How the Myth of the Israel-Palestinian Conflict’s Supreme Importance Distorted 70 Years of American Middle East Policy

After failing in 1948 to stop the U.S. from supporting the creation of a Jewish state, writes Samuel Tadros, the Middle East experts of the State Department put forth the theory that America could not achieve its strategic goals in the region without first solving the Arab-Israeli conflict. This soon became “dogma” in Foggy Bottom, at think tanks, and in academia. Even President Trump, for all his unorthodoxies, is not immune to the allure peacemaking.

In reality, no one [in the Middle East] actually cared about the Palestinians, at least not the region’s rulers. [Their] priorities were everywhere besides Palestine: toppling the monarchs for some, searching for hegemony for others, or, for most, simply protecting their rule from revolutionary upheaval. The Palestinians, if they were considered at all, served simply as a bargaining chip; a cause to rally supporters and attack opponents.

Despite this, Washington’s Middle East experts were not deterred. The centrality of the issue was never to be questioned, but the method to solve it changed.

[Today], stepping back from the details and daily changes on the ground, [it is necessary to confront] an inconvenient proposition: maybe there is no solution to the conflict. After all, it is uniquely American to think that every problem must have a solution. Maybe the reality is that there are two peoples who claim the same piece of land and that no amount of effort or innovative solutions can solve this simple fact.

Describing America’s [involvement] in Egypt in the 1950s, [the great scholar] Fouad Ajami noted that “Ancient civilizations stir the imagination: they have a kind of malleability that enables others to read into them what they want; they can be hotbeds of revolution or fragile entities ready to be courted and redeemed. They invite those who have a sense of destiny.” The quest for destiny in the Holy Land is doomed to end in misery.

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More about: Fouad Ajami, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, State Department, US-Israel relations

Condemning Terrorism in Jerusalem—and Efforts to Stop It

Jan. 30 2023

On Friday night, a Palestinian opened fire at a group of Israelis standing outside a Jerusalem synagogue, killing seven and wounding several others. The day before, the IDF had been drawn into a gunfight in the West Bank city of Jenin while trying to arrest members of a terrorist cell. Of the nine Palestinians killed in the raid, only one appears to have been a noncombatant. Lahav Harkov compares the responses to the two events, beginning with the more recent:

President Joe Biden called Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to denounce the attack, offer his condolences, and express his commitment to Israel’s security. Other leaders released supportive statements as well. Governments across Europe condemned the attack. Turkey’s foreign ministry did the same, as did Israel’s Abraham Accords partners the UAE and Bahrain. Even Saudi Arabia released a statement against the killing of civilians in Jerusalem.

It feels wrong to criticize those statements. . . . But the condemnations should be full-throated, not spoken out of one side of the mouth while the other is wishy-washy about what it takes to stave off terrorism. These very same leaders and ministries were tsk-tsking at Israel for doing just that only a day before the attacks in Jerusalem.

The context didn’t seem to matter to some countries that are friendly to Israel. It didn’t matter that Israel was trying to stop jihadists from attacking civilians; it didn’t matter that IDF soldiers were attacked on the way.

It’s very easy for some to be sad when Jews are murdered. Yet, at the same time, so many of them are uncomfortable with Jews asserting themselves, protecting themselves, arming themselves against the bloodthirsty horde that would hand out bonbons to celebrate their deaths. It’s a reminder of how important it is that we do just that, and how essential the state of Israel is.

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More about: Jerusalem, Palestinian terror