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September 21, 2012 11:46 am

Romney’s Realism on the Palestinians

avatar by Yoram Ettinger

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Mitt Romney speaking before a backdrop of the Old City of Jerusalem.

Governor Romney’s Sept. 18, 2012 assessments of the Palestinian issue — opposing the “two state solution” — highlight the battle between data-driven realism and desire-driven wishful thinking.

Data-driven realists are cognizant of the linkage between the increasingly anti-American seismic “Arab street” on the one hand, and the nature of the proposed Palestinian state on the other hand. The more radicalized, unpredictable, violent, terrorist-ridden and anti-U.S. the “Arab street,” the more terror-oriented the proposed Palestinian state. The latter would be led by Palestinian organizations, which have been the role model of international terrorism since the 1960s. They were supporters of Bin Laden (whose mentor was a Palestinian — Abdullah Naji from Jenin), staunch allies of Saddam Hussein, Khomeini, the Soviet Union and the ruthless East European regimes. Their predecessors — e.g., Haj Amin Al Husseini — were Nazi Germany collaborators.

Track record-driven realists recognize the devastating impact of the proposed Palestinian state on vital U.S. economic and military interests. For instance, a Palestinian state would produce a tailwind for internal terrorism in Iraq, the Gulf and Jordan, providing training and indoctrination bases for international terrorists. It would add a feather to the cap of the Muslim Brotherhood (Mahmoud Abbas was expelled from Cairo in the 1950s due to his key role in the Palestinian cell of the Muslim Brotherhood). A Palestinian state would doom to oblivion the already shaky pro-U.S. Hashemite regime in Jordan, creating an anti-U.S. axis from Iran to Gaza. It would constitute a diplomatic, intelligence and operational military East Mediterranean anti-U.S. beachhead for North Korea, China, Iran and Russia (Russian-speaking Mahmoud Abbas has had intimate ties with Moscow since his graduation from KGB courses and his role as Arafat’s emissary to Communist capitals). A Palestinian state would add another anti-U.S. vote at the U.N., rewarding the Palestinian Authority, which has forced the flight of Christians from Bethlehem, Beit Jallah and Ramallah.

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Experience-driven realists are aware of the linkage between the tectonic nature of the Middle East, in general, and Jordan, in particular, on the one hand, and the indispensability of the mountain ridges of Judea and Samaria for Israel’s survival on the other hand. The more unstable, unpredictable, inconsonant and savage the Middle East, the higher the threshold of Israel’s security. The current predicament of the Hashemite regime could rapidly transform Jordan into an anti-U.S. radical arena, further intensifying the critical role of Judea and Samaria for Israel’s defense. The realists are aware of the demographic bogey, that Jewish demography surges, that Arab demography has been Westernized, and that the Jewish majority in the combined area of Judea, Samaria and pre-1967 Israel is solid, with the power to expand.

Evidence-driven realists assess the prospects of Israeli-Arab/Palestinian peace against the backdrop of 1,400 year of no intra-Arab comprehensive peace, non-compliance with most intra-Arab agreements, non-ratification of all intra-Arab borders and not a single Arab democracy. They have studied the litany of Jewish territorial concessions since the 1920s, and the recent Palestinian rejection of unprecedented concessions by Israeli Prime Ministers Olmert, Barak, Peres and Rabin. Realists conclude that the Palestinians are not concerned about the size — but the very existence — of the Jewish State.

Documentation-driven realists are mindful of the meltdown of the Oslo Process and its derivatives (e.g., the “two state delusion”), which have dramatically intensified Palestinian hate-education, terrorism and noncompliance. They are aware of the immorality of the Land-for-Peace formula, which penalizes the intended victim (Israel), rewards Arab belligerence, whetting its appetite, thus bringing the region close to war and farther from peace.

Fact-driven realists are alert to the non-centrality of the Palestinian issue, as reaffirmed during the last two years of the stormy “Arab Winter.” It is not the core of regional turbulence, not the cause of anti-Western Islamic terrorism, not the crown-jewel of Arab policy-making and not the crux of the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Detail-driven realists comprehend that the U.S. is the top target for Iran, and that Iran is developing nuclear capabilities in order to intimidate the U.S. and dominate the Persian Gulf. A nuclear Iran would devastate the supply and the price of oil; would subordinate Iraq; would trigger a meltdown of pro-U.S. regimes in the Gulf and Jordan; would accelerate nuclear proliferation; would bolster Iran’s military presence in Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador and possibly Mexico; would provide a tailwind to global terrorism, including sleeper cells in the U.S.; and would severely constrain U.S. military, economic and diplomatic maneuverability. Realists know that Saudi Arabia and most Arab states yearn for a U.S. preemption, which would spare them calamity. They also know that did not prevent the nuclearizaton of North Korea, that Russia, China, Japan and India do not cooperate with the sanctions policy and that sanctions provide Iran with additional time to obtain nuclear capabilities.

Wishful thinking has dominated Western policy in the Middle East. It has been effectively leveraged by enemies and rivals of Western democracies. The national security of Western democracies would be well served by enhanced realism and by dramatically reduced wishful thinking.

This article was originally published by Israel Hayom.

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  • Mel

    Philip K. Hitti’s “The Middle East: Yesterday and Today” while quite dated, could serve as an excellent primer for Western politicians whose reality is grounded in radical wishful thinking. American pols who live in denial need a few years of living in de Nile to get their priorities straight!