A Nov. 29 op-ed in The Washington Post by former State Department analyst Aaron David Miller and former U.S. Ambassador to Israel Daniel Kurtzer appears to reveal an inveterate animus towards the Jewish state.
Miller and Kurtzer cite the incoming Israeli government—especially soon-to-be ministers Itamar Ben Gvir and Bezalel Smotrich, as well as returning Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu—as a pretext to call on the Biden administration to tell Israel that the U.S. will “not provide offensive weapons” to the Jewish state if Israel does not follow the administration’s dictates.
Tellingly, the authors make no such unconditional demands of foreign nations and entities that are purveyors or supporters of terrorism, such as the Palestinian Authority, Lebanon, Iran, Qatar, Hamas or Hezbollah. Only America’s closest democratic ally in the Middle East is singled out for such punishment.
Indeed, Miller and Kurtzer’s bias against Israel is overt and unapologetic from the beginning of their column, in which they characterize the new Israeli government as “radical” and “right-wing.” In contrast, they describe the P.A.—which is run by a chauvinistic and exclusionary nationalist movement strongly influenced by Nazism—as merely “weak” and “unable to control violence and terror.”
But Palestinian violence and terror occurs not because of the P.A.’s inability to control it, but because the P.A. promotes and subsidizes it. Besides pervasive incitement to violence in its media and educational institutions, the P.A.’s “pay-to-slay” policy rewards Palestinian terrorists and their families with lifetime stipends. Indeed, the P.A. spends an estimated $250 million annually on this program.
We must ask: Why are Miller and Kurtzer not calling on the Biden administration to simply uphold U.S. law—namely, the Taylor Force Act—which stipulates that American financial aid misappropriated by the P.A. in order to reward terrorism must be withheld? Why do the authors not criticize the administration’s decision to continue funding the P.A.— $816 million this year from American taxpayers—despite the law?
In contrast to the kind words for the P.A., Miller and Kurtzer refer to the incoming Israeli government in the most vitriolic terms: “Radical, racist, misogynistic and homophobic.” Yet Israel’s next Gay Pride Week and Parade are scheduled for June 2023. There is no such celebration scheduled in any territory controlled by the P.A. or Hamas. In fact, gays are routinely murdered—often thrown off buildings head first—in Hamas-controlled Gaza. As for misogyny, do Miller and Kurtzer really believe that women in Palestinian-controlled territories are living as equals to men and enjoy greater rights than women in Israel?
It is telling, moreover, that Miller and Kurtzer do not even mention the issue of religious tolerance. Christians live in peace and freedom in Israel. This is most definitely not the case in P.A.- or Hamas-controlled territory. Seventy years ago, Bethlehem was 86% Christian; in 2022, it is 12% Christian. Of course, Israel is routinely blamed for this, but Christians who dare to speak the truth are unequivocal: Islamists are the cause of this mass exodus, as has occurred in Christian communities in Muslim-majority states such as Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Turkey and Egypt.
Miller and Kurtzer do not confine their vitriol to Israel. Their contempt for Muslims—especially those from the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Morocco and Sudan, which have normalized relations with Israel—is palpable. The authors believe that the United States should coerce those Arab states into adopting the policies preferred by Miller and Kurtzer themselves.
It is shocking and sad that, after decades of work persuading Arab governments to adopt non-ideological and pragmatic foreign policies that could stabilize the Middle East, there are spiteful Americans like Miller and Kurtzer who want to bully those governments into prioritizing the Palestinians over the needs of their own people. It is remarkable that former diplomats, allegedly dedicated to peace, have taken positions that are inherently anti-Israel, anti-Arab and anti-peace.
Miller and Kurtzer also have unabashed contempt for their own countrymen. They fulminate, for example, over the “blindly pro-Israel Republican majority soon to control the House.” Yet Miller and Kurtzer have never had a harsh word to say about the current Democrat-controlled House, which has “blindly” tolerated antisemitic and anti-Zionist members like Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib.
Under Democratic control, the House has summarily ignored the proposed Anti-Semitism Awareness Act (2019) and the Israel Relations Normalization Act (2021). Miller and Kurtzer, so far as I know, have never referred to the “blindly anti-Israel and antisemitic Democrat majority that controls the House.”
The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition of antisemitism, which has been adopted by the State Department, recognizes that criticism of Israel that is not leveled against any other country constitutes antisemitism. What Miller and Kurtzer have done in their screed is to judge Israel by one standard and its enemies by quite another, more generous, standard. I leave it to the reader to ponder the implications.
David Green is chairman of the board of directors of the Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET).
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