Bruce Thornton is a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center.
President Trump has made a lot of bold moves in his first few weeks in office. Judged by the mainstream media’s lies, fake news, distortions, and hysteria, his executive actions on immigration, oil pipelines, rolling back federal regulations, and firing an insubordinate acting Attorney General are on the money. But a few of his foreign policy moves are questionable.
Most troubling is the statement on Israel’s announcement about new settlements. “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.”
This Delphic announcement has provoked differing interpretations. On the one hand, it correctly rejects the false global consensus that peace would break out in the region if only Israelis stopped building “illegal settlements” on “occupied territory.” On the other, the White House repeats the hoary cliché that settlement construction isn’t “helpful in achieving” peace, implying that settlement developed should be slowed or halted. The statement may just be diplomatic triangulation, an attempt to assure both Israelis and their enemies while the president determines a new approach. But Trump’s repeated statements about forging “peace” between Israel and the Palestinian Arabs suggest he may be trapped by long-exploded assumptions about the crisis, at a time when what we need are blunt truth and decisive action instead of more failed diplomacy.
Take the incoherence of the statement. If “settlements” are not an “impediment” to peace, then how exactly can they “not be helpful”? Because they anger the Arabs and Israel’s other enemies? To think this is to validate the Arabs’ duplicitous pretexts for violence, and to appease their irrational passions––approaches that have distorted our policies in the region for seven decades. And it takes at face value the false assumptions that all the Palestinian Arabs want is their own nation and self-determination, and that their violence and murder are understandable reactions to Israeli intransigence.
But the Palestinian Arabs have rejected multiple opportunities to achieve their own state, starting in 1947-48 when they answered the offer of a nation with a war on Israel that killed 20,000 Israelis. They answered the Oslo Accords of 1993, a framework for creating a Palestinian state, with continued PA corruption and terrorist violence that killed 269 Israeli civilians and soldiers in seven years. In 2000, Arafat rejected Bill Clinton’s plan, and followed up with terrorist attacks that by 2013 had killed 1,227 Israelis. In 2008 Ehud Olmert offered “moderate” Palestinian honcho Mahmoud Abbas another state comprising 97% of the disputed territories, and once again Israel was rebuffed and subject to even more terrorist murder. And for all that time the PA has continued to incite violence against Jews, reward the families of murderers, and brainwash children with virulent Jew-hatred.
The historical pattern is clear: when offered a state, the Arabs respond by killing Jews. To paraphrase Einstein, repeating the same failed policies over and over and expecting a different outcome is the definition of foreign policy insanity.
Clinging to the “two states living side by side in peace” wishful thinking obscures other clear evidence that the Palestinian Arabs prefer killing Jews to building a viable state. Why, after billions in foreign aid––eleven times more per capita than eight other poorer countries that receive foreign aid––have the Palestinian Arabs not used that bounty to build economic and government institutions? Could it be because in its 2016 budget, the Palestinian Authority paid more than 500 full-time government functionaries to oversee stipends for the families of dead terrorists, spending $315 million, one-eighth of its GDP, to reward murder? Why does this imagined Palestinian state have to be ethnically cleansed of all Jews, when 1.4 million Arabs live as citizens of Israel? How come the holiest site in Judaism, the Temple Mount, has to remain under the control of the descendants of conquerors and occupiers? Why should Jerusalem, for 3000 years the center of Jewish history and faith, be shared with these same scions of imperialists and colonists?
And don’t forget, Israel has already gone down the road of “land for peace.” In 2005 it evacuated 8,500 Israelis from Gaza and turned it over to the terrorist Hamas regime. Instead of building a functioning state, Hamas has spent its money on building tunnels for infiltrating Israel to commit terrorist attacks and kidnap Israelis, and on buying rockets and mortars, 15,000 of which it has rained down indiscriminately on Israeli civilians. Why would Israelis even think about giving Judea and Samaria to an enemy whose missiles and rockets could reach every square foot of Israel? No nation in the world would make such a suicidal concession.
The dominant narrative of “land for peace” and “two-state solution” is dead, kept on life-support by the endless kabuki theater of “diplomatic engagement” intended to avoid meaningful action, or to undermine a vibrant democracy that is ruled by law and recognizes human rights. So what should Trump do?
Announce that the old “peace process” is dead. No more complaints about “settlements,” no more “shuttle diplomacy,” no more “special envoys,” no more “summits” or “conferences” that bestow international prestige on corrupt thugs and inciters of terror. Tell the Palestinian gangster regime it will not receive one more dime of U.S. taxpayer money, whether through direct payments––$5 billion since the mid-nineties––or through international agencies like the corrupt United Nations Relief Works Agency, to which the U.S. contributed more than $350 million in 2015. Tell the U.N. that the U.S. will withdraw completely and withhold funds from the anti-Semitic U.N. Human Rights Council. Make it clear that an attack on Israel will be considered an attack on the U.S., to be met with the full force of American military power. And back it all up with military deeds the next time Hamas or Hezbollah starts firing rockets or mortars into Israel.
Of course the State Department will squeal, the Europeans will fret over lost business deals and their own volatile Muslim immigrants, and the Arab world will issue condemnations filled with blustering vocatives. Chin-tugging foreign-policy clerks will recycle received wisdom, false assumptions, and tired clichés. They should all be ignored. For the simple fact is, there will be no peace for Israel, no “two-state solution,” because Israel’s enemies want to destroy it, not live side-by-side with it. And they want to destroy it because its existence is an affront to Allah and the faithful, whose prophet beheaded 600-900 Jews after the Battle of the Trench in 627, and whose Koran calls Jews apes and pigs.
The so-called “international community,” and too often the U.S. as well, has enabled this faith-based revanchism for seven decades. Rather than continuing the failed policies that reward the murders of our allies and harm our national interests, it’s time to face reality with bold words and bolder deeds.