Congressmen Team with “Anti-Muslim Extremist” to Launch “Defeat Palestinians” Caucus

Alan Elsner Image
Alan Elsner
on April 19, 2017

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A new congressional group called “The Israel Victory Caucus” will debut next week, devoted to pushing the truly terrifying myth that Israel can end the conflict by using brute force and repression to make the Palestinians accept their eternal statelessness. 

The new group takes aim at the idea that Israelis and Palestinians can only end their conflict by negotiating peace based on a two-state solution – a policy promoted by every US administration since the early 1990s and recently reaffirmed by nearly 200 members of Congress in a letter to President Trump. Instead, Congressmen Ron DeSantis (R-FL) and Bill Johnson (R-OH) are advancing the medieval notion that Israel can only make peace by defeating the Palestinians and breaking their will to resist.

It is unclear how many members of Congress will join the new caucus but the very fact that it is forming is the latest sign that the kind of extremism advocated by the Israeli settler movement has burrowed deep roots into the right-wing of the Republican Party. Another group backing the new caucus is the Christians United for Israel Action Fund, the legislative arm of Christians United for Israel – a fundamentalist group well known for funding Israeli settlements.

Its adherents, no doubt, took heart when President Trump said he had no preference between a one-state or two-state solution and when he appointed settlement backer David Friedman as US ambassador to Israel.

Among the authors of the violent ideology behind the group is Daniel Pipes, who the Southern Poverty Law Center has called an “anti-Muslim extremist” and has spread the lie that former President Barack Obama was born a Muslim.  In an essay cited by leaders of the new caucus, Pipes argues that Israel should abandon peace-making efforts with Palestinians and focus on a policy of coercion and graduated punishments. Only then, he says, will Palestinians realize they have no hope of self-determination and settle the conflict on Israel’s terms.

This, of course, runs counter to the advice, based on rich experience, of nearly every Israeli security expert. Indeed, as former Shin Bet Director Ami Ayalon noted in the movie “The Gatekeepers,” Israel wins every battle it fights with the Palestinians but it never wins the war.

Neither has the problem been a lack of Israeli toughness toward the Palestinians whose lives it controls. As noted by another former Shin Bet Commander Carmi Gillon in the same movie, “We are making the lives of millions [of Palestinians] unbearable, into prolonged human suffering and it kills me.” Rather than breaking Palestinian resistance as Pipes and members of the new caucus imagine, it seems inevitable that more Israeli repression will provoke more Palestinian resistance – both nonviolent and, unfortunately, violent – leading to more untold tragedy and suffering for both nations.

Members of Congress should stay as far away from such savage and dangerous ideas as possible. The creation of caucus devoted to promoting them should be condemned, not celebrated.

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