Dear President Bush,
This is to assist your reflections on your return from the Middle East. I am writing in the belief that you do want to stop the countdown to Armageddon but don’t have the courage to do what is necessary.
An end to the conflict in and over Palestine on the basis of a viable two-state solution was possible so far as the vast majority of Palestinians and other Arabs and most Muslims everywhere were concerned from the end of1979, more than a quarter of a century ago. It follows, again so far as the vast majority of Palestinians and other Arabs and most Muslims everywhere are concerned, that, before you leave office, you could make for yourself a place in history as the greatest of all peacemakers. But only if you are prepared to use the leverage you have to require Israel to end its occupation of allthe Arab land it grabbed in 1967. The following is some advice about why you should and how you could use the leverage you have.
The key to understanding is in an observation made to me in private conversation by the man who is today Israel’s President, Shimon Peres.
In early 1980 when he made the observation I am about to quote, he was the leader of Israel’s Labour Party, then the main opposition to Prime Minister Menachem Begin’s governing Likud Party. Peres was hoping, as was President Carter, that he would win Israel’s next election and deny Begin, the most successful terrorist leader of modern history, a second term in office. At the time (and as I describe in Chapter 35 of my book Zionism: The Real Enemy of the Jews), I was preparing to act as the linkman in a secret and exploratory dialogue between Peres and PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat.
During a one-to-one conversation, I used the term “Israel lobby” (meaning the organisers of American support for Israel right or wrong). Peres interrupted me. “It’s notan Israel lobby”, he said sternly and with a hint of despair. “It’s a Likud lobby.” Pause. “And that’s my problem.”
The point Peres was making was that the policies the lobby in America was pushing the U.S. administration to adopt were not in Israel’s best interests. (Today it can be said, as Mearshimer and Walt do say, that they are also not in America’s best interests, if they ever were).
At the time the lobby was mobilising its many stooges in Congress to prevent President Carter bringing the PLO into the peace process. Carter was well aware that, by the end of 1979, the pragmatic Arafat had persuaded the Palestine National Council, the highest decision-making body on the Palestinian side, to back his policy of politics and (until then) unthinkable compromise with Israel. It required the Palestinians to be ready to make peace with Israel when it withdrew from all the land it occupied in 1967 to make the space for a Palestinian mini-state on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, with Jerusalemthe capital of two states.
This Arafat policy was initially unthinkable to most Palestinians because it required them not only to legitimise Israel’s existence (in international law only the dispossessed Palestinians can do that). It also required them to renounce their claim to 78% of their land and from which they (three-quarters of them) were ethnically cleansed in 1948. And that’s why it took Arafat six long years to sell the idea of unthinkable compromise with Israel to his Fatah leadership colleagues and then the PNC. When the PNC vote was eventually taken, in 1979, it was 296 forArafat’s policy of politics and compromise and four against. Shortly after the vote a beaming Arafat said to me: “It is a miracle. No more this silly talk of driving the Jews into the sea. We have turned our people around.” (To prepare the ground on his side for peace on terms which any rational government and people in Israel would have accepted with relief, Arafat had risked everything, his life as well as his crediblity with his own people).
Arafat was then at the height of his powers and from that moment on, as President Carter k
new, there could have been successful negotiations for peace based on a genuine and viable two-state solution.
The problem was that Arafat did not have a partner for peace on the Israeli side because Zionism – let’s give Israeli and lobby intransigence its proper name – was not, and is not, interested in peace on terms the vast majority of Palestinians and other Arabs and most Muslims everywhere could accept. (Yes, it’s true that in 1993, and thanks in part to President Clinton’s stage management and pulling power, Arafat did have a “perhaps” Israeli partner for peace in the shape of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, but he was assassinated by a gut-Zionist. And Rabin was succeeded by Israeli leaders whose prime objective, supported 100% and then some by the Zionist lobby in America, was to re-demonise and destroy the Palestinian leader. Arafat the terrorist they could handle. Arafat the peacemaker they could not. Didn’t Barak offer Arafat “95 percent” of everything he had said he wanted? No, he did not! That, too, was a Zionist propaganda lie).
At this point, Mr.President, I think I should pause to explain to you in very short summary the difference between Zionism and Judaism, why they are total oppposites and not as Zionism asserts one and the same.
Judaism is the religion of Jews (not the Jews because not all Jews are religious); and like Christianity and Islam, Judaism has at its core a set of moral values and ethical principles. Also, Judaism prohibitedthe return of Jews to the land of biblical Israel – one possible but woefully inadequate definition of Zionism – by the efforts of man. I bet you didn’t know that!
Zionism is not only a secular, colonialist ideology, it makes a mockery of, and has contempt for, the moral values and ethnical principles of Judaism. Which is why those most often described as “ultra orthodox” religious Jews say, and this Gentile believes they are right, that Zionism is destroying Judaism.
There is a very good reason why I believe it is important for you, Mr.President, to know the difference between Judiasm and Zionism, and I’ll get to it in due course.
To my way of thinking the most alarming thing you said in the course of your press conference in Ramallah was the following (my emphasis added). “The UN deal didn’t work in the past… this is an opportunity to move forward and negotiate a new deal… We can stay stuck in the past, which will yield nothing good for the Palestinian people or we can chart a hopeful path for the future.”
The obvious implication of those words is in two parts. One, which qualifies your headline-making statement that “occupation must end”, is that you, Mr. President, Zionist-like, have consigned to the dustbin of history all the UN resolutions and the requirements of international law relating to Israel’s illegal settlement of occupied territory. The other is that you have signed on to the Israeli plan, “the new deal”, as devised by Israel’s “bulldozer”, Ariel Sharon, when he was prime minister, and modified somewhat by his successor Ehud Olmert, who has realised that it’s “two states or the end of Israel” (for demographic reasons).
To people of all faiths and none everywhere who are reasonably well informed, sadly not too many Americans, there is no mystery about the essence of “the new deal”. It is entirely consistent with Zionism’s objective from its beginning in 1897. That objective (best documented in Professor Ilan Pappe’s latest book, The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine), was to expropriate as much Palestinian land as possible with the minimum number of Palestinians on it.
The “new deal” will offer the Palestinians (before you leave office, you hope) a limited or partial Israeli withdrawal from the occupied West Bank. The main Israeli settlement blocks will remain part of the Zionist state but enough space will be created for two or three bantustans which the Palestinians can call a state if they wish. And this is premised on the Zionist and neo-con asumption that Hamas can be defeated before the offer is made; and that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who is widely perceived to be little more than an American-and-Zionist stooge, will accept crumbs from Zionism’s table because he and his equally discredited Fatah leadership colleagues have no choice.
Mr. President, this “new deal”, if it is ever offered, won’t bring peace. It’s a recipe for disaster the like of which even the Middle East has not yet seen. And it won’t be confined to the region.
The Palestinian people, the masses, cannot and will not accept anything less than a mini state on all of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip with East Jerusalem its capital. (Jerusalemas an open city and the capital of two states is an option the vast majority Palestinians could and would endorse).
Palestinian rejection of the “new deal”, by the masses if not their leaders, would give Zionism the pretext to go for a final round of ethnic cleansing – to drive the Palestinians off the West Bank and into Jordan and beyond. That, I fear, will be Zionism’s final solution to the Palestineproblem.If that happens, the West Bank will be turned red with blood, mostly Palestinian blood. And honest reporters will describe it as a Zionist holocaust….. And that, if it happened, would bring forward
the day when the impotent Arab regimes on whom the West has relied for so long will be toppled. And the forces of violent Islamic fundamentalism everywhere would be energised like never before. A Clash of Civilisations, Judeo-Christian v Islamic, would then be unstoppable.
Mr. President, that does not have to be the future. As I have written, and almost always say on public platforms, the Jews, generally speaking are the intellectual elite of the Western civilisation, and the Palestinians, generally speaking, are the intellectual elite of the Arab world. What those two peoples could do together in peace and partnership is thestuff that real dreams are made of.They could change and develop the region for the better and, by so doing, give much needed hope and inspiration to the whole world.
That dream could still be made to come true but only if the White House uses all the leverage it has to require Israel to withdraw from all the Arab territory it grabbed in the 1967 war. (Western public opinion was conned into believing that the Arabs attacked first and/or were intending to attack, and that Israel went to war in self-defense, to prevent its Jews being “driven into the sea”. As you must know, Mr. President, that, too, was a Zionist propaganda lie. The Six Days war of 1967 was a war of Israeli aggression, long planned, and, for Israel’s hawks, the unfinished business of 1948/49).
Were you to even think of using the leverage you have to require Israel to be serious about peace on terms acceptable to the vast majority of Palestinians and most other Arabs and Muslims everywhere, you would need to be able to expose for the nonsense it is Zionism’s assertion that a Palestinian mini-state on all of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip would pose a threat to Israel’s security and even its existence.
The best explanation of why this Zionist assertion isnonsense was given to me by Arafat. He put it this way. Suppose that Israel did end its occupation of all the land it grabbed in 1967 and that a sovereign Palestinian state came into being on all the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Then suppose that Palestinian opponents of compromise launched a terrorist attack or attacks on Israel from within the Palestinian state. How would Israel react? If the attacks continued, Israelat a point would roll over the borders of the Palestinian state and crush it out of existence. That done Israel would say to the world, “We are here to stay for ever.” And the world would say, “We understand.” That, said Arafat, would be the end of Palestine. “We would have lost everything.” Arafat concluded his explanation to me with this question: “Does anybody seriously think that we Palestinians, having struggled for so long against impossible odds, and having suffered and sacrificed so much in order to achieve an acceptable minimum of justice, would be stupid enough to invite Zionism to come and take away what we had gained?”
A sovereign Palestinian mini-state on all of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip neither would nor could pose an unmanageablethreat to Israel’s security, let alone its very existence. (I emphasise “unmanageable” because it’s not impossible that in the early days or weeks of the new state’s existence, Palestinian rejectionists would seek to provoke Israel with a terrorist attack or attacks. But there can be no doubt that the government and security services of a sovereign Palestinian state inside defined borders and at peace with Israel would stop at nothing to isolate and destroy
Palestinian rejectionism; and it would do so with the full support of the overwhelming majority of the Palestinian people).
What about Hamas? There is no mystery about its real position.. If Israel said and meant that it was ready to negotiate a full and final peace on the basis of a genuine and viable two-state solution – one that would see Israel back behind its pre-1967 borders – Hamas’s leaders would say, “Let’s do the business”. And they would say that and mean it because they would have no choice- because, as they know, a genuine and viable two-state solution is still what the vast majority of Palestinians are prepared to settle for.
The question of the Palestinian right of return does not have to be an obstacle to peace. Though they can’t say so in public until
they can demonstrate to their people that politics and compromise will deliver “something concrete” (as Arafat used to put it), mainstream Palestinian leaders have long been reconciled to the fact that in the event of a genuine and viable two-state solution to the conflict, the right of return could only be to the Palestinian state. As Arafat and his senior leadership colleagues once said to me, that would probably mean that only about 100,000 Palestinian refugees could be accomodated in the new state. The rest would have to settle for financial compensation for their lost land and related rights. That is the full measure of the compromise the Palestinians were required by Arafat to make for peace with the Zionist state of Israel. Emotionally it is a compromise too far for all Palestinians, (it would be for me if I was a Palestinian); but the only alternatives are unending conflict which, to use your words, would “yield nothing good for the Palestian people” and could take us all to hell; or the creation of one secular, democratic state for all – by definition a state in which Arabs and Jews would enjoy equal rights. (The latter is the ideal solution because it’s the only one that would right the wrong done to the Palestinians by Zionism with the connivance of the major powers. But because one state for all would mean the end of the Zionist colonial enterprise, it’s by no means impossible that nuclear-armed, Zionist zealots would stop at nothing to prevent it happening. What could “stop at nothing” mean? When she was prime minister, Golda Meir, Mother Israel, said to me, on the record for the BBC’s Panorama programme, that in a doomsday situation, Israel would be prepared “to take the region and the whole world down with it.”)
Mr. President, you know that all the regimes of the existing Arab Order are ready, willing and able to make a full and final peace with Israel in exchange for its withdrawal from all the Arab land occupied in 1967. That being so, and given that the overwhelming majority of Palestinians have been ready for peace on that basis for more than a quarter of century, PEACE IS THERE FOR THE TAKING if the White House will use its leverage to require Israel to behave in accordance with UN resolutions and international law.
What is it, Mr. President, that is stopping you from using the leverage? The short answer is what has stopped all previous presidents – the power of the Zionist lobby and, in particular, its control, more or less, of both houses of the pork-barrel Congress on matters to do with Israel.
So yes, to be a real peacemaker, you would have to confront the Zionist lobby. Missionimpossible? No. All you would need to do is summon the leaders of the lobby to the White House, look them in the eyes, and tell them it was inAmerica’s best interests, and also those of the Jews of the world, that Israel not be allowed to go on being the obstacle to peace. And that, you would add, is why, if necessary, you were going to use all the leverage you had to require Israel to withdraw from all of the Arab land it occupied in 1967. You would then ask them as patriotic Americans to redirect their influence to serving the best interests of America and the Jews of the world by getting behind your insistence on a complete Israeli withdrawal from occupied territory.
I anticipate, Mr. President, that you might not understand why it’s in the best interests of the Jews of the world as well as the best interests of all Americans for Israel to be obliged to make peace on terms which the vast majority of Palestininans and most other Arabs and Muslims everywhere can accept. It’s not very complicated.
The sleeping giant of classical anti-Semitism has been re-awakened in the nations of the mainly Gentile Judeo-Christian or Western world; and theprime cause of the re-awakening is the Zionist state’s behaviour… behaviour which, in my view, qualifies it to be described, at least sometimes, as a terrorist state. (It’s also my view that after the obscenity of the Nazi holocaust, and because of it, the giant most likely would have gone back to sleep, remained asleep and, in all probability, would have died in its sleep – IF Zionism had not been allowed by the major powers, first Britain, then America, to have its way, as Balfour put it, “right or wrong“. There is a case for saying that with British and American politicians as “friends”, the Jews of the world have not needed enemies).
If you asked me what, really, is the basis for believing that anti-Semitism is seriously on the rise, I would give you the following answer.
The increase in the desecration of synagogues and Jewish graves (and the like), verbal abuse and assaults on Jews are a pointer. So, too, is the growth of on-line abuse of Jews. But there is something far more sinister. It’s what a growing number of Gentiles, middle to upper class people in particular, are thinking and now beginning to say behind closed doors and at dinner parties..What do they say? “These fucking Jews!” And it’s grown, this antipathy, in response to Israel’s arrogance of power and the correct perception of Israel as the oppressor. And the more it becomes apparent that Israel is the obstacle to peace on any terms most Palestinians and other Arabs and Muslims can accept, the more this antipathy will grow, with the real danger that it will bre
ak out, become unsuppressed, and manifest itself as violent anti-Semitism. As things are, and look like going, Holocaust II, shorthand for another great turning against Jews, is a real possibility in a foreseeable future. It’s also my view, which I know is shared in private by not a few eminent Jews, that if the monster of anti-Semitism goes on the rampage again, it might well start its journey in America.
The paragraph above is the context for my earlier statement that there is a very good reason why it is important for you, Mr. President, to understand the difference between Zionism and Judasim. It’s only when citizens know the difference that they can understand why it is wrong to blame all the Jews of the world for the crimes of the hardest core Zionist few. The people of America need to know this and you could tell them.
Knowledge of the difference between Zionism and Judaism is also the key to understanding why it is perfectly possible to be passionately anti-Zionist (opposed to Zionism’s colonial enterprise) without being in any way, shape of form anti-Semitic. If there’s to be informed and honest debate in America about who must do what and why for peace, Americans need to know this too. And again, Mr. President, you could tell them.
I’ll conclude by saying why I think George “Dubya” Bush is well placed, and perhaps uniquely placed, to be the American President who ended the conflict in and over Palestineby requiring Israel to end its occupation of all the Arab territory it grabbed in 1967.
If you were running for a second and final term in the White House, confronting the Zionist lobby and putting the necessary pressure on Israel would be a mission impossible. Because you cannot run for that most powerful of earthly offices again, you have no need of Zionist lobby organised funding or votes. Simply stated, in your last year as President you are a free man, free to do what is best for America’s real interests and also those of all of humankind.
There is also (is there not?) what could be called a legacy reason to tempt you to do the right thing. As things are, and perhaps because you listened too much to the really crazy peple around you (those led by the real Dr. Strangelove, I mean Vice-President Cheney), you are going down in history as the most deluded and dangerous American President. But it’s not yet too late for you to turn the legacy tide. If you have the courage to stand up to the Zionist lobby and tell it (in private would be best!) that the people of America have had enough of its subversion of democracy, and if you then use all the leverage you have to require Israel to withdraw from all the the Arab territory it grabbed in 1967, you will go down in history as the greatest of all peacemakers. As they frequently say in 24, “It’s your call”.
Mr.President, if you do the right thing for peace in the Middle East, you will have the thanks, respect and support of not less than 98% or even 99%” of all Arabs and other Muslims. And because the Palestineproblem is the cancer at the heart of international affairs, a peaceful resolution of it would vastly improve the prospects for marginalising, isolating and defeating violent Islamic fundamentalism.
I also believe that doing the right thing for peace in the Middle East would cause you to be admired by an easy majority of Jews in the world, many if not most of whom loathe what Israel has become but are too frightened to speak out. One who is not frightened is Gideon Levy, Israel’s best and most courageous journalist. On 6 January, in an article for Ha’aretzunder the headline A hostile president, he wrote the following about you (my emphasis added):
Never has there been a president who gave Israel such an automatic carte blancheand even encouraged it to take violent action, to deepen and entrench the occupation. This is not friendship with Israel. This is not concern for its future.A president who did not even try to pressure Israel to end the occupation is a president who is hostile to it, indifferent to its future and fate. A president who endorsed every abomination – from the expansion of settlements to the failure to honour commitments and signed agreements,
including those with the U.S. such as the passages agreement and the freeze on settlement construction – is not a president who seeks the best for Israel or aspires to peace.
Please, Mr. President, prove Gideon wrong for all our sakes, including your own.
PS. I do appreciate that you made something of a rod for your back when you promised Sharonin 2004 that Israel could keep the main settlement blocks on the occupied West Bank. But you could break that commitment by saying that it’s one you should not have made because the settlements are illegal in international law and that what you said has no standing in international law. You could even say, “I’m sorry, I was wrongly advised.”