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

How Israel Should Approach Syria in the Wake of the U.S. Airstrikes

April 27 2017

Nearly three weeks after a U.S. attack on a Syrian airbase, it remains unclear if Washington will start working actively against the Assad regime or simply enforce red lines. Ilan Goldenberg argues that in either case Israel should stick to the strategy it has been pursuing all along—one that will only be helped by greater American involvement:

The good news is that much of the area of southern Syria is now controlled by a group of moderate Sunni forces known as the Southern Front. This group is an alliance of smaller local militias that has been supported by the United States and Jordan with some quiet support from Israel. As a result, southern Syria has become one of the most stable areas in the country, resulting in a default buffer zone that protects both Israel and Jordan. The key for Israel will be to ensure that in any final resolution of the Syrian conflict or change in Trump administration policy, the Southern Front remains in place. . . .

[Another] central objective for Israel will be to prevent the proliferation of chemical weapons in Syria that could get into the hands of extremists who may launch attacks on Israeli civilians. At the start of the Syria conflict this was the foremost Israeli priority. . . . The priority Israel places on this issue also explains why the Israeli minister of defense, Avigdor Liberman, came out so strongly in support of the military strikes against the Assad regime, drawing a sharp rebuke from Vladimir Putin. In most instances, Israel has tried to avoid antagonizing Russia or getting in the middle of U.S-Russian competition, but on this particular matter it is highly invested in the American position.

Finally, Israel . . . has a broader overarching objective of trying to limit Iranian influence in Syria. . . . Iranian-supported militias and operatives of the Qods Force [Iran’s elite expeditionary troops] are deeply enmeshed inside the Syrian regime at this point, and Israel likely recognizes that. Iran will continue to have influence in Syria and be able to use its allies in Damascus to supply and strengthen Hizballah. All Israel can do is push for American policies that limit Tehran’s influence in Syria to the largest extent possible, while recognizing the reality of the situation on the ground.

Read more at Matzav

More about: Iran, Israel & Zionism, Israeli Security, Russia, Syrian civil war, U.S. Foreign policy