Shattering the State Department’s Echo Chamber
Most Americans would like to believe that certain ethical qualities are in the mix when shaping American foreign policy, such as intellectual honesty and moral integrity. These qualities, whether part of an individual’s nature or those of national policy, often require some difficult introspection.
Sometimes it even involves the painful admission that one has been wrong. Even if one has been wrong for an extremely long time. And it is human nature that the longer the time, the deeper the resistance to change.
So it is with certain theories that our State Department has clung to for generations now, such as “land for peace.” What we have seen through decades of empirical, and often heartbreaking experience, is that this formula simply hasn’t worked. If the objective is “peace”, one must honestly ask oneself if any of the politically gut-wrenching and internally divisive land withdrawals from the Sinai, Gaza, southern Lebanon and parts of Judea and Samaria, has actually brought us any closer to that objective of peace.
But rather than challenge the premises of this formulation, those in the State Department’s echo chamber simply dig their feet in further and rationalize its failure. Each time there is another excuse. “Israel hasn’t given enough land”, or “Gaza was without a negotiating partner”.
All of the State Department apparatchiks who stubbornly cling to this mantra were one hundred per cent in favor of each of these withdrawals. Then, when those land withdrawal did not bring us closer to the designated objective, they came up with convenient post facto rationalizations.
On Wednesday February 15, five former U.S. ambassadors to Israel, Thomas Pickering, Edward Walker, James Cunningham, William Harrop, and Daniel Kurtzer wrote a letter to the U.S. Foreign Relations Committee casting doubts upon the ability of President Trump’s selection of David Friedman for the position of ambassador to Israel because he has not demonstrated than he has bought into their paradigm, which has proven to be an abject failure, time and time again.
One of the arguments that is used to bolster this failed premise is an equally false mantra that we find within the letter. This false mantra has been used, even before the state of Israel was declared, to say that the Jewish enterprise will be doomed to failure because the demographics of the Arabs will eventually outnumber those of the Jews.
It is couched within the February 15th letter, which states: “If Israel is to carry on as a democratic, Jewish nation, respected internationally, we see no alternative to a two-state solution.”
This mantra was used ever since the days of the Yishuv (the settlements in Israel before statehood), under President Truman, when his Secretary of Defense James Forrestal exclaimed, “You just don’t understand. There are four hundred thousand Jews and forty million Arabs. Forty million Arabs are going to push for four hundred thousand Jews into the sea. And that’s all there is to it. Oil -- that’s the side we want to be on.”
During the Oslo years, Israeli demographers from the Israeli Central bureau of Statistics used inflated statistics, taken in good faith, and without due diligence, from the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics. These numbers have been politically used by those on the left to scare Israelis and Jews worldwide into conceding the geographic and topographically necessary defensive advantage to the Palestinian Authority. These inflated statistics became the critical foundation upon which was built much the recycled claim that “Israel cannot maintain itself as both a Jewish state and a democracy unless it creates a Palestinian state”, found in the February 15th letter.
It was the height of irresponsibility to not verify the statistics given by the P.A, in the first place. However, they have been proven to be totally inflated, by the esteemed analyst Yoram Ettinger and Nicholas Eberstadt, chief demographer of the American Enterprise Institute, as well as by the World Bank. The correct demographic data points on a 66% majority of Jews living West of the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea, and the demographic trends in the two populations point to a steep trajectory of rising birthrates among the Jewish population, as well as a steady migration into Israel because of accelerated spikes in global anti-Semitism, and declining birth rates among the Palestinians, as well as their steady migration out of the Middle East.
Yet these false numbers have been forever parroted.
Many factors, including a hefty dose of professional hubris and cognitive dissonance within the State Department’s hermetically sealed echo chamber, have not allowed these five former ambassadors to acknowledge that their premise for finding peace between the Israelis and Palestinians was not only fundamentally flawed but it was based on misleading, fallacious data.
A famous quote, often attributed to Albert Einstein, defines insanity as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. The failure to entertain any alternative route to peace, or the possibility of their paradigm being based on a faulty premise built upon faulty data, is the only way to describe the ossified cognitive status of those who signed the February 15th letter.
Sarah N. Stern is Founder and President of the Endowment for Middle East Truth, an unabashedly pro-American and pro-Israel think tank and policy institute in Washington, DC