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An Open Letter to Neera Tanden of the Center For American Progress

Submitted by Robin Messing on Mon, 11/09/2015 - 6:48am

Dear Neera Tanden,

I am dismayed that you would lend help legitimize Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his policies by asking him to speak before the Center of American Progress tomorrow.

Prime Minister Netanyahu was NEVER interested in a two-state solution.  His own father practically called him a liar after his Bar-Ilan speech in which he said he supported the two-state solution.  Peter Beinart wrote in "The Crisis of Zionism"
As his father Benzion, explained when asked about his son's Bar-Ilan speech, 'He doesn't  support [ a Palestinian state].  He supports the sorts of conditions that they [The Palestinians] will never accept.'
Netanyahu did everything he could to kill the Oslo Accords.  He was caught on video in 2001 saying,
“They asked me before the election if I’d honor [the Oslo accords],” he continued. “I said I would, but... I’m going to interpret the accords in such a way that would allow me to put an end to this galloping forward to the ’67 borders. How did we do it? Nobody said what defined military zones were. Defined military zones are security zones; as far as I’m concerned the entire Jordan Valley is a defined military zone. Go argue.” As a result, he bragged, “I de facto put an end to the Oslo Accords.” 
And  the recent incident in which Netanyahu tried to lay the blame for Hitler's Holocaust on the Mufti just to make Palestinians look worse than they already are PROVES beyond a shadow of a doubt that he is a liar.
Netanyahu said something else in the video in which he bragged about sabotaging the Oslo Accords.  Netanyahu said--and this is important, "America is a thing that can be easily moved."
You are lending legitimacy to Netanyahu by inviting him to speak before CAP --a legitimacy he does not deserve.  You will be empowering him once again to "easily move" America.  There are times when Israel's interests--as defined by Netanyahu-- and America's interests diverge.  If the purpose of CAP is to develop and promote policy that best serves American interests, then you should not be rehabilitating someone who brags about manipulating America.
Of course, it may be naive to assume developing and promoting policies to promote America's interests are CAP's primary purpose.  The Intercept recently published emails revealing that CAP censored analysts who were critical of Israel  in order to keep AIPAC and other Zionist organizations happy.  It appears that CAP is willing to compromise its intellectual integrity to keep the money coming in from its major donors.  Unfortunately, when it comes to Israel, CAP stands for "Censorship Always Pays".  Or maybe it stands for "Corrupt Analysis Produced".  
If you stand behind Netanyahu's invitation you will only be confirming that you've sold your soul and should rename yourself as CIP--the I stands for Israeli, not for integrity.
There is one other way you can rehabilitate yourself if you insist on letting Netanyahu speak.  Hold his feet to the fire.  You can start out by playing two videos during his introduction.  The first video you should show is the one I mentioned above where he bragged about torpedoing the Oslo process and easily moving America.  The second video would be the one where he testified before Congress  in 2002 urging us to attack Iraq.  He said that if we attacked Iraq the Iranian regime would soon fall.
These two videos would set the tone for his speech and let the audience know that what Netanyahu has advocated in the past was not in America's best interest.
After his speech you should follow up with some tough questions.  Don't let him wriggle off the hook.  Here are a few questions you can ask him.
1. Mr. Netanyahu, Shimon Peres says you are not sincere about making peace.  In 1967 Israel's legal expert, Theodor Meron, wrote a top secret memo to Israel's foreign ministry stating that civilian settlement in the "administered territories" would violate the Fourth Geneva Convention.  Are you willing to honor the spirit of the Meron memo, prove Peres was wrong, and keep a faint hope for a two-state solution alive by implementing a permanent freeze on building for settlers in the West Bank and East Jerusalem? 
2. Israel's High Court had ordered the destruction of a synagogue that was illegally built on Palestinian land in Givat Ze'ev.  On November 3, the state asked the High Court to delay the demolition of synagogue because it feared that right wing extremist settlers would react to its destruction by committing violence against Arab and Muslim religious symbols.  If Israel will not demolish an illegally built synagogue on Palestinian land now for fear of violence by Jewish terrorists, when will it do so?  Have Jewish terrorists won?  Have their threats of violence intimidated your government? Why not come down as harshly against them as you would against Palestinian terrorists?
3. Your recently proposed appointment of Ran Baratz as media adviser drew a lot of heat after it was revealed he had accused President Obama's policy in regard to Iran to be an example of "modern day anti-Semitism."  I want to ask about an earlier appointment though.  You appointed Rabbi Eli Ben-Dahan to be head of Civil Administration in the West Bank.  In 2013, Ben Dahan said, that “[Palestinians] are beasts, they are not human.”   He also said that year that “A Jew always has a much higher soul than a gentile, even if he is a homosexual.”  And last month he said “Palestinians have to understand they won’t have a state & Israel will rule over them.”   If you were a Palestinian, would you consider the appointment of this man to a position where he had influence over their day-to-day lives as incitement? Do you stand behind his statements?  Will you show that you are sincere about trying to reach a two-state solution by firing him? 
4. Your Deputy Foreign Minister, Tzipi Hotovely, said,  "The world needs to internalize that the West Bank is to remain under Israeli "de facto sovereignty. It’s not a bargaining chip. It does not depend on the Palestinians' goodwill."  She also claimed that she dreams of the Israeli flag flying over the Temple Mount.  To your credit, you did force her to clarify that this was her personal dream and not a policy statement by the government.  But why should the Palestinians believe you are sincere when you claim that you do not intend to change the status quo on the Temple Mount and that you are interested in negotiating a two-state solution while you keep her in your government? 
5. Rabbi Yisrael Ariel, the head of the Temple Institute openly threatened to kill President Obama if he caught him and determined that he didn't follow the Seven Noahide laws.  The Temple Institute has received Israeli government funding in the past.  Will you cut off all funding in the future, and will you arrest Rabbi Ariel for incitement? 
These are the type of questions you must ask if you are determined to allow Netanyahu to speak before the Center For American Progress and if you want to ensure that CAP is taken seriously as a think tank working for AMERICAN, not Israeli interests.