web analytics
January 31, 2015 / 11 Shevat, 5775
 
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post


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
Jeremy Bird, working for Israeli campaign outfit V15, shown at Ted Talk, May 20, 2014.
V15 US Political Operative Marinated in Hate-Israel Activism
Latest Indepth Stories
Eli Weiss

Shepherding in the Shomron isn’t your usual kind of shepherding – despite his business-minded beginnings, Eli has discovered that a strong ideological impetus powers the job.

Resnick-013015-Pilot

I said to myself, “This story has got to be told. We’re losing this generation of World War II and if we don’t listen to them now, we’ve lost it.”

Eller-013015

His entire existence was about spreading simcha and glorifying G-d’s name on a daily basis.

IRAN-US-POLITICS-MILITARY

An Israeli strike could theoretically damage Iran’s nuclear program; only US can terminate program

At some point we need to stop simply defending and promoting Israel and start living in Israel

“We Jews are the only people who when we drop a book on the floor pick it up and kiss it.”

Though Zaide was the publisher of The Jewish Press, a big newspaper,I always remember him learning

Speaker Silver has been an extraordinary public servant since his election to the Assembly in 1975 and has been an exemplary leader of that body since 1994.

He spent the first leg of his daylong visit to the French capital at Hyper Cacher.

Drawing Congress into the Iran nuclear debate is the last thing the White House wants.

Great leaders like Miriam and like Sarah Schenirer possess the capacity to challenge the status quo that confronts them.

Obama’s foreign policy is viewed by both liberals and conservatives as deeply flawed

Many journalists are covertly blaming the Charlie Hebdo writers themselves through self-censorship.

Why does the Times relay different motivations and narratives for jihadists in Europe and Israel?

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: