Dr. Charles Krauthammer, widely-syndicated columnist and political analyst, appeared on Sunday on Israel National Radio’s Walter’s World show, hosted by Walter Bingham. After briefly discussing his background and career choices, the two concentrated mainly on the Israeli-Palestinian situation, with Krauthammer saying he favors a Palestinian state – if it would mean the end of the conflict.
Asked why he gave up his psychiatric practice in a Boston hospital to enter journalism, Krauthammer said, “I gave it up because, to put it concisely, there was a world outside that I felt I needed to join… I wanted to defend things I believed in.” He said that when he left Boston for Washington, “I figured that that was where the action was; journalism was totally unplanned for me, and I sort of just fell into it.”
He said he was raised in a modern Orthodox home, went to a Jewish day school and learned Hebrew and Talmud: “My father said he could not determine my level of observance, but he would make sure I would not be ignorant.”
International Guarantees are Critical
Asked how a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority could ever be guaranteed, Krauthammer said that the US, UN, Europe and Russia would have to agree to take responsibility, and that the Arab League would have to agree that this was the end of the conflict. "I think that would be a fairly strong position, even if not 100% permanent… I’m not a great optimist on this. In the absence of a Palestinian consensus to make peace, there will never be peace; in the presence of it, it will take just a week to work out the agreement... If a Palestinian state were to be be established today, under the current circumstances, I certainly would not trust that there would be peace."
"Establishing a Palestinian state would involve the evacuation or expulsion of some 150,000 Jews at least," Bingham noted. "In Gush Katif, there were fewer than 10,000, and yet even they are not yet settled today, five years later. How can Israel be expected to deal with 150,000?"
"Well, I think that would be a very large issue," Krauthammer responded, "but nonetheless, I think that if the other conditions – which I think are improbable, but quite reasonable to demand – are fulfilled, that is, Arab League support, great powers' support, demilitarization with certain guarantees, and an agreement on the territorial swaps that would be involved, and an end to the conflict, I would guess that a vast majority of your country [Israel] would be willing to take this step, even at the price of 150,000, if that’s the end of the conflict. It’s a high price to pay, but there would be a great reward.”
Commenting on Obama-Netanyahu relations, Krauthammer said, “I think that there were some in the White House who thought, or perhaps hoped, that the Israelis would panic when they saw a crisis in American-Israeli relations, and would topple Netanyahu from power. But in fact they saw that this was not the case…”
"Obama’s approach to Israel is simply self-defeating," Krauthammer said. "Why would he want to allow Abbas to think that he could fulfill his own boast that he wouldn’t have to do lift a finger and would simply let Obama deliver Israel to him on a silver platter? ... Finally, though, Obama seems to have realized that that approach would not work."
Krauthammer on Iran
"It's too bad that Obama wasted 18 months," Krauthammer said, "but regarding Iran, as with the settlements, Obama now seems to have woken up and realized that he must play harder against Iran. I’m pleased that he managed to get some serious sanctions passed, though they are not strict enough."
Krauthammer on Pollard
Regarding Jonathan Pollard, Krauthammer deviated from the analytic approach he took towards the other issues and refused to discuss whether or not the life sentence Pollard is serving is more severe than could have been expected for the specific crime of which he was convicted. Instead, Krauthammer emphasized several times his own personal opinion regarding Pollard's actions, noting that he has no sympathies whatsoever for Pollard or what he did, and would not work to have him pardoned.
"I have never had any sympathy for Pollard," Krauthammer said. "I'm not talking about the justice of the sentence, or the lightness or seriousness of it, I'm just talking about the action Pollard took himself, and I think it's something for which I have absolutely no sympathy."
Though this was his last statement on the show, host Bingham did not allow this to be the last word, and made sure to play a pro-Pollard song within seconds of these remarks. The lyrics included: “How much longer now / til freedom comes?... Our brother is in shackles / in the land of the free… He served his time / in an empty cell. He has a dream to see the Land / touch holy ground with his own two hands… Compassion may be out of style, forgiveness can take a while. Let’s open up our hearts, let’s end the hate, to show our love, before it’s too late…”