Frontpage Interview’s guest today is Aaron Klein, Jerusalem bureau chief for WorldNetDaily.com and author of the just released book, The Late Great State of Israel: How Enemies Within and Without Threaten the Jewish Nation's Survival.
FP: Aaron Klein, welcome to Frontpage Interview.
Your views regarding the future of Israel seem dire. Where do they stem from?
Klein: I've been reporting on the ground from Israel for four years now. I’ve dispatched for months on end from the rocket-battered Jewish communities of the Gaza Strip and the war-torn Israeli-Lebanese-Syrian borders. I’ve stood in the trenches during massive nationalist protests and Israeli evacuations of Jewish homes. I’ve observed from the plenum intense Knesset sessions and have entered the viper’s den of Palestinian terrorism, conducting extensive in-person interviews with some of the most senior Palestinian jihadists. I’ve traveled throughout the Middle East and have had the privilege of interviewing some of the region’s leaders and newsmakers as well as its ordinary citizens.
I've watched as the dangers have grown stronger every year to the point at which Israel has arrived at an emergency situation. I strongly believe Israel is teetering on the brink, and hardly anyone has noticed. Actually, the greatest threat, the one that magnifies all others exponentially, is that only a few in Israel or abroad are aware of the real extent of the dangers facing the Jewish country—both from within and without. The great Middle East democracy is headed down a road that, if not altered, may result in catastrophe.
FP: Is Iran the gravest threat to the Jewish state?
Klein: Of course. It's the largest state sponsor of terrorism worldwide. It's well known that Iran is controlled by a fanatical regime of Shi’ite Muslim revolutionaries who routinely threaten to annihilate the Jewish state. Iran's nuclear program, on the brink of weaponization, is clearly intended for hostile purposes. Among global political analysts, no one doubts that a nuclear Iran would be a game changer. It would irrevocably alter the balance of power in the Middle East, placing Tehran and all of its proxies under the protection of a nuclear umbrella, and would give Iran the technical option of wiping Israel off the map.
This is not news to anyone. But what may be surprising to some - and I document this thoroughly in The Late Great State of Israel - is that Israeli policies and follies the past few years have actually been strengthening Iran, which has now surrounded the Jewish state with dangerous proxies, giving Tehran the capability of waging war on Israel by remote control.
FP: Are you referring to Hamas? Hezbollah? Lebanon? Syria? How did Israel strengthen these?
Klein: I am indeed referring to those countries and entities. And I am referring to Israeli concessions and losses to Iran’s proxy war, which is killing Jews and strangling Israel at the country’s borders.
Hamas is armed, trained and largely funded by Iran; the Islamist group's top leadership resides under protection in Syria, which is in a military alliance with Iran. Iran also directs, funds, arms, and trains the Lebanese Hezbollah south-facing combat group on Israel’s northern border. As well, Iran has major influence over some elements in Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah organization, mostly it's so-called military wing, the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades.
In the book, I document one Israeli government folly after another, all resulting in the strengthening of Iran's proxies. Take Israel's recent 22-day confrontation with Hamas in the Gaza Strip that ended this past January. Israel failed to defeat Hamas militarily. After the operation, the Israeli government opened indirect negotiations with Hamas regarding prisoner exchanges and border agreements. Even before the operation, Israel negotiated ceasefires with Hamas that gifted the group with much needed respites. The Israeli government also provided (and continues to provide) monthly truckloads of Israeli currency to infuse the Hamas-controlled Gaza with cash. These things sent clear signals to the international community that if Israel is talking with Hamas, it's okay for the rest of the world to do the same.
It was also the Israeli government that recently helped legitimize the tyranny in Syria, with then-Prime Minister Ehud Olmert announcing talks with Damascus last year while the Bush administration largely supported the latter's deserved isolation. Israel was willing to tread with the Bashar Assad regime even while Damascus, in full partnership with Iran, continued to welcome terrorist leaders and furiously acquire thousands of advanced missiles.
And of course we have Israel's failure to defeat Hezbollah in 2006, which essentially handed the Lebanese parliament to the Shiite militia. Israel then supported the deployment of tens of thousands of international troops to Lebanon who did nothing as Iran entirely re-armed Hezbollah. This has resulted in a dangerous situation in which international soldiers will be in the way if and when Israel finds itself once again in a war to protect itself against Hezbollah in South Lebanon.
I must also mention Israel's 2005 retreat from Gaza, which first essentially handed that strategic territory to Iran's Hamas fighting force.
FP: Will Obama's Middle East policies help or harm Israel?
Klein: A good chunk of the book shows how Obama's overall policies, such as dialogue with Iran and Syria, resetting America's relationship with Russia and its allies, taking a soft approach toward North Korea, are working to harm Israel's strategic interests. I also delve into the implications of Obama's drive to establish a Palestinian state and strong indications he is willing to treat with the Hamas terrorist organization.
Obama, however, cannot be blamed for supporting the two-state solution. It was President Bush who pushed the Annapolis summit of 2007, which sought a Palestinian state before Bush departed office this past January. Before that, President Clinton helped to build up Yasser Arafat as a statesman willing to make peace while pressuring Israel into extreme concessions.
We've been down this same dangerous road the past fifteen years, Have we not learned that every time Israel evacuates territory to an enemy bent on its destruction, an enemy that announces beforehand any territory gained will be used to stage attacks against Jews, that this path will result in more violence and bloodshed?
Now we have the Obama administration following in the footsteps of its predecessors by urging talks with a “peace partner” whose official institutions indoctrinate its citizens with intense anti-Jewish hatred and violence; whose gunmen make up one of the deadliest anti-Israel terrorist groups; and whose leadership is weak, corrupt, and at serious risk of being overthrown by radical Islamists. Indeed, I show in the book how Hamas in the process of taking over the West Bank just as it took over Gaza.
Obama, by the way, has brought back many of the same personalities, including Middle East envoys Dennis Ross and George Mitchell, whose strategies and influence during the Clinton years helped bring the Middle East to its current destabilized, powder-keg state of crisis.
There has also been some concern in Jerusalem that Obama will categorically not support another large-scale Israeli operation against Hamas in Gaza. Indeed, the U.S. is slated to provide hundreds of millions to reconstruct the Gaza Strip, meaning any future Israeli raid in that territory could target infrastructure funded by America and the international community. The Islamist movement, for its part, claims openly that Obama’s administration favors bringing Hamas into the so-called peace process, while Obama’s team has so far flatly denied having any talks with the terrorist organization.
FP: Fatah is considered to be “moderate” by many, but it’s everything but that isn’t it?
Klein: Fatah is statistically responsible for more violence and terrorism than Hamas or any other Palestinian organization. What's amazing is the Israeli government and Israeli news media whitewash of Fatah terrorism. I document thoroughly how the two are so entrenched in their accepted narratives that they will completely invert the truth or blindly repeat proven falsehoods, even when this requires masking the murderous ways of their Palestinian “partners.” I also show how the U.S. has been arming, training and funding members of Fatah's militias who openly also serve in Fatah's terrorist wing.
FP: Now there is a new Israeli leader. Do you believe Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will change some of the policies you so strongly criticize?
Klein: Netanyahu is known to be a pragmatic politician. From top sources both in his administration and in the Palestinian Authority, I have direct information about his plans to initiate eventual negotiations with Syria and to try to coax Jordan into working more with the PA to take over key West Bank territories. Netanyahu’s team had no immediate comment on this report, although in the last week, two of his top ministers announced Israel should talk with Syria.
Careful observers recall that as the ninth prime minister of Israel, from 1996 to 1999, Netanyahu established intensive, secret negotiations with Syria in which he offered to evacuate much of the Golan Heights. He also infamously signed the Wye River Accords, which transferred vital West Bank territory, including a portion of the holy city of Hebron, to the control of Yasser Arafat and his Fatah killers. In partial exoneration, Netanyahu signed the Accords under heavy pressure from President Bill Clinton, whose policies built up Arafat as a statesman willing to make peace with Israel even while the Palestinian leader orchestrated continuous waves of terrorism against Jews.
From the first, the Wye River Accords were a strategic disaster that gave the Palestinians a physical platform from which to launch attacks, helping to pave the way to the Second Intifada. The word on the Israeli political street was that Netanyahu had “caved” to Clinton and to the everything-is-negotiable politics of the State Department. Now, Israel’s returning leader must again contend with a White House intent on pushing the same failed formulas.
The one area where I think Netantahu will be different is Iran. He has made clear his primary goal in office will be to ensure Iran does not obtain nuclear weapons. Regrettably, due in part to U.S. and Israeli mismanagement, Iran, as I mentioned earlier, has been allowed to lay the foundations for yet another costly future war that could wreak havoc on the Israeli home front.
If Netanyahu decides to oppose Iran or promote a hard-line policy, he will have to contend with an unfriendly White House and State Department. This would be likely to generate a crisis in U.S.-Israeli relations, especially if Netanyahu acts while Obama is in the midst of diplomatic engagement with Iran.
FP: I noticed one of the chapters is entitled, "How Israel already forfeited Jerusalem." What is this all about?
Klein: I conducted an investigation that found key sections in Jerusalem are essentially controlled by the Palestinian Authority while the U.S. has been aiding the Palestinians in developing infrastructure in eastern Jerusalem.
I found that, scandalously, the Israeli government has allowed hundreds of thousands of Arabs to live illegally on Jewish‐owned land in Jerusalem that may, as a result, shift parts of Israel’s capital to future Palestinian control. Everyone who cares about the future of Jerusalem must read this chapter to understand how the city is already divided.
I also detail how the Jewish state has already essentially forfeited the holy Temple Mount—Judaism’s most venerated site, and has put up little protest as Islamic authorities physically erase Jewish history and archaeology from the site.
FP: Discuss some of the other main themes of the book.
Klein: I focus on other crucial stories that have yet to see the light of day from the media: a dangerous war being waged by Israel against some of its own citizens who want the Jewish state to be defined by Jewish traditions and character; how the UN is maintaining and festering a Palestinian "refugee" crisis that directly threatens the existence of Israel; the threat from Syria; Israel's abandonment of its third holiest site, Joseph's tomb.
Also, most don’t know how the Hamas terrorist organization actually blasted its way to control over the Gaza Strip and how the pretakeover stage of that same process is being played out now in the West Bank—territory slated for evacuation despite its proximity to Israel’s population centers and the country’s international airport. There's a whole chapter on the international legitimization of Hamas; I conducted interviews with Hamas' top leaders.
FP: Do you believe Israel will cease to exist?
Klein: Well, the view from where I sit in Jerusalem is beautiful and dramatic. The often-rubbled and rebuilt walls of the Old City serve as testament to the dangers Israel currently faces. While those ancient walls are today only a symbol of the threat, a look just to the east, where the so-called security fence threads its way along the border of Jerusalem, reveals the living resurgence of the age-old danger, stirring the disturbing feeling that history is repeating itself.
I trust and believe that Israel will ultimately survive—against all odds and in spite of the threats from within and without—only through the grace of God. But for now, things don’t look good.
FP: Aaron Klein, thank you for joining us.