Right from Wrong: Martin Indyk’s latest low

He, like many peace-processers, feels more at home presenting global strategies in a think tank than confronting the need for actual tanks in the real Middle East the rest of us occupy.

Martin Indyk (photo credit: REUTERS)
Martin Indyk
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Just when you thought you’d heard it all from professional peace promoter Martin Indyk, he goes and one-ups himself. The ability to do so when the policies he has espoused over the decades have repeatedly backfired is an accomplishment in and of itself. And it explains why he was appointed twice to serve as US ambassador to Israel and also filled the role of assistant secretary of state for Near East affairs.
Indyk, author of Innocent Abroad: An Intimate Account of American Peace Diplomacy in the Middle East, has always held the position that an accord is possible between Israel and the Palestinians – if the “two sides” would only trust one another. This, of course, is why he was a perfect fit for Secretary of State John Kerry, under whom he was dispatched to Israel as an envoy to broker a deal.
Well, that didn’t work out so well, and he quit after nine months to return to his full-time job as director of foreign policy at the Brookings Institute in Washington.
He, like many peace-processers, feels more at home presenting global strategies in a think tank than confronting the need for actual tanks in the real Middle East the rest of us occupy.
This is not to say that Indyk is uncomfortable in Israel.
On the contrary, he loves visiting the country, where he is treated like a king by the chattering classes, while enjoying a cappuccino or two on balconies overlooking the Mediterranean.
So it was no surprise that he attended the Israel Conference on Peace, hosted by the left-wing daily Haaretz at Tel Aviv’s David Intercontinental Hotel last week, to wow the crowd with regurgitated slogans about why war keeps getting in the way of their aspirations for – you know – peace.
That he attributed this to Israeli intransigence was to be expected. His call on the public to grasp that a two-state solution is the only viable path – and that the Palestinians would be true “partners” if only Israel withdrew from more territory – was also cause for a yawn, as was his dig at the Netanyahu government.
“To allow your leaders to convince you that you are victims and have to live by the sword is to give way to hopeless future for your people,” he said, repeating a line he has been spouting for years, and adding a lie for good measure: “The creeping annexation of land which is continuing apace will make it impossible” to come to an agreement with the Palestinian Authority.
His failure to remember that Israel relinquished most of the land in question to the Palestinians, whose response was and continues to be to slaughter Jews, was par for the course. Indeed, nobody mentioned the irony of the fact that last year’s Haaretz peace conference was interrupted by air raid sirens, as Hamas was firing rockets into Tel Aviv from Gaza, territory from which Israel had forcibly yanked out all Jews in 2005; and this year’s gathering was taking place with Palestinian stabbing, shooting, fire-bomb and car-ramming attacks in the background.
Nor was Indyk’s referring to the late prime minister Yitzhak Rabin cause for pause. There is nothing as tried and true as resurrecting the dead to claim that if he had lived, things would have been different. You know, because, according to Indyk, Rabin “had the trust of the Israeli people, and the trust of Yasser Arafat.”
All one can do when faced with such a preposterous assertion is guffaw.
On the issue of Syria, Indyk engaged in similar sophistry.
“For the historical record,” he said, “five Israeli prime ministers, including Netanyahu, offered full withdrawal from the Golan... If you want to ask,‘Where would you have been if’– you would have been where you are with Egypt today: A revolution and a counter- revolution later, you still have a peace treaty with them. Guess what? ISIS [Islamic State] is in the Sinai, but you have an arrangement with Egypt under which you can help fight ISIS.”
Huh? Israel tried to make peace with Syria by giving up the Golan Heights and was rejected. And this, like the bloody civil war in which pro-Assad regime forces and rebels are massacring each other, is Israel’s fault? Yes, Indyk bemoaned, had Israel reached a deal with Syria in the past, “It would have transformed the Israeli- Arab conflict in a dramatic way. We missed the opportunity for a comprehensive peace between Israel and its neighbors – Lebanon would have followed as well.
Problems with Hezbollah would have been in an entirely different context. And the US would have remained the dominant power in the region. You can trace the arc of the decline of American influence in the region to that moment, when we failed to get the Syrian deal.”
Mr. Indyk, with all due respect, the “decline of American influence” can be traced to the election of President Barack Obama. To blame Israel for that travesty goes beyond your usual chutzpah. Kudos for letting your immoral compass guide you to new low levels of discourse that, fortunately, most Israelis are no longer listening to.
The writer is the web editor of The Algemeiner (algemeiner.com) and a columnist at Israel Hayom.