Dr. Aaron Lerner and his father, Joe, are the founders, directors and, well, chief editors of Independent Media Review & Analysis (IMRA), which disseminates news items, commentary and public service announcements relating to Israel and various religous, political and economic issues in the Middle East. IMRA has been an invaluable source of information and revelation to me for over half a dozen years. I'm deeply impressed with the amount of care, work and thought that go into this service and I find myself agreeing much more often that not with the editorial positions expressed there. Occasionally, however, I have a small problem and, today, I'm going to take a moment to pick a nit.
In Aaron's weekly radio commentary last Thursday, he repeated a point he has incessantly and necessarily emphasized over the course of the past several years:
If anyone thought Abu "use all means against settlers" Mazen was going to turn a new page as the PA's new prime minister, consider who he wants to bring in as "Interior Minister" to handle the official Palestinian security forces: Mohammed Dahlan, the former head of the Palestinian Preventive Security forces in the Gaza Strip.
And who do the Americans suggest make sure Dahlan behaves: the CIA.
Sound familiar? Well it should. Because that's exactly the fiasco we had
Under Dahlan's leadership the elite Palestinian Preventive Security forces played a key role building the Palestinian terror infrastructure - contracting the manufacture of illegal weapons. And instead of fighting the illegal militias, Dahlan's Palestinian Preventive Security forces coordinated and directed the terrorist activities of the illegal militias.
And what did the CIA do? To the CIA's credit they did an excellent job training a generation of Palestinian snipers. The problem was that instead of using their skills to fight Palestinian terrorists, these CIA trained snipers have been murdering Israelis ever since.
And how did the CIA do in its role of monitor?
The CIA faces a tremendous conflict-of-interest challenge when put in the "monitoring" role. The CIA is involved in American efforts to deal with terrorists impacting American interests around the world and the Palestinian security officials have intimate contacts and relations with their terrorist brothers around the world. The CIA ignored illegal Palestinian activity in return for Palestinian information and assistance relating to other terrorist groups.
This point can't be repeated often enough. The CIA is not an objective monitor of compliance, it has proven itself not to be an objective monitor and its natural interests operate to assure that it will not be an objective monitor. No argument there. My problem is with the next paragraph.
It should also be kept in mind that the CIA's mandate is not to serve the truth but to serve American interests. When it serves American interests to proclaim that night is day, up is down or that the Palestinians are in compliance the CIA will do just that.
Now, on it's face, I have no problem with this statement, either. In fact, I believe it to be more or less correct. But the use of that nasty little phrase, "the truth," imparts a judgmental and accusatory flavor that misses the mark. Let's try it this way:
It should also be kept in mind that the CIA's mandate is not to serve Israeli interests but to serve American interests. When it serves American interests to proclaim that night is day, up is down or that the Palestinians are in compliance the CIA will do just that.
That's right. That's correct. And, unfortunately, that's the way it should be. The CIA's job, first and foremost, is to protect American security, American freedom, American interests. That's what it's there for. If those interests occasionally conflict with the interests of Israel, one of our strongest allies and (yes, I'll drag out this old chestnut) the only bastion of democracy in the Middle East, then, yes, even it means proclaiming that night is day or up is down, the CIA will do what it has to do to do its job. Protect American interests. As an American citizen, I wouldn't have it any other way. As a staunch supporter of Israel, I would hope such situations are not only few and far between, but virtually non-existent. But this may be one of those situations. So.
The answer is not to berate the CIA for doing its job. The answer is for the government of Israel to exercise its own sovereign powers and the powers of those agencies whose job is to protect Israeli citizens, Israeli freedom and Israeli interests to assure that those precious commodities are never, ever placed at the mercy of the CIA, the UN, or any other entity whose interests justifiably lie elsewhere. That's an imperative that the palestinians recognize fully, which is why they're so hell bent on bringing in the CIA, international observers, anyone at all whose own interests might be brought into conflict with those of Israel. That's why they're screaming, begging, pleading, cajoling and threatening for the immediate implementation of the "Road Map."
Here's my meme for the day: "Just say 'No!' to the 'Road Map'."
Of course, that course of action has consequences. But we've already seen the consequences of following this particular sort of map -- one in which temporary agreements are made for the sole purpose of allowing a beaten down palestinian "resistance" to regroup to fight again another day, while new concessions of land and shipments of guns and money are poured into their hands. It's entirely Israel's choice which set of consequences it will elect, but should it decide to rely yet again on the good graces of conflicted outsiders to protect its interests, let's not blame those outsiders when and if they choose to place their own interests first.
Ultimately, though, there really is very little light between Dr. Lerner's postion and mine on this issue. To put his well articulated point on it:
The challenge for leaders is to know when an issue is simply too important to concede. Menachem Begin did it when he ordered the bombing of the Iraqi reactor - knowing full well the costs Israel faced for the then unpopular move. The same goes today for rejecting the current version of the Road Map.
Note: It seems to me that Alisa and I are in complete agreement on this point.