An off-the-record New Year conversation with President Obama

Q: Israel’s leaders are the masters at creating pretexts to justify aggression of all kinds, but what kind of pretext could possibly be presented as justification for a final ethnic cleansing?

A: That’s not something I wish to speculate about.

Q: Then let me run this thought past you… Half a dozen Israeli agents pose as Palestinian terrorists. In cities up and down and across the state they plant bombs which kill dozens perhaps even scores of Israeli Jews. That would be enough to trigger a final ethnic cleansing and mobilize support for it.

A: It could happen like that.

Q: What do you think the consequences of a final Zionist ethnic cleansing of Palestine could be?

A: The answer has to begin with recognition of the fact that what we are witnessing in the world today, provoked by Israel’s policies and actions in defiance of international law, is a rising, global tide of anti-Israelism. The danger, as a former Director of Israeli Military Intelligence warned more than 20 years ago, is that what starts out as anti-Israelism could be transformed into classical anti-Semitism, leading to another great turning against Jews everywhere, including here in America.

Q: Mr. President, there are some people who believe that is precisely the outcome Zionism’s in-Israel leaders want because it would cause many North American and European Jews to flee to Israel for protection and, also, would justify in the minds of Zionism’s in-Israel leaders anything and everything they did to obtain and maintain an Israel that was big enough to be a refuge of last resort for all Jews.

A: There is enough evidence in history to make a case for that point of view. But I want to add that a final Zionist ethnic cleansing of Palestine could create great and grave dangers for the whole world, not only for Jews. It would propel Arab and wider Muslim hurt, humiliation and anger to new high levels, and that could only be good recruitment news for the proponents of violent Islamic fundamentalism.

Q: Could that make a Clash of Civilizations, Judeo-Christian v Islamic, more likely than not?

A: I don’t know.

Q: What is the third option for Greater Israel?

A: To formally annex all of the West Bank and then declare and mean that it wanted the enlarged state to be truly democratic with equal rights, including voting rights, for all its citizens. Sounds good in theory but it’s never going to happen in that way because there would come a time when Zionism would be voted out of existence by the Palestinian Arab majority. Zionism is never going to put itself out of business by its own actions.

Q: We have not spoken about a two-state solution which would see, in exchange for real peace, Israel ending its occupation of West Bank and lifting its siege of the Gaza Strip to create the space for a viable Palestinian state with East Jerusalem its capital or an undivided Jerusalem the capital of two states.

A: There is no point in talking about a viable two-state solution because it has long been dead. Today there are more than half a million illegal Jewish settlers in permanent residence on the West Bank including East Jerusalem, and that number is rising on an almost daily basis. It’s possible that for a real peace some of them would accept compensation and agree to be relocated in an Israel back to its borders as they were on the eve of the 1967 war, but many of them would fight to prevent an enforced evacuation, and that would trigger a Jewish civil war. As Peres said to you in 1980, no Israeli prime minister is going down in history as the one who gave the order to the Jewish army to shoot Jews out of the West Bank, their Judea and Samaria. It isn’t going to happen.

Page 2 of 4 | Previous page | Next page