(Note: This is the second part of a blog post, and I'm picking up en media res. If you haven't read the first bit, you probably won't understand what follows. Read the first part here.)
Despite the ominous tone of Matt Brooks' letter, J Street isn't some kind of Arabic think-tank devoted to reestablishing the caliphate, and "Gaza 54" and the Goldstone Report are not its newsletters. J Street is an organization made up largely of Jews with deep Israeli roots who are trying to bring about a two-state solution in Palestine with an Israeli capitol safely and permanently at home in Jerusalem. The "Gaza 54" letter was a plea to President Obama to ensure that food and clean water made their way to civilians in the Gaza Strip in the aftermath of the Hamas takeover and subsequent crackdown. The Goldstone Report came from a U.N. commission investigating human rights abuses in Gaza under Israeli occupation -- it was, in retrospect, a flawed study, but Brooks isn't accusing a Democratic congressman of writing it. He's backhandedly condemning the fellow for merely failing to denounce it, which the congressman in question had no reason to do.
I don't want to get too tangential. The point is: Matt Brooks is doing a very weird thing in his open letter to Debbie Wasserman Schultz. He is taking Wasserman Schultz's and her colleagues' very mainstream, very moderate views on Israel and reframing them as extremist, anti-Israel, and anti-Jewish. What's worse, he's pretending as though these designations are obvious, as though this is the way it's always been. Trying to get water to Palestinian civilians is necessarily anti-Israel! How could you think otherwise?! You want a two-state solution? You're a terrorist enabler!
This kind of historical smudging, issue-eliding, and subtle dissembling is common in partisan politics, but what's most disconcerting is how the razzle-dazzle Brooks is working on Wasserman Schultz is similar to the one many Republicans -- and Allen West in particular -- are now working upon the president for last week suggesting that a two-state solution ought to be pursued using Israel's 1967 borders as a template, modified with "mutually agreed" land swaps. Just like Brooks, with the help of the "conservative" media, is trying to reframe Wasserman Schultz's plea for bipartisanship as hyperpartisan brinksmanship and the efforts of liberals to create a peaceful solution to the Palestinian problem as attacks on the security of Israel, there's a significant campaign afoot to reframe Obama's statement as "the beginning of the end as we know it for the Jewish state," as West put it.
Yes, he really wrote those words -- even though Barack Obama's proposal was fundamentally identical to the one offered to Fatah by Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in 2008. Ehud Olmert was indisputably a guy with problems, but surely Matt Brooks, Allen West, et al. don't think an excess of anti-Israeli sentiment was among them.
If I may hazard a guess: It's no secret that voters have short memories. A small group of people who despise the idea of a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict perceive the inking of the Hamas-Fatah deal, the ascension of Netanyahu's Likud Party in Israel, and American suspicion about Barack Obama's Muslim ancestry as a kind of perfect storm. They hope this is the time to make a one-state solution the new old wisdom; to make the desertion of the two-state solution seem like mere common sense -- something we'd have done decades ago, if only our brains hadn't been befoggled by terrorist-loving liberal peaceniks. Unfortunately, nobody's gotten around to explaining how a one-state solution is a solution at all.
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