The reliably hawkish Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs‘ (JINSA) Friday report argues that following the Obama administration’s failed attempt to convince Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to accept a settlement freeze, it’s time to “end the ‘peace process’ and move on.”
From here, JINSA goes on to seriously distort the messages consistently delivered by Gulf Arab leaders in the WikiLeaks cables — focusing on hostile rhetoric against Iran and ignoring any messages from regional autocrats arguing for ‘linkage,’ pushing instead for ‘reverse linkage.’
JINSA’s report reads:
…WikiLeaks showed that the Administration deliberately miscast the centrality of Palestine in Middle East politics. The President said ending the Palestinian-Israeli conflict was the necessary precursor to bringing the Arabs into a coalition to oppose Iran, but the Arabs – led by Saudi Arabia in no uncertain terms – pleaded with the Administration to tackle Iran first and Iran only.
While some cables indeed focused on Iran and not the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, many of the diplomatic communiqués dealt directly with the latter issue. JINSA, however, strapped on blinders when it came to the repeated endorsements of linkage between resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and containing Iran.
Jim Lobe and I highlighted the numerous endorsements of linkage by Arab leaders in our IPS article earlier this week. Just one example of this endorsement was provided by the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al Nahyan — one of the more Iran-hawkish of the Arab leaders — in a December 9, 2009, meeting with the U.S. Deputy Secretary of Energy Daniel Poneman in which Zayed:
Emphasized the strategic importance of creating a Palestinian State (i.e., resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict) as the way to create genuine Middle Eastern unity on the question of Iran’s nuclear program and regional ambitions.
But such selective interpretation of facts is becoming commonplace by those who challenge the concept of linkage and push ‘reverse linkage.’
This argument is frequently cast as “the road to peace runs through Baghdad”—as discussed by Bill Kristol and Robert Kagan in their 2002 article in the Weekly Standard. Now, as argued by Jennifer Rubin, among others, the argument has been tweaked to make the case that “the road to Middle East peace runs through Tehran.”
But the invasion of Iraq didn’t bring Israel closer to peace with its neighbors. The 2006 Lebanon War, the 2007 Hamas takeover of Gaza and the winter 2008-2009 Gaza War all occurred after Saddam Hussein had been removed from power.
Now JINSA is cherry-picking the words of Arab leaders and misrepresenting them as saying “Iran first and Iran only.” Such a blatant overlooking of the broader facts doesn’t make for good politics and it doesn’t help JINSA’s credibility.