Obama, the Honest Broker

American statesmen who pose as 'honest brokers' in the Israel-Palestinian conflict are perpetrating this myth to advance their own interests—under the façade of another myth, the “peace process".

Prof. Paul Eidelberg,

OpEds Paul Eidelberg
Paul Eidelberg
PR

 

Ever since Henry Kissinger’s shuttle diplomacy following the Yom Kippur war of 1973, the term “honest broker” has been bandied about to describe America’s role in the conflict-ridden Middle East. But what is an “honest broker”?

First, the mere fact that the adjective “honest” qualifies the noun “broker” suggests that brokers are usually dishonest or have a reputation for being so.  

Second, according to Webster’s dictionary, “a broker is one who, for a fee or commission, brings parties together and assists in negotiating contracts between them.” Thus defined, a broker appears to be impartial or even-handed with respect to the parties he brings to the negotiating table. Note well, however, that a broker performs his services for a fee, and that the definition of a broker does not suggest he is concerned about justice.

Accordingly, while he assists in negotiating a contract between two parties, the broker makes no judgment as to whether any of the parties to the contract is honest or dishonest, trustworthy or untrustworthy. Indeed, since his fee is of primary importance, the contracting parties might as well be scoundrels. Or, if one party happens to be a knave and the other a fool—and of course the knave may ruin the fool—this is not the primary concern of our so-called honest broker.

But if the broker’s primary concern is not justice but the profit he gains from arranging a signed contract, the idea an honest or disinterested broker is a myth. As Joseph Sisco, former U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs told Israeli author Shmuel Katz on February 3, 1989: "I want to assure you, Mr. Katz, that if we were not getting full value for our money, you would not get a cent from us."

Mr. Sisco’s statement agrees with the motivational theory of the social sciences, which claims—as did Machiavelli—that all human behavior is animated by self-interest. This not only confirms the “honest broker” myth; it also indicates that American statesmen who pose as honest brokers in the Israel-Palestinian conflict are perpetrating this myth to advance their own interests—of course under the façade of another myth, the “peace process.” What can be more surreal in this world than “peace”?

Indeed, even the term “Israel-Palestinian conflict” is misleading—and quite apart from the hoax that the Palestinians are an “invented people.” This so-called conflict is not between two political parties competing in an election or over a proposed bill in some parliament. Anyone who is not blind and deaf knows that this bloody conflict is nothing less than a war the Arabs have been waging against Israel, and most conspicuously since September 1993. That was the year when the Palestine Liberation Organization signed the Israel-PLO Agreement and thereafter became legitimized or dignified as the (innocuous) Palestinian Authority.

This was an extraordinary agreement, rendered all the more so by having been brokered by the United States. It was an agreement between Israel, a sovereign state, and a consortium of terrorists, hence an agreement that violated international law, to say nothing of Israel’s penal law. Put differently, whereas one party to that agreement, Israel, is recognized in Washington and elsewhere, as a reliable “democracy,” the other party constitutes—as any candid observer  would admit—is a typical Arab dictatorship, untrustworthy in principle as well as in fact.

For Washington to be morally neutral or “even-handed” vis-à-vis these adversaries is politically absurd and morally contemptible. It places these adversaries on the same moral level, implying that one is no more just than the other. But we have already said justice is not the concern of our “honest broker”!

Any candid and decent person would think that the United States, a democracy, would favor Israel, the more since the Palestinian Authority has used Arab children as human bombs to kill Jews. A civilized person would be morally disturbed seeing that whoever occupies the White House, the American State Department favors the Palestinians. If he’s American, he would be ashamed by the morally neutral behavior of his government and its negation of what America stands for as brilliantly articulated in the American Declaration of Independence.

An honest observer would also wonder about this: Even though eminent experts on international law, including Americans, have made a strong case showing that Judea and Samaria, in name as well as in law, belong to the Jews, Washington has consistently opposed Jewish settlements on this biblical land. He would wonder why the “honest broker,” a superpower, has genuflected to paltry Arab despots. Is the motive pecuniary? Is it latent anti-Semitism? Or is Washington’s behavior simply a manifestation of moral decay?

The morally sensitive reader may wonder what Israel will have to pay for America’s anything but “even-handed” diplomacy? Here it may be helpful to recall the Carter Administration, which brokered the 1978 Camp David Accord and the related 1979 peace treaty between Israel and Egypt. Who and what was paid for this brokerage?

The first thing to note is that the U.S. lured Egypt from the Soviet camp and replaced Russia as Egypt’s most important arms supplier. That was a bonanza for U.S. arms manufacturers! Egypt, however, was the biggest winner because Israel utterly surrendered the Sinai which it had won in a war of self-defense. It surrendered a seventeen billion dollar infrastructure, including sophisticated airbases as well as the Alma oil fields which it had modernized. All this strategic depth and energy resources were sacrificed for a precarious peace—and let’s not forget that Israel also agreed to evacuate the Jewish settlement of Yamit, the harbinger of things to come.

To be “even-handed,” however, the U.S. increased its military assistance to the Jewish state. Of course, this prompted Arab regimes such as Saudi Arabia to purchase tens of billions of dollars of sophisticated military hardware from American arms manufacturers. Being an honest broker in the Middle East was good business, especially when the Soviet Union was in town.

But now, with Iran replacing Russia as the bogeyman of the Middle East, President Obama is especially anxious to broker a final solution to the war between Israel and the Palestinians. What does this broker expect for his efforts? Will he obtain more business for U.S. arms manufacturers? Will he gain a groundswell of popular support in the next presidential election? Or does he want to make history? Whatever the case, one thing is certain: Israel will have to pay the fee of this “honest broker.”

”What can be more surreal in this world than “peace”?

Indeed, even the term “Israel-Palestinian conflict” is misleading—and quite apart from the hoax that the Palestinians are an “invented people.” This so-called conflict is not between two political parties competing in an election or over a proposed bill in some parliament. Anyone who is not blind and deaf knows that this bloody conflict is nothing less than a war the Arabs have been waging against Israel, and most conspicuously since September 1993. That was the year when the Palestine Liberation Organization signed the Israel-PLO Agreement and thereafter became legitimized or dignified as the (innocuous) Palestinian Authority.

This was an extraordinary agreement, rendered all the more so by having been brokered by the United States. It was an agreement between Israel, a sovereign state, and a consortium of terrorists, hence an agreement that violated international law, to say nothing of Israel’s penal law. Put differently, whereas one party to that agreement, Israel, is recognized in Washington and elsewhere, as a reliable “democracy,” the other party constitutes—as any candid observer  would admit—is a typical Arab dictatorship, untrustworthy in principle as well as in fact.

For Washington to be morally neutral or “even-handed” vis-à-vis these adversaries is politically absurd and morally contemptible. It places these adversaries on the same moral level, implying that one is no more just than the other. But we have already said justice is not the concern of our “honest broker”!

Any candid and decent person would think that the United States, a democracy, would favor Israel, the more since the Palestinian Authority has used Arab children as human bombs to kill Jews. A civilized person would be morally disturbed seeing that whoever occupies the White House, the American State Department favors the Palestinians. If he’s American, he would be ashamed by the morally neutral behavior of his government and its negation of what America stands for as brilliantly articulated in the American Declaration of Independence.

An honest observer would also wonder about this: Even though eminent experts on international law, including Americans, have made a strong case showing that Judea and Samaria, in name as well as in law, belong to the Jews, Washington has consistently opposed Jewish settlements on this biblical land.

He would wonder why the “honest broker,” a superpower, has genuflected to paltry Arab despots. Is the motive pecuniary? Is it latent anti-Semitism? Or is Washington’s behavior simply a manifestation of moral decay?

The morally sensitive reader may wonder what Israel will have to pay for America’s anything but “even-handed” diplomacy? Here it may be helpful to recall the Carter Administration, which brokered the 1978 Camp David Accord and the related 1979 peace treaty between Israel and Egypt. Who and what was paid for this brokerage?

The first thing to note is that the U.S. lured Egypt from the Soviet camp and replaced Russia as Egypt’s most important arms supplier. That was a bonanza for U.S. arms manufacturers! Egypt, however, was the biggest winner because Israel utterly surrendered the Sinai which it had won in a war of self-defense. It surrendered a seventeen billion dollar infrastructure, including sophisticated airbases as well as the Alma oil fields which it had modernized. All this strategic depth and energy resources were sacrificed for a precarious peace—and let’s not forget that Israel also agreed to evacuate the Jewish settlement of Yamit, the harbinger of things to come.

To be “even-handed,” however, the U.S. increased its military assistance to the Jewish state. Of course, this prompted Arab regimes such as Saudi Arabia to purchase tens of billions of dollars of sophisticated military hardware from American arms manufacturers. Being an honest broker in the Middle East was good business, especially when the Soviet Union was in town.

But now, with Iran replacing Russia as the bogeyman of the Middle East, President Obama is especially anxious to broker a final solution to the war between Israel and the Palestinians. What does this broker expect for his efforts? Will he obtain more business for U.S. arms manufacturers? Will he gain a groundswell of popular support in the next presidential election? Or does he want to make history? Whatever the case, one thing is certain: Israel will have to pay the fee of this “honest broker.”





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