Implementing Baker Report will
cripple war on Islamist terror
The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) has strongly criticized the Iraq Study Group Report, produced under the co-chairmanship of former Secretary of State James Baker and former Democratic Congressman Lee Hamilton, for ignoring 13 years of Palestinian terrorism, incitement to hatred and murder of Israelis by the Palestinian Authority (PA) and failed concessionary Israeli policies, while at the same time calling for even more Israeli concessions to the Hamas/PA regime; it will also cripple U.S. efforts to fight the war on Islamist terrorist groups, encourage terrorists world-wide, end discussions of economic sanctions and military action against Iran if it continues to develop nuclear weapons, and legitimize the terrorist-sponsoring regimes or Iran and Syria. The Report also argues that the problems of Iraq and other regional issues can be solved by negotiating with the terrorist-sponsoring states, Syria and Iran, in the illusion that these states will help stabilize the situation in Iraq in return for rewards (Iraq Study Group Report, December 6).
Major inaccuracies and irrationalities of the Baker Report:
- Baker Report: “The United States will not be able to achieve its goals in the Middle East unless the United States deals directly with the Arab-Israeli conflict” (p. 54).
Fact: The Middle East’s problems of lack of freedom and democracy and the promotion of terrorism and suicide bombing have nothing to do with Israel. The rise of the Islamist Khomeini regime in Iran in 1979, the subsequent Iran-Iraq war (1980-88); the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait (1990) and today’s Sunni-Shiite sectarian war and terrorism in Iraq are due to problems inherent to Iraq and have no connection to Israel. The bloodshed in Iraq is abetted by regimes (Iran, Syria) and groups (Al-Qaeda) that are implacably opposed to the U.S., democracy and the non-Muslim world. Neither their hostility to the U.S. nor the terrorist campaign in Iraq would be deterred by an Arab-Israeli peace agreement or even by the non-existence of the state of Israel. The Arab war on Israel is nearly a century long and is unconnected to the Iraqi situation. However, the ISGR uses the Iraq issue to veer off into making policy prescriptions that would harm Israel’s existence and survival as a Jewish state.
- Baker Report: Seeks “A Syrian commitment to help obtain from Hamas an acknowledgment of Israel’s right to exist” (p. 57).
Fact: This recommendation exemplifies the absurdity and lack of rationality that permeates the Report. Hamas is dedicated in its Charter to the destruction of Israel (Article 15) and the murder of Jews (Article 7). Why would Hamas heed the Syrian regime to change its raison d’etre when Syria itself not does recognize Israel’s existence, hosts several Palestinian terrorist groups and rejected Israel’s offer of all of the Golan Heights in negotiations in 2000? The Report is characterized by an unwillingness to acknowledge the actual nature and goals of the Syrian regime.
- Baker Report: “The only basis on which peace can be achieved is that set forth in UN Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338 and in the principle of ‘land for peace'” (p. 55).
Fact: ‘Land for peace’ has been tried and failed — under the Oslo peace process (1993-2000) and afterwards, Israel has ceded to the PA half of Judea and Samaria and all of Gaza, only to receive more terrorism and the election of Hamas in return. Almost 2,000 Israelis have been murdered by terrorism and an additional 15,000 wounded and maimed. Since Israel unilaterally ceded Gaza to the PA in September 2005, terrorism, especially missile attacks, and weapons smuggling into Gaza have increased dramatically.
- Baker Report: Calls for “Sustainable negotiations leading to a final peace settlement along the lines of President Bush’s two-state solution” (p. 58)
Fact: In 2000, then-Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and President Clinton offered the PA 97% of Judea and Samaria, all of Gaza, statehood and more — yet the PA not only turned it down, but made no counter-offer and launched a terrorist war, killing almost 2,000 Israelis and wounding and maiming 15,000 more. Moreover, successive polls since 2000 have shown consistently high Palestinian support for the use of terrorism against Israeli civilians, even if a Palestinian state with a capital in east Jerusalem were to be created. Yet despite this glaring demonstration of Palestinian rejection of a two-state solution, the Baker Report continues to recommend it, as if this history and context simply did not exist. Until terrorism and the incitement to hatred and murder of Israelis within the PA that feeds it ends, there should be no discussion of a Palestinian state or rewards and concessions to the PA. Moreover, with Hamas in power, it is even more absurd to discuss creating a Palestinian state, which would be only another terrorist state in the region. (In light of fact that the distinguished U.S. Ambassador to the U.N., Jeanne Kirkpatrick, passed away today, it is well to remember her warning in 2002 that, “A Palestinian state would be a catastrophic mistake and a danger to Israel. It would be appeasement, and a step backward from the U.S. fight against terrorism”).
- Baker Report: Calls for negotiations “which would address … the right of return” (p. 58).
Fact: The so-called ‘right of return’, whereby Palestinian refugees and their millions of descendants would inundate Israel, is legally baseless and would end Israel as a Jewish state. Simply by including it among the issues for eventual negotiation, the Baker Report legitimizes this rejectionist Palestinian demand. The U.S. has never endorsed the Palestinian demand for a ‘right of return’ and President Bush, in a letter to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon in April 2004, clearly rejected this notion as part of his peace vision, which the Baker Report claims it endorses.
- Baker Report: Peace efforts should “strongly support moderate[s, including] … the Palestinian Authority under President Mahmoud Abbas” (p. 55).
Fact: The Report asserts that PA chief Mahmoud Abbas is a moderate interested in concluding a genuine peace with Israel. Yet, under Abbas, the PA has not fulfilled its commitments under signed agreements with Israel and also the 2003 Roadmap peace plan to fight, arrest, extradite and jail terrorists, confiscate their weaponry and end the incitement to hatred and murder in the PA-controlled media, mosques, schools and youth camps that feeds terrorism. Instead of combating terrorism and hatred, Abbas refers to terrorists as ‘heroes fighting for freedom’ and rebuffed President Bush’s call at the 2005 Aqaba summit to accept Israel publicly as a Jewish state. Abbas also declared in October 2006 that neither Fatah nor Hamas need recognize Israel. In December 2005, he approved legislation granting benefits to the families of suicide bombers and other terrorists and named a new PA border crossing at Rafah after a suicide bomber. Abbas recently supported the so-called ‘Prisoners Document’ which called for terrorism against Israelis beyond the pre-1967 lines, the implementation of the ‘right of return’ and the release of jailed Palestinian terrorists with blood on their hands. Abbas recently reiterated that ‘The Palestinian leadership won’t stray from Arafat’s path.’ Abbas also co-founded the Fatah terrorist movement with Arafat, served as Arafat’s deputy for 40 years, financed the Munich massacre and wrote a PhD dissertation and published a book denying the Holocaust. As long as people, including the Baker Report, continue to whitewash Abbas and ignore his anti-peace actions, there is no chance that of Palestinians doing what is necessary to have any chance for a real peace.
- Baker Report: Arab-Israeli peace efforts should include “Support for a Palestinian national unity government” of Fatah and Hamas (p. 57).
Fact: The Baker Report calls for negotiations with “Palestinians (those who accept Israel’s right to exist)” (p. 54), yet both Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah and Hamas, in their respective Charters, call for Israel’s destruction (Fatah: Article 12; Hamas, Article 15) and the use of terrorism (Fatah: Article 19; Hamas: Article 7). Hamas also calls for the murder of Jews (Article 7). In October 2006, Mahmoud Abbas admitted that in his view neither Fatah nor Hamas need recognize Israel. Both organizations are therefore irrelevant to the cause of peace and a unity government of the two will in no way improve the situation. Additionally, Hamas has not even begun to meet the inadequate conditions for its participation set out by the Middle East Quartet — that it renounce terrorism, declare that it recognizes Israel and accept prior agreements signed by the PA. But even if Hamas were to issue statements about accepting Israel and past agreements, it is acts that are needed more than words. For example, the fact that Mahmoud Abbas says he recognizes Israel and accepts past agreements has not in any way impeded him from protecting terrorists, glorifying terrorists, failing to dismantle terrorist groups or end incitement to hatred and murder in the PA-controlled media, mosques, schools and youth camps. Until these things happen, there should be no discussion at all about Palestinian statehood or rewards or concessions to the PA/Hamas.
- Baker Report: “When the political process breaks down there will be violence on the ground” (p. 55).
Fact: From the day the Oslo agreement and that political process began in 1993, there has been almost continual terrorism and suicide bombing against Israeli men, women and children. Terrorism against Israel has been constant since Israel came into existence in 1948. Even when Judea, Samaria and Gaza were under Arab control, there were three wars (1948, 1956, and 1967) and continual terrorism. Thus, there was terrorism and violence before the Oslo Agreement and after the Oslo Agreement, whether talks and Israeli concessions were proceeding quickly or were not proceeding at all. During the Oslo process (1993-2000) and after, Israel handed over to the PA half of Judea and Samaria and all of Gaza, uprooting 10,000 Jews from their homes in the process, but this did not bring peace or even a reduction in terrorism. On the contrary, it has brought even more terrorism and hatred. The Report’s approach is thus based on a false premise. The issue is not one of territories or Palestinian statehood, but rejection of Israel’s existence.
- Baker Report: “The vast majority of the Israeli body politic is tired of being a nation perpetually at war” (p. 55).
Fact: While Israelis would clearly prefer not to have to fight, they are not tired of doing so when it is necessary. On the contrary, they recognize full well the need to defend themselves when under attack, be it by Lebanese Hizballah terrorists or Hamas and other Palestinian terrorists in Gaza. More than 90% of Israelis polled at the time of the recent war against Hizballah supported the war. Moreover, most Israelis polled believed the war was ended prematurely and wanted instead to see Hizballah destroyed and disarmed before it ended.
- Baker Report: Does not even mention Palestinian terrorism against Israelis, nor the glorification of terrorism and the incitement to hatred and murder within the Palestinian Authority that feeds it.
Fact: Palestinian terrorism against Israelis since the start of their campaign in September 2000 has murdered almost 2,000 Israelis and wounded and maimed 15,000 more. This terrorism and the incitement to hatred and murder that feeds it are abetted by Mahmoud Abbas’ PA. Without the Palestinians arresting and extraditing terrorists and ending the incitement to hatred and murder in the PA-controlled media, mosques, schools and youth camps that feeds terrorism, any plans for renewing diplomacy toward peace-making is simply a prescription for failure.
- Baker Report: “In the context of a full and secure peace agreement, the Israelis should return the Golan Heights, with a U.S. security guarantee for Israel that could include an international force on the border, including U.S. troops if requested by both parties” (p. 57).
Fact: The Baker Report ignores the proven unwillingness of the Syrian regime to make peace with Israel. It ignores the fact that, in 2000, then-Israeli Prime Minister Barak offered Syria the whole Golan Heights in exchange for a peace treaty and Syria did not accept it. Syria does not even acknowledge Israel’s existence in official maps and strongly supported the Lebanese terrorist group Hizballah. The Syrian regime is an ally of Iran by choice, not necessity, and has always preferred to seek leadership in the region by championing confrontation with Israel, not peace. The Baker Report thus ignores basic evidence that renders its recommendations irrelevant. Also, its proposal for a peace agreement between Israel and the present Syrian regime, involving the stationing of U.S. troops, would only inhibit Israeli deterrence by limiting Israel’s ability to launch a pre-emptive attack in the event of a looming Syrian attack; impede Israel striking back in the event of such an attack actually occurring; and endanger the lives of American servicemen.
- Baker Report: Seeks “Syria’s full cooperation with all investigations into political assassinations in Lebanon, especially those of Rafik Hariri and Pierre Gemayel” (p. 56).
Fact: It is Syria and its proxies that are widely believed to have murdered these and other Lebanese pro-independence figures. Why then would Syria co-operate and implicate itself in these assassinations and other crimes? Syria has brutally dominated Lebanon for decades and does not in fact accept its independent existence, a fact underlined by the absence of a Syrian embassy in Beirut. Syria is a radical supporter of terrorist groups, yet the Baker Report wants to reward it in return for stopping its support for terrorist groups.
- Baker Report: “Syria can make a major contribution to Iraq’s stability in several ways … The United States and the Support Group should encourage and persuade Syria of the merit of such contributions as the following: Syria can control its border with Iraq to the maximum extent possible and work together with Iraqis on joint patrols on the border. Doing so will help stem the flow of funding, insurgents, and terrorists in and out of Iraq. Syria can establish hotlines to exchange information with the Iraqis. Syria can increase its political and economic cooperation with Iraq” (p. 54).
Fact: Syria could assist the U.S. but it happens to be bitterly opposed to the U.S. Syria would like to see a U.S humiliation in Iraq because it would strengthen its prestige in the Arab world and has therefore done the exact opposite of assisting the U.S. The Baker Report therefore omits discussion of the likely price of Syrian cooperation over Iraq. Syria seeks to reassert its complete control over Lebanon. This would be part of Syria’s demands, regardless of what the Report says about the need for Syria to respect Lebanese independence. Yet it would be a betrayal of American interests to let that happen. Syria is not a decent regime that can be persuaded to be civilized but a rogue regime that needs to be pressured, confronted, penalized and possibly uprooted. Rather than rewarding Syria and betraying Lebanon, the U.S. should be making it clear to Damascus that if it does not desist from aiding the terrorists in Iraq, it will face retribution, not rewards.
- Baker Report: “Diplomatic efforts … should seek to persuade Iran that it should take specific steps to improve the situation in Iraq. Among steps Iran could usefully take are the following: Iran should stem the flow of equipment, technology, and training to any group resorting to violence in Iraq. Iran should make clear its support for the territorial integrity of Iraq as a unified state, as well as its respect for the sovereignty of Iraq and its government. Iran can use its influence, especially over Shia groups in Iraq, to encourage national reconciliation. Iran can also, in the right circumstances, help in the economic reconstruction of Iraq. Although the U.S.-Syrian relationship is at a low point, both countries have important interests in the region that could be enhanced if they were able to establish some common ground on how to move forward. This approach worked effectively in the early 1990s. In this context, Syria’s national interests in the Arab-Israeli dispute are important and can be brought into play. Syria can make a major contribution to Iraq’s stability in several ways” (p. 53).
Fact: Syria and Iran are precisely the two countries that have invested the most energy in creating bloodshed and terrorism in Iraq at the cost of the lives of many American servicemen and servicewomen. This means that we should be pressuring and isolating these repressive and destructive regimes, not courting them. The last thing we should be doing after their destructive and hostile behavior is sending a message to these two major, long-standing sponsors of terrorism that terrorism pays and leads to rewards. The Syrian and Iranian terrorist-sponsoring regimes abet the terrorist campaign against U.S. forces in Iraq, support Hizballah and Hamas because they believe it to be in their interest and wish to see Israel eliminated. The Iranian regime from President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad down has said emphatically that it seeks to destroy Israel and sees itself at war with the Western powers. Why exactly would it seek to reverse policy? The only way these regimes might be made to desist from their current policies is under pressure, if they are made to pay a high price for their behavior, not if we offer them rewards for it. Meanwhile, we know the goals of both Iran and Syria and, as a result, there is nothing to discuss. Our goal must be to stop these illegitimate terrorist-sponsoring regimes from carrying out their evil designs, not rewarding them for promises of future good behavior.
Arab world says Baker Report proves U.S. is losing:
- Mustafa Bakri, Editor, Egyptian newspaper, Al-Osboa: Report indicates “the end of America … [urges Arab countries to “capture the moment as America now is in its weakest period” (Associated Press, December 7).
- Egyptian opposition newspaper, Al-Wafd: Report means that “Bush confesses defeat in Iraq” (Associated Press, December 7).
- Abu Ayman, a senior leader of the terrorist group, Palestinian Islamic Jihad: “The report proves that this is the era of Islam and of jihad” (Yediot Ahronot, December 7).
- Syrian Foreign Ministry: “What the report contains about the necessity to realize comprehensive peace in the region is objective and takes into consideration the basic roots of the state of instability and tension in the region, represented by the absence of just and comprehensive peace” (SANA – Syrian News Agency, December 7).
- Abdel Moneim Said, Head, Al-Ahram Center for Political & Strategic Studies, Cairo: “This report is a recognition of the limitation of American power … In the short term, America will highly suffer the loss of its reputation and credibility in the region” (Associated Press, December 7).
ZOA National President Morton A. Klein said, “The Baker/Hamilton Report is one of the most irrational, nonsensical and dangerously naive pieces of policy recommendations we have ever seen. Its implementation would do irreparable harm to the war against Islamist terrorism, which is the most important challenge we face since the war against the Nazis. The Baker/Hamilton Report recommendations would cripple the efforts to stop Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons by ending any possibility of sanctions of military action against Iran and instead reward it. Instead, they would legitimize, encourage and embolden those who sponsor Islamist terrorism. The Baker/Hamilton group has learned nothing from the historical disasters of the Chamberlain appeasement policy, when Chamberlain sold out Czechoslovakia to appease Germany. As Winston Churchill said, ‘Mr. Chamberlain, you had a choice between dishonor and war. You chose dishonor and you will get war.’ Chamberlain thought he would sacrifice Czechoslovakia to save England and Europe. Instead, his sacrificing of Czechoslovakia brought disaster to England and Europe by helping to initiate the worst world war in history. Now the Iraq Study Group is ready to sell out Israelis in the hopes of appeasing terrorist regimes. Instead, its policy recommendations will cause even greater chaos and terrorism throughout the Middle East and indeed the world. This approach has never succeeded in the past and it will not succeed now. We urge the Bush Administration to repudiate these policy recommendations which, if implemented, will endanger American standing in the region and the world. We urge the President to make this Report part of the dustbin of history, where it belongs.”