The U.S. Isn’t Involved in the Middle East in Order to Support Israel. It Supports Israel because It’s Involved in the Middle East

In a public speech last week, as well as in his previous official statement on the American reaction to the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, President Trump cited the defense of Israel as a major reason for continued U.S. involvement in the Middle East. Eyal Zisser objects:

Israel has a true friend in the White House who is deeply committed to its security. But although this was certainly not the president’s intention, these statements should be a warning sign for Jerusalem. . . . [T]he winds of political division are now blowing through Washington. Democratic legislators attack longtime U.S. ally Saudi Arabia in an attempt to lay into Trump. Meanwhile, [some] on the Republican side continue to insist the U.S. adopt a policy more focused on internal affairs. Against the background of these attacks, the president chose to . . . explain that his foreign policy was aimed at protecting Israel. . . .

[But] the U.S. maintains a military presence in the Middle East not because of Israel but in order to protect its own national security. It was when the U.S. ignored the fact that al-Qaeda was establishing itself in Afghanistan that it found itself under attack by the organization in September 2001. A retreat to U.S. borders, then, does not guarantee immunity from the threat of terrorism and radical Islam. And if the United States considers itself to be a leading world power, it must necessarily intervene in overseas affairs.

It would be appropriate for Trump to emphasize that, unlike other U.S. allies such as Europe, Japan, and South Korea, Israel does not require the protection of American soldiers. It is capable of defending itself and even assisting in the promotion of U.S. interests in the region and throughout the world. That has always been Israel’s unique advantage, and it should be noted in the heated internal debate now under way in Washington over U.S. foreign policy and America’s role in the world.

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 Israel Hayom

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

Yasir Arafat’s Decades-Long Alliance with Iran and Its Consequences for Both Palestinians and Iranians

Jan. 18 2019

In 2002—at the height of the second intifada—the Israeli navy intercepted the Karina A, a Lebanese vessel carrying 50 tons of Iranian arms to the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). But Yasir Arafat’s relationship with the Islamic Republic goes much farther back, to before its founding in 1979. The terrorist leader had forged ties with followers of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini that grew especially strong in the years when Lebanon became a base of operations both for Iranian opponents of the shah and for the PLO itself. Tony Badran writes:

The relationship between the Iranian revolutionary factions and the Palestinians began in the late 1960s, in parallel with Arafat’s own rise in preeminence within the PLO. . . . [D]uring the 1970s, Lebanon became the site where the major part of the Iranian revolutionaries’ encounter with the Palestinians played out. . . .

The number of guerrillas that trained in Lebanon with the Palestinians was not particularly large. But the Iranian cadres in Lebanon learned useful skills and procured weapons and equipment, which they smuggled back into Iran. . . . The PLO established close working ties with the Khomeinist faction. . . . [W]orking [especially] closely with the PLO [was] Mohammad Montazeri, son of the senior cleric Ayatollah Hossein-Ali Montazeri and a militant who had a leading role in developing the idea of establishing the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) once the revolution was won.

The Lebanese terrorist and PLO operative Anis Naccache, who coordinated with [the] Iranian revolutionaries, . . . takes personal credit for the idea. Naccache claims that Jalaleddin Farsi, [a leading Iranian revolutionary], approached him specifically and asked him directly to draft the plan to form the main pillar of the Khomeinist regime. The formation of the IRGC may well be the greatest single contribution that the PLO made to the Iranian revolution. . . .

Arafat’s fantasy of pulling the strings and balancing the Iranians and the Arabs in a grand anti-Israel camp of regional states never stood much of a chance. However, his wish to see Iran back the Palestinian armed struggle is now a fact, as Tehran has effectively become the principal, if not the only, sponsor of the Palestinian military option though its direct sponsorship of Islamic Jihad and its sustaining strategic and organizational ties with Hamas. By forging ties with the Khomeinists, Arafat unwittingly helped to achieve the very opposite of his dream. Iran has turned [two] Palestinian factions into its proxies, and the PLO has been relegated to the regional sidelines.

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 Tablet

More about: Hamas, History & Ideas, Iran, Lebanon, PLO, Yasir Arafat