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News and views on Israel, Zionism and the war on terrorism.

May 01, 2003

U.S. Groups Seek To Cast Peace 'Map' As a Threat

The Forward here notes a variety of responses to the Roadmap; clearly the map for many is a major security threat for Israel, as this piece notes
Despite American assurances that Israel will not be endangered by President Bush's "road map" to peace — and despite Israel's in-principle acceptance of the road map — several leading American-Jewish organizations are working to cast doubt on the plan and depict it as a threat to Israeli security.

American assurances to Israel under the road map are far more extensive than have been publicly disclosed, the Forward has learned. In a letter expressing understandings about the road map, the United States guarantees that it, not Europe or the United Nations, will oversee the monitoring of Palestinian compliance with the plan on security matters. Senior administration officials also have made a point of assuring Israel and its American supporters in recent weeks that any significant progress toward Palestinian statehood will depend on a cessation of Palestinian terrorism. (Please see related article, Page 17.)

Nonetheless, some leading national Jewish organizations are voicing strong skepticism about the road map, emphasizing the demands and risks they say it imposes on Israel and minimizing its benefits. Several community officials have begun speaking of the plan as a potential "second Oslo," referring to the ill-fated 1993 peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Liberation Organization.

"We need to be realistic and practical, because we have been down this road before," said the national director of the Anti-Defamation

League, Abraham Foxman, referring to the Oslo agreements.

"We are concerned about many things here," Foxman said. "It's not enough for us to say, 'We're for peace, we're for a road map, and we're for the president's June 24 speech.' How are we going to get there? Who is going to be doing the leading, the monitoring? Who is going to measure performance?"

The critics are not unopposed. A group of prominent Jewish philanthropists sent a letter to congressional leaders this week expressing "concern over recent efforts to sidetrack implementation" of the plan.

To date, however, the voices of the skeptics have had more resonance. Op-ed and letters pages in Jewish weeklies have been filled with warnings of the road map's dangers. The chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, media baron Mortimer Zuckerman, has been openly dismissive of the road map, calling it a "road map to nowhere" in a March column in his U.S. News and World Report.

The Presidents Conference, in its Daily Alert newsletter, a collection of news clippings on the Middle East which is widely circulated via e-mail in the Jewish community, has flooded the community with views of the road map that are almost exclusively critical. During the last week alone, it featured four articles opposing the plan, and not one in support of it.[more]