It was profoundly depressing to listen to the new American ambassador to Israel, Thomas Nides, speak on a webinar produced by Americans for Peace Now. Both the tone and the substance of his remarks were discouraging.
The tone expressed the arrogance that we learned to expect from Obama Administration officials, of which Nides was one. Jonathan Tobin said that American ambassadors to Israel often act more like “imperial proconsuls,” sent to give orders to the colonials, and that fits Nides. Jewish communities in Judea/Samaria “infuriate” him. Infuriate! The Palestinians, on the other hand, are merely less than perfect:
The Palestinians aren’t perfect either … these martyr payments [sic!] … have caused an enormous amount of problems … I’m working with minister Gantz and with the Prime Minister and the Palestinians to figure out how to stop it because it gives the haters – and there are haters – an excuse “well, we can’t do THIS, because they’re paying for people who kill Jews.”
So, wait. The trouble with the Palestinian Authority paying terrorists to murder Jews is that someone might cite this as a reason to withhold concessions to the Palestinians? That’s actually the problem, not the fact that they are murdering Jews? And anyone who thinks this way is a hater? I had to listen to this several times to believe that he actually said it. I was hamum, as they say in Hebrew, thunderstruck.
Nides doesn’t seem to realize how patronizing he sounds. In regard to Ukraine, he said “[Bennett and Lapid] have done everything we asked them to. They haven’t made a move without being in contact with us.” That makes me feel so … sovereign.
That’s the tone. But the substance is actually more pernicious, if possible.
Unsurprisingly, Nides wants a “two-state solution,” since that is the policy of his administration. He sees his job as removing the obstacles to achieving it, which he seems to think are primarily on the Israeli side. He is incredibly naïve about the attitude of the Palestinians, which he describes as though all they want is a little America in the “West Bank,” with 4G (or 5G!) cellular service available to everyone, with Google and Amazon opening facilities in their country, and of course “freedom” and “dignity.”
Somehow he has failed to notice that these admittedly imperfect Palestinians overwhelmingly – both the leadership and the street – reject the existence of any Jewish state between the river and the sea, and consider a two-state arrangement as only a temporary expedient on the way to “redeeming all of Palestine.” And somehow, the folks at Peace Now didn’t bring this up. They also failed to mention that a Palestinian state in Judea and Samaria is, by simple geography, a deadly threat to the survival of Israel.
Nides is one of those who speak in clauses, sometimes changing track in the middle of a sentence, so it can be hard to get a coherent quote out of it. But listen to what he said about Jerusalem:
He [Biden] is fully and completely supportive of a two state solution with a divided … you know, how that’s divided, the capital, and all the conversations around, you know, what the territories look like… my job is to knock down things that make that possibility impossible … if they lose hope …
A divided what? As if we don’t know! And I like the addition of “if they lose hope,” a nod to the view that Palestinian terrorism is a result of despair, when in fact it is encouraged when they think they are winning.
I say that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, that is true, however I also say that the final status of Jerusalem will have to be decided by the parties. The reason that we [prior to Trump] never moved the embassy was to leave that open as a final status issue to be decided by the parties …
It’s clear that we are back in Obamastan now, where the aspirations of the Palestinians have equal or greater weight than the security of the Jewish state; and where Israel must pay the price for the failures of the Arab leadership. I expect to see renewed pressure to freeze construction of any kind in Judea/Samaria and eastern Jerusalem, and possibly a return to “peace processing,” whose goal is to create a sovereign Palestinian state with its capital in a divided Jerusalem.
I know I must sound like an endless loop, but we got ourselves into this situation when we allowed our country to become a satellite of the US. Jonathan Tobin suggests that the Foreign Ministry should call Nides into its office and give him a dressing down, explaining that he is not an “imperial proconsul” and that Israel is a sovereign state. But who’s kidding whom – that is very unlikely, because we are a satellite. Thanks to our over-reliance on American military aid, we are vulnerable to sudden cut-offs of critical items, as when Obama stopped supplying US-made Hellfire missiles during one of our periodic wars with Hamas in Gaza, because he thought – after hearing casualty figures provided by Hamas! – that Israel was killing too many people in Gaza. And the recent hold-up in the allocation of funds for the Tamir interceptors used by the Iron Dome system should make us think.
There is no quick solution. We can’t cut off our “golden handcuffs” all at once. It will be a long process of developing home-grown sources for military hardware and other strategic goods (food can’t be ignored, either. I was shocked to notice how much of the stuff in my local supermarket was imported from Europe). We have now been blessed with a large supply of natural gas, which is an extremely important piece of the self-sufficiency puzzle.
But we won’t arrive at our destination if we don’t start our journey, and so far, I see no movement.