The Arms Sales and Apartheid Accords

If you are opposed to rewarding war criminals in Abu Dhabi with advanced fighter jets and drones, you should oppose these agreements.

The Wall Street Journal ran a propaganda hit piece against critics of normalization agreements with Israel that was ridiculous even by their extremely low standards:

The question is why the regime is getting an intellectual assist from advocacy groups on the American left.

The hit piece is written by Bryan Leib, executive director of “Iranian Americans for Liberty.” This is an organization supported by monarchists and others in the diaspora bent on regime change, and they routinely smear advocates of diplomatic engagement in their pursuit of that destructive goal. Bryan Metzger reported on them earlier this year:

In addition to NIAC, Iranian Americans for Liberty has also attacked other Iranian Americans who publicly support the JCPOA and diplomacy with Iran –– including journalist Negar Mortazavi and State Department official Ariane Tabatabai –– by accusing them, again without evidence, of being apologists for the regime. 

In typical fashion, Leib’s targets in the latest hit piece are Iranian Americans that rightly object to these agreements because of their detrimental and potentially destabilizing effects. The normalization agreements between Israel and the UAE, Bahrain, and Morocco should be criticized because they are effectively endorsements of unjust policies of occupation in exchange for favors from the U.S. given to abusive authoritarian governments. The Israeli government gets a few Arab governments to ignore their oppressive treatment of the Palestinian people and establish closer ties, and in return those governments get rewarded with more advanced U.S. weapons and diplomatic support for their own outrageous policies. In the case of Morocco, Trump recognized their illegitimate claim on Western Sahara in one of the more gross transactional deals that he made as president. To his discredit, Biden has not reversed that recognition.

These agreements are absurdly named the “Abraham Accords,” but they might be better called the Arms Sales and Apartheid Accords since these are the things they enable and entrench. If you are opposed to the systematic oppression of Palestinians and the illegal occupation of Western Sahara, you should oppose these agreements. If you are opposed to rewarding war criminals in Abu Dhabi with advanced fighter jets and drones, you should oppose these agreements. If you are generally opposed to shafting the weak and dispossessed while rewarding unjust oppressors, you should oppose these agreements. On the other hand, if you are looking for ways to deflect attention from the continued oppression of Palestinians and the apartheid system imposed upon them, you will talk about how wonderful these agreements are.

While they are dressed up with the rhetoric of “peace and prosperity,” these agreements serve only to strengthen authoritarianism, arm war criminals, and give more political and diplomatic cover to the dispossession and statelessness of millions of people. Normalization with Israel is deeply unpopular in every Arab country. The governments that have pursued it have done so because they are authoritarian regimes that don’t answer to the people they rule. In addition to being deeply flawed, these agreements are also flimsy and depend on the continued survival of authoritarian governments in these countries.

Diplomatic agreements are not inherently good in themselves. What matters is what effects they have in the world and what tradeoffs they require. The partition of Poland was the result of diplomacy, but it was a deeply shameful and ugly thing in practice. Selling out Palestinian rights and aspirations in the name of a fake “peace” between countries that were never at war is not something that deserves support. Critics of these agreements have nothing to explain. It is the supporters of these corrupt bargains that need to defend their position.