As long as I touched on some unorthodox to libertarian ideas about abortion and immigration yesterday, I might as well keep that ball of controversy rolling with the Israel/Palestine conflict.
In general, libertarians tend to believe that the Israelis are engaged in occupation of land stolen from the Palestinians by the foreign power of England after WW2, and have expanded their reach into Palestinian territory consistently over the following decades with slow-moving land grabs. My wife, among others, considers herself a Jew for Palestine because they’ve been mistreated by what can be seen as a foreign occupier. In general, when pressed, libertarians that are honest will concede that the Israeli government domestically is much more libertarian than the Palestinian Authority or really just about any of the surrounding Arab states. This probably is why Ayn Rand and her Objectivist followers are so pro-Israel. Concurrent to both leanings is a libertarian preference for non-intervention and neutrality in foreign affairs.
There’s a complicated set of issues like the right of return, the wall, trade, retaliatory airstrikes, a monopoly on the ability to provide basic things like water and power, border demarcation, and of course terrorism both from Palestinians and the Israeli military that often come into play with each new twist. Oftentimes, the more immediate concern is on current and ongoing expansion of Israeli territory via settlements into disputed land.
Today, in what I hope isn’t an already ingrained and established precedent, Trump lead his foreign policy preferences with a tweet. He wrote…
“The resolution being considered at the United Nations Security Council regarding Israel should be vetoed.
As the United States has long maintained, peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians will only come through direct negotiations between the parties, and not through the imposition of terms by the United Nations.
This puts Israel in a very poor negotiating position and is extremely unfair to all Israelis.”
The only possible objectives of this tweet are (1) an attempt to influence Obama’s vote (2) an attempt to signal his posture towards Israel once he becomes President (3) just a vague attempt at virtue signaling for the consumption of domestic supporters who lean towards the AIPAC side of foreign policy preferences (4) some combination of those or (5) there is no objective and he just wrote it out on a whim.
I suspect that Obama supports this resolution in practice, while Trump is calling for a veto, and they’re both wrong. Were I advising an American President on the matter, I’d suggest an abstention on nearly any issue involving a dispute between the two groups. There are at least two things that the US getting involved in any of these matters won’t accomplish, regardless of the vote or what America attempts or even how. One, a lasting peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians, and two, a perception among either side that America is an honest and impartial broker of negotiations. These are the goals that America’s publicly claimed to pursue since the Camp David Accords, and both are unachievable, or at very least unachievable by American actions.
American policy on matters like this, historically, has been to veto every such proposal. The rationale is that the Palestinians are attempting to bypass negotiations with Israel and instead get a hearing in a more sympathetic venue like the UN, where they have the absolute backing of nearly every Arab state, and plenty of allies of convenience opposed to what is seen as US interests. There are good reasons to suspect that Palestine lacks the ability to negotiate effectively one on one with Israel, given their relative lack of power in any meaningful respect. There are also good reasons to believe that Israel will never get a fair hearing in the UN, with so many countries opposed to it. So the current paradigm has been a stalemate. Palestine offers resolutions that they know will be vetoed by the US, in order to point to America’s bias which supports Israel in order to bolster support among domestic audiences in Palestine and throughout the middle east. It’s all been for show for so long and so consistently, that it’s hard to envision that we could take another path.
What would abstaining from a vote accomplish? The better question is what participating would accomplish. The resolution at hand pertains to Jewish settlements in Judea, Samaria, and eastern Jerusalem. I am among the vast majority of Americans who couldn’t point to any one of those outside of maybe Jerusalem on a map without English text. The majority of American politicians couldn’t point to these places without the aide of an AIPAC representative, and even then they wouldn’t even know which side of the wall they sat on or whether they were even in the Gaza strip or the West Bank. Even if America had a better sense of geography, middle eastern politics, religion, and history… it would only serve to highlight the absurdity of being anything other than neutral, and the utter foolishness of any hubris that believed a lasting peace could be obtained through American diplomacy in the region. There is no American interest advanced by giving a veto for Israel indefinitely at every proposal pushed by Palestine. There is plenty to lose, and plenty which has already been lost by taking sides throughout the region in local disputes and civil wars.