Truth and Reality in the Middle East

On the matter of Jerusalem, the United States stands with Israel, and the two stand alone against the world. Which is as it should be.

Why should Israel be the only nation in the world that forfeits the right to decide where to locate its capital? And why should the U.S. be the only nation in the world that must defer to third parties before recognizing an allied country’s sovereign choice?

Donald Trump last week, in formally recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and announcing we should commence the building of an embassy there, noted that he was not only doing what was right but what is sensible. Jerusalem has been Israel’s capital since 1948.

Refusing to acknowledge this fact has given Israel’s hostile neighbors reason to believe they can refuse to acknowledge the fact of Israel and maintain the illusion that they can turn the clock back to the colonial era, when the region was part of the Ottoman Empire.

If that is what the Arabs want, then they should say so and give themselves back to Ottoman rule, as well. The Turks may not like the idea, but there could be other takers — the Russians, the Persians.

However, the Arabs maintain their own dreams of empire. They bicker over borders (Algeria and Morocco), attempt jerrybuilt “unions” (the United Arab Republic of Nasser), claim one another’s territory (Iraq and Kuwait), and so on. Iraq is a creature of British imperialism, Kuwait little more than a gold-plated tinhorn despotism.

The denial of Israel is a projection, as the mental disease doctors say, of the Arabs’ subconscious sense of their own nothingness. In this regard, the hysterical reaction to Donald Trump’s initiative, and the Security Council resolution to reject it, which Nikki Haley vetoed with a panache worthy of Daniel Moynihan and Jeane Kirkpatrick, is a textbook case. Trump did not impose anything on anybody: he spoke truly of the plain reality and said Jerusalem was a matter for Jerusalemites — but this will never happen if Muslim residents of Jerusalem do not accept their Jewish neighbors’ right to live in security and sovereignty in their own city.

Insisting on the truth of the matter is a necessary jolt to bring them health. Wealth they already have, wisdom will take longer.

It is not by accident that the Europeans were lined up against the U.S. in this instance. It was to be expected. Their idea of peace in the Middle East is to find forked-tongue ways of telling the Arabs they are right and can have their way. They have systematically supported the endless Arab efforts to deny Israel’s legitimacy, in effect encouraging wars and the maintenance of a terrorist political culture.

What has their transparently phony policy of appeasement availed the Europeans? They are presently under sustained invasion by masses of Arabs who, under the pretext that they cannot build decent societies at home where law rather than civil war and tyranny is the preferred way to settle differences, are claiming the status of refugees and the right to all of Europe’s welfare state benefits, plus their women.

The consequence of European nations’ Middle East policy, or policies as, give them credit, there is some variety among them, has been merely to enable the oil-producing Arab states’ economic warfare against the rest of the world. In doing this they have, among other sins, encouraged a resurgence of international anti-Semitism on a level not seen since the 1940s.

The U.S. is not blameless. We have sought to mediate, to play the honest broker, to act as good cop and bad cop. Wars have intensified, spread, gotten more destructive. Under G.W. Bush we offered nation-building and democracy. It did not take.

We have preached, sure of our righteousness – in this regard, at least, the Bush and Obama administrations’ Arab policies were similar. Bush said: be like us and you will be happy. Obama said: do not be like us and you will be happy.

No one is happy. Trump is saying: be miserable, but for our part, we are going to be ourselves.

By the evidence, the Trump administration is now offering what has been so consistently avoided in Middle East politics: the insistence that settlements of disputes be based on facts and reality.

It does not surprise that the U.S. recognition of Jerusalem came in the wake of a major military victory by American-led forces, the first in the region since the 2001 rout of the Taliban in Afghanistan and the 2003 crushing of Saddam Hussein’s army.

The president deserves credit for letting James Mattis design and put in place a strategy that defeated the “ISIS” caliphate. He deserves credit, likewise, for letting Nikki Haley speak the truth in that pit of mendacity known as the United Nations.

With a fighting general leading the campaign to subdue the Arabs’ will to make war against the West, and a truth-telling ambassador to speak for what used to be called the Democracies in the fight against tyranny, change, for the better, may be foreseeable in the bitter lands of the Middle East. If not, too bad: by demonstrating our own resolve to win on the battlefield and to be truthful and straightforward, we will at least enhance Israel’s security, and our own.

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