(October 13, 2020 / JNS) Despite the extraordinary peacemaking efforts of the administration in Washington that resulted in the Abraham Accords—which precluded Israel’s plan to extend sovereignty to Judea and Samara—the 2,000-year dream of reapplying Jewish sovereignty to Israel’s biblical and historic heartland should not be abandoned.
Whether it is advanced will depend largely on whether the current administration is given a second term.
After the Sept. 15 signing of the agreement between Israel and the United Arab Emirates at the White House, even New York Times anti-Trumpers Bret Stephens and Thomas Friedman toned down their hostile rhetoric.
In his column titled “A Rare Middle East Triumph,” Stephens concluded, “… [I]t behooves those of us who are frequently hostile to [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu and [U.S. President Donald] Trump to maintain the capacity to be pleasantly surprised—that is, to be honest what happened between Israel and two former enemies is an honest triumph in a region, and a year, that’s known precious few.”
Kudos to Stephens for setting aside his hostility to the president to acknowledge his “triumph.” It would be a shame if he didn’t come around to seeing Trump differently.
Friedman, too, had something positive to say about the treaty.
In a column titled “The Love Triangle That Spawned Trump’s Mideast Peace Deal,” Friedman wrote: “Having covered Arab-Israel diplomacy for more than 40 years, I have to say that the normalization agreements signed … between Israel and the United Arab Emirates and Israel and Bahrain came about in a most unusual—but incredibly revealing—fashion.”
He also stated, “I can’t predict how it will all play out, but when the most technologically advanced and globalized Arab State, the U.A.E., decides to collaborate with the most technologically advanced and globalized non-Arab State in the region, Israel, I suspect new energies will get unlocked and new partnerships forged that should be good for both Arab-Israeli and Jewish-Muslim human-to-human relations.”
In my 35 years working on behalf of the Jewish people, I have never seen eye to eye with Friedman. And though I still disagree with most of his points, I was happy to see him give credit where it’s due to the Trump administration.
This is a first for Friedman.
Roger Cohen, on the other hand, seems unable to unshackle his own liberal chains for even a fleeting moment. A few days after his colleagues, Stephens and Friedman, praised the accords, Cohen felt compelled to set the record straight and blast the president.
In his piece, called “Trump’s Middle Eastern Mirage,” Cohen wrote with disdain, “Still, there’s something rotten in the peace choreography of Trump, Jared Kushner, Ambassador David Friedman et al.”
He later stated, “For all the pious sentiment in the agreement about resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the reality is that Trump, Kushner, Friedman et al. have treated the Palestinian National cause with contempt.”
Unlike Stephens and Friedman, Cohen cannot bring himself even grudgingly to admit that the Trump administration, in the words of Stephens, “has done more for regional peace than most of its predecessors, including an Obama administration that tried hard and failed badly.
Stephens also pointed out “just how wrong a half-century’s worth of conventional wisdom has been. At the heart of that conventional wisdom is the view, succinctly put by U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres in February, that ‘resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict remains key to sustainable peace in the Middle East.’”
Cohen still holds this warped view.
He would do well to learn a lesson or two from Stephens, who wrote: “The rise and fall of ISIS, civil war in Syria and anarchy in Libya, Turkey’s aggression against Kurds, proxy battles and hunger in Yemen, political turmoil and repression in Egypt and Iran, the bankruptcy of the Lebanese state, the plight of Middle Eastern refugees—if any of these catastrophes have something in common, it’s that they have next to nothing to do with the Jewish state or its policies. One may still hope for a Palestinian state, but it won’t save the region from itself.”
The Abraham Accords illustrate that Trump gets things done. I believe that if he’s given the chance, he will make much more progress in the region, including where Netanyahu’s sovereignty plan is concerned.
Dr. Joseph Frager is first vice president of the National Council of Young Israel.
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