Now then: In the words of old Groper Joe, this is a big fucking deal. Excerpt:
A dam has broken and our media are desperate to avert our eyes from it. I am stunned at the succession of positive developments that has followed the announcement almost a month ago that the United Arab Emirates is normalizing relations with Israel. Momentum is accelerating toward the long dreamed-of goal of peace between Israel and its Arab neighbors.
I have to pinch myself after writing such a thing to remind myself that decade after decade of strenuous effort has failed, frustrating presidents of both parties and stymieing plan after plan put forth by diplomats and NGOs. Yet, improbable as it may seem to the smart set, Donald Trump, denounced as an imminent threat to world peace by almost all the academic, diplomatic, and journalistic elites, may have triggered the process of reconciling the Arab world to peaceful coexistence with Israel.
Peace is breaking out all over, then? And in the Middle East? Anyone who doesn’t realize how big a deal this is, just isn’t paying attention; either that or their Trump Derangement Syndrome is just overwhelming the last vestiges of sanity.
Here’s what all has happened:
Among the good news announced just this week:
- The Arab League refused a Palestinian Authority initiative to condemn the AE’s normalization and appears to have pressured the PA into softening its position. The handwriting is on the wall for the PA.
- Chad, an African republic with a majority Muslim population, has announced it will establish diplomatic relations with Israel and will consider putting its embassy in Jerusalem.
- Saudi Arabia and Bahrain have announced that they will allow Israeli airliners to fly over their airspace traveling east toward the Gulf and beyond to Asia. This will cut several hours of flying time off of flights, and vastly enhance the ability of businesses to form new deals and tourists to travel. It makes clear that Saudi Arabia is following the path of the UAE. As does the following:
- The Imam of the Grand Mosque in Mecca delivered a sermon hinting at normalization between Saudi Arabia and Israel.
The New Arab, a London-based, Qatari-funded private media outlet, reported over the weekend that Abdul Rahman al-Sudais used his sermon to emphasize tolerance and cooperation between Muslims and non-Muslims.
- Abu Dhabi, the capital city of the UAE has instructed all hotels to offer kosher menus. In truth, halal food and kosher food are very similar, so if rabbis are brought in to bless the slaughterhouses and food preparation facilities, this can be accomplished at relatively low cost. Nonetheless the symbolic importance is gigantic, as guests will be reminded of normalization every time they see a menu.)
- Greece, Cyprus and Israel just signed a historic military cooperation agreement. This is clearly aimed at Turkey, which is, along with Iran, one of the chief opponents of the normalization between Israel and the UAE.
- And, in a harbinger of much more to come, South Korea is nearing a free trade agreement with Israel, now that it is clear that its extensive trade ties with the Arab world will not be negatively impacted by deepening ties with Israel. This will be hugely important for the two countries but will also signal enterprises in countries all over the world that they are free to invest and trade with Israel without giving up ties to the Arab economies.
The article attributes part of this to a Preference Cascade, that being defined as follows: “In short, average people behave the way they think they ought to, even though that behavior might not reflect their own personal feelings. Given a sufficient “A-HA!” moment when they discover that their personal feelings are shared by a large portion of the population their behavior may change dramatically. ” I find it very likely that this is precisely what is happening, and I think it also very likely we will see a repeat of this phenomenon in the election this year.
Why do I think that? The credit for this breakthrough in large part goes to the author of The Art of the Deal, who now sits in the White House. The political Left and, indeed, the Never-Trumpers on the right will be loathe to give him any credit, and will instead point at the other decision-makers and leaders who do in fact deserve a great deal of credit, although not all. Not being given to false modesty (or, indeed, any modesty) President Trump can be expected to make this a campaign issue.
The White House has always been the biggest of bully pulpits. But the power behind the Resolute Desk can also be persuasive, and it can also provide motivation to cut through the bullshit and get some deals made. While we may never know the details of the negotiations, we do know that this has happened now, and it has never happened before, despite decades of effort and no small amount of bloviating.