Sunday, January 15, 2023


By Daled Amos

 

Numbers don’t lie, but what diplomats sometimes do with numbers is another story.
Stephen M. Flatow


On January 4, Hamodia posted an interview with Thomas Nides, the US Ambassador to Israel, an interview initially conducted via Zoom during Chanukah. Nides makes a point of emphasizing US support for Israel and for its security while talking about US support for Palestinian Arabs as well.

As Nides puts it, "I fundamentally believe that if we give hope and opportunity to the Palestinian people, that will hopefully over time benefit the State of Israel, limit the amount of terrorist attacks, and keep this place a strong democratic Jewish state."

When last month's interview by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research is brought up, showing that 72% of Palestinian Arabs support the creation of new terrorist groups like Lion's Den, Nides does not skip a beat:

I firmly believe, and you might disagree with me, but the vast, vast majority among the average Palestinians doesn’t wake up in the morning wanting to kill someone who happens to be Jewish. They want to live just like you and I do.

[We need to do everything we can] regarding the small percentage of people who exist who do want to harm Israel... [emphasis added]

His proof? 

He doesn't give any. Nor have there been any polls indicating the existence of this moderate group of the "vast, vast majority" of peace-seeking Palestinians.

Stephen Flatow takes Nides at his word, that he honestly believes what he says -- but he also makes the key point that the Biden administration has adopted a pro-Palestinian policy that depends on this existence of peace-loving Palestinian Arabs:

The administration can’t give the Palestinians hundreds of millions of dollars every year if it believes they support terrorism. It can’t advocate giving them a sovereign state along Israel’s old nine-mile-wide borders if it believes that they support terrorism.

So, the Biden administration has its party line, and Ambassador Nides’s job is to stick to it and articulate it as best as he can. Maybe he even believes it. Maybe he really thinks, despite all evidence to the contrary, that the “vast, vast majority” of Palestinians oppose terrorism.

So when Nides assures his interviewer that he is not an ideologue, he might not realize that there is a degree of bias.

Condoleezza Rice, a former Secretary of State in the George W. Bush administration, had a similar problem.

In 2006, Rice was interviewed by Cal Thomas, who asked her about prospects for Middle East peace, specifically, "what evidence do you have out there that if they had an independent state that they would lay down their arms and not complete the mission of killing the Jews and throwing them out?" 

Rice responded:

Well, you can look at any opinion poll in the Palestinian territories and 70 percent of the people will say they're perfectly ready to live side by side with Israel because they just want to live in peace. And when it comes right down to it, yeah, there are plenty of extremists in the Palestinian territories who are not going to be easily dealt with. They have to be dealt with — Hezbollah in Lebanon, Hamas in the Palestinian territories — they're terrorists and they have to be dealt with as terrorists.

But the great majority of Palestinian people — this is — I've been with these people. The great majority of people, they just want a better life. [emphasis added]

She did not point to any polls that backed up her claim. Writing in The Washington Times, Joel Mowbray criticized Rice's assertion, noting then too that polls of Palestinian Arabs indicated that a majority supported suicide bombings.

That same month, Rice gave the keynote address at the American Task Force on Palestine Inaugural Gala, where she defended the US support for including Hamas in the Palestinian elections:

And now look at how things are changing. For decades, Hamas dwelled in the shadows, able to hijack the future of all Palestinians at will, without ever having to answer for its actions. Today, however, the Palestinian people and the international community can hold Hamas accountable. And Hamas now faces a hard choice that it has always sought to avoid: Either you are a peaceful political party, or a violent terrorist group – but you cannot be both. [emphasis added]

In fact, as we have seen, Hamas did make a choice, and has found that it could continue to be a terrorist group not only without being held accountable, but also gaining traction with progressives in the West.

It is not just a question of staying dedicated to the idea of a two-state solution, come what may. As Flatow points out, the insistence on supporting the idea of a Palestinian state requires a particular mindset about how receptive Palestinian Arabs are to peace -- a mindset that flies in the face of reality.

Yet the experts seem to believe that this approach is the only game in town.

Another example of being blinded by the prevalent ideology is of course John Kerry, who with great satisfaction assured his audience in 2016 that there could not be peace between Israel and the Arab world until there was first peace between Israel and the Palestinian Arabs.

The complete and total dedication to the understanding of the Middle East that Kerry articulated postponed what became known as the Abraham Accords, when Trump and those other "amateurs" had the opportunity to try what the experts laughed at.

The same attitude that inspired the Biden administration to restart the JCPOA with Iran is at work in its approach with Israel, using the same tried and failed policies. Considering the new coalition that Netanyahu has put together, Biden may not be any more successful than Obama was.





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