Land for Peace Will Work When—and Only When—Arabs Realize That Israel Is Here to Stay

March 16 2017

Since the Israeli-Arab conflict began, argues Einat Wilf, the key point of contention has not been how to divide a small territory between two peoples but the Arab refusal to accept a Jewish state as a permanent feature in the Middle East. She writes:

[The Western understanding of the conflict] fails to take account of . . . the Arab and Muslim countdown until the end of Zionism and the state of Israel. That countdown reflects the prevailing Muslim, Arab, and Palestinian view that Zionism is a historical aberration that will not—and must not—last. Any Israeli effort to [withdraw from the West Bank] in a manner that would bring it peace and security thus clashes with the Muslim, Arab, and Palestinian view that no place for compromise and agreement exists that would grant legitimacy to Zionism and the state of Israel and that would accept its permanence. . . .

The humiliating defeat of five Arab armies in 1967, and the loss of the Golan Heights, the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, and the Sinai Peninsula in a short span of six days did nothing to change the basic Arab mythology of the temporary nature of Israel. While the Western world was establishing the formula of “land for peace,” the Arab world clarified its rejection of it. What appeared to make sense to much of the West—that land acquired by Israel in the Six-Day War was a valuable asset that could be traded for the long-desired peace with the Arab world—made no sense to those who still considered the state of Israel temporary.

Even when the “land for peace” formula was employed, as in the peace agreement with Egypt, . . . subsequent decades demonstrated that [such agreements] were closer to “we-will-no-longer-attack-one-another” agreements than to peace. The Arab world remained unable to treat the Jewish state as a genuine legitimate presence in its midst. . . .

It is [therefore] necessary to demonstrate to the Muslim-Arab world that its view of history is wrong, and that rather than constituting a second crusader state, Israel is the sovereign state of an indigenous people who have come home. This can only be achieved through Jewish power and persistence over time. And given the vast numerical imbalance between Jews and Arabs, it can only be achieved if those who truly seek peace support the Jewish people in sending the message to the Arab world that the Jewish people are here to stay.

Read more at Fathom

More about: Anti-Semitism, Israel & Zionism, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, Peace Process

Winning Islam’s War of Ideas, Saudi-Style

March 19 2018

Since September 11, 2001, U.S. policymakers have understood the need to confront jihadism not only militarily but also ideologically; yet, writes John Hannah, they have had little success. Now Mohammed bin Salman, Saudi Arabia’ reformist crown prince, appears willing and able to take up the fight, and Hannah urges Washington to support his efforts:

By an order of magnitude, al-Qaeda in 2018 enjoys a larger presence in more countries across Africa, the Middle East, and Asia than it did the day the Twin Towers were felled. . . . What’s consistently been missing from America’s strategy have been powerful partners in the Muslim world who can reliably be counted on to speak out authoritatively on matters of Islamic theology in ways that the United States simply cannot. That’s where Saudi Arabia comes in. It’s the birthplace of Islam and host to the faith’s two holiest mosques. Combined with abundant oil wealth, these assets bestow on the Saudis a measure of soft-power influence unrivaled in the Muslim world. . . .

For months, the crown prince and his closest advisers have relentlessly hammered the theme that Saudi Arabia’s modernization requires an embrace of “moderate Islam.” He’s slammed the extremist ideology that the kingdom did so much to empower after the Iranian revolution and acknowledges that “the problem spread all over the world.” . . . At home, the powers of the kingdom’s notorious religious police have been scaled back. Prominent hardline clerics have been jailed. On the all-important issue of female empowerment, the pace of change has been breathtaking. . . .

Now the U.S. imperative should be pressing Mohammed bin Salman to take his campaign for moderate Islam on the road. . . . There should be multiple elements to such an effort, but some immediate tasks come to mind. First, school textbooks. The Saudis promised to eliminate the hate-filled passages a decade ago. Progress has slowly been made, but the job’s still not done. Mohammed bin Salman should order it finished—this year. Behind the scenes, U.S. experts should provide verification.

Second, working with trusted partners in indigenous communities known for their religious moderation, the Saudis should conduct a thorough audit of the global network of mosques, schools, and charitable organizations that they’ve backed with an eye toward weeding out radical staff and content. Third, [they should] initiate a worldwide buyback of Saudi-distributed mistranslations of the Quran and other religious materials notorious for propagating extremist narratives.

Read more at Foreign Policy

More about: Moderate Islam, Politics & Current Affairs, Radical Islam, Saudi Arabia, War on Terror