The New York Times has hardly been fair or honest in its reporting on Israel or the Jewish People. A very disturbing and troubling op-ed was published this past week in The Times by Daniel Pipes, entitled “Annexation Would Hurt Israel.”
Pipes, to the best of my knowledge, has been a right-leaning Zionist for many years. This makes it all the more upsetting and confounding as to why he adopted the far-left narrative that he employs in his piece. It is also very damaging and misguided at a critical time in Israel’s history. Both General Benny Gantz and Prime Minister Netanyahu agreed to “sovereignty” for Jewish communities of Judea, Samaria, and the Jordan Valley as part of their unity government package. “Sovereignty,” which is the appropriate term for the Biblically mandated and ordained heartland of the Jews (where we actually lived from the time of Joshua – except for a brief stint in Babylonian Exile) until the Roman Conquest, is only opposed by the far-Left in Israel. The Maagar Mochot Interdisciplinary Research Institute poll found Israelis opposed a Palestinian Arab state and favored Israeli sovereignty ten to one.
The only reason I could come up with as to why Pipes opposes “sovereignty” is that he has joined the “anti-Trump” chorus and, as a result, has gone to the wrong side of history. It also explains why he has been in the shadows these past three years.
For starters, Pipes’ arguments against “sovereignty” are the same ones, more or less, that were used against Israel’s move of the American Embassy to Jerusalem on May 14, 2018. All were disproved and cast to the wind.
Pipes’ first point – that President Trump “could well erupt in fury at Israel for unilaterally taking that step” – clearly indicates that he has a very distorted view of the president. This is where his anti-Trump bias comes into play. President Trump has been Israel’s best friend ever in the White House. His ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, has been the best ambassador from the United States in Israel’s 72 years of the modern era. Unlike President Obama, who threw more than one temper tantrum against Israel, President Trump has been a tremendous advocate and great friend who always speaks glowingly about the Jewish state.
Pipes’ second point – that “annexation would alienate Israel’s diminishing number of friends in the Democratic Party and Europe” – is a “brachah l’vatalah.” The Democratic Party has been moving further and further away from its pro-Israel roots long ago. There are many reasons for this, but it has nothing to do with “sovereignty.” It is up to American Jews who support the Democratic Party by over 70 percent to educate and cultivate their friends much better than they have to date. They have to hold their feet to the fire. They remain passive and apologetic instead of pro-active. By refusing to criticize Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib, they have surrendered their power and reach to the anti-Israel forces in the Democratic Party.
His third point about Sunni states – where he claims, “This working relationship has been premised on the Arab governments de-emphasizing the Palestinian issue; nothing is more certain to make that issue come roaring back to life than the provocation of a unilateral Israeli annexation” – is off the mark. The Sunni states need Israel more than ever because of the Iranian threat that grows daily. Just as the Sunni states did not get in the way of the Embassy move, they will not block Israel’s move towards “sovereignty.”
Pipes forgets that it is not only Israel that has a solid relationship with the Sunni states, but so does President Trump. They will not oppose him.
Pipe’s remaining points, which all can be subsumed under his proclamation of “six ways seizing the West Bank would backfire,” could all be easily refuted by the simple expression of “been there, done that.” The Embassy move did not result in a peep from any corner, because President Trump is a true leader who inspires respect and fear on the Arab Street. It is because of this that he is naturally positioned to actually bring peace to the region.
Daniel Pipes, who is an “anti-Trumper,” will never see it that way. He is blinded by his negative view of the president. His op-ed only added fuel to the Mideast fire. He should know better.
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Joseph M. Frager is a physician and lifelong activist.