Friedman takes on Harris’s attempt to debunk ‘linkage,’ the concept that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a burden on U.S. policy-making in the Middle East. This has been a neoconservative effort of late, which has been mostly absurd, and sometimes from Israel itself, on the dime of a pretty far right-wing Israel lobby group.
Harris takes this tack, too. And Friedman takes him apart:
Harris argues that some people have said that “without progress on the Palestinian front, it would be impossible to mobilize Arab countries to face the Iranian nuclear threat,” but that the cables released by WikiLeaks, which reveal great concern among many Arab governments regarding Iran, have “blown [this argument] out of the water.”
What Harris is implying, more broadly, is that there is no linkage between the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the ability of the U.S. to mobilize support for its policies in the Middle East and beyond — an argument that simply does not stand up to logic or facts.
Like this fact: a full (rather than selective) reading of the WikiLeaks cables shows that Arab leaders are deeply concerned both about Iran and about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict — something Middle East experts have long argued to be the case. And the reality is that while the U.S., Israel and many Arab countries share concerns about Iran, it is undeniable that the failure of the U.S. to put forth a successful policy on the Israeli-Palestinian track, and the absence of progress toward peace (and continued provocative Israeli actions in the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem), complicate virtually every aspect of U.S. relations with these same Arab countries, including mobilizing support for America’s Iran policy.