Home National Politics VA House of Delegates Foolishly Wades into Arab-Israeli Conflict, Contradicts Decades-Old US...

VA House of Delegates Foolishly Wades into Arab-Israeli Conflict, Contradicts Decades-Old US Policy

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First, let me just make it clear that I’ve been pro-Israel my entire life, in the sense that I support a strong, secure Jewish state, living in peace with its neighbors, and guaranteeing a place for Jews to live in safety. I’d add that I studied in Israel for a semester and have traveled all over the country, which is an amazing place, and one which I strongly encourage everyone to visit at some point in their lives! It’s also an essential country, as the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi concentration camps soberly, horribly reminds us.

Having said all that, I most certainly am not supportive of the right wing (let alone the far right wing) in Israel, just as I’m not supportive of the right wing (let alone the far right wing) in this country. As far as I can determine, both countries’ (far) right wingers advocate policies which are/would be harmful to their own countries. In the case of Israel, it’s even worse, in that the (far) right wing in Israel and the (far) right wing in the United States appear to have teamed up, in the process potentially alienating Democrats and many liberal Jews (note that the vast majority of American Jews are Democrats and that most of them are liberal).  For more on that topic, see Netanyahu to American Jews: Get Lost, How dare Netanyahu speak in the name of America’s Jews?, and Netanyahu’s real victim? The American Jewish establishment. Also, as my friend Karen Duncan explains on her Facebook page:

If you are offended by Benjamin Netanyahu accepting John Boehner’s invitation to address Congress, you are not anti-Israel and certainly not an anti-Semite. Many leaders in the Jewish community, including Abraham Foxman, head of the Anti Defamation League, and the Jewish Labor Committee are also opposed to it.

So are many Israelis who do not want partisan politics to drive a wedge between Israel’s and America’s historical friendship. Even those in Netanyahu’s own party, who support his policies, think this is a mistake.

Indeed, it is a cynical ploy by both Boehner and Netanyahu and it is all about driving a political wedge to win an election.

By the way: It’s not good for the Jews.

I totally agree. I also could go on about this subject for hours, but I’ll spare you. 🙂 But wait, you ask, why are you bringing this up on Blue Virginia, a blog focused on the State of Virginia, not the State of Israel? See the “flip” of this post for more on that.

One reason, and one reason only: because, believe it or not, the Teapublican-controlled Virginia House of Delegates has decided to weigh in on the subject, and in a wildly heavy-handed way no less. I’m talking about this resolution by right-wing Del. Brenda Pogge, which passed the House of Delegates on February 5 (also see the vote breakout on the “flip”).

Note that the vast majority of Democrats, including several Jewish Democrats, either didn’t vote or voted no. The reason for that is simple: other than the issue of why on earth the Virginia House of Delegates is weighing in on U.S. foreign policy, this resolution is inflammatory, unhelpful, counterproductive, and just plain stupid. It also appears to contradict decades of U.S. foreign policy, United Nations’ resolutions, and even Israeli foreign policy. A few key problems include:

*It references “a national home for the Jewish people in the historical region of the land of Israel, including the areas of Judea, Samaria, and Jerusalem.” The problem: Judea and Samaria are what are also referred to as the West Bank, aka the “Occupied Territories.” Note that numerous UN Security Council resolutions, US foreign policy for decades, and also Israeli policy have assumed that much/most of these territories would be traded for peace. For instance, see this article from 1991, in which then-Secretary of State James Baker affirmed “that the Middle East peace conference sought by the United States must be held on the basis of Resolution 242, which was approved by the United Nations Security Council on Nov. 22, 1967, and of Resolution 338, approved on Oct. 22, 1973.” Those resolutions, which have been the basis of U.S. policy ever since, call for “[w]ithdrawal of Israel armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict.” The only question is whether “from territories” means from “all,” “most,” or “some” of the territories. Yet the Virginia House of Delegates resolution explicitly calls the West Bank an integral part of “the national home for the Jewish people in the historical region of the land of Israel.” That’s problematic.

*The Virginia House of Delegates resolution also states that “the thousands of Jews currently residing in the areas of Judea, Samaria, and eastern Jerusalem reside there legitimately.” Again, that’s supposed to be subject to negotations, per U.S. policy for decades. Apparently, the self-appointed experts on the Middle East situation in the Virginia House of Delegates see it differently.

*Finally, the Virginia House of Delegates resolution states “that Israel be recognized as neither an attacking force nor an occupier of the lands of others, and that peace can be achieved in the Middle East region only through a whole and united Israel governed under one law for all people.” That’s highly problematic on two counts. First, asserting that Israel is not an “occupier of the lands of others” contradicts pretty much everyone, including decades-old U.S. policy, multiple U.N. Security Council resolutions, and even official Israeli policy, which acknowledges that it is occupying certain territories and is willing to trade some of them for a peace settlement. Second, what on earth does “peace can be achieved in the Middle East region only through a whole and united Israel governed under one law for all people” mean? Is that actually calling for a one-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian dispute, or what? If so, then it’s also a big leap, definitely not in keeping with U.S. foreign policy for decades, or even with official Israeli policy.

Anyway, the bottom line is that the Virginia House of Delegates shouldn’t be meddling in foreign policy generally, and certainly not in highly sensitive, complex issues like the Arab-Israeli conflict. It really REALLY shouldn’t be saying anything controversial, or out of step with U.S. and Israeli policy. Yet that’s exactly what this resolution does, and presumably the vast majority of House Democrats either refused to vote or voted no. I’d say that Del. Scott Surovell’s statement sums up my feelings very well on this one: “Delegate Surovell was recorded as voting nay due to the unnecessary Biblical references in government resolution, references to single state solution, and other unnecessary verbiage, but wholly supports the State of Israel.” I’m glad to see 28 Democrats not voting and two (Surovell and Vivian Watts) voting no on this absurd, over-the-top, even extreme resolution.