by Hugh Fitzgerald
Elizabeth Warren is a former law professor whose specialty is bankruptcy law. She knows how to read and make sense of complicated codes, rebarbative regs, and the most taxing of tax texts. But when it comes to the Arab-Israeli conflict, she shows no signs of having understood, or even of having read, the most essential documents: the Mandate for Palestine, Article 80 of the U.N. Charter, U.N. Resolution 242. And she has shown herself to be ignorant not just of these essential texts, but of the Islamic basis of the conflict, the vicissitudes of that conflict’s major and minor wars, the only possible way to assure a durable peace, the changing view of the “Palestinians” and Israel, both in Washington and in the Arab capitals.
At a February campaign event in New Hampshire a member of the audience — in a most grating and unpleasant voice – asked Warren a question:
“I’m an American Jew and I’m terrified by the unholy alliance that AIPAC is forming with Islamophobes and antisemites and white nationalists and no Democrat should legitimize that kind of bigotry by attending their annual policy conference,” a woman attending a town hall with Warren in Derry, New Hampshire said Thursday. “And I’m really grateful that you skipped the AIPAC conference last year and so my question is if you’ll join me in committing to skip the AIPAC conference this March.”
The Jewish anti-occupation group IfNotNow said that the questioner, identified as Sarah O’Connor, was acting on its behalf.
And Elizabeth Warren waved her arms and replied “Yeah!”
At that point it was clear what Elizabeth Warren ought to have done. She ought to have said this:
Just a minute. I am not endorsing AIPAC, but your charge is simply ridiculous. AIPAC has not made an “unholy alliance” with “Islamophobes and antisemites and white nationalists” – that’s an absurd charge. And I think everyone of common sense and decency knows it is absurd.”
But that’s not what presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren said to Sarah O’Connor. She said “Yeah!”
And then, with a mien and in a tone meant to indicate her let’s-drill-down thoughtfulness about the matter at hand, she said:
Let’s talk just a little bit more about policy in Israel. ‘cause I think this is really important. The way I see this is that for America to be a good ally of Israel and of the Palestinians we need to encourage both parties to get to the negotiating table, and we’re not doing that if we keep standing with one party and saying “ we’re on your side we’re going to give you all the things you asked for for all kinds of political reasons domestically here and domestically in Israel. The two-state solution is not somethin’ people have just thought up. It has been the official policy of the United States of America for nearly 70 years and the official policy of Israel. We need a solution in Israel that is a long-term peace solution. And that means something that provides protection for the Israelis and provides self-determination and dignity for the Palestinians. We need to encourage the parties to come together. That’s what we want to see them do. And to have them negotiate out the right answer that’s going to work for them. The details –the settlements, the occupations, the uh capitol – that’s what the parties should negotiate. And we are ot a good friend of either party when we disrupt that process and keep it from. going forward. So as president of the United States I will do my best to work out a long-term solution good for every one. Thank you. Thank you.
Let’s look sentence by sentence at Warren’s response:
Let’s talk just a little bit more about policy in Israel. ‘cause I think this is really important.
Right. This policy “in [sic] Israel” is “really important.” This is the least controversial remark by Warren in her entire exterior monologue.
“The way I see this is that for America to be a good ally of Israel and of the Palestinians we need to encourage both parties to get to the negotiating table, and we’re not doing that if we keep standing with one party and saying “ we’re on your side we’re going to give you all the things you asked for, for all kinds of political reasons domestically here and domestically in Israel.”
But why should America want to be “a good ally of Israel and of the Palestinians”? Does America have a duty of being a “good ally” or friend on both sides of every quarrel or conflict? What have the Palestinians done to show that they have ever been, or could ever be, a “good ally” of America? Under their leaders, from the pro-Nazi Hajj Amin el Husseini all the way to the Holocaust-denier Mahmoud Abbas, what have the “Palestinian” people demonstrated they have in common with us? How can people who have been taught by their Qur’an to believe that they are the “best of peoples” (3:110) be a good ally to those they are also taught are “the most vile of created beings” (98:6)? Shouldn’t we always ally ourselves with those countries that share our civilizational values, are democratic, uphold human rights (freedom of speech, freedom of thought, freedom of the press, freedom of religion) and not with those that share none of our values, and have an uninterrupted political history of corrupt despotisms? Why should we want to be a “good ally” of those whose identity – the “Palestinian people” – has been fabricated for propaganda purposes, and whose chosen weapon of warfare for many decades has been terrorism, with Israeli men, women, and children murdered in schoolrooms, at bus stops, in nature preserves, on beaches, in pizza parlors, at Passover services, at university canteens, and in private homes? The “Palestinians” have been taught in more than one hundred Qur’anic verses to wage violent Jihad, that is “to fight” and “to kill” and “to smite at the necks of” and “to strike terror in the hearts of” all non-Muslims, including Americans.
Could we possibly be a “good ally” of such people? Why this insensate desire by Warren to be “a good ally of Israel and the Palestinians”? Should America have been “a good ally of Czechoslovakia” and a “good ally of Nazi Germany” in September 1938? Should America have been a good ally of Franco’s fascists and of the Republican government during the Spanish Civil War? Should America now strive to be a “good ally of Maduro” and a “good ally of Guiado” in Venezuela? Should America be just as “good an ally” of Pakistan as it is of India? Should we try to be a good ally of both North Korea and South Korea? That way madness lies.
Warren might have said something like this:
Israel is, and always has been, our ally. It is a country we Americans admire for the pluck, and bravery, and talent of its citizens. Out of the ashes of the Holocaust, hundreds of thousands of the survivors of the Nazi death camps joined the hundreds of thousands of Jews already in Mandatory Palestine, who had been returning to the area to rebuild their ancient homeland since the late 19th century. They fended off Arab attacks all through the 1920s and 1930s, enduring the Arab Revolt from 1936-1939. During Israel’s war for independence, and into the early 1950s, more immigrants arrived. 900,000 Jews were expelled or fled from Arab lands, and at least 700,00 of them were resettled, penniless because they had had to leave billions of dollars worth of property behind, in Israel, that took in these refugees, some from backgrounds that were positively medieval, and integrating them into an advanced Western society. And then, in the 1990s, another million refugees arrived from the Soviet Union, who soon adapted to an economic system very different from that they had experienced their entire lives.
The Israelis really did make the desert bloom – that phrase was no exaggeration — through their new techniques in soil conservation, that so impressed the celebrated American agronomist Walter C. Lowdermilk, and with their other advances in agriculture, such as drip irrigation. And here is this tiny country, which everyone now thinks of as the Start-Up Nation, with its achievements in many different fields, including defense technology — drone warfare, cybersecurity, anti-missile defense systems, laser warfare, even tanks; medical advances, such as 3-D hearts, pillcams, and new treatments for cancer; water management, conservation, and even water creation, including a new method for extracting water from the air, and so much more.
The Israelis accomplished all this while successfully defending themselves in three major wars (in 1948-49, 1967, and 1973) and a half-dozen smaller wars: against Egypt in the Sinai in 1956, in Lebanon against the PLO in 1982, and against Hezbollah in 2006; and in Gaza against Hamas in 2008-2009, 2012, and 2014. And Israel has been forced as well to wage a continuous war of self-defense against Muslim terrorists, a war without let-up, while also building a nation. How could we not admire such a country, that shares our values, finds a way to overcome every new difficulty, and has become an example for other states around the world to emulate?
Yes, that’s what Elizabeth Warren could have said. Israel certainly deserves such praise. But she didn’t. She doesn’t want to seem, and certainly not to be, too favorably inclined towards Israel. It wouldn’t be fair to the Palestinians. They have all tried so hard – Haj Amin el Husseini, Yassir Arafat, Khaled Meshal, Mousa Abu Marzouk, Mahmoud Abbas – to do the decent thing. She wants to be a “good ally” — equally good — to Israel and to the Palestinians. Yes, I know what you’re going to say. Such a position is intolerable, given how very differently the two parties behave. But she’s Elizabeth Warren. She knows all about consumer protection law. Bankruptcy law. The Uniform Commercial Code. But history is not her strong suit. Nor is international law. Her mental universe, I’m afraid, remains bound by Ames, Langdell, Pound, and Wasserstein. What did you expect?
Elizabeth Warren seems to think that America has always supported Israel. Her knowledge of the history of American involvement with Israel and the Arabs leaves something to be desired:
“we keep standing with Israel”
It is not true that the American government has always been “standing with Israel.” The Obama Administration certainly was not “standing with Israel” when, at the U.N.’s Security Council, it refused to veto a resolution that claimed the Israeli settlements in the West Bank were “illegal.” That was seen in Israel as a great betrayal; America had always vetoed such resolutions in the past.
Nor did President Bill Clinton “stand with Israel” during the negotiations that led to the damaging Oslo Accords in 1993. The Israeli academic Ephraim Karsh described the Accords as “the starkest strategic blunder in [Israel’s] history,” creating the conditions for “the bloodiest and most destructive confrontation between Israelis and Palestinians since 1948” and radicalizing “a new generation of Palestinians” living under the rule of the Palestinian National Authority and Hamas with “vile anti-Jewish (and anti-Israel) incitement unparalleled in scope and intensity since Nazi Germany.” Karsh notes: “All in all, more than 1,600 Israelis have been murdered and another 9,000 wounded since the signing of the DOP [Declaration of Principles]—nearly four times the average death toll of the preceding twenty-six years.”
America did not “stand with Israel” in 1978 during the negotiations leading to the Camp David Accords. President Carter could not conceal his visceral dislike of Israeli Prime Minister Begin, or his deep admiration for Egyptian President Sadat, whose side he, and his National Security Council advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski, took over every disputed matter. It was Begin who was put in the position of having to sue for peace, even though it was Sadat who had lost the 1973 war he had started. The loser, Sadat, was making demands of the winner, Begin, and with American help, Sadat got everything he wanted: the entire Sinai, with billions of dollars worth of infrastructure — airfields, the tourist resort at Sharm el-Sheik, roads that Israel had built — in exchange for a peace treaty.
America did not “stand with Israel” in 1956, at the time of the Suez affair. President Eisenhower took a distinctly unfriendly tone when he demanded that Israel withdraw from the Sinai. Eisenhower went on television to criticize Israel’s failure to withdraw and warned that he would impose sanctions if it failed to comply. He was prepared to cut off all economic aid, to lift the tax-exempt status of the United Jewish Appeal, and to apply sanctions on Israel. Members of Congress opposed the threats, and said they would prevent them from being enforced, but Israel could not risk a breach with its most important ally.
“[we need to encourage both parties to get to the negotiating table, and we’re not doing that if we keep standing with one party] and saying “we’re on your side we’re going to give you all the things you asked for for all kinds of political reasons domestically here and domestically in Israel.”
Elizabeth Warren insists that the U.S. needs “to encourage both parties to get to the negotiating table” – but what does she think has been tried for the past forty years, and longer? Both parties got to the “negotiating table” where Arafat refused Ehud Barak’s offer of 97% of the West Bank, and later Abbas refused Ehud Olmert’s offer of 95% of the West Bank. Israel has always been open to negotiate. It is ready right now; it is only the Palestinians who are refusing to negotiate. But Warren appears to believe that “both parties” need to be persuaded, prodded, pressured to negotiate. It isn’t true.
Warren says that the Trump Peace Initiative gives Israel “all the things you [it] asked for.” Has she read the 181 pages (179 pages of text, two pages of maps) of the plan? Undoubtedly not. But if she does, she will discover that the plan, contrary to what the media has reported, does not give Israel “all the things it asked for.” For the first time, Israel commits itself to recognizing a “State of Palestine” west of the Jordan River. It will, furthermore, recognize as that new state’s capital a suburb of East Jerusalem, which the Palestinians are free to call, and to think of, as “Al-Quds.” The Israelis have also committed themselves to a four-year moratorium on new settlements, as long as negotiations with the P.A. are continuing. These are major concessions by the Jewish state that Warren ought to comprehend.
And notice her phrase about giving Israel “all the things” it “asked for” — which was done, she claims, “for all kinds of political reasons domestically here and domestically in Israel.” In other words, it is for “domestic political reasons” – the desire to curry favor with Jewish voters – that she insists explains support for Israel in this country. Warren’s view is both crass and wrong. Apparently she cannot conceive of political support for Israel reflecting anything other than the desire by politicians to win and keep office. She does not understand, but there are tens of millions of people in this country who support Israel because they admire the country and its people, and they understand the Islamic roots of the conflict. Among those tens of millions there are an overwhelming majority of Senators and Congressmen. It may be hard for Senator Warren to grasp, but there are people in politics who support Israel not to win voters or donors but because they believe Israel, as part of the West, deserves their support.
When Warren refers to “all kinds of political reasons domestically here and domestically in Israel,” she is attempting to suggest that the reason the Trump peace initiative was released at the very end of January was in order to deflect attention from the impeachment proceedings, and also to aid Prime Minister Netanyahu in his election fight at home, by giving him the putative “victory” of the Trump Peace Initiative. She sees scheming where there is none. The plan, which had been worked on for more than 2 ½ years by a half-dozen people, was released when it was finally ready; there is no evidence that it was either delayed, or rushed, to help either President Trump or Prime Minister Netanyahu. The impeachment business has been going on for four months, but even before that, the investigation into links between Russian officials and Trump associates began in July 2016, so any time the Peace Initiative was released after July 2016 could supposedly “deflect attention” from Trump’s legal troubles. As for Netanyahu’s political and legal problems, they began in 2016 with what is called “Case 1000,” having to do with his accepting champagne and cigars from a rich Israeli, and they will likely continue for at least another year. Whatever the date that the Trump Plan had been released, whether in January 2020, or a year before, or a year later, it would likely prompt from Elizabeth Warren a baseless charge of having been deliberately timed for political reasons.
“The two-state solution is not somethin’ people have just thought up. It has been the official policy of the United States of America for nearly 70 years and the official policy of Israel.”
First, let’s understand that the very phrase “two-state solution” simply assumes what remains to be proven: that “two states” will indeed provide a “solution” to the Arab-Israeli conflict. There is an American notion that every difficulty is a “problem” susceptible of a “solution.” Roll up your sleeves, get to work with that Yankee can-do spirit, and true grit will fix that Middle East business between Jews and Arabs. But that isn’t true. There are many things which are not problems to be solved, but situations to be managed. There is no “solution” to poverty, but the incidence of it can decrease. There is no “solution” to global warming, but many things can be done to slow it down, by way of amelioration. The Jihad against Israel has no “solution” as long as Islam remains Islam, but Israel can manage the situation, relying on the deterrence value of its military, as long as the Jewish state is not forced back into something like the 1949 Armistice Lines.
The “two-state solution” could not have been the “official policy” of the United States of America for 70 years – that is, ever since the end of the Arab-Israeli War in 1949 – because there was no mention of this “two-state solution” until 1974, when it appeared in a U.N. Resolution on the “Peaceful settlement of the question of Palestine” that called for “two States, Israel and Palestine … side by side within secure and recognized borders.” But what about the American vote in November 1949 for Resolution 181(II), known as the Partition Plan? That plan was unanimously rejected by the Arab states, and never went into effect. The American government did nothing then or for more than the next quarter-century to revive or keep alive the idea of “two states existing side-by-side….” It was certainly not the “official policy” of the United States. The United States declined to recognize the All-Palestine government that had been established in Gaza by the Arab League on September 22, 1948, by explaining that it had accepted the proposal of the UN Mediator. That Mediator had recommended that Western Palestine, as defined in the original Mandate, and what had originally been considered Eastern Palestine but became Transjordan, might form an Arab-Jewish union. In other words, after the Partition Plan was stillborn due to Arab and Muslim opposition, the United States accepted the notion of a single state, comprised of Mandatory Palestine and Transjordan. Nothing was heard about a “two-state solution” because the Arabs were certain, prior to the Six-Day War, that they would soon be able to destroy the Jewish state. The 1967 defeat led to their realization that they would have to use diplomacy to weaken the Jewish state by using salami tactics; they would first try to get Israel to give up all it had won by force of arms, and only then, would the Arabs again attempt to assault and destroy the Jewish state.
The “two-state solution” was part of that diplomatic offensive. It was the PLO’s representative in London, Said Hammami, who in 1974 and 1975 gave interviews and speeches mentioning the “two-state solution.” It had been previously been endorsed by the PLO at an Arab summit in Fez in 1982. It then came into widespread use beginning in 1993, when the Oslo Accords negotiated between Yitzhak Rabin and Yassir Arafat, with Bill Clinton maieutically beaming between the two, were described as offering a “two-state solution.” That is when the United States government can be said to have truly endorsed something that the world has chosen tendentiously to call the “two-state solution.” That began 27 – not 70—years ago. Elizabeth Warren should re-check both her history, and her math.
“We need a solution in Israel that is a long-term peace solution.”
We “need a solution…that is a long-term…solution.” Tautological, my dear Warren. Yes, it’s always a good idea to have a “solution” that is a “solution.”
But what if there is no “long-term solution” because of the ideology of Islam which commands endless war against the Infidels? Have we no other way to keep the peace? Of course we do. It is what kept the peace during the Cold War: Deterrence. When it comes to agreements, truces, and treaties that Muslims make with non-Muslims, remember that the great exemplar of Muslim treaty-making is that which Muhammad made with the Meccans at Hudaibiyya in 628 A.D., a treaty that was to last for 10 years. But Muhammad broke that treaty after only 18 months, as soon as he felt his forces were sufficiently strong to attack. This example is admired, not deplored, by the world’s Muslims. As Muhammad said in a famous hadith, “War is deceit.”
The Muslim Arab world will “accept” Israel – that is, refrain from attacking it – if it believes that Israel is overwhelmingly more powerful and can respond devastatingly to any attack.. That’s what can keep the peace indefinitely between Arab and Jew in the Middle East. It’s not a “solution” to a problem, but a way to manage a situation. These are different things.
Bravo! Well said! he real truth! Send it to the Bloomberg campaign to use. This is the whole part of the story that is left out, in the media! The slory and news that the NYTimes rules out as not" fit to print" !
The 2 state solution was never US policy until President Bush first mentioned it, much to the chagrin of then private citizen Netanyahu. The first time any American leader suggested recognizing Palestine as a state was Hillary Clinton when she was first lady, and most people, w/ the exception of CNN paleocons, like Bob Novak, scoffed at the idea. It was president Bush who made it mainstream in the midst of suicide bombings in Israel during the 2nd Intefada, and Obama who upheld it. It's Trump who's made that something that has to be decided by the Israelis and palestinians, rather than by the US