Dear Jared Kushner, I have been reading the remarks you made to a group of congressional interns about the difficulties of finding a solution to the Middle East conflict. Among other things, you said this: “We’re thinking about what the right end-state is, and we’re trying to work with the parties very quietly to see if there’s a solution. And there may be no solution, but it’s one of the problem sets that the president asked us to focus on. So we’re going to focus on it and try to come to the right conclusion in the near future.”
It’s good that you appreciate the complexities of this situation. The failure to understand the dynamics of this problem and the attempt instead to frame it as Westerners frame all conflicts is one of the reasons why this one remains so intractable.
I’m afraid, though, that you nevertheless fall into precisely the same trap. You said you had spoken to “a lot of people” who were involved in previous negotiations, which had taught you that “this is a very emotionally charged situation.”
Well, yes. I think we all kind of knew that already, don’t you?
You said: “You know everyone finds an issue, that ‘You have to understand what they did then’ and ‘You have to understand that they did this.’” But how does that help us get peace?
“Let’s not focus on that,” you add. “We don’t want a history lesson. We’ve read enough books. Let’s focus on how do you come up with a conclusion to the situation.”
If you really don’t think history is important, then you aren’t even going to get off the starting block. For heaven’s sake, this is all about history. The Jewish people’s unique claim to the land is rooted in the history of this land.
Without reference to that history, it is not possible to counter the big lie told by the Arab and Muslim world that fuels their attempt to destroy the State of Israel: that the Jews have no entitlement to the land.
It is history that tells us this is a war of aggression by the Arab and Muslim world against the Jews. And it really matters here who is the aggressor and who the victim.
The Western world dismisses that distinction as unimportant. As a result, it assumes this is a conflict between two warring sides. It is not. It is an attempt to annihilate a country that is defending itself against that onslaught.
History also tells us this has always been at base a war of religion. In the 1920s, the grand mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Husseini, incited pogroms against the returning Jews by claiming falsely that the Jews intended to destroy al-Aksa. Virtually the same words are being used today by the mufti’s contemporary cheerleader, Mahmoud Abbas.
What you don’t appear to have grasped is that the way this issue has been framed is fundamentally wrong. It is not a “conflict” but a war of annihilation.
There can be no negotiation with the aggressors in a war of annihilation, because any compromise with such a non-negotiable agenda is a form of surrender. Instead, the aggressor has to be defeated.
But you don’t seem to understand the Arab and Muslim agenda here at all. You think metal detectors “incited a lot of tension in the streets.” Are you really so ignorant? The incitement over the Aksa lie caused the murderous violence that made the metal detectors necessary. And it has continued after their removal.
You claim you were instrumental not only in getting them taken down, but also, “We were able to get the Israelis to take down the different forms of surveillance that the Jordanians were okay with, and we talked with the Palestinians the whole time to try to get their viewpoint on it.”
If so, it is astonishing that you pressed the Israelis to remove the surveillance necessary to prevent further acts of terrorism. The issue was not the surveillance apparatus but the refusal by the Arab and Muslim world to acknowledge any rightful Israeli presence on Temple Mount at all.
The correct response to such intimidation would have been to stand firm and denounce it for the act of religious war that it is. Instead, you actually facilitated it in order to appease Arab and Muslim rage.
This relates to the deeper flaw still in the way you are looking at this situation. For it’s not so much a question of what needs to be done, but rather what needs to be undone.
Britain, the US and Europe have been rewarding Arab and Muslim aggression in the Land of Israel for almost a century by treating that agenda as legitimate. This continues today in the West’s insistence on treating the Palestinians not as murderous and colonialist pariahs but as statesmen-in-waiting.
What you should be doing instead is stopping US funding of the Palestinian Authority while it continues to incite mass murder and psychotic hatred. And you need to sort out your own State Department’s endemic hostility to the state of Israel.
You say there may be no solution. There can be: but only if you first correctly identify the problem. Your heart is in the right place, but you appear to be dangerously naive.
I hope you will take these remarks in the positive spirit in which they are intended. Oh–and please do pass them along to your father-in-law. Doubtless he’d like to reflect on them, too.
The author is a columnist for The Times (UK).