Opinion: Former CIA Director Dings Israel for 'Lacking' Palestinian Empathy Former Director of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) John Brennan testifies before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence on Capitol Hill, May 23, 2017 in Washington, DC. Brennan is discussing the extent of Russia's meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election and possible ties to the campaign of President Donald Trump. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
By Lt. Col. James G. Zumwalt | Thursday, 13 May 2021 09:36 AM
John Brennan—former CIA director under President Barack Obama—recently wrote a rather surprising op-ed concerning the Israel-Palestine issue and the relationship between the two adversaries, calling for President Joe Biden to make Palestinian statehood a priority.
Recognizing how Black Lives Matter has skillfully played the "white privilege" card, Brennan apparently, and outrageously, seeks to play the "Holocaust privilege" card.
Brennan proffered that he found it difficult to fathom how Israel as "a nation of people deeply scarred by a history replete with prejudice, religious persecution and unspeakable violence perpetrated against them would not be empathetic champions of those whose rights and freedoms are still abridged."
Brennan’s mention about "those whose rights and freedoms are still abridged" was a reference to the Palestinians in their quest for statehood.
He believes the brutal suffering Jews have experienced in their history should translate into a special empathy—more so than any other people—to embrace the Palestinian cause.
It should not take a rocket scientist—nor a former CIA director—to appreciate exactly why Israel lacks, and understandably should lack, empathy for Palestinian statehood.
Opining such a position demonstrates a serious lack of understanding not only about what Palestinian statehood means for the Israelis but also what it means for the Palestinian people themselves.
As to statehood for the Palestinians, there is no reason to believe their lot, as far as human rights go, would improve over the negligible ones they now have. The tragic reality is that the Palestinian leadership has been brutal in ensuring its opinion is the opinion of the people. Journalists failing to toe this line have suffered the consequences as the leadership will not accept independent thought or initiative.
It cannot be ignored that a Palestinian state would become a full-scale operating base for various Islamic groups pursuing an objective to which they, along with the Palestinian leadership, are firmly committed—Israel’s destruction.
Perhaps Brennan has forgotten this message was openly conveyed by a member of our own Congress the first day Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., who is of Palestinian descent, took office.
She displayed a Middle East map from which Israel had been totally obliterated, replaced by Palestine. Additionally, the co-founder of the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas has made it clear it will settle for nothing less than claiming all of historic Palestine, which only is achieved by Israel's destruction.
Interestingly, before the print on Brennan’s op-ed was dry, thousands of Palestinians were holding anti-Israel protests, chanting a tribute to the leader of the military arm of Hamas, "We are all Mohammed Deif." The message of the chanters is that they envision themselves as terrorists, ready to attack and destroy Israel.
Additionally, imams such as Miami-based Dr. Fadi Yousef Kablawi in April, have been calling for Muslims to take back "the land of Islam" —Israel—by waging violent jihad, making the Israelis “run like mice” and destroying the country.
When Israel responded this month to Hamas firing 150 rockets at it, most of which were either intercepted or hit deserted areas, triggering a retaliatory air strike, U.S. television networks shamelessly blamed Israel for escalating the situation. One network even pushed the myth of an Israeli "occupation."
What Brennan shockingly fails to grasp is that, it is precisely due to a history "replete with prejudice, religious persecution and unspeakable violence perpetrated" upon Jews that Israel cannot afford to empathize with a people committed to its destruction.
It is worrisome that Brennan fails to see the creation of a hostile Palestinian state ultimately as a nail in Israel’s coffin.
Lt. Col. James G. Zumwalt is a retired Marine infantry officer who served in the Vietnam war, the U.S. invasion of Panama and the first Gulf war. He is the author of three books on the Vietnam war, North Korea, and Iran as well as hundreds of op-eds.