The U.S. and Israel
What to do?

PrIsraeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Barack Obama in the Oval Office, March 5, 2012.


The best policy toward Israel is one based on reality, not hope, and on peace, but not the “peace process.” One American administration after another, starting with Eisenhower’s, has come into office determined to solve the Arab-Israeli or, later, the Palestinian-Israeli problem, only to discover that when only one side wants peace, it’s not possible. Most recently, Condoleezza Rice described her surprise to learn that, even in the face of the most generous terms, the Palestinian Authority could not accept the “two-state solution” they claimed to want.

If there is a Republican in the White House in 2013, it would be refreshing if he arrived unencumbered by the fantasy that his unique diplomacy will bring about an agreement to solve that problem. A solution must await a change of heart — and leadership — on the part of the Palestinians.

American policymakers must also discard the hoary and discredited idea that solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the key to peace and progress in the region as a whole. As we’ve seen over the past few years, the troubles that afflict the region have almost nothing to do with Israel or the Palestinians. From Yemen to Egypt to Syria to Tunisia to Lebanon to Bahrain to Iraq to Saudi Arabia and Iran, a combination of Islamic extremism and brutal, authoritarian regimes has led to economic inanition, political turmoil, and social backwardness.

Israel is a good and reliable friend who deserves our unflinching support. The best approach for Israel’s sake, and our own, is to view the region and its many conflicts without illusions or unrealistic expectations.

— Mona Charen is a nationally syndicated columnist.

At the conclusion of World War II — a war we didn’t “wind down,” a war we won, demanding “unconditional surrender” from those we did not hesitate to identify as enemies — the British electorate rejected Winston Churchill (without whose vision and determination Hitler might well have triumphed) and turned inward to focus on building a welfare state.

That meant relinquishing global leadership. The British could do that because they could pass the torch to America. If that torch has now become too heavy for Americans, or if it is seen as unfair for America to continue to lead, who is prepared to take America’s place?

Today the regime that rules Iran is the major threat not just to Israel’s security but also to the security of the United States and the West. It is committed to a world without American leadership in the short run and, as Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has phrased it, “a world without America” in the long run.

On Sunday, Obama told AIPAC that “Iran’s leaders should have no doubt about the resolve of the United States — just as they should not doubt Israel’s sovereign right to make its own decision about what is required to meet its security needs.”

A sane, responsible Israel policy — election year or no — would take the steps necessary to prevent Iran’s theocrats — the world’s leading sponsors of terrorism, responsible for the deaths of hundreds of Americans over three decades — from obtaining a nuclear-weapons capability.

— Clifford D. May is president of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies.