A veteran leader of the Peace Now movement is apparently calling on Israel to overthrow the Palestinian Authority.
It may seem hard to believe, but that’s the plain meaning of an op-ed in the July 29 edition of the New York Jewish Week by Martin I. Bresler, a former Chairman — and current board member — of Americans for Peace Now.
Peace Now has long functioned almost as a defense attorney for the Palestinian Authority — vigorously demanding Israeli concessions to the P.A., while refraining from criticizing the P.A.’s sponsorship of terrorism and its constant incitement against Jews and Israel.
Bresler’s op-ed began with the usual litany of denunciations of Israel’s behavior. “The occupation is evil,” he informed Jewish Week readers. “It is immoral. It is un-Jewish.” Israel has become “the oppressor of another people.” This “twists the souls” of Israelis, and is “making the entire body [of Israel] sick.” It even “feeds anti-Semitism.”
But not to worry — Mr. Bresler has a solution. He has a six-step peace plan, and here’s step No. 1: “Israel can announce … that it recognizes that the occupation must end at some point, that it will do so as soon as the security situation permits, and until that time it will administer the West Bank for the benefit of its Palestinian inhabitants and its own safety.”
Bresler, in the name of Americans for Peace Now, wants Israel to “administer the West Bank for the benefit of its Palestinian inhabitants.”
Right now, of course, it is the Palestinian Authority which administers 99 percent of the Palestinian inhabitants of Judea-Samaria (the West Bank). The P.A. has been doing so since 1995, when then-Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin withdrew Israel’s forces from the areas where nearly all of the Palestinians reside.
For Israel now to “administer the West Bank for the benefit of its Palestinian inhabitants,” as Bresler proposes, means that Israel would need to overthrow and disband the Palestinian Authority, and resume the pre-1995 policy of occupying and administering the Palestinians.
One must assume that Bresler is a rational man and therefore is aware of the existence of the Palestinian Authority. But like many people in his camp, he spent so many years decrying the “Israeli occupation,” that the slogan evidently has become embedded in his psyche. The “Israeli occupation” became The Enemy — the root of all evil. In short, it became an obsession.
So, any time Israeli leaders or the Israeli army do something that the world dislikes —therefore making Peace Now very uncomfortable — the Martin Breslers of this world immediately blame “the occupation.” It’s a knee-jerk reaction. The phrase “knee-jerk reaction” derives from the way one’s knee reflexively jerks forward, without thinking, when tapped in a certain place. It happens without thinking.
If Bresler paused to think — instead of reacting based on reflex — he would have to acknowledge that the Palestinian Authority, not Israel, controls Palestinian education, culture, elections, the economy, and all other facets of Palestinian communal life. The P.A. police arrest Palestinian criminals. The P.A. sanitation department collects the trash. Just about the only thing the P.A. can’t do is import tanks and planes.
If Bresler and his colleagues at Americans for Peace Now want to make the case that the P.A. should be allowed to import tanks and planes, let them make that argument. Let’s have that debate. But to pretend that Israel is still “occupying” the Palestinians is absurd. It’s time for the Peace Now camp to emerge from its time warp and stop living in a pre-1995 fantasy world that no longer exists.
Stephen M. Flatow, an attorney in New Jersey, is the father of Alisa Flatow, who was murdered in a Palestinian terrorist attack in 1995.