Cliff May

He said international peacekeeping forces would be needed. I noted that international peacekeeping forces were deployed in southern Lebanon at the conclusion of the war launched from there by Hezbollah in 2006. Nevertheless, Hezbollah has imported thousands of missiles that are, right now, pointed at Israel. Has it not become apparent that international forces cannot be relied upon to defend Israelis? Indeed, is it not obvious that the U.N. – now routinely manipulated by Iran and other members of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) -- has become, de facto, an ally of Israel’s enemies?

With this as context, is advising President Obama to push as hard as possible for a quick settlement of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict the wisest course? Does it not seem likely that this effort will lead, paradoxically, to more bloodshed? He suggested that the problem is complex – too complex to sort out during a break in a conference. He then politely excused himself.

His perspective, however, remains conventional wisdom – all the more so since face-to-face Palestinian-Israeli negotiations were resumed early this month after a hiatus of a year and a half. What I fear he and others are failing to recognize is that Israel is at war with Palestinians, Arabs and much of the “Muslim world” not because of what it does but because of what it is: the last, tiny patch of land between Morocco and Pakistan not under some form of Islamic rule.

If negotiations cannot be the path to peace at this point in time, what can be? The defeat, on multiple fronts, of what President Obama prefers to call “violent extremists.” Should Iran’s nuclear ambitions be frustrated, should al-Qaeda be further weakened, should Hamas lose power in Gaza and Hezbollah not manage to bully its way to power in Lebanon, a meaningful “peace process” could finally begin. Reduce the pressure being exerted by the Jihadis and Palestinians and Israelis might find a way to live as neighbors.

The notion that there can be a separate peace for Israelis and Palestinians is appealing, as is the theory that such a peace would drain the energy from the Jihadi regimes, movements and groups waging a civilizational struggle against the West. But the notion is fictional and the theory is wrong. I did my best to convey that to the former head of state. I’m not confident I succeeded.

Cliff May

Clifford D. May is the President of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies.