In his recent testimony (pdf) before the Senate Armed Services Committee, CENTCOM chief Gen. David Petraeus stated that “insufficient progress toward a comprehensive Middle East peace” is among the “issues that serve as major drivers of instability, inter-state tensions, and conflict.” Today, the Anti-Defamation League released a statement accusing Gen. Petraeus of error:
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.
This is a clear misrepresentation of what Gen. Petraeus said. Petraeus offered his professional military opinion — shared by many others, including the 2006 Iraq Study Group — that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a key driver of instability in the Middle East, and that working toward a resolution to the conflict is an essential U.S. national security interest. The ADL offered no facts to dispute this conclusion.