Outrageous Jenin conspiracy theory peddled by ex-State Department official

by Stephen M. Flatow

According to Aaron David Miller, a military operation is meant not only to distract from judicial reform but award the right-wingers in his government.

(JNS) A prominent former U.S. State Department official claims that Israel’s action in Jenin is secretly motivated by the government’s internal machinations over judicial reform. And believe it or not, CNN just gave him an international platform to spread this conspiracy-mongering nonsense.

The ex-official, Aaron David Miller, made his outlandish claim on the July 4 edition of “CNN This Morning.” It was not an off-the-cuff remark; the interviewer did not even ask him whether he thought Israel had some secret motive for its action. Instead, Miller went out of his way to launch into an explanation of his bizarre conspiracy theory.

According to Miller, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been “blocked” in his efforts at judicial reform, “and because he’s blocked, he’s rewarding the more extreme ministers within his own government.” And the “reward” is military action.

“I think the Israeli Defense Forces did not want to launch an operation that was this large,” Miller declared. “I think in large part, politics also colored the breadth and depth of what the Israelis are doing in Jenin.”

I find it difficult to believe that a 24-year veteran State Department official—one who is known for his harsh criticism of Israel and sympathy for the Palestinian cause—has access to highly classified information about what Israeli Army leaders privately think. Miller is probably one of the last people an Israeli Army officer would confide in.

So, allow me to suggest three much more plausible reasons for Israel’s military action in Jenin, reasons that have everything to do with the facts on the ground and nothing to do with domestic Israeli politics.

  • Jenin is overflowing with terrorist groups and weapons depots. Within the first hours of the Jenin operation, Israeli forces uncovered two bomb factories, captured numerous terrorists, and seized large quantities of weapons—something the Palestinian Authority security forces have never done.
  • In recent months, every time Israeli soldiers or police entered Jenin in pursuit of fugitive terrorists, they were assaulted by snipers and bomb-throwers. Clearly, Israel’s individual arrest actions are insufficient to address the broader problem.
  • Israel’s leaders today face the same dilemma every Israeli government has faced: whether to allow Jenin terrorists to murder Jews and then respond, or to pre-empt the murders by taking the initiative. I wonder if Miller would recommend letting the terrorists attack first, if those attacks were taking place in his own neighborhood.

Miller was so wrapped up in his conspiracy-mongering that he didn’t seem to realize how some of the other statements he made on CNN directly contradicted his theory.

Earlier in the interview, Miller was making the usual excuses for the Palestinian Authority’s refusal to combat terrorism. Instead of demanding that the P.A. fulfill its Oslo obligations to arrest, disarm, and extradite terrorists, Miller declared that the P.A. “is simply unable to assume responsibility, particular in the northern West Bank.”

Well, if the P.A. is not assuming responsibility for stopping the terrorists, isn’t that ample reason for the Israelis to do so? There’s no need to come up with convoluted conspiracy theories when the reason for action is as plain as day: The P.A. won’t do the job—as even Aaron Miller admits—so, of course, the Israelis have to. It has nothing to do with judicial reform or anything else.

Thirteen years ago, Miller made a public admission that should have disqualified him from ever offering advice to Israel again. In a 2010 op-ed in The Washington Post, Miller revealed that he was the architect of the plan to have Yasser Arafat visit the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 1998 in order to help Arafat improve his public image.

In the article, Miller acknowledged that his plan would have meant “appropriating the memory” of the Holocaust for narrow political purposes, and therefore was “one of the dumbest ideas in the annals of U.S. foreign policy.”

Yet here he is, 13 years later, berating Israel on CNN. I wonder how many years it will take before Miller looks back and admits that his conspiracy theory about Jenin likewise was “one of the dumbest ideas” in the history of foreign-policy pontificating.

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