For a long time American officials have advised — and often pressured — Israel to make concessions of various kinds to the Arabs. And, upon reflection, some have regretted their advice, or their wrongheaded comments about Israel’s ongoing campaign of self-defense against terror groups, but that hasn’t stopped the flow of advice and comments from Washington. Here is more about officials who have admitted to making “mistaken” comments to, and advice for, Jerusalem: “Ex-State Department Officials Admit They Were Wrong,” by Stephen M. Flatow, JNS.org, August 1, 2023:
…Recall, for example, the infamous episode of Dennis Ross and the terror tunnels.
As a senior aide to then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in 2009, Ross pressured Israel to let Hamas bring concrete into Gaza. Here’s how Ross recalled it: “I argued with Israeli leaders and security officials, telling them they needed to allow more construction materials, including cement, into Gaza so that housing, schools and basic infrastructure could be built. They countered that Hamas would misuse it, and they were right.” That admission came six years too late.
The Israelis, under American pressure that originated with Dennis Ross, had reluctantly agreed to allow much more cement into Gaza where the Israeli fears about the misuse of that building material for military purposes — that Ross had pooh-poohed — proved right. The cement — 600,000 tons of it — was used by Hamas not to build houses and schools, as Ross had said they would, but instead, to construct a vast underground network of tunnels and bunkers, used both to hide weapons and fighters, and to allow them to move undetected throughout the Strip.
Thanks to Ross’s pressure, Hamas built “a labyrinth of underground tunnels, bunkers, command posts and shelters for its leaders, fighters and rockets,” as Ross acknowledged. They built the tunnels with “an estimated 600,000 tons of cement,” some of which was “diverted from construction materials allowed into Gaza” (The Washington Post, Aug. 8, 2014).
600,000 tons of cement were diverted for military purposes by Hamas — that represents quite a whopping error by the egregious Dennis Ross, who was so idiotically certain that cement sent to Gaza would be put only to civilian use.
He also belatedly admitted that he and his colleagues in the Obama administration were wrong to abandon the anti-government protesters in Iran in 2009. It was a chance to undermine and perhaps even topple the most evil regime on earth—and Ross blew it. Writing in the journal Foreign Policy on Jan. 2, 2018, Ross confessed:
“In June 2009, I was serving in President Barack Obama’s administration as the secretary of state’s special advisor on Iran and was part of the decision-making process. Because we feared playing into the hands of the regime and lending credence to its claim that the demonstrations were being instigated from the outside, we adopted a low-key posture. In retrospect, that was a mistake. We should have shined a spotlight on what the regime was doing and mobilized our allies to do the same.”
The 2009 protests nationwide in Iran were the largest since the Iranian Revolution in 1978. The regime’s fate was in the balance. A sign of American and other Western support, for example by raising the matter of the Iranian regime’s murderous suppression of the protesters to the UN General Assembly and the UN Security Council, would have helped to encourage the protesters, might have strengthened their spirits and demoralized elements of the regime, and possibly helped to topple the Islamic Republic at its moment of maximum peril. Instead, there were no words of support from Washington officials, no encouragement on Voice of America’s Farsi channel, no emergency meeting of the General Assembly called to discuss Iran, and no promises of assistance of any kind were made to the protesters. The Tehran regime went about its business of suppressing the protests with extreme violence. The American reluctance to get involved, Ross now admits, was a grievous error. The Iranian regime was going to blame the Americans in any case for being behind the demonstrations, so Washington had little to lose, and much to gain, by actually helping the protesters.
And don’t forget the case of Aaron Miller and the U.S. Holocaust Museum.
In an op-ed in 2010 in The Washington Post, Miller revealed that he was the U.S. State Department official who came up with the plan to have Yasser Arafat visit the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 1998 in order to help Arafat improve his public image.
In the article, Miller acknowledged that his plan would have meant “appropriating the memory” of the Holocaust for narrow political purposes, and therefore was “one of the dumbest ideas in the annals of U.S. foreign policy” (The Washington Post, Aug. 18, 2010)….
Miller’s “bright idea” was to help Arafat burnish his image by having him visit the Holocaust Memorial Museum, so as to assure Jews, and pro-Israel politicians, of his understanding and sympathy. Of course had Arafat taken Miller’s advice, he would have been hailed by the New York Times and the Washington Post for this “generous gesture.” His lifetime of antisemitic pronouncements would be forgotten in this Potemkin visit. Fortunately Aaron Miller’s public relations effort for the world’s then-leading antisemite, a worthy heir of Hajj Amin el Husseini, came to naught. Miller, of course, from his new base at a Washington think-tank, continues to offer his bright ideas for Israeli territorial concessions that, were Jerusalem to follow them, would seriously weaken the Jewish state.
Remember the First, Second, and Third Rogers plans? The Kissinger Plan? The Baker Plan? So many disastrous American plans to force Israeli concessions which Israel, fortunately, has consistently rejected.
Now the Bidenites are continuing with the same anti-Israel folly. In order to win Saudi agreement to join the Abraham Accords, the Americans may be willing to provide the Kingdom with what it most wants: first, an ironclad defense pact; second, American help in establishing a civilian nuclear program in the Kingdom; third, an American willingness to provide the Saudi military with access to advanced American weapons. Those three concessions ought to be more than enough to get the Saudis to agree to join the Accords, but the Bidenites want to sweeten the pot still more for the Crown Prince, by obtaining from Israel a commitment not to annex any part of the West Bank, and to stop all building of new, or enlarging of existing, settlements. These are concessions that no Israeli government, especially the present one, is prepared to make.
Washington officials and American diplomats should stop trying to interfere with what the Israeli government feels it must do in order to defend the people of Israel, stop scolding Israel for its attempts to punish terrorists in their lairs, and instead of minimizing the ever-increasing terrorist threat, the administration should publicly recognize that there were 5000 terror attacks — almost all of them failed — on Israelis in 2022. Washington officials should stop ignoring the Mandate for Palestine’s provisions that give the Jews the right to build their Jewish state on “state and waste lands,” as well as on land abandoned by, or bought from, Arab owners, in all the territory “from the river to the sea.” And the Bidenites should stop interjecting themselves into Israeli domestic policy quarrels, as with the judicial reform that Biden has Insisted on denouncing, pontificating on a matter that is none of his business.
That’s what I’d call a good start. I hope you agree.