Israeli Coordination with Arab States Isn’t New. Talking about It Is

Much has been made of the recent high-level contacts between Israel and Sunni Arab states, including those with which it has no formal relations. But such contacts have been fairly common since the 1990s, even if largely unacknowledged. What is new, writes David Pollock, is the public debate about the subject in the Arabic media:

Particularly noteworthy . . . is a long article in the current issue of the popular and influential pan-Arab weekly al-Majalla, based in London but widely circulated and read in both print and online editions [throughout the Middle East]. This article not only reviews the long history of Arab-Israeli relations, but also cites statements [on the subject] by the Israeli ambassador to the United States Ron Dermer at great length.

Responses [to this article] by Saudi writers are mixed, but some are very vocally in favor of dealing with Israel. . . . Among Egyptian writers, the idea of regular dealings with Israel still excites fierce debate, even after nearly four decades of official peace. . . . [But] even some Egyptian writers and academics most critical of ties to Israel acknowledge that the younger generation, turned against Iran, Hamas, and the Muslim Brotherhood both by their own experience and by their government’s changing positions, is losing some of its animosity toward [the Jewish state]. . . .

While Arab publics overwhelmingly dislike Israel (and Jews), solid majorities in most recent surveys, on the order of 60 percent, nevertheless voice support for a “two-state solution,” which implies peace with the Jewish state. And they do so even when the question is worded to call explicitly for peace with Israel, or for abandoning the struggle to liberate all of Palestine. The exception . . . is the Palestinian public in the West Bank and Gaza, where support for a two-state solution has lately fallen to just below the halfway mark. . . .

The conclusion is clear: today a broader regional approach to Arab-Israeli peacemaking, rather than a strictly bilateral Israeli-Palestinian one, offers somewhat better prospects of success—whether at the official, elite, media, or even popular levels. Normalization with Israel remains controversial in Arab circles, but it is no longer taboo. . . . The next U.S. administration would do well to ponder this unaccustomed situation, and to adjust its policies accordingly.

Read more at Washington Institute

More about: Arab anti-Semitism, Israel & Zionism, Israel-Arab relations, Palestinian public opinion

Israel Has Survived Eight Years of Barack Obama’s False Friendship

Jan. 20 2017

In his speech justifying America’s decision to allow passage of the UN Security Council resolution declaring it a violation of international law for Jews to live in east Jerusalem, the West Bank, or the Golan Heights, Secretary of State John Kerry declared that “friends need to tell each other the hard truths.” John Podhoretz comments:

The decision in December by President Obama to abstain on the UN Security Council vote . . . marked the moment he crossed the finish line in the course he had charted from 2008 onward. The turn against Israel was complete. And, as he had when he began it, in farewell interview after farewell interview he characterized his assault on the legitimacy of the Jewish presence in the Holy Land as an act of tough love. . . .

Which raises the key question: why [only] abstain [from the resolution]? If “hard truths” define friendship, then by all means they should have made the truths as hard as possible. If Barack Obama and John Kerry truly believe the Jewish presence in east Jerusalem is illicit, then they should have voted for the resolution. Instead, they took the coward’s way out. They opened the vault to the criminals and placed the jewels in their hands while wearing white gloves so there would be no residual trace of their fingerprints. The abstention was in some weird sense the mark of their bad conscience. They wanted something to happen while maintaining some historical deniability about their involvement in it.

In the eight years of the Obama presidency, war broke out twice between the Palestinians and the Israelis and nearly broke out a third time. In each case, the issue was not the West Bank, or east Jerusalem, or anything near. . . . The idea that the settlements and the Jewish presence in East Jerusalem are the main barrier to peace between Israel and the Palestinians was proved to be a lie right before Obama’s eyes in 2009, and 2012, and 2014. And he didn’t care to see it, because he is blinded by an antipathy he wishes to ascribe to Israeli action when honesty would compel him to find it in his own misguided leftist ideology—or within his own soul.

Israel has survived the horrendous blessing of Barack Obama’s false friendship.

Read more at Commentary

More about: Barack Obama, Israel & Zionism, John Kerry, U.S. Foreign policy, US-Israel relations