These Attacks on Jerusalem are Different | Opinion

The news from Jerusalem is depressingly familiar.

An emotionally charged landlord-tenant dispute headed for Israel's Supreme Court has become a cause célèbre. The "international community" has decided to chime in. Anti-Israel activists and NGOs outrageously accuse Israel of ethnic cleansing. Arab radicals use it as an excuse to terrorize civilians. Hamas terrorists launch missiles into residential neighborhoods—this time barraging Jerusalem itself.

We've all seen this drama so many times we could write the script in our sleep. Israel will tolerate far too many casualties among its own citizens before responding. When it does respond, it will do so in a measured way to minimize civilian casualties. Some innocents will nevertheless get hurt, to the great satisfaction of terrorists and their supporters. Global opprobrium will rain down on Israel. The U.S. will call for a cessation of violence "on both sides." Sympathy and aid will flow to terrorists.

Wash, rinse, repeat.

There's nothing new under the sun.

La plus ça change.

Except this time, we know it doesn't have to be this way. For the first time, the debate about how to restore order is no longer theoretical. For decades, mounting evidence demonstrated that appeasing terrorists did not work—and that demanding a "two-state solution" rather than peace rewarded violent recalcitrance. Until quite recently, there were no hard data showing that calm and coexistence were possible. In fact, a broad consensus among recognized, credentialed, informed experts was that only an independent state of Palestine—the ultimate reward for murderous terror—could bring peace to this troubled region.

The Trump administration put those experts to shame. It relied on two concepts long thought irrelevant to U.S. policy in the Middle East: truth and decency.

This radical approach inverted much of expert-driven conventional wisdom.

Rather than catering to Islamists who preach supremacism, rage, violence and terror, it called upon Arab leaders to "drive them out," and focus instead on the welfare of their people.

Rather than vilifying Israel for its role in a "cycle of violence," it recognized that the violent episodes all begin with terror attacks against innocent Israeli citizens.

Rather than showering unconditional funds on the Palestinian Authority and requesting decent behavior, it conditioned all funding on an end to "pay for slay" terror subsidies.

Gaza air strike
Smoke billows from Israeli air strikes in Gaza City, controlled by the Palestinian Hamas movement, on May 11, 2021. Israel and the Islamist movement Hamas in Gaza exchanged heavy fire, killing at least 26 Palestinians and two Israelis, in an escalation sparked by violent unrest at Jerusalem's flashpoint Al-Aqsa Mosque compound. ANAS BABA/AFP/Getty Images

Rather than giving the region's hardest-line rejectionists veto power over American action, it acted in the best interests of the United States, our allies in the region and the cause of peace.

Rather than treating the region's many refugees—including those that the UN has designated Palestine Refugees—as pawns in a great game of international relations, it advocated on their behalf as individuals deserving of opportunity, welfare and stability.

Rather than propping up the Iranian economy and begging the mullahs to slow their drive towards nuclear weapons in exchange for international recognition, it sanctioned Iranian institutions and individuals active in terrorism and nuclearization.

The results of these inversions of the expert-driven conventional wisdom were remarkable.

Our key regional allies—Israel, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the UAE—not only grew stronger, but deepened their collaboration.

The Abraham Accords ushered in the first true, warm peace agreement since the dawn of the Arab-Israeli conflict.

ISIS was crushed and al-Qaeda neutered—with a consequent reduction in Islamist terror in the U.S. and across the West.

Iran was kept off-balance and at bay. For the first time in recent memory, the Middle East seemed to be pointed in a positive direction.

Over the past 100 days, the Biden administration has retreated—hard—towards the now-discredited "experts," their now-disproven assumptions and their long-failing approaches to the region. Unsurprisingly, we have already seen increased Iranian aggression towards U.S. interests, growing brutality in the Yemeni civil war and Islamist terror attacks here at home (perhaps most prominently the King Soopers massacre in Boulder, Colorado).

The current wave of pretextual attacks against Israel are merely par for the course. When the Biden administration announced it would resume unconditional funding to the anti-Israel, terror-supporting Palestinian Authority—almost certainly in violation of U.S. law—it had to have known what to expect. Biden has returned to Obama-era policies; the terrorists have returned to Obama-era behavior.

It's not too late for the Biden team to undo its catastrophic error. Nor is it too late to appreciate the human suffering that walking away from a successful Middle East policy has unleashed throughout the region—and throughout the world.

The current attacks in Jerusalem have put the young Biden administration to the test. We must hope that these are missteps, not malevolence.

Bruce Abramson is a senior fellow and director at ACEK Fund and the author of American Restoration: Winning America's Second Civil War. Jeff Ballabon is the principal of B2 Strategic and a veteran government relations and media consultant.

The views expressed in this article are the writers' own.