Extracting three episodes from a complex 35-year history, a distinguished Middle East scholar exposes America’s unfitness to mediate between Israel and Palestine.
Khalidi (Modern Arab Studies/Columbia Univ.; Sowing Crisis: The Cold War and American Dominance in the Middle East, 2009, etc.) insists that the struggle over Palestine lies at the core of the Arab/Israeli conflict, with resolution impossible as long as the U.S. continues to act, in the words of one observer, as “Israel’s lawyer.” America, he writes, has only posed as an honest broker, deceiving the public with corrupted rhetoric about “progress” and “the peace process.” All the while, U.S. policymaking—with only a few Cold War exceptions—has been consistently driven by domestic political considerations distorted by Israel’s muscular congressional lobby, the alliance with Saudi Arabia and the quiet compliance of the other Arab Gulf states, and a complete disregard for the welfare of the Palestinians. Making use of a number of previously classified documents, Khalidi isolates three clarifying moments that illustrate America’s bias: the torpedoing of the so-called 1982 Reagan Plan by Menachem Begin’s narrow construction of the Camp David Accords; the bilateral Madrid-Washington negotiations of 1991-1993, especially revelatory of the collusion between the U.S. and Israel; and the Obama administration’s predictable retreat from anything resembling a new policy toward Palestine. Unpacking these episodes in sharp, take-no-prisoners prose, Khalidi maintains that the U.S. and Isreal, “by far the most powerful actors in the Middle East,” through successive administrations and a variety of key officials (Condoleezza Rice and Dennis Ross take a particular beating here), have conspired to deny Palestinians any semblance of self-determination.
A stinging indictment of one-sided policymaking destined, if undisturbed, to result in even greater violence.