by Lee Smith at The Tablet
When new Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett meets with President Joe Biden and his minders at the White House today, a few things seem like sure bets. First, Bennett and his aides will lay out a scheme for keeping Iran from going nuclear, which the Americans will nod at and ignore. Second, the American side will solemnly raise the necessity of establishing a Palestinian state living side by side in peace with Israel.
Instead of nodding, smiling, and pretending to share the dream of peaceful democratic Palestinian statehood, Bennett could show true friendship to America by pointing to the example of Afghanistan. It’s clear no one in the American political establishment has yet internalized the lesson.
For 20 years, official Washington, D.C., dared not describe Afghanistan as it truly is and would be after America’s exit. It would have been gauche to do so—worse, it would have shown that one lacked vision, high ideals. Anyone who didn’t believe there was a democratic polity just waiting to escape its despotic chains and unleash its liberal energies was guilty of “the soft bigotry of low expectations”—that is, a racist. In this fun-house-mirror version of Afghanistan, America was building yet another city on a hill, a citadel whose government would promote Western gender theory’s latest findings, which would be enforced by elite special forces units trained by American officers and loyal to the central government in Kabul.
These elements of the Afghan dream state were part of a bespoke tapestry spun out by and for the policy establishment and Beltway defense contractors, NGO workers, think tank experts, and the rest of the client state. So long as everyone was getting paid, the mirage never hurt anyone—unless your child happened to subscribe to the fiction and put his or her life in danger either in uniform or as an aid worker. But now, the dream palace has burned to the ground, and as the smoke clears no one can mistake the fact that authentic Afghanistan is in the hands of the Taliban.
Bennett knows it would be more polite to nod along meaningfully with his hosts and that he’d insult them by explaining Palestinian statehood is a hallucination on the level of Afghan democracy. Speaking up, however, would nonetheless help safeguard the interests of his own country, while winning the favor of an American public that has seen their elites throw away the lives of thousands of the country’s most high-spirited and honorable young men and women to satisfy their whimsy.
Someone has to say something or else someday soon, the world will wake up to find that the Americans are no longer rich, and no longer capable of writing checks to flatter the vanity of an establishment that can’t distinguish reality from fiction. And maybe Bennett will be the man to shake their senses by simply stating the obvious—like the two-decade-long effort to stand up democracy in Afghanistan, throwing lives and money at a future Palestinian state is a fools’ errand.
Bennett wouldn’t be the first to make the connection between the Palestinians and Afghanistan. In 2013, former Secretary of State John Kerry gave evidence that the U.S. establishment saw the two deadly fantasies as linked. He invited Bennett’s predecessor, Benjamin Netanyahu, “on a secret visit to Afghanistan to see, in his words, how the U.S. established a local military force that can stand up to terror on its own.” The message, Netanyahu said in a recent Facebook post, was clear: Kerry thought that the model the U.S. employed for Afghanistan would work for the Palestinians, too.
Declining the invitation to visit Kabul, Netanyahu correctly surmised that as soon as the U.S. withdrew forces, Afghanistan would come under the control of the Taliban. And the West Bank would also fall to an Islamist regime if Washington imposed the Afghanistan model there, too.
The Taliban victory is graphic evidence of a truth regarding Palestinian statehood that is typically dismissed as crude, racist Zionist propaganda: It doesn’t matter how much money and training the U.S. and the EU might pump into anyone’s vision of a democratic Palestine that lives side by side in peace with Israel and promotes gay rights and women’s education. It doesn’t matter whether it’s $5 billion or $50 billion or lasts for 10 years or 20. It’s not real. When the money, backed by overwhelming force, stops, the fantasy will collapse, and what’s left will be a nightmare for Israelis and Palestinians alike.
“The Palestinians,” wrote Netanyahu, “will not establish Singapore, they will establish a terror state in Judea and Samaria, a short distance from Ben-Gurion Airport, Tel Aviv, Kfar Saba and Netanya.”
Of course, since Afghanistan…