By Aaron Gaglia (@GagliaAC)
On Wednesday, February 20th, the D.C. based Endowment for Middle East Truth hosted Ambassador (Ret.) Yoram Ettinger in a talk entitled, “The Impact of The Imploding Arab Street on vital US interests, US-Israel Relations and the Palestinian Issue.” In this talk, Ettinger called Americans to a deeper and broader understanding of the conflict in the Middle East, stressing that the Arab-Israeli conflict and Palestinian questions are only periphery issues.
Yoram Ettinger held the rank of Ambassador from 1989-1992, serving as the Minister for Congressional Affairs at Israel’s Embassy in Washington, D.C. Now, he regularly speaks to Israeli and American political leaders about U.S., U.S.-Israeli politics, and Middle Eastern politics.
Ettinger begin by fleshing out the danger and failure of ethnocentric foreign policies—of applying one’s own moral standards to a distant and foreign land. He called ethnocentrism “devastatingly self-destruct(ive).” He cited the rise of Islamic terrorism in Iraq as an example of the failure of American ethnocentrism. He showed that America’s attempt to democratize Iraq has had unintended damaging effects.
He then went on to correct misconceptions about the turmoil in the Middle East. He framed nuclear Iran as being a much larger threat to the U.S. than to Israel. To assume that Israel would be the target of a nuclear Iran is to be “oblivious.” As Iran’s goal is complete control of the Persian Gulf, the biggest obstacle to attaining this is not Israel but the United States.
Thus, the Arab-Israeli Conflict and the Palestinian issue are distractions and not the main issue happening in the Middle East. He spoke briefly of the Arab world’s hostility and dislike for Palestinians showing that the Palestinian cause is not a main priority in the Arab world.
He also appealed for America to support and ally with Israel not for Israel’s sake, but for its own sake. Israel, because of their shared values and principles, is “inherently” pro-American. American has no ally like Israel in the Middle East, and thus needs Israel. He further expanded on this point showing the great advantage it is to America to have a military presence in Israel, in that they can deploy from Israel rather than having to deploy from America.
When commenting on how to stop a nuclear Iran, he said the solution is “military pre-emption.” He clarified that this “military pre-emption” would not include occupation. It would be a way of protecting America and its allies while subduing Iran. Action must be taken so that Iran does not do something devastating.
During the Q&A time, he commented on President Obama and the Palestinian question. He expressed little hope for Obama changing his posture toward Israel and the Arab world. He credited Obama with maintain a consistent worldview and not compromising his views. The problem is that his worldview is flawed.
He then talked about why he opposed the two-state solution and why it would be detrimental to America. He showed how a Palestinian state would be a major threat to America’s Hashemite allies in Jordan and thus would further complicate our interests in the region. The Palestinians and Jordanians have a history of hostility and a Palestinian state would only exacerbate the problem.
Furthermore, he appealed to the fact that a Palestinian state was not good for Christians. When Bethlehem and Beth Jallah became part of the West Bank, these cities changed from having Christian majorities to Muslim majorities. He describes these cities as now being “Top-heavy on churches” and low on Christians. A Palestinian state is not a good idea for Christians.
Lastly, he made interesting comments about the American and Israeli Government. He expressed disdain over the state of Israeli politics, claiming that the American government practices a true Jewish view of government whereas Israel does not. He spoke of Moses and Judaism as the foundation the American political system. He also traced back the American law that the President must be American born whereas other government officials do not need to be back to the practice of the ancient state of Israel founded in the book of Deuteronomy. He also pointed out that just as Washington, D.C. does not belong to a State, Jerusalem did not belong to a state in Ancient Israel.
Yoram Ettinger’s speech was very refreshing because it was straight to the point, calling America to focus on what truly matters, rather than get caught up in peripheral issues. For more from Ambassador (ret) Ettinger, here is a link to his website.