Why Is the U.S. State Department Backing a Lebanese Land (and Sea) Grab?

March 6 2018

In recent weeks, high-ranking State Department officials have involved themselves in mediating territorial disputes between Israel and Lebanon. One of these disputes, writes Evelyn Gordon, is based on a real problem—the lack of a recognized international maritime boundary between the two countries—although the State Department’s proposed solution tilts unreasonably in Beirut’s favor. The other, however, is the result of a spurious Lebanese claim:

[According to Beirut], Israel’s planned new border wall encroaches on Lebanese territory in thirteen places. And on this, there should be no question whatsoever, because a recognized international border, known as the Blue Line, already exists and the UN has twice affirmed that Israel isn’t violating it. . . .

Given the existence of both a recognized international border and unequivocal UN confirmation that Israel hasn’t violated it, the only proper response to Beirut’s protest over a new fence would be to tell it politely that it has no case whatsoever. The territory in question is unarguably Israel’s, and Israel is free to build whatever it pleases there.

Instead, the State Department has treated Lebanon’s claim as legitimate. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson demanded that Israel halt construction until it reaches an agreement with Lebanon on the border, while Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs David Satterfield proposed land swaps to satisfy Lebanon’s claims. In other words, the State Department is asking Israel to cede land that the UN Security Council unanimously recognized as sovereign Israeli territory just because a thuggish neighbor covets it and has threatened war if its demands aren’t satisfied.

Needless to say, this is an excellent way to encourage aggression. If Lebanon can get Washington to pressure Israel to cede internationally recognized Israeli territory merely by claiming land to which it lacks any vestige of right and then threatening war if its demands aren’t met, why wouldn’t Lebanon—or any other country interested in grabbing Israeli land—keep repeating this tactic?

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More about: Israel & Zionism, Lebanon, Rex Tillerson, State Department, U.S. Foreign policy, US-Israel relations

For Israelis, Anti-Zionism Kills

Dec. 14 2018

This week alone, anti-Zionists have killed multiple Israelis in a series of attacks; these follow the revelations that Hizballah succeeded in digging multiple attack tunnels from Lebanon into northern Israel. Simultaneously, some recent news stories in the U.S. have occasioned pious reminders that anti-Zionism should not be conflated with anti-Semitism. Bret Stephens notes that it is anti-Zionists, not defenders of Israel, who do the most to blur that distinction:

Israelis experience anti-Zionism in a different way from, say, readers of the New York Review of Books: not as a bold sally in the world of ideas, but as a looming menace to their earthly existence, held at bay only through force of arms. . . . Anti-Zionism might have been a respectable point of view before 1948, when the question of Israel’s existence was in the future and up for debate. Today, anti-Zionism is a call for the elimination of a state—details to follow regarding the fate befalling those who currently live in it. . . .

Anti-Zionism is ideologically unique in insisting that one state, and one state only, doesn’t just have to change. It has to go. By a coincidence that its adherents insist is entirely innocent, this happens to be the Jewish state, making anti-Zionists either the most disingenuous of ideologues or the most obtuse. When then-CNN contributor Marc Lamont Hill called last month for a “free Palestine from the river to the sea” and later claimed to be ignorant of what the slogan really meant, it was hard to tell in which category he fell.

Does this make someone with Hill’s views an anti-Semite? It’s like asking whether a person who believes in [the principle of] separate-but-equal must necessarily be a racist. In theory, no. In reality, another story. The typical aim of the anti-Semite is legal or social discrimination against some set of Jews. The explicit aim of the anti-Zionist is political or physical dispossession.

What’s worse: to be denied membership in a country club because you’re Jewish, or driven from your ancestral homeland and sovereign state for the same reason? If anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism are meaningfully distinct (I think they are not), the human consequences of the latter are direr.

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More about: Anti-Semitism, Anti-Zionism, Hizballah, Israel & Zionism, Palestinian terror