David Harris is the Executive Director of the American Jewish Committee, and he recently wrote two pieces that appeared in The Jerusalem Post and The Huffington Post explaining why this is the time for the Israelis and Palestinians to make peace and find a two-state solution to their conflict.
I have known David for 30 years since we were neighbors in the Washington, D.C. area. He is what most would characterize as “middle-right” on the political spectrum when it comes to Israel. A staunch supporter of the Jewish state, he has always been deeply concerned for Israel’s security and a powerful American Jewish advocate for a close American-Israeli relationship.
In light of his long-standing public advocacy for Israel, the harsh criticism of him from both the political left and the political right in the Jewish and non-Jewish worlds is of interest, and his response to these critics that appeared yesterday in both The Jerusalem Post and The Huffington Post is an important read (see links below).
I believe that David is correct in his arguments.
As I watched the Israeli government release long-time imprisoned terrorist murderers of innocent non-military Israeli citizens (men, women and children), I felt a certain horror for the families of the victims and real fear that these terrorists might return to repeat their crimes once released.
I have wondered, as well, that despite the fact that virtually all the newly announced building of settlements was not a surprise and that these building projects are in large settlement blocks that Israel fully expects to keep in any future peace deal, why the Netanyahu government did not promise to stop all that settlement building as long as negotiations were taking place instead of releasing murderers.
Having wondered this aloud I do not want to second guess PM Netanyahu, especially since the release of these murderers had to have been excruciatingly painful for him and for the majority of his cabinet who voted with him. I believe we have to give them the benefit of the doubt on the prisoner release.
Netanyahu must have felt that he had no political or diplomatic choice. No one knows the pressures he feels. No one knows what he is actually thinking, nor what is his strategy. I hope it is straight up and that an end-of-conflict peace agreement with all issues resolved is his true goal.
Time will tell and I wish PM Netanyahu, President Abbas and the negotiating teams of both Israel and the Palestinians God-speed.
Read David Harris here: Jerusalem Post – http://blogs.jpost.com/content/give-peace-process-chance-part-two?msource=DAH081513 ; Huffington Post – http://www.huffingtonpost.com/david-harris/give-the-peace-process-a-_1_b_3757913.html?msource=DAH081513