What does this portend?

“Unlike those sent to virtually every other country on the planet, American ambassadors to Israel are not there to foster better relations between the two governments. Instead, they act as imperial proconsuls whose task is to order client states around. Instead of helping Israel, they have sought to treat its democratically elected governments as wayward children who don’t know what’s best for them and to impose harmful policies on them regardless of the will of the Israeli people…..” Jonathan S. Tobin

In keeping with this offensive, patronizing and injurious tradition, of which the Trump administration was a welcome breath of fresh air, Thomas R. Nides, the newest American ambassador to Israel, apparently believes it is his right and duty to dictate how Israel should conduct her affairs. And he is quite adamant and arrogant about his responsibility to do so. Why? Because, as he said in an Americans for Peace Now webinar, “I care deeply about this country and its people.” And after all, “ I just want to do the right thing.”

Ambassador Nides clearly has impressive mangerial experience, but apparently has minimal knowledge about the history of the region. Below are a few examples of his failure to understand the nature of the conflict. He might start by remembering that former president Trump and former PM Binyamin Netanyahu proved by actions, that it is possible to strike warm peace agreements with Arab countries in the region without regard to any of the "Palestinian" issues that seem to concern so many diplomats.

Using the Term West Bank Instead of Judea and Samaria

During the Mandate (1920-1948), Judea, Samaria, and Gaza were the official names of these areas, designated “Districts,” according to Paul S. Riebenfeld, a political scientist and international jurist. The terms were used by the Arab and Jewish population, the Mandate administration, the Permanent Mandates Commission of the League of Nations, and mentioned in the Report of the United Nations Special Committee on Palestine in 1947. These are not archaic or antiquated terms, even though they are biblical names, as the media delights in constantly repeating.

Using the names Judea, Samaria, and Gaza Riebenfeld adds was the natural result of the historical link expressed in the reconstitution of Palestine conveyed in the preamble of the British Mandate: “Recognition has thereby been given to the historical connection of the Jewish people with Palestine and to the grounds for reconstituting their national home in that country.” It is important to note, “The Romans renamed the Jewish state Palaestina after conquering Judea perhaps in a failed effort to sunder its connection to the Jewish people.”

The term “West Bank” Riebenfeld noted, originated in 1950 when Jordan illegally annexed Judea and Samaria to differentiate it from the East Bank, which is Jordan. The Arab states and the US did not recognize the annexation; only Britain and Pakistan did.

Pushing A Two State Solution

Not long after the Six Day War, Jacob L. Talmon, a Hebrew University history professor, raised the question at a meeting of leading Arab and Jewish intellectuals in Jerusalem who met rather regularly, if there had ever been another case in history, where the victor has been expected to withdraw from conquered territory before the defeated party agreed to discuss peace terms, where the vanquished had openly avowed he would never make peace under any circumstances, would never recognize the right of the victor to exist… but would continue to pursue his mission to destroy and annihilate the victor until he succeeded? [**is this a quote or a paraphrase?**]

How does one justify that Israel is the only state expected to give up their own land in the hope the Arabs will reciprocate by agreeing to live in “peace?” These territories were acquired in defensive wars, while other states are permitted to retain territories conquered in wars of aggression. It is acceptable for countries to defend themselves against aggressors. When Israel defends herself, however, Jewish self-defense is labelled aggression.

Not asking: Do the Arabs Really Want A Separate Arab State?

Do the Arabs living in Israel, Gaza or Judea and Samaria even want a separate Jewish and Arab state? The answer is clearly no. Nothing has changed since Jamal el-Hussein, representing the Palestinian Arab Higher Committee, wrote to UN Secretary-General Trygve Lie on February 6, 1948: “The Arabs of Palestine … will never submit or yield to any Power going to Palestine to enforce partition. The only way to establish partition is first to wipe them out—man, woman, and child,” which is precisely what the Arabs had planned for the Jews.

The goal to annihilate Israeli Jews is still very much an imperative. In an article published on January 21, 2020, Itamar Marcus, founder and director of Palestinian Media Watch, said that Palestinian Arabs believe the Jewish threat to humanity can only be stopped by exterminating every Jew.

When the PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas was asked to recognize the Jewish state, he said, “Don’t order us to recognize a Jewish state. We won’t accept it.” As far as he is concerned, Israel can call itself “The Zionist republic, the Hebrew, the National, [or] the Socialist [Republic] call it whatever you like. I don’t care.”

After four Israelis were murdered in a terror attack in Beersheba on March 3, 2022, PA TV and Facebook called the terrorist a shaheed. and re ongoing incitement: Mahmoud al Habash, advisor to Abbas, stated on radio Filastin that Israel is planning to attack al Aqsa during Ramadan.

Mohammed Shtayyeh, Prime Minister of the Palestinian National Authority, explained another reason Abbas will not recognize Israel. "The dispute with Israel,” he said, “is not only over recognizing Israel as a Jewish state. The dispute is over Jerusalem, settlements, refugees and borders," which is why Abbas has no authority to agree to any compromises on these issues.

Ambassador Nides, have you ever read the Hamas Charter or The Palestinian National Charter?

If, so, will you ask the Arab leaders if they continue to accept these official documents which call for the destruction of the Jewish State? Have they ever been repudiated or rescinded?

Amb. Nides, How Do We Know the Palestinian Arabs Seek Israel’s Demise?

Article 15 of the Hamas Covenant of August 1988 explains why the destruction of Israel is not negotiable; it is a religious imperative: “The day that enemies usurp part of Moslem land, Jihad becomes the individual duty of every Moslem. In face of the Jews’ usurpation of Palestine, it is compulsory that the banner of Jihad be raised.”

Article 15 of The Palestinian National Charter: Resolutions of the Palestine National Council July 1-17, 1968 states: “The liberation of Palestine, from an Arab viewpoint, is a national (qawmi) duty and it attempts to repel the Zionist and imperialist aggression against the Arab homeland, and aims at the elimination of Zionism in Palestine. Absolute responsibility for this falls upon the Arab nation - peoples and governments - with the Arab people of Palestine in the vanguard. Accordingly, the Arab nation must mobilize all its military, human, moral, and spiritual capabilities to participate actively with the Palestinian people in the liberation of Palestine. It must, particularly in the phase of the armed Palestinian revolution, offer and furnish the Palestinian people with all possible help, and material and human support, and make available to them the means and opportunities that will enable them to continue to carry out their leading role in the armed revolution, until they liberate their homeland.”

“No document clarifies the PLO’s total rejection of Israel’s right to exist more bluntly, or more comprehensively that the Palestinian National Covenant,” asserts historian Efraim Karsh. “It is a demeaning and dehumanizing document that accord’s one’s adversary no rights whatsoever, not even recognition of its collective existence.”

Article 20, states that “Claims of historical or religious ties of Jews with Palestine are incompatible with the facts of history and the true conception of what constitutes statehood. Judaism, being a religion, is not an independent nationality. Nor do Jews constitute a single nation with an identity of its own; they are citizens of the states to which they belong.” Furthermore, it states that Israel is not a national liberation movement: “It is racist and fanatic in its nature, aggressive, expansionist, and colonial in its aims, and fascist in its methods.”

Adopted in 1964, the Palestinian National Covenant was amended in in 1968 “to reflect the organization’s militancy.” As a precondition to signing a peace agreement, Karsh said, the Israelis insisted the covenant be amended. Arab assurances that the covenant was no longer operative, and that an English translation of the text could not be found did not fool the Israelis.

Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin refused to sign the Oslo Accords (formally known as the Declaration of Principle) until Arafat sent Rabin a personal letter that stated: “The P.L.O. affirms that those articles of the Palestinian Covenant which deny Israel's right to exist and the provisions of the Covenant which are inconsistent with the commitments of this letter are now inoperative and no longer valid,” he declared. “Consequently, the P.L.O. undertakes to submit to the Palestinian National Council for formal approval the necessary changes in regard to the Palestinian Covenant.” That wasn't done, see here.

There has been no “Nation Building” Where is the criticism of this failure?

The Palestinian Arab leadership has never pursued nation-building or attempted to create their own state. For almost a century, they have preferred to have their citizens remain hapless “while they bask in international sympathy and enrich themselves from the proceeds of their self-inflicted plight,” declared historian Efraim Karsh. Furthermore, he noted, achieving statehood would have ruined this “paradise” by instantly transforming the Palestinian Arabs from being the world's supreme victim, into a conventional nation-state, thus ending “decades of unprecedented international indulgence.” It would have also exposed the Palestine Liberation Organization’s (PLO) fallacious claim of being “’the sole representative of the Palestinian people’" already debunked by Hamas's 2006 electoral victory in Gaza.

Arabs had several opportunities to establish an independent Arab state Karsh said, yet they rejected every chance they were given. Hajj Amin Husseini, the mufti of Jerusalem from the early 1920s to the late 1940s, refused to create a separate state, which would have included by 1948 a significant portion of Palestine, and would have spared them the experience of becoming displaced persons and having to remain in exile to this day. Yasser Arafat, who ruled from the mid-1960s until he died in November 2004, could have established a state on several occasions: In the late 1960s or the early 1970s; in 1979, as a component of the Egyptian Israeli peace treaty; in May 1999, as part of the Oslo Accords; or at the Camp David summit in July 2000. Instead he transformed the PLO into “one of the most murderous and kleptocratic terrorist organizations in modern times.”

One of the reasons for the failure to establish a nation-state can be found in a conversation Arafat had with Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu in Romania toward the end of the 1970s according to Ion Mihai Pacepa, a two-star general in the Securitate, the secret police of Communist Romania, who defected to the US in July 1978. At the meeting, Arafat said that “the Palestinians lacked the tradition, unity, and discipline to become a formal state. That a Palestinian state would be a failure from the first day.” Creating a state “was only something for a future generations.” Having a government would have impeded “the Palestinian struggle against Israel,” he argued, since all governments are limited by laws and international and agreements. That he could not put any laws or other obstacles in the way of the Palestinian struggles against Israel.”

“A war of terror is your only realistic weapon,” Ceausescu advised Arafat.

Karsh adds that had Mahmoud Abbas, who followed Arafat as PLO chairman and PA president, could have established a state after the Annapolis summit of November 2007, or in June 2009, throughout President Obama's first term when Benjamin Netanyahu publicly agreed to the two-state solution and agreeing to a two-state solution.

Your view of Settlements: Do they really make peace impossible?

“All settlement growth is categorically bad and infuriating,” Nides declared.

By that, one must assume he means the Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria. Based on the uncompromising manner the Arabs present their demands, one might assume that they won the war, not Israel. They precipitate a conflict, make explicit demands of the victor and threaten another Intifada unless Israel complies with their ultimatums. Instead of being criticized for their intransigence, Arab objurgate directives are viewed as reasonable.

Author Hillel Halkin asks what if every Israel government since 1967 had prohibited Jews from living in Judea and Samaria until a peace agreement had been signed. In the interim, Israel would have held the land in escrow for the Palestinian Arabs until they ceased fighting, and then give them the land free of Jews.

Would this have accelerated peace negotiations or tempered the PLO’s determination to obliterate the Jewish state Halkin askes? This would simply have enabled the Arabs the opportunity to pursue their goal of destroying Israel. If the Palestinian Arabs succeeded, they would say “all to the better.” If not, they would respond “what did we lose?”

Furthermore, it is quite offensive to tell Jews they can live in London, Paris, Berlin, Madrid, New York, Moscow, Mexico City or Buenos Aires, yet are prohibited from living in Judea and Samaria — the areas in the land of Israel most linked to the Bible, Jewish memory and history.

Having Failed to Dislodge Israelis from Judea and Samaria...

Having failed to dislodge the Israelis from Judea and Samaria using terror, Alan Baker, former Legal Adviser to Israel’s Foreign Ministry, noted that the Palestinian Arabs launched a campaign to have the UN declare Israeli settlements “illegal and constitute a major obstacle to the achievement of peace.” Though settlements are one of the subjects to be negotiated between Israel and the Palestinian Arabs in the Permanent Status negotiations, the Arab leaders purposely separated the issue of settlements as an independent “cause célèbre.”

They pursue this tactic knowing “that in their agreements, Israel had not obligated itself in any way to refrain from, halt, or freeze construction in the settlements,” Baker said. Distorting the truth about settlements has been successful Baker finds “in blocking any progress in the negotiating process, so much so that the Palestinian leadership is now holding any return to a negotiation mode as a hostage to a settlement freeze.”

The argument that once the settlements issue is resolved, a peaceful resolution of the conflict could be concluded is groundless asserted Kaled Abu Toameh. No mention is made about the homicide bombers, incitement and attempts to deny Jewish connection to the land of Israel, the Jewish refugees expelled from Arab countries or the deadly rock-throwing and fire-bombing attacks, beatings and stabbings and the failure to acknowledge Israel’s to exist.

Another canard Baker points out, is that settlements violate the Fourth Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilians (1949). Baker said the text and the post-World War II conditions under which it was drafted, “indicate that it was never intended to refer to situations like Israel’s settlements. According to the International Committee of the Red Cross, Article 49 relates to situations where populations are coerced into being transferred. There is nothing to link such circumstances to Israel’s settlement policy.”

American Ambassador Morris Abram, who participated in the drafting of the Fourth Geneva Convention, agreed that the convention “was not designed to cover situations like Israeli settlements in the occupied territories, but rather the forcible transfer, deportation or resettlement of large numbers of people.”

Julius Stone, a leading international legal scholar, agreed and said, “A demand that this territory be kept judenrein [free of Jews] would be a gross travesty of this legal position, turning international law on its head.”

Alan Baker added that this conflict, and especially issues with regard to Judea and Samaria are unique and sui generis, as are the agreements and memoranda signed between the Palestinian Arab leadership and the Israeli government between 1993 and 1999, which produced a special independent regime – a specialist that controls all areas including the settlements. The special regime, which is still binding, involves all the key issues: “governance, security, elections, jurisdiction, human rights and legal issues.” There is no explicit clause limiting planning, zoning and continued construction, of towns and villages, or halting such construction.

In the 1995 Interim Agreement, Baker said, the Israelis and the Palestinian Arabs decided to separate their individual jurisdictions in Judea and Samaria into areas A and B (Palestinian Arab jurisdiction) and area C (Israeli jurisdiction). The powers and responsibilities of each side were clearly delineated. Israel’s authority and obligations in Area C included all phases of her settlements—which remain in effect until the Permanent Status negotiations are concluded. The Palestinian Arabs agreed to this division, which they cannot now invoke the Geneva Convention to circumvent this agreement.

The settlements have not precluded Israel and Egypt or Israel and Jordan from signing separate peace agreements, observed Nicholas Rostow, a professor at the National Defense University. Settlements on the Golan Heights also have not created an obstacle for peace between Syria and Israel. Israel has shown her willingness to make enormous sacrifices, as with their evacuation from the Gaza Strip, to hasten peace between her neighbors.

If the settlements are illegal, he says, then there is less an incentive to make peace with Israel based on U.N. Security Council Resolution 242 (1967). Similarly, if the settlements are proclaimed legal, Israeli has less reason to compromise on lands in Judea and Samaria it needs for defense.

In 2004 the International Court of Justice declared that Israel’s settlements are illegal Rostow added. Though few UN member states consider Israeli settlements legal, there are an equal number of states that fail to interpret UN Security Council Resolution 242 of November 22, 1967 as it was envisioned.

Eugene Kontorovich, a legal scholar, specializing in constitutional and international law, concurs that the conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Arabs is “not an issue of occupation or legality –it is simply a border dispute that must be resolved the way all border disputes are resolved (or not.)”

Moshe Arens, who served as Israeli defense and foreign minister, said there are “So many reasons for abandoning Judea and Samaria, but If you believe in the justice of Israel’s cause, are concerned for the security of the State of Israel, and are convinced that Jews and Arabs can live together in a democratic society, you will dismiss them all.”

“None of Your Honey, None of Your Sting”

To his credit, the ambassador admitted to realizing that one cannot “buy off the Palestinians,” as US secretary of state John Kerry and President Trump thought one could. Ambassador Nides, former president Trump, former secretary of state John Kerry and countless Middle East envoys are in very good company in believing that economic prosperity is key to achieving a lasting peace, even if it is an illusion.

In 1921, Winston Churchill, then British Colonial Secretary, advanced the theme of economic prosperity on a visit to Palestine. The British Government was resolute, he told the Palestinian Arabs, in giving Zionism a “fair chance,” since the British expected that if Zionism succeeded, it would be “ accompanied by a general diffusion of wealth and well-being among all the dwellers in Palestine and by an advance in the social, scientific and cultural life of the people as a whole.”

Churchill concluded his remarks by urging the Arabs to recognize the promising possibilities that lay ahead: “If instead of sharing miseries through quarrels you will share blessings through cooperation, a bright and tranquil future lies before your country. The earth is a generous mother. She will produce in plentiful abundance for all her children if they will but cultivate her soil in justice and peace.”

David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s first prime minister, said he shared the view of many early Zionists that Jews would be welcomed back to the land of Israel once the economic progress they brought with them “would convey a blessing to the Arab people.”

Years later he admitted that he was “naïve then to imagine …that the Arabs think like us.” In 1936, for example, he acknowledged that “the economic blessing” had no impact on Arab leaders: “Even if they admit—and not all of them do—that our immigration brings material blessing to the land, [t]hey say—and from the Arab viewpoint I think rightly so-‘None of your honey and none of your sting.

While signing the Oslo Accords on the White House lawn, Shimon Peres, a former security hawk, remarked: “I could almost sense the breeze of a fresh spring, and my imagination began to wander to the skies of our land that may have become brighter to the eyes of all people, agreeing and opposing. On the lawn, you could almost hear the heavy tread of boots leaving the stage after a hundred years of hostility. You could have listened to the gentle tiptoeing of new steps making a debut in the awaiting world of peace.”

Having failed to learn from Ben-Gurion’s experiences, Peres assured his listeners that: “A higher standard of living is a precondition for mitigating the tensions among the Middle Eastern countries,” he said, adding that he wanted to fight poverty in the region “as if it were a military threat.”

When James Wolfensohn, an Australian American lawyer, investment banker and economist who served as the ninth president of the World Bank Group, and Mort Zuckerman, a Canadian-born American media mogul and investor, raised $14 million to buy the Gush Katif hothouses from Israeli farmers to give to the Palestinian Arabs in 2005, many people were shocked. “We thought it was a chance to show the Palestinians that there were more benefits from cooperation than confrontation,” Zuckerman explained.

Zuckerman’s New York Daily News reported on September 22 that “a week after they [Palestinian Arabs] descended like locusts on the greenhouses… looters continue to pillage what should be a prize asset for a fledgling Palestinian state.” In response to this wanton destruction, Zuckerman said, “I’m just sad that they are cutting off their noses to spite their faces…. It’s almost inexplicable.”

“Pay For Slay” - is 'complicated' the only word you could find?

When asked about the “martyr payments” awarded to families of convicted terrorists who are either incarcerated in Israeli prisons or who have died while murdering Israelis , Ambassador Nides replied it is “complicated” and something “we can debate and talk about.”

Why is this complicated to understand?

In his first activity as ambassador, Nides visited Yad Vashem where he declared: “One of the messages we take away from the Holocaust is that when we see antisemitism, when we see racism, xenophobia it is our responsibility to confront it immediately and forcefully, this includes calls for the annihilation of the State of Israel by any party. We know what can happen if antisemitism is left unchecked. We have experienced the genocidal atrocities that can grow if this hatred is left to develop without being confronted. That is the mission of Yad Vashem.”

If these are not just platitudes? Israel passed the Anti “Pay-for-Slay” Law in 2018 to penalize the Palestinian Authority (PA) for its payments to terrorists.

IDF Lt. Col. (res.) Maurice Hirsch, the director of Legal Strategies for Palestinian Media Watch, said “Israel’s Anti ‘Pay-for-Slay’ Law fits well with the US Taylor Force Act, according to which the bulk of the US administration's assistance to the PA is conditional on the complete abolition of PA payments to terrorists.

In the US, the Taylor Force Act, a bill introduced in the Congress to stop American economic aid to the Palestinian Authority until the PA takes “steps to end acts of violence against U.S. and Israeli citizens perpetrated by individuals under its jurisdictional control, such as the March 2016 attack that killed former Army officer Taylor Force; is publicly condemning such acts of violence and is investigating, or cooperating in investigations of, such acts; and has terminated payments for acts of terrorism against U.S. and Israeli citizens to any individual who has been convicted and imprisoned for such acts, to any individual who died committing such acts, and to family members of such an individual.”

Each of the most recent shaheeds for example, is eligible for 6000 Shekel grant from the PA, plus 1,400-shekel monthly salary, plus an extra 300 Shekel a month because he is an Israeli.

Seems clear and uncomplicated to me.

One Final Point

Perhaps Israel and Ambassador Nides should heed the warning of the late Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik, one of the leading Talmudic authorities of his generation and the acknowledged leader of Modern Orthodoxy, who said, “the evil intentions of the Arabs are not only directed against our national independence but against the continued existence of the Jewish presence in Israel. They aspire to exterminate … the Yishuv [the Jewish community in in the land of Israel].” The Torah tells us, he continued, that “the Lord will have a war against Amalek from generation to generation.” (Exodus 17:16). This is the tribe that attacked the Jews in the dessert from behind without being provoked. Amalek is not a certain race, but any nation or group harboring unbridled hatred toward the Jewish people. (Psalms 83:5).

The idea that the State of Israel has reduced antisemitism is mistaken. Sadly, antisemitism has intensified. Lest someone believe one can negotiate with them,

Rabbi Soloveitchik declared, “It is always impossible to satisfy antisemites … they will find fault with whatever we do.”

Dr. Alex Grobman is the senior resident scholar at the John C. Danforth Society and a member of the Council of Scholars for Peace in the Middle East (SPME). He is author of The Palestinian Right To Israel. and co-author of Denying History: Who Says The Holocaust Never Happened And Why Do They Say It? He lives in Jerusalem