The emerging Trump approach to the Middle East is a welcome corrective following the Obama years, and Obama’s boosters are unhappy. Trump’s recent designation of his advisor and principled Israel supporter David Friedman as his ambassador to Israel, like the GOP platform’s new Israel language (on which we collaborated with Friedman and others), has triggered particularly panicked responses from advocates of the so-called “Two-State Solution.”
As is often the case with panicked responses, much of the current discussion rests upon politicized spin, misstated facts, and misplaced hopes. Well-informed insiders, who should or do know better, are cynical contributors to the confusion. One obvious example is Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., whose 24 years in Congress have not only ensconced him firmly in the political left but raised questions time and again about his self-proclaimed support for Israel in the face of partisan considerations.
Says Nadler: “Mr. Friedman’s views and comments about a two-state solution are not only a total break from decades of American and Israeli policy, but are fundamentally out-of-step with the views of the majority of American Jews. Support for a two-state solution is not only official U.S. policy, it is also the official Israeli policy …Moreover, the overwhelming majority of American Jews, along with most American Jewish organizations across the spectrum — from AIPAC to J-Street — all support a two-state solution.”
First, as even a quick glance at the Israeli government’s coalition statement would verify, a “Two-State Solution” is not the official Israeli policy. Second, it is unclear why anyone — much less a Jewish member of the U.S. Congress — considers it appropriate for an American Jewish majority to dictate U.S. foreign policy vis-à-vis Israel (or anything else). That question seems particularly poignant given that polls repeatedly show that — like Obama’s Iran nuclear deal that Nadler supported while turning a deaf ear to Israel’s desperate plea — a majority of American Jews disagree with the majority of Americans and the majority of Israelis on these very issues.
Third, and perhaps most astonishing, is Nadler’s utterly revisionist claim about settled U.S. policy reaching back “decades.” It was only eighteen years ago, in 1998, that then-First Lady Hillary Clinton became the first prominent American political figure to suggest that a Palestinian state was anything other than inimical to America’s interest. Until then, every administration had openly opposed the madness of creating a new Arab state on Israel’s most vulnerable border — opposition that her husband’s White House immediately reiterated, while distancing itself from the First Lady’s radicalism in response to the outcry from across the U.S. and Israel (including, by the way, from a “majority of American Jewish groups”).
The date on that story is instructive. A mere eighteen years ago, which is to say five years into the Oslo Accords, and three years after the assassination of Yitzchak Rabin — who went to his grave opposing an independent Palestinian state — the position now euphemistically called the “Two-State Solution” was too radical for general consumption. In fact, in 1998, advocacy of the “Two-State Solution” represented “a total break from decades of American and Israeli policy.” Eighteen years earlier, Jimmy Carter — hardly an advocate for Israel — had articulated longstanding U.S. policy: “I am opposed to an independent Palestinian state, because in my own judgment and in the judgment of many leaders in the Middle East, including Arab leaders, this would be a destabilizing factor in the Middle East and would certainly not serve the United States’ interests.” As contemporaneously reported by the Jewish Telegraphic Agency on May 13, 1998: “Hillary Clinton's statement represents a major shift in U.S. policy, which for decades opposed the creation of a Palestinian state. The White House said she was not speaking for the United States…”
That opposition remained American policy into the twenty-first century. George W. Bush attempted to create an incentive system that would let the Arabs of Judea, Samaria, and Gaza earn their independence by repudiating radicalism, incitement, and violence, and demonstrating instead a commitment to peace, stability, coexistence, civil society, liberal democracy, and individual empowerment. That incentive structure — which failed to engender any behavioral change — represented an American willingness to accept a new Arab state if and only if its founding was consistent with the official formulation of the “Two-State Solution:” a new Arab state neighboring Israel, living side-by-side in peace and security.
It was only the Obama Administration that formulated a “Two-State Solution” rooted entirely in Arab entitlement and progressive “justice.” J Street itself — whom Nadler cites favorably — was formed specifically to advocate and agitate for an independent State of Palestine, in the forcibly Judenrein territories of Judea, Samaria, and Gaza, with a capital in Jerusalem, without regard to peace, security, regional stability, or American interests. They thus argue for more than suffrage. They seek an Arab state along the lines of the PLO’s 1974 “Phased Plan”: a first step towards Israel’s annihilation.
Such advocacy may reflect the policy preferences of Obama, Clinton, and Kerry, but it most certainly does not reflect the thinking or official policies of any earlier U.S. Administration, let alone of Israel. The new Republican platform Friedman helped author and Trump hailed as “the most pro-Israel of all time” actually creates no impediment at all to even the “Two-State Solution.” It merely makes explicit that the United States should respect Israel’s actual preferences in such matters, not pressure Israel into yielding to the creation of a PLO state. It is precisely because they know that Israel does not desire such an outcome that Nadler and J Street are in panic mode. If the Trump Administration does decide to jettison the failed “Two-State Solution” — as we hope it will — it will represent the repudiation of nothing more than the Obama Administration’s desire to curry favor with Islamist radicals by forcibly putting “daylight” between the U.S. and Israel.
Bruce Abramson is the President of Informationism, Inc., Vice President and Director of Policy at the Iron Dome Alliance, and a Senior Fellow at the London Center for Policy Research.
Jeff Ballabon is CEO of B2 Strategic, Chairman of the Iron Dome Alliance, and a Senior Fellow at the American Conservative Union's Center for Statesmanship and Diplomacy. To read more of their reports — Click Here Now.
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