(Authors Note: The following article was inspired by
the website Is the US an Ally of Israel? http://emperors-clothes.com/gilwhite/ally2.htm.
The website was written by Francisco Gil-White, a professor at the
University of Pennsylvania and Deputy Editor at Emperors Clothes.
Though not Jewish himself, Professor Gil-White has become a staunch
advocate of Jewish rights. He is currently working on a book about
anti-Semitism and describes himself as an anthropologist of
the wonderful Jews. For weeks, Prof. Gil-White had been urging
me to review his documents. I procrastinated because of their length
and complexity. Finally, I printed out all 150 pages and reviewed
them. When I expressed some skepticism about the conclusions, Prof.
Gil-White challenged me to conduct my own independent research.
I accepted his challenge and reviewed over a hundred documents obtained
from proprietary databases provided by EBSCO and ProQuest. To my
surprise and dismay, I came to the same conclusion that he did.
This article, dealing with the role of James A. Baker III, is only
a brief excerpt from my research. If I get positive feedback, I
would be willing to continue this as a series of several installments.
As with my previous articles, the material presented here is not
intended to be exhaustive or conclusive. It is intended to stimulate
thought, discussion, and action. For those who would like to read
more, please visit http://www.bakerinstitute.org/Pubs/workingpapers/BakerInstituteWkspReport.pdf
When CBSnews.com reported the meeting between President Bush and
Mahmoud Abbas on May 26, 2005, they titled the article, Palestinians
Leave D.C. Happy. The Palestinians had good reason to be happy.
Palestinian Foreign Minister Nasser Al-Kidwa commented afterwards,
It was a success for the Palestinian side
think weve heard such a clear and comprehensive U.S. position
in the past. What Al-Kidwa was referring to was Bushs
statement, Any final status agreement must be reached between
the two parties, and changes to the 1949 Armistice lines must be
mutually agreed to. A viable two-state solution must ensure contiguity
of the West Bank, and a state of scattered territories will not
work. There must also be meaningful linkages between the West Bank
All parties have a responsibility to make this hopeful
moment in the region a new and peaceful beginning.
When Condoleeza Rice held a press conference with Mahmoud Abbas
on June 18, 2005, she spoke about a vision that recognizes
the right of the Palestinians to live in peace and security, and
of Israelis to live in peace and security. In an article in
the Jerusalem Post on June 24, 2005, Caroline Glick observed that
the Bush-Rice visions of a Palestinian state, has
no relation whatsoever to the realities on the ground. The reality
on the ground is that Palestinian society is unified by a dedication
to the destruction of Israel, not the establishment of a Palestinian
Despite the inherent dangers, proponents of the disengagement-roadmap
plan are still citing its advantages. Yossi Klein Halevi stated
their arguments succinctly in an article in the Spring, 2005 issue
of Azure Magazine. According to Halevi, Reducing the demographic
threat to Jewish majority, preempting the threat of an international
campaign to isolate and demonize Israel, and establishing consensus
borders of defense are goals that require serious debate, not dismissal.
In the May, 2005 issue of Foreign Affairs, David Makovsky was even
more optimistic, A successful withdrawal will shatter old
taboos, undermine extremists, embolden moderates, and facilitate
further withdrawals. A failed effort, meanwhile, will condemn both
Israelis and the Palestinians to many more years of violence and
despair. Makovsky and Dennis Ross continued this reasoning
in an article in Financial Times on June 21, 2005. According to
them, Israels disengagement is about securing Israels
future as a Jewish democratic state and not holding it hostage to
Palestinian behaviour. They argue that the disengagement plan
will prevent the demographic time bomb that would destroy
Israel. What Makovky and Ross failed to recognize is that the disengagement-roadmap
could actually exacerbate the demographic problem, rather than prevent
it. The plan would encourage an influx of Arabs who would want to
take advantage of opportunities in the economic development of Gaza.
It would encourage an exodus of young Israelis who would not be
able to find affordable housing within the confining 1967 borders.
Then when there are 5 million Jews and 5 million Arabs living in
the 1947 borders of British Palestine, there will be international
pressure to unite the three fragments into one binational state.
In her article, Disengagement or Suicide? in Arutz
Sheva on June 16, 2005, Cinnamon Stillwell argued that the
truth is the much-heralded Disengagement Plan that is supposed to
bring peace and harmony to the region is likely to have the opposite
effect. Ironically, on the same day that Stillwells
article was published, the Jerusalem Post reported that Scores
of unidentified gunmen in the Gaza Strip on Wednesday night went
on a rampage inside a medical center run by Jalilah Dahlan, wife
of Palestinian Authority Civil Affairs Minister Muhammad Dahlan.
Jalilah Dahlan commented, This attack reflects the state of
anarchy and lawlessness which endangers the lives of people. About
70 gunmen raided the hospital, shooting into the air and destroying
everything in their way. Several days later, in his article,
Nine Questionable Premises of the Disengagement Plan,
David Bedein refuted all of the major arguments presented by the
proponents of the plan.
The strong arguments against the Disengagement-Roadmap plan suggest
that external factors unfavorable to Israel are fueling and driving
this plan. In the popular book Boomerang, Israeli journalists
Raviv Drucker and Ofer Shalach suggested that Sharon devised the
Disengagement Plan to avoid indictment in the Greek Island scandal.
Despite the thorough research of the authors, it is difficult to
accept that a man like Sharon who devoted the last 60 years of his
life to defend Israel, would sacrifice the security of the State
to avoid indictment for financial improprieties in his family. Also,
there are many other Members of the Knesset and the IDF who are
supporting this ill-conceived Disengagement Plan. Does that mean
that they are all involved in financial improprieties? Another troubling
question is Why is this plan being implemented so hastily?
After holding these areas for 38 years, is it really necessary to
evacuate them in five weeks between Tisha BAv and Rosh Hashona?
What crime did these 9000 settlers commit that they should be expelled
the way Rabin expelled 400 Hamas terrorists to Lebanon in 1992?
Havent they been loyal citizens of the State of Israel? Havent
they contributed to the security and economy of the State? Havent
they served with distinction in the Israeli military? If it is really
necessary to destroy these communities, couldnt it be done
over a longer period of time so that the residents can be resettled
with the honor, dignity, and respect that they deserve?
All of these questions suggest that there are external influences
that are fueling and driving this roadmap plan, which are not in
the best interests of the State of Israel. To explore this issue,
it is first necessary to go back to the time when there were no
Jewish communities in the West Bank and Gaza. Between 1948 and 1967,
Egypt controlled the Gaza Strip and Jordan controlled the West Bank.
President Nasser publicly called for the destruction of the State
of Israel and used the Gaza Strip to stage numerous terrorist acts
against Israel. Jews werent permitted to live in the West
Bank and the Jordanians desecrated and destroyed Jewish cemeteries
and synagogues in the area. Jewish students in day schools throughout
the world were taught about the Western Wall in Jerusalem, the Cave
of the Patriarchs in Hebron, and the Tomb of Rachel near Bethlehem.
They were also taught that Today these areas are controlled
by Arabs, and Jews are not allowed to go there. Yet there
was no international effort at all to correct this injustice. Jews
were not permitted to step foot into ancestral homelands where they
lived for thousands of years.
In May, 1967, President Nasser blockaded the Straits of Tiran
to continue his military plan to destroy Israel. In June, 1967,
Israel staged a preemptive strike against Egypt. Jordan was warned
by Prime Minister Levi Eshkol to stay out of the fight. Instead,
King Hussein decided to attack Israel. In a difficult battle, costing
many Jewish lives, Israel captured Jerusalem and the West Bank.
Israelis and Jews around the world were jubilant. They immediately
rushed in to see their holy sites. When it soon became obvious that
the Arabs were still unwilling to make peace, Jews were eager to
reestablish communities in their ancestral lands that existed prior
to the 1948 War of Independence.
The reaction of the United States was swift and oppositional.
The United States government repeatedly expressed its opposition
to any Jewish resettlement in the Jerusalem environs. On July 1,
1969, US Representative Charles Yost told the UN Security Council,
The United States considers that the part of Jerusalem that
came under the control of Israel in the June war, like other areas
occupied by Israel, is governing the rights and obligations of an
the occupier must maintain the occupied area
as intact and unaltered as possible, without interfering with the
customary life of the area. Nobody said this when Jordan destroyed
Jewish cemeteries and synagogues.
US Ambassador William Scranton told the UN Security Council on
March 23, 1976, Substantial resettlement of the Israeli civilian
population in occupied territories, including East Jerusalem is
illegal under the [Geneva] convention and cannot be considered to
have prejudged the outcome of future negotiations between the parties
on the locations of the borders of states by the Middle East.
On March 21, 1980, Secretary of State Cyrus Vance told the House
Committee on Foreign Affairs, US policy toward the establishment
of Israeli settlements in the occupied territories is unequivocal
and long been a matter of public record. We consider it to be contrary
to international law and an impediment to the successful conclusion
of the Middle East process. Several weeks later, President
Carter repeated, Our position on the settlements is very clear.
We do not think that they are legal.
Relations between the United States and Israel took a turn for
the worse during the administration of George H.W. Bush beginning
in January 1989. Bush appointed James A. Baker III to be his Secretary
of State. Baker served as White House chief of staff and Secretary
of the Treasury during the Reagan administration when Bush was Vice
President. In March, 1989, prior to Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamirs
visit to Washington, Baker said, Now if you cannot have direct
negotiations that are meaningful that dont involve negotiations
with the PLO
we would then have to see negotiations between
Israelis and representatives of the PLO. This suggests that
Baker now perceived the terrorist PLO as a valid player in the Arab-Israeli
Shamir responded to this firmly in a speech in Washington on April
6, 1989: The Arab inhabitants of Judea, Samaria, and Gaza
dont want us in these areas. We cannot risk the life of our
country by leaving. The slogan territories for peace
is a hoax
If we leave, there will almost certainly be war.
But we do not want to run the lives of the inhabitants. We want
them to have self-rule. We want them to be able to express their
national aspirations through the Palestinian state on the east bank
of the Jordan. And above all, we want to end the hostility and bloodshed
by negotiating with a leadership they elect to represent themselves,
not with a terrorist organization based in Tunisia.
Baker responded with an address to the American-Israel Public
Affairs Committee (AIPAC) on May 22, 1989. Baker was careful not
to ruffle any feathers in his lengthy policy speech, Neither
the United States nor any other party, inside or outside, can or
will dictate an outcome. That is why the United States does not
support annexation or permanent Israeli control of the West Bank
and Gaza, nor do we support the creation of an independent Palestinian
state. Instead, Baker supported, self-government for
Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza in a manner acceptable to
Palestinians, Israel, and Jordan.
In an article in the New Republic on June 18, 1990, Fred Barnes
argued that the Bush Administrations attitude towards Israel
is the biggest impediment to a Middle East peace settlement. According
to Barnes, Bush adopted the Carter policies towards Israel instead
of the Reagan policies, Like Carter, Bush thinks the Israelis
need to be leaned on to make concessions
Before Israel gets
the $400 million loan guarantee, Bush still wants assurances that
none of the money will promote expansion of settlement in the West
James Baker had a different view about impediments to peace. In
testimony to the House Foreign Affairs subcommittee on May 22, 1991,
Baker said, I dont think there is any greater obstacle
to peace than settlement activity that continues not only unabated
but at an advanced pace. So according to Baker, Islamic fundamentalism,
intolerance, and terrorism were not significant obstacles to peace,
but young Jewish families who want to live in their historical homeland
were a significant threat to peace.
An editorial in the New Republic on June 17, 1991, titled The
Baker Fallacy, was highly critical of the Baker statement:
The enlightened orthodoxy in this country that no Jews should
be permitted to live among the Palestinian Arabs is a strained conceit.
Would the same people be arguing that Palestinian Arabs be similarly
banned from living in Israel?
it is absurd to believe that
their existence is the linchpin to progress in the region, and that
if they were to disappear tomorrow, all problems would be easier
For Mr. Baker, the settlements are a convenient alibi
for his failure to produce any Arabs at all for serious negotiations
vision really asks nothing of the Arab states.
Bakers term as Secretary of State ended when Bill Clinton
defeated George Bush in 1992. Yet Baker remained involved in Middle
East affairs. On December 5, 1996, Baker presented the keynote address
at a daylong conference sponsored by the Center for Middle East
Peace & Economic Cooperation. According to reporter Shawn Twing,
Baker criticized the Clinton administration for recently abandoning
the US governments long-standing position that Jewish settlements
in the occupied territories are obstacles to peace,
and instead dismissing them as merely complicating factors.
According to Baker, Its a mistake to change the rules
if you want to make progress. The next day, State Department
spokesman Nicholas Burns told reporters, Settlements are a
complicating factor, and theyre unhelpful in the Middle East
On April 7, 2003, the Toronto Star, reported on an address that
Baker gave to the Empire Club of Canada. The Arab American Institute
reprinted the article on its website as Must-Read News.
Baker said, Land for peace under United Nations Security Council
resolutions 242 and 238, therefore, is the only basis upon which
the dispute can be settled
Any decision to reopen the roadmap
to substantive amendment, for instance, is an open invitation to
interminable delay. And there should be no conditions whatever to
Israels obligation to stop all settlement activity
United States must press Israel as a friend, but firmly
to negotiate a secure peace based on the principle of trading land
for peace in accordance with UNSC resolution 242. The implication
here is that if only the State of Israel would relinquish a few
thousand square kilometers of its vast holdings to the poor, land
starved Arabs, then peace would follow shortly.
Bakers involvement in Middle East affairs continued in the
administration of George W. Bush. Naomi Klein wrote a lengthy article
on The Double Life of James Baker in the November 1,
2004 issue of Nation. According to the abstract, The article
focuses on the conflicts of interest of former US Secretary of State
James Baker, who was sent by President Geroge W. Bush as an envoy
to Iraq in 2003
There was widespread concern about whether
Bakers extensive business dealings in the Middle East would
compromise that mission
Of particular concern was his relationship
with merchant bank and defense contractor the Carlyle Group, where
Baker is senior counselor and an equity partner with an estimated
$180 million stake
The Carlyle Group does extensive business
with the Saudi Royal family, as does Bakers law firm, Baker
Even more disconcerting for the State of Israel is a report released
on February 4, 2005 by the James A. Baker III Institute for Public
Policy at Rice University. http://www.bakerinstitute.org/Pubs/workingpapers/BakerInstituteWkspReport.pdf
The report was titled, Creating a Roadmap Implementation
Process Under United States Leadership. The report was based
on a workshop chaired by Baker Institute Director Edward Djerejian,
former US Ambassador to Syria and Israel. He is currently on the
Board of Directors of several companies doing business in the Middle
East. The 29-page report focuses on the Disengagement Plan and An
International Plan for Palestinian Economic Rehabilitation.
According to the plan, The strengthening of the PA is therefore
understood to be a necessary precondition to the success of the
Roadmap, and at the same time is a precondition for the creation
of a permissive environment for economic rehabilitation and international
support for economic growth
Palestinian economic rehabilitation
over a sustained period of time is necessary for the well-being
of the Palestinian people, the success of the first phase of the
Roadmap, and the Israeli Disengagement Plan.
Several statements from the report pose a direct threat to the
security of the State of Israel. On page 19 it says, In order
to encourage Palestinian trade, the possibility of establishing
Palestinian storage and customs facilities in the Israeli harbors
of Ashdod and Haifa and at Ben Gurion Airport should be examined.
On page 21 it states that to make it possible for the Palestinian
people to establish a viable state in the West Bank and Gaza, there
is a decisive need for a comprehensive Israeli settlement freeze
and the eventual evacuation of Israeli settlements behind a negotiated
and agreed border
The US should establish a Settlement Monitoring
Office to monitor the settlement freeze and outpost removal.
The implications of the report should be obvious:
- Jews will be confined to living within the 1967 borders, with
perhaps minor adjustments.
- There will be massive economic rehabilitation of the West Bank
and Gaza for the Palestinian people.
- There will be a large influx of Arabs into the Palestinian areas
to take advantage of economic opportunities.
- With limited opportunities for affordable housing in a congested
Israel, young Jewish families will be discouraged from living
- In a short time, there will be 5 million Jews and 5 million
Arabs living in the 1947 boundaries of British Palestine.
- There will be international pressure to unite the three small
fragments of land into one binational state of Arabs and Jews.
- The State of Israel will be dissolved and Jews will live under
the domination and mercy of an Arab majority.
- There will be a mass exodus of Jews to more favorable environments
in North America, if they are allowed to emigrate.
- Eventually, Jews will be only a small minority in the new Arab
state. Perhaps they will be given visitation rights to their holy
Sharons rush to implement the Disengagement Plan now makes
more sense. By sacrificing a few hundred square kilometers in Gaza,
hes hoping he will be able to stall or prevent the implementation
of the rest of the Roadmap plan. However, his plan may backfire.
On Sunday, June 26, 2005, Palestinian sources confirmed that leaders
of Hamas and other Palestinian radical groups now based in Lebanon
and Syria are planning to move to the Gaza Strip after Israel evacuates
the area. Also, on the same day the Palestinian Authority warned
Palestinians not buy any evacuated land. The PA Interior Ministry
said, These lands belong to the Palestinian Authority and
the Palestinian people and no one has the right to trade in them.
This raises the question as to whether these lands will actually
be used for peaceful purposes. Even after evacuation, the Gaza Strip
will continue to be a big thorn in the side of the State of Israel.
Before the 1967 war, there was a popular song by Barry McGuire
called the Eve of Destruction. Some of those lyrics
seem to be appropriate to the current situation:
Dont you understand
what Im tryin to say
Cant you feel
the fears Im feelin today?
If the button is pushed,
theres no runnin away
Therell be no
one to save, with the world in a grave
Take a look around
Its bound to
scare you boy
And you tell me
Over and over and
over again, my friend
Ah, you dont
Were on the
(c) 2005, I. Zwick, NYC
Israel Zwick is a commentator on the Middle East based in New York.