Far right-wing blogs have accused “J Street co-founder” of saying Israel’s creation was an “act that was wrong”
Daniel Levy was part of the original group that conceived of J Street. He is currently a policy consultant to J Street. By way of background, he is Israeli and worked for the Israeli government as part of the team negotiating with the Palestinians in the period after Camp David in 2000-2001, including at Taba. Prior to that, he was a part of the negotiating team in the mid-90’s during his Israeli Defense Forces service, under Prime Minister Yizhak Rabin.
Daniel has been a life-long Zionist, having made aliyah at age 23 after having been elected president of the World Union of Jewish Students. He has worked passionately to secure Israel’s future through a two-state solution for nearly twenty years.
He believes that resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict requires a recognition that a root of the conflict lies in the fact that the dream of the Jewish people for a home of their own was partially realized at the expense of Palestinians and led to the creation of a large Palestinian refugee community.
Daniel’s remarks have been misreported. In an answer to a question on a panel he appeared on in Doha, Qatar, Daniel argued in favor of progressive Zionism. He did not call Israel’s creation “an act that was wrong.” He believes that the events of the creation of the Palestinian refugee problem included acts that were wrong, but that could be excused for him by the particular and unique moment in Jewish history that we were living through in 1948:
“I believe that where Jewish history was in 1948 excused, for me – it was good enough for me – an act that was wrong.”
Daniel went on to say that he sees no reason why Palestinians would agree with his response to that history, “I don’t expect Palestinians to think that.” Daniel’s entire speech at that Forum, in which he asks hard and challenging questions of all sides while ultimately advocating for a coalition for ending the ’67 occupation, can be viewed here.
Right-wing blog claims that Daniel said that “Israel really ain’t a very good idea” are debunked here by Jonathan Chait:
The quote here is making the opposite of the point Kristol suggests. Levy is arguing that if his opponents’ premise is true, then Israel is not a good idea. He is making that point in order to discredit his opponents’ premise. This is a very common form of argumentation: if we believe A, then we must believe B, and since B is false, we shouldn’t believe A. For Kristol to site such an argument as evidence the speaker believes B is… completely unsurprising, actually.