America’s War for the Greater Middle East (Continued)

One way of understanding the ongoing bloodbath pitting Israel against Hamas is to see it as just the latest chapter in an existential struggle dating back to the founding of the Jewish state in 1948. While the appalling scope, destructiveness, and duration of the fighting in Gaza may outstrip previous episodes, this latest go-around serves chiefly to reaffirm the remarkable intractability of the underlying Arab-Israeli conflict. 

Although the shape of that war has changed over time, certain constants remain. Neither side, for instance, seems capable of achieving its ultimate political goals through violence. And each side adamantly refuses to concede to the core demands of its adversary. In truth, while the actual fighting may ebb and flow, pause and resume, the Holy Land has become the site of what is effectively permanent conflict.

For several decades, the United States sought to keep its distance from that war by casting itself in the role of regional arbiter. While providing Israel with arms and diplomatic cover, successive administrations have simultaneously sought to position the U.S. as an “honest broker,” committed to advancing the larger cause of Middle Eastern peace and stability. Of course, a generous dose of cynicism has always informed this “peace process.”

On that score, however, the present moment has let the cat fully out of the bag. The Biden administration responded to the gruesome terrorist attack on October 7th by unequivocally endorsing and underwriting Israeli efforts to annihilate Hamas, with Gazans thereby subjected to a World War II-style obliteration bombing campaign. Meanwhile, ignoring tepid Biden administration protests, Israeli settlers continue to expel Palestinians from parts of the West Bank where they have lived for generations. If Hamas’s October assault was a tragedy, proponents of a Greater Israel also saw it as a unique opportunity that they’ve seized with alacrity. As for the peace process, already on life support, it now seems altogether defunct. Prospects of reviving it anytime soon appear remote.

Read the full piece in TomDispatch.