Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Secretary Clinton Is Wrong To Pursue The Two-State Solution


H.L. Mencken famously said “there is always a well-known solution to every human problem—neat, plausible and wrong.”

In Morocco last month, U.S. Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, said she “was the first American associated with any administration to call for the establishment of a Palestinian state” 10 years ago. “A lot of people thought that was very radical; now there is consensus.”

Her view WAS radical then. Yet it is consensus now. Her solution is neat, plausible and wrong.

Fast forward ten years from Secretary Clinton’s radical pronouncement, and now, my view that Secretary Clinton’s “two state solution” is folly, is the new radical. The sea change in Ms. Clinton’s direction occurred quickly. The sea change in a completely new direction can occur quickly as well, but only if people stand up and aren’t afraid to be counted.

Consider Switzerland and Denmark, home of tolerant Western societies. This week, the Swiss people unexpectedly voted to keep Switzerland, well, Swiss. They backed a ban on new minarets. And in Denmark, the government has offered ‘anti-social’ immigrants $20,000 to leave Denmark because, well, the Danes would like Denmark to remain Danish. Now there’s sea change!

Secretary Clinton’s once radical view regarding Israel and the territories became consensus only because people stood up and supported this view. My view, that pursuing the goal of creating a Palestinian state in Israel’s very tiny heartland is causing immense harm to Israeli Jews and Palestinian Arabs alike, is ignored, dismissed and considered radical fringe. Until more people who actually share this view have the courage to stand up against convention, things won’t change. Changing the goal of creating two-states in this too-small geography will not become consensus if people stay silent.

So forget that Israel is on the fault line of jihad. Ignore Kashmir, Kosovo, Sudan, the Philippines, Southern Thailand, and so forth. But recognize that the concept of ‘live and let live’ is not in short supply in Denmark, Switzerland, or Israel. It is in short supply in the Palestinian territories and the Islamic world.

The lives of Palestinian Arabs and Israeli Jews would be vastly improved if the Obama administration would take the lead and recognize that carving Israel and the territories into two pieces cannot solve the dispute between Arabs/Muslims and Israel.

It is time to stop pursuing an ill conceived and wrong-headed two-state solution. It is time for a sea change. There is plenty of room for everyone in the Middle East.

--David Naggar

Monday, November 02, 2009

Time for President Obama and Secretary Clinton to Hit the “Reset” Button on Israel and the Territories


Expectations were low for this past weekend’s visit by Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, to Israel and the territories. Diplomats understand that no negotiation between Israel and the Palestinian Authority will occur until after January 24, 2010, the date set for Palestinian “elections.” The Secretary’s visit was a non-event, with one exception.

Secretary Clinton’s statements did affirm the Obama administration’s foreign policy mantra: Talk to your enemies.

If the United States is willing to negotiate with Iran and North Korea without preconditions, the United States expects the Palestinians to negotiate with Israel regardless of ongoing Israeli settlement activity.

Secretary Clinton’s message sent Palestinian “leadership” into a tizzy.

Mahmoud Abbas, President of the Palestinian National Authority, thought he had a better friend in President Obama. In the past, Israel’s settlement activity had never caused Mr. Abbas to refuse to negotiate with Israel, but President Obama’s strong stance on Israeli settlements had a predictable effect on Mr. Abbas. He decided to halt any negotiation with Israel until Israel ceased all settlement activity.

What did Mr. Abbas do in response to Secretary Clinton’s statements now urging him to negotiate with Israel? He immediately sought public backing to refuse to negotiate from the League of Arab States. Amr Mussa, Secretary-General of the League of Arab States, obliged. He called Mr. Abbas’ refusal to negotiate with Israel, sensible. He said Mr. Abbas’ position had Arab backing.

Well, off course Mr. Abbas’ position has Arab backing. Arabs and Muslims, whether or not they call themselves Palestinian, have been taught to hate Israel and Jews.

Peace cannot be made between Palestinian Arabs and Israel alone. It must be made on a regional basis between all Arabs/Muslims and Israel. Otherwise, there will be no peace.

Permanent peace will come when Arabs/Muslims in the region accept Israel as Jewish state (and that means finding the answer inside of the Quran). Permanent peace will come when Israel is independently viable (and for the many reasons identified in my book, in all likelihood, that means Israel must be larger than it is today).

There is plenty of room for everyone to peacefully thrive in the Middle-East. The current tragedy can be abated. This human problem is solvable. But the problem cannot peacefully and permanently solved by forcing the creation of a twenty-second Arab state within the borders of Israel and the territories.

When January 24, 2010 comes and goes, President Obama will have been in office for more than a year. It is my hope that President Obama and Secretary Clinton will have learned from year one of their administration that the current two-state solution is not workable. They need a new course of action if they are to bring real peace. It is time to hit the “reset” button on this one, too.

--David Naggar

Thursday, October 01, 2009

President Obama at the U.N. He Says Much And Nothing, But Is Still Following The Wrong Path


In his recent speech to the United Nations, President Obama laid out, once again, the much rehashed and unworkable vision for a two state solution West of the Jordan River:

He said: “We continue to call on Palestinians to end incitement against Israel, and we continue to emphasize that America does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements…the goal is clear: Two states living side by side in peace and security — a Jewish state of Israel, with true security for all Israelis; and a viable, independent Palestinian state with contiguous territory that ends the occupation that began in 1967, and realizes the potential of the Palestinian people.”

Because the President is a master wordsmith his words require parsing.

The President “does not accept the legitimacy of CONTINUED Israeli settlements.” Notice that the President is no longer focused on preventing future settlement activity. The words above articulate a position that NO Israeli settlement is acceptable.

This statement is not useful. If the President expects Israel to return to the 1967 borders, Israel won’t do this without being defeated in a war. In fact, the President’s focus on settlements in the past few months has led the Palestinians to make the cessation of ALL Jewish settlement activity a precondition to further negotiation. This was not the President’s objective.

President Obama calls for “a JEWISH state of Israel.” This is a nod to Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu who wants Palestinians to recognize the “Jewishness” of Israel. Palestinian Arabs (and their Arab brethren) are highly unlikely to make such a statement. Given that Prime Minister Netanyahu is a master wordsmith himself, it is likely that he demanded Palestinians made a statement accepting Israel’s “Jewishness” because he knows they will not agree to make it. It is a request made to embarrass the Palestinians and the Arab world.

The Prime Minister’s request of the Arab world is just like the Saudi offer of normalization with Israel, an offer contingent on Israel accepting Arab refugees. The Saudi offer is an offer meant to embarrass Israel. It sounds reasonable at first blush, but the offer is made knowing that Israel cannot accept this term of peace and still maintain its identity as a Jewish state.

President Obama also calls for “a viable, independent Palestinian state with CONTIGUOUS territory that ENDS THE OCCUPATION that began in 1967, and realizes the potential of the Palestinian people.”

No one can make Gaza and the West Bank contiguous without cutting Israel in two. Maybe the President is only speaking of a contiguous West Bank. Maybe he’s speaking of a subway or an “Arabs only road” cutting across Israel. Part of careful wordsmithing is knowing when to be ambiguous. Ambiguity allows trusting people to find meaning they wish to find. But the President’s ambiguity is not constructive. In a recent poll, only 4% of Jewish Israelis think he is pro-Israel.

Also, the President’s words indicate that the “occupation” can’t end unless there is full withdrawal to the 1967 border. Again, this will not happen peacefully. No Israeli government has been willing to withdraw to the armistice lines that existed between 1949 and 1967.

Further, the President links Israeli withdrawal to Palestinian people realizing their full potential. There are better ways for Palestinian Arabs to realize their full potential than to force Israel to withdraw to borders that are extremely difficult to defend, and invite aggression.

The President said a lot, and at the same time, he has said nothing. Former Ambassador Josh Bolton describes the President’s recent speech as the most anti-Israeli speech he’s ever heard a U.S. President utter. I don’t think the President sees it that way.

I don’t know if the President, famous for voting present in the Illinois Senate, but not yet famous for being decisive in matters of foreign policy, is saying anything at all.

I do know he has not advanced the ball of peace. His public speeches remind me of Dennis Ross who confessed that he did his best to say nothing meaningful during in his public interviews while he was serving in the Bush-Clinton administrations.

When the President wants to take a meaningful stand, he should stand by America’s natural ally; the ally that advances humanity on scientific, medical and technological fronts; the ally that advance the human rights of minorities and women. There are 21 Arab majority countries. There is plenty of room for everyone to live peacefully in the Middle East, should they choose to do so. Though there is no need for a twenty second Arab majority State, should the Palestinian Arabs want a twenty second Arab state, and should the other Arab states agree, there is plenty of room in the vast Arab majority lands to create one for them.

The President should concentrate on Israel, the American ally. Let’s make sure Israel is viable and independent, and take it from there. There is room for Palestinian Arabs to prosper and thrive. Surely there can be room enough for the sole Jewish majority state to have a plot of land large enough for it to independently prosper and thrive.

-- David Naggar

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Common Sense for Israel and Palestinian Arabs, Courtesy of Governor Mike Huckabee


While in Israel this past month, Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, a potential United States presidential candidate in 2012, spoke to the issue of peace in the Middle East, and a Palestinian State.

Governor Huckabee said, "The question is, should the Palestinians have a place to call their own? Yes, I have no problem with that. Should it be in the middle of the Jewish homeland? That's what I think has to be honestly assessed as virtually unrealistic."

Governor Huckabee may be the highest-profile politician in the United States to understand that the tiny geographic area west of the Jordan River is not large enough to host two independent states, especially when one of the those states is the sole Jewish majority state in the region and the world.

Obviously, the Governor is not looking for a plum assignment from the Obama administration.

Too bad Israel is looking for something for the Obama administration. Too bad Israel is dependent on the United States. Because of this dependency, Prime Minister Netanyahu pays lip service to the establishment of a Palestinian State west of the Jordan River, an Obama requirement, but at the same time espouses terms that could not possible be acceptable to Palestinian Arab leaders.

It is difficult for any politician to be more pro-Israel than the sitting Prime Minister of Israel, and Governor Huckabee is out on a limb. People in the mainstream media point out that he is a Southern Baptist preacher and based on that, deride his view. This is both shameful and ignorant.

Governor Huckabee should be applauded. If more knowledgeable people vocalized their true assessment of the situation, the debate on how to bring peace to the region would change. Rather than trying to figure out how to divide a piece of land too small to divide, world leaders could focus on making Israel truly viable. They could focus on bringing an end to the Palestinian Arab humanitarian crises—a crisis the international community and the Arab/Muslim community have exacerbated for over sixty years.

Supporters of the idea that the world is large enough to house one independently viable Jewish majority state must encourage politicians besides governor Huckabee to take a stand for Israel—not just a stand that offers vague support for Israel’s right to exist, but rather a real stand for an independently viable Israel. This stand, not coincidentally, will further Palestinian Arab dignity and prosperity, and peace.

Failure to encourage more political leaders to take a real stand for Israel will mean the currently proposed international solution—two states west of the River Jordan—will not change. Sooner or later, Israel will be forced to cede land needed to independently survive and thrive in the Middle East. And Palestinian Arabs will continue to be treated as second class Arabs by their Arab brethren.

There is plenty of room in the Middle-East for everyone. Governor Huckabee recognizes this and publicly says so. Most politicians won’t say so because saying so is out of favor.

I, for one, thank Governor Huckabee for his common sense. I thank him for not being cowardly. And I thank him for putting the welfare of people above political expediency.

--David Naggar

Monday, August 03, 2009

In A Busy World, Names Matter. The Tale of Macedonia, Palestine and Israel.


Greece is currently feuding with Macedonia over, of all things, the use of the name Macedonia. Greece insists that Macedonia change its name because the Greeks fear that Macedonia is stealing the Greek National identity, and may one day lay claim to an area of Greece known as Greek Macedonia.

How did this come about? If you open a history book, you will find that Greece's national hero, Alexander the Great, hailed from “Macedonia.” Greece argues present-day Macedonia consists mostly of Slavs and others who invaded the region a millennium after Alexander died. Greece claims Alexander as its own, from the city of Pella, located in present-day Greece.

Because Macedonia refuses to change its name, Greece vetoed Macedonia’s bid to join NATO, and is blocking Macedonia’s admission to the European Union.

Names matter. Names influence politics and policy. In a busy world, public opinion forms quickly, and is often based on information that is untrue, or that lacks context. World public opinion can drive outcomes, whether or not the opinion is fact based.

People throughout the world haven’t focused much attention on the Greek-Macedonian dispute, but the governments of Greece and Macedonia are at loggerheads. Because it is not a hot button issue for many people outside of Greece and Macedonia, I can tell you this story without sounding provocative.

The name “Palestine” is also a name that matters. This name is central to one aspect of the Israeli/Arab-Islamic dispute.

In the early part of the 20th century, “Palestine” was the name given by the international community to a geographic region slated to be a Jewish homeland. The indigenous people of the area, Jews, were returning to their homeland.

Part of Palestine was taken away from the slated Jewish homeland and given by the British to the son of an Arab ruler who lost control of what became Saudi Arabia. Thus nearly 80% of Palestine became the present-day Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.

In 1948, the Jews of the now smaller “Palestine” decided not to call itself Palestine, but rather to call its country Israel. This was a fateful decision. The Arabs who lived in areas of the smaller Palestine—most of them, like the returning Jews, lived there for a generation or two at most—associated themselves with other Arabs who lived in “Jordan” and other Arab nations that attacked Israel to drive Jews into the sea.

In 1950, Jordan “annexed” what the United Nations then called Judea and Samaria, and called the area the West Bank, since the area was on the West Bank of the River Jordan. The people who lived there became Jordanian citizens (Jews were not allowed to stay).

In the 1960’s, a movement formed in Egypt, Yasser Arafat's PLO, set about to re-brand local Arabs with a new name their fathers loathed, a named once associated with Jews—Palestinians. The PLO's aim in adopting the name was to start the process of destroying Israel. They made no claim to the “West Bank,” then controlled by Jordan, or Gaza, then controlled by Egypt. The movement was not then powerful enough to challenge this status quo.

But something changed along the way.

The current crisis for the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan is that the majority of its population now calls itself Palestinian too. King Abdullah of Jordan fears “Palestinians” will reference the map that once showed a “Palestine,” that included both Jordan and Israel, and attempt to seize control of Jordan.

The “Palestinian” national identity created in the 1960’s to destroy Israel, now threatens the Jordanian monarchy.

That is why this past month, Jordanian authorities have started revoking the citizenship of thousands of “Palestinians” living in Jordan. Tensions are rising. Violence is occurring.

The Jordanians claim their latest measures are aimed only to ensure that “Palestinians” are not prevented from returning to their original homes inside Israel. In truth, the actions are meant to preserve the Hashemite Kingdom.

Jordan's Interior Minister Nayef al-Kadi said, "We insist that Jordan is not Palestine, just as Palestine is not Jordan.” Compare Kadi’s words to the words of King Abullah’s father, King Hussein. He said this of Palestinians and Jordanians. “The two peoples are actually one. This is a fact.”

In a busy world, names matter. If Jordan were called “Palestine,” world sympathy would quickly turn from support for a homeland for Palestinians, to support for solving a border dispute between countries.

The upshot is this. There is plenty of room for everyone to live peacefully and prosper in the Middle-East. Israel, the sole Jewish majority state, should be large enough to be independently viable in all respects. Simultaneously, the world should help facilitate better lives for Palestinians and Jordanians. This is doable, but in a busy world, names matter, and they often get in the way.

--David Naggar

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Dear President Obama, Saying You are Speaking the Truth, and Actually Speaking the Truth, are Two Different Things.


Many Arab Muslims opine that Israel exists because of European atrocities committed in World War II. In Cairo last month, President Obama, in essence, agreed with this presumption regarding the existence of Israel. He stated, "The aspiration for a Jewish homeland is rooted in a tragic history that cannot be denied.”

President Obama’s statement is ignorant, untruthful, and disconcerting—disconcerting because many Muslims will simply never accept a Jewish homeland on “holy Islamic territory.” They feel Israel was imposed on them by outside colonial powers.

One can say the Romans came to Judea (present day Israel and environs) as a colonial power. One can say Arabs from present day Saudi Arabia came to present day Israel as a colonial power. But one cannot truthfully say Israel is a colonial power. This is the Jewish homeland. There is no other. In this land, the Jewish identity was forged.

President Obama needs to be more truthful in his rhetoric.

The truth President Obama should speak to Arabs across the Middle East is this: Israel is not a colonial power. Israel does not owe its existence to the hate and misery the world has heaped on Jews. The root of Israel’s existence is not tragedy. And finally, Israel is the homeland of the Jewish people.

Of course, I’m not holding my breath waiting for this President to be truthful with regard to Israel.

President Obama compounded his well crafted but egregious Cairo speech by pressuring Prime Minister Netanyahu to recognize a future Palestinian state in the West Bank.

The President can do this because Israel is not independently viable, and Prime Minister Netanyahu knows this. Reluctantly then, the Prime Minister agreed to accept a Palestinian state on the West Bank. Of course, Netanyahu made this concession contingent on many conditions, conditions that no Palestinian leader could ever accept.

As I’ve written previously, Prime Minister Netanyahu’s list of conditions are disrespectful to Palestinian Arabs. Though disrespectful, Netanyahu’s concession is also disheartening for the future of Israel. Here’s the reason why, in Netanyahu’s own words (December, 2002). It’s worth reading.

“The question is whether in a future settlement, the Palestinians would indeed enjoy self-rule. I, for one, have no desire whatever to rule over even a single Palestinian.

The question is whether we can agree that they have sovereign authority, power that goes beyond self-rule, which every country has. This power would include:

The right to have full control over borders, through which they could import unlimited arms and solders. States control their own air space – a Palestinian state would have the right to shoot down any Israeli plane overflying it without permission. States have the right to make military alliances with other countries – a Palestinian state would have the right to make such alliances with Syria, Iraq, Libya, etc. States control the water sources underground – a Palestinian state would have the right to control the mountain aquifer which supplies about 30 percent of Israel’s water and most of our drinking water. Even those who support the establishment of a Palestinian state are unwilling under any circumstances to give this power to the Palestinians. But the moment we agree to give them a state, that is exactly what we would be giving them!

It must be understood that sovereignty has its own power. Even if an agreement limiting certain sovereign rights were signed, within a short time, this Palestinian state would demand to have all these rights and would realize them, whether we agreed or not.

The world would not stand in the way of allowing the Palestinian state to appropriate all this authority, which would give it the power to destroy the State of Israel, but it would stand in our way if we tried to prevent it from realizing these rights.”

Prime Minister Netanyahu knows his words put Israel in peril. He knows that a Palestinian state on the West Bank makes Israel more vulnerable, and less viable, in many ways. He obviously felt he had no choice given the Obama presidency.

So what happens next? Netanyahu will stall for time and hope world events radically change the political situation. President Obama will continue to pressure Israel.

No doubt, Israel and Palestinian Arabs will be hurt. Only if President Obama recalibrates his thinking—for instance, because of recent events in Iran—can a future calamity be avoided.

President Obama saying he is speaking the truth, and actually speaking the truth, are two different things.

Here are some truths I wish would be at the center of future “peace” efforts.

1. Israeli Jews do not want to govern over Arabs.
2. Few, if any Arabs would choose to live under Jewish sovereignty if they could live in a democratic Arab state. (Not a possibility today).
3. There is plenty of room in the Middle East for everyone.
4. There is room for a Palestinian state somewhere (if Palestinian Arabs really want a separate state).
5. Israeli Jews want to live in a country that is self-sustaining.
6. Neither Israel nor a Palestinian state is viable in the territory world leaders are determined to allocate to each.

It is in the world’s best interest that Israel becomes larger, and that Palestinian Arabs be afforded the opportunity to live better lives. The formation of a feckless, non-viable mini-state won’t help better the lives of Palestinian Arabs (read my book!)

David Naggar

Monday, June 01, 2009

Peace and the Coming Two State Alternatives


As the world stands closer to nuclear catastrophe than it has in years, I believe the Obama administration will be unable to negotiate its way to a solution that successfully ends the conflict between Israel and her neighbors. It is certain that without an American imposition, there will be no diplomatically generated peace agreement that meets the demands of all parties.

Unlike his predecessor, new Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu does not speak of an “inevitable” two-state solution. In fact PM Netanyahu recently refused to consent to Jordanian King Abdullah’s request to back a Palestinian State at all. Instead PM Netanyahu wants to broaden the circle of parties involved in the negotiation in order to bring about peace.

The Prime Minister correctly wants to change the parameters of the discussion to focus on Israeli peace with the Arab/Muslim world. He recognizes that making peace with a minority faction of Palestinian Arabs, will not lead to a permanent peace.

The change of leadership from PM Olmert to PM Netanyahu creates the opportunity for a true peace-bringing dialogue to begin.

It is now politically safe for thoughtful people to offer common sense proposals without being unfairly tarnished as “extremists.” People ignored or derided by the conventional mainstream for years, will now be given a hearing.

All proposed solutions to problems between Arabs/Muslims and Jews, if they are to be considered seriously, must now take into account an Israeli leadership that won’t simply acquiesce to the “forgone conclusion” of a two-state solution within the limited geography of Israel and the territories.

As I’ve said many times, international leaders want a solution. They don’t really care what the solution is. They will now be open to exploring new ideas that, fortunately, are better for Israel and Palestinian Arabs, alike.

Hats off to Israeli Knesset Member Tzipi Hotovely for spearheading a conference entitled "Alternatives to the Two-State Outlook."

At the conference, Israeli political and military leaders such as Moshe Ya’alon, Robert Ilatov, Eli Yishai, Giora Eiland, Uri Elitzur and Benny Elon advanced various options including a Palestinian confederation with Jordan, maintaining the current situation in the West Bank, annexing all of Judea and Samaria, extending Gaza into Egypt, and delaying dealing with the problem until a better opportunity arises.

I believe my approach is geo-strategically more sound. It is respectful to Arabs/ Muslims (including Palestinian Arabs). It calls for properly dealing with Palestinian Arab hardship, and calls for a Jewish state to be a size large enough to be truly independent and thrive.

Read my book.

There is plenty of room in the Middle East for everyone.

--David Naggar

Friday, May 01, 2009

King Abdallah, President Obama, and an Israeli Cure for Deafness


There he goes again. King Abdallah of Jordan was a guest on Meet the Press last week. He said, “Unless we solve the core issue of the Israeli-Palestinian, Israeli-Arab challenges, then we will always be an area of instability that costs all of us… Any crisis that you want to talk about, whether it’s Al Qaida, Iraq, Syria, Pakistan, Afghanistan, all comes back to the sore -- the emotional issue that is Palestine and Jerusalem. Any conflict that you pick in the Middle East today, ‘all roads lead back to Jerusalem’ is probably be a better way of -- of explaining it.”

The King is an eloquent spokesman. But he has a strong motive for being less than candid. His monarchy in Jordan is unlikely to survive another decade unless a separate Arab Palestinian state is created in a way that leaves Jordanian territory out of the equation. This is why the King forwards the preposterous idea that solving the Israeli-Palestinian problem allows the Israeli-Arab-Muslim problem to be solved and in turn, is the best way for the United States to persuade Iran to back away from a nuclear program.

Unfortunately, David Gregory, the host of Meet the Press is not educated enough on this issue, confrontational enough, or quick witted enough – take your pick – to have asked the King how the dispute between Israel and the Palestinian Arabs/Arab-Muslim world caused Iraq to invade Iran or Kuwait, Syria to sit on Lebanon, Saudi Arabia and Egypt to fear Iran, Hezbollah to seek to upend Egypt, the Taliban to attack in Pakistan, genocide in Darfur, etcetera, etcetera.

Hopefully, President Obama won’t be swayed by the eloquent, self-serving, King of Jordan.

Hopefully, President Obama will learn quickly and won’t be swayed by Bush/Clinton era politicians like his Mid-East envoy, George Mitchell, who says: the "two-state solution is the only solution" to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Hopefully, the President won’t strong-arm Israel.

If the President is swayed and does strong-arm Israel, Israel and the free world will pay the price. Israel’s imminent survival may not be at stake by a return to the 1967 borders, but it’s viability as a thriving Jewish state is at stake.

As for the world, the price will be steep. As just one example, think of the medical discoveries that may be lost over time if Israel is prevented from thriving. Recently, Israeli researchers made a discovery regarding the function of small molecules in the inner ears of mice that could lead to a cure of adult deafness. Wouldn’t it be nice to cure adult deafness for all of humanity?

There is plenty of room in the Middle-East for everyone. If the Palestinian Arabs really want their own state, the state should not be feckless. Surrounding Arab states, including Jordan should donate some land to the cause of their brethren. Israel, the only Jewish majority state in the world, should be large enough to be independent and viable well into the future. A thriving Israel benefits the world.

Here’s hoping the world can hear. If not today, then when Israeli medical researchers help cure the deaf.

--David Naggar

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Good Luck Prime Minister Netanyahu


In a parting shot to new Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert talked about the heartbreaking and painful concessions Israel MUST make, and added "A government whose basis is not saying 'two states for two peoples'... will find itself bearing responsibility for a great calamity."

The former Prime Minister thinks his view is rational. It rests on two premises. One, the creation of a Palestinian State is the only way to keep Israel Jewish in the long run. And two, if Israel does not capitulate to the creation of a 22nd Arab state within the territories, the international community will bring Israel to its knees by treating it worse than apartheid South Africa.

Both premises are wrong (and parenthetically, publicly repeating these assertions as fact, even if they were correct, is a counter-productive negotiating tactic for any Israeli Prime Minister to take).

To judge from his writings, Prime Minister Netanyahu hopes to steer a different course.

Today, in no small part thanks to former President Bush, and former Prime Minister Olmert, the international community has concluded that a two-state solution within the boundaries of Israel and the territories is the only path to peace. But in truth, the international community cares little about the lives of Israelis or Palestinian Arabs. Each member state of the G-7 or the G-20 cares about is its own citizens.

The cost of the extended Middle East conflict for the last 20 years is estimated by India’s Strategic Foresight Group to be $12 trillion. To put this amount in perspective, it is larger than the total outstanding U.S. national debt.

The international community is only looking for this costly problem to be removed, even temporarily, from the world's agenda. International leaders do not care how it is done, and they do not care what the solution is. If they can pressure Israel, they will. If Israel reacts to the pressure, the pressure will keep coming. When Israelis stand united against the pressure, the international community backs down.

When Ariel Sharon said he would not negotiate with Yasser Arafat, the international community pressured Sharon. Then, over time, it stopped the pressure and looked for a different approach because the pressure didn’t work.

It is important to solve the Arab/Muslim-Israeli problem the right way. Otherwise, as weapons become more dangerous and prolific, the region will explode in a much deadlier fashion, and the spillover will contaminate the globe.

For Palestinian Arabs, better solutions exist than a two-state solution within the boundaries of Israel and the territories. Forcing people to live in a feckless mini-state that will be subsidized for as far into the future as can be seen, is no solution. Solving the humanitarian issues facing the Palestinian Arabs will require both a commitment by a united Palestinian populace to stop trying to destroy Israel, and a commitment by other Arab states to stop treating their Palestinian Arab brethren as dirt.

I hope the new Prime Minister will rise to the challenge of putting on trial the behavior of Arab states towards Israel and Palestinian Arabs.

The international community must also be educated to recognize that shoving a four-pound problem into a two-pound bag has never worked. Territorially speaking, cutting the two-pound bag into one pound bags, one for Palestinian Arabs, and one for Israel, will not serve Palestinian Arabs either.

Nor, in the long run, will a one-pound bag work for Jewish continuity in the Middle-East.

For Israel, better solutions exist than a two-state solution within the boundaries of Israel and the territories. Eighty years ago, the international community embraced the idea that justice demands a properly sized Jewish majority state. This is not true today. That generation of leaders had it right. This generation of leaders has it wrong.

Because former Prime Minister Olmert has done so much damage to the future of a viable Israel in the Middle-East, Prime Minister Netanyahu is being pressured from all quarters to go along with the current international will. Rather than do so, I hope Prime Minister Netanyahu reshuffles the diplomatic deck, and has the confidence to ask the international community “What can the 21 Arab states do to have peace with Israel?” rather than the typical “What else can Israel do for peace?”

I hope the new Prime Minister repeatedly insists on pointing out that if Arab states stopped trying to destroy Israel in a thousand subtle ways, and instead either absorbed Palestinian Arabs or gave some of their empty land to Palestinian Arabs, they too could help solve the Mid-East problem.

There is, after all, plenty of room in the Middle East for everyone who lives there now.

Good luck, Prime Minister Netanyahu. I hope you succeed.

--David Naggar

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Mr. Netanyahu’s Vision for the West Bank and Gaza is, Among Other Things, Demeaning to Palestinian Arabs


The elections in Israel are over, and the political ugliness of forming a coalition is in progress. It is likely that Benjamin Netanyahu will succeed in this task and become the next Prime Minister of Israel. For Israel’s future, this is a better outcome than the alternative, Tzipi Livni.

In a recent speech at a convention of American Jewish leaders, Ms. Livni said, "we need to give up half of the Land of Israel." Her words were blunt, and stem from a desire, as she puts it, to head off international programs. She plays the hand Israel has been dealt, very weakly. (Parenthetically, how did she determine that the area West of the Jordan River designated by the British less than 100 years ago is the “Land of Israel”?)

A small, truncated Israel will leave the sole Jewish majority state vulnerable and overly dependent on other countries for its survival. And this will be so forever, or at least, until the present world order collapses. There will always be a next international program that must be headed off.

Ms. Livni’s two-state outcome within the confines of Israel, the West Bank and Gaza, is untenable for Israel and Palestinian Arabs alike.

Still, I fear, as Prime Minister, Mr. Netanyahu will never say what needs to be said with regard to rightsizing Israel for an enduring future.

At the same convention addresses by Ms. Livni, Mr. Netanyahu said he does not want to govern Palestinians. This is laudable. But he went on to say that Israel had to maintain control of all borders, airspace and electronic traffic.

In other words, Mr. Netanyahu’s vision is of a Palestinian entity on the West Bank and Gaza that is less than a full sovereign state.

Understandably, this will be a non-starter for Palestinian leadership. So what’s the point of pushing for such a deal?

If neither the Livni approach nor the Netanyahu approach can work for both the sole Jewish majority state and Palestinian Arabs simultaneously, then what?

To the despair of many Israelis and Palestinian Arabs, the international community continues to insist that putting four pounds of potatoes into a two-pound bag is perfectly workable. The international community perpetuates misery, no matter how well intended, by pushing a two state solution in this limited space.

Unlike present-day politicians, I believe President Dwight Eisenhower would understand the situation on the ground immediately: He said: If a problem cannot be solved as it is, enlarge it.

The way the dispute is framed internationally—Israel/Palestine—is wrong, and as such, is insolvable. Even if borders are imposed by international force, long-term, the problem cannot be solved between Israel and Palestinian Arabs alone, and it cannot be solved within the confines of Israel, the West Bank and Gaza. Peace must be between Israel and the Arab/Muslim world. The path to true Israeli viability must be hammered out between Israel and the Arab/Muslim world.

Poorly conceived, self-serving, 20th century borders drawn by the British and French notwithstanding, there is plenty of physical room in the Middle-East for everyone. The Palestinian Arabs need a humanitarian solution to their problems. Creating a 22nd Arab state, a dependent beggar mini-state on the West Bank and Gaza, will not lead them to better lives. Trying to impose Mr. Netanyahu’s not-quite-a-state vision on Palestinian Arabs is delusional, dangerous and demeaning.

It is time for leaders throughout the world to insist that Middle-East land swaps involve all Arab states adjacent to Israel, and that also, resource and land rich Arab states be invited to accommodate and make sacrifices for their Palestinian Arab brethren.

Whether or not these sacrifices one day include the creation of Palestinian state in the region, it is time for Israel to be appropriately larger for all the reasons discussed in my book.

--David Naggar

Monday, February 02, 2009

Hamas Lives, the Long View, and Hoping President Obama Learns to Think Outside of the “Two-State” Box


In 1991, The U.S. thought it defeated Saddam Hussein and waited for the citizens of Iraq to rise against him. Sadly, Saddam was both clever and ruthless, and his regime did not collapse. At great cost, the U.S. went back into Iraq a decade later to remove the tyrant.

It appears that the current Israeli government has chosen not to crush Hamas, perhaps hoping that the residents of Gaza will rise up against Hamas and save Israel the trouble. This is fantasy, I fear, for Hamas is both clever and ruthless. If Israel does not destroy the Hamas that exists today, Hamas will learn from this war, and simply grow stronger.

I am profoundly repulsed by the means by which Hamas pursues its end. I am appalled by Hamas’ goal to destroy Israel. But I respect Hamas for the integrity of its mission.

Undeterred by the obvious, and looking to negotiate a compromise, Jimmy Carter, recently said: Hamas can be trusted. Mr. President, it is Hamas’ stated goal to destroy Israel. Yes, Hamas can be trusted. It can be trusted to destroy Israel if it isn’t destroyed first.

In the coming days, with Hamas’ “victory” behind it, and with great fanfare, Hamas may accede to a tactical lull. But Hamas will never agree to a permanent peace. By failing to destroy Hamas, Israel is playing a game of tactical Russian roulette with the lives of its citizens.

Lt.-Gen. Thomas McInerney, a 35-year veteran of the US Air Force said this about Israel’s reluctance to drive deeper into Gaza, "Your leadership is too sensitive about world opinion.”

This Israeli over-sensitivity is logical on its face, and is a condition of being a State that is not a truly independent actor.

Assuming that Hamas retains power in Gaza, it is highly likely that, having forgone the opportunity to destroy Hamas, Israel will have to pay a much higher price to destroy Hamas in the future. There is no middle ground with Hamas. There is no permanent compromise that can be worked out. There is no room for true negotiation.

The 2008-2009 Gaza war is barely over, if it is indeed over, and with President Obama now at the helm, there will be renewed pressure on Israel to work towards the so-called “two-state” solution with Fatah.

To this end, the United States and the international community are doing their best to prop up Fatah, and starve Hamas. Propping up the corrupt Fatah in the hope of making Arab Palestinian lives better, or even in the hope of Fatah reaching a true peace with Israel, has not worked in the past, and it will not work in the future. The Palestinian Arabs voted for Hamas for a reason. Yet Senator George Mitchell, President Obama’s new Middle East envoy, is under the impression that the dispute between Arabs/Muslims and Israelis is akin to the dispute in Northern Ireland. This is doubtful.

When the shear hate of Israel throughout the Muslim World is reduced exponentially to the hate level of the Irish for the British, I’ll be less skeptical. When Islam undergoes the reform that occurred centuries ago in Christianity and Judaism, I’ll be less skeptical. When Israel is accepted into the EU, I’ll be less skeptical.

In the meantime, it is past time that the world community revisits the assumption that the two-state solution is the way to solve this problem.

It is well established that the manner in which choices are framed has an impact on the decisions people ultimately make. When the Isreal/Jew-Arab/Muslim dispute is framed around the question: “What is the best way to reach a two state solution between Israel and Palestinians?” it directs people’s thinking in the wrong direction.

Kudos to Neil Cavuto of Fox Business News for asking the following question to a pro-Arab guest: “Should “Arab” nations give land to Palestinians to solve Middle-East crisis?” Mr. Cavuto also showed his audience and his guest, a map of the region—Israel marked in red, surrounded by vast Arab lands in a pale color. He followed up by asking his floundering guest, “How small do you want the red dot to be?”

The red dot needs to be larger for Israel to be a truly independent, viable, and livable State well into the future. And at the same time, the world can offer Palestinian Arabs a better life than the one that can be offered through the creation of feckless mini-state, one that sooner or later will be ruled by Hamas; one that sooner or later will destroy or be destroyed.

Let’s hope the next Prime Minister of Israel takes a longer view of matters than Prime Minister Olmert. And let’s hope that President Obama learns to think outside of the “two-state” box.

David Naggar

Thursday, January 01, 2009

The Gaza War: Destroying Hamas is the Least Worst Option


Hamas insists on destroying Israel. Israel does not wish to be destroyed. This, in a nutshell, is what made a war between Israel and Hamas inevitable.

As usual, when hostilities break out between Israel and a militarily weaker enemy, there are Arab street protests, calls for an immediate ceasefire, mounting international outrage against Israel, and calls for Israel to stop using “disproportionate force.”

In the coming days, we will learn whether Israel has the resolve to defeat Hamas once and for all, or whether Israel will back down because of international pressure, and let Hamas live to fight another day.

If Israel presses this fight, Israelis and supporters of Israel should feel morally assured that Israel’s use of force is not disproportionate in this case.

No civilized person disputes that war is tragic, and killing is tragic. Yet civilized people also know that it is the duty of a State to confront and end threats to the safety of its citizens. How much force is justified to end Hamas’ multi-year rocket attacks against Israeli civilians? The force necessary to permanently end the threat. Many more people may die in Gaza than in Israel from this war, but that does not make Israel’s force disproportionate. And, it is quite evident from Israeli tactics—tactics that include sending cell phone text message warnings to Gazan residents—that Israel is using all means to keep civilian casualties to a minimum.

One can be simultaneously saddened by an action and know that that action is justified.

Sadly, Israel’s best option from among bad choices is to destroy Hamas. This is so even though perversely, a Hamas defeat may destroy Israel in the long run.

Hamas’ goal, shared by many in the Arab and Muslim world, is to wipe Israel off the face of the map by wearing Israeli society down slowly. The thousands of rocket attacks from Gaza are carried out to frighten, harass and terrorize. Rockets do kill Israelis from time to time, but Hamas has no illusion that these rockets will cause Israel to cease to exist overnight.

Hamas’ long-term goal is advanced when Israelis die. Hamas’ long-term goal is advanced when Palestinian “martyrs” die. With the vision of Hezbollah’s recent success, Hamas knows that it wins this war simply by surviving. Hamas expects that, sooner or later, Israel will be forced by diplomatic and economic pressure to back down and accept a ceasefire. And if Israel backs down, Hamas expects not only glory, but also, international acceptance and greater military strength.

Israel must destroy Hamas, even though destroying Hamas will mean that Fatah will once again rule Gaza. And that means that international pressure will re-intensify to immediately create a two-state solution west of the Jordan River. If this pressure is successful, Israel would be forced to accept borders that will make her resource poor, perpetually dependent as a client-state on Western favors, and also militarily vulnerable to attack from a sovereign Palestinian state in the West Bank, mere miles from Israel’s largest cities.

And what if Israel fails to destroy Hamas?

It is ironic that a Hamas victory—and by victory I mean Hamas’ survival—may actually serve Israel’s interests of becoming a truly viable state in the long run.

Consider the fallout from a Hamas victory. A Hamas victory would, sooner rather than later, likely spell the end of Fatah’s power in the West Bank. The international community would cease all pressure on Israel to accept a permanent two-state solution since it could not be expected to do so with an enemy sworn to Israel’s destruction.

A Hamas victory may also lead to the end of the Jordanian monarchy (unless Israel props up the monarchy). The Arabs who reside in the former League of Nations/British Mandate Palestine—Arabs who in the last few decades have come to call themselves Palestinians—are mindful of the fact that Jordan was a part of that Mandate.

If the land mass currently called Jordan comes to be controlled by Hamas, or a likeminded offshoot of the Islamic Brotherhood, it could come to be known internationally as a home of, and for, Palestinian Arabs. The international sense of Palestinian legitimacy to another homeland would dissipate, and Israel would be in a stronger position to assert its need on the international stage for larger and defensible borders. (In 1970, Israel had the opportunity to stand aside and allow Syria and the PLO to destroy Jordan’s monarchy, but Israel sided with the King of Jordan, and Jordan survived. That decision had short-term benefits to Israel, but was probably ill-advised.)

Nevertheless, allowing Hamas to survive as a functioning entity is not a good option for Israel. Hamas will simply refortify and continue to fight. A lesson must be taught to all who wish Israel destroyed.

In this war, Israel must choose between bad options. Israel must stand resolute and destroy Hamas. It must then undertake the challenge of educating the world to the fact that even with Fatah in charge of the West Bank and Gaza, the two-state solution within this limited geography is simply a mistake.

In refusing calls for a two-state solution, Israel must also be resolute. The two-state solution is bad for Israel, and it is bad for Palestinian Arabs. Even a peaceful mini-Palestinian Arab state will be feckless, and dependent on the world’s largess.

Being resolute matters. There can be no wavering. Here’s an example of why this is so.

In a recent Wall Street Journal interview, President Bush takes full credit for the fact that the two-state solution is widely accepted as the proper solution to this dispute. He said it is an example of his strong foreign policy. He said that since others understood that “we can’t change [Bush], let’s join him and try to solve the problem…therefore the two-state solution led by a Palestinian Authority that recognized Israel has now come to be.”

The widely accepted two-state solution isn’t too old (recall my piece on 1988 Democratic Presidential Nominee Michael Dukakis’s platform statement) and yet anyone who doesn’t acknowledge the wisdom of President Bush’s ultimate solution is now labeled an extremist.

President Bush’s firm stand is an example of what happens when people come to accept a position as fixed, firm, and immutable.

Diplomatic solutions bend to fixed parameters.

But rather than taking firm positions, Israel has become the king of pink-line parameters—parameters that are firm one day, and change the next. This is unfortunate.

International diplomatic players will not bend to accommodate a potentially moving position. They will only bend to accommodate a fixed Israeli position.

With a newly fixed Israeli position, the questions asked, and the proposals for resolving the conflict will change.

The question asked will not be—how do we establish a Palestinian State in the West Bank and Gaza while addressing Israel’s security needs? This question has no solvable answer. It is destructive to Israel and Palestinian Arabs alike. (Read my book for a detailed explanation of why this is so.)

Bear in mind that there is ample room in the vast, under-populated regions of the Middle-East for everyone to live peacefully and to prosper. To avoid future wars, it is time to focus the international community on the right questions.

The questions to ask are—what size does Israel, the sole Jewish majority state, need to be to permanently dissuade or fend off Arab/Muslim aggression? What size must Israel be in order to be a successful, thriving and truly independent State? How does the world community provide better opportunities for Palestinian Arab people to live full and productive lives?

The answer to these questions starts with the destruction of Hamas. It is the least worst option. Sadly, this entails the loss of innocent lives.