The answer is here:
These are not American Jewish leaders. They are prominent American Jews who were handpicked to ensure that it would be a swell evening with the Holocaust minimizing, Olympics massacre-funding, terrorist-supporting, human-rights denying, intransigent dictator of the Palestinian Authority.
Abraham, Wexler and Abbas opened the discussion with brief introductory remarks. Abbas then answered questions from the assembled guests. The event lasted one hour and a half.
Guests included former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, former National Security Advisor Sandy Berger, and former US Ambassador to Israel Daniel Kurtzer; Professor Alan Dershowitz, the Felix Frankfurter Professor of Law at Harvard University; Wolf Blitzer, host of CNN’s The Situation Room; Congresswoman Nita Lowey; Rabbi Rick Jacobs, President of the Union for Reform Judaism; Rabbi David Saperstein, director of the Religious Action Center; Nancy Kaufman, CEO of the National Council of Jewish Women; Peter Joseph, president of the Israel Policy Forum; Daniel Lubetsky, founder of OneVoice; Eli Broad, founder of the Broad Foundation; Professor Daniel Kahneman, Nobel Prize recipient; Abby Joseph Cohen, board member of the Jewish Theological Seminary and other American Jewish community leaders and foreign policy scholars.
Instead of asking questions to expose Abbas as the liar and extremist that he is, he was fawned over by these so-called "leaders." Some of their questions are would make anyone cringe:
Alan Dershowitz: If only the people at this table were responsible for making peace I think we would have peace. Virtually everyone here is opposed to Israel’s settlement policy and wishes it would end. …I could fisk his answer, about how most Palestinian Arabs and Israeli Jews want a two state solution (it isn't true) like I have fisked his lies dozens of times, but the problem here isn't the answer - the problem is the question. Here we have Alan Dershowitz, who is a wonderful defender of Israel's right to exist, telling the enemy (and yes, Abbas is the enemy) that Israeli democracy is a problem because so many Israelis aren't as bowled over by Abbas as Dershowitz is.
My question is this – Bill Clinton once said to me in a conversation, the real problems is, dammit Israel is a democracy and the PA is a democracy. Therefore before you make peace both sides have to persuade their constituents. And sometimes good things produce bad results. Let me give you an example. Many of us in this room were very active in bringing a million Soviet Jews to Israel. That was a great thing but it produced an extreme right wing in Israel which made peace more difficult. My question to you is how do you and we together work to persuade the constituencies on both sides that are opposed to the two state solution that it is in their interest to bring about a two state solution. How can we use democracy to help us rather than serve as a barrier to peace?
In reality, Russian Jews in particular are attuned to how dictatorships work, what real oppression is, and what anti-semitism is - and they see it all in Abbas' Palestinian Authority. Dershowitz' chutzpah is to say that American Jews know what is best for Israelis and Israelis don't - so he wants to work with a certifiable terror cheerleader to short-circuit Israeli democracy!
Not to mention his absurd characterization of the PA as a democracy. Unreal.
I met Dershowitz, I like Dershowitz, but this is sickening.
And so are practically all of the other sycophantic, deferential questions asked by these prominent liberal Jews.
The problem goes even beyond the wishful thinking I've noted many times before that trump any possibility of an honest ability to weigh the facts. The problem is this: just like Arabs tend to project their own violent history and desires onto Jews in Arabic, liberal Jews want to project their own fervent desire for peace onto any Arab dictator who wears a suit and mouths nice things in English.
It is closer to psychosis than it is to realism.
Right-wing Jews want peace too. Russian Jews want peace. Religious Jews want peace. Likudniks and Naftali Bennett want peace. Practically everyone wants peace - but they are not willing to risk their own families' lives for empty promises. And nothing that the PA has done gives any of them security that real peace is the objective of their Arab neighbors.
The Israeli and Western press is filled with talk about peace, plans for peace, methods to achieve peace, references to peace studies, quotes from so-called experts who work at "peace centers" like the one that hosted this talk.
But the Arabic press essentially never mentions peace.
Their media has lots of talk about justice, and about rights, and about perceived Israeli violations of both. But the yearning for peace that these prominent Jews take for granted is simply not there. It doesn't exist. Nada.
This is the reality. Wishing it away and forcing parties to sign a piece of paper will not change this reality. Right now, the word "normalization" is a dirty word in Egypt, in Jordan and in the PA-controlled territories. Arabs who talk about real peace with Israel are ostracized. I am not exaggerating one bit. Ask Khaled Abu Toameh.
I can barely recall every reading any Arabic op-ed or article that talks about real peace with Israel. (Rarely, there are backhanded compliments of Israeli innovations in science, to contrast it with the Arab world. That's the most complimentary I've ever seen in some nine years of reading Arab media.)
Ignoring these facts is not just stupid, but potentially deadly. I wish, more than anything, that I was wrong. But giving Abbas a free pass does not serve the cause of peace; it only strengthens the fantasy.
Real peace cannot be built on lies and dreams, and it is about time that prominent American Jews woke up to the reality, no matter how unpalatable it might be.
(h/t E ben Abuya)