(May 14, 2018 / JNS)
“History shows us that reconciliation occurs when you get something close to a win-win.” So declared John Avlon, editor-in-chief of the Daily Beast, criticizing the opening of the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem on CNN’s “New Day” this morning.
This talking point makes us feel good inside, but it’s wrong. Historically, wars end when there is a winner and, more importantly, a loser that acknowledges defeat. One need only compare the behavior of post-World War I Germany with that of post-World War II Germany to understand that wars truly end only when one side unequivocally acknowledges its defeat.
Avlon went on to claim that the United States is historically a “reconciling power, redeeming power,” whereas U.S. President Donald Trump believes in “changing people’s calculus” by being tough. Exactly. What Avlon and many others in the mainstream media don’t seem to understand is that the Middle East doesn’t need a “redeeming power.” It needs a president who believes in “changing people’s calculus.”
President Trump’s injection of reality into the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has changed this calculus and brought the conflict closer to resolution than at any point in the past 30 years.
In January, he withheld $65 million from the U.S. payment to the U.N. Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA). Utilizing this “win-lose” approach, the United States should condition all future funding to UNRWA until the entity acknowledges that the descendants of the original refugees are just that: descendants.
The Iran nuclear deal dumped by Trump last week was another foolish attempt at a “win-win,” when we should have insisted on full dismantlement of its nuclear program.
The international community should support President Trump’s actions to change the calculus in the Middle East if it truly seeks to end the conflict with a just and lasting peace.
“The Palestinians are losers,” so said Ian Bremmer in comments preceding Avlon. It was refreshing to hear because Bremmer is correct.
But do the Palestinians recognize that?
Reconciliation will occur when the Palestinians acknowledge this “win-lose” situation. Only then can they turn it into a “win-win” by joining the international community as productive members that seek a better world.
EJ Kimball is director of the Middle East Forum’s Israel Victory Project.