The Obama Administration’s memorandum to the American “trade community,” issued earlier this month and prohibiting the labeling of goods produced by Israeli companies in the West Bank as having been made in Israel is a very troubling document. It is very troubling because it negates the most profoundly wise source on Middle East politics, which, of course, is the Obama Administration itself.
Those of us who are not warmongers, dual loyalists, or ignorant fools already agree that the only way to deal with a recalcitrant Middle Eastern regime is to remove all sanctions and strike an accord that bolsters the moderates against the hardliners. This approach has worked beautifully in Iran, which, upon receipt of its billions in previously sanctioned cash, immediately allowed a flurry of reformist candidates to partake in the upcoming elections, and went out of its way to demonstrate its commitment to international peacekeeping resolutions and its gratitude to the United States.
Now, it is true that Israel is a much greater offender than Iran; while the Islamic republic merely exported terror worldwide and killed hundreds of Americans and their allies, Israel is to blame for far graver assaults on world peace, like forcing American viewers to succumb to some TV shows that were not at all innovative and only mildly entertaining. But the Obama Doctrine, like truth and beauty, is eternal and requires no explanation. We must immediately replicate it in Israel as well; anything else, and the hardliners win.
First of all, then, let’s cancel this silly labeling sanction—sanctions never work! Then, let us fly everyone on the Israeli right to Geneva, and let John Kerry do what John Kerry does best. Sure, it may initially seem as if American dollars are being used to build more settlements, but we all know how the story ends: eventually, the infusion of cash to the hardliners will only embolden the moderates to rise and usher in a flourishing liberal democracy. Just like in Iran.
Mr. President, there’s no time to waste: lift that sanction against settlement products, and grab that checkbook from your desk drawer. That would be $100 billion. Make it out to Naftali Bennett—he’ll know just what to do with it.