Tobin mischaracterizes negotiations which ended because the Israeli prime minister left office before they could be completed as Palestinian rejections.
Surely Israel has often been singled out unfairly for criticism and may be again, but that doesn’t mean that all criticism of Israel is unwarranted. If Israel does bring about the failure of the talks, it deserves to be blamed. The same is true of the Palestinians, and I, for one, will not hesitate to add my voice to those blaming them if they deserve it. I hope the question will not arise because the talks will succeed, and I think we need to give them every chance to do so.
Tobin thinks the talks are doomed to failure and should therefore not be pursued at the risk of making things worse, but this kind of thinking would guarantee that a peaceful resolution will never come, leading to the ultimate demise of Israel as a secure, democratic, and Jewish state.
Martin J. Levine
The author is a member of the executive committee and communications cochair for the Northern New Jersey chapter of J Street.