The conservative case for Palestine

Palestinians inspect the damages caused by the destruction of the Yaziji building, bombed the previous night during a round of multiple Israeli airstrikes, Gaza City, Nov 13, 2018. (photo: Mohammed Zaanoun /
Lost in all the coverage of George H. W. Bush was one of his major accomplishments — a willingness to play hardball with Israel. It’s long past time to get back to that sort of conservatism.

By Maj. Danny Sjursen | | Dec 18, 2018

Here are the inconvenient facts: so long as Israel maintains two sets of political and civil rights for Jews and Muslims in the occupied Palestinian territories (those seized after the 1967 Six Day War), denies Palestinian national sovereignty, continues to build illegal Jewish-only settlements in the West Bank, and maintains a crippling blockade of the Gaza Strip, well, then, there will continue to be regular protests, an ongoing insurgency, and countless Palestinian deaths. Such asymmetrical killings — especially of civilians — will only feed the beast of conflict in a vicious cycle that is now entering its eighth decade.

This article being about the Israel/Palestine crisis — a veritable “third-rail” in American political discourse — it’s necessary to start with a few disclaimers. This author is not anti-Semitic and believes the Israeli state has a right to exist. Now that that’s out of the way, let’s address the controversial caveat: Palestinians, for moral and strategic reasons, also deserve state sovereignty and equivalent civil rights. And, believe it or not, that should be the stated position of all real (small “c”) conservatives.

The reasons are simple — the United States’ one-sided, pro-Israel stance, along with its massive funding of the Israeli military, continue to sully America’s reputation in the Muslim and Arab world. This (accurate) perception of inequity and hypocrisy on the part of the U.S. breeds more “terrorists” than America’s military can kill and directly endangers the homeland. Furthermore, the inextricable linkage between this administration as well as a variety of US military and intelligence agencies with the far right-wing leaders of the current Israeli government risks allowing Prime Minister Netanyahu to drag Washington into more regional wars America neither needs nor can win. It is, to be frank, the ultimate “wag-the-dog” scenario — and the two culprits are Israel and their cynical friend Saudi Arabia.

To be clear, there are many ethical, legal, and moral arguments in favor of reigning in the Israelis and protecting the rights of Palestinians. After all, since the spring, 175 (almost all unarmed) Palestinians have been shot to death along the Gaza Strip fence line, 5,884 others have been wounded by live ammunition, and 94 of these have had a limb amputated. A staggering 948 of those wounded were minors. The NGO Doctors without Borders recently announced that Gaza’s health care system is now overwhelmed with the infusion of wounded. Meanwhile, in an obvious case of the typically lopsided casualty rates in this conflict, only one Israeli soldier has been killed and six wounded. That should come as no surprise when the majority of protesters are armed only with rocks. As always, Israeli military actions stretch the limits of the international legal requirement for proportionality in warfare. Still, for the sake of this article, let us leave these humanitarian concerns aside and focus on what’s strategic and smart for US foreign policy.

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