Saving the Middle East by Creating a Patchwork of Israels

One hundred years after the Sykes-Picot treaty dividing up the territories of the Middle East, the hope that the region will someday consist of peaceable and well-ordered sovereign states within their current borders seems increasingly deluded. Robert Nicholson suggests a different approach, one seeking to build on the internal cohesion of such “organic communities” as Kurds, Druze, and Assyrian Christians:

The fundamental disease of the Middle East is a crisis of identity coupled with bitterness toward the West and a paralyzing fear of rival communities. Contrary to popular conceptions, the Middle East is not a monolithic sea of Islam or a swarming hive of hostile Arabs. It is a mosaic of religions and denominations, languages and ethnicities, cultures and subcultures that have intermingled but remained disparate for thousands of years. America should seek to play upon this reality, not struggle against it. . . .

Many skeptics will doubt the ability of Assyrians or any other Middle Eastern community to determine its own future in such a hostile and complex environment. But skeptics also doubted the prospect of Jewish political revival only 100 years ago. Who could not help laughing at young Jewish farmers and intellectuals working against all odds to push the concept of an independent Jewish polity located inside the Ottoman empire and centered on the ancient city of Jerusalem? Today the Jews are living on their ancient homeland, speaking their ancient language, and surviving—even flourishing—among hostile neighbors committed to their destruction.

The Assyrians are actually in a far better position today than the Jews were then, and there is no reason to doubt that the same process that resulted in a Jewish state could not likewise result in an Assyrian one. . . . Israel itself may in fact be a good model for what the new Middle East could look like: a series of small, mostly homogenous nation-states with strong Western alliances and innovative economies based on the twin pillars of freedom and law.

Read more at Providence

More about: Druze, Israel & Zionism, Kurds, Middle East Christianity, Politics & Current Affairs, Sykes-Picot Agreement, U.S. Foreign policy


Why President Biden Needs Prime Minister Netanyahu as Much as Netanyahu Needs Biden

Sept. 28 2023

Last Wednesday, Joe Biden and Benjamin Netanyahu met for the first time since the former’s inauguration. Since then, Haim Katz, Israel’s tourism minister, became the first Israeli cabinet member to visit Saudi Arabia publicly, and Washington announced that it will include the Jewish state in its visa-waiver program. Richard Kemp, writing shortly after last week’s meeting, comments:

Finally, a full nine months into Benjamin Netanyahu’s latest government, President Joe Biden deigned to allow him into his presence. Historically, American presidents have invited newly installed Israeli prime ministers to the White House shortly after taking office. Even this meeting on Wednesday, however, was not in Washington but in New York, on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly.

Such pointed lack of respect is not the way to treat one of America’s most valuable allies, and perhaps the staunchest of them all. It is all about petty political point-scoring and interfering in Israel’s internal democratic processes. But despite his short-sighted rebuke to the state of Israel and its prime minister, Biden actually needs at least as much from Netanyahu as Netanyahu needs from him. With the 2024 election looming, Biden is desperate for a foreign-policy success among a sea of abject failures.

In his meeting with Netanyahu, Biden no doubt played the Palestinian issue up as some kind of Saudi red line and the White House has probably been pushing [Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman] in that direction. But while the Saudis would no doubt want some kind of pro-forma undertaking by Israel for the sake of appearances, [a nuclear program and military support] are what they really want. The Saudis’ under-the-table backing for the original Abraham Accords in the face of stiff Palestinian rejection shows us where its priorities lie.

Israel remains alone in countering Iran’s nuclear threat, albeit with Saudi and other Arab countries cheering behind the scenes. This meeting won’t have changed that. We must hope, however, that Netanyahu has been able to persuade Biden of the electoral benefit to him of settling for a historic peace between Israel and Saudi Arabia rather than holding out for the unobtainable jackpot of a two-state solution.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Benjamin Netanyahu, Joseph Biden, Saudi Arabia, U.S.-Israel relationship