As a two-time American ambassador to the Jewish state, Martin Indyk seemed like a perfect fit for his role as negotiator in the 2013-14 peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
That, until it was discovered just months after those negotiations that the Brookings Institution, the think tank which employs Indyk as its director of foreign policy, was taking money from Qatar.
So much money, in fact, that Qatar ranked as its single largest foreign donor, with donations totaling to $14.8 million.
Qatar, it should be known, is a proud financial supporter of the terrorist group Hamas. Seeing that his salary was sponsored in part by a sworn enemy of Israel, many of us took to thinking that maybe Martin Indyk wasn't as impartial as he should have been.
I should mention that I met Indyk who once came to a lecture I gave on Kosher Sex in the Hamptons, and found him to be a warm and engaging man, as you’d expect from an Australian (I’m married to one).
But the issue of Indyk’s apparent impartiality arose this week a little more blatantly in the form of his recently declassified emails – emails which are harsh on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Indyk should clarify them so that we don’t get the wrong impression.
What first caught the headlines was the American diplomat’s claim that Netanyahu “at heart... seems to lack a generosity of spirit.”
It’s ironic that he should say this about someone like Netanyahu.
It would be Indyk and his diplomatic team that would push Netanyahu in 2013 to free 78 convicted murderers and terrorists in one of the most generous acts in diplomatic history – not in exchange for anything, but as a precondition to the convening of the peace talks. In fact, it was absurdly generous. Among those freed in this one-sided transaction were three men who slit the throat of a mother of six and another who killed a 67-year-old Holocaust survivor with an ax. The rest committed or assisted in murders which were just as gruesome. Needless to say, this is not the type of thing you should ask of any man, let alone of those lacking “generosity of heart.”
But there’s more.
Martin Indyk goes on to say that Netanyahu is unable to negotiate because he’s afraid of looking like a frier, which is Israeli for “sucker.” However, I must point out to the ambassador, perhaps it’s not that Netanyahu doesn't want to look like a sucker. Maybe he doesn’t want to be a sucker. After all, he’s being asked to give away the historical Jewish homeland of Judea and Samaria, which also serves as a strategic buffer zone crucial to Israel’s survival.
Worse, he’s handing it over to the Palestinian Authority, a corrupt autocracy that sympathizes with terrorism and will probably handle the area so badly so as to lay the seeds of a Hamas takeover. After all, that’s exactly what happened in Gaza when Israel withdrew from it in 2005, and judging from the fact that Mahmoud Abbas won’t allow an election for fear of losing to Hamas, it’s bound to happen again. And if that happens Israel will face a two-front rocket threat far closer to its major cities and thus far more dangerous than that being posed by Hamas in Gaza today.
Truth be told, that is a deal only a frier would agree to.
But, what truly caught my eye in Indyk’s email is this: He says that should negotiations break down, “the world will of course blame [Netanyahu].”
He says this like it’s a good thing, and is indifferent to setting the record straight.
Well, here I’ll take a break from any criticism and offer Indyk a word of advice. Perhaps we ought to put the blame where it belongs – on Mahmoud Abbas, the man who never once offered to compromise, instead choosing obstinacy at every turn. The man who literally embraces terrorists and quells for their return. The man who steals the American aid money meant for his people.
The man who named two girls high schools, a computer center, a soccer championship, two summer camps and a public square after Dalal Mughrabi, the 19-year-old woman who carried out the most deadly terrorist attack in Israeli history, hijacking a bus and murdering 38 Israelis, 13 of them children, while throwing their bodies from the moving bus.
Maybe Abbas, and not Netanyahu, should finally be in the hot seat.
Sadly, Ambassador Indyk, you seem a little bit unforgiving about Bibi not blindly following your directives. Maybe you can be a bit more understanding of his responsibility to ensure the security of his endangered people, who are surrounded by more than a few people who want them dead. Maybe you can’t feel his disgust at negotiating with Mahmoud Abbas, a former PLO fund-raiser who helped raise the money for the 1972 Munich Olympic massacre of 13 Israeli sportsmen – (who are, perhaps, the least political figures of any society). Or maybe you can’t sympathize with his apprehension at waiving the fundamentals of justice in letting killers walk free.
Ambassador Indyk, open your heart which, judging from your private comments, makes us question your generosity of spirit and ability to empathize with a people who just 70 ago suffered history’s greatest slaughter.
You are a proud Jew, Mr.
Ambassador, and you are a friend of Israel. But it’s important to show that friendship in public as well as private forums.
Rabbi Shmuley Boteach is the international best-selling author of 30 books. He will shortly publish The Israel Warrior’s Handbook.