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.

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Read more at Israel Hayom

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

Hizballah Prepares for War, and UN Peacekeepers Do Nothing

Dec. 10 2018

According to last year’s UN Security Council Resolution 2373, the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL)—the peacekeeping force created after the Second Lebanon War to keep both Israel and Hizballah out of southern Lebanon—is authorized “to take all necessary action in areas of deployment of its forces, and as it deems within its capabilities, to ensure that its area of operations is not utilized for hostile activities of any kind.” If anything ought to rouse UNIFIL to action, writes Elliott Abrams, it should be the IDF’s recent discovery and destruction of tunnels dug by Hizballah to move troops into the Galilee:

The existence of these tunnels, dug from precisely the area of southern Lebanon that UNIFIL is meant to patrol, means that this area is indeed “utilized for hostile activities.” What, then, is the meaning of [UNIFIL’s statement in] response that it “will communicate its preliminary findings to the appropriate authorities in Lebanon”? The meaning is that UNIFIL will likely do nothing.

UNIFIL is not supposed to be merely a means of communication, or the Security Council would have bought cell phones instead of paying for a military force. Moreover, there are no “appropriate authorities” in Lebanon; if there were, Hizballah would never have been able to dig its tunnels.

The tunnels are hardly the only brazen Hizballah violation of the Security Council resolutions undertaken right under UNIFIL’s nose. Consider this: Hizballah is blocking roads in southern Lebanon to smooth the path of missiles it is moving into the area. . . . Then there is the village of Gila, just north of the Israeli border, where there is a Hizballah headquarters and according to the Israelis about twenty warehouses with weapons, combat positions, lookout points, and dozens of underground positions. All this was built in an area supposedly patrolled by UNIFIL. . . .

This is a test of UNIFIL and its new commander, [Stefan Del Col, who took over in August]. “Communicating” to “appropriate authorities” is a euphemism for doing nothing at all. Hizballah is preparing for war. UNIFIL is supposed to get in its way. If it cannot hinder Hizballah’s war preparations in any way, and is even ignorant of them, UNIFIL is a waste of time and money.

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Read more at Pressure Points

More about: Hizballah, Israel & Zionism, Israeli Security, Lebanon, United Nations