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I’m tired of the lies about Israel that have been perpetrated by the world and that have been supported by the United States for many years. It’s time to set the record straight on the history of Israel and the truth about the Palestinians. I’m hoping that Donald Trump will step forward and transform our relationship with Israel and call the world to accept the truth and the necessity for changing the narrative.
In yesterday’s Wall Street Journal, Max Singer, founder of the Hudson Institute, suggested a path for Trump to pursue regarding Israel: “If Mr. Trump wants to advance the possibility of peace, he should begin by challenging the five big untruths that sustain the anti-Israel consensus.” To summarize his points, Mr. Singer offered the following myths (the information in brackets are my additions):
- Israel occupies “Palestinian territories”— there has never been a Palestinian state or territory, and Israel re-acquired the West Bank through a defensive war; it has never been “occupied.” [By the way, the area was not labeled “occupied” until UN Resolution 51/13312 passed in December 1996.] For a detailed explanation of Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949 on the subject of occupation, go here.
- Millions of Palestinian “refugees” have a right of return regarding Israel. Most of these people are the descendants of refugees. In addition, no group of people in history has claimed a “right of return.” [As Shmuely Boteach points out in his book, The Israel Warrior, “Had the Arabs accepted the 1947 UN resolution, not a single Palestinian would have become a refugee, and an independent Arab state would now exist beside Israel.”]
- Israelis and Palestinians have comparable claims to Jerusalem. The First Temple was built long before the mosque on the Temple Mount. Neither the Quran nor the Muslim prayers mention Jerusalem, whereas the Jews repeatedly pray for the city. No Muslim group ever claimed Jerusalem as its capitol prior to this conflict.
- There was no ancient Jewish presence in Israel. This claim is absurd on its face.
- The Palestinians are ready to accept a “two-state solution.” Palestinian leadership and organizations refuse to acknowledge Israel’s right to exist, and insist on destroying Israel, so the discussion of two states is an exercise in futility.
Mr. Singer’s piece presents very important myths that persist about Israel and the Palestinians. Asking Donald Trump to destroy these particular myths is a fine idea. But I don’t think this “truth-telling” goes far enough. I’d like to suggest three complementary statements for Trump to make that will support Mr. Singer’s points, particularly in light of Trump’s meeting yesterday with Prime Minister Netanyahu.
First, President Trump will need to declare that the Palestinians are not prepared to make a two-state peace agreement; they have turned down multiple opportunities to settle on an agreement without counter offering, and have turned down every proposal. Yesterday President Trump said, “I’m looking at two-state and one-state and I like the one that both parties like,” he said. “I’m very happy with the one that both parties like. I can live with either one.” Netanyahu (who most recently has advocated a two-state solution) is under a great deal of pressure from members of the Knesset in Israel to move to a one-state solution, I believe, with good reason. I think the President could be persuaded of the illegitimacy of the Palestinian settlement claims. If the President would consider recommending a one-state solution, confirming that the Palestinians relinquished their right to demand otherwise, I think Netanyahu would change his position and the Middle East would have its first chance for peace in almost 70 years. Trump could begin this transformation in the peace process by moving the US Embassy to Jerusalem.
Next, in concert with this first point, Trump must emphasize that Israel has every right to Judea and Samaria (the West Bank). These areas comprised ancient Israel. Although there are those who say the Jews abandoned this area, there has always been a small group of Jews living in this area. There is reason to believe that the Palestinian people living there today would be relieved to live under a true democracy with economic and political freedom, as Caroline Glick says in her book, The One-State Solution.
The Arabs and Druze in the Golan Heights have been living under Israeli bureaucratic rule and have been enjoying the benefits of education for their children and all the public services an Israeli bureaucracy provides. Although they are reluctant to acknowledge their appreciation of being governed by Israel (due to promises of retaliation by the Palestinian leadership), there is reason to hope that the Arabs in the West Bank might also welcome Israel’s governance.
Finally, the US needs to cut back drastically on funding the Palestinian Authority, or recommend the elimination of the kleptocracy entirely. The reason so many Palestinians live in poor conditions is because the millions of dollars that have been sent for aid over the years have mostly been pocketed by the Palestinian leadership. Caroline Glick suggests that the Palestinian Authority be dismantled as the Palestinian people are integrated into Israel.
These changes will be difficult, but for those living in a war zone since 1948, it offers a possibility for a normal, peaceful life. I think the Israelis and Palestinians are exhausted by these conditions, and are ready for this type of change. I hope that President Trump agrees.