Imagine The Washington Post inviting Sam Bankman-Fried, the man behind the bankrupt FTX cryptocurrency exchange, to write an editorial on how to run the crypto business. It would be absurd. Yet the Post does not hesitate to invite people behind a bankrupt Middle East policy to pontificate on its pages.
The latest example was an op-ed written by two long-serving State Department failures, Aaron David Miller and Daniel Kurtzer. Since they’re speaking in one voice, let’s call them “Murtzer” for short.
In their op-ed, Murtzer advise President Joe Biden to take an adversarial position towards Israel because they don’t like the choices of Israeli voters; in particular, the election of certain prospective members of Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu’s new coalition.
Murtzer ignore that Netanyahu has publicly said he will not adopt his partners’ most extreme positions. His record of veracity may not encourage confidence, but he understands the domestic and international risks of letting his extremist allies run wild.
Moreover, Murtzer’s fears are grounded in their greatest delusion—the two-state solution. When Murtzer had the opportunity to negotiate such a solution, they failed. They neither acknowledge this fact nor the Palestinian intransigence and terror that doomed their project. Instead, they blame Netanyahu. They insist that as-yet unimplemented policies threaten “to put to rest the already-moribund two-state solution.”
The two-state solution is not moribund, it is dead. This is because it is unfeasible and contrary to the Palestinians’ objective of replacing Israel. It is also disfavored by Israelis, who, unlike Murtzer, learned the folly of the land-for-peace formula from the Gaza disengagement.
Consistent with Arabist thinking, Murtzer spend one sentence advising Biden to tell the Palestinian leadership that “U.S. support depends on its willingness to hold elections, build a responsible democratic government and curb violence and terrorism.” Meanwhile, Biden has increased aid to the Palestinian Authority with no reciprocity from the Palestinians.
Murtzer also do not want Biden to “provide offensive weapons or other assistance for malign Israeli actions in Jerusalem or the occupied territories.” One wonders just what activities they are referring to. Defending Israelis from daily terror threats?
They further advise Biden to “warn against efforts to change the status of the West Bank and the Noble Sanctuary/Temple Mount, to ‘legalize’ settlement outposts and to build infrastructure for settlers that is designed to foreclose the possibility of a two-state solution.” The U.S. has no business telling Israel who can visit the Temple Mount, nor should Israel bow to Palestinian violence and prevent Jews from exercising their freedom of worship on their holiest site.
Given that the Palestinians reject a two-state solution, the U.S. has no reason to fear that settlement activities might undermine it. Indeed, if Murtzer were seriously concerned with the Oslo Accords, they would direct Biden to pressure the E.U. to drop its secret plan to help the Palestinians take over Area C. It seems that the Arabists have no problem with the Palestinians and their enablers attempting to create a one-state solution that eliminates Israel.
Arabists are not always partisan, but Murtzer show their hand by referring to “a blindly pro-Israel Republican majority soon to control the House.” This suggests that only Republicans support Israel and do so unthinkingly, rather than recognizing the shared values and interests that undergird the alliance. Meanwhile, the Democratic majority in both Houses just passed a bipartisan spending bill that provides $4 billion in aid to Israel.
It seems that the Arabists aren’t so much bothered by which party controls Congress as by the fact that the legislature has any role in Middle East policy whatsoever. The Murtzers of the government believe that only they have the requisite expertise to make wise decisions, despite decades of evidence to the contrary.
The coup de grâce is Murtzer’s assertion that Biden should tell the Abraham Accords countries “that their evident lack of interest in the plight of the Palestinians will undermine their relationship with Israel and damage their credibility in advancing other regional objectives with the United States.”
This is ironic, because the Accords are perhaps the best example of the Arabists’ inanity. They insisted for decades that no Arab state would ever make peace with Israel without a solution to the Palestinian issue. Yet even after Israel made peace with Egypt, Jordan, Bahrain, Morocco, Sudan and the UAE, Murtzer can’t admit they were wrong.
Worse, they want to sabotage the Accords by restoring the Palestinian veto over normalization with Israel. Rather than encourage more countries to join the agreements to show the Palestinians that they must make concessions, the Arabists want to reward Palestinian intransigence and threaten the far-reaching bilateral achievements of the Accords.
Murtzer do acknowledge, “For a U.S. president to put pressure on a democratically-elected Israeli government would be unprecedented and controversial.” Nevertheless, they claim democracy can only be respected when it results in their desired outcome. They believe Israelis don’t know what’s good for them and have “embarked on such a dangerous course.”
It’s easy to see why Murtzer and other Arabists were failures as diplomats. My mother taught me not to call people stupid, but what else explains their farcical analysis? What is truly amazing, however, is that anyone would give them a forum to advise others to follow their example.
Mitchell Bard is a foreign-policy analyst and an authority on U.S.-Israel relations who has written and edited 22 books, including “The Arab Lobby,” “Death to the Infidels: Radical Islam’s War Against the Jews” and “After Anatevka: Tevye in Palestine.”