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why the focus on Israel?

Reader comment on item: The U.S. legacy in the Middle East is disappearing

Submitted by myth (Germany), May 4, 2014 at 05:44

Why does the US and Western Europe focus their foreign policy in the Mid-East on Israel? Let me present some benefits to politicians that do not assume Israel is the key to every conflict in the region.

  1. attention: The Arab-Israeli issue promises the politician media attention all across the Western world. It is the prime common subject on evening news shows like no other. Is it vanity that motivates US politician to pick up the issue?
  2. promising: Unlike most conflicts the Arab-Israeli issue promises specific "solutions" , not just problems, that have already been worked out. The conflict's enjoys its own vocabulary to which the term two-state-Solution is essential. As a politician one wants to offer solutions and portray one's policies as constructive.
  3. accessible: Within the region the Arab-Israeli issue is the most accessible. Information from the Israeli side is available in English. Israel itself is a free society with a parliament. The situation on the Israeli side is most transparent. On top, the conflict leaves a long paper-trail of documents such as UN-resolutions, accords, proposals - all available in English. As a Western diplomat one can study the conflicts for years on end by only reading through those documents. The Arab-Israeli issue is accesible to bureaucrats while other conflicts require serious politicians. Any other conflict in the Mid-East would require one to learn foreign languages, tapping into intelligence material to have some vague idea what the unelected governments are up to. In other words, the Arab-Israeli issue attracts the incompetent.
  4. simple: As the term Arab-Israeli-conflict suggests, there are but two parties to the conflict. A simple situation compared to other conflicts, which display a zoo of conflicting groups and changing alliances. A situation like that would require years of serious research and policies. The duality of the issue also polarizes the domestic electorate in the West along two-major-party lines. The Arab-Israeli conflict is an instrument to shape political discussion in the US.
  5. safe: It is an unwritten law that the US does not intervene militarily in Israeli border conflicts. For a US Secretary of State that means he stays safely on the side of political measures without the option of a military one. One can rely on the IDF to engage and disengage at will. The political side is safe by itself. Whatever one's policy toward Israel, one would never prompt a siginificant reaction from a major power supporting the Palestinians - because there is noone supporting the Palestinians. The US diplomatic efforts in Syria illustrate the unsafety where there actually is a strong power to back a Mid-Eastern government. Draw a red line for Assad today, and before you know it there are Russian troops on the Crimea. The Arab-Israeli issue, by virtue of its safety, attracts the unexperienced to interfere.

Looking back some decades I see a tradition of patronizing Jews. First it was the Wannsee-conference coming up with a Final Solution. Today it is some other solution, some accord, from some other conference. Why is Israel all that important? I have been in the situation many times to explain to younger people that it was no less than six million Jews killed in the Holocaust. "they were only killed because they were Jews?" follows as a question to which I answer: "No, they were killed because the killer were anti-semites.". I am afraid the same logic applies to the Arab-Israeli conflict. Does this conflict sit at the heart of every other conflict in the Mid-East because of Israel being a Jewish state? No, it rather indicates that every politician within almost the entire Western world is uneducated about and blind to everybody else in the region. Probably, and at best, out of vanity, ignorance, laziness and cowardice.


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