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.
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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.
Jeremy Corbyn leads a pro-Palestinian demonstration in London in 2014, one year before becoming Labour Party leader. Photo: File.
This marked a massive rise from the previous such survey, in which only 39% of Jews believed Corbyn was antisemitic.
British Jews also expressed an extremely low opinion of the Labour Party in general. The poll showed that 85.6% believed Labour suffered from “very high” levels of antisemitism.
Corbyn and his party have been beset with a series of high-profile antisemitism scandals for several years, which has resulted in the resignation and suspension of several prominent officials. Corbyn himself was recently caught on video saying that “Zionists” did not understand “English irony” despite “having lived in this country for a very long time.”
Makuya in Jerusalem 201 (YouTube)
Like an apple tree among trees of the forest, So is my beloved among the youths. I delight to sit in his shade, And his fruit is sweet to my mouth. (Song of Songs 2:3)
For ten days in late August, Israeli Rabbi Benny Lau and his wife, Rabbanit Noah Lau, traveled from Jerusalem to Japan to lead Bible study for groups of Makuya Japanese Christians. The Laus traveled to five Japanese towns and spent three days together at a weekend conference with 3,400 members of the Makuya group.
Makuya is Japanese for the Hebrew word Mishkan, the tent of meeting, where human beings come into contact with God. The Mishkan was the portable sanctuary that the Israelites used in the desert, before entering Israel and building the First Holy Temple.
The Lord tests the righteous, but his soul hates the wicked and the one who loves violence. (Psalm 11:5)
Brazilian presidential candidate Jair Bolsonaro. (Credit: Agencia O Globo)
Jair Bolsonaro, the front-runner in the upcoming presidential election in Brazil, was stabbed during a campaign rally Thursday and was undergoing surgery.
The far-right politician, whose heated rhetoric has electrified some voters and angered others – -who accuse him of racism and homophobia – in a deeply polarized electorate, was attacked amid a crowd in the south-east state of Minas Gerais. Bolsonaro has performed strongly in recent opinion polls.
Those same polls suggested that he will likely receive the most votes in next month’s presidential elections, especially if the country’s former president Luis Inacio Lula da Silva (‘Lula’) remains blocked from standing. He is currently in prison, but is appealing against his candidacy ban – imposed after his conviction for corruption.
Republican lawmakers have made it clear they have no intention of repealing Obamacare in the current Congress.
Republicans in the nation’s top lawmaking body have never really wanted to get rid of Obamacare. They would prefer to present the program, which David Horowitz correctly describes as “the greatest assault on individual freedom and individual choice in our lifetimes,” as a villain and whip up sentiment against it and run against it every election. They view Obamacare as good for the business of politics. They may chip away at it from time to time or tinker with it at the margins, but make no mistake: these creatures of Washington want to keep it in place. This is the Republicans’ dirty secret.
The Trump administration has decided to reopen a case brought by a Zionist group against Rutgers University, previously closed by the Obama administration in 2014, alleging that the university had allowed Jewish students to be subjected to a hostile environment in violation of Title VI of the U.S. Civil Rights Act. The issue, ignored by the Obama administration, was whether the students were discriminated against based on their actual or perceived Jewish ancestry or ethnicity. Kenneth L. Marcus, the new assistant secretary of education for civil rights, decided that the case deserved another look.
Nestled in the Han River in the middle of South Korea’s bustling capital of Seoul, Yeoui Island is hardly where one would expect to find the largest mega-church in the world. Home to the city’s business and financial district, its skyline dotted with skyscrapers, the island boasts some of the country’s most powerful institutions, such as the Korean stock exchange and the headquarters of LG, the international conglomerate.
The AfD’s opponents, who often brand the party as “far right” or “extremist,” claim that the party’s alleged ties to neo-Nazi groups pose an existential threat to Germany’s constitutional order. The AfD’s supporters counter that Germany’s politically correct establishment, afraid of losing its power and influence, is attempting to outlaw a legitimate party that has pledged to put the interests of German citizens first.
Israel’s Palestinian foes regard “martyrdom” as the supremely highest expression of Islamic sacredness. Nonetheless, there are certain conspicuously prominent disjunctions between the relevant obligations of faith and expectations of international law. Unambiguously, only the latter set of obligations can offer a suitably authoritative source for assessing Palestinian resorts to armed force.
This is the case even when the stated objective of such resorts would be “self-determination” and/or “national liberation.”
“Setting fire to the ground,” a “major catastrophe,” bringing “new instability” are the headlines that have greeted Donald Trump’s unorthodox decisions over the past year. Withdrawing from UNESCO, moving the US Embassy, leaving the Iran deal and cutting funding to UNRWA and funding for Pakistan were seen as extreme decisions in the Middle East and around the world. Insofar as there is a “Trump Doctrine,” it has been to call this bluff.
In the mind-set of Trump and his team, the time has come for the United States to move quickly to reverse decades of foreign policy norms, ending the status quo, and ripping up what the previous administrations did.
The jihadi assault on and massacre of Christians continued unabated throughout the Muslim word. According to one report titled, “Armed gangs WIPE OUT 15 villages in mass Christian slaughter in Nigeria,” several Islamic terrorists “stormed through 15 villages to massacre Christians and destroy their churches in a violent crackdown against the religion…. Dozens of people have been killed after the gangs ransacked towns and villages to clear them of all aspects of the Christian faith.
Wars are raging in various parts of the Middle East, although there is a tendency not to call the conflicts by that name because of the fear conjured up by the word.
One conflagration is the war Iran is waging against those – headed by Israel – who stand in the way of its plans to take over the entire Middle East.
Another is the Assad regime’s war to take back control of the entire country, and a third is the PLO’s battle for survival.
Much has been written about the first of these wars, and reports have claimed that from early 2017 on, Israel has launched over 200 attacks in Syria, mainly at targets connected to Iran.