The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) has strongly criticized the America Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) for calling for the establishment of an Abbas/Palestinian Arab state, a position that contradicts those of both the Trump Administration and the Israeli government.
That coupled with AIPAC’s long standing refusal to support Israel’s policy of the right of Jews to live anywhere in Judea/Samaria, its delay of almost a year in supporting a stronger Taylor Force Act until it was weakened, indicates AIPAC’s claim that its policy is only to support Israeli policy seems to be inaccurate.
Speaking on Sunday, AIPAC CEO Howard Kohr addressed the AIPAC annual conference in Washington DC, calling the establishment of an Abbas Palestinian Arab state essential for Israel’s security, saying, “We must all work toward that future: two states for two peoples…. One Jewish with secure and defensible borders, and one Palestinian with its own flag and its own future. Today that dream seems remote. This is tragic.”
ZOA National President Morton A. Klein said in a statement, “It seems to us absolutely surreal that, within a mere couple of weeks since Palestinian Authority (PA) dictator Mahmoud Abbas’ poisonous, grotesque speech falsely accusing Israel of ethnic cleansing in a war actually launched by Palestinian Arabs in 1948; inventing a fantasy history of Palestinian origins among the biblical Canaanites; blaming Israel for the failure of peace initiatives that the PA actually rejected; systematically denying, falsifying and appropriating Jewish history in order to deny Jews any right to a state of their own, stating all of Israel is Occupied Arab land, paying Arabs to murder Jews, naming schools, streets, sports teams after Jew killers, proclaiming that no Jew will be allowed in “Palestine” and refusing to recognize Israel as a Jewish State, AIPAC should think it appropriate and fitting to call for establishing an Abbas-controlled Palestinian Arab state.
“How, in such circumstances where the pro-terror, anti-peace agenda of Abbas and the PA have been starkly laid bare for us, can AIPAC even dream of discussing Palestinian Arab statehood at this point?
“And how can it do so when supporting the creation of a Palestinian Arab state is not the policy of either Israel or the Trump Administration? President Trump made it clear that he supports any solution that commends itself to both parties while Prime Minister Netanyahu has stated that a Palestinian state is not the policy of his government under prevailing conditions.
“Indeed, at this very AIPAC Conference, neither Vice-President Mike Pence’s speech, nor Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley’s speech, made any call for Palestinian statehood. No, the idea that the unrepentant, terror-promoting Mahmoud Abbas should be empowered to preside over a sovereign Palestinian Arab state was made only by the head of AIPAC!
“Israel’s Deputy Foreign Minister, Tzipi Hotovely, had it right when she suggested that the time has come for AIPAC to ‘update its talking points.’
“Likud MK Yehuda Glick also criticized AIPAC as an organization purporting to speak in defense of Israel’s interests, ‘if it pretends to represent the official position of the State of Israel to elected officials in the United States, it must do so faithfully.’
“And indeed, how can AIPAC be purporting to represent Israel or support its democratically elected government of the day when its CEO makes a speech aggressively pressing for Palestinian statehood when, only two months ago, the internal committee of Likud, the Israeli government’s ruling party, voted in favor or applying Israeli sovereignty to Judea/Samaria and eastern Jerusalem?
The Israeli public are no less at odds with Mr. Kohr than the Israeli government: A January 2017 Maagar Mochot poll found that an overwhelming majority of 75% of Israelis support Israeli sovereignty in Judea/Samaria, while a March 2017 Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs poll showed that 57% of Israelis oppose Israeli withdrawal from Judea/Samaria. Indeed, fully three-quarters of Israelis –– 76% –– support Israel retaining full security control throughout Judea/Samaria.
“Clearly, there is an astonishing disconnect between the views of the Israeli government and people and AIPAC. There is also a repeated pattern of flawed judgment by AIPAC.
“The truth of the matter is simply that AIPAC has got it badly wrong again. AIPAC supported the disastrous and tragic 2005 Gaza withdrawal, which led to over 10,000 Jews being uprooted from their homes, businesses and thriving communities, and enabled Hamas to eventually take over the Strip and exponentially increase rocket fire into Israel, with the result that there have been three major Gaza wars since that withdrawal.
“It is not as if Israel has reaped some great benefits from the steep and tragic price it paid. In return for relinquishing land and destroying and uprooting thriving communities, Israel has been struck by tens of thousands of rockets by Hamas and a number of other jihadists groups operating under its aegis. Thousands of former Gaza residents languish in temporary housing to this day, having proved unable to re-establish their old lives and businesses. This is the tragic misjudgment and disaster, which AIPAC supported.
“And of course AIPAC was an enthusiastic supporter of the original 1993 Oslo Accords, the greatest self-inflicted wound in Israel’s history. The cost of Oslo has included not only pushing off further, rather than bringing closer, the eventual advent of peace, but, most tragically, many thousands of murdered and maimed Israelis as well.
“I personally sat alongside Mr. Kohr during Congressional hearings on the Oslo Accords in the 1990s, in which he conceded that arch-terrorist Yasser Arafat’s behavior could be better, but also argued that Arafat was doing well enough to justify continued negotiations as well as continued US diplomatic and financial support, while I, representing ZOA, condemned Arafat as a terrorist and urged an end to US aid to Arafat. As we all know, Arafat eventually launched the 2000 terror war, which claimed the lives of 1,500 Israeli civilians and wounded and maimed thousands more. AIPAC was deeply mistaken then as it is deeply mistaken now.
“With such a record of bad judgment and over-eager willingness to endorse the platitudes and orthodoxies of the day, AIPAC has little credibility left with which to be urging the US or Israeli governments to take such a life-and-death decision such as creating a Palestinian state. Never has it been clearer that Mahmoud Abbas’ PA is a pro-terror, anti-peace regime that doesn’t believe in peace with Israel and is incapable of creating a durable peace with Israel. And that a State would further endanger Israel.
“At a time when the PA’s Abbas has gone out of his way to brazenly lie about Israel, Jewish history, insult President Trump by calling for his house to perish (meaning that his family be wiped out), why AIPAC would seek to cast Abbas a lifeline is truly shocking. Anyone who calls at this moment for the establishment of a Palestinian Arab state is essentially saying that Mahmoud Abbas should become its first head.
“This is a time in the region when states are failing, when the brutal terror-promoting Iranian regime is resurgent and when malignant radical Islamic terrorist groups are wreaking havoc across the region right up to Israel’s borders. Calling for a Palestinian Arab state in these prevailing conditions means essentially creating another terror regime, right on Israel’s doorstep, one which is likely to fall into the hands of the terrorist organization Hamas which calls in its Covenant for the destruction of Israel and the global murder of Jews.
“Indeed, a 2016 poll conducted by the Arab World Institute for Research and Development indicates that Hamas-affiliated lists would win any PA elections that might be held –– assuming any transfer of power within the PA was peaceful.
“It is increasingly clear that AIPAC has policies that do not reflect all of Israel’s policies nor even those of the US government. AIPAC has never supported the Israeli government’s policy to support the Jewish communities of Judea/Samaria, but it has supported Palestinian statehood even when the Israeli government has opposed it.
“We must remember that not only was AIPAC deeply mistaken in backing the Oslo Accords and later the unilateral Gaza withdrawal, but it has proved incapable of defending the basic interests of the US and Israel as well. Indeed, last year, AIPAC was a notable latecomer in supporting the Taylor Force Act, coming on board to support the passage of this bill designed to withhold US-tax-payer funding to the PA if the PA continues its policy of paying financial rewards to terrorists and their families, only after the Act had been significantly weakened.
“When it came to the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran; this should have been AIPAC’s moment. AIPAC should have been fiercely and effectively fighting and defeating this terrible policy that both provides a glide path to Iran to obtain a nuclear weapons capacity while also vastly enriching its radical Shia Islamic terrorist regime. A nuclear-armed Iran is an existential threat to Israel and even the West. This was moreover a bipartisan issue in Israel and the Jewish world, and AIPAC’s task was crystal clear. Yet, it makes clear that AIPAC’s reputation for power and effectiveness is overstated when only four out of 46 Democratic senators ended up opposing the deal.
“Be it noted that AIPAC’s task in 2015 was far from being an impossible one: it needed only to secure the support of 13 of 46 Democratic senators to sink the deal; yet it was only able to secure the votes of four. This was a momentous failure on the part of an organization that has a reputation for being able to build massive support or opposition for particular pieces of legislation.
“The ZOA opposes Mr. Kohr’s statement as both wrong, counter-productive and dangerous. Creating a Palestinian Arab terror state, largely immune from Israeli reprisals behind what would now be sovereign borders, and rendering Israel an indefensible nine miles wide, would only greatly empower and incentivize Palestinian Arab extremism and non-acceptance of Israel. It would also be a grand display of rewarding Islamist terrorism.
“If the PA as it stands today is a corrupt, barbarous, terror-promoting entity, why would any of this improve upon it being awarded statehood? This would be akin to expecting an abusive boyfriends’ behavior before marriage to improve upon marriage.
“As the ZOA has long argued, the PA must disband terror groups, confiscate illegal weaponry, cease paying salaries to jailed, blood-soaked Jew-killers and stipends to the families of dead terrorists; cease glorifying terrorists by naming schools, streets and sports teams after them; and end the incitement to hatred and murder in the PA-controlled media, mosques, schools and youth camps for an extended period of time before there should be any talk of Israeli concessions to the PA, let alone something as momentous and irreversible as statehood.”
“AIPAC should seek to undo some of the damage it has done with Mr. Kohr’s speech by immediately retracting their position in support of Palestinian Arab statehood, publicly support the right of Jews to live in Judea Samaria, and work to strengthen the Taylor Force Act and the Anti BDS legislation.“