The U.S., and the World, Should Recognize Israeli Sovereignty over the Golan Heights

March 7 2019

Last week, parallel bills were introduced in both the U.S. House and Senate that would formally acknowledge Israel’s claim to the Golan. Zvi Hauser explains that such a move is justified politically, strategically, historically, and morally:

Iran’s presence in Syria is a done deal . . . The border between Israel and Iran, between the West and radical Islam, now passes through the Golan Heights. Iranian militias, looking a lot like Hizballah, are digging into bases on the border with the Golan, the Shiite population in the area grows larger, and rocket supplies threaten the Israeli residents of the Golan Heights and the eastern Galilee. The Iranian leadership clearly realizes that the way to challenge Israel’s security isn’t necessarily by [conventional] warfare but by asymmetric conflict, deploying terrorist organizations and militias that spark skirmishes along the border and attack the civilian population. . . .

Jewish history in the Golan began as soon as the Israelites entered the land of Canaan, as the book of Joshua tells us. . . . Jewish settlement in the Golan grew and thrived in the end of the 6th and the beginning of the 5th centuries BCE with the return of the Jewish exiles from Babylon. In 67 CE, three years before the fall of Jerusalem and the destruction of the Second Temple, the Golan witnessed the battle of Gamla, which was part of the Jewish rebellion against Rome. . . . Archaeological digs in the Golan have thus far revealed the remains of 25 synagogues that operated between the Jewish rebellion in the 1st century CE and the Muslim conquest in the mid-7th century CE, as well as evidence of numerous Jewish villages and communities. . . .

Syria controlled the Golan for 21 years—as opposed to 52 years of Israeli control. In those 21 years, it encouraged terrorist organizations to use the entire Golan as a base of operations for terrorist attacks against Israel, ceaselessly bombarded communities around the Sea of Galilee and close to the border, used the Golan as a strategic base from which continuously to threaten Israel, [and] attempted to divert the Golan’s water sources, hoping to deny Israel vital waters it needed for drinking and agriculture. . . .

There is no other horizon for the Golan Heights save for the Israeli horizon.

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More about: Golan Heights, Iran, Israel & Zionism, Syria, US-Israel relations

War with Iran Isn’t on the Horizon. So Why All the Arguments against It?

As the U.S. has responded to Iranian provocations in the Persian Gulf, various observers in the press have argued that National Security Advisor John Bolton somehow seeks to drag President Trump into a war with Iran against his will. Matthew Continetti points out the absurdities of this argument, and its origins:

Never mind that President Trump, Vice-President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan, and Bolton have not said a single word about a preemptive strike, much less a full-scale war, against Iran. Never mind that the president’s reluctance for overseas intervention is well known. The “anti-war” cries are not about context, and they are certainly not about deterring Iran. Their goal is saving President Obama’s nuclear deal by manipulating Trump into firing Bolton and extending a lifeline to the regime.

It’s a storyline that originated in Iran. Toward the end of April, Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif showed up in New York and gave an interview to Reuters where he said, “I don’t think [Trump] wants war,” but “that doesn’t exclude him basically being lured into one” by Bolton. . . . And now this regime talking point is everywhere. “It’s John Bolton’s world. Trump is just living in it,” write two former Obama officials in the Los Angeles Times. “John Bolton is Donald Trump’s war whisperer,” writes Peter Bergen on CNN.com. . . .

Recall Obama’s deputy national security advisor Ben Rhodes’s admission to the New York Times Magazine in 2016 [that] “We created an echo chamber” to attack the Iran deal’s opponents through leaks and tips to the D.C. press. . . . Members of the echo chamber aren’t for attacking Iran, but they are all for slandering its American opponents. The latest target is Bolton. . . .

The Iranians are in a box. U.S. sanctions are crushing the economy, but if they leave the agreement with Europe they will be back to square one. To escape the box you try to punch your way out. That’s why Iran has assumed a threatening posture: provoking an American attack could bolster waning domestic support for the regime and divide the Western alliance.

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More about: Barack Obama, Iran, Javad Zarif, John Bolton, U.S. Foreign policy