American Thanksgiving Reflections on Democracy in Light of 57% of Israelis Supporting a Plan to Talk to Hamas

This is shocking, when  you think about it. Any American Congressman who dared suggest we include Hamas in negotiations would be run out of town by the all-powerful so-called pro-Israel lobby, which is neither pro-Israel nor pro-American but pro-violence. But the Israeli people, who were on the receiving end of Hamas suicide bombs for years, is ready to talk to them. So A. who is controlling American congressional policy and why? B. Why do they have a right to hound so many congressmen into ignorance and silence? C. Who do they speak for and represent? Not me, and apparently not the people of Israel.

I had in my office a long time very senior member of Congress, who said to me that for twenty years he was threatened and badgered about Israel, forced to go there numerous times, silenced from any position of conscience. This is anti-Israel, anti-American and anti-democratic. Congressmen are regularly silenced not only about Middle Eastern policies but a host of other policies on health care and military spending, and energy policy, all because our loopholes around lobbying and campaign financing have undermined the moral fabric of our representatives. This must change. Thanksgiving is a good day to celebrate what Americans have achieved in their democracy, but also reflect on where we must go to make this a more perfect union.

An excerpt from the article “Haaretz poll: 57% of Israelis support plan to talk to Hamas,” by Yossi Verter:

The attitude of Israelis to Hamas, a terrorist organization that still holds Gilad Shalit, is quite pragmatic. It turns out that the majority of the public – 57% – supports the view of MK Shaul Mofaz of Kadima, who published a plan earlier this week, in which he called for dialogue with Hamas under certain conditions. Inside Kadima the idea has tremendous support by some 72 percent of the party’s voters.

But even 53 percent of Likud supporters back the idea. The left is breaking apart and Likud is moving to the center. It seems that Mofaz knew that he was marching on solid political ground when he included this radical article in his plan.

The Haaretz survey was carried out toward the end of Netanyahu’s visit to Washington this week. The lessons the Prime Minister experienced at the hands of the White House left no scars in the hearts of the average Israeli. The vast majority of those asked said that the White House’s attitude toward Netanyahu was “reasonable.” Just a quarter of those asked claimed that the attitude of the White House toward Netanyahu was humiliating.

There are two possible ways of interpreting this: either that the emotional way with which the politicians and the media received the fact that Netanyahu went to the White House late in the evening in a van does not affect the general public, or that the public believes that Netanyahu deserves what he got.

The former is probably correct: The emotional discussion over the circumstances of the meeting between Netanyahu and U.S. President Barack Obama stayed in the political-media world’s court and the street did not form its opinions apart from that.

© Marc Gopin