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February 8, 2016 1

The French Initiative

By Jonathan Green­blatt
CEO of the Anti-Defamation League

This arti­cle orig­i­nally appeared on The Times of Israel blog

Here they go again. The French For­eign Min­is­ter, Lau­rent Fabius, has announced a new ini­tia­tive toward con­ven­ing an inter­na­tional con­fer­ence on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The his­tory of such inter­na­tional gath­er­ings, with the unique excep­tion of the Madrid Peace Con­fer­ence fol­low­ing the first Gulf War, has not been a good one. Most often, they become forums for bash­ing Israel rather than mak­ing real progress to break through on the tough­est final sta­tus issues that still divide Israelis and Palestinians.

This bad his­tory is com­pounded, how­ever, in this instance, by the accom­pa­ny­ing state­ment by Mr. Fabius that if such a con­fer­ence fails to lead to progress toward peace, France will rec­og­nize a Pales­tin­ian State. What incen­tive remains for the Pales­tini­ans to be forthcoming?

This alone would guar­an­tee the fail­ure of a con­fer­ence. It is always a chal­lenge to get the Pales­tini­ans to be forth­com­ing toward Israel. If they know for cer­tain that they will be rewarded for inac­tion, the like­li­hood of progress is even more remote.

The French posi­tion reflects the fun­da­men­tal fal­lacy of much of the inter­na­tional com­mu­nity in address­ing the con­flict. Because they see Israel as the occu­pier and stronger party, they see pres­sure on Israel as the way to move the process. In this view, there is noth­ing expected of the Palestinians.

Make no mis­take: Any hope for peace requires actions and com­pro­mises by both sides. Israel has to be forth­com­ing, as well as the Palestinians.

The record, how­ever, shows repeat­edly that Israel can nego­ti­ate in good faith and offer solu­tions that give some­thing to each side.

This was true at Camp David in 2000, when Prime Min­is­ter Ehud Barak offered the Pales­tini­ans a state on more than 90 per­cent of the ter­ri­tory; this was true when his suc­ces­sor Ariel Sharon pulled Israel out of Gaza in 2005; this was true in 2008, when Prime Min­is­ter Ehud Olmert offered the Pales­tini­ans even more than Ehud Barak did for build­ing a state. This was true ulti­mately in the recent effort of U.S. Sec­re­tary of State John Kerry to bro­ker a compromise.

While the Netanyahu gov­ern­ment has been less will­ing to pro­pose an ini­tia­tive on peace, there is every rea­son to believe, based on Israel’s his­tory of both the left and the right, that Israel will be there if Pales­tini­ans demon­strate they are pre­pared to truly engage in direct nego­ti­a­tions and will­ing to make impor­tant com­pro­mises for peace.

The so-called friends of the Pales­tini­ans, who blame Israel for every aspect of the con­flict, do the Pales­tini­ans no favor by expect­ing noth­ing of their friends in return.

A far more pro­duc­tive exer­cise for the inter­na­tional com­mu­nity, as coun­ter­in­tu­itive as it may seem, is to direct its atten­tion toward Pales­tin­ian behav­ior. The focus should be on what changes are nec­es­sary from the Pales­tin­ian side in order to bring an inde­pen­dent state closer to real­ity. This does not mean Israel is exempt from expec­ta­tions that it make seri­ous and sus­tained efforts to achieve peace. How­ever, the world should expect the Pales­tini­ans to com­pro­mise as well.

Such com­pro­mises that should be demanded of the Pales­tini­ans include accept­ing the legit­i­macy of Israel as a Jew­ish State; the recog­ni­tion that Pales­tin­ian refugees will be reset­tled in a Pales­tin­ian State, just as Jew­ish refugees were reset­tled in the Jew­ish State; the acknowl­edge­ment that a peace agree­ment between the sides will mean the end of the con­flict and future demands; and the ces­sa­tion of incite­ment cam­paigns against Israel and Jews and an end to cel­e­brat­ing to those who com­mit ter­ror­ist attacks.

That’s a lot to ask of the Pales­tini­ans, you say, par­tic­u­larly because they are the occu­pied party.

Maybe so, but it has never been tried. And the Pales­tini­ans remain in their dif­fi­cult sit­u­a­tion. Mean­while, Israeli ini­tia­tives have not only gone nowhere, they have often been fol­lowed by Pales­tin­ian violence.

It is, how­ever, not merely that this approach has not been tried. It is more that it speaks to the root of the prob­lem and to under­stand­able Israeli skep­ti­cism that the Pales­tin­ian goal has not changed at all from 1947 when it was clear that Israel’s destruc­tion was its pri­mary aim.

How­ever much one seeks to blame Israel for the Pales­tin­ian con­di­tion, it is Pales­tini­ans them­selves, with a changed approach, who can bring about a fun­da­men­tal change in the sta­tus quo. Israel’s reac­tion to a new Pales­tin­ian approach will undoubt­edly be cau­tious but will be a response that could move things for­ward toward a two-state solution.

Hav­ing said all this, Israel needs to think about tak­ing its own ini­tia­tive, not because any such move will ensure that there is peace — that can only hap­pen when the Pales­tini­ans engage in the rethink­ing described above — but in order to cred­i­bly demon­strate to the world its com­mit­ment to peace.

Inter­nally, inac­tion has cre­ated a vac­uum that is being filled by peo­ple who are against a two-state solu­tion and who would like to erode Israel’s demo­c­ra­tic values.

Exter­nally, boy­cotts and dele­git­imiza­tion cam­paigns con­tinue to mount against Israel and one-state ideas gain momentum.

An Israeli ini­tia­tive — whether on halt­ing set­tle­ments, bet­ter respect­ing Pales­tini­ans’ rights, or offer­ing a plan — will not bring an end to anti-Israel activ­ity. It will, how­ever, weaken it sig­nif­i­cantly. It could draw away from it many well-meaning peo­ple who are frus­trated with the decades-old stale­mate and sta­tus quo.

Respon­si­bil­ity for peace and for accept­ing at least parts of the oth­ers’ nar­ra­tive lie on both parties.

It is the Pales­tin­ian rethink, how­ever, that could make all the difference.

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February 3, 2016 1

Our New Forum For Ideas, ADL@SALON

By Jonathan Green­blatt
CEO of the Anti-Defamation League

This arti­cle orig­i­nally appeared on The Huff­in­g­ton Post Blog

Salon-ADLLogo

I have always believed that it takes more than one per­son, one leader, or one insti­tu­tion to solve the tough­est chal­lenges. As I began my tenure as CEO six months ago, I real­ized that in order to achieve our time­less mis­sion — to stop the defama­tion of the Jew­ish peo­ple and to secure fair treat­ment and jus­tice to all — we would need to har­ness the ener­gies of inno­va­tion and dis­cover new ways to sharpen our focus on the most rel­e­vant issues fac­ing our com­mu­nity and our nation. We would need to broaden our tent, to attract the bright­est peo­ple, and to wel­come new ideas.

That is why I’m thrilled today to launch a new ini­tia­tive aimed at open­ing our minds to the cut­ting edge, to bring together diver­gent voices into dia­logue in an open and unfet­tered exchange.

We’re call­ing it ADL@Salon.

To meet the demands of a cen­tury defined by rapid change, it is my belief that ADL trans­form itself into a learn­ing orga­ni­za­tion, one capa­ble of con­tin­u­ous rein­ven­tion. In short, an orga­ni­za­tion that thrives on innovation.

In this still new cen­tury, we face what can seem insur­mount­able chal­lenges with­out obvi­ous solu­tions. As Pres­i­dent Obama took note of just last week, anti-Semitism is unde­ni­ably ris­ing around the world. We face fail­ing and failed states breed­ing extrem­ism, such as the grow­ing influ­ence of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, and their affil­i­ates around the Mid­dle East. We face racism in many guises, from police bru­tal­ity to edu­ca­tion inequal­ity.

Our polit­i­cal dis­course is stained by appeals to stereo­typ­ing and scape­goat­ing. We see hard won gains in women’s rights and LGBT rights at risk of being rolled back. Around the world and even here at home, we see trou­bling trends in cam­paigns to de-legitimize and demo­nize the state of Israel, even as the con­flict between Israel and its neigh­bors seems as intractable as ever.

Build­ing the coali­tions that are will­ing to think through the solu­tions to these great chal­lenges undoubt­edly means widen­ing the tent. It means gath­er­ing input and ideas from a greater range of voices, even those with whom we might disagree.

As hatred and extrem­ism migrate to the uncharted realm of the inter­net, as the very def­i­n­i­tion of social move­ments has been fun­da­men­tally trans­formed by new modes of com­mu­ni­ca­tion and com­mu­nity, we must build the engines that spark new ideas and new approaches.

Inspired by the intense exchanges in Euro­pean cafés that led to inven­tions and rev­o­lu­tions in pol­i­tics and sci­ence which shaped the mod­ern world, ADL@Salon aims to bring together thought lead­ers across the broad spec­trum of our work to engage in high level and off-the-record con­ver­sa­tions in order to infuse new ideas and approaches for com­bat­ing hatred and prej­u­dice in our world.

The inau­gural ADL@Salon will take place today at our national head­quar­ters in New York.  Har­ness­ing the exper­tise of lead­ing schol­ars and for­eign pol­icy prac­ti­tion­ers, we will look for­ward to assess what the future holds in store for the Mid­dle East, and how U.S. pol­icy should respond to these trends.

Co-sponsored by our friends at the Cen­ter for Inter­na­tional Rela­tions and Sus­tain­able Devel­op­ment, a pub­lic pol­icy think-tank head­quar­tered in Bel­grade and New York, our aim is not to broad­cast our dis­cus­sions broadly, but har­ness these and inform our new direc­tions and positions.

ADL@Salon is the start of a new way of approach at ADL. Future part­ners in our con­ver­sa­tions come from across a broad array of fields—from schol­ars to advo­cates, pol­icy pro­fes­sion­als to busi­ness lead­ers. We will con­sider the chal­lenges of the 21st century’s civil rights agenda. We will think deeply about the rela­tion­ship between the United States and Israel in these times of change. We will wel­come the entre­pre­neurs and inno­va­tors of Sil­i­con Val­ley into con­ver­sa­tion to chal­lenge our think­ing about how we approach social problems.

What if ADL can be the place that inspires brave think­ing? What if we can bring together the minds that lead us smartly toward our “big bets?” I believe that through dia­logue and the exchange of ideas and infor­ma­tion, we can trans­form our response to 21st cen­tury challenges.

As the lead­ing orga­ni­za­tion fight­ing anti-Semitism and defend­ing the civil rights of all, I believe ADL is poised to inspire great change. That is what ADL@Salon is truly about.

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January 29, 2016 0

McCarthyism and the Latest Im Tirtzu Campaign

As Amer­i­cans, we remem­ber the crit­i­cal moment that turned around the cam­paign of intim­i­da­tion by Sen­a­tor Joe McCarthy in the 1950’s. As the Sen­a­tor was bad­ger­ing another young Amer­i­can, this time a sol­dier, accus­ing him of com­mu­nism and smear­ing his rep­u­ta­tion, the coun­sel for the defense, Joseph Welch, sud­denly blurted out: “Mr. McCarthy, have you no decency?”

That com­ment, seen by the nation in those early days of tele­vi­sion, seemed to break the spell that the Wis­con­sin sen­a­tor had held over sig­nif­i­cant por­tions of Amer­i­can soci­ety, ruin­ing count­less lives in the process.

It is our hope that Im Tirtzu’s lat­est assault on the good name of some of Israel’s cul­tural icons — Amos Oz, Chava Alber­stein, A.B. Yehoshua, David Gross­man, to name a few — is the one step too far that awak­ens Israeli soci­ety to the dan­gers posed to demo­c­ra­tic val­ues from such assaults.

Im Tirtzu Campaign

Im Tirtzu Campaign

Israel faces many real secu­rity chal­lenges, as evi­denced by the hor­rific mur­ders and attacks tak­ing place almost daily, and the inter­na­tional assaults against Israel’s good name. Exactly because there are real threats is why pro­tect­ing Israel’s demo­c­ra­tic val­ues becomes even more impor­tant. Respect­ing the right to free expres­sion, despite moments of dis­com­fit, ensures a full exchange of views on what’s best for the coun­try and offers the best chance of bring­ing peo­ple together. And inter­na­tion­ally, it is Israel’s demo­c­ra­tic ethos, unique to the Mid­dle East, which gains Israel respect despite the hos­tile cam­paigns that are waged against it.

It is good to see that a num­ber of Israeli gov­ern­ment min­is­ters, includ­ing the Prime Min­is­ter, have con­demned the lat­est Im Tirtzu cam­paign. And it was appro­pri­ate that Im Tirtzu even­tu­ally issued an apol­ogy for their cam­paign malign­ing Israel’s cul­tural icons.

Now we can hope all sides, left and right, will take a step back and recom­mit to the fun­da­men­tal pro­tec­tion of and respect for free­dom of expres­sion as at the core of Israel’s val­ues and well-being.

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