Charles Krauthammer on the president’s Israeli response
HH: I’m joined now by Charles Krauthammer, who is a Washington Post columnist as well as a Fox News All-Star. Charles, earlier today, Jimmy Carter said that these tragic deaths are a terrible reminder that the failed policy of besieging Gaza mainly hurts civilians. He went on to say there is no way to realize the goal of a two-state solution as long as the people of Gaza remain isolated and deprived of their basic human rights. He certainly isn’t standing with Israel, is he?
CK: Yeah, and he also knows no history. I mean, his animus towards Israel overrides even logic in his case. The fact is that long before the blockade, long before any of this, Gaza, run by Hamas, is committed to the destruction of Israel. It has never accepted a two-state solution, so it is totally fatuous to say that in the absence of a blockade, or there was some change in Israeli policy, Hamas would ever agree to a two-state solution. It has repeated its opposition to Israel’s existence, and its determination to fight to the end to its destruction at every opportunity for thirty years. So what Carter says is the usual nonsense coming from him on the Middle East, and it’s worse than nonsense. It’s highly, highly prejudiced nonsense.
HH: Less than an hour ago, CNN released tape of Larry King asking President Obama about the Carter statement. Let me play you that tape, Charles, from CNN.
LK: Former President Carter has condemned the Israeli raid against those ships in the flotilla trying to break the blockade of Gaza.
LK: Where do stand on that? A former American president has condemned it.
BHO: Well, the United States with the other members of the UN Security Council said very clearly that we condemned all the acts that led up to this violence. It was a tragic situation. You’ve got loss of life that was unnecessary. And so we are calling for an effective investigation of everything that happened, and I think the Israelis are going to agree to that, an investigation of international standards, because they recognize that this can’t be good for Israel’s long term security.
LK: Premature, then, to condemn Israel?
BHO: Well, I think that we need to know what all the facts are, but it’s not premature to say to the Israelis, and to say to the Palestinians, and to say to all the parties in the region, that the status quo is unsustainable. We have been trying to do this piecemeal for decades now. And it just doesn’t work. You’ve got to have a situation in which the Palestinians have real opportunity, and Israel’s neighbors recognize Israel’s legitimate security concerns, and are committed to peace.
HH: What do you make of that, Charles, that both the question, how it was answered, and how it should have been answered?
CK: Well, I find it equally fatuous for the president to say that we need to have, the present situation is unsustainable, you have to have a situation in which the Palestinians have what they need, and the Israel security needs are recognized. Everybody knows that Hamas is not going to recognize Israel’s security needs. Israel withdrew from Gaza. It took out every settler, every soldier, every Jew. There wasn’t a Jew left in Gaza. They were given independence. Israel had an open hand. It was quite willing to have open, friendly relations. And what did it get in return? Remember people used to say land for peace? If you offer land, you’re going to get peace? It got war. It got 6,000 rockets launched into Israel attacking schools and houses wantonly and gratuitously, and purposely. So to speak about this as if somehow Israel is at fault because it blockaded an entity that’s attacking it with weaponry, and wants to prevent the importation of even more rockets, is simply astonishing. I think the United States under this administration has left Israel out in the cold, and that’s why the world has been so eager and sort of enthusiastic in attacking Israel in the UN and elsewhere, because it sees that the kind of protective, moral umbrella that the United States has held over Israel all these years, understanding its needs, understanding its democracy, understanding its incredible yearning to have a real peace, that umbrella has been removed under this administration, and it’s open season on Israel.
HH: Now Charles Krauthammer, I believe that the Monday UN resolution was a huge breach with past American policy on Israel. But then Jake Tapper comes out the next day and says there are sources in the White House who says there will be no daylight between the U.S. and Israel. Last night, Joe Biden goes on Charlie Rose and says what’s the big deal? Israel’s running a blockade. And then today, Barack Obama goes on Larry King and opens up the daylight again. It’s like there are two administrations here.
CK: No, I think the Biden stuff is just to allow him to get, you know, lengthen his leash to say a few things that might reassure a few naïve and gullible pro-Israel Americans, of which I would say 98% of the pro-Israel community in the United States, amazingly, is not Jewish. I mean, there’s an unbelievable constituency who support Israel because it’s a democracy, and because it’s a brave country holding its own against a lot of despots. But no, the policy of the U.S. was to support the statement out of the Security Council, which condemned the acts. Well, who’s acts do you think are involved here? But the worst part is what was in the resolution, what was in the statement, and what the president said on Larry King, which was we want an international investigation. We just had one on the Gaza war. It’s called the Goldstone report. It is a calumny against Israel. It’s a blood libel. It accuses it essentially of having conducted a criminal operation in Gaza when in fact, it was one of the most restrained and humane military actions probably in the history of counterinsurgency. And it compares very favorably with anything American has done in Afghanistan, Iraq or elsewhere. So we know what the UN will give us. It will give us a report that you can write in advance, is going to be anti-Israel and inflammatory. So that’s what we, we are demanding a second Goldstone report on this incident?
HH: Now you’ve already said that it is because of the withdrawal of the umbrella that Israel’s critics feel so emboldened. But what do you make of people like, for example, Peter Beinart, a very well-respected, very established supporter of Israel, blasting Israel in the aftermath of the flotilla even before, as far as I can see, the videos came out. Within 24 hours, people were unwilling, long standing, traditional supporters of Israel, unwilling to wait here, Charles. I can’t believe it, but what’s going on?
CK: Well, I mean, there are a lot of people who, let me say, that are rather weary of supporting the right and the good and the just here, with the unrelenting opposition from of course the Arab world, Islamic world, from the European and American left. Particularly if you’re on the left, as Beinart is and others are, you’ve got to choose. You know, do you really want to go into your cocktail parties and your dinners and have to actually spend the evening defending an extremely unpopular cause? Or would you rather acquiesce to the general zeitgeist of piling on Israel and taking the side, essentially, of parties who have declared themselves, like Hamas and like others, to have no use for Israel? I mean, there is a great movement, even among, particularly in the European left, of declaring that the whole creation of Israel was in and of itself either a mistake or a crime, and needs to be undone. We’re not speaking about a two state solution these people want on the left. It’s the one state solution, and it doesn’t include Israel.
HH: That’s very dispiriting, Charles, because…
CK: Well, it is, but if that’s where you want to go, I mean, if you’re on the left, and that’s who you hang out with, that’s the way you go.
HH: But that would mean even intellectuals like Beinart cannot see the obvious problem with allowing any ship to go to Gaza. It’s insane. They can’t let ships freely enter Gaza.
CK: It’s quite obvious, isn’t it? Didn’t we have a blockade on Cuba in October, 1962?
HH: Well, we wouldn’t let the Taliban receive convoys without checking them right now.
HH: I don’t care if they said they were…it’s just nuts.
CK: And do you think the Turks would allow a procession of vehicles carrying “humanitarian aid” on the way to the Kurds in the interior of Turkey?
HH: Excellent. Now Arthur Brooks, who will be my guest next week, has written a book that says this is a 70/30 country, 70% conservative, freedom-loving, and I would argue supporting Israel, 30% in control of all the power right now, but anti-free enterprise, and I’m going to say, not Brooks by extension, anti-Israel. Does the 70% use this last occasion this week, Charles, to solidify their resolve to toss these people out in November?
CK: Well, I’m not sure what the reaction is going to be. There was a Gallup poll on Israel recently, 63% pro-Israel, about, I think, 10 or 12 pro-Palestinian. That’s about a six to one ratio. It’s been that way consistently for the last thirty years or so, which makes American remarkable. That is not the way it stands in Europe and elsewhere. I think Americans have a basic decency, and also an incredibly calm sense of common sense, and they know what’s right and who’s right. Look, ten years ago next month, Israel offered the most generous peace settlement in the history of the Middle East – a Palestinian state, half of Jerusalem, a swap of territories, everything that the Palestinians had asked. And what did it get? Not just a refusal, but it got war in response. That’s all you have to know.
HH: Charles Krauthammer from the Washington Post, thank you.
End of interview.