US State Department
US State DepartmentiStock

A former State Department official says that with regard to Israel and the Palestinian Authority, it doesn’t matter “whose narrative is right and whose narrative is wrong.”

That is exactly why the State Department has always been so misguided when it comes to Israel—Foggy Bottom can’t tell the difference between right and wrong. Which is exactly why most American Jews have never trusted the State Department, and never will.

David Makovsky, formerly a senior adviser to Secretary of State John Kerry and right-hand man to Ambassador Martin Indyk, made that “there’s-no-right-or-wrong” statement during a recent public appearance in Virginia alongside a former representative of the Palestinian Authority, Ghaith al-Omari.

Makovsky “said that it is futile to determine whose narrative is right and whose is wrong. ‘Leave that to the historians’, he said,” according to the Washington Jewish Week’s reporter on the scene.

Makovsky is wrong. We can’t wait five or ten or twenty years to read some historian’s interpretation of our era, for one simple reason: it affects whether people live or die, right now. The policies that the State Department is currently pursuing could directly endanger the lives of Israel’s citizens.

It was Americans for Peace Now which said that PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas made “vile anti-Semitic statements” in his infamous April 30, 2018 speech.

Because the State Department is convinced that there is no right or wrong—that Israel and the PA both have equally valid “narratives”—it pursues an “even-handed policy” which actually translates into a pressure-Israel policy. Since State Department officials are unable to recognize that one side is basically right and the other is basically wrong, they pursue a policy of trying to gradually force Israel back to the nine-miles-wide borders and establish a deadly Palestinian state in Israel’s back yard.

The State Department does not see the PA as a threat to Israel. It doesn’t believe that the PA really means what it says when it talks about “liberating all of Palestine.” The State Department doesn’t think that nine-miles-wide borders are a danger for Israel, because it doesn’t recognize that the PA is hostile to Israel.

The Palestinian Authority is very open about its “narrative.” The problem is that State Department officials don’t want to believe it, because it doesn’t suit their diplomatic agenda.

The PA’s official newspapers, television programs, and radio stations set forth its narrative. So do the textbooks in PA schools and the sermons delivered by PA-salaried imams in mosques. It’s simple and straightforward: Israel is evil, all of “Palestine” belongs to the Arabs, the Holocaust never happened, and Arabs who massacre Jews are heroes who deserve financial rewards.

Ghaith al-Omari, the former PA official who appeared alongside Makovsky at the recent event, must have enjoyed hearing the former State Department official assert that there’s no point trying to decide who’s right and who’s wrong. That morally-blind perspective works perfectly for a longtime representative of a regime that pays terrorists and promotes antisemitism.

I don’t use the words “promotes antisemitism” lightly with regard to the PA. I’m not one of those who shouts “antisemitism” at everyone I dislike. But when I call the PA antisemitic, I am actually agreeing with characterizations of the PA that have been made by prominent voices on the Jewish left.

It was Rabbi Eric Yoffie, then president of the Reform movement, who spoke to its 2001 convention about “the growing use of anti-Semitic and neo-Nazi language in the Palestinian media.”

It was Americans for Peace Now which said that PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas made “vile anti-Semitic statements” in his infamous April 30, 2018 speech. It was J Street which said that Abbas’s speech “featured absurd anti-Semitic tropes.”

That’s right, “neo-Nazi.” “Vile anti-Semitism.” “Anti-Semitic tropes.” I’d like to hear what ex-PA official al-Omari has to say about how Peace Now, J Street, and the Reform movement have characterized the regime he has represented.

Israel’s “narrative” is likewise simple and straightforward. Israel is not “occupied Palestine,” it has been the homeland of the Jewish people since time immemorial. Israel’s creation was a miracle, not a “catastrophe” (or “Nakba,” as Arabs call it). Israel is a democracy, not a dictatorship. Israel is the victim, not the aggressor.

The differences between Israel and the Palestinian Arabs could not be more obvious—to those who are not wearing moral blinders, that is.

The “both-sides-have-equally-valid-narratives” approach is a moral abomination. The “narratives” of Israel and the Palestinian Authority are not equivalent, just as the narratives of ISIS, Al Qaeda and Taliban are not morally equivalent to America’s narrative. America and Israel are the good guys. ISIS, the Palestinian Authority and their ilk are the bad guys. We don’t need future historians to tell us that.

Stephen M. Flatow, is an attorney and the father of Alisa Flatow, who was murdered in an Iranian-sponsored Palestinian terrorist attack in 1995. He is author of “A Father’s Story: My Fight for Justice Against Iranian Terror.”