26 July 2013
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Indyk: a Disastrous Choice for Mediator

The US State Department has floated a trial balloon to test the idea of former US Ambassador to Israel, Martin Indyk, serving as mediator in the forthcoming peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. It is not surprising that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has signaled his approval. What is incomprehensible is that Prime Minister Netanyahu has done likewise.

Unfortunately the prospect of genuine progress in the negotiations is extraordinarily slim. There is no evidence that the Palestinian Authority will compromise on a single issue. In the unlikely event that the weak, corrupt President Abbas does make even a single concession, his Fatah supporters will immediately topple him.

Nonetheless, an “honest broker” is essential to the process. However, Martin Indyk is not that broker. His track record in presiding over previous peace negotiations indicates that if re-appointed, he will, in all probability, direct negotiations in a manner to ensure that Israel will be blamed for their failure.

Indyk has had an impressive political career. Educated in Australia, he moved to the US where he joined AIPAC and subsequently held executive positions at prestigious Washington, DC think-tanks (Executive Director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, and Director of Foreign Policy at the Brookings Institution). He also has assumed key political positions (Assistant Secretary of State for Near East Affairs in the Clinton administration). After becoming a naturalized US citizen, President Clinton appointed him US Ambassador to Israel – the first foreign born and first Jew to hold the position. He served two terms, from April 1995 to September 1997 and from January 2000 to July 2001.

Indyk’s rise in the political arena has been ascribed to his talent of adjusting to the prevailing political climate of the Democratic leadership. When President Obama was elected, Indyk aligned himself with the new leader, and enthusiastically participated in Obama’s Israel-bashing and Netanyahu-snubbing. He was unsparing and, at times, vicious in his criticism of our Prime Minister, and laid the bulk of the blame on Netanyahu for the breakdown in Israeli-Palestinian relations.

He has moved further and further to the left as his career unfolded. He served as International Chair of the New Israel Fund, an organization that has repeatedly been castigated for funding rabid anti-Zionist and anti-Israel NGOs, including several organizations that compiled distorted and false information for the notorious Goldstone Report accusing the IDF of engaging in war crimes.

Aside from occasional lip service to their failings, Indyk became an aggressive apologist for the Palestinians and at one stage even identified himself with those defending Arafat’s rebuff of Prime Minister Ehud Barak’s extreme concessions at Camp David.

Indyk has made outrageous claims about Israel’s de-stabilizing effect on the Middle East, and the need for Israel’s to bend to the will of the United States, threatening, “If Israel is a superpower and does not need $3 billion in military assistance and protection, and [does not require] the efforts of the US to isolate and pressure Iran, then go ahead and do what you like. If you need the US, then you need to take American interests into account… Israel has to adjust its policy to the interest of the United States or there will be serious consequences.”

He has also made the obscene charge that it was Israeli intransigence that contributed to US military casualties in Afghanistan, accusing Israel of endangering “a vital security interest of the United States.” The “intransigence” he was alluding to was the settlement construction then taking place in Jewish neighborhoods in East Jerusalem.

He stooped even lower when he stated that Prime Minister Netanyahu should take into account that President Obama was obliged to write 30-40 condolence letters a week. To climax his antagonistic attitude towards Israel, in 2010 Indyk publicly urged Prime Minister Netanyahu and the Israeli government to cede the Golan Heights to Syria.

Indyk frequently invokes the memory of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, who he refers to as “Israel’s greatest strategic thinker.” But Rabin would have undoubtedly rejected an American spokesman or diplomat with the chutzpah to make the demands on Israel as made by Indyk. He would have dismissed him for his lack of respect for Israel’s sovereignty and his treatment of it as a vassal state. Certainly, Rabin would never have endorsed Indyk’s calls to divide Jerusalem and to make unilateral territorial concessions.

Most of us continue to dream of peace. However, we recognize that with the current chaos and violence in the region, the likelihood of moving forward with a peace “partner” who sanctifies murder and engages in vicious incitement is almost a mirage. Yet to demonstrate our commitment to leave no stone unturned in our desire for peace, we have succumbed to pressure and unfortunately compromised the rights of terror victims and their families, by releasing hundreds of mass murderers as a “goodwill gesture” to sit at the negotiating table.

Yet the extraordinary lengths to which we will go for the sake of peace will not move us forward if the US mediator is an American Jew, whose recent track record is indistinguishable from that of J Street in seeking to pressure Israel to make unilateral concessions. That such a politically jaundiced Jew is being proposed for this role is cause for grave concern.

Prime Minister Netanyahu would be well advised to bite the bullet now and resist pressure to accept Indyk as mediator. Otherwise, we will once again be accused of intransigency and inflexibility, if not the cause of an upsurge in violence that President Abbas has already threatened should his demands go unmet.

The writer may be contacted at ileibler@leibler.com

This column was originally published in the Jerusalem Post and Israel Hayom

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Isi Leibler

Isi Leibler is a veteran international Jewish leader with a distinguished record of contributions to the Jewish world and the cause of human rights, including the struggle for Soviet Jewry. He was head of the Jewish community in Australia for many years and made aliya in 1999. Leibler has held senior roles in the World Jewish Congress, including chairman of the governing board and senior vice president. Today, he writes prolifically and is a regular columnist for The Jerusalem Post and Yisrael Hayom.

(2) Readers Comments

  1. Dear Mr. Leibler;

    I have followed your writings for years and have never once known you to err in your amazingly insightful analysis of any situation pertaining to the State of Israel and knowing what was in the best interest of both the short term and long term welfare of its people.

    Indeed, if I wrote to congratulate you each and every time I was impressed by something you wrote or said, it would consume all my time, every day.

    The present situation you speak about is fraught with difficult challenges and as always leaves the State of Israel in a perpetual Catch-22, as always. Nothing Israel ever does, or might do, is ever seen in a good light by the world. No matter what, the world revels in perpetually placing the blame on Israel’s shoulders and at her doorstep, regardless of the facts and/or the circumstances at hand.

    The only thing, the only act, Israel could ever do that would be looked upon with favor by the world, would be if Israel agreed to commit suicide by giving in to every single last demand of those many hundreds of millions whose only desire is to see every last Jew in Israel pushed into the sea and seeing the entire State of Israel turned into an Arab State with Jerusalem as its capitol.

    All those who perpetually speak of a Two State solution and some form of chimerical, illusory, so-called Peace with the Arabs are like pathetic little children who cannot accept certain realities in this world. Indeed the inability of people to understand the hard facts of this reality, often wears on my patience and indeed often makes me feel physically sick to the point of nausea.

    Throughout history, the world at large has never liked or accepted Jews. There are an infinite number of reasons for this state of affairs, none of which cast any blame on the victim. There is neither space nor time here to elaborate on this topic. And it is neither necessary or will serve any purpose for me to attempt to do so.

    Does the Yeshiva student presume to teach the Rabbi ?

    In general people do not like a situation that cannot be solved. And furthermore people take very unkindly to those who they feel represent an obstacle to arriving at some easy and convenient solution.

    The “crime of the Jew” is that he exists in the first place. Nothing will ever change this hideous and disturbing reality and eternal state of affairs.

    Of course, all the Jew can do in such impossible circumstances is to try to survive as best he can.

    The US does not harbor any special love for the State of Israel beyond the fact that America needs to know there is a place in the Middle East that it can depend upon in time of crisis. Israel is simply a convenient tool for the US to make use of when it sees fit. Anyone with the least common sense and a knowledge of geo-political affairs and processes understands this to be so.

    The existence of the Jew in this world represents one of the ultimate puzzles of the Universe.

    Aside from the actual surviving victims of the Holocaust, which included relatives of my own family, literally no one really knows, understands or can imagine what it was like to be hunted down like animals, as Jews have been throughout all of recorded history, and then when captured, to be tortured, humiliated and savagely murdered with a degree of sadism for which no human words exist.

    In every country throughout history, where ruling forces were intent on destroying a Jewish population there was never even the slightest shortage of ordinary common folk among the indigenous population who did not race to the assistance of the chief killers. We witnessed this fact from the beginning to the end of the Holocaust.

    One must wonder and even marvel at how a G-d could look down throughout history and allow such savage atrocities to continue century after century. And when one observes how the Ultra Orthodox believe that their ultimate safety rests and will always be assured by a force that cannot be seen, one is hard put to know if he must laugh or cry.

    In fact the only force in this world that will ever guarantee the survival of the State of Israel is the IDF and the very brave men and women who serve in the IDF and who have Sworn their very lives at Masada to defend the State of Israel to their last breath and with their last precious drop of blood.

    As always, every last thing you mentioned in your latest observations concerning former US Ambassador to Israel, Martin Indyk, are absolutely correct and hit the proverbial nail squarely on the head.

    All this business is just more of “the same old-same old”. And there is never a shortage of would be heroes waiting in line to make the claim that it was they who finally found a way to overcome the “intransigence” of those pesky “yids” and make peace between the Arabs and the Jews.

    Were it not for the fact that there is a valuable black liquid under the limitless deserts of the Middle East, the US would have allowed the Arabs to push the Jews into the sea ages ago and without the slightest care or sense of remorse.

    Indeed it was too much of a bother during WW II for both the US and British fighter planes to bomb the railway tracks leading into Auschwitz. And despite actual existence of thousands of daily aerial photos taken by those planes proving the contrary- the US and Britain claimed their planes simply did not have the fuel capacity to reach the Concentration camps although we know now they flew directly over the death camps and continued on their way, making no attempt to destroy even a single gas chamber or crematorium.

    In fact the cameras on those planes actually recorded long lines of Jewish inmates, in detail, as they were being herded, like cattle, into the buildings where they would meet their death.

    So these latest comedic activities will continue unabated except this time the cast of characters includes a few new characters and names.

    I always try to imagine what would happen if the State of Israel had an “Isi Leibler” at the ultimate helm of the ship, serving as “Master and Commander” instead of a Benjamin Netanyahu or his equivalent.

    Perhaps it would not change anything in the slightest. The Arabs simply will never in ten thousand years accept the existence of the Jews and in particular the existence of a Jewish State in their midst.

    But only the Jews understand that fact from having lived as Jews and been on the receiving end of all the world’s vicious hatreds since time immemorial. We were ever the convenient whipping boy and scapegoat for all of humanity’s ills and failings.

    But we will survive these present times and challenges, as we always have, with thanks to people like you, Mr. Leibler.

    Do we have a choice ?

    In gratitude and with my deepest respect for your limitless Wisdom,

    David Pakter

    NYC

  2. your analysis of Idyk’s appointment is true to the core. 1 year ago I went to his lecture in NYU organized by The Center of Israeli Studies. It was one of really unpleasant experiences. On one hand you see a jewish person seemingly intelligent who can put words together pretty well on the other hand you see an enemy. The prevailing
    idea was that Abbas was a partner for peace and that Israel to be blamed for all faults.

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