Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is an investigative journalist and writer focusing on the radical Left and Islamic terrorism.
The big lie that peace in the region could only come from a ‘Palestinian’ state was a scam that diplomats, leaders, and experts bought into and on which they built our relationship with Israel.
The agreement between the UAE and Israel showed that the experts were once again wrong.
We were told for generations that the region was one more negotiating session between whichever Islamic terrorist leader was running things in Ramallah and whichever Israeli prime minister had cobbled together a democratic coalition in Jerusalem away from peace.
The big lie died with a single Trump tweet announcing the deal between Israel and the UAE.
The generals, the diplomats, the pundits, and the professors, some of whom had really been working for Islamic oil states all along, had sold America and the world a big lie.
The big lie depended on a myth that was part antisemitic and part philosemitic, by turns orientalist and anti-imperialist, that everything in the region revolved around Israel. All it took to puncture that myth was the Iraq War, and the rise of Iran, the Muslim Brotherhood, and ISIS.
Few of the experts and politicians still repeat the nonsense about the path to peace lying through Israel. What was once a deep thought has become an awkward embarassment when confronting the inescapable reality of a region riven with deep religious and ethnic fractures that generate terrorism, tear apart countries, and are exploited by the region’s major powers.
The ‘Palestinians’, a bunch of Marxist-Islamist militias who base their terrorist campaigns around the nonsensical claim that 20th century Arab settlers are the biblical Caannites, are one of dozens of terrorist factions dotting the region, while being propped up by Islamic states.
The importance of the ‘Palestinians’ to the Arab world, a false truism recited by oil sheikhs to visiting generals and diplomats who returned to D.C. certain that the region could be fixed with another deal between Israel and the terrorists, was not emotional or moral, it was strategic.
The ‘Palestinians’ weren’t the ends of their so-called cause. They were always the means.
There was a certain amount of Islamic and Arab tribalism in the mix, but the ‘Palestinian’ cause, like the causes of the Turkmen in Syria and Iraq, the Shiites in Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, and Iraq, the Kurds in Syria, Iraq, and Turkey, and so many others, was a means used by regional powers to expand their influence or check the expansionsim of their rivals. The experts who didn’t understand this, really didn’t understand the Middle East or anything about the region.
Transforming the “Palestinians” into an independent national cause was a Soviet strategy that allowed Egypt to sign a peace agreement with Israel and reclaim territory while maintaining plausible deniability as the terrorist campaign against the Jewish State went on ‘independently’.
After the fall of the USSR, the American and European expert class decided to use Arafat and his gang of terrorists to prove that their multilateral new world order could make peace anywhere. Their efforts led to a permanent state of war and the deaths of thousands.
Obama’s empowerment of Iran and the Muslim Brotherhood to diminish American power caught the Arab kingdoms by surprise. The oil states had financed the Islamist penetration of the United States and their alliance with leftists as a soft power strategy without taking it too seriously. And suddenly they were dealing with a president who was a product of that alliance.
The Democrats had committed to Islamist revolutions and Iranian power. The only regional Sunni oil state with a comfortable relationship with the new Democrat leftist foreign policy was Qatar whose Al Jazeera state propaganda network was a crucial part of the red-green axis. The oil kingdoms that used to control American foreign policy no longer had a political dance partner.
The Republicans, once reliable creatures of the oil industry, had tilted pro-Israel. After 9/11, the United States was much less dependent on foreign oil. What it needed were reliable regional allies against Islamic terrorism. After the fall of the neo-conservatives and their nation building, the Trump administration ushered in a pragmatic realpolitik based on the limited use of power.
And that meant working with stable allies in the region, instead of trying to create new ones.
The ‘Palestinian’ strategy to tie up Israel’s military and undermine its relationships with Western nations had become counterproductive now that the Saudis, the UAE, and other Arab oil states needed Israeli military and diplomatic prowess to counterbalance Iran
The path to peace never lay through Ramallah: a former Christian village created by refugees fleeing Islamic persecution that had been occupied and taken over by Marxist-Islamist terrorist militias and rebranded as the capital of the mostly fictional Palestinian Authority.
There was never a pathway to peace in the Middle East. The region is in a permanent state of sectarian and tribal conflict. Negotiations don’t end conflicts. Only common enemies do.
That’s how Iran and Al Qaeda could ally against America. It’s how Qatar, Iran, and Turkey allied against the Saudis. Or how a Christian faction in Lebanon allied with Hezbollah. The history of the region is replete with examples of temporary alliances between opposing factions.
And it’s why the Saudis, the UAE, and other oil kingdoms decided to ally with Israel.
The temporariness of the alliance shouldn’t be dismissed. All relationships in the dog-eat-dog region are temporary. Members of the same ruling family, clan, and kingdom can turn on each other at a moment’s notice. A temporary alliance is the only kind of peace that there is.
And while the United Arab Emirates and other players might go back to working with Hamas a few years from now, and the ‘normalization’ might not materialize into anything more than the hollow theater and the transactional agreements with Egypt and Jordan, it’s still a significant development for the United States, for Israel, and for the Middle East.
The United States stopped trying to broker peace deals and is instead brokering coalitions. The UAE deal makes the region more stable which will mean less American involvement. It’s the opposite of the endless nation building exercises of trying to create a Palestinian state. The Trump administration laid out its framework for a deal and then moved on. The oil kingdoms are also moving on from using the ‘Palestinian’ issue as a wedge between America and Israel.
Israel achieved an agreement with an Arab state without trading any territory for it. Every territorial agreement failed. Egypt and Jordan pocketed Israeli territorial concessions and refused to normalize. The lack of further wars was not due to the treaties, but the Israeli military victories that had made them possible. The massive territorial concessions to the Palestinian Authority only led to an intensification of the conflict. As did the withdrawal from Lebanon.
Surrendering territory doesn’t bring peace. Military and diplomatic prowess does.
The Arab oil kingdoms are making a deal with Israel because they value its strength. That’s the only basis on which any kind of peace can happen in a region that is forever at war.
No one makes peace with the weak. Only with the strong.
In two generations, Israel has gone from reaching surly truces with warring Arab nations to officially joining an Arab power bloc in the region. That doesn’t mean that those same nations will stop trying to undermine it or destroy it. But it does mean that they’ve accepted that it’s here to stay. And that it can be both a partner or an enemy depending on the needs of the moment.
The push for a ‘Palestinian’ peace deal was fed by the false claim that all the region’s conflicts revolved around Israel and the Muslim settler population residing in Judea and Samaria. The latest deal shows that Israel is actually a source of stability in the region. When Iran and the Muslim Brotherhood began destabilizing the region, Israel joined a coalition to stabilize it.
The same Arab oil kingdoms that had been telling American politicians, diplomats, and generals that Israel was destabilizing the region have made it clear that Israel stabilizes the Middle East.
The big lie is dead in the Middle East. It’s dead in the White House. Unfortunately it’s still alive in D.C. and among many Americans, including liberal Jews, who want a peace agreement. Their ideal isn’t the Six Day War, it’s the worthless deals with Sadat and King Hussein, and it’s Rabin and Arafat signing a worthless agreement in the Rose Garden while Bill Clinton looked on.
They refuse to accept a realpolitik balance of power and instead demand an impossible peace.
Even after it’s obvious that Middle East peace never depended on the Palestinians, many liberal Jews are addicted to the performative theater of peace deals and the nobility of appeasement, while shrinking away from the courage and valor of Israeli villagers defending their own land.
Israel’s enemies are more likely to accept its strength than its neurotic liberal Jewish friends.
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