Three months after telling a major Israeli newspaper that he “can’t take the occupation anymore,” New Yorker editor David Remnick is telling the world.
His newly published piece goes far for a mainstream, liberal publication when it comes to Israel. And, most importantly, he takes on the Israel lobby.
Remnick’s writings reflect the growing feeling among American liberals, and specifically Jewish liberals, that Israel is on a dark path, and that something must be done to stop it. It’s a little too late for that, and for saving the two-state solution, but better late then never.
Now in his second term and ruling in a coalition government that includes anti-democratic, even proto-fascistic ministers, such as Avigdor Lieberman, Netanyahu has stubbornly refused the appeals of Washington and of the Palestinian leaders Mahmoud Abbas and Salam Fayyad, who have shown themselves willing to make the concessions needed for a peace deal. In the midst of a revolution in the Arab world, Netanyahu seems lost, defensive, and unable or unwilling to recognize the changing circumstances in which he finds himself.
The occupation—illegal, inhumane, and inconsistent with Jewish values—has lasted forty-four years. Netanyahu thinks that he can keep on going, secure behind a wall.
If the Administration has been reluctant to put forward a comprehensive peace plan, it’s not because it has any difficulty imagining such a plan. Inevitably, the parameters of a two-state solution would be like those established at Taba, in 2001, and by Ehud Olmert and Mahmoud Abbas, in 2008. The greater concern is domestic politics, both in the United States and in Israel.
For decades, AIPAC, the Anti-Defamation League, and other such right-leaning groups have played an outsized role in American politics, pressuring members of Congress and Presidents with their capacity to raise money and swing elections. But Democratic Presidents in particular should recognize that these groups are hardly representative and should be met head on. Obama won seventy-eight per cent of the Jewish vote; he is more likely to lose some of that vote if he reverses his position on, say, abortion than if he tries to organize international opinion on the Israeli-Arab conflict. However, some senior members of the Administration have internalized the political restraints that they believe they are under, and cannot think beyond them. Some, like Dennis Ross, who has served five Presidents, can think only in incremental terms.