Posted by on August 13, 2010 in Blog

This week, a Washington Times op-ed piece argued against the establishment of a Palestinian state. The author, Louis Rene Beres, stopped short of predicting the end of the world if a Palestinian state came into existence, but laid out an elaborate conspiracy about the groups that would come together to expand their war against “the West” through the use of “mega-terrorism” if the state was created. Let’s compare his article to reality:

Beres claims that “the Arab/Islamic world uniformly commends only a one-state solution, even among the ‘moderates.’” Back to reality, the entire Arab League (every Arab country in the region) proposed the Arab Peace Initiative, a plan which extends not only recognition of, but also normalization of relations with Israel in return for an Israeli withdrawal from the illegally occupied territories (22% of the land) and the establishment of a 2-state solution. That plan was first proposed in 2002, then again in 2007, and yet again in 2009. Even President Obama has endorsed the initiative. For Beres to claim that the Arab and Muslim worlds “uniformly” support “only” a one-state solution in light of this fact is either a demonstration of sheer ignorance or clear mendacity.

Beres, seemingly seeking to exploit his readers’ likely ignorance of such matters, conflates different militant groups in the Middle East and portrays them as virtually identical. Rather than acknowledging the very significant differences in the ideologies and goals of groups like Hamas, Hezbollah, and Al-Qaeda, he opts for presenting them as allies with a unified agenda in some sort of global war against “the West” (an effective propaganda technique often used by anti-Muslim ideologues). In doing so, he ignores the fact that Al-Qaeda considers the entire Shiite sect of Islam an enemy, as well as the attacks against Al-Qaeda affliates by Hamas’ forces in Gaza. These are definitely not interchangeable groups. In fact, repudiation of this sort of simplistic view promoted by Beres came from none other than Israel’s own former foreign minister, Shlomo Ben-Ami, who in 2006 said:

I would not include Hamas in the war against terror, because I don’t think this is the Qaeda brand […] We, the Israelis, should not be the part of the global war against terror because we have a political problem with the Palestinians, with Hamas. We should not present ourselves as the spearhead of a sort of clash of civilizations in that part of the world. I’m against that kind of vision because I think we have one particular problem that is solving the political dispute.

Indeed, as is now recognized even by the US administration and military-strategic thinkers, solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a central strategic and national security priority for the US. An international consensus exists, grounded in international law, UN Security Council resolutions, as well as stated US policy, that a two-state solution based on the 1967 lines is the best way to resolve the conflict. Contrary to Beres’ claim, resolving the conflict through a two-state solution would actually deal a huge blow to terrorist networks, as many groups sought to exploit the suffering of Palestinians under Israeli occupation to gain sympathy and support.

In this conflict, there are the extremists who deny the rights of others, and there are the moderates who recognize the rights of each other and who work towards the achievement of a lasting peace in the region. That a professor of international law like Beres would ignore the position of the UN Security Council, General Assembly, the International Court of Justice, and all major human rights organizations, and would side instead with the extremists against a two-state solution is truly unfortunate.