The New White House National-Security Strategy Is Good News for Israel, and for America

Dec. 22 2017

While one might expect that a self-described “America First” foreign policy would be isolationist and, given the term’s history, hostile toward Jews, the lengthy strategy paper recently produced by the Trump administration is neither. Rather, writes Jonathan Tobin, if you “strip away the Trumpian braggadocio [that accompanied the document’s release], what you find are policy guidelines that are remarkably realistic in terms not only of the challenges facing the United States but those facing Israel as well.” He writes:

At the heart of the Trump doctrine are some contradictions. President Trump wants to be tough on Iran, but his crush on Vladimir Putin and Obama-like reluctance to confront Iran and Russia in Syria undermine his instinct to resist Tehran. He wants to promote American power and influence, but his pay-as-you-go version of alliances complicates Washington’s relations with its partners.

But President Trump has still produced a paper that has more common sense than some of the high-flown rhetoric that emanated from [the previous four administrations]. And the section on the Middle East is evidence of that. . . .

Among the most memorable lines in the 68-page document is a specific denunciation of one of the [so-called foreign-policy] realists’ most sacred cows: the notion that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is “the prime irritant preventing peace and prosperity in the region.” Trump rightly discards this myth. Instead, his doctrine points out that “threats from jihadist terrorist organizations and the threat from Iran are creating the realization that Israel is not the cause of the region’s problems.” Specifically rejecting both blind faith in “democratic transformation” and “disengagement,” Trump seeks instead to strike a cautious balance between the need to assert U.S. power and the realization that American can’t fix all of the world’s problems.

Instead of seeking to “save Israel from itself,” Trump’s doctrine acknowledges the problems with pressuring the Jewish state to make concessions to a Palestinian peace partner tainted by its subsidization of terror. His faith that an “outside-in” strategy in which the common interests of Israel and the Arab states like Saudi Arabia could lead to peace may underestimate the power of rejectionism among Palestinians and the Arab street. But it is still devoid of the magical thinking about democracy and strong-arming Israel to which Presidents Bush and Obama subscribed.

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Read more at Haaretz

More about: Donald Trump, Israel, Middle East, U.S. Foreign policy

 

Palestinian Acceptance of Israel as the Jewish State Must Be a Prerequisite to Further Negotiations

Oct. 19 2018

In 1993, in the early days of the Oslo peace process, the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) under Yasir Arafat accepted the “right of the state of Israel to exist in peace and security.” But neither it nor its heir, the Palestinians Authority, has ever accepted Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state, or the right of the Jewish people to self-determination. Robert Barnidge explains why this distinction matters:

A Jewish state for the Jewish people, after all, was exactly what the [UN] General Assembly intended in November 1947 when it called for the partition of the Palestine Mandate into “the Arab state, the Jewish state, and the city of Jerusalem.”

Although the legitimacy of Israel as a Jewish state does not stand or fall on this resolution—in declaring the independence of Israel on the eve of the Sabbath on May 14, 1948, the Jewish People’s Council, [the precursor to the Israeli government], also stressed the Jewish people’s natural and historic rights—it reaffirms the legitimacy of Jewish national rights in (what was to become) the state of Israel.

The Palestinians have steadfastly refused to recognize Jewish self-determination. [Instead], the PLO [has been] playing a double game. . . . It is not simply that the PLO supported the General Assembly’s determination in 1975, rescinded in 1991, that “Zionism is a form of racism and racial discrimination.” It is that that the PLO leadership continues to speak of Jews as a religious community rather than a people, and of Zionism as a colonial usurper rather than the national liberation movement that it is.

The U.S. government, Barnidge concludes, “should demand that the Palestinians recognize Israel’s right to exist in peace and security as a Jewish state” and refuse to “press Israel to negotiate with the Palestinians unless and until that happens.”

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Read more at BESA Center

More about: Israel & Zionism, Peace Process, PLO, US-Israel relations, Yasir Arafat