A funny thing happened during the U.S. Supreme Court oral argument for Zivotofsky v. Kerry—the 2014-2015 term separation of powers case involving U.S. passport issuances for American citizens born in Jerusalem. The late Justice Antonin Scalia, perhaps letting slip his underlying policy preference in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, had this gem of a line about career (almost invariably Leftist) diplomats serving in the U.S. State Department:
…But your main position is this [congressional statute stating that these U.S. passports should be marked, “Jerusalem, Israel“] is not recognition; it just has an effect on—on the State Department’s desire to—to make nice with the Palestinians, and your position is Congress has no—no compulsion to—to follow that, assuming it can’t recognize.
The results of U.S. efforts “to make nice with the Palestinians,” dating back to the Oslo Accords, might charitably be described as falling somewhere between “horrendously counterproductive” and “civilizational jihad-abetting lunacy.” Unrepentant terrorist Yasser Arafat responded to Ehud Barak’s 2000 offer of full Palestinian statehood by launching the Second Intifada—a sustained jihad that shocked the Israeli national conscience and dramatically escalated the bloodshed from the pre-Oslo First Intifada via its series of harrowing suicide bombings deep in the heart of the Jewish state. (Incidentally, Israel’s subsequent post-Second Intifada construction of a border wall with Palestinian-occupied Judea and Samaria was a remarkable success, and ought to serve as an inspiration for pro-sovereignty border hawks in the U.S.) After the Second Intifada, Israel forcibly uprooted every Jew living in the Gaza Strip and gave the Palestinian Arabs a chance to demonstrate their commitment to peace by building their own “Singapore on the Mediterranean“; Arabs in Gaza responding by democratically electing Hamas, a sharia supremacist terror organization which calls in its founding charter for both the destruction of Israel and the death of every global Jew, and subsequently launching three wars’ worth (thus far) of rockets into southern and central Israel. Notorious Holocaust-denying kleptocrat and current Palestinian Authority chieftain Mahmoud Abbas, in 2008, rejected Ehud Olmert’s offer of full Palestinian statehood. Abbas also refused to directly negotiate with Israel in 2010 after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu demonstrated goodwill by freezing “settlement” construction for ten months.
The facts are quite clear. No matter what the Jew-hating “international community” or foreign policy establishment might say, it is Palestinian Arab intransigence and civilizational defiance of the very notion of Jewish sovereignty over a bloc of land between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea that is the very crux of the decades-long conflict. “Making nice” with the Palestinians, to borrow Justice Scalia’s phrasing, has never gotten us anywhere even remotely good.
And now, unfortunately, it seems that someone needs to relay all of this to the White House.
Yesterday, suspiciously following a meeting with King Abdullah of
the actual Palestinian state Jordan, the White House released the following statement:
“The American desire for peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians has remained unchanged for 50 years. While we don’t believe the existence of settlements is an impediment to peace, the construction of new settlements or the expansion of existing settlements beyond their current borders may not be helpful in achieving that goal. As the President has expressed many times, he hopes to achieve peace throughout the Middle East region. The Trump administration has not taken an official position on settlement activity and looks forward to continuing discussions, including with Prime Minister Netanyahu when he visits with President Trump later this month.”
Almost two years ago, during the height of the Iran deal debate, Erick had a post at RedState on the Sen. Tom Cotton-initiated Republican letter to the Ayatollah Khamenei in which he referred to charges of Cotton’s having possibly violated the Logan Act as “the talking point of hacks and morons.” Similarly, blaming Israeli “settlement” activity on the lack of a sustained peace between Israel and her obstreperous Arab foes is “the talking point of hacks and morons.” It is downright jarring to see a Republican President, even one with Trump’s rather shaky track record on this issue, issue a statement only one or two incremental steps better than that which we might expect from an inveterate fool like John Kerry or a Hamas mouthpiece like Peter Beinart.
Moreover, as my friend Daniel Horowitz recently explained and my friend Eugene Kontorovich has expertly demonstrated, Israel actually has a stronger legal claim than does any other entity to the disputed territory in Judea and Samaria. Israel also, of course, has a far stronger moral claim: it is that land above all else, and not the areas around the modern population center of Tel Aviv, which served as the biblical home for the Jewish people thousands of years before the founding of Islam. Far better for President Trump to focus not on the stale “two-state solution,” but on the more morally sound and potentially satisfactory “new state solution.”
Donald Trump, misbegotten isolationist foreign policy proclivities aside, frequently speaks in broad strokes about the civilizational clash between liberalized West and illiberal jihad. I strongly support his very modest recent immigration restrictions targeted at war-torn (and Obama-selected!) Islamic nations, and early signs on his taking the kid gloves off with the theocratic zealots in Tehran look promising.
But all of this makes it even more peculiar that Trump fails to comprehend that Israel is the West’s canary in the coal mine—its man on the spot—in its ongoing struggle with the global jihad, and that the dispute over Judea and Samaria plays an indispensable role in this civilizational clash:
“Judea and Samaria is ground zero of the fight for western civilization.” – @RMConservative
Could not agree more.
— Josh Hammer (@josh_hammer) January 8, 2017
It is true that Trump’s statement yesterday could have been much worse. The statement does not explicitly reference the “two-state solution,” and it actually may tacitly condone some new “settlement” construction.
But so what? There was simply no need to release this statement, in the first place. This is Council on Foreign Relations-esque echo chamber speak, and it needlessly distracts the nation’s attention away from the Islamist threat at a time when it has never been more important to stay focused like a hawk on that threat.
Trump ran as an iconoclastic outsider who would not be afraid to openly flout the global establishment’s sundry long-held follies. This is a White House that releases official statements condemning a fired Acting Attorney General not for being unfaithful to her constitutional duty, but for being—just like Jeb! Bush during the presidential primary campaign—”weak on borders and very weak on illegal immigration.” This is a White House that simply relishes its current state of open warfare with the mainstream media.
Do not be afraid to be similarly bold here, President Trump. Recognize that there is a correct side in this conflict, and that there is a moral imperative to stand with Israel. Recognize the civilizational stakes in Judea and Samaria, in particular. Stop flirting with the “two-state solution.” And stop making nice with the Palestinians.