Peace — in the limited sense of avoiding conflagration — often requires as much boldness as war. To achieve it, the statesman must cut through illusions. He must not appear weak; weakness encourages aggression. He must cut through the illusions of his allies and his enemies, as well as his own. As war, peace requires taking risks, and not all risks are painless. Sometimes they don’t even work. But the avoidance or rather, the deferment of risk, is the formula for making any small problem grow.
To my mind — sincere, however addled — the decision to move the USA embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, after twenty-two years of bipartisan blather, is a bold stroke for peace. It is made at an especially opportune time, when the State of Israel enjoys openings to the surrounding Arab world thanks to the common external threat of Iran. The American decision is of course protested, from Cairo and Riyadh to the dark, pettifogged chanceries of Europe; but will be taken everywhere as a side issue. Erdogan of Turkey will make as much mischief as he can, and the Ayatollahs will amplify their bluster. But the case required a fait accompli.
Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and the Gulf States except Qatar, have come to realize with unusual clarity that Israel is not only not their enemy, but a necessary ally. Regardless of current public opinion in those countries and elsewhere, the radicalized Palestinian quasi-state is not their friend. Neither Hamas nor Hezbollah — both now functioning as Iranian proxies — is useful to them. Therefore it makes no sense to be constantly arousing their peoples to anti-Semitic fits, or using Israel as the whipping boy to explain their own comprehensive failures.
There can be no peace around Israel until Israel itself is normalized, and a normal country has the capital of its choice. The Trump move from America hastens the recognition, that Israel is a permanent feature of the Near Eastern landscape. It is a danger to its neighbours only if they attack it. It will not go away, and cannot be removed without a war that will entail their own extinction. Other countries will gradually follow the American lead. The Arab states should, too, after a face-saving interval.
From a Christian point of view, it is well that Israel persists, and occupies our common Holy Land. Our question is only, Who will better protect our ancient shrines, and grant our pilgrims access to them, Israel or Hamas? And the answer to that is, Duh.
Reprinted with permission. Originally posted in Essays in Idleness.