The Subcommittee on Middle East and South Asia of the U.S. House Committee on Foreign Affairs held a hearing on February 14, 2007, titled "Next Steps in Israeli-Palestinian Peace Process." Three witnesses appeared before the subcommittee: Martin Indyk of the Brookings Institution, David Makovsky of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, and myself. (A complete video of the hearing, nearly three hours long, can be seen on the committee website; the transcript is available on my website.) The Democrats chose Makovsky and Indyk, the Republicans chose me. Gary Ackerman is the chairman of the committee and Mike Pence the ranking minority member.
We three witnesses differ deeply in outlook on the topic of Palestinian-Israeli negotiations and our testimonies made those clear. Makovsky and Indyk endorsed the "peace process" while I likened it more to a "war process." Makovsky and Indyk differed less widely among themselves but their differences were still clear, with Makovsky seeing the impact of the Mecca Accord in a distinctly more negative way than did Indyk.
But the three of us, I believe, share a concern for the security and welfare of Israel, that it remain a Jewish state. In brief, we are Zionists. Our disagreements concern tactics to achieve this goal.
Given that every poll over decades shows that an overwhelming majority of Americans agree with us, this would seem to be a banal position. But no longer. As a symptom, note the many vociferous attacks on the three of us being invited as witnesses, implying that there was something very amiss in not having anyone represent the eliminate-Israel position. A sampling of titles from publications and weblogs makes my point:
- "Why are you calling on such misguided "experts" who are outsiders to the Arab and Muslim world?"
- "House Hearings on the Middle East Lack Balance."
- "Congress Asked to Hear Both Sides of Mideast Conflict."
- "Democratic Congress: no balanced debate."
- "Orientalism 101."
- "New Chairman, Old Rules: The Democrats and Palestine."
- "Time for a Change."
- "Does America Want a Real Peace Process?"
- "Congress Sends Israel a Valentine."
- "The hate that (used to) dare not speak its name."
- "Kangaroo Congressional Hearing."
- "Congress, not Knesset."
- "The United States is currently under a Zionist Occupation."
- "Planet ZOG."
Comments: (1) The above listing is in chronological order. Note how the tone began with unhappiness and moved on to outrage and ended with vilification.
(2) This rhetorical assault points to the assumption of the eliminate-Israel crowd that its point of view has as much validity as the Zionist position, as well as the right to express it in the U.S. Congress.
(3) It did not used to be this way. That things have degenerated to this point results from Israel's many and deep mistakes over the past 15 years – which was, coincidentally, the topic of my testimony at that hearing on February 14, and which will be the subject of a forthcoming article. (February 20, 2007)
Mar. 2, 2007 update: One exchange at the hearing went like this:
REP. ACKERMAN: In your statement you state that division pretty clearly, saying that diplomacy, final status negotiations, recognition, economic and security assistance should wait until the Palestinians, quote, "prove their acceptance of Israel." … How do they prove their acceptance? What, to you, would constitute proof of their acceptance? Do they sign public oaths or make public statements? Do they have to give to the UJA [United Jewish Appeal]?
MR. PIPES: No, they do not have to become lovers of Zion, but they do have to permanently accept it. They must overhaul their education system to take out the demonization of Jews in Israel. They should tell the truth about Jewish ties to Jerusalem, stop inculcating hatred of Jews, and accept normal commercial, cultural and human relations with Israelis. …
MR. INDYK: If we accepted Daniel's requirements, then I think a fair case could be made that Abu Mazen [Mahmoud Abbas' nom de guerre], the Palestinian president—who's the elected Palestinian president—has met all of those requirements, including removing, once he became president, ending the incitement of Israel in the Palestinian media and beginning the process of dealing with the demonization of Israel in Palestinian curricula. He has led the effort to bring the Palestinians around to acceptance of Israel; he has a clear history of having done that over a period of the last 25 years; he has not played a double game like Yasser Arafat did.
The Zionist Organization of America has today in detail rebutted Martin Indyk's claims, in a press release titled "Martin Indyk Wrongly Paints PA Leader Mahmoud Abbas As Moderate Who Fulfilled Requirements For Peace." The ZOA evidence is listed under three headings:
- Mahmoud Abbas own statements on Jews, Israel, terrorism and peace-making.
- Mahmoud Abbas' career record regarding peace and reconciliation with Jews and Israel.
- Mahmoud Abbas' record on fighting terrorism and incitement to hatred and murder within the PA.
The record is clear for anyone who wishes to see it.