web analytics
October 25, 2014 / 1 Heshvan, 5775
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post
Meir Panim with Soldiers 5774 Roundup: Year of Relief and Service for Israel’s Needy

Meir Panim implements programs that serve Israel’s neediest populations with respect and dignity. Meir Panim also coordinated care packages for families in the South during the Gaza War.



Home » InDepth » Op-Eds »

US Mideast Policy: Looking in all the Wrong Places?

Kerry’s working with actors who have acted in this movie before, and the script is built around the same elements. But the theater is new.
street light

Hearing about Secretary of State John Kerry’s visit to the Middle East two weeks ago, I could not help but be reminded of a famous epistemological joke.

A man sees his friend bending under a streetlight looking for something. “What are you looking for?” he asks. “My keys,” his friend replies. “Well, where did you lose them?” he asks. After his friend responds that he lost them in the bushes, the man asks why, if that’s the case, he’s looking under the streetlight. His friend answers, “Because this is where the light is.”

The bizarre insistence of the Obama administration on finding a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict at a time when stability, human rights, and American interests in the Middle East are being severely compromised and jeopardized is mystifying, to say the least.

Why is it that at a time of such severe grievances and international crises, the American government is devoting so much time and energy to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? It’s a conflict, after all, that pales in the face of what’s happening in Syria, Egypt, Turkey, and perhaps more Arab states to follow.

Sadly, the answer to this question seems to be embarrassingly easy to articulate. It’s because the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, at least compared with the various other imbroglios in the region, is easier to deal with. The players are familiar and no one plays too rough – again, relatively speaking.

As Robert Blecher, deputy director of the Middle East and North Africa Program of the International Crisis Group put it, “The moment for this kind of diplomacy has passed. [Kerry’s] working with actors who have acted in this movie before, and the script is built around the same elements. But the theater is new; the region is a completely different place today.”

The U.S. is taking the easy way out in the Middle East. No need to deal with insane dictators, bloodthirsty jihadists and unstable governments; all the White House needs to do is send someone to Tel Aviv’s comfortable airport and Jerusalem’s regal hotels, have him talk with English-speaking Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu — and the Americans have done their share in the Middle East.

This is what is going on and why it is going on. Dennis Ross – a former adviser on the Middle East to several presidents, including Obama – was recently quoted as saying, “You don’t have instability between the Israelis and Palestinians right now. But if you don’t act, there’s a risk that the Palestinian Authority will collapse, leaving a vacuum. And if we know one thing about vacuums in the Middle East, they are never filled with good things.”

This is not an expression of Ross’s tackling new and rapidly changing challenges, or brainstorming to find solutions to difficult situations. Rather, it is a way of sticking to the old and familiar Middle East – of preferring predictable patterns and systems.

It’s a comfortable approach that seemingly carries little risk. There is, however, one catch: Like the person looking for his keys under the streetlight because that’s where the light is, the U.S. will never find peace in the Middle East if it chooses to focus on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict simply because it’s the least challenging option.

If in such a time of crisis – when the future of the Middle East is being determined for generations to come – the U.S. continues to avoid making difficult decisions and engaging with potential allies, we will wake up one day with a world we do not know and, worse yet, a world that does not know us.

It is time for the White House and the international community to acknowledge that Israel is not the problem in the Middle East, and that the cause of peace would be better served by diplomats doing their best to find solutions for the problems rather than trying to find problems for the solutions.

One way to do that is to unite behind a safe, strong, and uncompromised Israel – a state that is a wellspring of peace, stability, human rights and economic success in the Middle East.

About the Author: Rabbi Elchanan Poupko is a fellow at Yeshiva University’s Institute for Advanced Research in Jewish Law.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

One Response to “US Mideast Policy: Looking in all the Wrong Places?”

  1. Ch Hoffman says:

    You daven with the people who show up at your shul; you can only daven with them, not with the Chofetz Chaim or the Gerrer Rebbe.

    Similarly, you can only negotiate with the other groups leaders; you can't chose their leaders, they have to. They're stuck with their choices.

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Do you know where your vegetables grow?
Not So Kosher Shemittah L’Mehadrin
Latest Indepth Stories
Eller-102414-Cart

I had to hire a babysitter so that I could go shopping or have someone come with me to push Caroline in her wheelchair.

Bills to restore the balance of power in Israel will be fought by the not-so-judicial left.

Widespread agreement in Israel opposing Palestinian diplomatic warfare, commonly called “lawfare.”

Chaye Zisel Braun

Arab terrorism against Jews and the State of Israel is not something we should be “calm” about.

Peace Now Chairman Yariv Oppenheimer

The Israeli left, led by tenured academics, endorses pretty much anything harmful to its own country

We were devastated: The exploitation of our father’s murder as a vehicle for political commentary.

Judea and Samaria (Yesha) have been governed by the IDF and not officially under Israeli sovereignty

While not all criticism of Israel stemmed from anti-Semitism, Podhoretz contends the level of animosity towards Israel rises exponentially the farther left one moved along the spectrum.

n past decades, Oman has struck a diplomatic balance between Saudi Arabia, the West, and Iran.

The Torah scroll which my family donated will ride aboard the USS Gerald R. Ford aircraft carrier

The Jewish Press endorses the reelection of Gov. Andrew Cuomo. His record as governor these past four years offers eloquent testimony to the experience and vision he has to lead the Empire State for the next four years.

I think Seth Lipsky is amazing, but it just drives home the point that newspapers have a lot of moving parts.

Myth #1: It is easy to be a B’nai Noach. It is extraordinarily hard to be a B’nai Noach.

The question of anti-Semitism in Europe today is truly tied to the issue of immigration.

Polls indicate that the Palestinians are much more against a two state solution than the Israelis.

More Articles from Rabbi Elchanan Poupko
.

What’s lacking on all sides of the discussion is a frank consideration of what we might learn from each other.

The 400 Rabbis’ march on Washington, 1943.

The enemies of the Jewish people look longingly to the day when they will, God forbid, have the means to make good their threats to kill as many of us as possible.

Kerry’s working with actors who have acted in this movie before, and the script is built around the same elements. But the theater is new.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/us-mideast-policy-looking-in-all-the-wrong-places/2013/07/18/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: