Israel's Worst Enemy -- Self-Seeking Politicians from the United States

In an op-ed for the New York Times, Avi Shlaim wrote,

On Jan. 14, the Israeli defense minister, Moshe Yaalon, told the daily Yediot Aharonot, "Secretary of State John Kerry -- who arrived here determined, who operates from an incomprehensible obsession and a sense of messianism -- can't teach me anything about the conflict with the Palestinians." Even by Israeli standards, Mr. Yaalon's comments were rather rude. Mr. Kerry's crime was to try to broker Israeli-Palestinian peace talks that began last July and to stipulate a nine-month deadline. This is the kind of talk that gives chutzpah a bad name.

The episode also reveals a great deal about the nature of the much-vaunted special relationship between the United States and Israel. It suggests that this relationship is a one-way street, with America doing all the diplomatic heavy lifting while Israel limits its role to obstruction and whining -- repaying Uncle Sam's generosity with ingratitude and scorn.

Shlaim goes on to accuse Israel of a client state's dependence on American financial largesse, of relying "on America to shield it from the consequences of its habitual violations of international law," of hewing to policies "diametrically opposed to America's true national security interests," and, not to put too fine a point on it, of not being "a normal country."

Where to begin? There are so many holes in Mr. Shlaim's argument that it would take a book to address all of them. I'll address just one and suggest that while the United States is and has been a staunch supporter of Israel, it has also been the source of most of Israel's problems -- not the least of which are the repercussions stemming from a prolonged attempt to force Israel and the "Palestinians" into a "peace" agreement while the "Palestinians" call for Israel's annihilation.

The Oslo Accords grew out of the Madrid Conference in October 1991. They were completed in August 1993 and signed on September 13, 1993. The two-state solution that we hear so much about today was mapped out in the Oslo Accords, and since the Oslo Accords were signed, movement toward the creation of a Palestinian state inside Israel has been the primary pursuit of the Quartet -- the United States, Europe, Russia, and the UN.

The United States was the pivotal player in the formulation of the Oslo Accords. The elder George Bush was president of the United States when the Madrid Conference convened in 1991. President Clinton followed the Bush path, as did George W. Bush, and President Obama and Secretary Kerry continue to pressure Israel to move ahead with a "peace" deal that will divide the Promised Land, threaten the sanctity of Jerusalem, the holiest city in the world, and threaten Israel's security. All the while, "Palestinians" are following Yasser Arafat's playbook to the letter.

On September 13, 1993, the very day that he signed the Oslo Accords, Arafat said this on Jordanian television:

"Since we cannot defeat Israel in war we do this in stages. We take any and every territory that we can of Palestine, and establish sovereignty there, and we use it as a springboard to take more. When the time comes, we can get the Arab nations to join us for the final blow against Israel."

In a 1980 article in El Mundo in Caracas, Venezuela, Arafat presented his objective so clearly that you would need help to be confused. He said,

"Peace for us means the destruction of Israel. We are preparing for an all-out war, a war which will last for generations. Since January 1965, when Fatah was born, we have become the most dangerous enemy that Israel has....We shall not rest until the day when we return to our home, and until we destroy Israel." (El Mundo, Caracas, Venezuela, February 11, 1980)

In a nutshell, the Oslo Accords -- as high-minded and well-meaning as they were -- played into Arafat's hands, and the current Palestinian Authority President, Mahmoud Abbas, hasn't deviated from Arafat's plan one iota. Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon knows this, and that's why he said that Secretary Kerry "can't teach me anything about the conflict with the Palestinians."

The problem is that Obama and Kerry are too stubborn to learn the facts and adjust their thinking accordingly. I suspect that Kerry wants a Nobel Peace Prize and that he believes imposing "peace" on Israel will win him one. I think that Obama is still trying to show the world that he deserves the Nobel Peace Prize that he won already. But whatever the case may be, Israel is the loser because Palestinian leaders have demonstrated again and again and again that they have no intention of living peacefully with Israel.

Mr. Shlaim isn't just wrong: he is dangerously off base. Israel has shown more restraint in her dealings with self-seeking politicians from the United States than we have any right to expect. Shlaim needs to get off of his high horse and get familiar with the facts.

Neil Snyder is the Ralph A. Beeton Professor Emeritus at the University of Virginia. His blog,, is posted daily.