World Jewish Congress (WJC) President Ron Lauder, who has done much for Israel, published an opinion piece in the New York Times on March 18:
Lauder’s op-ed unconditionally demands a Palestinian State as the solution to the Arab war against Israel but ignores the fact that Palestinian Arabs rejected Israel’s statehood offers three times in the last 17 years, not to mention rejecting Statehood in 1937 and 1947 because it required accepting Israel, which they won’t do because their goal is its destruction.
Lauder also immorally and absurdedly appears to equate “settlements” (Jews living in Judea/Samaria) to the Palestinian Authority (PA)’s incitement and promotion of the murder of Jews.
Lauder’s op-ed also employs a false “demographic” argument (apparently relying on false, wildly overstated PA population figures and projections) and promotes a dangerous so-called “two-state solution” (a euphemism for the creation of a Palestinian Arab terror state) as the “only solution.”
Israel’s Real Self-Inflicted Wounds:
The title of Lauder’s op-ed, ‘Israel’s Self-Inflicted Wounds,’ (New York Times, Mar. 18, 2018) is deeply misleading and unfair. It falsely blames Jews living in the Jewish homeland and Israel for the lack of peace, when the blame is squarely on the Palestinian Arabs.
Israel’s real “self-Inflicted wounds” (the term that Lauder employs) were Israel’s catastrophic concessions to terrorists, including: the disastrous Oslo accords, which brought PLO terrorists into the heart of the Jewish homeland and resulted in Yasser Arafat launching the deadly Second Intifada, in which PA terrorists murdered and maimed 10,000 Jews.
They also include the Hevron accords (which resulted in Palestinian Arab attacks on Hevron’s Jewish community), Isr)ael’s withdrawal from a border zone in Lebanon (which enabled Hezbollah to entrench itself along Israel’s northern border, with 150,000 rockets pointing at Israel); and Israel’s 2005 Gaza withdrawal (in which Israel uprooted 10,000 Jews from their homes, farms and communities – only to have Hamas use those formerly Jewish areas to launch 20,000 rocket attacks on Israeli civilians, resulting in three wars and numerous deaths.
It is particularly mind-boggling that Lauder is endorsing Palestinian Arab statehood so soon after Mahmoud Abbas’ January 14, 2018 speech to the PLO Central Council, during which Abbas’ poisonous, surreal, inflammatory and extreme attacks on Israel, Zionism and the United States reached new lows.
It is particularly mind-boggling that Lauder is endorsing Palestinian Arab statehood so soon after Mahmoud Abbas’ January 14, 2018 speech to the PLO Central Council, during which Abbas’ poisonous, surreal, inflammatory and extreme attacks on Israel, Zionism and the United States reached new lows. In that speech, Abbas spewed curses at President Trump and the president’s family, cursed U.S. and Israeli officials, and demonstrated the PA’s profound unwillingness to acknowledge and accept the legitimacy and permanence of the Jewish state of Israel.
In this speech, Abbas denied, falsified and appropriated Jewish history in order to deny Jews any right to a state of their own. (See “Exclusive – Mort Klein: Palestinian Leader Mahmoud Abbas Unmasked as U.S. and Israel-Hating Anti-Peace Terrorist,” Breitbart, Jan. 22, 2018.) Yet Mr. Lauder now sees fit to urge that the PA be given statehood.
Even leaders of left wing Jewish groups whom I recently met with stated that this is no time to talk about establishing a PA State.
Under conditions prevailing today, such a move would result in only one thing: the creation of a Palestinian Arab terrorist regime, infested with Hamas and other Iranian proxies, protected by the immunities of sovereignty. Palestinian rockets would be closer to Israel’s major population centers. And Israel would be only nine miles wide, making it indefensible.
Lauder’s Immoral “Equivalence”:
In his op-ed, Mr. Lauder mentioned in the same breath, as obstacles to peace, PA-sponsored hatred and refusal to make peace, on the one hand, and Jews living in parts of Judea/Samaria, on the other.”
This is grotesque. There is no moral or practical equivalence between Jews’ building Jewish homes and communities and the PA’s hate-filled promotion of the murder of Jews and rejection of peace-making. One is constructive and moral, and the other is destructive and evil. Shame on Mr. Lauder taking the view that Israeli Jews –– and only Israeli Jews, because they are Israeli Jews –– are an obstacle to peace because they seek to live and thrive in the biblical, legal and historical homeland of the Jewish people.
Lauder’s Demographic Fear-Mongering:
Mr. Lauder spends much of his op-ed promoting the baseless fear of Israel being demographically overwhelmed by a Palestinian Arab population increase.
However, Israel does not in fact have a demographic problem. Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics just announced that in 2016, 74% of babies were born to Jewish mothers (whose fertility rate is 3.06 children per woman), and 20.7% were born to Muslim women (whose fertility rate is a nearly identical 3.11 children per woman). The recent figures showed that the Jewish fertility rate continues to climb, while the Muslim fertility rate continues to fall. (“Israel’s Fertility Rate is Far Higher Than Rest of OECD,” by Michael Bachner, Times of Israel, Mar. 14, 2018.)
The American-Israel Demographic Research Group (AIDRG) similarly found that Jewish fertility rates have increased and are projected to continue increasing, while the Arab birth rate is expected to drop to 2.4% by 2025. The AIDRP has also amassed impressive evidence showing that the PA deliberately misled U.S. and international humanitarian efforts by creating a ‘Million Person Gap’ — inflating its population figures to total over 3.3 million, as opposed to the actual figure of 2.4 million. (See, e.g., “Israeli Demographics Working in Jews’ Favor,” by Hillel Fendel, Arutz Sheva, Israel Nat’l News, Dec. 20, 2015; and IsraelDemography.com.)
These findings have enormous implications for the future: namely, a 67% Jewish majority over 98.5% of the land west of the Jordan River (including Judea/Samaria, but without Gaza) can be expected, contrary to Mr. Lauder’s inaccurate claims of impending Jewish minority status.
If Lauder is so concerned about demographics, we also have to wonder why he so harshly condemns “ultra-Orthodox” Jews. Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics found that: “the highest fertility rate in communities with a population of more than 10,000 people was in the ultra-Orthodox town of Modiin Illit, with 7.59 babies per woman. The lowest, 1.91, was in northern secular town of Kiryat Tivon.” Lauder should stop attacking the Jews who help assure Israel’s continued large Jewish majority.
Further, those such as Mr. Lauder who base their support for creating a Palestinian Arab state on the demographic question continue to ignore the fact that, since the 1996, the vast majority of the Palestinian Arabs in Judea/Samaria and, since 2005, all Palestinian Arabs in Gaza, live under the jurisdiction of Palestinian Arab regimes, not under Israeli rule.
As distinguished Israel historian Efraim Karsh has pointed out, since the major Israel withdrawals of 1995-96 and the dissolving of the Israeli civil and military administrations in those areas, nearly 60% of Palestinian Arabs live entirely under Palestinian jurisdiction (Area A) while a further 40% live in towns, villages, refugee camps and hamlets where the PA exercises civil but not military authority. A mere 2% of Palestinian Arabs in Judea/Samaria live in areas where Israel has complete control, but even there, the PA maintains ‘functional jurisdiction.’
As Karsh concludes, ‘In short, since the beginning of 1996, and certainly following the completion of the redeployment from Hevron in January 1997, 99% of the Palestinian population of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip has not lived under Israeli occupation. As the virulent anti-Israel and anti-Jewish media, school system and religious incitement can attest to, during these years, any presence of a foreign occupation has been virtually non-existent.’”
In sum, Palestinian Arabs live with their own legislature, police forces, municipal services, school system and youth camps –– illiberal, corrupt, bellicose and hate-filled as these are. Israel’s writ no long runs in their societies. By no stretch of the imagination can Israel be said to be occupying them.
Lauder’s False Claims About Settlement Building and Obstacles to Peace:
Lauder is again wrong when he refers to ‘extensive Jewish settlement-building beyond the separation line.’ In fact, there has not been a new Jewish community established in Judea/Samaria in 24 years. Further, the Jewish communities comprise only about 2% of the area in question – although Jews have the fundamental right – under binding international law – to live anywhere within Judea/Samaria. Moreover, the limited building that takes place occurs within Jewish communities that would remain under Jewish control in the highly unlikely event of a genuine, durable peace agreement.
Further, viewing the presence of Jewish communities as an ‘obstacle to peace’ adopts the PA/PLO’s anti-Semitic view that Jews must be ethnically cleansed from a Palestinian Arab state.
Ideas that some have floated for Israeli annexation of the portions of Judea/Samaria with a large Jewish communities would also not create any ‘obstacle to peace.’ Instead, such a move would further peace by ‘taking off the table’ the PA/PLO’s maximalist demands to rid the Jewish homeland of Jews.” This annexation movement stems from the fact that peace appears hopeless, that this is historically Jewish land and that Israelis have learned, through bitter experience since 1993, that whatever territory is ceded to the PA becomes a new base for launching terrorist attacks on Israelis. As Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin put it recently, as reported by the New York Times, ’You can bring models, theoretical models, say it will be good if we give them a state . . . Empirically, it doesn’t work with what we see. When we leave land, terror organizations take it up. Immediately.’ Like most Israelis, those supporting annexation have been obliged to conclude that creating a Palestinian state under prevailing conditions would be a disastrous folly.”
The true obstacles to peace are the Palestinian Arabs’ refusal to accept Israel as a Jewish state; their horrifying Nazi-like Jew-hatred; their naming schools, streets and sports teams after Jew killers; their demand for a Jew-free Palestinian state; Palestinian Arab insistence on the Israel-destroying, so-called ‘right of return’; and the PA/PLO’s continued “pay to slay payments” incentivizing Arabs to murder Jews, and promotion of the murder and maiming of Jews in every aspect of Palestinian culture and education. Mr. Lauder scarcely even mentions this, the most profound cause of the absence of Israeli/Palestinian Arab peace.
Lauder’s Positions Do Not Reflect Groups He Claims to Be Affiliated With:
It was also odd and misleading that Mr. Lauder called himself a “conservative and a Republican” and supporter of Likud in his op-ed – when the positions Lauder’s op-ed espoused are further to the left than the Israeli left, and clearly do not represent the parties he claims to affiliate with. The existing U.S. Republican platform does not promote a Palestinian state. Instead, the platform promotes Israel’s security; specifically “reject[s] the false notion that Israel is an occupier”; and states: “We oppose any measures intended to impose an agreement or to dictate borders or other terms.” In July 2017, Likud’s central committee voted to reaffirm Likud’s 2002 vote against the establishment of a Palestinian Arab state. (“Likud Votes To Oppose Palestinian State,” by Gil Hoffman, Jerusalem Post, July 26, 2017.) And Israeli PM has publicly and repeatedly stated that PA State cannot bring peace.
Lauder’s False Claim that Most Diaspora Jews Are Not Accepted:
Lauder’s op-ed also falsely and misleadingly portrays Israel as a place where “most Jews outside of Israelare not accepted.”
In fact, the Israeli government supports Jewish institutions from all streams of Judaism. Reform Judaism’s own website reports that the Israeli government spent 2.5 million NIS building Reform synagogues in Israel during the past 4 years, and that Israel has 50 Reform congregations and community centers, 50 Reform kindergartens, 5 Reform elementary schools, 2 Reform high schools, 120 Reform rabbis, 100 Reform rabbis ordained in Israel, and 250,000 Israelis affiliated with Reform Judaism. (“Reform Judaism in Israel,” Reform Judaism website.)
In addition, each year, the para-statal Jewish Agency for Israel allocates $2.7 Million to educational programs in Israel for various Jewish streams: 40% goes to the Reform, 40% to the Conservative, and 20% to the Modern Orthodox movements. The Agency’s website explains that “This support stems from a desire to both expose Israelis to the varied expressions of Judaism existing outside Israel and within it, as well as to help Jews worldwide feel that their styles of Jewish expression have a home in Israel.” (“Supporting Religious Streams in Israel,” Jewish Agency for Israel website.)
Moreover, the overwhelming majority of American Jews would have no problem with being “accepted” even by Israel’s “ultra-Orthodox” – who rely on Jewish law (halakha), under which someone with a Jewish mother, or who converts in accordance with Jewish law, is Jewish. A recent Pew study found that about 90% of American “Jews by religion” (4.2 million persons who say their religion is Judaism) have Jewish mothers. (Presumably many in the remaining 10% converted.) In addition, about two-thirds of American “Jews of no religion” (persons with some Jewish background who say that they are “culturally” but not religiously Jewish) have a Jewish mother. (“A Portrait of Jewish Americans,” Pew Research Center, Oct. 1, 2013.)
Ron Lauder needs to place the blame for lack of peace solely on the terrorist dictator Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian Arabs. Abbas has refused to even negotiate for 8 years; promotes hatred and violence against Jewish Israelis in every aspect of the Palestinian culture in his speeches, schools, media, and PA-appointed Imams; refusing Israel in their maps and atlases- even within the 1967 lines.
The U.S. Administration has finally recognized these truths. It’s time that Ronald Lauder recognize them as well.