The first reason that so many deal-makers have failed is that peace is never negotiated and is always imposed by the side that wins a war. There is not any instance in history, which is primarily a narrative of countless wars, in which an outsider has imposed peace on unwilling belligerents.
Casting himself as the best friend Israel could hope for, President Donald Trump is promising, some may say threatening, to unveil his grand plan for a peace “deal” to end the so-called “Middle East problem”.
Trump has always fancied himself as a deal-maker; he has even written a book on the subject. It is, therefore, no surprise that he might want to put his skill to use on an issue which has defied numerous deal-makers for six decades.
What are the chances of him succeeding? The short answer is: nil!
This is no reflection on Trump’s talent for deal-making. The problem with the “Middle East problem” is that those who tried to solve it never managed to define it and, as a result, sacrificed the existential reality on the ground to the essential abstraction of elusive ideals.
|(Image source: White House)|
The current phase of the saga began in 1945 at the end of the Second World War.
The first would-be deal-maker was Britain’s Prime Minister Clement Attlee, then responsible for the fate of the chunk of the Greater Syria of the Ottoman times, known as Palestine. Influenced by the Foreign Office, which had already allocated a portion of the booty to Trans-Jordan, Attlee was apparently persuaded that the remaining bit should also be distributed among Arab states, then allies of Britain grouped in the Arab League.
However, Britain’s evolving position ran into opposition from US President Harry S. Truman, who also fancied himself as a deal-maker. To iron out differences between the two rival deal-makers, London and Washington created the Anglo-American Commission of Inquiry.
Truman’s envoy to the commission was a Californian Catholic judge, Bartley C. Crum, who admitted he knew nothing of the issue. However, during the months he spent in the region attending the commission’s many hearings, addressed by envoys from Arab countries and native Muslim, Christian and Jewish populations, he concluded that creating a “homeland” for the Jews, as promised by Great Britain in the Balfour declaration of1917, must be part of any “deal”.
At that time, however, Britain had moved beyond Balfour and hoped to create an Arab bloc against the looming Soviet danger in the region.
Both Attlee and Truman failed in imposing their divergent deals. And in February 1947, British Foreign Secretary Ernest Bevin passed the hot potato to the United Nations.
In November 1947, the UN General Assembly cast itself as deal-maker by passing General Assembly Resolution 181 which recommended the creation of two states, one for Jews and the other for Arabs.
Britain was one of the 10 states that abstained while 13 others, (Afghanistan, Cuba, Egypt, Greece, India, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Turkey, and Yemen) voted against.
However, it quickly became clear that the UN, too, had failed as a deal-maker.
The resolution was so long, so detailed and so laden with jargon that few apart from seasoned lawyers would comprehend let alone be able to implement it.
Rather than admit failure, the UN persisted in its deal-making delusion. Successive Secretary-Generals, from Dag Hammarskjold to Kurt Waldheim and passing by U Thant, appointed special emissaries to shape a “deal”.
Some emissaries, notably Sweden’s Gunnar Jarring, claimed that they were on the threshold of a deal. In every case they came close but no cigar.
Until the 1970s the issue was labeled “the Arab-Israeli conflict”, a term justified by four wars. The decade also marked the start of an inflationary trend in Mideast deal-making. Henry Kissinger, dubbed “the modern Metternich”, chased the mirage with his “shuttle diplomacy,” and failed.
He was succeeded in the role by President Jimmy Carter, who achieved a truce between Egypt and Israel but kicked peace into long grass.
By the 1980s, the conflict had acquired a new appellation: the “Palestine issue,” and the seductive dream of a deal remained.
Since then, the list of would-be deal-makers has continued to get longer — so long, in fact, that one could not mention all of them in a single column. Among the pretenders were French President Jacques Chirac, British Premier Tony Blair and, in a different register, the Norwegian government. In 2005, even Angela Merkel, just named Chancellor of Germany, toyed with the idea of playing Mideast deal-maker but, wise lady as she is, quickly turned to other matters.
There are many reasons why so many deal-makers have failed.
The first is that peace is never negotiated and is always imposed by the side that wins a war. There is not any instance in history, which is primarily a narrative of countless wars, in which an outsider has imposed peace on unwilling belligerents.
The second reason is that outside deal-makers have their interests and agendas, which make an already tangled web even more complicated. For example, in the case of American deal-makers, how to win Jewish votes in the US without antagonizing the Arabs who sell us oil and buy our arms?
The third reason is that wannabe deal-makers do not fully appreciate the importance of the status quo, the reality on the ground.
Whenever a status quo is at least tolerable for both belligerents, the desire for risking it in the hope of an ill-defined peace is diminished. Many people in the world live with a status quo they don’t regard as ideal.
Russia and Japan coexist, trade with each other, and maintain correct relations, despite being technically at war with the Russian occupation of chunks of the Kuril Islands.
China and India coexist despite the Chinese annexation of large Indian territories along the border.
Bolivia and Chile are still technically at war because of the Chilean annexation of Bolivia’s access to the ocean. By one count, no fewer than 89 of the 198 members of the United Nations are involved in territorial disputes or are home to restive, sometimes secessionist minorities.
If we add irredentist dreams and claims rooted in myths or history, almost all UN members are in dispute with their neighbors. I haven’t met a Mexican who didn’t think that California and Texas belonged to Mexico. Nor would you find many Serbs ready to forget Pristina, their “holy city”, now in the hands of Muslim Albanians. And there are few Iranians who don’t feel sad that Baghdad, the site of their ancient capital of Ctesiphon, is now an Arab metropolis.
Finally, and more importantly, there could be no deal and no peace unless and until those involved in a conflict desire it. Without that desire, the best one could aim for is a truce, allowing for coexistence — living and half living, as the Anglo-American poet Elliot put it.
There is one thing that Trump the deal-maker could do. He could ask the Israelis and the Palestinians to work on an agreement, each in their own camp, on what they exactly want, and report to him.
My bet is that, at this moment, neither of the two sides would be able to shape any agreement in their own respective camp on what kind of a deal they might accept. And that, at least implicitly, means that both are happier with the status quo rather than the prolongation of a “peace process” which could never lead to peace and now is no longer even a process.
Mar 13, 2018 0
Protesters rally against Turkey’s attacks on Kurds and others in Afrin, at the White House on January 26, 2018. (Shutterstock)
Armed Syrian militias allied with Turkey have reportedly been demanding that Kurdish Christians in Afrin province convert to Islam or face execution. In a video circulated by the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a militia fighter described the Kurds as “infidels” and offered them a choice between converting to Islam or facing decapitation.
“By Allah, if you repent and come back to Allah, then know that you are our brothers,” said the man. “But if you refuse, then we see.”
Raymond Ibrahim is a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center.
Iraqi Archbishop Bashar Warda made the following observation during a recent speech: “Having faced for 1,400 years the slow-motion genocide that began long before the ongoing ISIS genocide today, the time for excusing this inhuman behavior and its causes is long since passed.”
That Muslims have cleansed non-Muslim peoples by the sword since the seventh century to the present is of course factually well-documented. But what of the more subtle “slow-motion genocide”? How does that work? The answer is connected to another question: Why did so many non-Muslims become Muslim in the first place?
Many modern day Muslims and Western apologists claim that the ancestors of today’s 1.5 billion Muslims converted to Islam due to its intrinsic appeal; that the modern day coercion and persecution committed by the Islamic State and others is an aberration.
Conversely, many Muslim and non-Muslim historical records make clear that most people embraced Islam, not out of sincere faith, but for a myriad of reasons—from converting in order to enjoy the boons of being on the “winning team” to converting in order to evade the dooms of being on the “losing team.”
A high-ranking defense official revealed to the Senate on Tuesday that Iran has fully incorporated a Russian long-range anti-aircraft missile system into its military, seriously upgrading its ability to threaten the US and Israeli military interests in the region. But the general’s report failed to take into account divine intervention which has plagued the system in the past.
Lieutenant General Robert P. Ashley, Jr., Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), told the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday about Iran’s “generational improvement in capabilities,” according to Bloomberg News.
Despite evidence of a serious deterioration in relations between Jews and Arabs in Israel, one researcher contends that Israeli Arabs continue to show a strong link to a Jewish and democratic Israel.
Israeli Arabs protest the initial approval of a bill to enforce lowering the volume on loudspeakers broadcasting the Muslim call to prayer, Kabul, Israel, March 11, 2017.
In Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s school of morality and politics, accepting a bribe is no reason to unseat an elected premier, nor is a hostile takeover of the country’s media. He insists that a prime minister should not be replaced because of criminal indictments or guilty verdicts. According to Netanyahu, a prime minister can only be “replaced at the ballot box,” although what he means is that a prime minister can only be “replaced by Jews at the ballot box.”
March 17 marks two years since his horrible election-day video warning — “Arab voters are coming out in droves to the polls” — and calling on Jews to turn out en masse. It’s hard to know how many votes he picked up for the Likud with this alarmist message, but the damage he caused to relations between Jews and Arabs is discernible.
The Palestinian security forces in Gaza are just as tough as the Israelis on the youths who try to cross the border looking for work.
Two Palestinian teenagers look at the rubble of destroyed buildings, Gaza City, Gaza, June 10, 2015.
GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — More Gazans are seeking to flee to Israel in search of jobs in light of the high unemployment rate and the worsening economic conditions in the coastal enclave. On Feb. 16, Palestinian security forces stopped three young Gazans from crossing into Israel through the southern Gaza Strip. Four young men were also arrested Feb. 13 and interrogated by the Ministry of the Interior.
Despite a warning from the security apparatus in Gaza back in August that any Palestinian who attempts to cross over into Israel would be arrested and imprisoned, they keep trying.
Israeli concerns are also growing about the attempts by Gazans to sneak into its territory. The Israel Defense Forces arrested four young men attempting to cross into Israel Feb. 1 and another Feb. 2.
A visit to Morocco shows that the claim
of Palestinians to a “right of return” has little historic, moral or legal basis.
Jews lived in Morocco for centuries before Islam came to Casablanca, Fez, and Marrakesh. The Jews, along with the Berbers, were the backbone of the economy and culture. Now their historic presence can be seen primarily in the hundreds of Jewish cemeteries and abandoned synagogues that are omnipresent in cities and towns throughout the Maghreb.
The Arab press has evinced an inordinate interest in the future of Binyamin Netanyahu over the past few weeks, due to the various ongoing investigations against him and against several people who held key positions in his entourage. Arab interest is motivated by hopes for the prime minister’s downfall and a resulting disintegration of Israel’s Rightist camp, leading to the Left’s assuming the leadership of the Jewish State. The Left, after all, has proven time and time again that it is willing to pay a higher price than Netanyahu for a piece of paper on which the word “peace” appears.
AIPAC’s mission to cultivate and maintain bipartisan support for Israel in the United States is an important mission. Unfortunately, the messages AIPAC’s leaders delivered during the organization’s annual policy convention this week in Washington indicate that they are at a loss for how to achieve their mission in the contentious political environment now prevalent in the post- Obama America.
You’ve undoubtedly heard that Jerusalem represents the third holiest city in Islam.
That is provably untrue.
Or, perhaps you’ve read in Wikipedia or heard on CNN that the Al-Aqsa Mosque is the third holiest place of worship in Islam.
That, too, is a provable lie.
Or, maybe you heard about the vote by UNESCO in 2016 that denied any Israeli connection to the Temple Mount, referring it only by the Islamic name, “Haram al-Sharif.”
After weeks of outrage at the close ties between top Democrats and Louis Farrakhan, the leader of an anti-Semitic hate group, the media finally condemned anti-Semitism by a top political official.
President Trump and OMB Director Mick Mulvaney had referred to outgoing NEC Director Gary Cohn as a “globalist.” And “globalist,” according to Think Progress, the Huffington Post, Salon, and Vox, is an “anti-Semitic slur.” Those are the same media outlets that had no problem using “globalist” as a slur when targeting Trump. HuffPo had published a piece tarring him as “Trump: The Globalist Plutocrat” and Vox had described Trump going to Davos, “the world’s biggest party for globalist elites.”