The United States has now spent my entire lifetime focused on bringing peace to Israel and the lands around it. The effort has failed. You can write endlessly on why. You can write endlessly on fault. But the time has come to stop writing endlessly on denying reality.
There has never been peace in Israel and its surrounding lands in the Western sense with respect for all religions and peoples. Read the Old Testament, Medieval history, and modern history. At best, an occupier would bring a few years of the absence of war.
There will be no peace. It is a liberating realization, because it creates the possibility for new public policy in the United States. Policy based on reality.
First and foremost, the United States must stop sending envoys into the region pursuing a “solution”. Secretary Kerry’s current visit should be the last from a senior US official seeking peace. The Israelis, the Palestinians and their backers, do not respect US politicians. The proof of this is the complete absence of interest in a settlement after forty years of effort. And the naive US intervention allows the parties to publicly avoid responsibility while privately pursuing respectively occupation or genocide.
Second, the United States must stop lecturing Israel on defense measures. Only the Israeli people and their democratically elected representatives can decide what defense is necessary for Israel. When the United States interferes in that judgment it assumes at least partial responsibility for Israeli defense. It is easy to forestall Israeli airstrikes on Iranian nukes, but politically impossible for us to defend Israel from them.
Although not a new policy, the United States must continue to sell/provide arms and funding to Israel for self-defense. Unlike most US allies, Israel has at least proven it can protect itself if properly armed. This third policy provides Israel the ability to forestall a second Holocaust that Hamas, Hezbollah, Iran, and others openly call for in their public statements, schools, and governing charters.
Fourth, the United States should continue to utilize its veto power at the United Nations to prevent condemnation of Israel unilaterally or in defense operations. The United States should abstain from any Security Council action that condemns Israeli actions that seize new territory for more than thirty days. This would be an unambiguous public pronouncement that the world would understand before every UN meeting.
The benefits of these changes are straightforward:
- Israel freed from American second guessing would also have sole responsibility for its actions;
- The Sunni/Shiite world freed from the expectation of American shuttle diplomacy would have to choose war or confront the facts on the ground; and
- If there is a chance for the absence of war, the parties must have the opportunity to fight to exhaustion. As we have seen in Northern Ireland, Bosnia, and countless other war zones once war begins the absence of war is only possible when the parties are exhausted or one side is finally defeated. Constantly rushing in to cut off fighting prevents this essential condition.
The traditional discussion of Israeli and Palestinian problems involves picking a side and arguing about Israel’s founding and relentless injustice against one side or the other. Israel is a UN recognized state with an unambiguous right to exist and defend its sovereignty. The Palestinians have been dealt a terrible hand, but they have chosen war and delegitimization of Israel as their method of resolving that injustice. This is a discussion with no end.
The twin goals of US policy must be the prevention of genocide in Israel and divorcing its diplomacy from parties that have very little respect for American peace efforts. In the unlikely event that the parties divert from three thousand years of history and create a peace conference we could always attend.
Smart public policy decisions require concentrating your efforts. The United States needs to focus on disintegrating conditions in Eastern Europe, the South China Sea, and reverse its perennial neglect of Latin America. All places where the US has influence on some of the parties. A new permanent policy in Israel and Palestine would provide the opportunity for that focus.