With a Morocco-Israel accord, Trump brings more peace to the Middle East
When I told a young man that, with Morocco as the latest nation on board the Middle East peace train, President Trump was bringing peace to the Middle East, he was confused because he didn't understand that Middle East peace has never been about the endless internecine war between the Arabs and Muslims. Instead, it's about the Arab nations finally accepting their Jewish neighbor. I thought a quick overview of Israel's relationship with her Arab neighbors would show how stupendous Trump's achievement is.
These facts come from Pierre van Paasen's The Forgotten Ally, published in 1943, about the Jewish Palestinians' role in defeating Rommel. The book gives a historic background, with van Paasen having been present for 20th-century events. (A longer summary of the book is here.)
Before 1947, Israel was last an independent nation in 70 A.D., the year that the Romans conquered Judea and renamed it Palestine. Skipping over the Muslim conquest, followed by the Crusades, the territory eventually came under the rule of the Ottoman Turks, who ignored it, viewing it as a swampy, malarial backwater.
The land was inhabited by Jews, whose connection went back thousands of years, and a ragtag scattering of Arabs. Most of the people we call "Palestinians" arrived in the 19th century as refugees from other lands: Algerians fleeing their new French overlords; blue-eyed, blonde Circassian Muslims from Russia; and Senussi Muslims from Tripoli.
The Jews desperately wanted the land, a sentiment that grew with Theodor Herzl's call to Zionism. Initially, the resident Arabs were happy when Jews purchased the land from Ottoman owners in Paris or Istanbul. The Jews labored intensely to recover arable soil from the swamp and brought all sorts of Western benefits: good farming techniques, education, and medicine.
At the time of the 1917 Balfour Declaration, by which the British declared that the land known as Palestine should be returned to its original owners, the Jews, many Arabs supported the idea. Then, two things happened.
First, British civil servants who had failed to gain wealth and prominence in India came to govern the new British mandate in Palestine. They resented the educated, industrious Jews who didn't need them and seemed ready to supplant them. These Brits, therefore, encouraged the Arabs to begin resisting Jewish settlement. The second thing was the realization that Arabs sat on top of oil, which was becoming of paramount importance in the 20th century. England abandoned the Balfour Declaration and sided with the Arabs.
From there, the story is familiar:
- the British blocked Jewish immigration to Palestine before and during WWII;
- the Jews trapped in Europe died in the Holocaust;
- world pressure forced the British finally to return the land to the Jews;
- in 1948, the Arab nations attacked and lost;
- the 1956 Suez crisis saw Israel end the Egyptian blockade of the Straits of Tiran;
- the Six-Day 1967 War allowed Israel to regain Jerusalem and left it with the time bomb of control over the West Bank and Gaza. as well as the Golan Heights;
- the 1973 War protected the Golan Heights;
- the 1982 Lebanon war kicked the PLO out of Lebanon;
- the 2005 handover of Gaza led to Hamas control, with its commitment to Jewish genocide;
- the 2006 Lebanon war temporarily weakened Hezbollah; and, always,
- the Palestinians engaged in nonstop terrorist attacks against Israel to which Israel responded with periodic incursions into Gaza and the West Bank.
Since 1979, with the Israel-Egypt peace treaty, comprehensive peace between Israel and her neighbors has been the Holy Grail of American presidential politics. However, the road to that peace was always seen as having to travel through the Palestinians, with a two-state solution:
The Palestinians, however, were faking it: they wanted a one-state Judenrein (Jew-free) solution. The Arab nations also liked having the Israel problem as a way of distracting their citizens from the miserable governance they experienced.
This was a Gordian knot, and Trump solved it the classic way: cutting straight through it. Instead of pandering to the Palestinians, he marginalized them. The more they demanded, the less they got. Arab nations discovered that the Palestinians were a problem, not a solution. Moreover, the Sunni nations realized that Israel was a helpful bulwark against Iran's planned Shia domination.
And that's how we got to Thursday's news, when Morocco became the fourth Arab country to agree to normalize relations with Israel, joining the UAE, Bahrain, and Sudan:
Another HISTORIC breakthrough today! Our two GREAT friends Israel and the Kingdom of Morocco have agreed to full diplomatic relations – a massive breakthrough for peace in the Middle East!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 10, 2020
Image: Netanyahu thanks Trump after the Morocco peace accord. Rumble screen grab.