When President Donald Trump tagged John Bolton to be his new National Security Advisor, extreme leftists and their political allies, Palestinian Arabs, went into attack mode. On March 29, J Street, Americans for Peace Now, Ameinu, T’ruah, and the New Israel Fund accused Bolton of, among other things, “reject[ing] the idea of Palestinian self-determination.”
What are the actual facts? Bolton’s enemies did not affix footnotes to their accusation, so we need to do our own homework. The claim apparently derives from a March 23 report by the liberal Washington Post, based on a statement of Hanan Ashrawi, a senior activist in the Palestine Liberation Organization. Ashrawi, too, did not offer a basis for her accusation – possibly because the Washington Post never asked her for one.
So we are once again on our own. The most likely source for the case “against” Bolton is a 2014 article he wrote for the Washington Times in which he outlined his suggestions for Middle East peace. What he suggested is not relevant for our purposes; what is relevant is what he did not suggest: the Left’s sacred cow, a two-state solution. And to oppose such a solution is apparently to oppose “Palestinian self-determination.”
In his Washington Times op-ed, Bolton said, in part:
For more than two decades, U.S. policymakers have generally acceded to Palestinian insistence that a new state be created for them, stitching together the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. These territories have no particular history either of national identity or of economic interdependence. They are simply bits and pieces of the collapsed Ottoman Empire.
While this common-sense statement may be anathema to Palestinian Arabs, and hence to many diplomats in Western Europe and liberal America, it is not a denial of anyone’s right to self-determination. If anything, it is a reminder that all Palestinian Arabs are members of a larger Arab nation, which, in fact, has been given every opportunity to practice self-determination.
The “Palestinians” are simply a fancy designation for the Arabs of Eretz Yisrael, or “Palestine” if you wish to use the Roman name for the land. Their language (Arabic), origin (Middle East), and religion (Islam) is shared by every other member of the ancient Arab nation. Palestinian Arabs do not like this fact pointed out because in our crowded world, the ancient Arab nation already has over 20 states at its disposal to achieve self-determination, far more than the similarly ancient but more populous Han Chinese nation, for example.
When Bolton points out that Judea-Samaria and Gaza have no history of national identity, he is speaking the truth. But the implication – for some – is inconvenient. Most inconvenient of all is the related fact that both Judea-Samaria and Gaza are part of the tiny area between the Jordan and the Mediterranean seas – an area which the international community long ago promised to the persecuted Jewish people for its self-determination.
So if anyone is “rejecting” a people’s right to self-determination, it is radical liberal Jewish groups – in true auto-aggressive fashion. The only Jewish state in the world – Israel – is only viable if it includes Judea-Samaria. Anyone who is truly committed to self-determination should be aiding the Jewish people achieve a healthy majority in its little place in the sun.
Will liberal Jewish groups have the strength of character and integrity to take up the challenge? Unlikely. But John Bolton might. It’s no wonder, then, that liberal groups detest him so.