FMEP’s Lara Friedman on Implications of Pompeo’s 11/20 West Bank Visit & Announcements


On November 30, 2020, Jewish Currents published observations by a number of experts on Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s recent visit to a West Bank settlements and announcements he made there with respect to changes in U.S. policy vis-a-vis settlements, BDS, and antisemitism. One of the experts invited to contribute was FMEP President Lara Friedman, who wrote:

Since taking office, the Trump administration has openly pursued a focused, extraordinarily successful policy aimed at erasing the “peace process” and all of its artifacts, and replacing them with the normalization—and, as much as possible, the implementation—of the Greater Israel political project. One by one, the Trump administration has been ticking items off the “Greater Israel” wishlist. Recognize Jerusalem? Check. Cut aid to Palestinian refugees? Check. Humiliate and marginalize the Palestine Liberation Organization and the Palestinian Authority? Check. Legitimize settlements and greenlight annexation? Check, check.

As we near the end of Trump’s term in office, there’s not much left to check off on that list except formally recognizing annexation, and Trump’s resident Christian and Jewish zealots, Mike Pompeo and US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, are not letting the fact that Israel hasn’t (yet) annexed the West Bank get in their way. That’s what the new US policy defining goods produced in Area C as “made in Israel” is about, just like last month’s move to include the West Bank in some US–Israel bilateral agreements. And that’s also what the new State Department policy labeling NGOs as “antisemitic” is about—a policy that, in fact, aims mainly to force NGOs to treat settlements as part of Israel.

Bureaucratically, a Biden administration can easily roll back these policy changes. Politically, however, this will be a heavy lift, and not because recognizing the West Bank as part of Israel is a popular move among Democrats. Rather, the obstacle will be many Democrats’ intellectually lazy and morally craven embrace of the demonization of boycotts as a tool to protest anything related to Israel—on either side of the Green Line—and of the conflation of all criticism of and activism targeting Israel with antisemitism.