WASHINGTON — Liberal Jewish groups condemned the appointment of US President Donald Trump’s incoming national security adviser on Wednesday, casting him as an Islamophobic warmonger who would pose a danger to the security of the United States and Israel.
The six organizations charged that former US Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton is “an unrepentant defender of the Iraq war and his bellicose ideology could very well start us down the path to another unnecessary war of choice.”
The hawkish ex-diplomat and Fox News personality is known for urging preemptive strikes on countries trying to develop nuclear programs, including North Korea and Iran. In March 2015, he penned an op-ed in The New York Times titled “To stop Iran’s bomb, bomb Iran.”
Trump announced last Friday that Bolton would replace H.R. McMaster, who had been rumored to be leaving his post for months. But for left-leaning Jewish groups, Bolton’s ascension to the West Wing was disturbing.
“His long record shows him to be a fierce advocate for belligerent policies that would endanger the national security of the US, Israel and our allies around the world,” said the Wednesday statement, which was jointly issued by J Street, Americans for Peace Now, Ameinu, T’ruah, the National Council of Jewish Women and the New Israel Fund.
Chief among their complains was Bolton’s record of encouraging an armed confrontation with Iran to curtail its nuclear ambitions while proclaiming the death of the two-state solution between Israel and the Palestinians.
“Bolton’s calls to scrap the successful Iran nuclear deal and undertake military action against Iran make it likely that he will encourage President Trump’s own aggressive inclinations,” the groups said.
“When it comes to Israel, Bolton has shown no concern for the need to secure its future as a democratic homeland for the Jewish people by ending the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” they went on.
“He has vehemently opposed US efforts to help reach a two-state solution and rejected the idea of Palestinian self-determination and statehood. This rejection of peacemaking only benefits extremists while harming Israel and the Palestinian people.”
After former president Barack Obama allowed passage of a UN Security Council resolution in December 2016 that condemned Israeli settlements, Bolton said Obama “stabbed Israel in the front” and that the measure was “clearly intended to tip the peace process toward the Palestinians.”
He further scolded Obama’s secretary of state John Kerry for his speech laying out principles for an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal, in which Kerry warned a two-state future was slipping away as Israel continued to expand its West Bank settlements.
“Just as a matter of empirical reality, the two-state solution is dead,” Bolton, who’s been a resident at the conservative American Enterprise Institute since he left the Bush administration, told Breitbart Radio at the time. “That’s about the only thing John Kerry came close to getting right.”
What’s more, in a 2014 Washington Times op-ed titled “A ‘three-state solution’ for Middle East peace,” Bolton argued that Gaza should be given back to Egypt and the West Bank to Jordan.
“The only logic underlying the demand for a Palestinian state is the political imperative of Israel’s opponents to weaken and encircle the Jewish state, thereby minimizing its potential to establish secure and defensible borders,” he wrote. “As long as Washington’s diplomatic objective is the ‘two-state solution’ — Israel and ‘Palestine’ — the fundamental contradiction between this aspiration and the reality on the ground will ensure it never comes into being.”
But progressive Jewish organizations’ discomfort with Bolton goes beyond his policy prescriptions.
He has been accused of having deep and extensive ties to anti-Muslim hate groups, including the American Freedom Defense Initiative, which has been condemned by the Anti-Defamation League as “consistently vilifying the Islamic faith under the guise of fighting radical Islam.”
He also has a long history with anti-Islam activists Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer, as well as Frank Gaffney, a former Defense Department official in the Reagan administration who promulgates anti-Muslim conspiracy theories.
“Bolton has allied himself closely with prominent Islamophobes, whose hateful views should have no place in our government or foreign policy,” the Jewish groups said. “This willingness to support anti-Muslim bigotry violates fundamental Jewish and democratic values of tolerance, equality and respect.
“We have every reason to expect that Bolton will exacerbate the worst instincts of the Trump Administration regarding the nature of American leadership, further undermining our nation’s international standing and our ability to serve as a global force for peace and progress.”
Bolton is expected to officially assume his White House responsibilities on April 9.