WHEN TRUST FAILS
Forget for a moment about your biases, whether you’re pro- or anti-Israel, and look at the options the prime minister of Israel has in this growing conflict. He has no good options. He can’t count on the United States to keep the rest of the Arab countries out of the conflict. He must take action. He doesn’t have the luxury of doing nothing but talk. Rockets are falling on Israeli population centers. He knows, as everyone does, that the rockets are being fired from the Gaza Strip by Hamas, a recognized terrorist organization. It wasn’t very far in the past that Israel pulled out of the Gaza Strip at urging from the West that has struggled, painfully and ineffectively, to establish peace in the Middle East. A peace that the respective combatants don’t believe is possible. Both sides present goals that the opponents are not willing to offer.
Israel wants its Arab neighbors to recognize its right to exist as a nation state, more or less with existing boundaries. The Muslims want Israel to retreat to borders prior to the 1967 war. President Obama has stated the 1967 boundaries should be the starting point for negotiations. Israel believes the resulting Israeli nation would be untenable militarily and economically. Hamas and its West Bank partner would accept those boundaries as a starting point but at the same time render the whole process meaningless by their refusal to formally recognize Israel’s right to exist, regardless of any border. The main player, barely behind the scenes, Iran, has stated repeatedly it intends to wipe Israel off the map. Iran, a Muslim Shia state, funds, arms, and supports Hamas and Hezbollah, even though Hamas is Sunni while Hezbollah is predominately a Shiite organization. Without the aid and support of Iran and formerly Syria, neither group could survive.
Okay, that is the back story. What has changed?
The relationship between the American president and Israel has changed dramatically. Israel heard President Obama’s pro-Arab bias loud and clear. His disrespect of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during the latter’s visits to America was off the charts. Israel has realized it can no longer count on American support or the word of its leader.
When the trust of America that Israel could count on previously disappeared, their options became more limited. When Hamas, Iran, and Hezbollah, who also heard our president speak, no longer believe America is a player on the world scene their options increased.
The might of the United States is off the both the field of arms and the negotiating table. If there is to be peace in the Middle East, it will have to come from the Sunni powers that do not want war and the economic disruption that comes with it. Let us hope that the next administration will revert to supporting our only democratic ally in the region.