The Anti-Defamation League takes the unexpected step of criticizing Gen. David Petraeus, the widely respected commander of U.S. troops in the Middle East and South Asia, for his recent comments to the Senate Armed Services Committee that lack of progress on Israeli-Palestinian peace sets the “strategic context” for U.S. security fortunes in the region. “Gen. Petraeus has simply erred in linking the challenges faced by the U.S. and coalition forces in the region to a solution of the Israeli-Arab conflict, and blaming extremist activities on the absence of peace and the perceived U.S. favoritism for Israel,” the ADL’s Abraham Foxman says in a just-released statement. “This linkage is dangerous and counterproductive.”
Not quite a General Betray-Us ad, but this is the first time a lobby group has gone after Petraeus since MoveOn attacked his integrity during the 2007 Iraq debate. All Petraeus did was acknowledge the uncontroversial truth that “conflict foments anti-American sentiment, due to a perception of U.S. favoritism for Israel. Arab anger over the Palestinian question limits the strength and depth of U.S. partnerships with governments and peoples in [the Middle East and South Asia] and weakens the legitimacy of moderate regimes in the Arab world. Meanwhile, al-Qaida and other militant groups exploit that anger to mobilize support. The conflict also gives Iran influence in the Arab world through its clients, Lebanese Hizballah and Hamas.” For this, Foxman labels Petraeus’ views “dangerous” while taking care to call him a “patriot and hero.”
The ADL’s full statement:
The assumptions Gen. Petraeus presented to the Senate Armed Services Committee wrongly attribute “insufficient progress” in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process and “a perception of U.S. favoritism for Israel” as significantly impeding the U.S. military mission in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan and in dealing with the Iranian influences in the region. It is that much more of a concern to hear this coming from such a great American patriot and hero.
The General’s assertions lead to the illusory conclusion that if only there was a resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the U.S. could successfully complete its mission in the region.
Gen. Petraeus has simply erred in linking the challenges faced by the U.S. and coalition forces in the region to a solution of the Israeli-Arab conflict, and blaming extremist activities on the absence of peace and the perceived U.S. favoritism for Israel. This linkage is dangerous and counterproductive.
Whenever the Israeli-Arab conflict is made a focal point, Israel comes to be seen as the problem. If only Israel would stop settlements, if only Israel would talk with Hamas, if only Israel would make concessions on refugees, if only it would share Jerusalem, everything in the region would then fall into line.
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