Representing The People


Gary Rosenblatt’s thoughtful and incisive comments on “Israel’s West Bank Grab” (Sept. 12) resonated with all of us who cringed, as he did, at the diplomatic arrogance of Israel’s claim and the timing of its announcement.

But Rosenblatt blames the “we’ll do what’s best for us, thank you” attitude on the country’s politicians. It has become conventional wisdom among commentators to accuse the Netanyahu government of making their policy choices based on narrow political interests, rather than the long-term good of the Israeli people.

Based on dozens of conversations with ordinary Israeli Jews, I think the current administration reflects the views of much of the population, as perhaps it should in a democracy. I know that the polls tell us that most Israelis prefer a two-state solution. But I’ve yet to meet an Israeli who did not bring up the result of giving up Gaza when the subject of returning land to the Palestinians comes up. Another nearly uniform reason cited for not moving forward with a two-state solution is that there is “no partner for peace among the Palestinians.” 

In short, the Israelis — and their leaders — may be willing to vote for a two-state solution.

But only if virtually no land changes hands and Israel can determine who leads the Palestinian state. Of course, neither condition is possible. Which may explain why most Israelis can tell pollsters they favor a two-state solution. The seemingly endless negotiations can always protect them from the reality.

Perhaps it’s true, as Rosenblatt says, “Israel today needs leaders who make choices based on the long-term good of the people.” But no democracy, and certainly not Israel, could tolerate leaders whose views of the long-term good of the people are so different from the views of the people they represent.