Stopping settlements = "Ethnic Cleansing"?

July 9, 2009

Update: After nearly 10,000 J Street members asked The Israel
Project to drop their use of the term “ethnic cleansing” to describe
stopping settlements, The Israel Project’s President Jennifer Laszlo
Mizrahi finally did the right thing and eliminated the term “ethnic
cleansing” from her organization’s materials. 

No way.  The Israel Project, a right-wing media advocacy group, has taken

criticism of President Obama’s Middle East policy to a new low,
equating stopping settlements with “ethnic cleansing.”

Their advice to their activists in a privately distributed set of talking points leaked this week?
If you get a question about settlements, change the subject.  If
pressed, say stopping settlements is “a kind of ethnic cleansing.”

We know that a settlement freeze – as well as an end to Palestinian
incitement and violence – are critical first steps towards the
two-state solution and, therefore, a secure, Jewish, democratic
Israel.  Using terms like “ethnic cleansing” to undermine that agenda
is incendiary, dangerous, and counterproductive.

The Israel Project’s talking points even admit that the public, including
pro-Israel Americans, aren’t on their side. They say that “public
opinion is hostile to the settlements – even among supporters of
Israel.” You bet we’re hostile to settlements – they’re bad for Israel!

As Doug Bloomfield, a columnist for the New Jersey Jewish News, wrote
this week

{The Israel Project] says the “best
argument” for settlements is this: Since Arabs citizens of Israel
“enjoy equal rights,” telling Jews they can’t live in the
Palestinian state “is a racist idea.”

Even though that’s completely false, as Bloomfield continues:

Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad said this week that Jews would be welcome to live in the Palestinian state and enjoy the same rights Israeil Arabs enjoy in Israel.

Israeli settlers that don’t want to remain behind would be repatriated into a
Jewish, democratic Israel as part of a political solution that would finally
provide Israel with real peace and security.