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The Message behind American Recognition of Israeli Sovereignty over Jerusalem

Dec. 14 2017

By refusing to acknowledge the location of Israel’s capital, generations of U.S. presidents and foreign-policy professionals have demonstrated a fundamental misunderstanding of what lies at the heart of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Douglas Feith explains:

Part and parcel of [Palestinian] thinking is the depiction of Israel as a foreign intrusion into the region. It is called a “Crusader state” and analogized to European colonialist outposts, such as French Algeria. The point is that the Israelis, like the Crusaders in the Middle Ages and the French a half-century ago, can be demoralized through relentless violent resistance and induced to pack up and leave the land to its true owners, the Arabs. . . .

The conventional wisdom for decades has held that the heart of the Arab-Israeli problem is the territory that Israel won in 1967 and the Israeli settlements there. But it should be obvious that that’s wrong. Why did Egypt, Syria, and Jordan provoke the 1967 war to begin with? In fact, the conflict goes back long before 1967—it even predates 1948, when Israel became an independent state. . . .

If this analysis is correct, then U.S. recognition of Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem might contribute to peace. It reinforces useful messages: Israel is here to stay. The Jews are deeply historically connected to the land and are not foreigners or Crusaders. The U.S.-Israeli connection is tight and not subject to manipulation by Israel’s enemies. . . . There is a price to be paid for perpetuating the conflict: life goes on, the Israelis create new realities, and the world in general adjusts to those realities. The Palestinians do not improve their position—or even preserve it—by remaining unwilling to make peace.

Read more at Foreign Policy

More about: Israel & Zionism, Jerusalem, Palestinians, US-Israel relations

How the U.S. Can Strike at Iran without Risking War

In his testimony before Congress on Tuesday, Michael Doran urged the U.S. to pursue a policy of rolling back Iranian influence in the Middle East, and explained how this can be accomplished. (Video of the testimony, along with the full text, are available at the link below.)

The United States . . . has indirect ways of striking at Iran—ways that do not risk drawing the United States into a quagmire. The easiest of these is to support allies who are already in the fight. . . . In contrast to the United States, Israel is already engaged in military operations whose stated goal is to drive Iran from Syria. We should therefore ask ourselves what actions we might take to strengthen Israel’s hand. Militarily, these might include, on the passive end of the spectrum, positioning our forces so as to deter Russian counterattacks against Israel. On the [more active] end, they might include arming and training Syrian forces to engage in operations against Iran and its proxies—much as we armed the mujahedin in Afghanistan in the 1980s.

Diplomatically, the United States might associate itself much more directly with the red lines that Israel has announced regarding the Iranian presence in Syria. Israel has, for example, called for pushing Iran and its proxies away from its border on the Golan Heights. Who is prepared to say that Washington has done all in its power to demonstrate to Moscow that it fully supports this goal? In short, a policy of greater coordination with Jerusalem is both possible and desirable.

In Yemen, too, greater coordination with Saudi Arabia is worth pursuing. . . . In Lebanon and Iraq, conditions will not support a hard rollback policy. In these countries the goal should be to shift the policy away from a modus vivendi [with Iran] and in the direction of containment. In Iraq, the priority, of course, is the dismantling of the militia infrastructure that the Iranians have built. In Lebanon, [it should be] using sanctions to force the Lebanese banking sector to choose between doing business with Hizballah and Iran and doing business with the United States and its financial institutions. . . .

Iran will not take a coercive American policy sitting down. It will strike back—and it will do so cleverly. . . . It almost goes without saying that the United States should begin working with its allies now to develop contingency plans for countering the tactics [Tehran is likely to use]. I say “almost” because I know from experience in the White House that contingency planning is something we extol much more than we conduct. As obvious as these tactics [against us] are, they have often taken Western decision makers by surprise, and they have proved effective in wearing down Western resolve.

Read more at Hudson

More about: Iran, Israeli Security, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Syria, U.S. Foreign policy, Yemen