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Jason Greenblatt Briefs YINR on Operation Iron Swords

Former Mideast Negotiator Jason Greenblatt (l) in conversation with YINR’s Eli Epstein.

On Tuesday, October 24, former US Middle East Negotiator Jason Greenblatt sat in conversation with Young Israel of New Rochelle member Eli Epstein, at the synagogue.

Epstein, who is active in Muslim/Jewish relations, introduced Greenblatt, recalling his appointment by President Trump. “Many people were, to be generous, skeptical. If so-called experts could not find a solution after many failed attempts, how could an Orthodox real estate lawyer achieve anything? But in two years, you defied their predictions for failure. The press was not kind to [him], Jared Kushner and David Friedman.”

Greenblatt responded, “In 2017, we spent the year essentially listening to the Israelis, government officials, Prime Minister Netanyahu, Arabs and Palestinians. Arabs across the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) said the Iranian regime is the enemy of peace, the enemy of civilization. It’s not only the beheading of Israel, but they want to destroy Israel. They want to take over most Arab countries in the region. All those big, beautiful, fancy buildings in Dubai, Riyadh and Abu Dhabi? They thirst for that, but they also want to put their theocracy upon those countries. We heard them, we listened and the results were the Abraham Accords.

“When I was in the White House,” he continued, “I got criticized by the press for saying there’s no such thing as a Middle East expert. There are just a lot of opinions. Jared, David and I are not experts either. But most so-called experts have what I would say are very strong opinions. Unfortunately, many of them happen to be anti-Israel or pro-Palestinian. For Israel, you’re the stronger power; you can do everything for the Palestinians. Just give this back and peace will break out. One of the most important things I think we did, in the peace plan we released between Israel and Palestine, was hope that they would engage. The Palestinians didn’t even read it. They rejected it before it came out. They said things like ‘I hope your peace plan is born dead.’ One of the most important things was allowing Israel to defend itself when it needed to defend itself, to go into Palestinian areas and not to allow anyone to condemn Israel for doing what [it] needed to protect its people. That rationale is one of the biggest problems why the world didn’t like our peace plan. We might have created a Palestinian state by proposing what we did but it wasn’t nearly as big because it gave Israel the ability to do certain things to protect itself that are anti-state.”

On an exit strategy from the war, Greenblatt again highlighted Israel’s responsibility to protect itself. He considers that a good exit strategy could be the United Nations with US control. “In my view, the UN acting alone is not a good idea.” He references the UN Secretary-General’s comments earlier that day, to understand that the atrocity didn’t come from nowhere, blaming 50 years of oppression by Israeli settlements.

Greenblatt then opined, “This is not justified; he said nothing can justify it. I think it would be a mistake for Israel to play too significant a role because the hatred for Israel before and certainly after this war is going to be too strong or too long. There’s no current solution to the threat that the Iranian regime poses to Israel, to America and to the region.”

Greenblatt then cited recent divisions and protests making Israeli society less unified, more vulnerable and thereby perceived as weak. “That has an impact on the world, on Israel’s enemies. This terrible attack had been planned for a long time. I think they struck when they struck because they saw Israel terribly bouncing.”

Some ask, if Gaza is ruled by Hamas, winners of the election in 2007, are Gazan citizens responsible for combat leadership and their terrorism? Greenblatt’s response: “Of 2.3 million Palestinians, 30,000-50,000 are affiliated with Hamas, while Islamic Jihad has 1,000s of supporters.

Responding to a question about the Israeli response to the world, he said, “I haven’t seen all of Israel’s comments, but I do think that they’ve done a great PR job, putting a lot of well-spoken surrogates on CNN speaking English, framing this with Iran, maybe not as strongly as they should.”

In closing, on his own media appearances, Greenblatt told of flipping a question on a BBC interviewer. Greenblatt asked, “What do you think the United Kingdom would do if your neighbor was lobbing rockets to destroy buildings, potentially killing British people?” After a pause, the interviewer quickly ended the session saying, “Thank you, Jason Greenblatt.”

The program included recitation of Tehillim and other prayers for the Israeli military and the hostages in Gaza.

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