Anyone interested in the Middle East these days will be subjected to a relentless barrage of accusations against Israel on the Web, on campus and in other settings. Some of these attacks come from the far left, from activists trying to appeal to Jews and non-Jews who are committed to human rights and social justice. Often, these critics are not just attacking specific, objectionable Israeli policies and behavior. They treat Israel as the epitome of evil. They portray the entire Zionist enterprise, from the 19th century to the present, as nothing more than a racist, colonialist and immoral land theft.
At Ameinu, a North American Jewish organization that supports progressive causes in Israel, the U.S. and Canada, we have often criticized Israeli policies and behavior, including settlement expansion, racism against Arabs and crony capitalism. But we believe too many of Israel’s left-wing critics cross the line that separates legitimate, productive criticism from polemical, inaccurate and unfair attacks.
At the same time, too many voices of those who reflexively support –or passively accept—the Israeli occupation and the morally indefensible status quo in the Palestinian territories are going unanswered.
The Third Narrative initiative is our response to this situation. We hope to engage people on the left who appreciate informed and passionate objections to Israeli policies and behavior….but also suspect that it is wrong to lay all blame for the conflict at the feet of Israelis. Some of what Israel’s most vitriolic critics say is accurate. Some of what Israel’s traditional defenders say is also accurate. When it comes to this conflict, the truth is rarely black or white; it resides in a gray area where advocates on either side typically don’t like to venture. That is where we try to go with this web site and other components of the initiative.
In addition to launching our website, we have produced a booklet that will help progressives to distinguish between the far-left’s critiques of Israel that are justified and those that are unproductive distortions of a complex reality. Download a digital copy or request a print copy via the mail. We look forward to engaging with you in the weeks and months ahead! Please share your thoughts and comments with us.