Haaretz’s Chief Editor asked US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to “rape” Israel, using other unsavory terminology as well in his request for American pressure.
The comments were made during a confidential briefing by Rice on September 10, during one of many visits to the Jewish state. The meeting was attended by about 20 heads of the most senior Israeli think tanks and media leaders, including Landau, at the residence of US Ambassador Richard Jones. Some reported that Landau's remarks were greeted with "blatant discomfort" by some of those present.
Following the briefing, those present at the dinner offered their views and comments on the state of affairs in the Middle East.
Landau, who was seated next to Rice, referred to Israel as a “failed state” politically, and said that a US-imposed settlement is the only thing that can save it. He asked Rice to intervene, going so far as to say that the Israeli government wanted “to be raped” and that it would bring him much satisfaction to see this happen.
The comments were first revealed by Channel 2’s Arab-affairs expert Ehud Ya’ari, who refrained from naming who spoke them, but confirmed them with colleagues who were present and termed them “embarrassing” in his report. Former World Jewish Congress leader Isi Leibler then went public, saying it was Landau; he was joined by New York Jewish Week Editor Gary Rosenblatt, who criticized Landau in his weekly column.
“What is contested is not the raw language Landau used, but the context of his impassioned comments,” Rosenblatt wrote.
Contacted by the Jewish Week, Laundau confirmed the statements, but said his views had been delivered “with much more sophistication.” He admitted: “I did say that in general, Israel wants to be raped — I did use that word — by the U.S., and I myself have long felt Israel needed more vigorous U.S. intervention in the affairs of the Middle East.”
Landau, a British-born yeshiva educated Orthodox Jew, acknowledged his other crass remark as well, though said it was aimed at the experience of influencing US policy and not at seeing Israel be pressured to make concessions. “I told [Rice] that it had always been my wet dream to see this [US 'rape' of Israel] happen," Landau said, Makor Rishon reported.
According to Landau, Rice’s response was “fantastic [in that she was] completely unfazed” by his remarks, and remained “urbane and diplomatic.” Others present said Rice actually said the US has no intention of imposing a settlement on Israel. Landau told Rosenblatt that he had been congratulated by several professors at the dinner who felt he “articulated what many Israelis feel.”
“By any benchmark, Landau’s behavior as an Israeli citizen would be deemed unacceptable,” wrote Leibler of the affair. “But it is surely unconscionable that the editor of one of Israel's most influential newspapers, which also appears in an English and global Internet version, could urge an American Secretary of State to ‘rape’ his own government. If ever there was a crossing of every red line in terms of propriety, national integrity, and civic responsibility, this extraordinary intervention tops the bill. This is surely not behavior befitting the editor of a major newspaper.”
The former World Jewish Congress official who made Aliyah (immigrated to Israel) from Australia, continued: “For the US Secretary of State to partake in such an exchange with the editor of a major Israeli newspaper is mind boggling. Whilst Ms. Rice rejected Landau's entreaties for the United States to force Israel to act in what he perceived to be Israel's best interest, there is little doubt that his remarks would have subsequently been widely aired in US State Department circles.”
“Of course, Landau is entitled to his personal opinions. But it is surely a staggering act of reckless arrogance and a reflection of utter contempt for the democratic process when the editor of Haaretz newspaper at such a venue to have passionately conveyed such views to the American Secretary of State at this most sensitive diplomatic juncture. I have no doubt that the vast majority of Israelis across the entire political spectrum would condemn his action as irresponsible and immoral. Mr. Landau should apologize or resign.”