Trump and Netanyahu Debunk the Failed Consensus

With one stroke of a pen, President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu—nationalist, conservative world leaders much-maligned by our sclerotic global elites as bigoted warmongers—did more last week to advance durable peace in the Middle East than did generations of Washington’s failed “peace process,” “two-stater” professional classes. Peace between Israel and the oil-rich Gulf state, the United Arab Emirates, represents a profoundly impactful act of statesmanship and reifies an ascendant, transformative paradigm. In a just world (which we do not presently inhabit), the Norwegian Nobel Committee would be knocking on their doors.

In the decades following the infamous “three no’s” (no peace with Israel, no recognition of Israel and no negotiations with Israel) of 1967’s Khartoum Resolution; the Arab world’s (third) failure to destroy the Jewish state in 1973’s Yom Kippur War; and the onset of Yasser Arafat’s Palestinian national movement in earnest, veteran Middle East hands uniformly asserted, as if it were Scriptural truth, that there would be no broader Israeli rapprochement with the Arab world in the absence of a final settlement with the Palestinians.

Presidential administrations of both parties imbibed this canard as if it were mother’s milk, and thus was born the “land for peace” paradigm—wherein Israel, a state smaller than New Jersey, was expected to cede large swaths of land as conciliatory gestures to bribe irredentist Arabs to accept peace. The disastrous Oslo Accords of the 1990s—which Arafat publicly accepted before a credulous world but privately rejected as a betrayal of the entire founding-era purpose of the Palestinian cause (“The goal of our struggle is the end of Israel, and there can be no compromise of mediations,” Arafat had boasted two decades prior)—encapsulated this fatal Western conceit.

The blood of over 1,000 Israelis spilt during the Second Intifada—to say nothing of the calamitous results of Israel’s 2005 unilateral withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, which was quickly transformed into a Hamas-run jihadist enclave singularly interested in raining down indiscriminate rocket fire on Israeli villages—solidified in the minds of Israeli Jews the utter moral bankruptcy of Western elites’ prevailing capitulatory “land for peace” consensus. Israel’s historically liberal Labor Party, the party of preeminent national founder David Ben-Gurion and the decades-long dominant political party following Israel’s founding, has become an irrelevant and impotent laughingstock.

Nonetheless, this failed consensus persisted in the minds of Washington and Brussels simpletons. It reached an apex during the famously anti-Israel Obama administration, a coterie of quixotic liberal internationalists who preferred the hubris of trying to craft a Middle East anew—best embodied by 2015’s harrowing nuclear accord with the Islamic Republic of Iran—over the prudence of addressing the Middle East as it actually is.

At long last, the U.S. has a president grounded in reality—who sees the world as it is, and not as academes and theorists would rather it be. The U.S. has a president who advances a hardened and realist foreign policy, grounded in a properly narrow conception of American nationalist interests, which properly rewards our allies as allies and punishes our enemies as enemies.

In the Middle East, this has translated into a famously pro-Israel, anti-Iran set of foreign policy initiatives. Trump has moved the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, defended Israel to the hilt at the United Nations, unveiled the most pro-Israel U.S. peace plan initiative ever, withdrew the U.S. from Obama’s terrible nuclear deal and punished the Islamic Republic with crippling sanctions as part of a broader “maximum pressure” campaign. As Israel’s relations, following the nuclear deal with Shiite Iran, began to clandestinely thaw with the region’s Sunni Gulf states, those Sunni Arab countries saw a strong, militarily emboldened Israel that had unambiguous American support. They saw a nation unequivocally committed to opposing a nuclear Iran, which the Sunni Arab states also fear, by any means necessary. They saw an Israel, with the imprimatur of Trump’s peace plan, confident that it would not be browbeaten by supercilious Western elites into yielding yet more land concessions for an illusory peace with an implacable Palestinian foe.

The Israel-UAE peace agreement is Israel’s first with an Arab country since the 1994 accord with the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. But it is the single most transformative peace agreement of them all. Israel has not given up any land. Nor, for that matter, has Israel been weakened in any way whatsoever.

The race is now on to see who will next follow the UAE and make peace with Israel: Bahrain, Oman and Morocco appear to be the leading contenders. This is the legacy of the Trump-Netanyahu doctrine: the latest proof of the age-old truth that peace comes when a historical foe is not weak but strong, and the evisceration of the elites’ consensus that claimed the contrary.


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About Josh Hammer

Josh Hammer is senior editor-at-large of Newsweek. A popular conservative commentator, he is a research fellow with the Edmund Burke Foundation and a syndicated columnist through Creators. A frequent pundit and essayist on political, legal, and cultural issues, Hammer is a constitutional attorney by training. He is a former John Marshall Fellow with the Claremont Institute and a campus speaker through Intercollegiate Studies Institute, Young America’s Foundation, and the Federalist Society.

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