Council for the National Interest

Check the Warning Labels: The Repackaging of Tom Hayden

May 8 2015 / 11:59 am

Tom Hayden:  Michael Berman and his brother were  leaning toward an upcoming young prosecutor named Adam Schiff, who later became the congressman from Pasadena. But they calculated that Schiff couldn’t win without name recognition, so they were considering “renting” me the Assembly seat, Berman said. But there was one condition: that I always be a “good friend of Israel.”

* * *

1982: Hayden expressed his support of Israel’s invasion of Lebanon… By then, according to Red Cross and UN estimates, the Israelis had killed, close to 20,000 Lebanese and Palestinians, most of them civilians

Jeffrey Blankfort, CounterPunch

“In the halls of the national gallery in Washington there are 46 portraits of Benedict Arnold. None look alike, yet they all resemble Tom Hayden.”

— ALEXANDER COCKBURN, Village Voice, July 20, 1982.

That’s how Alexander Cockburn opened his column, 33 years ago, upon learning of Tom Hayden and Jane Fonda’s trip to Israel in the first week of July, 1982, a month after Israel’s invasion of Lebanon. Hayden and Fonda had been part of a tour sponsored by the Israeli Association for the Welfare of Soldiers which, according to UPI, “invited a number of American entertainers to Israel to improve morale during the [Peace in Galilee] operation” and they did just that.

On June 6 of that year, using as a pretext the attempted assassination of Israel’s London Ambassador by the outlier Palestinian Abu Nidal group, Israel invaded Lebanon with 80,000 troops backed by its air force and navy with the intent to drive the PLO out of the country.

In Baabda, on the outskirts of Beirut, in the third week of what would be a 70 day siege of trapped Palestinian forces, they watched from a schoolyard as gunners lobbed their deadly shells into civilian neighborhoods of Lebanon’s capital.

From Israel came photos showing Fonda hugging wounded Israeli soldiers in their hospital beds while Hayden expressed his support of the invasion, tempered only by mild criticism of Israel’s pervasive use of cluster bombs. “We differed in the use of anti-personnel weapons,” said Tom.

By then, according to Red Cross and UN estimates, the Israelis had killed, close to 20,000 Lebanese and Palestinians, most of them civilians, figures which Hayden, citing Israeli sources, claimed were “wildly exaggerated.”

On his return from Israel, Hayden defended his trip on Pacifica radio stations and wrote an op-ed in the LA Herald-Examiner, employing what has become a standard trope among defenders of Israel’s bloody assaults on Gaza in recent years, asking rhetorically, what the US response would be if “Mexico collapsed in bloody internal strife, and an armed terrorist group used the opportunity to continuously shell the citizens of San Diego, driving their children into bomb shelters and their elderly to settle somewhere else.”

That 34 years earlier, the Israelis had forced 750,000 Palestinians to leave their homes and villages and “settle somewhere else,” many of them in Lebanon, was among the larger pieces of the problem that Hayden failed to mention.

More to the immediate point, there had not been shelling of Israel from Lebanon by the Palestinians, continuous or otherwise for the 11 months preceding the invasion, despite repeated Israeli provocations.

To Ariel Sharon’s frustration, the PLO strictly adhered to a cease-fire agreement drawn up between the Palestinians and Israelis in July, 1981 by US ambassador Philip Habib.

The cease-fire was no secret in Israel and Hayden could not have failed to be aware of it. He admittedly knew that in the second and third weeks following the invasion, 20,000, then 100,000 Israelis went in the streets to protest the invasion much as hundreds of thousands of Americans had protested our country’s war on Vietnam a decade and a half earlier in which Hayden, one of the founders of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) had played a significant role.

“At twenty eight he is a professional revolutionary,” is how Steven Roberts described him in the December, 1968, Esquire. “dedicated to the curtailment of American power abroad and the system” at home.

But that was then and this was now and Hayden had, by his own admission, jettisoned the anti-war movement for “the system.” He had decided to run for the California State Assembly in Santa Monica with its significant Jewish population; the need for votes and money from the latter easily trumped whatever principles that Hayden might have brought to the table.

“I’m not the angry young man I was in the 60s,” he said in his television ads. As if to prove the point, Hayden was quoted as questioning the military’s overspending on sophisticated weapons, saying, “We actually have a shortage of old-fashioned things, like guns and tanks.” (SF Examiner & Chronicle, 10/31/82)

As Gore Vidal pointed out at the time, Hayden gave “opportunism a bad name.”

Hayden went on to win that election, the most expensive in the state’s history and several more, hanging on to his assembly seat until 1992 and then moving up to the Senate where he filled the chair from 1992 until 2000.

If he had any second thoughts about his 1982 behavior we didn’t hear about it for 24 years when he was no longer in office and had other fish to fry and no longer Jewish voters or donors to please.

It was not until the summer of 2006 when Israel was again bombing Lebanon that Hayden publicly spoke about the subject. Under the ambiguous headline, ‘Things come ’round in Mideast,” (Truthdig, 7/18/06 – See below) Hayden wrote that “that summer I made the mistake of my political career,” but attempted to shift the blame for his actions on the Israel Lobby, and, in particular, on the political machine of Congressman Howard Berman and his brother, Michael, that controlled Democratic politics in Los Angeles and much of California, and pretending that he had been duped about Israel’s goals in Lebanon.

“Ever curious and aware of my district’s politics,” wrote Hayden in theHerald-Examiner, “I decided we should go to the Middle East—but only as long as the Israeli ‘incursion,’ as it was delicately called [and how he described it at the time], was limited to the 10-kilometer space near the Lebanese border, as a cushion against rocket fire. [Israel Consul]Benny Navon assured me that the ‘incursion’ was limited, and would be followed by negotiations and a solution.”

A quarter of a century may have passed but the truth remained the same. By the time Hayden and Fonda arrived in Lebanon, on July 2, the Israelis were already well past the Lebanese border and had been besieging Beirut since June 14. Hayden had clearly lied.

At this point readers may wonder why I am bringing this up now. It’s a reasonable question but one that should have been asked when Hayden, trying to regain his onetime prominence among “progressives,” co-founded (What else?), “Progressives for Obama” in 2008.

On the April 30th broadcast of Democracy Now!, Amy Goodman devoted her entire program to Hayden, interviewing him, first, regarding the Baltimore police killing of Freddie Gray—based on Hayden’s experiences in Newark’s Black ghetto a half a century ago—and on his new book, “Listen Yankee, Why Cuba Matters,” based on his conversations with renowned Cuban diplomat, Ricardo Alarcon.

In the light of his past history, it would seem that Hayden is taking advantage of the US opening to Cuba to reestablish himself as a spokesperson of the Left and, consequently, a warning label needs to be applied to the repackaging.

With regard to his actions back in 1982, it should be stressed that Hayden, while stating that his trip had been “the mistake of my political career,” it was anything but and his article contained no apology. In fact, his expression of solidarity with Israel’s invading army was no error but a calculated move to enhance his political careerwhich it did; his 18 years in the state legislature and now tidy pension testify to that. If he had done the right thing and condemned Israel’s invasion of Lebanon in 1982 he never would have served a single term and I am sure he would be the first to admit it.

In the previous October, Hayden already had his eyes on that assembly seat. In an op-ed distributed by Pacific News Service (10/9/81), he warned that the US was sacrificing Israel for the sake of Arab oil. Sounding very much like every other bought American politician from Joe Biden to Elizabeth Warren, Hayden wrote:

“We are letting dollars and weapons eclipse the fact that America and Israel, at their best, are lands of vision and idealism. The United States has stood side by side with Israel since its birth, not simply because it was a ‘strategic asset, but because of a strong moral commitment—a bonding of two nations with a deep respect for democracy, human rights, and justice.”

Five years before that, Hayden, funded by the success of Jane Fonda’s workout video, had launched the Campaign for Economic Democracy (CED which he would use as a springboard for his assembly bid. Speaking at the beginning of a national tour of the CED in New York in 1979 before “thousands, most of them Jewish,” at Temple Shaaray “in Manhattan’s fashionable East Side,” as Ron Radosh described it in In These Times (10/17-23/79, Hayden accused the oil companies of backing the PLO and “said [while] he was well aware of the profound grievances of Palestinians… he was sure they could not be satisfied unless they created a democratic-secular state, “and that means the dismantling of Israel.”

On the eve of the Democratic Convention in San Francisco in 1984, Hayden was part of a panel discussion, heralded as “Whose Party is This, Anyway?” sponsored by The Nation, The New Republic, Mother Jones, Harper’s, the Democratic Socialists of America, and Hayden’s CED, a “Who’s Who” of the American Liberal establishment. And featuring, besides Hayden, Mother Jones’s Deirdre English, the Democratic Socialists of America’s Michael Harrington, Congresswoman Maxine Waters and food expert, Francis Fox Piven.

There were a handful of protesters there to greet Hayden and a full auditorium of 1700 attendees, among them myself, handing out a mimeographed three page leaflet headed by the quote from Cockburn that began this article and critiquing Hayden and Fonda’s visit with the Israeli soldiers.

A copy of the leaflet was placed in front of each of the speakers’ microphones. As they took their seats, Hayden, apparently forewarned, was missing, as was Waters. She had an earlier speaking engagement in Oakland.

Just as the event was beginning, Hayden, having entered the auditorium through a back door, slipped into his seat and soon was exchanging disapproving nods with Harrington as they looked at our leaflet.

Harrington was the last speaker and as soon as he had concluded his remarks, Hayden rose from his chair and scampered for the rear exit, only to be forced to put on the brakes by the entrance, through the front door, of Rep. Waters, who had just arrived.

Rather than showing Waters the courtesy of returning to his seat as she stepped to the rostrum, a visibly nervous Hayden took a chair behind the curtain, close to the door. Following her last word, he vanished into the night, eluding the several protesters who had climbed the stairs to the stage to confront him.

Unfortunately, Hayden didn’t stay vanished. Thirty-one years later, he is still among us, maintaining a degree of celebrity and acceptance in progressive circles as he did that night that which says as much about those circles as it does about him.

Does any reader believe that would be the case had Hayden or anyone else with “progressive” credentials made a similar trip to South Africa in 1976 to show solidarity with South African soldiers as they mowed down Black protesters in Soweto?

Of course not, and as the Bard had his Julius Caesar exclaim, “The fault, dear Brutus, lies not in the stars but in us.”


Jeffrey Blankfort is a radio host and journalist in Northern California and can be contacted at jblankfort@earthlink.net.


Things Come ‘Round in Mideast

Tom Hayden, July 18, 2006, Truthdig – Twenty-five years ago I stared into the eyes of Michael Berman, chief operative for his congressman-brother, Howard Berman. I was a neophyte running for the California Assembly in a district that the Bermans claimed belonged to them.

“I represent the Israeli defense forces,” Michael said. I thought he was joking. He wasn’t. Michael seemed to imagine himself the gatekeeper protecting Los Angeles’ Westside for Israel’s political interests, and those of the famous Berman-Waxman machine. Since Jews represented one-third of the Democratic district’s primary voters, Berman held a balance of power.

All that year I tried to navigate the district’s Jewish politics. The solid historical liberalism of the Westside was a favorable factor, as was the strong support of many Jewish community leaders. But the community was moving in a more conservative direction. Some were infuriated at my sponsorship of Santa Monica’s tough rent control ordinance. Many in the organized community were suspicious of the New Left for becoming Palestinian sympathizers after the Six Day War; they would become today’s neoconservatives.

I had traveled to Israel in a generally supportive capacity, meeting officials from all parties, studying energy projects, befriending peace advocates like the writer Amos Oz. I also met with Palestinians and commented favorably on the works of Edward Said. As a result, a Berman ally prepared an anti-Hayden dossier in an attempt to discredit my candidacy with the Democratic leadership in the California state capital.

This led to the deli lunch with Michael Berman. He and his brother were privately leaning toward an upcoming young prosecutor named Adam Schiff, who later became the congressman from Pasadena. But they calculated that Schiff couldn’t win without name recognition, so they were considering “renting” me the Assembly seat, Berman said. But there was one condition: that I always be a “good friend of Israel.”

This wasn’t a particular problem at the time. Since the 1970s I had favored some sort of two-state solution. I felt close to the local Jewish activists who descended from the labor movement and participated in the civil rights and anti-Vietnam movements. I wanted to take up the cause of the aging Holocaust survivors against the global insurance companies that had plundered their assets.

While I believed the Palestinians had a right to self-determination, I didn’t share the animus of some on the American left who questioned Israel’s very legitimacy. I was more inclined toward the politics of Israel’s Peace Now and those Palestinian nationalists and human rights activists who accepted Israel’s pre-1967 borders as a reality to accommodate. I disliked the apocalyptic visions of the Israeli settlers I had met, and thought that even hard-line Palestinians would grudgingly accept a genuine peace initiative.

I can offer my real-life experience to the present discussion about the existence and power of an “Israel lobby.” It is not as monolithic as some argue, but it is far more than just another interest group in a pluralist political world. In recognizing its diversity, distinctions must be drawn between voters and elites, between Reform and Orthodox tendencies, between the less observant and the more observant. During my ultimate 18 years in office, I received most of my Jewish support from the ranks of the liberal and less observant voters. But I also received support from conservative Jews who saw themselves as excluded by a Jewish (and Democratic) establishment.

However, all these rank-and-file constituencies were attuned to the question of Israel, even in local and state elections, and would never vote for a candidate perceived as anti-Israel or pro-Palestinian. I had to be certified “kosher,” not once but over and over again.

The certifiers were the elites, beginning with rabbis and heads of the multiple mainstream Jewish organizations, especially each city’s Jewish Federation. An important vetting role was held as well by the American-Israel Political Action Committee (AIPAC), a group closely associated with official parties in Israel. When necessary, Israeli ambassadors, counsels general and other officials would intervene with statements declaring someone a “friend of Israel.”

In my case, a key to the “friendship issue” was the Los Angeles-based counsel general Benjamin Navon. Though politics drew us together, our personal friendship was genuine enough. I think that Benny, as he was called, wanted to pull me and my then-wife, Jane Fonda, into a pro-Israel stance, but he himself was an old-school labor/social democrat who personally believed in a negotiated political settlement. We enjoyed personal and intellectual time together, and I still keep on my bookshelf a wooden sculpture by his wife, of an anguished victim of violence.

The de facto Israeli endorsement would be communicated indirectly, in compliance with laws that prohibit foreign interference in an American election. We would be seen and photographed together in public. Benny would make positive public statements that could be quoted in campaign mailings. As a result, I was being declared “kosher” by the ultimate source, the region’s representative of the state of Israel.

Nevertheless, throughout the spring 1982 campaign I was accused of being a left-wing madman allied to terrorism and communism. The national Democratic leader Walter Mondale commented jokingly during a local visit that I was being described as worse than Lenin. It was a wild ride.

I won the hard-fought primary by 51% to 45%. The Bermans stayed neutral. Willie Brown, Richard Alatorre and the rest of the California Democratic establishment were quietly supportive. I easily won the general election in November.

But that summer I made the mistake of my political career. The Israel Defense Forces invaded Lebanon, and Benny Navon wanted Jane and me to be supportive. It happened that I had visited the contested border in the past, witnessed the shelling of civilian Israeli homes, and interviewed Israeli and Lebanese zealots–crazies, I thought, who were preaching preventive war. I opposed cross-border rocket attacks and naively favored a demilitarized zone.

Ever curious, and aware of my district’s politics, I decided we should go to the Middle East–but only as long as the Israeli “incursion,” as it was delicately called, was limited to the 10-kilometer space near the Lebanese border, as a cushion against rocket fire. Benny Navon assured me that the “incursion” was limited, and would be followed by negotiations and a solution. I also made clear our opposition to the use of any fragmentation bombs in the area, and my ultimate political identification with what Israeli Peace Now would say.

There followed a descent into moral ambiguity and realpolitick that still haunts me today. When we arrived at the Israeli-Lebanon border, the game plan promised by Benny Navon had changed utterly. Instead of a localized border conflict, Israel was invading and occupying all of Lebanon–with us in tow. Its purpose was to destroy militarily the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) haven in Lebanon. This had been Gen. Ariel Sharon’s secret plan all along, and I never will know with certainty whether Benny Navon had been deceived along with everyone else.

For the next few weeks, I found myself defending Israel’s “right” to self-defense on its border, only to realize privately how foolish I was becoming. In the meantime, Israel’s invasion was continuing, with ardent Jewish support in America.

Finally, a close friend and political advisor of mine, Ralph Brave, took me for a walk, looked into my eyes and said: “Tom, you can’t do this. You have to stop.” He was right, and I did. In the California Legislature, I went to work on Holocaust survivor issues while withdrawing from the bind of Israeli-Palestinian politics. When the first Palestinian intifada began, I sensed from experience that the balance of forces had changed, and that the Israeli occupation was finished. Frictions developed between me and some of my Israeli and Jewish friends when I suggested that Israel must make a peace deal immediately or accept a worse deal later.

It is still painful and embarrassing to describe these events of nearly 25 years ago, but with Israel today again bombing Lebanon and Israeli officials bragging about “rolling back the clock by twenty years” and reconfiguring the Middle East, I feel obliged to speak out against history repeating.

How do I read today’s news through the lens of the past?

What I fear is that the “Israeli lobby” is working overtime to influence American public opinion on behalf of Israel’s military effort to “roll back the clock” and “change the map” of the region, going far beyond issues like prisoner exchange.

What I fear is that the progress of the American peace movement against the Iraq war will be diverted and undermined, at least for now, by the entry of Israel from the sidelines into the center of the equation.

What I fear is the rehabilitation of the discredited U.S. neoconservative agenda to ignite a larger war against Hamas, Hezbollah, Syria and Iran. The neoconservatives’ 1996 “Clean Break” memo [see below] advocated that Israel “roll back” Lebanon and destabilize Syria in addition to overthrowing Saddam Hussein. An intellectual dean of the neoconservatives, Bernard Lewis, has long advocated the “Lebanonization” of the Middle East, meaning the disintegration of nation states into “a chaos of squabbling, feuding, fighting sects, tribes, regions and parties.”

This divide-and-conquer strategy, a brainchild of the region’s British colonizers, is already taking effect in Iraq, where America overthrew a secular state, installed a Shiite majority and its militias in power and now portrays itself as the only protection for Sunnis against those same Shiites. The resulting quagmire has become a justification for American troops to remain.

What I fear is trepidation and confusion among rank-and-file voters and activists, and the paralysis of politicians, especially Democrats, who last week were moving gradually toward setting a deadline for U.S. withdrawal from Iraq. The politics of the present crisis favor the Republicans and the White House in the short run. How many politicians will favor withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq under present conditions? Isn’t this Karl Rove’s game plan for the November elections?

What I know is that I will not make the same mistake again. I hope that my story deepens the resolve of all those whose feelings are torn, conflicted or confused in the present. It is not being a “friend of Israel” to turn a blind eye to its never-ending occupation.

One might argue, and many Americans today might agree, that Hezbollah and Hamas started this round of war with their provocative kidnappings of Israeli soldiers. Lost in the headlines, however, is the fact that the Israelis have 9,000 Palestinian prisoners, and have negotiated prisoner swaps before. Others will blame the Islamists for incessant rocket attacks on Israel. But the roots of this virulent spiral of vengeance lie in the permanent occupation of Palestinian territories by the overconfident Israelis. As it did in 1982, Israel now admits that the war is not about prisoner exchanges or cease-fires; it is about eradicating Hezbollah and Hamas altogether, if necessary by an escalation against Syria or even Iran. It should be clear by now that the present Israeli government will never accept an independent Palestinian state, but rather harbors a colonial ambition to decide which Palestinian leaders are acceptable.

In 1982, Israel said the same thing about eliminating PLO sanctuaries in Lebanon. It was after that 1982 Israeli invasion that Hezbollah was born. I remember Israeli national security experts even taking credit for fostering Hamas and Islamic fundamentalism as safe, reclusive alternatives to Palestinian secular nationalism. I remember watching Israeli soldiers blow up Palestinian houses and carry out collective punishment because, they told me matter-of-factly, punishment is the only language that Arabs understand. Israelis are inflicting collective punishment on Lebanese civilians for the same reason today.

It is clear that apocalyptic forces, openly green-lighted by President Bush, are gambling on the impossible. They are trying to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat in Iraq through escalation in Lebanon and beyond. This is yet another faith-based initiative.

If the American people do not see through the headlines; if the Democrats turn hawkish; if the international community fails to intervene immediately, the peace movement may be sidelined to a prophetic and marginal role for the moment. But we can say the following for now:

Militarism and occupation cannot extinguish the force of Islamic nationalism. Billions in American tax dollars are funding the Israeli troops and bombs.

There needs to be an exit strategy. The absence of any such exit plan is the weakest element of the U.S.-Israeli campaign. Just as the White House says it plans to deploy 50,000 troops on permanent bases in an occupied Iraq, so the Israelis speak of permanently eliminating their enemies, from Gaza to Tehran. The result will be further occupation, resistance and deeper quagmire.

The immediate conflict should not become a pretext for continuing the U.S. military occupation of Iraq. American soldiers should not be stuck waist-deep in a sectarian quagmire. Congressional insistence on denying funds for permanent military bases is a vital first step. Otherwise we will witness a tacit alliance between Israel and the U.S. to dominate the Middle East militarily.

Most important, Americans must not be timid in speaking up, as I was 25 years ago. Silence is consent to occupation.


https://web.archive.org/web/20140125123844/http://www.iasps.org/strat1.htm

A Clean Break:
A New Strategy for Securing the Realm

The Institute for Advanced Strategic and Political Studies Jerusalem, Washington

12/7/09

Following is a report prepared by The Institute for Advanced Strategic and Political Studies’“Study Group on a New Israeli Strategy Toward 2000.” The main substantive ideas in this paper emerge from a discussion in which prominent opinion makers, including Richard Perle, James Colbert, Charles Fairbanks, Jr., Douglas Feith, Robert Loewenberg, David Wurmser, and Meyrav Wurmser participated. The report, entitled “A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm,” is the framework for a series of follow-up reports on strategy.

Israel has a large problem. Labor Zionism, which for 70 years has dominated the Zionist movement, has generated a stalled and shackled economy. Efforts to salvage Israel’s socialist institutions—which include pursuing supranational over national sovereignty and pursuing a peace process that embraces the slogan, “New Middle East”—undermine the legitimacy of the nation and lead Israel into strategic paralysis and the previous government’s “peace process.”

That peace process obscured the evidence of eroding national critical mass— including a palpable sense of national exhaustion—and forfeited strategic initiative. The loss of national critical mass was illustrated best by Israel’s efforts to draw in the United States to sell unpopular policies domestically, to agree to negotiate sovereignty over its capital, and to respond with resignation to a spate of terror so intense and tragic that it deterred Israelis from engaging in normal daily functions, such as commuting to work in buses.

Benjamin Netanyahu’s government comes in with a new set of ideas. While there are those who will counsel continuity, Israel has the opportunity to make a clean break; it can forge a peace process and strategy based on an entirely new intellectual foundation, one that restores strategic initiative and provides the nation the room to engage every possible energy on rebuilding Zionism, the starting point of which must be economic reform. To secure the nation’s streets and borders in the immediate future, Israel can:

  • Work closely with Turkey and Jordan to contain, destabilize, and roll-back some of its
    most dangerous threats. This implies clean break from the slogan, “comprehensive peace”
    to a traditional concept of strategy based on balance of power.
  • Change the nature of its relations with the Palestinians, including upholding the right of
    hot pursuit for self defense into all Palestinian areas and nurturing alternatives to Arafat’s
    exclusive grip on Palestinian society.
  • Forge a new basis for relations with the United States—stressing self-reliance, maturity,
    strategic cooperation on areas of mutual concern, and furthering values inherent to the
    West. This can only be done if Israel takes serious steps to terminate aid, which prevents
    economic reform.

This report is written with key passages of a possible speech marked TEXT, that highlight the clean break which the new government has an opportunity to make. The body of the report is the commentary explaining the purpose and laying out the strategic context of the passages.

A New Approach to Peace

Early adoption of a bold, new perspective on peace and security is imperative for the new prime minister. While the previous government, and many abroad, may emphasize “land for peace”— which placed Israel in the position of cultural, economic, political, diplomatic, and military retreat — the new government can promote Western values and traditions. Such an approach, which will be well received in the United States, includes “peace for peace,” “peace through strength” and self reliance: the balance of power.

A new strategy to seize the initiative can be introduced:

TEXT:

We have for four years pursued peace based on a New Middle East. We in Israel
cannot play innocents abroad in a world that is not innocent. Peace depends on the
character and behavior of our foes. We live in a dangerous neighborhood, with
fragile states and bitter rivalries. Displaying moral ambivalence between the effort to
build a Jewish state and the desire to annihilate it by trading “land for peace” will
not secure “peace now.” Our claim to the land —to which we have clung for hope
for 2000 years–is legitimate and noble. It is not within our own power, no matter
how much we concede, to make peace unilaterally. Only the unconditional acceptance by Arabs of our rights, especially in their territorial dimension, “peace for peace,” is a solid basis for the future.

Israel’s quest for peace emerges from, and does not replace, the pursuit of its ideals. The Jewish people’s hunger for human rights — burned into their identity by a 2000-year old dream to live free in their own land — informs the concept of peace and reflects continuity of values with Western and Jewish tradition. Israel can now embrace negotiations, but as means, not ends, to pursue those ideals and demonstrate national steadfastness. It can challenge police states; enforce compliance of agreements; and insist on minimal standards of accountability.

Securing the Northern Border

Syria challenges Israel on Lebanese soil. An effective approach, and one with which American can sympathize, would be if Israel seized the strategic initiative along its northern borders by engaging Hizballah, Syria, and Iran, as the principal agents of aggression in Lebanon, including by:

• striking Syria’s drug-money and counterfeiting infrastructure in Lebanon, all of which
focuses on Razi Qanan.

• paralleling Syria’s behavior by establishing the precedent that Syrian territory is not
immune to attacks emanating from Lebanon by Israeli proxy forces.

• striking Syrian military targets in Lebanon, and should that prove insufficient, striking at
select targets in Syria proper.

Israel also can take this opportunity to remind the world of the nature of the Syrian regime. Syria repeatedly breaks its word. It violated numerous agreements with the Turks, and has betrayed the United States by continuing to occupy Lebanon in violation of the Taef agreement in 1989. Instead, Syria staged a sham election, installed a quisling regime, and forced Lebanon to sign a “Brotherhood Agreement” in 1991, that terminated Lebanese sovereignty. And Syria has begun colonizing Lebanon with hundreds of thousands of Syrians, while killing tens of thousands of its own citizens at a time, as it did in only three days in 1983 in Hama.

Under Syrian tutelage, the Lebanese drug trade, for which local Syrian military officers receive protection payments, flourishes. Syria’s regime supports the terrorist groups operationally and financially in Lebanon and on its soil. Indeed, the Syrian-controlled Bekaa Valley in Lebanon has become for terror what the Silicon Valley has become for computers. The Bekaa Valley has become one of the main distribution sources, if not production points, of the “supernote” — counterfeit US currency so well done that it is impossible to detect.

Text:

Negotiations with repressive regimes like Syria’s require cautious realism. One cannot sensibly assume the other side’s good faith. It is dangerous for Israel to deal naively with a regime murderous of its own people, openly aggressive toward its neighbors, criminally involved with international drug traffickers and counterfeiters,
and supportive of the most deadly terrorist organizations.

Given the nature of the regime in Damascus, it is both natural and moral that Israel abandon the slogan “comprehensive peace” and move to contain Syria, drawing attention to its weapons of mass destruction program, and rejecting “land for peace” deals on the Golan Heights.

Moving to a Traditional Balance of Power Strategy

TEXT:

We must distinguish soberly and clearly friend from foe. We must make sure that our friends across the Middle East never doubt the solidity or value of our friendship.

Israel can shape its strategic environment, in cooperation with Turkey and Jordan, by weakening, containing, and even rolling back Syria. This effort can focus on removing Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq — an important Israeli strategic objective in its own right — as a means of foiling Syria’s regional ambitions. Jordan has challenged Syria’s regional ambitions recently by suggesting the restoration of the Hashemites in Iraq. This has triggered a Jordanian- Syrian rivalry to which Asad has responded by stepping up efforts to destabilize the Hashemite Kingdom, including using infiltrations. Syria recently signaled that it and Iran might prefer a weak, but barely surviving Saddam, if only to undermine and humiliate Jordan in its efforts to remove Saddam.

But Syria enters this conflict with potential weaknesses: Damascus is too preoccupied with dealing with the threatened new regional equation to permit distractions of the Lebanese flank. And Damascus fears that the ‘natural axis’ with Israel on one side, central Iraq and Turkey on the other, and Jordan, in the center would squeeze and detach Syria from the Saudi Peninsula.

For Syria, this could be the prelude to a redrawing of the map of the Middle East which would threaten Syria’s territorial integrity.

Since Iraq’s future could affect the strategic balance in the Middle East profoundly, it would be understandable that Israel has an interest in supporting the Hashemites in their efforts to redefine Iraq, including such measures as: visiting Jordan as the first official state visit, even before a visit to the United States, of the new Netanyahu government; supporting King Hussein by providing him with some tangible security measures to protect his regime against Syrian subversion; encouraging — through influence in the U.S. business community — investment in Jordan to structurally shift Jordan’s economy away from dependence on Iraq; and diverting Syria’s attention by using Lebanese opposition elements to destabilize Syrian control of
Lebanon.

Most important, it is understandable that Israel has an interest supporting diplomatically, militarily and operationally Turkey’s and Jordan’s actions against Syria, such as securing tribal alliances with Arab tribes that cross into Syrian territory and are hostile to the Syrian ruling elite.

King Hussein may have ideas for Israel in bringing its Lebanon problem under control. The predominantly Shia population of southern Lebanon has been tied for centuries to the Shia leadership in Najf, Iraq rather than Iran. Were the Hashemites to control Iraq, they could use their influence over Najf to help Israel wean the south Lebanese Shia away from Hizballah, Iran, and Syria. Shia retain strong ties to the Hashemites: the Shia venerate foremost the Prophet’s family, the direct descendants of which — and in whose veins the blood of the
Prophet flows — is King Hussein.

Changing the Nature of Relations with the Palestinians

Israel has a chance to forge a new relationship between itself and the Palestinians. First and foremost, Israel’s efforts to secure its streets may require hot pursuit into Palestinian-controlled areas, a justifiable practice with which Americans can sympathize.

A key element of peace is compliance with agreements already signed. Therefore, Israel has the right to insist on compliance, including closing Orient House and disbanding Jibril Rujoub’s operatives in Jerusalem. Moreover, Israel and the United States can establish a Joint Compliance Monitoring Committee to study periodically whether the PLO meets minimum standards of compliance, authority and responsibility, human rights, and judicial and fiduciary accountability.

TEXT:

We believe that the Palestinian Authority must be held to the same minimal
standards of accountability as other recipients of U.S. foreign aid. A firm peace
cannot tolerate repression and injustice. A regime that cannot fulfill the most
rudimentary obligations to its own people cannot be counted upon to fulfill its
obligations to its neighbors.

Israel has no obligations under the Oslo agreements if the PLO does not fulfill its obligations. If the PLO cannot comply with these minimal standards, then it can be neither a hope for the future nor a proper interlocutor for present. To prepare for this, Israel may want to cultivate alternatives to Arafat’s base of power. Jordan has ideas on this.

To emphasize the point that Israel regards the actions of the PLO problematic, but not the Arab people, Israel might want to consider making a special effort to reward friends and advance human rights among Arabs. Many Arabs are willing to work with Israel; identifying and helping them are important. Israel may also find that many of her neighbors, such as Jordan, have problems with Arafat and may want to cooperate. Israel may also want to better integrate its own Arabs.

Forging A New U.S.-Israeli Relationship

In recent years, Israel invited active U.S. intervention in Israel’s domestic and foreign policy for two reasons: to overcome domestic opposition to “land for peace” concessions the Israeli public could not digest, and to lure Arabs — through money, forgiveness of past sins, and access to U.S. weapons — to negotiate. This strategy, which required funneling American money to repressive and aggressive regimes, was risky, expensive, and very costly for both the U.S. and Israel, and placed the United States in roles is should neither have nor want.

Israel can make a clean break from the past and establish a new vision for the U.S.-Israeli partnership based on self-reliance, maturity and mutuality — not one focused narrowly on territorial disputes. Israel’s new strategy — based on a shared philosophy of peace through strength — reflects continuity with Western values by stressing that Israel is self-reliant, does not need U.S. troops in any capacity to defend it, including on the Golan Heights, and can manage its own affairs. Such self-reliance will grant Israel greater freedom of action and remove a significant lever of pressure used against it in the past.

To reinforce this point, the Prime Minister can use his forthcoming visit to announce that Israel is now mature enough to cut itself free immediately from at least U.S. economic aid and loan guarantees at least, which prevent economic reform. [Military aid is separated for the moment until adequate arrangements can be made to ensure that Israel will not encounter supply problems in the means to defend itself]. As outlined in another Institute report, Israel can become self-reliant only by, in a bold stroke rather than in increments, liberalizing its economy, cutting taxes, relegislating a free-processing zone, and selling-off public lands and enterprises — moves which will electrify and find support from a broad bipartisan spectrum of key pro-Israeli Congressional leaders, including Speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich.

Israel can under these conditions better cooperate with the U.S. to counter real threats to the region and the West’s security. Mr. Netanyahu can highlight his desire to cooperate more closely with the United States on anti-missile defense in order to remove the threat of blackmail which even a weak and distant army can pose to either state. Not only would such cooperation on missile defense counter a tangible physical threat to Israel’s survival, but it would broaden Israel’s base of support among many in the United States Congress who may know little about Israel, but care very much about missile defense. Such broad support could be helpful in the
effort to move the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.

To anticipate U.S. reactions and plan ways to manage and constrain those reactions, Prime Minister Netanyahu can formulate the policies and stress themes he favors in language familiar to the Americans by tapping into themes of American administrations during the Cold War which apply well to Israel. If Israel wants to test certain propositions that require a benign American reaction, then the best time to do so is before November, 1996.

Conclusions: Transcending the Arab-Israeli Conflict

TEXT: Israel will not only contain its foes; it will transcend them.

Notable Arab intellectuals have written extensively on their perception of Israel’s floundering and loss of national identity. This perception has invited attack, blocked Israel from achieving true peace, and offered hope for those who would destroy Israel. The previous strategy, therefore, was leading the Middle East toward another Arab-Israeli war. Israel’s new agenda can signal a clean break by abandoning a policy which assumed exhaustion and allowed strategic retreat by reestablishing the principle of preemption, rather than retaliation alone and by ceasing to absorb blows to the nation without response.

Israel’s new strategic agenda can shape the regional environment in ways that grant Israel the room to refocus its energies back to where they are most needed: to rejuvenate its national idea, which can only come through replacing Israel’s socialist foundations with a more sound footing; and to overcome its “exhaustion,” which threatens the survival of the nation.

Ultimately, Israel can do more than simply manage the Arab-Israeli conflict though war. No amount of weapons or victories will grant Israel the peace its seeks. When Israel is on a sound economic footing, and is free, powerful, and healthy internally, it will no longer simply manage the Arab-Israeli conflict; it will transcend it. As a senior Iraqi opposition leader said recently: “Israel must rejuvenate and revitalize its moral and intellectual leadership. It is an important — if not the most important–element in the history of the Middle East.” Israel — proud, wealthy, solid, and strong — would be the basis of a truly new and peaceful Middle East.

Participants in the Study Group on “A New Israeli Strategy Toward 2000:”

Richard Perle, American Enterprise Institute, Study Group Leader
James Colbert, Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs
Charles Fairbanks, Jr., Johns Hopkins University/SAIS
Douglas Feith, Feith and Zell Associates
Robert Loewenberg, President, Institute for Advanced Strategic and Political Studies
Jonathan Torop, The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
David Wurmser, Institute for Advanced Strategic and Political Studies
Meyrav Wurmser, Johns Hopkins University

Posted by on May 8 2015 . Filed under Commentary & Analysis, Featured articles, Israel Lobby, Neoconservatives . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 . Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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