Israel’s Prime Minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, has obliterated what it means to be ‘pro-Israel,’ setting Israel on a course towards national suicide which mainstream American Jewish organizations seem intent on enabling.
However, I and many others refuse to stand idly by as Israel self-destructs, understanding that to truly be ‘pro-Israel’ now means to be ‘pro-pressure’ – to champion nonviolent measures capable of forcing Israel to change from without, including those initiated by the Obama administration.
The phrase ‘pro-Israel’ over the years has come to signify supporting Israel as a Jewish, democratic state. In other words, it has been synonymous with support for the two-state resolution for Israel/Palestine and opposition to a single-state outcome. It has been synonymous with championing self-determination for both Palestinians and Israeli Jews.
However, in a 24-hour period leading up to and during Israel’s latest elections, Netanyahu concretized with his words what his actions already established: an Israel committed to perpetual occupation and discrimination. An Israel committed to a right-wing version of single statehood. An Israel committed to national destruction.
He did so by formally rejecting Palestinian statehood, embracing perpetual occupation and settlement expansion, and employing racists rants about Palestinian citizens “coming out in droves to the polls.” By doing so, he was rewarded with a striking victory and mandate which will likely lead to the most right-wing Israeli government in its history. It’s an outcome many in Israel’s own security establishment feared as more dangerous than any enemy, an outcome some think will inevitably lead to full, national apartheid.
Many Americans and diaspora Jews are, for the first time, realizing this, thanks to Netanyahu’s racist rhetoric and rejection of two states. Which is why ‘pro-Israel’ can no longer mean supporting Israel’s government. Indeed, for many it now means strongly opposing it, with being ‘pro-Israel’ meaning to be ‘pro-pressure,’ to back measures which will force Israel to change from without before it destroys itself from within.
As an American Jew invested in Israel and Palestine’s future, I now formally consider myself to be a ‘pro-pressure’ Jew. Allow me to explain: