For many years, the State Department was known as the one U.S. government agency where it was almost impossible for a Jew to reach a senior position. In our era, that has changed, but with a twist.
Since the late 1980s, a certain kind of Jew has become most welcome at the State Department – the kind devoted to creating a Palestinian state in Israel’s back yard.
The latest example is former president Obama’s ambassador to Israel, Dan Shapiro.
Since being replaced earlier this year, Shapiro has become one of the most frequently sought-after “talking heads” on Israel affairs. He is constantly quoted in major newspapers, interviewed on television, and invited to deliver lectures at prestigious venues.
Daniel Kurtzer, Martin Indyk, and David Makovsky used to be the favorite Jewish ex-State Department officials whom CNN and The New York Times would trot out to call for more Israeli concessions. Now Dan Shapiro is giving them some competition.
With all the tumult over the Trump administration’s reluctance to demand the immediate establishment of a Palestinian state, it was inevitable that Shapiro would weigh in. And in true attention-grabbing fashion, Shapiro’s contribution (in the online magazine Tablet) is headlined “The Two-State Solution Remains the Best Option, But We Need to Plan in Case It Fails.”
What? A former ambassador to Israel conceding that the Palestinian state idea might not work out? Is he forsaking the dream the State Department and the Jewish left have pursued for so many years? Has Dan Shapiro joined the Republican Party, or the Israeli Right?
Not so fast.
Shapiro began his essay with a remarkable confession: “I’ve been supporting the goal of Israel and a Palestinian state living side by side in peace and security since 1988. It hit me early in the days of the first Intifada that there was no other solution, which made me something of an early adopter of that position among advocates for Israel.”
Wait a minute – 1988? In those days, the Palestinian leadership did not even pretend to accept Israel’s right to exist. Yet Dan Shapiro believed a Palestinian state should be established a few miles from Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, and Ben-Gurion Airport. Brilliant!
Reading Shapiro’s admission, one must laugh at his self-description as “an advocate for Israel.” He is, according to his own words, an advocate for the Palestinians – and has been for the past 29 years.
Then Shapiro introduced what we call the tease: “Maybe it’s time that the United States consider options other than a two-state solution.” Following that, he spent the next 30 paragraphs “considering” the other options.
Big surprise: all those options would be terrible, he concluded. Any plan other than one ending in a Palestinian state is “exotic” or “unfeasible” or “zombie-like.” Such plans either would lead to violence, or apartheid, or harm Israel’s Jewish identity, or some other doomsday outcome – all the usual slogans and generalizations.
Incredibly, Shapiro did not devote even a single paragraph to considering the dangers of a Palestinian state. No mention that Israel would be reduced to nine miles wide at its midsection. No acknowledgment that a terrorist standing inside “Palestine” would be able to fire a shoulder-launched missile at airplanes landing at Ben-Gurion Airport.
No reference to the ability of “Palestine” to import Iranian “volunteers” and North Korean missiles. No allusion to the likelihood that “Palestine” would be a brutal dictatorship – exactly the kind of regime that throughout history has been most likely to invade its neighbors.
Finally, at the end of his essay, Shapiro revealed that the preceding 30-plus paragraphs were essentially a ruse.
“I hope discussion of the unpalatable alternatives will reinforce the importance of steering back to serious attempts to salvage the two-state solution,” he wrote.
And, as ex-State Department officials so often do, Shapiro added a veiled threat. If Israel fails to permit the rise of a Palestinian state, he warned, “it will affect [the America-Israel relationship] a significant number of Americans [will] conclude that Israel is not the democracy it once was, [and] our relationship will be…different. It will be different in ways I can’t fully envision or describe.”
Of course, there is no reason Israel’s position must result in Americans turning against the Jewish state. Israel has been resisting the Palestinian state idea for 60 years, yet most Americans are still pro-Israel. If U.S. public support erodes in the future, it will be because people like Dan Shapiro go around falsely accusing Israel of depriving the Palestinians of their democratic rights.
In fact, the Palestinians gained their democratic rights in 1995, when then-Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin withdrew from the areas where 98 percent of the Palestinians reside. The Palestinians have no need to become Israeli citizens or vote in Israeli elections because for the past 22 years they have voted in the Palestinian Authority’s elections.
Shapiro knows that. The question is: Why does he pretend as if it never happened? Is it because acknowledging that fact would conflict with his efforts on behalf of Palestinian statehood?