American Policy Would Benefit from Keeping in Mind Who in the Middle East Blesses the U.S., and Who Curses It

Jan. 25 2018

On Monday, Vice-President Mike Pence addressed the Knesset, where he spoke enthusiastically about the U.S.-Israel relationship and the two countries’ shared biblical heritage. Yoram Hazony contrasts the mutual expressions of friendship between the American vice-president and Israeli politicians with the bitter recent speech by Mahmoud Abbas to the assembled leaders of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), where the PA president expounded various anti-Semitic and anti-Western conspiracy theories and cursed the American president:

I have been following the speeches of the PLO and its supporters in the Arab world for 30 years. Nothing [in Abbas’s speech] is new. These are the same things that Yasir Arafat, Abbas, and the mainline PLO leadership have always believed. It is a worldview that reflects an abiding hatred for the West, blaming Christians and Jews not only for the founding of Israel but for every calamity that has befallen the Muslim and Arab world for centuries. . . .

[In contrast to] the curses that Abbas called down on President Trump’s house, the Israelis responded [to Vice-President Pence’s speech] by blessing him: Netanyahu told Pence it is “our deepest hope that President Trump and you will succeed in strengthening the United States, . . . so that America will continue to be the greatest power in the world for generations to come.” And [Speaker of the Knesset Yuli] Edelstein said that from Israel he would only hear the blessing b’neh beitkha (“may your house be built up”).

For long decades, Washington has crafted policies based on the tacit assumption that America needs the PLO if it is to bring peace to the Middle East. In its effort to “balance” the demands of this extremist organization against Israel’s concerns, American policy inflated the PLO’s importance, and learned to tolerate and even embrace an organization whose views have always been profoundly anti-Western, not to mention anti-Semitic. Meanwhile, the biblical roots of America’s alliance with Israel have been consistently downplayed for fear that mentioning them would upset Arab sensibilities. Even so elementary a move as recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, or cutting funding to chronically anti-Western and anti-Semitic organizations, became unthinkable.

These policies did not bring peace to the Middle East. But they did sever the ties between American diplomacy in the region and common sense—to the point that more than a few U.S. officials ended up believing that not only the PLO, but even Iran, whose parliament regularly curses the United States, could be made a peace partner if it were paid handsomely enough. The Trump administration, [by contrast], appears to have good grasp of a principle that is underrated but nonetheless quite useful in making sound policy: in the relations between nations, it matters who blesses you and who curses you.

You have 2 free articles left this month

Sign up now for unlimited access

Subscribe Now

Already have an account? Log in now

Read more at National Review

More about: Donald Trump, Israel & Zionism, Mike Pence, PLO, U.S. Foreign policy, US-Israel relations

Precision Rockets Pose a Strategic Threat to Israel—by Targeting Civilians

Oct. 23 2018

In 1991, during the Persian Gulf War, Saddam Hussein began bombarding Israel with Scud missiles. The U.S., having prevailed upon Jerusalem not to retaliate or to destroy Iraqi missile launchers, provided its ally with Patriot anti-missile missiles—which proved entirely ineffective. Then the Israeli Ministry of Defense, overcoming longstanding objections from the IDF brass, decided to develop its own missile-defense system, and put Uzi Rubin in charge of it; his efforts led to the multilayered system that now protects the Jewish state from rockets of all kinds. In an interview with Yonah Jeremy Bob, Rubin assesses the current strategic threats to Israel from the precision rockets now used by Hizballah and Iran:

A simple rocket is a terror weapon. [Shooting one] is like blowing up a bus. Yes, it is a problem and it needs to be dealt with it, but precision-guided rockets cross over into being military weapons. [The threat from such weapons] changes the whole system of prioritizing what actions to take. You need first to guard your ability to keep fighting, which includes [defending] the home front—and not just for the sake of national morale. Food, gas, and other things come to the military from the civilian sector. . . .

[Currently Israel] doesn’t have enough Arrow missiles or Iron Dome batteries. Ask the IDF officers and they will say we have too many. To be objective, it’s necessary to address this question by first determining where the emphasis is in war today. The strategy [of Israel’s enemies] is not to overwhelm the IDF, it’s to overwhelm the civilian population. Until the 1973 [Yom Kippur] war, our adversaries’ wars were about trying to beat the IDF. Now our adversaries are not preparing themselves for war against the IDF. Fighting the IDF is at best a secondary goal; mainly they are going after civilians. . . .

Yet Rubin was optimistic about his country’s ability to rise to new challenges, crediting the “creative chaos” that characterizes the Israeli way of doing things:

We have a special atmosphere. We do not think about rules and decorum. You do what needs to be done. There is a unique social network and cross-fertilization between the military and the defense industry.

You have 1 free article left this month

Sign up now for unlimited access

Subscribe Now

Already have an account? Log in now

Read more at Jerusalem Post

More about: Hizballah, IDF, Iran, Iron Dome, Israel & Zionism, Israeli technology, Persian Gulf War