I feel a bit like the dog owner who comes home from a date night to find that his irritable bowel syndrome-afflicted beast has fortuitously managed to hold it in for a few hours: “Well, I’ll be! Good boy!”
It was not two weeks ago that I reacted—contra many others in the broader pro-Israel community—quite negatively to Trump’s seeming continuation of his benighted Oval Office predecessor’s fixation on “settlement” activity as the alleged bête noire of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. So peeved was I that I slammed Trump’s statement as “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.”
But much like the Lord of the Rings fanboy who was gullible enough to think The Return of the King was going to end the
first second third fourth time it seemed like it would, I’ve never been happier to be so wrong. Cue Time:
Breaking with decades of U.S. foreign policy, the Trump administration will not insist on a two-state solution for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict when President Donald Trump hosts Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday…”Maybe, maybe not,” one official said of the two-state solution. “It’s something the two sides have to agree to. It’s not for us to impose that vision. But I think we’ll find out more about that tomorrow.”…”A two-state solution that doesn’t bring peace is not a goal that anybody wants to achieve,” the official said. “Peace is the goal, whether it comes in the form of a two-state solution if that’s what the parties want or something else, if that’s what the parties want, we’re going to help them.”
If President Trump follows through and acts upon this vision, it would represent a monumental—and profoundly beneficial—shift in U.S. policy toward Israel. Here are five thoughts on that shift.
1. I was wrong. Last July, at the height of #FreeTheDelegates fervor, I wrote a piece where I contrasted the Republican Party’s overwhelmingly pro-Israel platform with the hitherto expressed “neutrality” of its soon-to-be presidential nominee. In the aftermath of the nomination of David Friedman as his Ambassador to Israel and, now, this symbolically salient reneging upon the “Obamacare of foreign policy,” I think it is safe to say that—much as with my initial take last May on Trump’s unveiled SCOTUS list—I was ultimately proven wrong with respect to Trump’s credibility on the issue.
2. This is a potentially “yuge” shift in U.S. foreign policy. This cannot be emphasized enough. In May 1948, U.S. President Harry Truman recognized the State of Israel approximately eleven minutes after the State was promulgated by Zionist leaders and, ever since then, the traditional two-state solution—by which we mean the Jew-hating “international community” decides to carve out a newly sovereign Arab terror state somewhere between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea—has been either official or de facto U.S. foreign policy. Never before has a U.S. President ever used the weight of his high office to truly confer legitimacy upon potential alternative solutions to the conflict. Trump’s complete lack of a moral center means he could change his mind tomorrow just as easily as Lena Dunham could decide to make the buffet line great again, but today is still a good day for Naftali Bennett’s hawkish Bayit Yehudi party and the other (usually religious) parties which make up the rightmost flank of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s governing coalition.
3. Conservatives should fully embrace alternatives to the failed “two-state solution.” As I noted on February 3, the post-Oslo Accords framework for a two-state solution has, since at least the time of the Second Intifada, been deader than a Samantha Bee comedy routine. It is long past time for pro-moral clarity, pro-Western civilization, counter-jihadism conservatives to eschew the hackneyed bromides of the Council on Foreign Relations echo chamber and think outside the box on this issue. I described my ideal solution in November, and Hebron’s
“settler” proud Jew Yishai Fleisher explained another five alternatives in an incisive New York Times op-ed yesterday. To say that there are no alternatives to the traditional two-state solution is, to borrow Erick’s phrasing, a “talking point of hacks and morons.”
4. It is time for right-of-center pro-Israel groups to once and for all reject Oslo. This directly follows point number (3). Many right-of-center pro-Israel groups, such as Christians United for Israel (“CUFI”), the Zionist Organization of America (“ZOA”), and the Republican Jewish Coalition (“RJC”—a group with which, in the interest of full disclosure, I am fairly involved), have long tried to strike a balance between being avowedly skeptical of a post-Oslo two-state solution whilst simultaneously not rejecting it outright. But much like Cosmo Kramer throwing in the towel in The Contest, learning when to fold a losing hand can be indispensable to long-term individual or organizational success. Oslo was a mistake to begin with, and it has been at least 16-plus years since the commencement of the Second Intifada first demonstrated it. With the White House now truly seeming to position itself with American and Israeli hawks, there is no longer any need or excuse for CUFI, ZOA, and RJC to shill any longer for the demonstrably failed Oslo Accords. Be gone already. Think outside the box.
5. AIPAC (and the Jewish establishment, more broadly) needs to figure out what it is that it still stands for. AIPAC, the American Jewish Committee, and the Anti-Defamation League arguably represent what we might call the mainstream “Jewish establishment” better than any three organizations in the nation. All three organizations have emphatically endorsed the two-state solution. And all three organizations subsequently have egg on their faces today. The fact remains that the official policy of the President of the United States is now positioned to be unambiguously more pro-Israel than that of these three mainstream Jewish/pro-Israel groups. AIPAC in particular, increasingly torn between its historically Democrat-leaning donor base and a Democratic Party increasingly in bed with Israel-haters and anti-Semites, needs to figure out what the heck it is that it still stands for. I suspect there will be much in the way of further soul-searching for AIPAC in these coming weeks—as, quite frankly, there should be.
Kudos here to President Trump. There are many issues—infrastructure, trade, potentially healthcare—on which Trump’s jarring non-conservatism should be fiercely resisted by congressional conservatives in the Republican Party. But this is not one of them. Trump’s example here should be followed by American conservatives, who should once and for all reject the failed Oslo Accords peace framework and unequivocally stand with our ally Israel in our joint civilizational clash against barbaric Islamic jihad.