Sunday, June 1, 2008

Israel's Incompetent Foreign Policy: Stop Blaming Others

Friday, May 30, 2003 9:35 AM
Stop Blaming Others for Israel’s Incompetent Foreign Policy

I think there comes a time when we have to stop blaming Bush or Clinton or Carter for Israeli Government decisions that are antithetical to Israel's interests.

For 36 years since 1967, Israel continually has pulled the rug out from under the feet of her strongest supporters in America. I remember when Jack Kemp was supporting Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria, even softly supporting annexation, then found himself being called for being more pro-Israel than the Israelis. When I was Likud National Director, I persuaded a very prominent and powerful Democrat Congressman in New Jersey to support Israeli annexation of Judea and Samaria. I persuaded a Republican from Michigan who was active in the Christian Right. Much like James Inhofe, that wonderful United States Senator from Oklahoma. We had Democrats and Republicans in the U.S. Senate signing letters to the President of the United States, demanding that America move her Israeli embassy to Jerusalem and demanding that America recognize that Jerusalem, the eternal capital of the Jewish People, must never be divided. Then Ehud Barak remarkably placed on the table an Israeli readiness to give up the holiest parts of Jerusalem, including the Temple Mount. In one swoop, he made Jerusalem's strongest supporters in Washington look foolish. They had been unwilling to concede what the Israeli Prime Minister offered to give away.

There are voices and organizations in the United States that have fought the good fight for 36 years and that have, again and again, had the wind knocked out of them by the Israeli Governments they are trying to support and defend. For those of us who have argued for 36 years that Judea and Samaria is Jewish land, who have challenged through thick and thin any effort to characterize Yesha as "occupied," the comments by Ariel Sharon this week were sabotage. It is lovely that Sharon since has back-tracked from using the term "occupation" (a Page One lead story in the Los Angeles Times and other world papers) and now claims that he was "misunderstood" (an inside, Page Three story). He now tells us that, when he said the lands are "occupied," what he really meant was that they are "disputed." Yes, and when I give my credit card number on the phone and the expiration date and the shipping address, what I really mean is "I'm not buying anything, just thinking about it." I heard the tape of Sharon's comments in the original Hebrew, and so have all the Israelis who heard those same news reports and sound bytes, and so have all the Western media who had those statements explained and translated.

When the Israeli Cabinet, a cabinet dominated by Likud and parties to her Right, and formed after a landslide national rejection of Mitzna and Peres and Oslo and Barak and Labor, voted to recognize the "right" of Arabs to create an Arab country in Judea and Samaria, they took the wind out of the sails of Israel's strongest supporters everywhere.

There is an ongoing tendency among Israeli reporters and government spokesmen to whine and whine about the lack of support and backing in America. The fact is that, at the end of the day, no one is going to fight for someone else's interests harder than the principal fights for her own interests. With national elections coming up next year in America, with a quirky economy that can go either way, with an overwhelming sense of mistrust toward the Arab world, Americans today have no interest or stomach for seeing Israel pressured by the Bush Administration. The Democrats are gearing up to challenge Bush -- already they are starting their primary warm-ups, and the field of contenders is more jammed than the last few overcrowded Kentucky Derby races -- and all of them are vying to be maximally pro-Israel and to criticize Bush at every juncture, especially when raising funds among the Jewish donors who finance the Democrats. Meanwhile, for the first time since Reagan whipped Carter, Republicans have been eyeing major gains among Jewish voters, and the Republicans have been very sympathetic to Israel. So no one of import in either political party is looking right now to pressure Israel into doing anything that she does not want to do.

There was absolutely no fundamental momentum here in America right now, and none on the horizon for the next two years, to support any substantive pressuring against Israel. Maybe some newspaper editors are looking to bother Israel, but newspapers also are on the defensive right now. After Jason Blair and the Briggs guy that just quit the New York Times, polls show that Americans do not trust newspapers. One of the great stories of the Jason Blair caper has been that certain people, while reading the New York Times, would see themselves quoted in fabricated interviews – and they would not even bother calling the paper to correct the falsehoods because they figure that no one believes the newspapers anyway. So Israel could have withstood the newspaper editorials.

To the degree that the Bush-Rice "Road Map" seeks to mollify Arabs, the European Union, the Russians, and the United Nations, the fact is that Americans are a bit disgusted with the Arab world right now, post- 9/11 and post-Iraq. Americans are disgusted with much of Europe, with a focused animus towards France and Germany, in the aftermath of the Iraq War. Americans hardly are enamored with the Russians, and they despise the United Nations. So they could care less about "The Quartet." Indeed, the average American does not even know who his own congressional representative is or where half the nifty fifty states are. So no one cares about "The Quartet."

There was no need for Israel -- absolutely no need -- to adopt a single word or provision of the "Road Map." All of Israel's supporters were geared up for the good fight against this awful “Road Map,” and the fight looked much easier than the tough ones of the past. More, there was a Likud Cabinet in place. Even Christian America was gearing up. Just last night, while channel surfing on television, I saw Pat Robertson on "The 700 Club" lambasting Ariel Sharon and saying that it is religiously forbidden by Scripture for anyone to divide the land of Israel. He sat there, quoting Tanakh – the Jewish Bible – from the Book of Joel, a lesser-know volume in the "Trei Asar" -- the 12 "Minor Prophets." He, a Christian minister representing how-many-tens-of-millions of Christian backers of the Republican Party, reminding the Prime Minister of Israel that the Good Book forbids anyone even to speak of dividing the Holy Land.

Against this backdrop, the Israeli Government agreed to the unprecedented decision to validate the "legitimacy" of an Arab "state." (Note that they call it "state" – an unassuming polity like somewhere you incorporate a business (like Delaware), or somewhere you grow wheat (like Nebraska), or somewhere you grow old (like Florida) – but they mean "country," namely a polity somewhere that you develop nuclear weapons (like North Korea), or poison gas and weapons of mass destruction (like Iran or Iraq), or somewhere you institutionally massacre hundreds of thousands (like Rwanda or Congo or Cambodia).) And the Prime Minister further called Judea and Samaria "occupied." Amid all the Israeli "cleverness" of adopting 14 points of incoherence that theoretically will make a "Palestinian State" impossible to establish, the Israeli Cabinet pulled the rug out from under all its strongest American supporters.

Now they whine. Michael Freund writes an article in the Jerusalem Post, calling on American supporters of Israel to pressure Bush. Two days later, in the article I attach below that IMRA now is circulating, Caroline Glick whines in the Jerusalem Post about "Washington's betrayal."

Well, guess what? Include me out of this one. This is not about Washington's betrayal. Washington has been a great supporter of Israel, and this particular President has in many ways been particularly supportive. He single-handedly has driven Arafat into an oblivion that 40 years of Israeli leaders could not dream of. Bush literally knocked Arafat out of stage center. He excused Israel’s incursion into Jenin and backed Israel when she barred the United Nations hatchet squad from “investigating.” Yeah, OK, so he has white-washed Mahmoud Abbas, a terrorist and Hitler apologist. OK. Bush has the real problem that, after bypassing Arafat and insisting instead on the emergence of an alternative democratically elected “Palestinian” leader who has no ties to terrorism, he has learned that finding a “Palestinian” leader who never wasted blood is like finding an American who never wasted ketchup. So the best they can find is a terrorist in a suit, an enigma like a cat in a hat, with a nickname from the butchering underground: “Abu Mazen.” There’s no such thing in American reference. What? George “Baby Face” Washington? Abie “Six Fingers” Lincoln? Willy “Machine Gun” McKinley? Franklin “Bugsy” Roosevelt? We have no such reference basis for Mahmoud “Abu Mazen” Abbas.

But none of it really has to matter, because Abbas is almost dead. In a few years, when Mahmoud Abbas dies of old age or of the Palestinian reproductive malady of premature assassination, the stage is set for the next layer of chaos. So Bush is not the bad guy here. It’s his job to pressure Israel a little bit -- he has to do what he has to do -- because, hey, he did not run for Prime Minister of Israel. He is President of the United States. That’s his job. We pay him with American dollars (legally). So, hey, he has to play the game. And, in that role, he plays the game to keep the oil flowing in from Araby while the Democrats think they are protecting the caribou (who are freezing their antlers off in Alaska while searching for some nice warm oil pipelines to thaw out the chill), and he simultaneously keeps the channels open with the Europeans, the Russians, and the U.N. So Bush has to do what Bush has to do. He has to give Tony Blair something to show the House of Commons when the Arabists want to know why Britain was fighting Bush’s war in Iraq. So he plays the game, gives Blair a “Road Map,” and that way the belly-achers stop yelling “Bully! Bully!” and belching out those awful groans when they do that BBC show that we see on cable every Sunday night.

And, while Bush made a bit of noise, it was left open for Israel to do what she has to do. This one was easy. Yet the Likud Cabinet failed. So this is not about “Washington's betrayal of Israel.” It is about the Israeli cabinet's betrayal of the people who voted against Oslo, Peres, Mitzna, Barak, and all that jazz. And it is about the Likud’s betrayal of her strongest supporters everywhere in the world, Jew and Christian alike.

The whining is not persuasive this time, as we mark the 36th anniversary of Jerusalem's unification, a day that should be celebrated as Yom Yerushalayim. There are very few people who have defended Sharon as strongly as I have over the years. Literally, I am “the guy who wrote the book on Sharon.” And if Pat Robertson is quoting Jewish Scripture, I may as well paraphrase Dickens: We defeated the Ghost of Palestine Past. We defeated the Ghost of Palestine present. But Ariel Sharon and his Likud Cabinet have presented a Ghost of Palestine Future that leaves us wondering whether these are the images of what will be or only of what might be. Sharon is humbug.

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