Responding to a hit job in the Huff Post
I have received a couple of inquiries about a hit job on me published in the Huffington Post blog by two ex-US military officers and current DC consultants named Steven White and P.J. Dermer. I’d never heard of the pair before their foray into character assassination against me, but it’s not difficult to find their footprints on the web.
For instance, I found an article in Foreign Policy where the two argued in an excruciatingly badly-written, jargon-laden piece that the US should respond to Obama’s failure to produce Palestinian-Israeli peace by increasing support for Mahmoud Abbas; putting more pressure on Israel (their euphemism for this is “forg[ing] forward however painful and difficult” in the “peace process” notwithstanding apparent lack of Palestinian interest in peace); and by giving more power to the United States Security Coordinator to Israel and the Palestinian Authority (USSC), which the authors describe as “the good news story over the past two administrations.”
It might seem a little anomalous to label the USSC a success story. The USSC trains former and future terrorist Palestinian Authority armed forces. Its most notable achievement to date was training the Palestinian Authority’s armed forces into surrendering control of Gaza to Hamas in 2007. Notably, the US-trained forces surrendered just a month after the USSC assured the US Congress that the PA army could easily defeat Hamas.
White describes himself as the former Senior Advisor to the USSC, while Dermer’s authorial squib lists him as the former Army Defense Attaché to Israel. And Dermer and White are not above self-congratulation even if it requires bending the truth a little. Or a lot, as the case may be.
Dermer and White write that they are currently writing a book about the history of USSC. One can only imagine how they will describe “the good news story” of giving guns and training to armed forces governed by a Palestinian terrorist organization.
Dermer and White have written other self-congratulatory pieces in the past. In a different Huffington Post piece Dermer praised his “close friend and former brother in arms, Steve White” as well as “the unheralded successes of the United States Security Coordinator (USSC).” Dermer wrote that there is nothing more important than “sustain[ing] and enhance[ing] the role of the interlocutor that has earned the trust and respect of both parties over the last several years while diplomatic efforts foundered; the office of the United States Security Coordinator” and he called for expanding the USSC’s role beyond the “conventional” into a more political one.
Meanwhile, in a piece published in Foreign Policy, White blasted elected officials in Israel and the United States for “wasting” the good work of the USSC. Citing the “courage” and “great sacrifice” of Palestinian “security” personnel, together with US and Israeli military men, White blasted Congress for threatening the USSC’s “great progress.”
White tipped his hand about his radical political positions too. White’s response to Palestinian terrorism was to put “terrorists” in scare-quotes, implying that there were no such terrorists, while claiming that IDF commanders “suffer more attacks from radical Israeli settlers than Palestinian ‘terrorists.'”
White urged elected US officials to act “in a worthy political matter” by enhancing the power of the “trusted senior U.S. military coordinator” and rejecting the opinions of “backward-looking Islamist rejectionists, backward-looking Israeli settler zealots, or well-intentioned but ill-informed members of the U.S. political establishment.”
Neither Dermer nor White appear to have any qualms about their basic policy prescriptions of denying the existence of Palestinian terrorism, training potential future Palestinian terrorists, demonizing Jewish residents of Judea and Samaria, and trying to transfer authority over decision-making from elected officials in democratic states to unelected and unrepresentative military personnel whose mission includes cooperating with terrorists.
Which brings us to their hit job against me.
Dermer and White are evidently upset at my having pointed out the political radicalism of the newly appointed commander of the IDF Central Command, Major General Nitzan Alon. Like Dermer and White, Alon likes to demonize Jewish residents of Judea and Samaria and lobby for funds and arms for the Palestinian armed forces. Like Dermer and White, Alon appears not to recognize that in a democracy, the role of the military is to carry out the policies established by the people’s elected representatives, rather than to supplant them.
To his credit, Alon does not deny the existence of Palestinian terrorists the way White does. But this is not because Alon is reasonable. Alon pretends that Jewish hooligans are “terrorists” — the moral equivalent of the suicide-bombing, rocket-launching, bullet-shooting and knife-wielding terrorists from Fatah and Hamas that have murdered in cold blood thousands of Jewish children, women and men in cafes, schools, synagogues, beaches, hotels, buses and dance halls.
Since Alon’s position is indefensible, he leaves his American friends Dermer and White in a difficult position as his defenders. To square this circle, Dermer and White chose the route of shooting the messenger for telling the truth. In their broadside in the Huffington Post, Dermer and White complained that I “disingenuously” and “slanderously” attacked Alon. Dermer and White claimed that I employed “falsehoods,” “obfuscation” and “patently false” illustrations in a “smear” and “character assassination” of Alon, who they describe as a “good man,” and a “respected senior IDF public servant,” who “chose long ago to dedicate himself to the defense of his nation, not to a community within that nation.”
For good measure, they added that my article “borders on libel,” demonstrating that their command of the English language is as limited as their command of the facts. (A printed article cannot simultaneously be “slanderous” and not-quite “libel”).
And what is the evidence of the charges that I lied? As it turns out, there is none.
Dermer and White say that there are two falsehoods in the examples I used of Alon’s improper interference with political matters.
First, they dislike the fact that I accurately described the contents of Alon’s political comments to a New York Times reporter in an interview in October. As I noted, the New York Times wrote that Alon “spoke with great concern about [what] he called ‘Jewish terrorism.'”
As I wrote, the New York Times wrote that Alon openly lobbied t
he US Congress to continue aid to the Palestinian Authority.
he US Congress to continue aid to the Palestinian Authority.
What’s the problem?
Dermer and White cite the Times’ reporter’s claim that Alon had permission from the IDF to be interviewed as if this not only excuses the substance of his improper interference with the decisionmaking of elected officials but also makes it improper for me to accurately report the substance of Alon’s insubordinate remarks.
Second, they dislike the fact that I observed that Alon was going against declared government policy by supporting an Israeli withdrawal from Judea and Samaria with “thoughtful adjustments” – whatever that means — from the Gaza fiasco; by lobbying for US financial aid to the PA; and by equating “price tag” hooligans with terrorists.
Dermer and White point out that a month later, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen was convinced to drop the US House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee’s block on aid to the PA.
This is quite true, and totally irrelevant.
At the time of Alon’s remarks, the Israeli government had not adopted any position in favor of aid to the PA. Senior members of the government of Israel had already declared, several times, that cutting off financial assistance to the PA was a policy option. In fact, just a little over a month after Alon’s insubordinate remarks, the Israeli government itself cut off financial transfers to the PA.
As the Jerusalem Post’s Yaakov Katz reported, in understated fashion, when Alon lobbied for the PA, “it was not clear if Alon’s comments were coordinated with the General Staff and the government, which has been mum on the congressional initiative to cut off aid to the Palestinians.”
It is clear is that when Alon spoke to the New York Times, he was propounding his own radical political views, rather than the declared policy of the government of Israel, when he falsely labeled Israeli “price tag” hooligans as “terrorists;” when he contradicted Prime Minister Netanyahu’s observation that the aftermath of the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza serves as a cautionary tale against handing Judea and Samaria over to the PA; and when he openly lobbied Congress for financial aid to the PA.
In their usual self-congratulatory style, Dermer and White praised their own article as a “judicious response,” a “rebuttal” and “reasoned response.”
And, in a display of their own radical politics, Dermer and White denied that Israel is a democracy, placing the description “democratic state” in scare-quotes. In a similar vein, the two described Jewish “price tag” hooligans as “organized terror” while refusing to acknowledge the existence of Palestinian terrorism. Indeed, they even provided an implied excuse for Palestinian terrorism by alluding to a potential Palestinian “game” of “tit for tat response to provocative acts.”
And in their ultimate act of chutzpah, Dermer and White described their attacks on Israeli democracy, slanders of Israeli citizens and whitewashing of Palestinian terrorism as a defense of “Israel’s sons and daughters in uniform” while they accused me, who actually served as one of Israel’s daughters in uniform of “spit[ting] upon” them.
They expected the Jerusalem Post to publish this drivel?