In a recent opinion piece published by The Washington Post, Daniel Kurzer and Aaron David Miller urge the Biden administration to “respond boldly to a radical Netanyahu government.”
The article, written by two men whose combined titles are almost as long as the article they penned, drew an immediate reaction from people of equal pedigree, including former U.S. ambassador David M. Friedman. “Another bad idea from two guys who consistently have been wrong on U.S.-Israel policy: To punish Israel for its democracy that finally achieved a stable government. Denying the Israeli people their free will is an affront to Zionism and certain to fail,” said Friedman.
There’s actually so much more to say about the Kurzer-Miller article—none of it having to do with the not-yet-existent government of Israel. Almost every sentence is shocking for one reason or another.
Start with their first reason for concern, “a weak Palestinian Authority unable to control violence and terror.” In fact, controlling violence and terrorism is what the Palestinian Authority does best: It pays people to carry out acts of violence and terror, calls publicly for “all forms of resistance”—and everyone knows what that means—and educates all children under its jurisdiction to hate, to kill and to “liberate” Palestine “from the River to the Sea”—and, again, everyone (except Kurzer and Miller?) understands what that means.
The next cause for Kurzer and Miller’s concern is even more disturbing. Let’s set aside their prophecies of radicalism regarding the incoming government (that may yet prove to be far more centrist than many people in Israel and abroad are expecting, due to the realistic limitations of governance and the tempering influence of Jewish political traditions and religious law). Kurzer and Miller are alarmed that this government will have the audacity to seek to “bind the West Bank and Jerusalem” to Israel is nothing short of jaw-dropping.
Jerusalem is, has been and always will be “bound” to Israel. This is non-negotiable. American law recognizes Jerusalem as the capital of the State of Israel; if that’s not “binding” enough for a former U.S. ambassador and a State Department analyst, what is? There has never been a government of Israel that has behaved otherwise; the two Israeli premiers who thought they could use Jerusalem as a bargaining chip or somehow “unbind” parts of Jerusalem from Israel were routed from office by virtually every Israeli Jewish voter, never to return.
As for the “West Bank,” perhaps it’s time for the two misguided “experts” on Israel to shake the cobwebs out of their heads. The days of Israelis being afraid to claim their rights to the territories that had always been an integral part of the Jewish state, as recognized from 1917 onward by the international community, are behind us. The Oslo framework was the last-ditch effort by the people of Israel to cut into our own flesh and make a place for peaceful coexistence. Its abject failure is a fact we Israelis live with every day, and the election results prove clearly that no one is buying the outdated merchandise Kurzer and Miller (and Peace Now and Meretz and the Labor Party) are still trying to sell.
As for depicting the Biden administration as “risk averse”—that characterization seems downright bizarre from an Israeli perspective. The Biden administration continues to take enormous risks with Israel’s future, with the lives of millions, with the integrity and values upon which the United States was founded, with the world economy and more. Inaction and appeasement aren’t risk-aversion; they’re either ineptitude, lack of vision or cowardice. Avoiding confrontation with Islamist militarism and turning your back on your only real democratic ally isn’t risk-aversion; it’s either Chamberlain-esque appeasement, moral decay or craven betrayal.
Kurzer and Miller press on, claiming that Netanyahu’s only motivation is personal, that the newly-formed coalition has been engineered to save his neck. In what way, precisely, will Netanyahu halt the ongoing legal proceedings against him—particularly those that are losing momentum with each passing day? Kurzer and Miller don’t clue us in; perhaps they themselves don’t have a clue.
Kurzer and Miller go on and on with prophetic, apocalyptic visions of what the newly-elected bogeymen will do, gliding effortlessly into paternalistic, colonialist instructions for Israel as to what will and will not be tolerated by the United States—regardless of the legality of said actions, regardless of the clear and unequivocal mandate given by Israeli voters in democratic elections to do precisely those things that Kurzer and Miller describe as being at odds with American interests.
There are two small things the illustrious gentlemen might consider: first, that they aren’t necessarily experts on Israel’s national interests, and second, that they may be mistaken as to how American interests might be best served. For instance, by abandoning support for a terror-driven, corrupt, anti-democratic, kleptocratic Palestinian regime in favor of support for the democratic start-up nation that is the cradle of Judeo-Christian values. Clinging to the moth-eaten mantra of the two-state solution is unfortunate at best, mendacious at worst. It fuels the frustration on both sides of the conflict rather than moving anyone toward a negotiated, livable resolution.
Naomi Linder Kahn is the director of the International Division of Regavim, an Israeli non-profit dedicated to the preservation of Israel’s national land resources and the protection of Israeli sovereignty.