Time to Face Reality in the Middle East

Bruce Thornton is a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, a Research Fellow at Stanford's Hoover Institution, and a Professor of Classics and Humanities at the California State University. He is the author of nine books and numerous essays on classical culture and its influence on Western Civilization. His most recent book, Democracy's Dangers and Discontents (Hoover Institution Press), is now available for purchase.


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As for that famous “peace treaty” with Egypt often touted as proof of the possibilities of a negotiated settlement, the fall of Mubarak is making it increasingly clear that it was merely a 30-year cold truce purchased with the Sinai’s oil fields and the $2 billion a year in U.S. aid. Now with Mubarak gone, the border with Gaza is open to weapons, and the Sinai is a launching pad for terrorist attacks like the one a few weeks ago that killed eight Israelis.

The historical experience of negotiation to end the Israeli-Arab conflict is clear: concessions negotiated by Israel are met with violence and intransigence, just as the Oslo Agreement of 1993, which handed over control of the West Bank to the Palestinian Authority, was followed the rest of the decade by attacks that killed 256 Israeli citizens and soldiers. For those with eyes to see beyond the false promise of a negotiated “two-state” settlement, the explanation is obvious. The goal of most Palestinians is not two states living side-by-side in peace; rather, the goal is the same as it was in 1947, when the Palestinian state created by U.N. resolution 181 was rejected and followed by war––the destruction of Israel. The failure of that war and subsequent ones to achieve that aim did not disabuse the Arabs of their ultimate goal, but merely forced a change of tactics, one of which is the use of diplomatic negotiation as a “technical adjunct” to their long-term goal of wiping Israel off the map.

Instead of trying to head off the U.N. vote or calling yet again for futile “peace talks,” the U.S. needs to cast off the delusions of a negotiated two-state solution, and act on the basis of reality. We could start by making it clear to the Palestinians that further intransigence will result in the cut-off of U.S. aid, which (including contributions to the U.N.’s Relief and Works Agency for Palestine) has averaged $800 million a year. As for the threats of violence and increased anti-Americanism, these are constants in the region that nothing we do will change. For all of President Obama’s efforts at outreach to the Muslim world and pressure on Israel to make even more unreciprocated concessions, public opinion there is as negative towards the United States as it was under President Bush. A veto in the U.N. will just be another pretext for indulging the same old tactic of employing violence and then blaming America.

“It is easy enough,” Conquest wrote, “to fall into the trap of thinking that others think, within reason, like ourselves. But this trap is precisely the error that must be avoided in foreign affairs.” The dismal history of the Middle East gives us ample evidence that we have fallen into that trap for decades, compromising our own national interests and putting at risk the security of a valuable ally. It’s long past time that we made policy based on reality instead of on our own delusions.

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  • hibsfan

    LOL .. this is absolutely hilarious. Not one mention of Israel negotiating in bad faith. What a stupid website this is. Truly a destination for Morons.
    No wonder nobody has posted any comments. lol..

    back to sleep … zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

    • Rachel

      That is truly funny, indeed. Negotiations or not, Israel keeps prospering while the Arab/Muslim world keeps rotting.

    • stern

      If this is the most and the best you can contribute to the debate here, please don't wake up on our account. We won't miss what passes for your opinion.

    • MixMChess

      How has Israel ever negotiated in bad faith? Recall, it was Israel who offered the Palestinians statehood on 98% of the W. Bank and Gaza in 2000 and didn't even receive a counter-offer. The entire UDI is an attempt by Palestinians to avoid negotiating peace and recognizing Israel.

  • heartsfan

    I know.. how embarrassing… lol

  • charles

    Islam is not a religion, it is a political entienty under the guise of a religion for obvious reasons. When these hate filled seventh centuary barbarians arent killing non muslims they keep in practious buy killing each other. They all need to be sent back to the seventh centuary, There is no place for them in todays world. They are leeches. Much like a large portion of so called Americans. Being an American is more a traditional mind set and its acomping traditional values. No matter where muslims are there is strife and confusion.

    • New Yorker

      What do you mean by "there is no place for them in todays world"? It is most obvious that there is and in fact lots of places. Look around yourself, take a look at the map and tell me what you see there. And they are aggressive enough to spread further afield. What to do about it is an entirely different question. Is it something undesirable, something of a threat, perhaps even existential one? Is Islam a form of fascism as opposed to religion? If so, this truth should be stated openly by as many influential public figures as possible. Fascism will always arise in one form or another and the fight to defeat it must go on. But it must acknowledged as such for this fight to be successful. Not this idiotic "war on terror" or on "extremism".

  • Larry

    The only way you can make "negotiations" work with arabs is to ram them down their throats. This is because arabs only offer to negotiate from a position of weakness, and use any offer to their advantage to rearm and gather their strength.

    To "negotiate" with them first you need to kick them in the balls repeatedly, then put you boot on their throats and tell them "this is how it is going to be". Nothing else will get their attention or make them respect terms for any length of time. It is also a process that needs to be repeated at regular intervals.

  • Michael

    The same old story,American political elite never learn!(especially Obama's administration)

  • StephenD

    I live next to you. I get aid from you and some of my family works in your factory. Others in my family teach the young ones to hate you. We all talk as if you were a curse on the world and our family crests’ motto says we want to vanquish you. We believe your house is on land that belongs to us. We keep randomly killing your family members going about their business. Each offer you’ve made for relinquishing land for peace I’ve rejected. I want you wiped off the face of the earth. Now, everyone else in the town says you should “negotiate” with me for peace. I have nothing to loose by continuing my attacks on your family. What say you? Feel like negotiating with me? LOL

  • sedoanman

    Wars Since 1816:

    Democracies vs. democracies . . . . . . . . . . . . . .0
    Democracies vs. non-democracies. . . . . . . .155
    Non-democracies vs. non-democracies . . . 198
    http://www.hawaii.edu/powerkills/DBG.TAB1.1.GIF

    Obviously non-democracies are the carbuncle on the a$$ of humanity.

    • dispellerofstupidity

      Well, Hamas was democratically elected, and so was Hitler, by the way.

      • MixMChess

        I always tread lightly when discussing the supposed democratic election of Hamas in Gaza. Recall, Hamas won the majority of the legislative seats in the 2006 election and had the ability to form a majority government, however, they to gain control of Gaza they staged a bloody coup.

  • montlasky

    How can you negotiate with Muslims who by their Koran state " lie if you have to to get what's best for Islam".They adopt that instruction faultlessly and we infidels fall for it every time in any negotiation.Let;s wake up

    • sedoanman

      "…we infidels fall for it every time in any negotiation."

      As the article points out, negotiation has become for its own sake. This wouldn't be the case if appeasers had to pay the price for their mistakes.

  • mrbean

    "President Obama has betrayed Israel and made a grievous mistake by suggesting borders of Israel go back to pre-1967 borders. This is an outrage to peace, sovereignty of Israel, and a stable Middle East. The nation of Israel was attacked in 1967 from all sides with a determination to annihilate her. Israel needs more security, not less. The Palestinians have steadfastly refused to acknowledge Israel's right to exist, despite long standing international law to the contrary.

  • Moishe Pupick

    F., 09/09/11 common era

    Jew haters may find it interesting that the current State of Israel constitutes only about 10% of the Promised Land. Stay tuned. . . .

    • stern

      Except that Jew haters don't care. They don't want Jews to have ANY of the Promised Land. They don't want the world to have any Jews. Period.

      • http://www.contextflexed.com Flipside

        God, listen to you people whine.

        • MixMChess

          Pot. Kettle. Black.

          • http://www.contextflexed.com Flipside

            True to your philosophy: as long as other rapists exist in the world, a Jew should never be accused of rape.

  • Ben

    The author is right that the declared motive of the western diplomacy is the peace through the "peace process". But everybody knows that the keys are in the Muslim world leaders` hands.They use the "Israel problem" for the unification of the Muslim world and as the source of blames of the western colonialism. Muslim`s appeasement is in reality the "peace process"

  • xlent

    Islam stinks! it has stunk and will stink until it is eradicated. The religion of islam is behind most of ( ignorance contributes too) the hate against Israel.

    • deziderio

      In the end of world war ll,USA droped two atomik bombs to stop the Umanity from unstoppable self destruction.The price was relativily lower than if the war continues!Mankind today HAVE to destroy some Muslim countries to STOP the self destruction!!!!

  • keoke888

    "It is easy enough, to fall into the trap of thinking that others think, within reason, like ourselves".
    So you mean Arab Muslims are not debilitated by liberal guilt….?

  • Clare

    Succinctly stated. Underline "unreciprocated concessions" and "pretext".

    This is precisely what the US should do. It was the reality in the 1980's for crying out loud.

    This article, and others like it, should be read from loudspeakers on the hate fest Durban day in front of the UN and be given as much coverage as possible everywhere else. The truth will out.

  • jemnabus
  • ameer_r2

    Here we see what negotiations mean to most Jews. Take what we offer or else as we continue to swallow your 20% of remaining land. New demand to recognize it as a Jewish state but no "right of return" or East Jerusalem as its capital and acceptance of settlements to divide what is left making a two state solution a joke. Accept that you are now a fascist run state that has practiced ethnic cleansing
    and no better than the Serbs.

    • dispellerofstupidity

      Actually Muslim are fascists. Koran is a Nazi scripture allowing for no democracy, no human rights, commanding oppression of all other religions and oppression of women.
      As for the land? Arabs have already stolen enough land from the indigenous peoples of the Middle East.
      Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Egypt, and all of North Africa, have been stolen and destroyed by the barbarian Arab-Muslims.
      Jews are the are the only indigenous People left with their own state.
      Arabs should all be deported to Arabia.

    • stern

      Oh dear ameer, you have it so wrong. See, Jews have already been cheated out of 80% of the land – what is now called Jordan and was originally part of the Palestinian mandate – and now you lot want more of OUR remaining 20%. We gave you Gaza absolutely free of any concessions from you and look what you did with it. Now you want our capital city – a city that has never been your capital or the capital of anyone else but the Jews. You accuse us of ethnic cleansing, when 20% or our population is Arab and Abbas has made it perfectly clear that his little terror state will not have a single Jew in it. You are, in short, a typical "turn it 180 degrees from the truth" Arab liar.

    • MixMChess

      "Take what we offer or else as we continue to swallow your 20% of remaining land."

      Considering Arabs illegally possess over 85% of the Jewish National Homeland, coupled with the fact that Israel has been shrinking her borders to accede to Arab demands (Sinai, Gaza, W. Bank), I would say the Israelis are being quite generous.

      "New demand to recognize it as a Jewish state but no "right of return" or East Jerusalem as its capital and acceptance of settlements to divide what is left making a two state solution a joke."

      There is no historical or legal precedent for a "right of return" just a fantasy cooked up by belligerent Arab nations. Jerusalem, including E. Jerusalem, has ALWAYS been a Jewish city with a Jewish majority. Only from 1948-1967, was it considered "Arab" after Jordan ethnically cleansed the Jews from the area. Considering that Settlements exist on less than 2% of the W. Bank land, the Palestinians need to quit their whining.

      "Accept that you are now a fascist run state that has practiced ethnic cleansing
      and no better than the Serbs."

      Huh? Is that why the Arab population continues to increase exponentially? Apparently anyone who stands up to Muslim hordes practice ethnic cleansing, just like the Serbs, Armenians, Greeks and Indians.

  • dispellerofstupidity

    Israel needs a place to test its nuclear weapons.
    Without testing, it is very hard to know for sure if they are working.

    Now, what better place than Mecca?

    • Anamah

      That must be the first place if they touch a hair more of Israel, Medinah can be the second one.

  • dispellerofstupidity

    Scientific experiment to find out if Allah exists.

    Thesis that Allah exist can be tested:
    Allah is the supporter of Mecca.
    His religion requires pilgrimage to Mecca.
    A few, megaton class H-bombs, can destroy mecca and their holy stone of Kaba.
    Thus showing that modern physics tromps Koran, and that religion of Islam cannot be practiced anymore because the radioactivity would make Haj impossible.

  • mrbean

    Notice that President (gag) Obama and Hillary (hag) Clinton are silent on the Muslim Brotherhood attack on the Israel Cairo Embassy! A pox on them and their children!

  • Ben

    Ridiculouse that many Muslims like Ameer often use and are fond of the term fascist(Jews,Americans,whites) while they never use " nazi".I think Muslims like nazis as their grandfathers did in the Hitler`s times.

    • Anamah

      Arafat uncle's had! The Mufti of Jerusalem were Hitler's right arm and the next after him was the creator of Muslim Brotherhood… What a crap!, each one of them so miserable Nazi and wretched cretin!

  • Rob Winchester

    If it is ever reached, the current and any other artificial “peace agreement” will be illegitimate before it is ever signed because (1) all people living in Palestine regardless of religion, race, origin, etc. (hereinafter “All People of Palestine”) were never given a choice on how they want their land to be governed, and (2) all contracts signed under duress are null and void.

    The biggest problem in Palestine is that the Zionist regime never offered a choice to All People of Palestine on how they want to govern their land because the Zionist regime cannot exist as a democratic entity. If there was ever any democratic process in Palestine, Zionists would have been outvoted and the Zionist regime would have never existed. That is why the Zionist regime is the occupier because it does not offer choice (i.e. democracy), but instead imposes its regime (i.e. occupies). Imagine if Russians would simply occupy a town in the U.S. where they are in significant numbers and attempt to create a Russian state there without giving the rest of the Americans living there a choice. Imagine then if they would try to institute a “peace agreement” that would attempt to legitimize their occupation. The “peace agreement” would logically and legally be illegitimate because the Americans were not given a choice.

    Under all countries’ laws, any contract is null and void if it is signed under duress. The current Palestine “peace agreement” process reminds me of The Godfather movie where the mafia boss (i.e. the Zionist regime) made a guy “an offer he could not refuse” by placing a gun (i.e. Zionist conventional and nuclear arsenal) to his head and making him sign the contract. Like the mafia boss’ offer, any “peace agreement” other than the choice for All People of Palestine is a crime, and the contract is legally null and void.

    The bottom line is that All People of Palestine never wanted to divide their land into artificial two states the way the occupation and this “peace agreement” attempt to divide it. From the beginning of the Zionist regime to its unavoidable end, All People of Palestine and the region never wanted the Zionist regime and they do not want it even more after all the atrocities the Zionist regime committed. I just cannot believe how the Zionist regime can be so ignorant to think that this or any other “peace agreement” that does not allow people to choose how they want to be governed will last and ensure its people’s survival. The Zionist regime fails to realize that no matter if it succeeds in muscling this “peace agreement” by unspeakable historic coercion tens of millions of moral people around the world will oppose it until it is corrected, and until justice and free choice prevail. Also, ever increasing number of Jewish people are realizing that Zionism is becoming a destructive force for them and are leading the global resistance to it.

    Feel free to copy this comment, email it to other bloggers, and repost it on other blogs, newspaper websites, Facebook, Twitter, and other social networking websites, and include it in any correspondence/lobbying with senators, state representatives and any other public officials so the public learns the truth

  • Just Jojo

    The only solution for a lasting peace is absolute democratic process (that we Americans cherish so passionately) for the entire territory in question, otherwise, the peace will not last. All people who lived there without regard to religion, race, etc. should vote on how they would like their one country to be run. I favor one state solution because two states would only attempt to “legalize” Zionist occupation that will be remembered in history until it is corrected by future large scale conflicts, so no lasting peace will result. The only issue with the fair democratic process is what to do with all manipulated Jewish people who the Zionist regime imported for decades to increase the Jewish population from around 100,000 to over 5 Million since the start of the occupation. This is obviously an attempt to unjustly manipulate any future democratic process by forcefully increasing the occupier’s population at the expense of others. Any compromise other than the absolute fair democratic process with no manipulated population will be temporary with terrible conflicts looming to correct it in the future.

    The truth is that the Zionist regime will not accept any democratic process even if the manipulated Jewish population is included because it cannot exist as a democratic country as Zionists will be outvoted by all others who live there (Zionists were in an infinite minority before the occupation). The Zionist regime can only temporarily exist through the force of its arms as a one people country where only select ones can vote and where different laws apply to different people.

    The world must stand up against the Zionist regime by cutting all diplomatic and economic relations with it. Many countries have already stopped all relations with the Zionist regime and others are in the process of doing the same. We Americans need to completely distance ourselves from this oppressive regime through urging our state representatives and senators to do what the rest of the world is doing

  • Dexter renz

    The main Zionist claim is that they have a supreme right to some of Palestinian territory because they lived there thousands of years ago. Let’s examine the core and real nature of this claim.

    Firstly, this claim is mistaken and selfish in its core concept because Zionists fail to recognize that history is a continuum and that there were other people living in majority in Palestine before the Jews and also after the Jews. Zionists simply cut history at a convenient point for them and claim ancestral ties to the land as of that convenient point.

    Secondly, whatever the claim, it is beyond absurd to try to shape modern world based on thousands of years old maps. Imagine if the rest of the world would be reshaped by who was on the land thousands of years ago. It would cause horrific wars, countless refugees, and unimaginable human suffering, exactly what is happening in Palestine.

    Thirdly and most disturbing, Zionist goal was to establish a Jewish state wherever possible. Palestine may have been a preference, but Palestine was not the only location that Zionists planned as their state in modern times. Another location was Argentina where Jews have been migrating for hundreds of years for the purpose of establishing a state. Also, locations in Europe were on the list and that’s why the Catholic Church was killing/expelling Jews since Roman times (read the history of the Holly Inquisition). Whatever the location, Zionist plan was to simply occupy the people living on the land even if that would mean imposing a regime worst than Nazi Germany’s from which they escaped. And Zionists would just use a different ideological coloring than the one used in Palestine in the attempt to rationalize the occupation.

    In conclusion, the main claim on which the Zionist regime is built in Palestine is erroneous, selfish, and a lie. I am categorically against generalizing, and recognize that many Jews are against the crimes the Zionist regime is committing and that many Jews are leading the global resistance to it. They should be proud