‘I was wrong in my presumption that Israel desired peace’ –Chas Freeman

Middle East
on 22 Comments

The following is an excerpt from Ambassador Chas W. Freeman’s new book America’s Continuing Misadventures in the Middle East. You can listen to his recent podcast on the book with Helena Cobban here

To be disillusioned, one must first have illusions. Few things have been as disillusioning to partisans of the consolidation of a secure homeland for Jews in the Middle East (the most important objective of U.S. diplomacy in the region for decades) as the evolution of Israeli policies and practices over the past quarter-century. This period began with an internationally sponsored conference in Madrid from October 30 to November 1, 1991. The Madrid Conference brought Israel, its Arab neighbors, and the Palestine Liberation Organization together for the first time in an effort to achieve regional acceptance for the Jewish state. This led by circuitous means to the signing in Washington (on September 13, 1993) of the Oslo accords, which envisaged Palestinian elections to establish self-government, Israeli withdrawal from Palestinian lands, and a process of self-determination that would culminate within five years in the establishment of a Palestinian state alongside Israel.

This era may be said to have definitively ended on October 26, 2015, when Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu told the Knesset that, while he rejected the idea of a binational state, Israeli Jews “need to control all of the territory [of historic Palestine] for the foreseeable future.” Mr. Netanyahu showed that he understood that this would preclude a secure peace for Israel with Palestinians, other Arabs, and the world’s Muslims when he added, “I’m asked if we will forever live by the sword—yes.”

The essays in America’s Continuing Misadventures in the Middle East reveal my own gradual and grudging realization that I had been wrong in my presumption that Israel desired peace and reconciliation with those its Western-backed establishment and military consolidation in the Middle East had injured or offended. As events unfolded, it became increasingly hard to deny that the absence of peace was explained not by the unwillingness of the victims of Israeli colonialism to compromise, but by Israel’s own view that it had no need to make concessions as long as it had the backing of the United States.

With great reluctance, I came to see that, given U.S. enablement, Israel has never been prepared to risk peace with those it displaced from their homes in Palestine. When faced with a choice between territorial expansion and advances toward reconciliation with Arabs, Israel always chooses land over peace. The now-defunct American-sponsored “peace process”— on which the United States staked its reputation in the Middle East and elsewhere, and which I labored to support—has been revealed to all as part of an elaborate diplomatic deception, intended to provide political cover for Israel’s continued territorial expansion at Palestinian expense.

To be clear, this hypocrisy matters to me as a patriotic American less because of its injustice to the Palestinians than because of its political and military consequences for Israel and the United States. Israel can enjoy neither domestic tranquility nor security from non-hostile neighbors and the world’s Muslims if it continues to deal with its captive Arab population through the culling of their leaders by targeted assassination, the tyranny of occupation, and the persecution of checkpoints and separation walls, punctuated by sniper attacks and occasional bombing campaigns against defenseless Palestinian civilians. Such an approach guarantees violent resistance by Palestinians and hostility by those who identify with them.

Equally, or perhaps more importantly, it represents a secession by Israel from both Western civilization and the humane values of the Judeo- Christian moral tradition. As such, it delegitimizes Israel internationally and alienates it from Jews in other countries. This is a prescription for escalating regional enmity and declining support for Israel in Europe and America. It is a suicidal strategy for Zionism. Given American solidarity with Israel, it foretells rising politico-military costs for the United States from anti-American terrorism by estranged Muslims, accompanied by division between the United States and major European allies. It is in the interest of the United States that citizens raise their voices to head off this scenario. That is what I have tried to do.

About Chas Freeman

Chas Freeman is a former U.S. Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, co-chair of the U.S. China Policy Foundation, and a past president of the Middle East Policy Council. He is also the author of two books on foreign policy, "Interesting Times" and "America's Misadventures in the Middle East," published by Just World Books.

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22 Responses

  1. Ossinev
    June 28, 2016, 12:21 pm

    Had never heard of this gentleman before but having read his comments above and watched and listened to his comments in the interviews linked below I was highly impressed by his quietly authoritative and reasoned arguments. One can readily see why the JSIL Firsters in the US were determined to prevent his appointment. They are terrified of integrity.

  2. Bumblebye
    June 28, 2016, 2:25 pm

    For some reason, the bbc – or should that be zbc? – thinks it is appropriate to air an anniversary prog on Entebbe and how it impacted Netanyahu. Obviously it is a Jonathan Freedland thing. Tonight at 8pm UK time. I think the neo-lib and zionist takeover is complete.
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b07hg4vg

    they seem to do this every time it has a major anniversary. Bound to be a hagiography.

  3. eljay
    June 28, 2016, 2:35 pm

    … When faced with a choice between territorial expansion and advances toward reconciliation with Arabs, Israel always chooses land over peace. …

    Even as they continue to expand and colonize and oppress and kill, Zio-supremacists will tell you that they are in favour of peace because, to them, peace (or, more correctly, “peace”) means Jewish supremacism in/and a religion-supremacist “Jewish State” in as much as possible of Palestine.

  4. John Salisbury
    June 28, 2016, 4:55 pm

    The reversal of the Freeman appointment was a seminal moment in the Obama presidency.

  5. JWalters
    June 29, 2016, 4:01 am

    From the White House Diary of Jimmy Carter, entry for Feb 12, 1980, 36 years ago.

    “I met with senior advisors on the apparently new policy from Israel concerning Jews settling all over the West Bank. Again we’ll rap Israel for this settlement policy, which is designed by Begin to aggravate us and to keep the Palestinians from becoming moderate and cooperative.”

  6. Boomer
    June 29, 2016, 6:29 am

    Mr. Freeman says that he was wrong in his presumption that Israel desired peace. I was wrong in my presumption that the United States did so. Mr. Freeman writes of his disillusionment about Israel. For me, the much more important disillusionment has been about the United States. That knowledge came surprisingly late in life, embarrassingly late. Sometimes one is happier when living in an illusion. The fruit of the tree of knowledge can be bitter.

    “When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things.”

    • Walker
      July 2, 2016, 2:23 pm

      Boomer, I feel the same about my native land. At the same time, it doesn’t help to become like an embittered ex-lover, with exaggerated antagonism replacing love. I do react that way sometimes.

  7. Vera Gottlieb
    June 29, 2016, 8:28 am

    But most certainly it would want peace…once it is done ethnically cleansing all of Palestine.

  8. Elizabeth Block
    June 29, 2016, 10:32 am

    Doh.
    It took him a long time to figure this out. Good that he finally did.
    Zionists have told me for years, “Most Israeli Jews want peace.” I reply, “In that case, why is it that any Israeli politician who is willing to do what is necessary to make peace has no ghost of a chance of being elected?”

    I was in Hebron in March. There was gunfire, someone was shot, and settlers poured onto the street and danced around the body. Israel is not only destroying Palestine. It is destroying Judaism.

    • Citizen
      June 29, 2016, 12:32 pm

      No non-Jewish politician willing to do what is necessary to make peace has a chance either–they all know what Truman learned from the Zionists–if he didn’t go along with them, they would’ve funded Dewey & unleashed Jewish pundits in the press on him.

      • JWalters
        June 29, 2016, 5:29 pm

        Good point about Truman. That’s where the Zionist takeover of American politicians began. Truman’s own Secretaries of State and Defense, along with just about every knowledgeable person at the time, warned that the brutal establishment of Israel would cause the brutal blowback we are seeing. The red lights were flashing, to use counter-terrorism chief Richard Clarke’s metaphor about 9/11. For readers who haven’t read it, a succinct summary of this history is online in “War Profiteers and the Roots of the War on Terror”.

  9. msmoore
    June 29, 2016, 1:28 pm

    Strange fruit.

  10. Ossinev
    June 29, 2016, 2:32 pm

    @ Annie Robbins
    Thank you for the link. As I said quietly authoritative and and reasoned. Obviously a lot has changed in the region inc specifically the situation in Egypt since he gave this address but the overall analysis holds true with regard to the dilution of US influence in the region and throughout the world because of it`s unqualified support for JSIL. The comparison of JSILis with the Crusaders and the “live by the sword/die by the sword” scenario was particularly apposite. JSILi Zionists are definitively the neighbourhood bullies who believe that just because they have knocked out smaller and weaker kids in the past there will be no meaningful challenges in the future – they will have their Saladin experience sooner or later.

  11. lonely rico
    June 29, 2016, 10:00 pm

    The now-defunct American-sponsored “peace process” … has been revealed to all as part of an elaborate diplomatic deception, intended to provide political cover for Israel’s continued territorial expansion at Palestinian expense.
    To be clear, this hypocrisy matters to me as a patriotic American
    less because of its injustice to the Palestinians than because of its political and military consequences for Israel and the United States

    I struggle to accept the view that this hypocrisy matters more because of its (dire) political and military consequences, and less because of its appalling injustice to the Palestinians.
    This injustice, ongoing for decades, involves theft, cruelty, torture, destruction and death,
    the maiming and death of thousands of Palestinian children.
    I am heartened by the enlightenment of Mr. Freemen, but can never forgive the savage racist violence which Israeli/European/American Zionism has rained down on the Palestinians.

  12. Qualtrough
    June 29, 2016, 10:51 pm

    I find it amazing that an extremely well-educated and intelligent person like Ambassador Freeman took so long to figure this out. At least he did eventually glom on to the truth and have the guts to admit it and say so publicly, which is more than you can say about a lot of others.

  13. RoHa
    June 30, 2016, 1:59 am

    What gave him the idea that Israel wanted peace in the first place?

  14. traintosiberia
    June 30, 2016, 11:44 pm

    “This era may be said to have definitively ended on October 26, 2015, when Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu told the Knesset that, while he rejected the idea of a binational state, Israeli Jews “need to control all of the territory [of historic Palestine] for the foreseeable future.” Mr. Netanyahu showed that he understood that this would preclude a secure peace for Israel with Palestinians, other Arabs, and the world’s Muslims when he added, “I’m asked if we will forever live by the sword—yes. – ”

    One can hear these moaning eerie shrieks by squeezing a cadaver against itself .

    Think of any other nation anywhere proudly brandishing a plan of conquering ,occupying and getting rid of the natives leading to the claim the land was given to them by the Gods ! What will happen ? US will start bombing before the sound of the announcement fades away . R2 P ,Humanitarian Intervention, War to establish democracy , roll back tyranny and not appeasing another Hitler – we will run out of the adjectives and the words before the nation is pulverized to tiny sand particles

  15. michelle
    July 1, 2016, 7:38 pm

    .
    one wonders how long has it been since ‘Israel’ began its worldwide takeover
    bow down to Israel or be crushed by Israel and its slaves
    .
    if one wanted to see the true extreme terrorist one need only look to Israel
    .
    G-d Bless
    .

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