To the Editor:
Stephen Daisley puts matters colorfully and clearly in his essay, “Israel, the Will and Promise” [December 2012]. But a couple of his conclusions, though they may be popular, are not valid.
One is that the Israeli public supports independence for Palestinian Arabs in the territories. That assertion derives from “push polls.” These polls base their question about statehood upon the assumption that Palestinians might make enduring peace with Israel. If the polls were honest, they would ask what Israelis consider the likelihood of Palestinians’ actually making peace. The answer would reveal overwhelming pessimism.
That reality undermines the suggestion made by Daniel Gordis, and stated by Mr. Daisley without comment, that given sovereignty, the Palestinians may become as peace-loving as Israelis. In truth, they are increasingly anti-Semitic and jihadist. And, in that, they are not regional outliers.
Mr. Daisley refers to the U.S. diplomatic and financial backing of Israel, and feels that the United States uses the alliance to defend civilization. But America now gives more to Israel’s Arab enemies than to Israel, even as they prepare to destroy civilization. President Obama shows favor to the Islamists of Egypt and Turkey, allows Gaddafi’s weaponry to get into radical hands, and gives money to the Palestinian Authority—which shares the treasure with Hamas. Additionally, the State Department protects the Arabs from feeling the full weight of Israel’s military might. Aid to Israel comes with strings that impair Israel’s defense industry. And the executive branch of the U.S. government now routinely breaks promises to Israel.
Richard H. Shulman
New York City
Stephen Daisley writes:
Richard Shulman can hardly be blamed for his pessimism on the possibility of peace between Israel and the Palestinians. The latter, lamented Abba Eban, “never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity,” whether over the 1937 Peel Commission, the 1939 British White Paper, the 1947 UN partition, the 2000 Clinton Parameters, or the 2008 Olmert plan.
Nevertheless, I must take issue with a few points. Mr. Shulman’s claim that Israeli support for the two-state solution is based on “push polls” does not withstand scrutiny. A December 2012 Machon Dahaf poll asked a representative sample of 500 Israeli respondents if they supported a Palestinian state with borders based on the 1967 lines, land swaps to meet Israel’s security needs and retention of the major settlement blocs, and Palestinian sovereignty over the Arab neighborhoods of Jerusalem. Overall, 67 percent of Israelis and 65 percent of Israeli Jews said yes. A Rafi Smith poll published the same month asked the same question and yielded roughly the same response.
Contrary to Mr. Shulman’s assertion, these polls did not gloss over Palestinian intransigence and both explicitly referred to “a peace agreement that would end the Israeli–Palestinian conflict, and whose implementation would take place only after the Palestinians would fulfill all their commitments with an emphasis on fighting terror.” So we know that two-thirds of Israelis support a hardheaded, practical plan for peace.
Mr. Shulman is right to point to Palestinian anti-Semitism, which perpetuates a double crime: one, against the Jews of Israel and the Diaspora; and the other, against Palestinian children who are fed Judeophobic propaganda. International pressure must be brought to bear on the Palestinian leadership, and it must be made clear that the only viable state that can arise beside Israel is a pluralistic, democratic Palestine. A state organized around Jew-hatred is not an option.
The two-state solution, to paraphrase Churchill, is the worst proposal except for all the other ones, and the sooner peace is achieved, the sooner Israel will have secure and permanent borders.
On the question of foreign aid, it is true that the United States provides assistance to Israel’s enemies, but that is a function of the Machiavellian politics of aid, a discussion of which cannot be accommodated here, rather than a fissure in the Washington-Jerusalem alliance. Israel is a leading recipient of U.S. foreign aid, $3.075 billion in 2012, an investment that not only secures Israel in the most hostile environment in the world but also reaps significant returns for the United States in military cooperation, defense development, political relations, trade, and science and technology.
When Mr. Shulman protests that “aid comes with strings that impair Israel’s defense industry,” he should consider, for example, the Iron Dome aerial-defense system, which Israeli ambassador Michael Oren calls “the embodiment and manifestation of the close relationship between Israel and the U.S.” As of January 2013, the U.S. has invested $1.1 billion in the development of this system, which is estimated to have intercepted 85 percent of rockets fired by Hamas at Israeli civilians during the recent Operation Pillar of Defense.
There is much to criticize in the U.S. government’s dealings with Israel, particularly the conduct of the present administration, but this is hardly grounds for insularity. Israel is alone in the Middle East; it must not be alone in the world.