Rabbibrian's Blog

A Voice for Justice and Peace in Israel/Palestine

Netanyahu disappoints, the ball is in our court

Posted by rabbibrian on June 14, 2009

Prime Mininster Netanyahu in his much anticipated speech:

“I call on you, our Palestinian neighbors, and to the leadership of the Palestinian Authority: Let us begin peace negotiations immediately, without preconditions,” he said. “Israel is committed to international agreements and expects all the other parties to fulfill their obligations as well.”

Peace negotiations without preconditions?

Isn’t Jerusalem  as the undivided capital of Israel, a precondition?

And what about his demand that the Palestinians not only agree to live in peace with Israel, but that they must affirm that Israel is a Jewish state?

And it goes on: the Palestinian state must be demilitarized, must relinquish the right of return and of course it must accept his refusal to freeze all settlement activity because of the excuse of facilitating “normal growth”

And then he mentions Israel’s acceptance of it’s international obligations.  What is he thinking of?  The illegal building of settlements, the demolition of homes, the denial of freedom of movement?

Netanyahu’s speech was the same speech offered by so many Israeli leaders professing their deep desire for peace while continuing to establish “facts on the ground”

Yesterday I received a copy of the annual report of B’tselem, the Israeli human rights organization, which detailed the systematic discrimination against Palestinians in the Occupied Territory.   I urge you to read it.  Click this link and then search for annual report.

I know there are those who say that he came a long way by mentioning a Palestinian state and by his assertion that he would no longer expand settlements.   In my mind, much too little and way too late!

The ball is in our court as Americans.   It is the support of our government, and it’s failure to vigorously challenge Israel’s policies, that has enabled Israel to get away with it for so long.  Obama must insist that the Israeli government end all settlements, affirm the right of the Palestinian people to a state and enter into negotiation.


12 Responses to “Netanyahu disappoints, the ball is in our court”

  1. Dear Rabbi Brian
    I would like to express my admiration and gratitude for spreading the awareness of the human rights violations caused by the Israeli Government with the support of the USA against the people of Palestine. The reason for my writing to you is to request your assistance in distributing a song we have produced in response to the recent human atrocities against the people of Gaza. The vocalists include a Muslim and Jew from South Africa, a nation who understands the workings of designed prejudice and oppression for the purpose of gaining and maintaining economic power at all costs. Te lyrics are in English, Hebrew and Arabic and questions the spirituality of those in power who allows such atrocities to continue against our global brothers and sisters. It is also an attempt to question the Israelis and Jewish people who, unlike you, are not aware of the Karmic path they are creating for themselves and their offspring. The song questions the soldier who kills and maims another in the name of God, not realising the same God who allows them to take an innocent life will one day be taking their life, that ultimately we have One God and that the universal law of Thou Shalt not Kill applies to Mankind and not a specific group of people. The song questions America for their obvious support and lack of spiritual leadership in a time that the world is crying out for spiritual leadership and backbone.
    I would like to send you the MP3 of the song, “Who is your God” and I also have a video of the song which I was wondering if we could somehow post onto your website and also distribute it through your networks.
    I hope you will be able to assist me and can honestly say you are a true brother of the tribe called the human race.
    Peace and blessings be with you and your loved ones.

  2. Louis Frankenthaler said


    Once again we hear from Bibi Netanyahu another speech in which he says not what he means. The Palestinian State he mentions will be devoid of sovereignty and national meaning for them because it will have to abide by Israeli standards for it. We can only hope that the Obama administration sees through his cynical words to the heart of what Israel under Netanyahu is striving torwards… more settlements, more Occupation…

    • rabbibrian said

      Thanks for your comments. I think Netanyahu is stalling just as Israeli government has done for years. The Palestinians are violent and don’t want peace, we are loving and want peace. If only we had “a partner for peace.” While repeating this mantra, Israel continues to expand settlements, land confiscation and all the other humiliations, oppression and abuses of the Occupation. My primary concern at this point is to take advantage of the possibility that America may, for the first time, call the Israeli government’s bluff. There is some possibility that Obama will really push and not go along with the manipulation by the Israeli government. His ability to really push is dependent on his courage and on the political space that he has. The Israel lobby and the American Jewish community has always made it very difficult for the President to demand from Israel adherence to internationally accepted human rights norms and serious peace negotiation. The violent resistance of the Palestinians has also not made this easy, although the only time there has been real movement by Israel has been in response to violence. It remains to be seen whether the new American administration and the American people are ready to honestly challenge the Israeli policy of continued Occupation. I don’t know how the Israeli people will respond to such pressure but it is, in my mind, the only chance for moving towards peace.

  3. Robert said

    I fear that Mr. Netanyahu is positioning Israeli policy to mimic the story of America’s treatment of the Native American in the Trail of Tears and beyond. And Mr. Netanyahu another tragic Bull Connor figure in the painful struggle for human rights.

    How shall the intense feelings of two devastated peoples not become a magnet to destroy each other? Are there are any resources left?

  4. Elizabth Sholes said

    As a relative neophyte in this area, I must fall back on good sense and morality. As a Christian, I was raised with strong Holocaust consciousness by progressive parents. As an adult, comparatively late in my life, I discovered the awful truth about Israel’s inhumanity toward Palestinians, and it was a bitter pill. But no longer can I stand mute before the political and military insanity of perpetual domination of one people by another. This recent “concession” is merely masking the perpetuation of the desire to eradicate Palestinian autonomy, long denied by the facts of history and world politics. It is cynical at the least, cruel at most, but it also subverts Israel’s main goal of preserving its own autonomy and peace. History shows that the fastest route to peace and survival is obtained when all parties have nation building as their own work to do, when people have sufficiency to survive, when people stop bashing others who quite understandably retaliate. This “offer” is not a step forward but another step back to prevent the accomplishment of Israel’s own goals. How blind and how sadly futile this is.

  5. Alan Levin said

    Thank you for your strong message. However, I don’t think Netanyahu said he would not expand the settlements. This is the relevant quote:
    “The territorial issues will be discussed in a permanent agreement. Till then we have no intention to build new settlements or set aside land for new settlements. But there is a need to have people live normal lives and let mothers and fathers raise their children like everyone in the world. The settlers are not enemies of peace. They are our brothers and sisters.”

    Isn’t the statement about people living normal lives and raising their children the basis for “natural growth” which is expanding the settlements?

    This was one of the most duplicitous speeches yet. Count the number of times he uses the word “peace” to see how little value he places on it.

  6. Iris Winogrond said

    Brian–thank you for your thoughtful essay and the replies that followed. I support your idea of promoting a Jewish day of fasting to call attention to this Israeli government’s dangerous game of King of the Mountain. The US Congress and our President must know how many Americans of all faiths believe the United States must separate support for Israel as a homeland for Jews from support for the Israeli policies that continue to obstruct honest peace negotiations.
    In addition, could American rabbis be asked to mobilize an educational campaign across the United States to highlight how Israeli policies are causing inhumane suffering in Gaza? This tragedy has totally dropped from media coverage. Is there a way to target donations for Gazan charities that does not fall into Hamas pockets? I would welcome more information. Best wishes, Iris

    • rabbibrian said

      I would love to see American rabbi mobilize an educational campaign to highlight the suffering in Gaza. The silence on this humanitarian disaster is deafening. Unfortunately I don’t know a lot about Gazan charities but I know that Physicians for Human Rights in Israel provides humanitarian aid for Gaza and it is an organization that I trust. Check them out.

  7. Rabbi Brian, I thank you for this most excellent blog entry. Your characterization of Mr. Netanyahu’s is spot on. I too am tired of hearing one Israeli leader, after another, make meaningless speeches and expect the world to believe they are truly interested in peace with the Palestinian people. I receive letters from many Jewish people who spend lots of time and pixels trying to prove to me that there really is no such thing as a Palestinian. I receive letters telling me that Palestinians do not value the lives of their children and other mean-spirited lies. Yet often, when I speak out for a true two-state solution, and show any sympathy or compassion for the Palestinians I am called anti-Israel, and anti-Semitic, or the granddaddy of the all, a self-hating Jew.

    I am thankful for your insights and work and I am glad that there are organizations such as Independent Jewish Voices, and JStreet, Network of Spiritual Progessives and others who are bringing together Jewish people and our friends who feel compassion for the Palestinian people, along with a desire to see Israel and the Palestinians live in peaceful harmony.

    • rabbibrian said


      I share your gratitude for groups like J Street, Independent Jewish Voices, Jewish Voice for Peace and others who are building a community with a more balanced approach to Israel. For me they are are the hope of Judaism and of the Jewish People. The next step, I believe is to create interfaith groups working together on supporting a constructive, even-handed American policy in the Middle East. Thanks for your kind words.

  8. Israeli said

    So, another so-called progressive Jews joining the ranks of those who demonize Israel under the guise of “Justice for Israel/Palestine. To me an Israeli, you are no better than Hamas or Islamic Jihad. Shame on you.

    • What a shame that some of us are so myopic in their views that they cannot take any criticism without resorting to name calling. You, my friend, are certainly entitled to your opinion, and I respect you for it. But that is very different from your attitude towards those whose views differ from yours. If you feel the comments expressed here are misguided, why not explain, in civil decent language exactly why you feel that way, instead of just demonizing those with whom you disagree?

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