Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Josef Joffe: The Shoddy Fixation on Israel/Palestine of the Brent Scowcroft School of Realism

I am specifically linking to the Now Lebanon cross post of this Josef Joffe article that appeared in today's Wall Street Journal. After reading it, take a look at the rest of the site to get a mix of views from Lebanon, including, lo and behold, Michael Oren's Foreign Policy article about Israel, The Ultimate Ally.

Josef Joffe and Brent Scowcroft

Joffe's main point: Washington's realists can't let go of the hackneyed 'the Israel/Palestine conflict is the 'root' cause of the region's problems' theory: "Writing in the Financial Times, former U.S. National Security Adviser Brent Scowcroft intoned: 'The nature of the new Middle East cannot be known until the festering sore of the occupied territories is removed.' Read: The fate of democracy hinges on Palestine.

"So do 'Iran's hegemonic ambitions,' he insinuated. This is why Tehran reaches for the bomb? Syria, too, will remain a threat 'as long as there is no regional peace agreement.' The Assad regime is slaughtering its own people for the sake of Palestine? And unless Riyadh 'saw the U.S. as moving in a serious manner' on Palestine, Mr. Scowcroft warned, the Saudis might really sour on their great protector from across the sea. So when they sent troops into Bahrain, were they heading for Jerusalem by way of Manama?

"Shoddy political theories—ideologies, really—never die because they are immune to the facts. The most glaring is this: These revolutions have unfolded without the usual anti-American and anti-Israeli screaming. It's not that the demonstrators had run out of Stars and Stripes to trample, or were too concerned about the environment to burn Benjamin Netanyahu in effigy. It's that their targets were Hosni Mubarak, Zine el Abidine Ben-Ali, Moammar Gadhafi and the others—no stooges of Zionism they. In Benghazi, the slogan was: "America is our friend!"

Read the whole article here

One thing I finally and belatedly understand from reading Joffe's piece: the reason we don't see any of the usual peace/human rights demonstrations against, say, Syria's or Libya's or Bahrain's, ferocious brutality against democracy protesters is: these protesters are resistance fighters but not against the usual enemies, Israel and the US. The Peace and Justice crowd simply do not know how to incorporate this type of resistance into a very fixed ideology and the idea that the Arab Street-fighters are really fighting their own regimes rather than the 'world-wide-imperialist enterprise' just doesn't compute.

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