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


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.

  • ir003436

    Sounds like something AIPAC would write and send to legislatures in all 50 states.

  • AnonymousIsAWoman

    In fact doing so is anti-Semitic. But I will get back to that in a minute.

    About this bill: Where do I even begin? This bill is ridiculous. It’s premises are childishly silly.

    First, although I am a staunch supporter of Israel, I don’t support it because God gave it to the Jews. I support Israel because it was historically the homeland of the Jews. We know this from extra-Biblical sources as well as from the Bible, which, while it contains a lot stories that should not be taken literally, was accurate that the ancient Israelites who became Judeans did originate there. But it’s because archaeological artifacts back up the claims that I believe that part. So, I find the reasoning behind this bill specious.

    Besides this, the bill is an attempt to create a wedge issue. The author and sponsors are hoping that Democrats will be embarrassed by it because it will cause them to either offend their Jewish constituents or their anti-war base. The reasoning for that is wrong because it presents a false dilemma.

    You can be against war in the Middle East without being anti-Israel. You can support rights and a homeland for Palestinians without being for Israel’s destruction. In fact, finding a sustainable peace is in Israel’s greater interest over the long run. If you are truly for Israel, you would want world leaders to find a just, two-state solution that protects Israel’s borders and defuses the tensions caused by the Palestinian refugee problem.

    But here’s my most important, and inflammatory thought about this bill. Because it is a cynical attempt to turn Israel into a partisan wedge issue, it is harmful to Israel, brings resentment to Jews, and is anti-Semitic. Maybe the author and sponsors would be shocked to be called anti-Semites. That might not be their intention. But actually the consequences of this are anti-Semitic.

    Any Jew should realize, our real friends don’t use us to grandstand and they certainly should not use us or Israel to drive a wedge anywhere.

  • Dan Sullivan

    they should have nosebleeds just contemplating the complexity. Every “Yea” vote is a badge of complete and total ignorance and proof of unsuitability for elected office.

    This borders on treason.

  • kindler

    First they rename a sea in Asia, now this.  Could you guys please take care of ISIS and Ukraine too?  

    On second thought, maybe these buffoons could focus on doing their actual job of solving problems for the people of Virginia.  How about helping the hundreds of thousands of Virginians who need healthcare?  How about moving us forward from a 19th-century coal-powered state to a 21st century clean energy haven?  How about investing in transportation infrastructure to relieve NOVA of endless, mind-numbing traffic?

    No, that would take actual thought, diligence, responsibility, and going against the interests that benefit from all of these predicaments.  Much easier to pass utterly meaningless and pointless resolutions.  

  • amber waves

    I hear many of you objecting to the Virginia legislature’s weighing in on foreign policy.  Of course when you supported the language of other Israel resolutions in the Virginia legislature, you were fine with it.

    Last year, I opposed a resolution by Senator Ebbin resolution praising Israel in the Virginia Senate. SJ 399?

    Here is Lowell’s comment at that time.

    “I agree, though, that there’s absolutely nothing wrong

    with that resolution. Why on earth would there be? Israel is one of our closest allies, the only true democracy in the Middle East, a thriving high-tech economy, etc, etc.  

    by: lowkell @ Mon Feb 10, 2014 at 08:26:21 AM EST ”

    So some of you object to Virginia interjecting itself on foreign policy issues when you disagree with the resolution..but when the resolution is one some of you support…you DEFEND the Virginia legislature in its actions.

    I applaud y’all for opposing this resolution also on detailed grounds, but we should not be praising representatives for abstaining (and setting up special expectations for Jewish legislators) because this resolution is sickening and an abstention does not merit a profile in courage.

  • campaignman

    Everyone sees through these ham-handed (pun intended) moves.

    What’s particularly appalling is that Prime Minister Netanyahu’s support for our nation’s Republican Party, which he also showed by siding with his friend Mitt Romney for President, is threatening the current bi-partisan support for Israel in America and undermining the substance of his message.  He clearly doesn’t understand what the word counter-productive means.

    For example, the following is an excerpt from a Politico article…

    “It’s not just about disrespect for the president, it’s disrespect for the American people and our system of government for a foreign leader to insert himself into a issue that our policymakers are grappling with,” said Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Ga.).

    The idea of meeting with Dermer (Israel’s ambassador to the U.S.) or Netanyahu separately doesn’t seem to be catching on with CBC members, either. Noting that Dermer once worked for Republican pollster Frank Luntz, Johnson called the ambassador a “longtime, right-wing political hack” and said he is uninterested in meeting with either him or Netanyahu.