A New Strategy for the Israel-Palestinian Conflict: Tell the Truth

For decades, the American government has implicitly and explicitly adopted the Arab narrative about the Palestinians. Thus, ranking U.S. officials have spoken as if Jews and Palestinians have equal claim to Jerusalem, refused to admit that west Jerusalem is Israel’s capital (or even part of Israel), pretended that the “right of return” of Palestinian “refugees” (really the descendants of refugees) is seriously up for negotiation, and acted as if Palestinian society or its leadership is sincerely interested in peace. Max Singer argues that Washington can do much good by insisting on the truth:

The biggest falsehood the U.S. needs to expose is that there exists “Palestinian territory” that Israel refuses to “give back” because of its expansionist ambitions and purported security needs. It would be controversial, rather than a falsehood, to say that justice and peace require Israel to turn over to a Palestinian state all or almost all the land it seized in its defensive war in 1967. But there is a big difference between the controversial statement that the West Bank should become Palestinian territory as part of a peace agreement and the false statement that these areas are now, or ever were in the past, Palestinian territory.

The distinction . . . determines whether Israeli proposals to provide land for a Palestinian state are returning stolen property or are offers to give up disputed land to which it has serious claims, in order to make a healthy peace with its neighbor. From the Palestinian point of view, [this is the difference] between an immoral submission to a thief who has more power and a wise compromise with neighbors who have overlapping claims of right. . . .

[Similarly], if the Palestinian people knew the truth [about Jews’ historical ties to the land of Israel], they might be more willing to accept a Jewish state on part of this land. This suggests that it might be constructive for the U.S. to remind the Palestinians that according to Islamic tradition, the Temple Mount was built by Jews as the site of the Jewish Temple. . . .

If Israel were a stranger to the land, simply a colonial power taking Arab land by force, as the Palestinians falsely argue, it would be cowardly for them to yield. [F]orcing Palestinians to acknowledge Israel’s historical and moral claim to the land would provide them with an honorable basis for compromise. . . . When the American and European democracies accept Palestinian falsehoods, it creates a disincentive for the Palestinians and their supporters to face the realities of their situation.

Read more at BESA Center

More about: Israel & Zionism, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, Jerusalem, Palestinian refugees, U.S. Foreign policy

An American Withdrawal from Iraq Would Hand Another Victory to Iran

Since October 7, the powerful network of Iran-backed militias in Iraq have carried out 120 attacks on U.S. forces stationed in the country. In the previous year, there were dozens of such attacks. The recent escalation has led some in the U.S. to press for the withdrawal of these forces, whose stated purpose in the country is to stamp out the remnants of Islamic State and to prevent the group’s resurgence. William Roberts explains why doing so would be a mistake:

American withdrawal from Iraq would cement Iran’s influence and jeopardize our substantial investment into the stabilization of Iraq and the wider region, threatening U.S. national security. Critics of the U.S. military presence argue that [it] risks a regional escalation in the ongoing conflict between Israel and Iran. However, in the long term, the U.S. military has provided critical assistance to Iraq’s security forces while preventing the escalation of other regional conflicts, such as clashes between Turkey and Kurdish groups in northern Iraq and Syria.

Ultimately, the only path forward to preserve a democratic, pluralistic, and sovereign Iraq is through engagement with the international community, especially the United States. Resisting Iran’s takeover will require the U.S. to draw international attention to the democratic backsliding in the country and to be present and engage continuously with Iraqi civil society in military and non-military matters. Surrendering Iraq to Iran’s agents would not only squander our substantial investment in Iraq’s stability; it would greatly increase Iran’s capability to threaten American interests in the Levant through its influence in Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon.

Read more at Providence

More about: Iran, Iraq, U.S. Foreign policy