In October 2020, Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden put out a tweet declaring: “I join Israelis in honoring Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin … 25 years after his assassination. He led a life of service to his country and its security, and bravely gave his life pursuing peace. I was honored to call him a friend.”
But Biden’s Ambassador to Israel Thomas Nides, apparently with the administration’s backing, thinks Rabin was stupid and is infuriated by his legacy.
Speaking recently to Americans for Peace Now, Nides opined, “We can’t do stupid things that impede us for a two-state solution. … We can’t have the Israelis doing settlement growth in east Jerusalem or the West Bank. I’m a bit of a nag on this, including the idea of settlement growth—which infuriates me, when they do things—just infuriates the situation, both in east Jerusalem and the West Bank.”
Nides also indicated that he aspires to see Jerusalem divided, as the capital of both Israel and a Palestinian state.
The ambassador did state that “I don’t do anything that compromises Israel’s security,” which may be comforting to some. But what he insists is stupid and infuriating are policies that Rabin believed were vital for Israel’s security.
Rabin, like the authors of U.N. Security Council Resolution 242, which is still the foundation stone of Israeli-Arab peace negotiations, recognized that Israel’s pre-1967 armistice lines left the nation too vulnerable to future aggression. He insisted that Israel must hold onto a significant portion of the West Bank to block traditional invasion routes, as well as to protect both Jerusalem and the low-lying coastal plain—the latter home to some 70% of the nation’s population.
In his last speech in the Knesset before his assassination, Rabin declared:
“The borders of the State of Israel, during the permanent solution, will be beyond the lines which existed before the Six-Day War. We will not return to the June 4, 1967 lines.
“And these are the main changes, not all of them, which we envision and want in the permanent solution:
“A. First and foremost, united Jerusalem, which will include both Ma’ale Adumim and Givat Ze’ev —as the capital of Israel, under Israeli sovereignty, while preserving the rights of the members of the other faiths, Christianity and Islam, to freedom of access and freedom of worship in their holy places, according to the customs of their faiths.
“B. The security border of the State of Israel will be located in the Jordan Valley, in the broadest meaning of that term.
“C. Changes which will include the addition of Gush Etzion, Efrat, Beitar and other communities, most of which are in the area east of what was the ‘Green Line’ prior to the Six-Day War.
“D. The establishment of blocs of settlements in Judea and Samaria … ”
Nothing has changed in the last 26 years that would diminish Israel’s need to retain the areas referred to by Rabin. The topography of the region has, of course, not changed, and threats to Israel have hardly disappeared.
In contrast to his harsh words for Rabin’s position and that of all those who share what were Rabin’s concerns for Israel’s security, Nides sees little to criticize on the Palestinian side. He did express some displeasure with the Palestinian Authority’s “pay for slay” policy, its incentivizing the wounding and killing of Israelis by its providing often lavish financial rewards to Palestinian perpetrators and their families. But the practice apparently does not infuriate him, and among his articulated grievances against it was not concern for its victims, but rather, concern that the policy gives (in his words) “the haters” an excuse to oppose the P.A.
Elsewhere, Nides expressed his gratification that “lots” of funds for the Palestinians are provided in the new American budget. These include what is now $219 million in economic support. The appropriations would seem to be in violation of America’s Taylor Force Act, which prohibited subsidizing the P.A. as long as it continues to divert millions in foreign donations to financing “pay for slay.” Perhaps Nides reserves his fury around this state-sponsored murder for the members of Congress who voted to no longer underwrite it.
Nor is Nides infuriated—despite his fervently asserted devotion to a two-state solution—by P.A. leader Mahmoud Abbas’s repeatedly declared insistence that he will never recognize the legitimacy of the Jewish state; that the Jews have no history in the area and no legitimate claims to it; and that their state must be expunged. No Palestinian leader talking of two states has ever accepted that one will be the Jewish state. But that apparently doesn’t bother Nides as much as Israel wanting defensible borders. Nor does Abbas’s complaining about Jews defiling the Temple Mount with “their filthy feet” get the ambassador’s dander up.
But Nides’s twisted morality—where he is outraged and where he is indulgent vis-à-vis the Palestinian-Israeli conflict—should not be surprising. He is, after all, the appointed representative of an administration that, in negotiations overseen by Yasser Arafat apologist Robert Malley, is about to give in excess of a hundred billion dollars and a path to a nuclear bomb to a regime that has repeatedly vowed to annihilate Israel.
Kenneth Levin is a psychiatrist and historian, and author of “The Oslo Syndrome: Delusions of a People Under Siege.”