If Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is correct that the Obama administration initiated, stood behind, and coordinated the wording of the anti-Israel U.N. Security Council vote admonishing Israel on its settlement policy, that would be the final nail in the coffin of eight years of failed U.S. foreign policy.
Indeed, with just a cursory glance around the globe and its hot spots and terror spots, it is not a stretch to say the only country the United States has better relations with now than it did eight years ago is Castro’s Cuba. Almost every other region or country we have touched has yielded worsened or more dangerous relations and conditions.
At the center of this is Andrew C. McCarthy’s observation that the opposite of President Obama’s foreign policy, one guided by the principle of “America First,” will be witness to the “restoration of America’s reputation as a dependable friend and an enemy not to be trifled with.” Of few places will that make a greater difference than with respect to Israel and the Middle East.
That President Obama and his team decided they would take one last shot at Israel before their departure is telling—not just about this president’s antipathy to our ally, but indicative of too much of the State Department’s (and world’s) acceptance of several myths (inspired by serious and coordinated propaganda campaigns) that peace in the Middle East, or just for Israel, will come once Israel abandons its settlement policy. That Jews living in places with names like Hebron and Jerusalem are the main or any truly serious cause of strife should raise the question it never does: Maybe the problem is not those settlements after all, but perhaps something else?
After all, looking at the major problems in the Middle East today, be it a failed Libya, Syria in meltdown, Egypt a coup away from topple, Iran’s bellicosity, Iraq’s deterioration, one has to laugh if not cry to think foreign policy experts pinpoint the settlements as anything close to the cause and problems of that forsaken region.
On top of all this, the day and talk of a “two-state” solution for Israel came and went a long time ago, as Walter Russell Meade points out: “[P]alestinian territories [have] devolved into two micro-states (Gaza and the West Bank, so that instead of a two-state solution one would have to speak of a three-state solution barring a Palestinian civil war).” In contemplating what a three-state solution might look like, what the settlements really mean, and what Obama’s and too much of the world’s focus on them actually exposes, we ask five questions that ought, but never seem to, answer themselves:
1. Why are the territories continually referred to as “Palestinian?” With cities such as Hebron, Shilo, Bethlehem, Jericho, and Jerusalem—and many others from the Bible—why is the land never referred to as “Jewish” or “Christian?” For example, one of the most well-known cities in the West Bank is known as “The Palestinian city of Nablus.” How many people know how that name came about? (Hint: the Roman Emperor Vespasian re-named it from Shechem to “Neapolis,” as in Naples).
2. Why are Palestinians free to live throughout cities in Israel such as Tel Aviv, but Jews are told they cannot be free to live in cities such as Hebron or Jerusalem?
3. Israel captured the territories where the settlements are in 1967. Was 1966 or 1965 or 1964 or, for that matter, 1948, a time of peace on earth and good will toward Israel? Could it be the problem the region and its Arab inhabitants have with Israel has absolutely nothing to do with the lands of 1967? Why was there a war in 1967 if it is the land that was taken in 1967 that is the cause of so much strife? If this is confusing, see the next question.
4. If the territories Israel captured in 1967 are the cause of so much belligerence, why was the PLO formed in 1964? For that matter, why was Yasser Arafat’s and Mahmoud Abbas‘s Fatah party and organization founded in 1959? For that matter, why is Fatah’s official emblem—to this day—a depiction of two rifles and a grenade over the entire State of Israel and not just the territories of 1967? (see image at top).
5. If the settlements were to cease and be uprooted, is there a model as to what the aftermath might look like? (Hint: Yes—see Israel’s withdrawal from the Gaza Strip in 2005 and how tranquil the leadership in Gaza became toward Israel).
The point is simply this: Israel and its policies are nowhere near the cause of turbulence in the Middle East, but Israel and its policies are the continued focus of the international community’s denunciations. Absent America’s leadership, the turbulence has become worse, much worse. A new page of analysis and foreign policy is now required and a strong message of common sense, a focus on what is rather than what is not the problem, and standing by our allies once again is long overdue but, seemingly, not now long in coming.