Past Articles:

By: Dave Gordon

CommunityInterviews David Brog, Head of the Maccabee Task Force,
about the Middle-Eastern Conflict

David Brogheads a new group called Maccabee Task Force. Formed by American philanthropists Sheldon Adelson and Haim Saban, its goal is to combat Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) activities on the college campus. Community Magazinereached out to Mr. Brog totalk about some of the serious issues facing Israel today.

CM: Why has so little progress been made with the peace process?

Brog: There have been two people claiming this one piece of land. From the start, one of these two parties, the Jews, have largely said – for better or for worse – ‘Look, we understand that there are other people with a claim to this land, and we’re willing to compromise with them for the sake of peace.’

However, the Palestinians, especially their leaders, have refused to recognize the legitimacy of any claim to the land but their own, and have refused to compromise.

So, if you freeze the frame today, the way almost everyone does, people will say the Israelis ‘occupy’ the West Bank and the solution is to put pressure on Israel to leave. Then there will be two states for two people, and then there will be peace. That’s the common belief of people who don’t know the whole story.

The lack of peace is not the product of Israeli intransigence or an Israeli unwillingness to compromise. It’s the result of this Palestinian rejectionism that has driven the conflict from day one.

In the last generation there have been five offers presented by Israel to the Palestinians, all were refused.

In 2014, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was willing to go back to the negotiating table but Mahmoud Abbas wasn’t. You see the pattern.

CM: So there was never any intent from the Palestinian leadership to forge peace?

Brog:We were projecting onto Arafat our own dreams and desires of peace. He never shared them. He proved that by his rejection of peace and his bloody actions that followed it.

And, whatever you think of Abbas, when it comes to this fundamental issue, is he really willing to make peace and end the conflict and educate his people toward coexistence, the answer is no, no, no.

He might have a gentler demeanor. He might not wear a kafiya and a gun on his hip – but he doesn’t educate his people toward peace and coexistence. He doesn’t educate his people toward the validity of Jewish claims. Instead, he incites terror and he generously funds terror.

CM: What did you find to be the most glaring untruth peddled about Israel?

Brog:Most people, to the extent that they’re aware of the conflict at all, know nothing of what happened before today. So, wherever you go – college campuses, a lot of the mainline churches, the Obama Administration, the UN, the European Union – there are people who are unhappy with the status-quo, who think it would be a solution to have two states for two people. The majority of the groups I just mentioned feel this way – and the Israeli Left, and the American Jewish Left automatically blame Israel for the problem. They think everything is Israel’s fault, because it has a military presence in Judea and Samaria. And there’s just this willful blindness.

I look at J Street, I look at the Israeli Left, and I say, ‘Okay that position may have been an interesting position in the 1990s, but a lot has happened since then. How do you ignore it? Is the solution that Israel’s got to make an offer yet again, got to make concessions yet again, because the fault lies with Israel? That, to me, is the big lie.

To repeat, that is the big lie behind the BDS movement. It is a movement to destroy and delegitimize the State of Israel, though they bill themselves as simply wanting to pressure Israel to end
its ‘occupation.’

And I think the way to confront the big lie is not just to talk about how wonderful Tel Aviv nightlife is, and not just to talk about how amazing Israeli start-ups are. I do think we have to dirty our hands and talk about the conflict and the history of the conflict.

In twelve years of working with students, that excites them, and arms them to be pro-Israel.

CM: Is there an easy answer to why Israel has decided to deny entrance to those who have signed onto the BDS movement?

Brog:To what extent must free societies help those determined to use their freedoms against them to attack them? How much must Israel open doors to and facilitate the efforts of those who just want to attack and delegitimize Israel?

On the one hand, you want a society where all viewpoints are welcome and all ideas are welcome. But on the other hand, Israel is still struggling for its survival. You know, it’s not living in some ivy-lined peaceful neighborhood.

I believe there’s a connection between the
delegitimization of Israel and the violence occurring against Israelis. When you look at the stabbing intifada, and you try to fathom what leads a young man to go into his mother’s kitchen, pick the longest knife he can find, and go try to plunge it into some Israeli, you’ve got to think a lot of it has to do with the fact that this young man doesn’t see the Jews of Israel as a people, a people with a connection to this land, and a valid claim in this land, and rights in this land, a people with whom he should compromise. I do think that violence comes from the belief that Jews have no connection to the land, have no rights to the land and that their very presence is an act of power crushing justice. And, therefore, this young fellow arming himself to stab a Jew wants to strike a blow against this pure injustice.

CM: How can we make Israel more of a bipartisan issue?

Brog:To me, knowing the facts is critical. I know that when I learned the truth, it spoke to my deeply-held values. It not only returned me to being pro-Israel, it made me dedicate my life to the cause of Israel.

We are losing progressives and young people. I don’t think we’re losing them because they don’t think Israel is hip enough. I think we’re losing them simply because they don’t know the truth about Israel.

Just recently, we took some people from the Black Lives Matter movement to Israel. When they learned the truth about Israel, they were very excited about Israel.

J Street could have been – I hoped they were going to be – a progressive pro-Israel group, a group that made the progressive case for Israel. Instead they become another group that seems to spend more time criticizing Israel than telling the truth about Israel.

When you confront people with truths, they become pro-Israel. They don’t always become pro-settlement. They don’t always become anti-two state solution. But they, more often than not, become pro-Israel, and realize the efforts to delegitimize Israel are ugly and dangerous and something they want to fight against.

I spend more time on campuses and more time with critics of Israel than a lot of people do.

When we apologize for Israel, we’re not doing anything to confront the lies of the delegitimization. We should never strengthen the idea that Israel is to blame for the conflict, or the lack of peace.

CM:  What can the U.S. do to most benefit Israel?

Brog:American military assistance is incredibly important, and it’s critical that it continues and becomes enhanced. Number two, I think it’s important that we recognize that the greatest threats to Israel are threats to America as well – and do a better job of confronting these threats rather than ignoring them.

The big pain on my heart is the deal with Iran. What a disaster to legitimize them, to enrich them, and to welcome them back into the world community! I fear that a heavy price will be paid, in blood, for the folly of the Iran Deal.

Finally, we need to learn from the peace process. I think, right now, that means understanding some of the fundamental flaws inherent in Israel’s partner for peace, the Palestinian Authority. They teach the de-legitimization of Israel to their children, and incite them to terrorism. Most importantly and most often overlooked is the way they financially reward terrorists.  I don’t care if you pay terrorists before the attack or after the attack; that’s murder for hire. That’s state-sponsored terrorism.

It’s got to call into question the premise that the Palestinians would actually ever recognize Israel, end the conflict, and not use any land they are given as a base from which to attack Israel. Would we see a repeat of what happened in Gaza with Hamas taking over? Would we see worse? Would ISIS take over?

As the new administration looks at the peace process, I think they need to be realistic about Israel’s partner, and not have any illusions as to their interest in compromise.

David Brog is also an accomplished author. In March he released his latest book, Reclaiming Israel’s History: Roots,Rights, and the Struggle for Peace.