In an exclusive interview, the author of Israel Betrayed, Alan Skorski, explains the history that led to John Kerry’s jaw-dropping assertion that Israel “can be Jewish or it can be democratic,” in regard to the proposed two-state solution. President-elect Trump quickly responded on Twitter with sharp rebuttals and promises of change after his inauguration.
To gain a better understanding of the drastic change in foreign policy under the Obama administration, Mr. Skorski kindly agreed to give The Beltway Times his insights about the history of our relationship with Israel, the geopolitical climate of the region, and how the Trump administration can better support Israel in the future.
Q: Will you tell us a little about yourself and why you decided to write Israel Betrayed?
I began my political activism about 30 years ago, at Wayne State University in Detroit, MI, where the largest population of Palestinians reside outside the Middle East.
Back in 1992, I predicted that the Democratic Party would move away from Israel towards the Palestinian cause. We saw that under President Bill Clinton, when his wife called for recognition of a Palestinian state, though that was not U.S. policy at the time. It was under the Clinton Administration, following the signing of the Oslo Accords, that we saw the number of terror attacks against Israel sky rocket to record levels. Even then, Clinton pressured Israel to make more concessions while making no demands that PLO leader, Yasser Arafat, stop all terror attacks.
In his book, The Missing Peace, former Ambassador and Middle East Mediator, Dennis Ross, wrote how the Clinton Administration did everything they could to undermine Netanyahu – Yes, he was the Prime Minister back in the 90’s as well – and ignored all of Arafat’s violations. Ross went on to admit that the Clinton Administration failed to acknowledge the obvious, that Arafat was never a serious peace partner. That attitude, continued under Barack Obama. As a candidate, Barack Obama stated, “Nobody has suffered more than the Palestinians,” and in his 2009 address at the University of Cairo, he made a moral equivalence between the Holocaust and the Palestinians.
Under George W. Bush, the U.S. relationship with Israel was very strong. Many on the left, especially on the Jewish Left resented Bush’s strong support for Israel. My book, Israel Betrayed, goes into great detail on this subject.
Q: Let’s start at the beginning, what is the two-state solution?
Superficially, it means having a Jewish state called Israel, and ceding territory that is currently under Israeli rule, to the Arabs, which would be called Palestine. It seems simple enough except that historically, there was never an Arab country called Palestine. In fact, going back many decades, Arab leaders are on record stating as much. However, the Arab world wanted a cause to be at war with the Jews, going back before Israel’s independence, so they rallied around the Palestinians. Moving fast forward, every Israeli leader has offered their Arab neighbors “land for peace.” They made a peace treaty with Egypt and returned the Sinai to them.
Today, Israeli leaders from both the right and left have been frustrated because they have made very generous offers of land for peace, often, against the wishes of the Israeli people, but they were willing to take “risks for peace.” Unfortunately, the Palestinian leadership has rejected every offer made by Israel. Not only that, but they have incited violence and terrorism against Israeli civilians. Arab terrorists have streets and institutions named after them and they are paid monthly salaries for carrying out terror attacks. In 2005, Israel pulled out completely from Gaza, but instead of getting peace, they got more terror attacks from Hamas. While Hamas has been designated as a terrorist group by our State Department, this morning, John Kerry referred to them as “militants” in order to diminish who they are and what they stand for.
Furthermore, Palestinian leaders are on record saying they consider “all of Israel to be occupied Palestine.” Based on that alone, there cannot and should not be any further discussion about peace deals.
Q: Why are those specific areas of land in dispute?
As I wrote above, the Palestinians consider all of Israel to be occupied Palestine. They have worked through the UN to deny any Jewish connection to the holy land of Israel, especially with Judaism’s holiest site. This is part and parcel to deny Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state.
Q: What would happen to Jerusalem and access to holy sites if Israel accepted the two-state solution?
Before 1967, Judaism’s holiest sites in Jerusalem were under Jordan’s control. Jews were denied the right to visit or pray at the Western Wall. Under Israel’s proposals, Israel would maintain control of the holy sites, which would remain open to all faiths, which it is today. Under the Arab proposal, and many anti-Israel nations, Israel would lose control of Israel’s holiest sites. This goes against Israel, Judaism, and history.
Q: If Israel chose the two-state solution, has the Palestinian Authority agreed to recognize Israel as a Jewish state?
Every Israeli leader, including Benjamin Netanyahu, has supported the concept of two states. Israel has their demands:
1. The Palestinian Authority recognizes Israel as a Jewish state.
2. The Palestinian territory remains demilitarized.
3. There can be no returning of Palestinian “refugees” or their ancestors to Israel proper.
4. The PA ceases ALL incitement against Israel.
5. Jerusalem will remain the undivided capital of Israel.
These are very reasonable demands. Unfortunately, the Palestinian Authority rejects them. YET, the Obama Administration continues to promote the myth that it is Israeli policy that is making it impossible to have peace. Apparently, the Obama Administration doesn’t understand when the Palestinian Authority says, “all of Israel is occupied Palestine.”
Q: How did we go from revering and protecting Israel under previous administrations to Kerry’s statements today demanding that they choose between being Jewish and being democratic?
EVERY poll shows that Republican voters overwhelmingly support Israel and view Israel as an ally, and believe that Israel is genuinely seeking peace. At the same time, these polls show that a significant and even majority of Democratic voters are sympathetic to the Palestinian cause, see Israel as too influential in U.S. politics and blame Israel for lack of peace. At the 2012 Democratic Convention, the party platform left out recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital – a first in convention (modern) history. At the 2106 convention, Palestinian flags waved inside the halls while the Israeli flags were being burned outside.
Kerry’s comments were despicable and condescending. Israel is the ONLY Democratic state in the Middle East. Arabs serve at every level of government and every institution. They serve in the Knesset, Supreme Court, Hospitals chiefs……
Q: President-elect Trump has stated that we will “Become, and stay, totally independent of any need to import energy from the OPEC cartel or any nations hostile to our interests.” Will this policy benefit Israel as well?
It means that the US will not be beholden to the Arab world and can’t be blackmailed. Israel, too, has become an exporter of energy, working with Jordan and other Arab countries.
Q: Do you feel hopeful for Israel’s future during the Trump administration?
The Trump Administration has the “potential” to be the most pro-Israel administration in history. His VP, Mike Pence, is a staunch pro-Israel hawk. His other advisers Walid Phares and Kellyanne Conway are staunch friends of Israel. Steve Bannon, who ran Breitbart is another very vocal and unapologetic supporter of Israel. The GOP platform is the MOST pro-Israel platform in history.
Q: Steve Bannon was accused by the media of anti-Semitism. It sounds as though you disagree with that assessment?
The more pro-Israel a Republican administration, the more the Left will attack. In this case, they couldn’t call Trump an antisemite because of his Jewish daughter, son in law, grandchildren,…..so they went after Bannon. The charges were initiated by the slimiest left wing group, Media Matters. Alan Dershowtiz referred to Media Matters as a David Duke of the Left because of their antisemitism, so for them to make the charge is a joke on the face of it. The ADL made a huge mistake joining in the attack, then had to withdraw their accusation because there was no actual evidence. In fact, Breitbart is probably the most pro-Israel website.
Q: Thank you so much for your time. If readers are interested in learning more, how can they get a copy of your book?
Visit my website at www.israelbetrayed.com or through Amazon.