The Arab-Israeli Conflict May Have Already Ended

June 21 2022

To understand the future of the Arab-Israeli conflict, argues Gil Troy, we must better understand its past. Israel has not faced a coordinated military attack from the Arab world in nearly half a century; it has instead contended with a series of peace processes punctuated by terrorism. Israel’s periodic conflicts with Arab groups no longer reflect a neat division between the Jewish state and its neighbors. By telling Israel’s story through the decades rather than primarily through its wars, Troy argues, we will be able to place Palestinian violence, anti-Israel propaganda, the Abraham Accords, and other significant facets of Israeli history in their proper context.

Inevitably, bombs upstage breakthroughs like the Abraham Accords. The Gaza hostilities in the spring of 2021 attracted more media attention than the millions of investment dollars, the 200,000 tourists, and the immeasurable goodwill that overflowed between Israelis and their new Arab friends in the accords’ first year.

Israelis know that their new Gulf partners are not sister democracies. But Israelis also know that these shifts are revolutionary. Nevertheless, most American journalists—and many American Jews—keep downplaying these transformations. Still addicted to unidimensional, unidirectional, woe-is-me, blame-Israel-first Palestinian propaganda, they remain mired in the old narrative of Israel being forever frozen in its forever war for existence.

Palestinian leaders accused their fellow Arabs of shaking hands with Israelis “on Palestinians’ blood-soaked soil.” But the Accords are the latest development in a peace-seeking process that began in the wake of the 1973 Yom Kippur War, after the Egyptian-Syrian surprise attack failed to crush the Jewish state.

Read more at Commentary

More about: Abraham Accords, Israel-Arab relations

Israel’s Friendship with Iraqi Kurds, and Why Iran Opposes It

In May 2022, the Iraqi parliament passed a law “criminalizing normalization and establishment of relations with the Zionist entity,” banning even public discussion of ending the country’s 76-year state of war with Israel. The bill was a response to a conference, held a few months prior, addressing just that subject. Although the gathering attracted members of various religious and ethnic groups, it is no coincidence, writes Suzan Quitaz, that it took place in Erbil, capital of Iraqi Kurdistan:

Himdad Mustafa, an independent researcher based in Erbil, to whom the law would be applied, noted: “When 300 people gathered in Erbil calling for peace and normalization with Israel, the Iraqi government immediately passed a law criminalizing ties with Israel and Israelis. The law is clearly aimed at Kurds.” . . . Qais al-Khazali, secretary-general of Asaib Ahl al-Haq (Coordination Framework), a powerful Iranian-backed Shiite militia, slammed the conference as “disgraceful.”

Himdad explains that the criminalization of Israeli-Kurdish ties is primarily driven by “Kurd-phobia,” and that Kurd-hatred and anti-Semitism go hand-in-hand.

One reason for that is the long history of cooperation Israel and the Kurds of Iraq; another is the conflict between the Kurdish local government and the Iran-backed militias who increasingly control the rest of the country. Quitaz elaborates:

Israel also maintains economic ties with Kurdistan, purchasing Kurdish oil despite objections from Iraq’s central government in Baghdad. A report in the Financial Times discusses investments by many Israeli companies in energy, development sectors, and communications projects in Iraqi Kurdistan, in addition to providing security training and purchasing oil. Moreover, in a poll conducted in 2009 in Iraqi Kurdistan, 71 percent of Kurds supported normalization with Israel. The results are unsurprising since, historically, Israel has had cordial ties with the Kurds in a generally hostile region where Jews and Kurds have fought against the odds with the same Arab enemy in their struggles for a homeland.

The Iranian regime, through its proxies in the Iraqi government, is the most significant source of Kurd-phobia in Iraq and the driving factor fueling tensions. In addition to their explicit threat to Israel, Iranian officials frequently threaten the Kurdish region, and repeatedly accuse the Kurds of working with Israel.

Read more at Jersualem Center for Public Affairs

More about: Iran, Iraq, Israel-Arab relations, Kurds