Steve Walt does it again
By Christian Brose Steve Walt asks what if the shoe were on the other foot in the Middle East – what if the Arabs had won the Six Day War, expelled most of the Jews, and allowed the Palestinians to set up a state of their own, leaving a million-plus stateless Jews holed up in ...
By Christian Brose
By Christian Brose
Steve Walt asks what if the shoe were on the other foot in the Middle East – what if the Arabs had won the Six Day War, expelled most of the Jews, and allowed the Palestinians to set up a state of their own, leaving a million-plus stateless Jews holed up in Gaza, who then turn to Hamas-style violence. Would the United States consider them terrorists?
Well, for the sake of fairness, let’s play the thought experiment all the way through.
Imagine that, after pushing the Jews out of Israel, the new state of Palestine attempted to give the Jews a peaceful path toward a state of their own, with control over their own institutions of governance and security. (Stay with me here; as Walt says, this is a thought experiment.) Then imagine, to run the place, the Palestinians turn to a particularly odious Jew who made his bones killing Palestinian civilians. This leader of the Gaza Jews then promises U.S. and world leaders that he’s cracking down on those hardline Orthodox folks who Walt mentions. But what he’s really doing is telling them out the other side of his mouth that the final battle is near, smuggling in weapons, and encouraging the violent radicalization of the Jewish youth.
In another attempt to resolve the conflict peacefully, the Palestinians offer this Jewish leader a state for his people in virtually all of Gaza, plus some of Palestine proper. Though not perfect, this is about the best offer the Jews could realistically hope for, and this Jewish leader leaves it on the table, just walks away. He then encourages those Orthodox Jews to wage a full-scale guerilla war on the Palestinian population – blowing up men, women, and children in pizza parlors, on buses, and during Iftaar dinners.
Then imagine that, after surviving this onslaught, a Palestinian leader, the one the Jews reviled as the worst monster of their 1967 expulsion, up and pulls the Palestinian settlers and military occupation units out of much of Gaza. Just leaves. Just gives the land back to the Jews. And not a moment later, these same Orthodox Jews are firing rockets by the hundreds into Palestinian towns and cities — rockets they mostly get, by the way, from a state that seeks to wipe Palestine off the map — with no other purpose than to kill and maim as many civilians as possible. After a brief but blessed cease-fire, these Jews break it off and start the rocket fire all over again.
So to answer Walt’s theoretical question – would the United States consider these Orthodox Jews "terrorists" and support Palestine’s right to defend itself? I’d sure as hell hope so.
But then again, in a world where all questions of justice boil down to interest-group politics, I guess the answer is, of course not, right?
More from Foreign Policy
Can Russia Get Used to Being China’s Little Brother?
The power dynamic between Beijing and Moscow has switched dramatically.
Xi and Putin Have the Most Consequential Undeclared Alliance in the World
It’s become more important than Washington’s official alliances today.
It’s a New Great Game. Again.
Across Central Asia, Russia’s brand is tainted by Ukraine, China’s got challenges, and Washington senses another opening.
Iraqi Kurdistan’s House of Cards Is Collapsing
The region once seemed a bright spot in the disorder unleashed by U.S. regime change. Today, things look bleak.