Those Worried about Russia Being Humiliated Never Seem to Have the Same Concern about Israel

In 2007, two leading exponents of the so-called “realist” school of international relations, Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer, wrote a book arguing that a shadowy and nefarious cabal they termed “the Israel lobby” was responsible for various grave errors in American foreign policy while exerting undue influence over the media. More recently, Mearsheimer and his fellow realists have blamed the U.S. for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and urged both Kyiv and Washington to surrender to the Kremlin’s demands. Pinina Shuker sums up their approach to the matter with Emmanuel Macron’s declaration that “We must not humiliate Russia,” and the various suggestions that the West must give Vladimir Putin “a win.” She also points to a revealing inconsistency:

The bottom line to this vacuous strategy is to ensure that the more bellicose a nation is the more it must be appeased with something akin to a victory. It is precisely this way of thinking that has surrounded the endless Western concessions to Iran during the lead-up to the signing of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, otherwise known as the Iran nuclear deal, signed in 2015. Nevertheless, this way of thinking rarely seems to extend to Israel’s conflict with the Palestinians.

The realists claim that, regarding the conflict in Ukraine, the best way to arrive at honest negotiations and a cessation of hostilities is by ceding to Russian demands. . . . While this view is morally repugnant and will merely embolden autocrats worldwide to start wars, it has a certain amount of cold logic to it. However, when the same logic is applied to the Israel-Palestinian conflict it falls down.

I have yet to hear a single voice emanating from the realist or any other school of thought in international-relations theory that Israel needs to achieve a win or not be humiliated.

Read more at Jerusalem Post

More about: Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, Stephen Walt, War in Ukraine


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