Hady Amr’s Fantasy
The recent announcement of Hady Amr’s appointment as “special representative for Palestinian affairs” in the State Department’s Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs provides a revealing glimpse of the Biden administration’s warped understanding of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
To be sure, Amr is well-suited for his new position. Between 2014-17 he served as Deputy Special Envoy for Israeli-Palestinian Negotiations, focusing on economic issues. According to a State Department official the decision to create this new role for Amr is intended to strengthen the relationship between the United States and “Palestine”.
Amr (ponderously) described his objectives: “To advance and work toward equal measures of freedom, security, and prosperity and justice and dignity for the Palestinian people; and to take steps to try to preserve and advance the two-state solution along the 1967 lines.” These lines, to be sure, had prevented Jews from returning to Biblical Judea and Samaria, conquered by the Kingdom of Jordan during Israel’s struggle for independence in 1948.
With unrelenting vagueness Amr has promised “engaging with the Palestinian people and leadership to better understand the challenges we face, and the better to align our policy to address those challenges.” This “unprecedented step forward” in the US-Palestinian relationship, he claims, would elevate “the attention that will be paid to issues of concern to Palestinians in Washington” and “strengthen our bilateral relationship with the Palestinian people.”
Amr proudly asserted that the United States is now “the world’s largest donor to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees” (UNRWA) – having bestowed more than $680 million within the past eighteen months alone. But he evades the reality that fewer than thirty thousand genuine Palestinian refugees from the Arab war in 1947-48 to obliterate the fledgling Jewish state are still living.
Consequently the overwhelming majority of recipients of UNRWA funds are, and forever will be in increasing numbers, the descendants of refugees. Indeed there now are as many UNRWA employees as there are genuine Palestinian refugees. It is, in a word, a scam to which Amr seems oblivious.
But Amir seems to understand that the success of his fantasy depends upon the (unlikely) willingness of Israelis and Palestinians to embrace it. Equating their violence against each other, he ignores the reality of Israeli responses to Palestinian terrorist attacks. Instead he offers reassurance that the United States “cares deeply” and “will continue to address those issues with the parties” – as if American “caring” is sufficient to resolve a decades-old conflict that shows no sign of abating.
Amr describes his appointment as an “unprecedented move” that will “elevate” the relationship between the United States and Palestinians. He makes clear that his primary focus will be “engagement with the Palestinian people and leadership and on Palestinian-related issues with other governments in the region.”
In translation, Amr will become the de facto American representative to “Palestine.” But he will learn, if he does not already know, that Israel is unlikely to abandon Biblical Judea and Samaria (Jordan’s “West Bank” until the Six-Day War) for a Palestinian state.
He might even learn that “Palestine” already exists east of the Jordan River, land that British Colonial Secretary Winston Churchill removed from the Balfour Declaration promise (1917) of “the establishment of a national home for the Jewish people in Palestine.” It became the Kingdom of Jordan, where more than half the population is now of Palestinian origin.
Before he lacerates Israel for its evil settlements as the primary obstacle to peace with Palestinians – and promotes a Palestinian state in the Biblical homeland of the Jewish people – Hady Amr would benefit from a history lesson. Based on his past priorities, however, it is unlikely that he will learn from it.
Jerold S. Auerbach is the author of twelve books, including Print to Fit: The New York Times, Zionism and Israel 1896-2016, selected for Mosaic by Ruth Wisse and Martin Kramer as a Best Book for 2019